While other vehicles are shifting from fossil fuel power requirements to battery power now, golf carts have been battery-powered for more than half a century. An electric golf cart is a convenient way for golfers to move around golf courses with their equipment.
However, you must choose the right type of golf cart battery to make sure the cart doesn’t run out of power during operation. This article will discuss the various factors that affect golf cart batteries, such as configuration, size, intended applications, and what to look for when buying a golf cart battery.
Importance of Understanding Factors When Buying Golf Cart Batteries
Some buyers choose their golf batteries at random, investing in whatever they find in the first place. However, that is not the best way to go about it. The wrong choice of golf battery can have many consequences you want to avoid.
- In case of a golf cart battery failure, you cannot jump-start it. Therefore, the golf cart will be stranded wherever the failure occurs.
- If the battery failure occurs deep into the golf course, you will need to walk back with your equipment.
- Replacing a failed battery with a new, good-quality pack might take some time. In this case, you will have to organise a rental golf cart. This will lead to extra costs.
- A good quality battery can boost a golf cart’s capacity and enable it to cover more distance without recharging it.
- If you do not buy the proper battery pack for the golf cart, it may not fit into the compartment or may have an incorrect voltage rating. It will lead to all your money going down the drain.
What To Consider When Buying a Golf Cart Battery?
Here are the things to consider before any battery purchase for a golf cart:
Golf cart battery packs consist of several batteries connected together in series. The first thing you will find listed on golf cart batteries is the voltage. When talking about a golf cart battery, there are two voltages to consider:
- The individual voltage of each battery
- The total overall voltage of the pack
Individual Battery Voltage
To find out the voltage of an individual battery, refer to the golf cart manufacturer’s-user manual. If the manual isn’t available, it is also possible to find out the voltage rating by inspecting the battery compartment.
Open the compartment and check the number of acid holes, cells, or caps on any battery. Usually, this number is either 3, 4, or 6. Multiply this value by two, and you will get the voltage of each battery, i.e. 6, 8, or 12V.
Total Golf Cart Voltage
The total voltage of the golf cart is the sum of the voltages of individual batteries. This voltage provides the driving power for the golf cart and is fixed beforehand. Usually, golf cart battery systems are rated at 36V or 48V. To find out the total voltage, multiply the voltage of an individual battery by the total number of batteries installed.
Due to different types of batteries and evolving technology, there are many combinations possible for golf cart batteries.
Common golf cart battery configurations
- 4 x 12 V; total 48V
- 6 x 8V; total 48V
- 6 x 6V; total 36V
- 8 x 6V; total 48V
As mentioned above, there are options in the battery configuration available for a golf cart. This can lead to many different sizes, making it hard to choose the best battery. BCI groups for golf cart batteries specify their sizes to eliminate this issue. The BCI groups are based on the voltage rating of the battery.
Common BCI groups
- 12 Volt batteries fall in BCI Group GC12
- 8 Volt batteries have two options: BCI Group GC8 or GC8H
- 6Volt batteries have two options: BCI Group GC2 or GC2H
Each BCI group has specific dimension criteria that any battery in that group must follow. Here are the size details for each group:
While these are the most common battery dimensions, a manufacturer might also use custom dimensions. Refer to the golf cart manual to find out if there are any special size requirements.
Ampere Hour Rating
The Ampere hour rating determines how much power a battery can provide. It is vital to understand the difference between voltage and amperage. Voltage refers to the battery’s capacity, and the amperage relates to the power it can provide.
This means that the higher the ampere-hour rating of a battery, the longer it will travel on the golf course. A high ampere-hour rating will also significantly increase the cost of the battery, so that is another thing to keep in mind.
There are different types of golf cart batteries, and each comes with its pros and cons. Golf cart batteries can be divided into two main types, with each type of battery having further subtypes:
Lead Acid Batteries:
Lead acid batteries are the traditional and popular choice because of their lower price. However, the lower price comes with limitations and a lifespan significantly shorter than that of lithium batteries, which are preferred by golf cart owners.
Lead acid battery technology can be further classified into three types, each with its own characteristics:
Flooded Lead Acid Batteries (FLA)
FLA batteries contain a liquid electrolyte solution which requires regular maintenance, such as refilling with distilled water. They are prone to leakage, which can cause corrosion of some electric cart components.
Additionally, they have a very short lifespan which makes them last only a year or two, after which you will require replacement batteries. FLA batteries have poor depth of discharge, so you can use only 40-50% of their capacity.
Gel LEAD ACID Batteries
These are an upgrade from flooded batteries. They replace the liquid electrolyte solution with a silica-based gel; however, the upgrade part ends there. Gel batteries come with all the shortcomings of flooded batteries; for example, short lifespan, toxic gas emissions, and poor depth of discharge.
Absorbent Glass Mat technology replaces the gel with a glass mat that absorbs the electrolyte. These lead acid batteries are the best, although they still lag behind lithium-ion batteries.
AGM batteries are spill-proof and have a longer life than gel models. However, they still have a poor depth of discharge and easily damage if overcharged. The high price of AGM versions makes it a wiser choice to choose lithium-ion batteries for golf cars.
Lithium-ion is the go-to choice for golf cart batteries or any other application except car batteries. While lithium-ion batteries cost more than lead-acid batteries, they provide longer life and better performance on every parameter. Unlike a lead acid battery, a lithium-ion one has exceptional depth of discharge.
There are many variants of lithium-based batteries such as Li-NMC and LFP. LFP batteries are the best golf cart batteries available due to their exceptional performance and ability to be completely discharged. It means you can use them for extended periods.
Budget is an important factor when considering which golf cart battery to buy. However, many buyers think about their budget incorrectly before they purchase batteries, regretting their decision later. When deciding your budget, it is best to consider the total cost of the battery over its lifespan instead of just the initial price.
For instance, a lead acid battery pack costs, on average, $1500. However, it will only last for two to three years. In contrast, a lithium-based battery might cost around $2000, but it has a longer life and can easily last between 10 to 20 years. You might spend a little more money initially, but you won’t have to worry about replacing it anytime soon.
Every user exercises their own degree of caution. Most people prefer to invest extra in a safer option, while some can take slight risks if it saves some money. A golf cart battery is also one such thing that provides different safety options.
For instance, those with lead plates are toxic and create acid and fumes during operation. The battery can explode or catch fire if not properly vented or valve regulated. It also requires regular maintenance, without which it can short-circuit.
On the other hand, a lithium battery is very safe. In fact, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) variants are the safest out there as they are made from stable compounds.
LiFePO4 battery chemistry doesn’t suffer from the thermal runaway phenomenon that other types tend to exhibit. Additionally, its outdoor performance is exceptional, making it the safest option for a golf cart electrical system.
Lead-acid batteries are not maintenance-free. Even sealed and AGM batteries require regular maintenance, such as valve control or venting. However, lithium-ion batteries and LiFePO4 are closest to maintenance-free, requiring little to no maintenance.
Some models come with high-frequency and smart charger options. These chargers are like a battery management system as they regulate the operating parameters and keep the battery in a safe operating zone. This not only enhances battery life but also keeps it in optimal condition.
The high-frequency smart chargers cut off the power supply once the battery is charged, thereby avoiding overcharging. They also prevent overheating by stopping charging when the temperature gets too high. Therefore, it is wise to invest in a battery that supports such features as it will have a longer life.
New vs Old Golf Cart Battery
A common question that a regular golfer might ask is, ‘Is it okay to buy old batteries for my golf cart?’ Short answer – never! It is never a wise decision to try and install used batteries, and there is a good chance that you might end up regretting your decision.
Battery condition deteriorates due to many factors besides age, such as how it is used and charged. Therefore, buying used batteries might mean that you are investing in something that is at the end of its life. Additionally, used batteries will have little to no warranty. If a refurbished battery has internal damage, there may be no one to help you.
Opting for the right manufacturer is just as important as getting the correct voltage rating. Even a battery with a good power rating will suffer if the production process has poor quality control.
In fact, a poorly manufactured battery is not only more likely to fail, but it is also dangerous for life and property. A decent warranty is something that demonstrates good product quality. Manufacturers that produce high-quality batteries typically provide extended warranties.
What are the Best Golf Cart Batteries?
Eco Tree Lithium is the perfect choice for those looking for the best golf cart batteries. We provide top-of-the-line LFP golf cart and trolley batteries at competitive prices. Our batteries are compatible with all golf cart models and brands.
Additionally, there is a six-year warranty on the batteries, which shows the high-quality parts that go into making them. The batteries can easily withstand more than ten years of usage, deliver more power, and have a longer lifespan than other alternatives. These batteries also come with an inbuilt Battery Management System that provides protection against overcharging and excessive temperature, and many other safety benefits.
Battery technology has never been better than it is today. LFP batteries are pushing performance limits regarding how many holes you can cover on a single charge in your golf cart and how many years the battery lasts.
The only thing you require is to use the right accessories and follow the battery maintenance suggestions of the manufacturer. For the rest, all the information provided in this article will be more than enough.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some questions that golf cart owners ask when buying new batteries:
1. Are refurbished golf cart batteries worth it?
No, it is never a good idea to choose refurbished batteries. Regardless of how good they appear on the outside, their internal health can never be guaranteed. Additionally, these batteries also have little to no time left on the original warranty from the battery manufacturer.
2. Can I replace just one cart battery instead of all of them?
While it is possible to replace one single golf cart battery to keep the cart in running condition, it is not recommended. This is because when one battery fails, it is more than probable that the other batteries are also at the end of their battery life. This can put an excessive load on the new battery and deteriorate it faster. Therefore, replacement with all-new batteries is a better practice for most carts.
3. Can you put four 12 Volt batteries in a 48 Volt golf cart?
48V golf carts will indeed support four 12V batteries, six 8V batteries, or eight 6V batteries. However, the battery manufacturer makes the battery compartment in a particular way to make sure the batteries inside won’t move. Therefore, if your battery compartment has slots for six batteries by default, it will require structural modifications to fit four 12V batteries inside.
4. Are golf cart batteries fully charged when you buy them?
More often than not, new deep-cycle batteries for golf carts do not come fully charged. This is because they go through multiple processes like packing, transportation, and installation, some of which can drain the battery power. Therefore, it is best to charge the new deep-cycle battery to its full power capacity before using it.