Shore and Alternator charging? Easiest way to accomplish this. - Ford Transit USA Forum
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post #1 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 08:03:AM Thread Starter
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Shore and Alternator charging? Easiest way to accomplish this.

My transit will be my daily driver as well as camper van, so I am curious about having the alternator be the primary source of power. Before I dive into a wiring diagram, can anyone point me in the right direction for the easiest and cheapest way to accomplish the following?

1) The alternator will provide the vast majority of the power. Currently I have just the stock alternator. Can I upgrade this or add an alternator exclusively for the battery bank?
2) Shore power available to provide auxiliary charging power when parked. Can this be done with standard 120V and also an 30A RV hookup? I imagine this being plugged in both while traveling at a campsite, as well as in the driveway of my home.
3) Setting up A/C to run on shore power, but also for short times on battery. Should I connect the A/C to the battery bank, and have the shore power push through the bank? Or wire directly to the shore power? The issue here is that I want to be able to run the A/C for an hour or so on battery power, just to drop humidity in areas like FL to make sleeping bearable.
4) Just to complicate... I also want to charge lithium batteries that I use in my boat (trolling motor) from the van. Two 12V 50AH batteries. How would you wire this - just hook up a standard charger to an inverter, or is there a more efficient solution?

I am planning on about 400AH of lithium.

Thanks!

Last edited by Flyfish; 04-18-2019 at 08:14:AM.
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post #2 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 08:58:AM
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You need a switching inverter/charger. I like the Victron equipment. This one device will take care of 2,3, & 4. 100Ah of battery might power a 120v AC for a half hour or so.

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post #3 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 02:39:PM
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Boats are typically 24 volt.

Sterling makes a battery to battery charger specifically for this application. The alternative of using an inverter to a charger also works and ends up costing about the same.

If it were me, I would build the main house bank as a 24 or 48 volt system as well, as it will work out a lot better for feeding the inverter.

As an example, the photo on the left is (internally) a 24 volt based system with 4 each battle borns in the larger case and all of the DC distribution / outlets, including 24 volt, USB, regulated 12 volt, etc. The smaller case contains the inverter and 120 vac power distribution.

We build and ship these to customers routinely. The end customer just loads the batteries and does the final connections.

Based on the BB specs it should run an AC for around 2 hrs plus have some extra over head room.

Some experience with auxiliary power

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post #4 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 03:03:PM
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If you are usually connecting to shore power all you would need is a good battery charger like you would use in the garage. Choose one that does multi-stage and maintenance charging duties, hard-wire it to the battery using a charging connector (instead of the clamps) and mount it permanently in the van (allowing for some airflow) with an outlet nearby that is wired to your shore connection.

As for the lithium, you will need a charger that has a setting for that charging profile. Something else to look for in the charger mentioned above, then, have pigtails for the Lithium batteries that can connect to the charger after flipping the switch from lead-acid charging to the appropriate Lithium profile.

Charging batteries other than the start battery from the alternator would involve a battery to battery charger as mentioned, and one that can switch from Lead-acid to Lithium profiles if you need to charge both types.

Do take the time to read up on wiring an RV for shore power, and especially on how to test the supply connection prior to hooking it to your van. There are significant safety concerns that must be addressed in case the shore power supply outlet is not wired correctly.

Most RV spots I've used offering shore power have a standard 15 Amp 120VAC outlet in addition to the 30A or 50A connection. Still, it might be good to get a 30A male to 15A female adapter to keep on board.

When you aren't using loads that exceed what you would put on an outlet at home, 15A is all you would need.

For AC the 30A connection will probably be necessary, depending upon the rating of the AC unit, as well as wiring in the van to support that current.

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Last edited by Travlin; 04-18-2019 at 03:23:PM.
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post #5 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 04:04:PM
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Flyfish, this is a flow chart that I made up to help me understand how all of the electrical was going to go. I'm not sure that I have everything right. Hopefully, others will point out the flaws. Either way maybe it will help you visualize what you want to do. This is the second alternator that I see most people adding: https://www.nationsstarteralternator...0072-280xp.htm
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post #6 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 09:41:PM
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Hi Flyfish,

Just a comment - if you are spending the money for 400Ah of lithium, I recommend that you spend a little more to get quality components that make your whole system work well. As with previous posters, I recommend a Victron inverter/charger to provide AC power from your battery bank. The Sterling charger is a smart solution for house battery charging from the alternator. As to the question about an auxiliary alternator, it depends on your power consumption and how quickly you need to recharge. If necessary, you can add a second alternator or install one with larger capacity.

Best of luck on your build!

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post #7 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 08:23:AM
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The all in one inverter/charger/shore transfer units look great on paper and definitely have their uses. They also have drawbacks. They are either an inverter running off a battery or they are a charger running off shore power. They can't do both at once.

Another drawback is when the charger or inverter side fails, the whole unit is scrap.

I have all seperate units. A 2000w inverter, powered off the engine alternator, or house battery, or shore power, or genny. A battery charger, powered off the inverter. A standalone 30amp shore power transfer switch.

I have no solar, the house battery will mainly charge from the inverter off the engine alternator powered inverter. At least once a week I'll plug into shore power if I feel I have not driven enough to complete a 3 phase charge to the house battery.
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post #8 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 08:55:AM
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Originally Posted by sportcoupe View Post
The all in one inverter/charger/shore transfer units look great on paper and definitely have their uses. They also have drawbacks. They are either an inverter running off a battery or they are a charger running off shore power. They can't do both at once.
This combo unit can charge from Solar or Shore and manage providing 120VAC via inverter or Shore connection simultaneously.
https://www.fordtransitusaforum.com/...r-charger.html

Theoretically, you might could connect the Start battery to the MPPT input on the above to accomplish what you describe, with an inline low voltage cutoff to prevent over discharge of the Start battery.

Come to think of it, I might be able to parallel the Start battery circuit (w/ low voltage cutoff) with the Solar input to do this on mine. Thanks for sending my thoughts in this direction.

I'll need to research whether back voltage to the Solar panels could be an issue when the Start battery voltage exceeds the output of the panels while the alternator is running.

If anyone knows of a reason either of these ideas wouldn't work, post up please.

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Last edited by Travlin; 04-19-2019 at 09:18:AM.
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post #9 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 10:04:AM
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The advantage of a inverter/charger/transfer switch is the physical space required and the reduced wiring connections.

My 1000 watt Magnum MMS1012 has worked very well for my application. I have two sources of 120 volt AC power. Either real shore power or 120 volt AC from the vehicle powered 1000 watt pure sine inverter. Do not directly connect the house battery to the vehicle battery for charging.

Have a single 300 watt solar panel with MPPT controller. Both the Magnum and the solar controller provide a proper 3 stage charge profile.
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post #10 of 36 (permalink) Old 04-19-2019, 11:27:AM
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Originally Posted by sportcoupe View Post
The all in one inverter/charger/shore transfer units look great on paper and definitely have their uses. They also have drawbacks. They are either an inverter running off a battery or they are a charger running off shore power. They can't do both at once.

Another drawback is when the charger or inverter side fails, the whole unit is scrap.

I have all seperate units. A 2000w inverter, powered off the engine alternator, or house battery, or shore power, or genny. A battery charger, powered off the inverter. A standalone 30amp shore power transfer switch.

I have no solar, the house battery will mainly charge from the inverter off the engine alternator powered inverter. At least once a week I'll plug into shore power if I feel I have not driven enough to complete a 3 phase charge to the house battery.
Why would you want to simultaneously run an inverter from battery and take AC from shore?
The combined units with a transfer switch, like my MS2012, really have no reason to provide 2 sources of AC. If there is shore power available, they use it for charging, and via transfer, provide the shore AC to your outlets. Without shore, they can invert. What capability are they missing? Source them with ~12V DC from any source, and they can invert. Source them with 110AC from any source and they can charge.

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