Golf cart batteries come in various sizes and types and are the fuel that powers electric golf carts. And golfers aren’t the only ones using golf carts these days.
It’s not uncommon to see people driving around in electric golf carts in many beach towns and retirement communities. They’re also commonly used as maintenance vehicles in resorts, zoos, and parks where people on vacation don’t want to smell the fumes or hear the loud engines of traditional gas-powered vehicles.
You probably don’t spend much time thinking about the batteries in your golf cart, but understanding how they work and maintaining them is critical to the performance of your golf cart. The speed, acceleration, and run time of electric golf carts depend on the battery system configuration.
Having a better understanding of your battery system will help you get the most out of your electric golf cart. Let’s dig in!
What Are Golf Cart Batteries?
On average, electric golf motors operate at 36 or 48 volts and draw between 50-70 amps of current while cruising at about 15 miles per hour. Keep in mind that the current draw during acceleration or while going up a hill is much higher. To keep you from getting stranded, golf cart batteries must supply a steady flow of high current for long periods.
Additionally, golf cart batteries will typically go through full charge and discharge cycles daily. Draining batteries below 50% is hard on them and often leads to a shortened lifespan and reduced performance.
Golf cart batteries are deep-cycle batteries designed and built with additional durability to sustain prolonged current draw and frequent deep discharging. They usually come in 6, 8, and 12-volt configurations that can be wired in series to provide the required voltage. For example, six 6-volt batteries connected in series would provide 36 volts, or four 12-volt batteries would provide 48 volts.
Lower voltage batteries typically have a higher amp-hour capacity. For example, if you wanted to provide 48 volts to your golf cart motor, eight 6-volt batteries would have more capacity and run longer than six 8-volt batteries. This is because you are using more batteries overall.
Can You Use Regular Car Batteries in a Golf Cart?
The short answer is yes. Standard car batteries are 12-volts, and you could connect three or four of them in series to provide the required 36 or 48 volts to your golf cart motor.
However, car batteries are designed to provide a huge surge of current for short periods. The purpose of the battery in your car is to provide power while starting the engine. After that, the alternator takes over to power all of the electronics in your vehicle. Repeatedly draining a standard car battery below 50% would ruin it very quickly.
So, while you can technically use standard car batteries in your golf cart, they likely wouldn’t last very long.
Alternatively, deep-cycle batteries are explicitly optimized to provide steady current output over long periods of time and repeatedly be deeply discharged. This makes them a much better choice for golf cart applications.
Types of Golf Cart Batteries: Lithium Vs. Lead-Acid
Lead-acid, absorbed glass mat (AGM), and lithium-ion are the three main types of deep-cycle golf cart batteries. Each has benefits and drawbacks.
Lead-acid batteries are the most common and lowest-cost deep-cycle batteries for golf carts. They consist of lead plates suspended in a sulfuric acid solution which creates a chemical reaction allowing energy to be stored.
The main benefit of lead-acid batteries is that they have the lowest upfront cost. However, they have the shortest lifespan compared to other golf cart battery types, require the most maintenance, and are the heaviest.
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries are a sealed variation of a lead-acid battery. In an AGM battery, the lead plates sit between electrolyte saturated fiberglass mats. AGM construction eliminates the need to refill the fluid in the battery and allows them to be sealed, making them leak-free.
AGM batteries require less maintenance than traditional lead-acid batteries. Unfortunately, AGM batteries can be significantly more expensive without offering much additional capacity.
The deep-cycle lithium iron phosphate (LiFeO4) batteries used in golf carts should not be confused with the lithium batteries found in small electronics. LiFeO4 batteries are safer and one of the most stable forms of Li-ion batteries. They are optimized to provide a steady current output.
Best Batteries for Your Golf Cart: Lithium-Ion
Lithium batteries offer many advantages over lead-acid and AGM batteries, such as an extended lifespan, significant weight reduction, increased efficiency, and an overall reduction in cost.
These advantages make lithium batteries the best option for golf cart batteries.
Converting your golf cart to run on lithium batteries may involve some additional modifications to achieve optimal performance. With the proper charger, lithium batteries can charge much faster than lead-acid batteries. Depending on what charger is in your golf cart, you may need to replace it with a charger optimized for lithium batteries.
As lithium batteries are discharged, their voltage doesn’t drop. As we will discuss shortly, this is a major benefit. The only drawback here is that since the voltage doesn’t drop, there is no warning that your battery is dying until it is dead.
With this in mind, another addition that we recommend is a battery monitor, such as the Victron BMV-700. The battery monitor allows you to see how much remaining charge you have left and helps keep you from getting stranded.
Can I Use Battle Born Batteries in My Golf Cart?
Yes, you can use Battle Born Batteries in your golf cart! They do require a golf cart that has a governor installed. Governors limit the speed of the golf cart, which, in turn, limits the current draw. Battle Born Batteries have a continuous discharge current limit of 100 amps and can discharge at up to 200 amps for 30 seconds. Exceeding these limits will cause the battery to shut off.
Battle Born Batteries are all 12-volts. You will need to connect three of them in series for a 36-volt system or four in series for a 48-volt system. If needed, wiring additional batteries in parallel will provide additional run time capacity.
Benefits of Lithium Batteries over Lead-Acid
Lithium batteries offer many advantages over lead-acid for golf cart applications. Let’s look at each of them in more detail.
Longer Lifespan and Warranty
As lead-acid batteries go through charge and discharge cycles, they can never be fully charged to their original capacity. Over time, they slowly wear out until the voltage drop mentioned above is too great. When this happens, the battery can’t power your golf cart any longer, even on a full charge. This is not the case for lithium batteries.
Lithium batteries typically last for five to ten times as long as lead-acid batteries. Lithium batteries are true deep-cycle batteries with minimal impact on their lifespan as they go through repeated charge and discharge cycles.
Battle Born lithium batteries generally come with a 10-year warranty. Compare this to lead-acid batteries, which usually only have a 1-2 year limited warranty.
More Energy Efficient
As mentioned above, lithium batteries have a flatter voltage curve than lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries can typically only be discharged to about 50% of their capacity before the voltage drop is too significant and your golf cart dies.
Conversely, lithium batteries can discharge almost entirely with minimal voltage drop. This means that you can use nearly the entire capacity of a lithium battery each time it is charged.
Additionally, lithium golf cart batteries can fully charge with the proper charger in about two hours, which is significantly faster than their lead-acid counterparts.
Lithium batteries are about half the weight of lead-acid deep-cycle batteries. Reducing the weight of the golf cart increases your runtime, allowing you to spend more time driving and less time charging.
Less Overall Cost
Lithium golf cart batteries have a higher initial cost but often provide overall cost savings over time since they last 5-10 times longer than lead-acid batteries.
One significant risk in all types of batteries is thermal runaway. Thermal runaway causes damage to the battery and can even lead to a fire if not controlled quickly.
Lead-acid batteries offer no protection against thermal runaway. On the other hand, lithium batteries have an integrated battery management system (BMS) that helps regulate the battery’s temperature, monitors for internal shorts, and shuts down the battery if thermal runaway is detected.
The advances in lithium battery technology have helped them become much safer than their lead-acid counterparts.
Upgrade Your Golf Cart to Lithium-Ion Batteries
Whether you’re heading out for a round of golf or cruising around the beach, having a reliable golf cart battery is critical. Because nobody wants to get stranded!
Lithium batteries offer a great option to keep your cart running longer while also minimizing maintenance needs and saving you some money in the long run.
Check out our American-assembled 12V LiFePO4 batteries today! And call our knowledgeable, Nevada-based customer service team if you need any help finding what you’re looking for.
Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?
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