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Discussion Starter #1
For someone reading previous threads and trying to decide the best method of charging the house batteries, it's been confusing (it's not hard to confuse me) because of the different Transit years involved. With the changes in the 2020 Transits I thought it might be useful to bring those conversations together in one thread.

From piecing together experiences described by some of the early 2020 owners (@JeffWest, @Vanpackr, @Viajero)
it looks like the following changes could impact designing an alternator charging system:
Number of CCPs -- two instead of 3
CCP 2 -- 175A only hot with ignition on
Vehicle Interface Connector -- New 10-pin replaces the 6-pin
Ecoboost engine -- new start-stop system

Now that we are gaining experience with the 2020s, do these changes offer better or cheaper ways to charge the house batteries? For example, a couple of folks have suggested that because CCP 2 switches off, it might allow for a more direct connection to the house battery bank without the need for something like the Cyrix battery combiner or the costly Sterling B to B charger.
 

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Although I own a 2016 this comment may still be of benefit to you. I might have hit the sweet spot in terms of being able to use a simple VSR battery separator: 200Ah Lithium chemistry, heavy-duty alternator, dual starter batteries, solar MPPT charge controller. Based on my 4 years of experience, the charging current stays within an acceptable range (70Amps max - this might not be the case with a bigger battery bank) and the Lithium always reaches 100% SOC. All other things being equal, I would just connect directly to the CCP2.

But I don’t know what other changes Ford might have made to the charging system in the 2020 that might impact things, e.g. smart alternator/regenerative braking.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I've been discussing this topic with Garret at AM Solar where I will be purchasing much of the gear I will be installing. I don't think he has seen any of the 2020 Transits in his shop yet (at least for alternator charging) but suggested that if CCP 2 is only hot on ignition, then I can avoid buying the Cyrix combiner or a B to B charger and connect directly to the house battery bank with a 180A breaker in between. I would need to increase the size of my house bank from 200A to 300A.
 

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I couple of thoughts on this...

CCP2 is on a timer so it stays hot for a while after the ignition is shut off. I have seen this for myself. That being said it is managed and supposedly would be shed before taking the vehicle battery below SOC needed to crank.

Another thought I have had while learning from all this is that a direct connection to the CCP2 might have some advantages with LiFePo4 like the BattleBorn I have now in that you could get quite a boost to replenish when you need it most.. like when the house battery bank is depleted.While it may not get you to 100% that may be a secondary consideration when trying to use the alternator to quickly charge a depleted battery. Then if you have a solar controller with LiFePo4 charging profile it can take care of topping off. Or, if you have shore power and a LiFePo4 capable charger it can get you the last 80%. Issue remain and making sure your bank never blows the CCP2 fuse at 120A. I think this largely depends on the capacity of the Li battery bank. But my 100AH single battery would be fine getting a full drink and it would charge FAST to ~80%.

I'm not sure where I am going if anywhere with this but it is what I have been thinking about. Maybe someone can either dispel these thoughts or build on them. Right now my setup seems to be working fine. I can get 18 hours of fan and fridge running full blast on a single BB 100AH battery. It actually pulled over 100AH according to my Victon Smart Shunt during a test yesterday in 100 degree heat. That's about all I can ask of it at this point.It took as expected a bit over 10 hours to recharge with a NOCO Genius 10 charger. The Renogy should be able to get me to 80% from flat in a couple of hours of driving at 50A. It tails off as it approaches 100%.
 

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@EnviroProf: I don’t understand your final sentence. Why would you need to increase size of battery bank to 300Ah?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@EnviroProf: I don’t understand your final sentence. Why would you need to increase size of battery bank to 300Ah?
So the advice AM Solar is giving is that the alternator might produce 150A, which would damage a smaller battery bank than 300A. This might only be the case with the Battleborn Lithium batteries I will be using. Not sure about AGMs.
From the Battleborn website:
"Our recommended charge rate is 50 amps per 100 Ah battery in your system. We don’t recommend you exceed this charge rate as it can lead to a shortened battery cycle life."
 

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So the advice AM Solar is giving is that the alternator might produce 150A, which would damage a smaller battery bank than 300A.
Eh.. I am thinking the house battery (the draw) is in control here. The alternator does not "damage" the vehicle battery. They sell batteries, right?
 

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I have a 2015 that has three 60 amp CCP terminals. Installed a 1000 watt pure sine inverter powered by the 3 terminals. Power the shore power charger with the inverter output. System works fine.


The advantage of using the vehicle powered inverter is the availability of 120 volt AC power with the engine running. Have selector switch so I can power the charger or the shower water heater or the electric air heater.

House battery is always charged with a proper 3 stage charge profile and alternator draw is limited by the size of the inverter.
 

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So the advice AM Solar is giving is that the alternator might produce 150A, which would damage a smaller battery bank than 300A. This might only be the case with the Battleborn Lithium batteries I will be using. Not sure about AGMs.
From the Battleborn website:
"Our recommended charge rate is 50 amps per 100 Ah battery in your system. We don’t recommend you exceed this charge rate as it can lead to a shortened battery cycle life."
Sure, too high a charge current is bad. My 200Ah LiFeBlue has recommended charging at 120A but will tolerate 150A (at 75F). In practice, the Transit rarely gets close to even delivering 120A to the battery (you can monitor it with the included Bluetooth App).
Here is what I would do: I would size my house battery according to my house needs. I would pick out a B2B and design my wiring so that it would be easy to plumb it in later, if necessary. I would try without the B2B and closely monitor the charging current for the first few weeks of use.
If you find the other advantages of the Orton approach compelling (and having 110v from the alternator does certainly have its advantages) you could go this route from the start or, as above, allow space and wiring flexibility to add it later.
What makes no sense to me is to size the house battery according to what current you think the alternator might be able to supply. This is getting things backwards.
 

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The dual alternator system is nice and capable of producing much more power than before.

The CCP that auto turns on / off the connection with the engine means no need for a battery isolator.

If I am an understanding it correctly, none of this eliminates the need for a battery to battery charger, just the current rating of what is possible. If anything, using an active battery to battery charging method is now even more important.

Of course the Orton inverter approach is a useful variation of the battery to battery charger model and eliminates any concern about what the auxiliary battery pack voltage is. (12 / 24 / 48). It also adds a useful level of isolation from the van's electrical system.

In some ways, you can think of the 2020 Transit electrical system as being similar to the Sprinter van 2008 and newer systems, and needing the same protections. (active control of the current flow to the auxiliary battery pack) The difference is the scale of the power available being "significant" vs "just barely enough".
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sure, too high a charge current is bad. My 200Ah LiFeBlue has recommended charging at 120A but will tolerate 150A (at 75F). In practice, the Transit rarely gets close to even delivering 120A to the battery (you can monitor it with the included Bluetooth App).
Here is what I would do: I would size my house battery according to my house needs. I would pick out a B2B and design my wiring so that it would be easy to plumb it in later, if necessary. I would try without the B2B and closely monitor the charging current for the first few weeks of use.
If you find the other advantages of the Orton approach compelling (and having 110v from the alternator does certainly have its advantages) you could go this route from the start or, as above, allow space and wiring flexibility to add it later.
What makes no sense to me is to size the house battery according to what current you think the alternator might be able to supply. This is getting things backwards.
@amac I think you are correct about getting things backwards by designing according to the alternator output. Funny how that seems to happen when designing these van conversions, when you discover that one of the elements (like a shower pan or fridge) will fit in only one place, and so everything else has to be designed around that aspect. So many choices . . .

I have two Battleborns sitting in my garage awaiting van delivery. In my last camper setup I had two AGMs with about 110AH of usable power. It was a bit short, especially when it was hot and I was running the two ceiling fans. The two Battleborns should provide me with 160AH, so about one more day of being camped with no/very low solar charging or driving. The plan was to leave room for a third Battlborn if needed.

After learning a bit more and in discussion with the AM solar folks, I seem to have the choice now, because of the high output alternator, to either spend about $500 for a Sterling B to B charger or add a third battery for $950 and gain another 80 or so AHs. And then there are so many other choices -- inverter? 120v charger? inverter/charger?
 

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The point that I made in post #2 still stands. There might be a certain combination of lithium battery size that works with your given other set of Transit parameters that obviates the need for a B2B (Orton or otherwise). My van has been a test bed for this for 4 years and I volunteer it as a ongoing test bed.

Its not that I don’t think there is sometimes a valid need for B2B, there is, or for the added flexibility of an Orton approach, there is. I researched and came very close to implementing one of these other solutions, but for me, what I implemented best balanced the various trade-offs as I saw them. I rate simplicity (less components to go wrong) and efficiency (losses in conversion) reasonably highly, others might not. I also wanted an easy way to jump start the van, others might just carry a set of jump leads.

@EnviroProf: your comment about the cost of the Sterling v. another battery is a logical one. You may hit your own sweet spot with 3 batteries and the 2020 Transit. 110v charger: shore power (or using hook ups) was never a part of my design. I do not have a 110v charger and have never felt like I wanted one. Most of the time the 310w solar charges the battery, when it doesn’t, the alternator makes short work of it. Inverter: my 2000w (Kisae) pure sine inverter was essential to my design: dual induction cooktops, 110v compressor (bikes and kites), computer charging, vacuum cleaner, etc., etc. Don’t forget to put inverter remote switches where you might need them (I have one in the kitchen and one in the back, next to the compressor 110v outlet).
 

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In case you were wondering:
“Jump leads” = “Jumper cables”
(I’m originally from the U.K.!)
 

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Eh.. I am thinking the house battery (the draw) is in control here. The alternator does not "damage" the vehicle battery. They sell batteries, right?
@Vanpackr: Not sure I totally agree with this statement. Think of the edge condition. I would not want to directly connect a small 12v battery (e.g. one that you might find in a rechargeable flashlight) directly to the alternator without some sort of current limiting device (like a small battery charger).
 

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@EnviroProf: thinking this through, I guess what I am now saying is that there are circumstances where it does indeed make sense to size your house battery according to alternator output!!
 

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@Vanpackr: Not sure I totally agree with this statement. Think of the edge condition. I would not want to directly connect a small 12v battery (e.g. one that you might find in a rechargeable flashlight) directly to the alternator without some sort of current limiting device (like a small battery charger).
@amac I'm with Vanpackr. The battery (or bus) tells the alternator it wants current by relaying its voltage. The alternator responds by sending more current. The voltage of the battery rises in response to the increase in current. The alternator gets the signal from the battery or bus (voltage) that it needs less current, and the alternator responds accordingly. The alternator is not just putting out all it can all the time. It is not something that consumers need to be protected from (unless you want to get into over voltage protection which is completely different).
 

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@amac I'm with Vanpackr. The battery (or bus) tells the alternator it wants current by relaying its voltage. The alternator responds by sending more current. The voltage of the battery rises in response to the increase in current. The alternator gets the signal from the battery or bus (voltage) that it needs less current, and the alternator responds accordingly. The alternator is not just putting out all it can all the time. It is not something that consumers need to be protected from (unless you want to get into over voltage protection which is completely different).
That is the way I understand it too. That is the "smart" in smart alternator. Alternator output is a variable depending on current draw and, if the current needed is low, the alternator reduces its output. This reduces fuel consumption and reduces alternator wear. Don't take my word for it though. As ranxerox has observed in the past, I am inept, or some such thing. He must be right, since the more I read about designing these house electrical systems, the less I know.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
@amac I'm with Vanpackr. The battery (or bus) tells the alternator it wants current by relaying its voltage. The alternator responds by sending more current. The voltage of the battery rises in response to the increase in current. The alternator gets the signal from the battery or bus (voltage) that it needs less current, and the alternator responds accordingly. The alternator is not just putting out all it can all the time. It is not something that consumers need to be protected from (unless you want to get into over voltage protection which is completely different).
That is the way I understand it too. That is the "smart" in smart alternator. Alternator output is a variable depending on current draw and, if the current needed is low, the alternator reduces its output. This reduces fuel consumption and reduces alternator wear.
Is this ability to respond to the battery because the alternator in the 2020s is "smarter" than previous Transit alternators?
 

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@EnviroProf: A video from Sterling:


This is the context in which I was using the term “smart alternator”, which I believe are more common in Europe.

I understand the points about voltage being a “signal” (just as water cannot run uphill, you can’t keep pushing current into a battery as the voltage rises), traditional alternator “smarts”, if you want to call it this, but it’s not what I mean by “smart alternator”.

But you can still damage a battery through an over-current condition before the battery gets to a sufficient voltage that it “signals” to the alternator to “throttle back”. I don’t think you can solely rely on the voltage “signal“ with various combinations of alternator and batteries. Plus, as we all know, the charge profile might not be optimal for you chosen battery chemistry. Which is why there is much debate on this topic.
 

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@Vanpackr: Not sure I totally agree with this statement. Think of the edge condition. I would not want to directly connect a small 12v battery (e.g. one that you might find in a rechargeable flashlight) directly to the alternator without some sort of current limiting device (like a small battery charger).
This sort of thing happens through the cigarette lighter connection all the time. Even with a small light. It only draws a limited current and does not bow up the bulb. Same with other consumers all over the vehicle. It even used to happen with headlights cs. tail lights, vs. dash lights, etc.
 
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