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Electric golf carts have become increasingly popular due partly to their environmental friendliness, low operating costs, and quiet performance. One of the most critical components of your golf cart is its batteries.
Your cart's battery pack is responsible for powering the cart, and the health of your batteries can significantly impact the overall quality of your cart's performance. If you are looking for replacement deep-cycle batteries or want to make the jump to lithium-ion batteries, we will walk you through all the critical pieces of information you need to know.
This article will dive into the best ways to maintain your batteries, the average battery lifespan, what batteries are available for your cart, the cost of new batteries, and more. At the end of this article, you should have a much better understanding of your golf cart's power source, the best golf cart batteries out on the market, and battery maintenance best practices, so your golf cart stays in tip-top shape.
Before purchasing new or maintaining your current batteries, you need to know what kind of batteries you have and the battery pack configuration. Electric carts typically come in 36 or 48-volt capacities (there are a few 72-volt carts, but they are rare).
If you aren't sure what voltage your cart requires, figuring out what you have isn't difficult. If you have standard lead-acid batteries, you will notice that each battery has plastic caps on top, typically 3, 4, or 6 caps. These are the caps of the acid holes in the battery.
To determine the voltage of each deep cycle battery- take the number of caps and multiply it by two. So if you have four caps on top of each battery, multiply that by two, and you get the resulting battery voltage of 8.
To determine how much voltage is required to run your cart, multiply that number (the voltage of each battery) by how many batteries you have in your cart. Use the formula below to determine your battery configuration:
Pro Tip: Do not attempt to increase or decrease voltage on your golf cart. There are multiple components on your golf cart that are connected to your battery system and are calibrated to a specific voltage (motor, controller, etc.) Increasing (or decreasing) that voltage will damage your cart.
*Feel free to skip to "How To Maintain Your Golf Cart's Batteries" if you don't care about the technicalities*
Electric golf carts work by using the energy provided by the batteries to power the cart. Simple enough. However, to help you better understand, let's explain some terms and give you an analogy to tie it all together. Voltage refers to the measure of the pressure that allows electrons to flow, while amperage is a measure of the volume of electrons.
A typical illustration used to help explain this is the concept of a river. The voltage would refer to how fast the water flows. The amperage would refer to the volume of water. When it comes to safety, a battery's amperage is the primary concern. A current with 2000 volts would pose the same danger as a current with 100 volts, but small increases in amperage can do serious harm very quickly.
A small stream (amps) that flows quickly (voltage) is not nearly as dangerous as a deep river (amp) with a small current (voltage). With all of that out of the way, let's discuss the battery configurations required to increase the voltage or the amp-hour capacity of your electric cart.
If you hook up two or more cart batteries in SERIES, you will increase the voltage without changing the amp hours. In this connection, you will connect the negative terminal of one battery to the positive terminal of another battery. As your "chain" of batteries grows, you pull the voltage from each battery that came before it.
For example, if you have six 8V batteries hooked up in parallel, you would get 48 volts (6x8). This is how all lead-acid batteries work in golf carts. See the photo below for an example.
The other option you have when hooking up batteries is hooking them up in PARALLEL, which increases the overall amp-hours without changing the voltage.
In this setup, the negative terminal of one battery is hooked up to the negative terminal of another battery. The same thing is done with the positive terminals. See the example photo below.
Pro-Tip: Before connecting any batteries in series or parallel, confirm that your batteries and golf cart can accept that type of connection. For example, most Lithium batteries can only be hooked up in parallel, not in series.
For more in-depth explanations, check out this article from power-sonic.
If you are looking to extend the life of your current batteries or want to maximize the life of newly purchased batteries, here are a few tips:
When it comes to maintaining the batteries on your cart, many people often overlook how they charge their batteries, which might be the most crucial step.
New battery chargers often come with updated technology and safety features that will keep your battery fully charged without some of the negative characteristics of older chargers. Some of those features include:
Intelligent charge curves. Intelligent charging systems allow your charger to charge your golf cart batteries at a higher rate when empty and slow down as they fill to keep the stress on your batteries low.
Automatic full-charge shut-off
Short circuit and no-load shutdown
All of these safety features help ensure that your charger fills your golf cart batteries at the proper rate and keeps the risk of battery damage and stress to a minimum.
If you follow the steps outlined above, you will go a long way in positively impacting how long you can use your batteries and the expected performance of your batteries. With proper care and maintenance, you should see the following average lifespans:
Golf cart batteries typically come in two battery types: standard lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries. Let's take a look at each one below.
First up is lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries are the standard battery in most golf carts (although that is starting to change). These are similar to the battery you would find in your car, but they are not the same (so don't use a car battery in your golf cart!)
Pros of lead-acid batteries
Cheap. Having been around for years, lead-acid batteries are typically a more affordable option for an electric cart. That means when it comes time to replace your batteries, you will have less money you need to dish out (at first... more on that below!)
Con's of lead-acid batteries
Next on the list are Lithium-ion batteries. Lithium batteries are the top dogs in battery technology. This new technology provides many enhanced features that make installing them in your golf cart something worth considering. Let's explore the pros and cons of lithium golf cart batteries below.
Pros of lithium batteries
Cons of Lithium Batteries
The reality is there aren't any real cons to buying lithium batteries when you look at all the benefits you get. However, the only, and we mean "only" downside that there might be to purchasing Lithium batteries is the up-front cost. Even with that, the cost savings that lithium provides you over the long haul far outweigh any upfront costs you would incur.
While we don't sell lead-acid batteries, we know from experience that Trojan batteries are the way to go. Trojan battery company has been in business for a while and they are the leading battery supplier for many companies. Due to the nature of deep-cycle batteries, these batteries are typically sold as a complete battery pack.
However, we highly suggest you switch to lithium ion if you are in the market for new batteries (for the reasons stated above). The top players in the lithium market as far as sales volume, are RELiON, RoyPow, and Allied. However, let us take the time to introduce you to the new kid on the block- the UNO™ Lithium Battery. The UNO™ Battery is pretty revolutionary when it comes to batteries.
Whereas most lithium batteries require you to hook up multiple batteries in parallel to reach various amp hour ranges (90 amp hours, for example), the UNO™ gives you 48V and 90 amp hours in one single battery. For comparison, you would need three RELiON batteries to reach the same amp hours. In addition, its clean and unique form factor makes it as pretty as it is powerful. This gives you the best performance at a fraction of the typical weight of other lithium-ion batteries.
Update: The updated UNO™ batteries now come with their own charger that includes an AC Port Plug Adapter Kit.
Well, that's it, everyone! We hope that this guide has been helpful in getting you accurate and up-to-date information on all things golf cart batteries. If you still have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time!
BONUS QUESTION: Should golf cart batteries be charged after every use?
In a perfect world, batteries are charged and discharged at semi-regular intervals. This avoids the batteries from being either severely under or over-charged.
We typically advise against keeping your golf cart batteries plugged in all the time but individual circumstances vary and this can impact best practices. If you are using your golf cart regularly (daily or every other day), keeping your cart plugged in when not in use shouldn't be an issue.
However, if you are leaving your golf cart sitting for long periods, this isn't a great idea. Another important factor in this equation is your charger- new smart chargers often have the proper technology to prevent overcharging. Older chargers on the other hand keep feeding the batteries at full blast which is where the real problem arises.
We would suggest taking your batteries to a local battery store to see if they can test and diagnose your issue. As a long-term solution, if you can switch over to lithium batteries this would be ideal. Lithium batteries have a much more consistent power output and are less susceptible to overcharging issues.
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