Where I work we just paid a large sum of money to get our electric golf cart fixed. Evidently, golf cart batteries aren’t sealed, and leaving the charger plugged in doesn’t ensure the batteries will work when you need them. Some preliminary research indicates golf carts use special deep cycle batteries. We haven’t used our golf carts in a while, and now we’re using one of them them when we don’t need it in order to make sure they stay charged and in good shape.
I have several questions:
Do these things really need deep cycle batteries? Wouldn’t some large truck batteries, like the lead acid batteries used as house batteries on RVs, work? I know some home made electric cars use regular car batteries wired together. Why couldn’t we put regular sealed car batteries in a golf cart that rarely gets used?
Does anyone make a sealed maintenance-free deep cycle battery? I can’t seem to find them in the right size (big). When I google “sealed deep cycle batteries,” I mostly get the types of batteries that are used for computer back-up power supplies.
Shouldn’t I be able to use a smart battery charger (like the Battery Tender or Battery Tender Jr.) so I can plug in the charger and forget about it? The chargers that came with the golf carts look pretty old, and can’t be left plugged in indefinitely, at least according to what I’ve been told.
What else can you tell me about electric golf cart maintenance that I don’t already know and should know?
The Optima ‘Yellow Top’ batteries are listed as ‘deep cycle’:
It is my understanding that a lot of golf carts use 6 volt batteries.
The problem with regular starting batteries is that the’re not designed to be deeply discharged. Where deep cycle batteries are.
I use this battery charger. http://www.batterychargers.com/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductName=94026842 Plug it in and walk away. The processor properly charges the battery and then shuts the charger off.
I don’t know anything about golf cart batteries but the batteries in our electric fork lift were somewhere around $1500 to replace. Yeah and deep cycle allow charge and discharge cycles without wrecking the battery.
If you look up boat batteries that may help. They are out there. http://www.batterystuff.com/batteries/rv-marine/
Why the concern about sealed?
Purely electirc golf carts are not 12V systems, at least not the newer models. The starters in gas golf carts might be 12V batteries, but electric golf carts are usually 24V and some newer ones are 32V systems. I have an '03 Electric golf cart (Club Car brand) and the batteries are the old “add water” kind with 4 fill holes per battery (not 3 as in auto 6V batteries, or 6 as in auto 12V batteries). They are deep cycle batteries. The charger is specific for the golf cart.
I don’t think you are going to have much luck using standard auto batteries or a normal “automotive” battery charger in an electric golf cart.
Golf Cart batteries are usually 6 volt 220 amp hour deep cycle batteries that weigh around 65 pounds. The typical cart will have 4 or 6 of them installed. They are favored by those living “off the grid” who use solar and wind for their electrical power. Because they are mass produced for the golf cart market, they can be had for reasonable prices. I purchased four of them 2 years ago for a solar system and paid $100 each for a private brand made by Exide. Battery prices have gone up sharply lately so the days of $100 golf cart batteries are probably over…At the time, they provided the most amp-hours for the money. If discharge is limited to 50% of capacity, they will last 5 to 7 years in solar service. In golf cart service, where discharge levels frequently approach 100% and then they are re-charged at high charging rates, they are replaced every year or two…They can be wired to provide 6, 12, or 24 volts…
Google “Trojan T-105” to see an example of one…
If you don’t run your golf cart for a long distance and infrequently use it you might get by with typical auto starting batteries instead of deep cycle batteries. To keep from overcharging your batteries you can use a regular charger with a cheap 5 dollar timer to run the charger for 15 minutes per day although a complete charge after each use is appropriate. You can monitor and adjust your charger usage with an inexpensive voltmeter to learn what it takes to get and keep a full charge without overcharging, lacking a battery tender or maintainer type charger or a float charger. You need to know what voltages to expect at various times during charger on, charger off and after usage. A lead acid starting battery needs to be kept charged as much as possible to ward off sulfation. See much more than you might want to know on Wiki.
Your golf cart chargers shut off when the battery is fully charged. In order to make it work again, you have to unplug it and reconnect it. So yes, run it around once or twice a week and charge it up. If the cart is not needed, why keep it? Oh, that’s right; they are a hard sell. Sometimes, you have to write things off and let them go.
Thank you all for your insight.
@pleasedodgevan2, we keep the golf carts because they were donated by benefactors. When benefactors show up, we cart them around in one of the golf carts. We got one of them last year, and we used it to replace the dingy one we had. That one got dingy, and covered with mold and mildew, but it is still in decent shape otherwise. Then, a few months ago, someone donated a second one.
I guess there is no way to lower the cost of maintaining these things. We’ll need to spring for new batteries for one, and I guess we’ll just need to start driving them to lunch.
Whitey, some golf cart suppliers (country clubs and golf courses lease them, they don’t own them) replace the batteries before every “season” to insure against problems. These suppliers sometimes test and then sell the serviceable pull-outs as used batteries, which may offer you a low-cost solution…
Not to zoom off topic but there’s a guy around here that puts snow tires on his golf cart for the winter, along with the side curtains. Drives it all over town. Don’t think it has a heater though.
Thanks, @Caddyman. That might work for us, especially with a golf course right across the street.
Our ezgo cart has 6x6volt batteries and they are wired in series for 36v output. Our charger is on a timer. 8-10 hrs max and it puts out 30amps initially. No battery buddy unit will charge a 6x6 bundle. Many elec carts are 36v standard.
- For storage you can put the old charger on a household timer and charge the batteries for an hour or so every day; much better than constant cooking.
(apologies if someone has already mentioned this idea)
Your description of golf carts sounds really accurate. The golf course I worked at would store the older carts in a garage that would amplify the dirt coating. I hated cleaning the roofs on those things. I have to joke around with benefactors. Send money! Hope nobody reads this.
Guy at our club has a small bottle propane heater in his cart…plays year round too. Like one of these.
Ever thought of going to Lithium Ion Battery?
Many golf courses that could only use gas powered golf carts because of their hilly terrain are now getting electric golf carts with Lithium Ion batteries. They last much longer, Lighter, and can go up their hills and go 18+ holes before needing a charge.
Greens fees will be going up…