Golf Cart Battery Buying Guide – Everything You Need To Know
We live in a world that is increasingly powered by battery. Golf is going the same way and the modern golfer has a number of items in his/her bag that requires batteries. Golf carts were powered by petrol for many years. This made them loud, more expensive to run and not so sustainable.
However, now, as we all know, the technology of batteries has never been better. They continue to improve. It used to be that an electric cart lasted one round, maybe. Now they can last much more than this and comfortably take you through eighteen holes.
Buying a new battery for an existing cart can give it a new lease of life. It can be a good value way of improving your golfing arsenal and make your rounds a little easier on the body. In this article, we want to inform you of what you need to know when looking to make this investment. Here is everything you need to know to get the best battery for your game and breathe new life into your golf.
I used to go on holiday a lot in Florida, of course I took my clubs and played a lot of golf. This was a time when my dad and I would use golf carts, as you have to in the Floridian heat. One day we were on the course and the cart just cut-out. The cart limped along, incredibly slowly in the rough, there was a problem.
We called over a member of staff from the course and told them that our cart had an issue. Looking at us, clearly confused, the employee told us that this was “the governor”. This was something I’d never heard of but clearly it was something I should know about. Apparently the cart battery wasn’t dead, we were just driving in an area we shouldn’t have been and the cart had cut out. Every day is a school day.
Why Are Cart Batteries So Important?
One of the best things about golf is that it is a sport for life, you can play long into your golden years. Golf carts are a key tool to help you continue playing as you get older, it helps take the strain out of the walk. The reason that they help is that the battery-powered motor takes the weight so that you can just enjoy your golf.
If you have a good cart, it will carry you over the whole round without you needing to worry about it. Good batteries are also lighter so that everything is more efficient and you can get more performance out of your cart.
Battery Age – How To Check The Age Of Your Battery
As you may know, time isn’t a good friend of batteries, something that anyone with a mobile phone will know well. The type of battery is also important here though as lithium ion (Li) have a far longer lifespan than lead acid batteries. As batteries get older they do lose capacity and efficiency.
The best way to check the age of your battery is locate the serial number on the battery itself. By noting this number, you can contact the manufacturer and they should be able to tell you how old that power pack is.
Voltage and amperage of batteries
Most electric cart batteries run on 6V, 8V or 12V systems, you need to check this before you replace a battery. These batteries can be combined to boost the overall voltage of the battery to power the trolley.
The amperage of the batteries tend to be 24, 28 or 33 amps however, the amps per hour (Ah) rating is a more important attribute. This number will help you work out how many holes you should manage on a fully charged battery.
A golf cart will usually be powered by six of these 6V batteries. This means that the cart will have a total voltage of 36V to pull from. These are the cheapest batteries on the market and so are cheap to replace when they come to the end of their lives. They are perfect for flat courses
The smaller 36V total voltage does mean, however, that these can’t really be used on hilly courses. They just don’t really have enough power. These batteries will also need charged more often due to the smaller capacity.
These tend to be combined to make more powerful electric motors for more challenging courses and carts that move a little faster. They also carry more charge than 6V batteries so should last longer both on each charge cycle and over time. They power one of the most successful electric carts on the market, the Club Car Precedent.
These batteries tend to be a little bulkier and take up a little more space in the cart. They provide a great balance between the requirements of 6V batteries in a series to give adequate power whilst providing a better Ah rating than 12V batteries.
These are the largest voltage batteries used in golf carts. Less of these batteries are required to power a motor due to their increased voltage capacity. These batteries tend to be lighter than the others too.
The cannot be “deep-cycled” though which means that they don’t last as long through charging/discharging cycles and will need replaced more often. They also have less favourable Ah ratings as mentioned above.
Lead-based batteries are the main topic of discussion in this article, they are the most common golf cart batteries. However, lithium-ion batteries are a new option to the market and ones to think about in terms of buying new batteries. These are more expensive, of that there is no doubt, however they tend to last a lot longer.
These batteries require less maintenance and they perform better, in general. Increasingly, new carts on the market are being powered by Li batteries. This is a technology to consider when it comes to replacing your system.
Best Golf batteries on the market
The batteries listed below are all lead acid-based cells. These are by far the most common types of battery in golf carts. Here are a few of the best performing and most popular batteries you can buy.
Trojan 6V Battery
The Trojan 6V battery is a very popular wet power supply unit Trojan is the most recognised battery brand in the industry. One of the major benefits of this battery is that it is very well established, it has been in the market for a long time and is a consistently high-seller. This is a deep-cycle battery and so it will last through many charge/discharge cycles.
This is a flooded lead acid battery, a standard type of battery that comes in the vast majority of golf carts. This is an older technology which means that it is heavier and less efficient than other alternatives on the market now.
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UPG UB12350 (Group U1) Battery
This UPG battery is a sealed lead acid is a universal cell that fits into an array of golf carts. It is a very versatile battery in terms of how many systems can use it which is a huge advantage. This is a 12V battery that runs at 35Ah.
This is not a deep cycle system and so won’t last as long as many on the market, however, if you don’t use your cart too often, it is great value. This battery has similar disadvantages as any other lead-based battery system.
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Lifeline AGM Battery
The Lifeline AGM battery is actually a marine battery, however, it can be used in golf carts. This is a sealed lead acid battery system, like the UPG above and it is a 6V battery. This is a more expensive battery than the ones mentioned above.
This is a high performance battery that can provide a cart with 25A for over 8 hours, this is a punchy battery. It is not a lithium battery, which has inherent disadvantages, it is a good product though, in terms of lead acid batteries.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long should a battery last on a single charge?
Clearly, it is important that a charge will take you comfortably around whatever golf course you play. This depends on the terrain of the course, hilly courses are more strenuous on batteries, and the length of the course. On average, a well-maintained battery configuration should take a cart between 25 and 40 miles. Even the very worst golfer should be able to make that kind of range last a round.
Are refurbished batteries worth it?
Lead-based golf cart batteries can be refurbished, however, this should be carried out by a professional. It is a dangerous procedure to carry out so please don’t try it at home. These batteries that have been given a new lease of life can be a cheaper alternative to buying new, however they don’t perform as well as new. New batteries are often not as expensive as you think so always look to buy new first, if possible.
What’s the lifespan of a golf cart battery?
Like all batteries, the lifespan of golf cart batteries is absolutely down to how well you care for it. Taking the time to do proper up-keep of your batteries will bring great performance and lifespan benefits. Keeping these power cells in the best condition is simply essential if you want them to last. A battery should last up to 7 years if you give it the TLC it needs. The worst thing you can do to a lead battery is run it dry, this causes sulphation of the electrodes and reduces the efficiency of the overall system.
Should golf batteries be charged after every use?
Lead-acid batteries should be charged between uses. Even though a battery may have enough charge for another round, you should use a full-charged battery. By using a partially-charged battery, you can limit the overall capacity of a battery and severely limit the performance of the cell. This is the so-called ‘memory effect’ of batteries. Basically, if you don’t use it you lose it. You should also invest in a charger that switches itself off once the battery has fully charged. Again, this extra care will help your battery last longer.
Should I leave my cart plugged in?
As stated above, you really should try to avoid doing this. Continually charging lead batteries, even though they are full can damage the cell and reduce its lifespan significantly. Many of us have gotten used to leaving our phones on charge all night with no negative effects on the battery. This is due to a different battery technology though. These are lithium batteries, which are available in golf carts, but lead batteries don’t react well to this. Charge you lead batteries fully then switch off the power supply.
How many batteries are there in a golf cart?
Golf carts come in a variety of total voltages which means that they require different battery configurations. Most carts come as 36V or 48V models. With this in mind, we then need to look at the fact that batteries come as 6V, 8V and 12V. From there it is basic mathematics. What is the total voltage of the cart, what voltage of battery do they take…do some arithmetic. It usually takes between 3 and 6 batteries in a series to power a cart.
Can I put four 12V batteries in my golf cart?
This is one battery configuration that some 48V golf carts come with. This can be a powerful set-up for golf carts that are making their way over hilly and challenging golf courses. You are probably more likely to see other set-ups, however, this isn’t unheard of. Some carts come with 6 X 6V batteries for a total of 36V, it just depends on the make and model of the cart.
Can I replace just one cart battery?
Yes, just make sure you get the right one. If something were to go wrong with one of your batteries in a series then you can replace it. However, this should only really be done when one of your batteries has become damaged. If you get into the habit of replacing individual batteries then you have to remember to test each one before you replace the dying one. Synchronising them makes for fewer headaches but it isn’t always possible.
How do you rejuvenate golf cart batteries?
This can be a hit or miss process depending on the state of the battery, so please be aware that it may not work. You can read more details about how to do it here, essentially you need to de-sulphate the electrodes. Tip half of the battery acid out, very very carefully into something that can handle the acidity. Then with a water and baking soda solution, a paintbrush and a steady hand, brush the electrodes. From here you need some Epsom salts and an overnight charge to really clean the electrodes.
Does Epsom salt help batteries?
Yes. A solution of 200g of Epsom salts in 2L of water will give you what you need to breathe new life into your battery. Follow the steps above and refill the battery with this solution before giving it an overnight charge. The salts are made of magnesium sulphate which helps clear the plates in the battery and reduce the internal resistance of the battery. If successful, this will give your battery a few more months of life.
How often should you check the water in a golf cart battery?
You should be checking the water level in your batteries at least every two months. Water-based battery systems that run dry can cause severe damage to the cell and vastly reduce the lifespan of it. When you see that your battery needs to be topped-up with water, you should only ever use distilled water. Tap water can contain trace elements that, even though they are in very small amounts, can damage your battery. The best time to refill your battery is immediately after fully-recharging it.
Why do my golf cart batteries die so fast?
There are a number of potential reasons for this, many of them are listed above. Usually this can come down to them being too old and needing to be replaced. This is the first thing to think of, unfortunately, batteries simply have a lifespan and need replaced. Next thing to check for is any damage. This can affect the performance of a cell and may reduce its ability to hold charge. Finally, if it is a newish battery and seemingly without damage, you need to look at your maintenance of it. Maybe you aren’t doing something that you should be to get the best performance out of the battery. Look through this article and the links within it to see how you can improve this.
Can you use tap water in golf cart batteries?
This is something that should be avoided ideally. Yes, technically you can use tap water, however, in the long term, this isn’t good for the system. Depending on where in the world you are, your water will contain different trace elements and compounds. Things like lime in harder water can severely damage batteries and other trace elements can, over time, damage the plates too. For the sake of getting the best from your batteries for the longest time, you should always use distilled water.
What happens if you overfill golf cart batteries?
Overfilling your batteries with water can cause a couple of issues. Firstly, you will dilute out the electrolyte solution of the battery and cause it to underperform, badly. You will get a lot less power from the cell as it doesn’t really have the fuel it needs to give you the power you require, in simple terms. Also, you will cause a spill of highly corrosive battery acid which is highly damaging to your cart. This acid can eat through many materials and can even corrode the aluminium of your golf cart. Clean it up carefully and immediately.
What happens if you under-fill golf cart batteries?
You see that your battery needs water and you fill it up, however, you’re scared of overfilling it so you under-fill it accidentally. This is another problem. Under-filled batteries have the same issue as dry batteries, the plates will start to deteriorate and sulphation will reduce their performance. This sulphation significantly increases the internal resistance of the battery and reduces the power it can produce. Refilling batteries should be done with great care.
Lead-based golf cart batteries need love. They will carry you over golf courses time and time again but you need to take good care of them to get the best from them. There are few things better than jumping into a fast golf cart on a hot day and getting that cool breeze between your shots to help stop you from overheating.
Your golf cart is your personal chariot to ride into the battlefield of the golf course. You better take good care of it. The tips, tricks and facts of battery maintenance, above, will help you achieve this and help you get the best and longest life out of your batteries.
There may be a few sections of the article that sound scary, especially to newbies when you read of the things that can go wrong. It is important to keep in mind that batteries can be dangerous if handled badly and you should seek to be shown how to do things if you plan on carrying out this stuff yourself. Plenty of trained people will take the time to make sure you know what to do before you try for yourself. If in doubt, get a qualified battery technician to help you out. Taking good care of your batteries will save you money in the long run.
Trojan 6V Battery