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Old 11-15-2015, 02:58 PM   #1
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Alternator size?

Looking at specs for a different brand motorhome, it appears they use Ford E-350 and E-450 chassis with the smallest factory alternator -- listed as 120 Amps. But Ford also offers these chassis with 155 and 225 Amp alternators as options, which begs the question why would they not specify a larger-capacity alternator for RV use?

Some newer (and often smaller) RVs are even going with a second alternator dedicated to house battery charging, and at a significant cost premium, so it's hard to figure passing up on relatively inexpensive additional capacity.

Other than a little extra cost, can anyone see why you'd build a motorhome with a 120 Amp alternator when a 225 Amp is available?

Additionally, does anyone know what size alternator Thor uses on Axis/Vegas models?
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Old 11-15-2015, 03:04 PM   #2
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That would be a good question for Thor on their contact page--I wonder if they would respond to a potential buyer as quickly as they have for some of us owners.

Given my response: No I don't know how big ours is.
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Old 11-15-2015, 03:49 PM   #3
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I read somewhere that our 2015 24.1 has the 155 amp alternator. But, for the life of me, I can't find it again...

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Old 11-15-2015, 04:08 PM   #4
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They are closed today but will call again tomorrow.

On principle I would prefer a larger alternator to enable greater use of electrical power during the day, but haven't thought through what issues that may cause.


A separate alternator dedicated to house loads sounds even better on the surface, but again I haven't thought of possible downsides.

I know Mercedes offers second alternator option for Sprinters, and Sportsmobile shows a late-2015 option for Transit and ProMaster (which are probably aftermarket installations). In any case the trend is to go towards more electrical power, not less.
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Old 11-15-2015, 07:41 PM   #5
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Looking at the Ford window sticker from my chassis (2016 Vegas 24.1), it specifies the alternator at 120 amps.
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Old 11-15-2015, 08:15 PM   #6
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Looking at the Ford window sticker from my chassis (2016 Vegas 24.1), it specifies the alternator at 120 amps.
Thanks for confirmation John.

I found on Ford site that upgrading to 155 Amp Heavy-Duty is an $80 option. Upgrading to 225 Amp Extra Heavy-Duty (with V10 only) is $260. Both seem cheap to me.

I get that a few dollars here and there add up. Still, it's a shame that an extra 105 Amps can't be put to work.
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Old 11-15-2015, 08:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
... But Ford also offers these chassis with 155 and 225 Amp alternators as options, which begs the question why would they not specify a larger-capacity alternator for RV use?

Other than a little extra cost, can anyone see why you'd build a motorhome with a 120 Amp alternator when a 225 Amp is available?
Ford sells a stripped and cutaway chassis to a customer. They may not know at the time of sale what that customer intends to do with the chassis.

I imagine you will see the Axis/Vegas line having all of the alternator options mixed throughout. As long as the chassis meets the minimum requirements of the contract with the customer (in this case Thor), Ford is going to deliver what they have available to meet their contractual delivery dates or if not under contract, Thor will buy what Ford has available to meet their production schedule.
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Old 11-16-2015, 07:50 PM   #8
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I got a call back from a gentleman at Thor who answered many of my questions.

First, there doesn't appear to be any flexibility to order chassis options. Thor orders chassis in large lot sizes equipped a certain way, and it's not possible to order the extra heavy duty alternator option, or smaller V8 engine, aluminum wheels, etc. He didn't know the exact alternator size but knows all Axis/Vegas get the same. He said dealers can often handle modifications like aftermarket wheels.

Regarding use of E-450 chassis, he confirmed previous reports that it's due to environmental requirements. He "thinks" that using the E-350 may have required going with the 5.4 V8, and that they don't think it's strong enough. When asked, he said he wasn't aware of plans for larger Axis/Vegas models or with two slides (due to the heavier-duty E-450 chassis). I figure he wouldn't have told me anyway even if he knew.

For now options are limited to the ones we know about: Extra TV, larger 15,000 AC, colors, etc. Significant customization in this case is not practical, being outside the scope of what they do.
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Old 11-22-2015, 10:53 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post

A separate alternator dedicated to house loads sounds even better on the surface, but again I haven't thought of possible downsides.
I appreciate your report on what you learned about the lack of options Thor has when purchasing chassis. Based on some of the equipment on my Windsport, I wouldn't expect Thor to upgrade the alternator, since it would affect the bottom line.

A separate alternator for house loads could work, but since the alternator now charges both the house and engine batteries, the battery isolator would have to be modified or wired differently. As it is now set up, I presume when there is an engine alternator failure, the gas, diesel, or propane generator could be used to supply electricity to the chassis, enabling the motor home to be driven.
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Old 11-23-2015, 01:07 AM   #10
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I appreciate your report on what you learned about the lack of options Thor has when purchasing chassis. Based on some of the equipment on my Windsport, I wouldn't expect Thor to upgrade the alternator, since it would affect the bottom line.

A separate alternator for house loads could work, but since the alternator now charges both the house and engine batteries, the battery isolator would have to be modified or wired differently. As it is now set up, I presume when there is an engine alternator failure, the gas, diesel, or propane generator could be used to supply electricity to the chassis, enabling the motor home to be driven.
According to specs some manufacturers upgrade to factory higher-capacity alternators. And perhaps Thor does it also on higher-cost motorhomes -- I don't know. I agree it's cheaper to stay with standard alternator size, but the cost to upgrade is very reasonable if done at time of purchase.

On the F-53 Ford has standardized on 175 Amps, which could be matched or surpassed for about $100 more or less (can't recall exact cost). We are not talking about a lot of cost.

Regarding the isolator, there would not be a need for one if there were two engine driven alternators. Isolation would be physical between alternators. One alternator would be wired to run the chassis as it is in all cars, and the other would be wired only to the house batteries. The main point in having two alternators is to separate (i.e. -- divorce) the two systems completely.

In fact, most engineers would say that longer term the house electrical system doesn't even have to run at the same voltage. Short term it would be easier to buy DC lights, pumps, etc. if a voltage is kept at 12 or 24, but longer term 36 or 48 may be more efficient.

Additionally, a second alternator can be set up with external regulator optimized for deep-cycle, AGM, or lithium batteries. By virtue of having two permanently isolated systems, batteries could be very different without risk of damage caused by charging differences.

I'm sure two alternators is the future. It makes too much sense to ignore. There may be issues but they'll figure them out.

First Mercedes offered brackets to mount a second alternator on Sprinters, and now RAM HD trucks offer an option for dual alternators, each in the 180- to 220-Amp range.

As an example, that's enough to power an air conditioner while driving down the road without having to run the generator. And the RAM option cost is under $400. Ford can and should do the same in my opinion.
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:30 PM   #11
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My paperwork on my C class has it as a 200a alternator. So not sure why it is different than those stated above.
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:57 PM   #12
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My paperwork on my C class has it as a 200a alternator. So not sure why it is different than those stated above.
Is it a Ford? If so, what year?

Could be that 200 Amp alternator was an option but no longer offered. Maybe the 225 Amp alternator replaced it? Either way it's an inexpensive upgrade if from factory. Two high-capacity alternators like RAM offers as an option would be my choice if available.
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Old 11-26-2015, 08:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
Is it a Ford? If so, what year?

Could be that 200 Amp alternator was an option but no longer offered. Maybe the 225 Amp alternator replaced it? Either way it's an inexpensive upgrade if from factory. Two high-capacity alternators like RAM offers as an option would be my choice if available.
Mine is a 2015 Ford (F550) chassis - The ford chassis also offers two of the 200a, second to be installed by dealer, usually an option for snow plowing.
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Old 11-27-2015, 01:52 AM   #14
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Mine is a 2015 Ford (F550) chassis - The ford chassis also offers two of the 200a, second to be installed by dealer, usually an option for snow plowing.
Alternator options previously listed only applied to E-350 and E-450 chassis. Ford uses different alternator ratings on different models, whether it's the F-53, Transit, or your F-550.

Is yours a diesel? I have seen the second Ford generator option on Diesel engines, but not on V10. I believe it's common on ambulance applications also.

For V10 I've only seen expensive aftermarket solutions I did not care for. A Ford factory option would be preferred, and a lot lower cost.
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Old 11-27-2015, 02:09 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
Alternator options previously listed only applied to E-350 and E-450 chassis. Ford uses different alternator ratings on different models, whether it's the F-53, Transit, or your F-550.

Is yours a diesel? I have seen the second Ford generator option on Diesel engines, but not on V10. I believe it's common on ambulance applications also.

For V10 I've only seen expensive aftermarket solutions I did not care for. A Ford factory option would be preferred, and a lot lower cost.
Yes, mine is a diesel, perhaps that is why?
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