Golf carts have been around for over 90 years. While other vehicles are shifting from petrol and diesel engines to an electric battery compartment, golf carts were originally designed to be electric. While they are now available in a lot of different variants, the original design and functionality of the golf cart remain the same.
Golf car batteries are the main component of the vehicle as it is what powers it and keeps it running. Therefore, many people ask about what types of cart batteries are there, how they function, and about maintaining a golf cart battery.
This article will discuss all these things pertaining to golf cart batteries. After reading the information and tips this article provides, your golf cart batteries might last many times longer.
What are Golf Cart Batteries?
Golf cart batteries are a specific kind of deep-cycle batteries. Deep cycle batteries are batteries intended to be discharged to a majority of their fraction to provide long-lasting and consistent power. In this manner, golf cart batteries are very different from starter batteries of your car, which are intended to provide only a high initial burst of current for starting the engine.
Electric golf carts have batteries similar to the battery of electric vehicles, although with a lesser capacity. The lesser capacity is due to the fact that golf carts usually operate in a limited range with speeds of about 10 to 15 miles per hour.
How Do Golf Cart Batteries Work?
There are many different types of golf cart batteries. The particular working of a golf cart battery depends on the type of battery installed. These different types and their functioning will be discussed in the next section.
In general, a golf cart battery consists of a number of battery cells connected in series. The exact number of cells depends on the rating of golf cart batteries. These batteries are rated in voltage configurations such as 6V, 8V, and 12V.
Therefore, if a golf cart battery requires 48V, there are three ways to achieve that: 8 batteries of 6V, 6 batteries of 8V, or 4 batteries of 12V. There are pros and cons to using each configuration. Lesser number of batteries with higher voltage ratings can be initially cheap when buying. However, a higher number of lower voltage batteries implies better and longer performance.
What are the Different Types of Golf Cart Batteries?
Choosing a golf cart battery cannot be a random decision. The various types of golf cart batteries have a lot of differences when it comes to performance and functionality. Let us analyse these different types based on their functionality, pros, and cons:
Flooded Lead Acid Batteries
Flooded lead acid batteries used to be the most commonly installed batteries in golf carts. This is because of the low purchase cost of the flooded lead-acid batteries. However, if you are looking for the best golf cart battery, flooded lead acid batteries would be the lowest on the list.
These batteries can consume the most when it comes to maintenance costs. Even if users maintain these batteries regularly, their lifespan is still very low. Due to the presence of a liquid electrolyte, there is a spillage risk in these batteries. Therefore, the batteries and the battery compartment should always be in the upright position.
Advantages of Flooded Lead Acid Batteries
Disadvantages of Flooded Lead Acid Batteries
- High maintenance needs
- Low performance
- Low cycle life
- Low safety
Gel Lead Acid Batteries
Gel lead acid batteries, commonly shortened to gel batteries, are lead acid batteries that replace the liquid electrolyte with a thick paste. The reason for using the thick paste (or gel) in these batteries is to eliminate the spill factor. The paste usually consists of the electrolyte suspended in a silica gel.
While these batteries eliminate the possibility of electrolyte spills, the rest of the disadvantages of lead-acid batteries still remain. Gel batteries require high maintenance and offer a low lifespan, leading to frequent replacements. Therefore, while they are cheaper to purchase, they offer little value for money in the long run.
- High maintenance needs
- Lower lifespan
AGM batteries stand for Absorbent Glass Mat batteries and are another type of lead acid battery. These batteries replace the liquid or gel electrolyte with a fibreglass mat, making them truly spill-proof. The purpose of the glass mat is to saturate the electrolyte and absorb any battery acid.
Advantages of AGM Batteries
- Completely spill proof
- Sealed batteries
- Less maintenance requirements than other lead acid batteries
Disadvantages of AGM Batteries
- Higher cost
- Moderate lifespan
Lithium batteries are an entirely different class when compared with lead-acid batteries. These batteries do not rely on fluid electrolytes, which makes them entirely spill-proof and reduces their maintenance requirements considerably. There are many different types of lithium golf cart batteries, such as Li-NMC batteries and LFP batteries.
These batteries also offer a longer lifespan and a better depth of discharge than lead-based batteries. Depth of discharge (DoD) refers to the degree of discharge possible in a battery without harming it. This means that lithium-based batteries provide a better operating range as compared to lead-acid batteries mentioned above.
Advantages of Lithium Batteries
- Higher cycle life, longer lifespan
- Better Depth of discharge
- Wider operating range
- Higher safety standard
Disadvantages of Lithium Batteries
Important Power Characteristics For Golf Cart Batteries
There are two important power stats relating to a golf cart battery- its voltage and current. Since the current is measured in amperes, the current rating is also called the amperage. Let us study the voltage and current characteristics of a golf cart battery in detail:
Voltage Characteristics of Golf Cart Batteries
The voltage relates to the power capacity of the golf cart batteries. As we mentioned earlier, golf cart batteries are available in different voltage ratings such as 6V, 8V, and 12V, and even higher voltages such as 24V and 48V.
To provide the necessary power for the electric golf carts drive system, multiple batteries need to be connected in series.
However, it is important to choose the right number of batteries as it is not a random decision you can make on your own. The size and number of batteries depend on the battery compartment of the golf cart. Most golf carts either use a 36V system or a 48V system. Finding out the voltage rating and the number of batteries can be done by looking at this compartment.
While the number of batteries is easy to see, the voltage requirement requires a bit of trick. When you open the compartment, count the number of holes present on the battery (usually 3, 4, or 6). Multiply the number of holes by 2, and this will be the voltage rating of the battery (i.e. 6, 8, or 12). Multiply the voltage rating by the number of batteries to know your golf cart’s voltage rating.
Amperage Characteristics of Golf Cart Batteries
The amperage rating of a battery will determine the rate at which the battery provides the power and the rate at which the battery stores it. The amperage rating of a battery dictates how far the battery can go and how much time it can last at any given charge level.
The current drawn by a golf cart from a battery can vary based on the acceleration of the cart. For instance, if a golf cart races faster, it will drain the battery capacity significantly faster. The same is the case when going uphill. If a golf cart moves at around 15 miles per hour, it typically draws about 60 amperes from the battery.
How Long Do Golf Cart Batteries Last?
The lifespan of a golf cart battery mainly depends on what type of battery is used. For instance, a lead acid battery provides a cycle life of about 500 to 1000 cycles. This corresponds to about two to three years of use. On the other hand, high-quality lithium golf cart batteries, such as the LiFePO4 batteries, have a cycle life of over 3000 cycles with optimal performance. They last easily for over 10 years.
It is important to note that for the maximum lifetime, it is important to take the necessary maintenance steps for that battery. These steps will be mentioned in the sections to come.
What are the Common Golf Cart Battery Issues?
Like any other electrical and electronic equipment, golf cart batteries can have certain failure or performance issues at times. Some of the commonly encountered issues are:
In case of lead acid batteries, the acid in the batteries can often cause corrosion of the metal parts. This can be seen as a crust formation on the battery terminals. In case of corrosion, the battery should be cleaned at the earliest. If corrosion increases, it can lead to shorting of the battery causing battery damage, fire, or even an explosion.
In case of a flat battery or dead golf cart batteries, never attempt to jump start them with a car starter battery. Golf cart batteries are deep cycle batteries and jump starting them will only destroy them. Contact the battery manufacturers or service centre for assistance.
Not Charging/Improper Charging
The charging of the battery is highly dependent on the charger. It is vital to use the rated charger with the battery instead of going for universal charger options. If the charger is underpowered, it will damage the negative plates and an overpowered charger will damage the positive plates.
Leakage, which happens in the case of lead acid batteries, signifies that the battery has suffered serious damage. In case of leakage of battery fluids, the battery should be disconnected and replaced without using it any further.
Do Golf Cart Batteries Need Maintenance?
Regardless of what manufacturers claim, there is always a certain degree of maintenance associated with a battery, however little it might be. In case of traditional lead acid batteries, the maintenance required is more frequent and with a greater effort. In case of lithium batteries, especially the lithium iron phosphate options, there is negligible maintenance required.
Can I Use Regular Car Batteries To Replace Golf Cart Battery?
Short answer- no, replacing a golf cart battery with a car battery should never be done. Lithium golf cart batteries (or even lead acid ones) are deep cycle batteries. However, car batteries are starter batteries. Car batteries provide a very high initial surge of current which is important to start a car. This surge of current can completely damage a golf cart drivetrain.
Additionally, golf cart battery, whether lithium-ion batteries or lead acid batteries, provide a consistent current to carry out the operation along the duration required, which can take hours. It is not possible to derive this much power from car batteries.
How Much Do Golf Cart Batteries Cost?
The main factor that influences the price of a golf cart battery is whether you are using lithium golf cart batteries or lead acid batteries. As mentioned earlier, lithium ion batteries can be costly since they have significantly longer battery life.
A good pack of lithium battery will cost around $2000, whereas a good pack of lead acid counterparts falls at about $1500. If you compare the lifespan of the two and the golf cart battery maintenance, lithium battery technology is the better option.
How to Choose a Golf Cart Battery?
Deciding between whether to go with lithium golf cart batteries or lead acid counterparts is easy. Lifepo4 golf cart batteries tend to be the best choice for most situations.
However, there are many different lithium-based golf cart battery types. Read our guide on buying a golf cart battery to discern the difference between different batteries and choose the best one for your needs.
Whether you drive a Club Car golf cart or an E-Z-Go, the battery inside is the heart and soul of the vehicle. Choosing the right golf cart battery means that golf cart owners can forget their battery woes and spend more time enjoying the game.
With the information in this article, you are now well-versed with golf cart batteries, battery chargers, and how to maintain your battery for the longest battery life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the common doubts that come up regarding the batteries of a golf cart or any other electric cart:
1. Where to find the best golf cart battery?
Understanding the best types of battery for a golf cart is important. Eco Tree Lithium ends up being the home of industry-leading LFP batteries, which are incomparable when it comes to high quality, longer lifespan new batteries option.
2. Are golf cart batteries the same as car batteries?
No, golf cart batteries are entirely different from car batteries. A golf cart battery is a deep cycle battery intended to provide constant low current over a long duration. A car battery is a starter battery that is designed to provide a high initial surge of current.
3. How many golf cart batteries do you need?
The number of batteries in a golf cart can vary. To find out the number of batteries you need, you can open the battery compartment of the golf carts and check for the battery slots inside.