Power Upgrades for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: Trust a smart alternator regulator with your lithium-ion system

The N62 standard accessory bracket has become important for builders integrating lithium-ion energy storage with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter—and options for “powering up” the platform abound.

Whether the vehicle is being used for work or recreation, there are a few things vehicle integrators should know before selecting a solution to serve on-vehicle current needs and to charge aftermarket li-ion systems:

Opt for the factory bracket.

We strongly suggest purchasing the N62 standard accessory bracket directly from the manufacturer. Mercedes-Benz will complete a critical programming step at the factory that helps to ensure proper function of additional equipment added to the bracket post-manufacture. Without this step, the vehicle’s factory warranty may become void.

Be aware that unregulated high-output alternators can damage lithium-ion systems.

In the AGM battery world, we can charge cells faster with a high-amp alternator. With these batteries, more amps are generally better.

The same does not hold true with lithium-ion cells, which can be damaged by a high output alternator that is not properly regulated. In other words, higher output is not always the best solution in combination with this battery type.

Due to the ultra-low resistance of lithium-ion chemistry, applying charge at the appropriate rate is critical. When selecting an alternator to do the job, it is important to evaluate vehicle loads as well as proper current for the fastest charging possible. This preserves battery life, improves system function and longevity, and saves money over time.

Moreover, when comparing upgrade solutions for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter N62 standard accessory bracket, purchasers should exercise healthy skepticism about any kit marketed on the basis of alternator output alone for use in conjunction with lithium-ion batteries. They also should question any solution that packages a high output alternator with a current shunt – a scenario that is likely to be inefficient from an engineering and cost standpoint.

For lithium-ion applications, focus on robust regulator capabilities, not just alternator output.

We recommend purchasing a smart alternator regulator to protect and properly (fully) charge li-ion systems. The difference in cost between an intermediate and a state-of-the-art alternator regulator is often less than a tank of fuel.

A CAN-equipped or “smart” alternator regulator is best equipped to protect a lithium-ion battery storage system representing an investment of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

The APS-500 is a smart regulator that uses multiple data points—including battery voltage, current in/out, and battery and alternator temperature—to properly charge and protect virtually any commercially available battery type.

The APS-500 is highly configurable for use with vehicle systems at 12, 24 and 48 volts—up to 60 volts. Units are 100-percent customizable with no hardware changes, and our technicians take care of programming units before we ship them based upon application specifications.

APS also provides the training that system integrators need to address any subsequent programming changes directly with their end users.

Read the fine print about programming.

For kits that include an alternator regulator, in particular, ensure that application-appropriate programming is provided and that complete instructions are available before purchase.

Depending on design, especially with no-frills units, programming can be confusing or frustrating for the technician. Integrators should be aware of programming requirements that are so time-intensive that any unit-based cost savings are subsequently lost on labor.

More power for Sprinter—and beyond

Whether you need more power for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or other vocational vehicles, we recommend working with a power upgrade provider who will review the details of your application before suggesting a solution.

For safety and efficacy, at APS we review every client’s application—both the vehicle and its mission—before we provide upgrade advice or attempt to sell a solution.

Contact us today to discuss your on-vehicle power needs.

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