Golf Cart Batteries: Everything You Need To Know
How much do golf cart batteries cost?
How long do batteries last?
What are the best golf cart batteries?
How many volts are my batteries?
We’re covering it all below!
If your golf cart is electric, then you already know it has a beating heart inside known as your batteries! And because golf cart batteries can be expensive, they are the one item our customers with electric carts worry about replacing the most when it comes to maintenance. But today we are going to flip your perspective and teach you everything there is to know about golf cart batteries so that you can make educated purchasing decisions, and so that when it comes time to replace your batteries (or buy a new cart) you are informed and happy knowing you are getting the very best out there.
One question we continually get from our customers is: are electric carts more expensive to own/maintain than Gas carts? The short answer is: no. And when we break down the cost of batteries over their lifetime for an electric cart vs. filling up with gas and maintaining a gas-powered cart; the costs are surprisingly similar.
Electric golf carts have many other benefits as well: they are operated noiselessly (necessary for hunting and use at many country clubs), they provide instant torque, they don’t require gasoline, oil or fuel filters to be replaced, and they don’t smell (great for indoor facility use).
In the section below, we are answering any questions you might have about golf cart batteries, voltage, lifespan, cost, battery chargers and more!
Battery technology is changing so fast it is hard to keep up. It is also difficult to tell which advances have been put to use in which application. Here is our short but comprehensive guide on what you need to know about golf cart batteries.
What You Need to Know First
Remember this information when shopping for golf cart batteries:
Golf carts use a series of batteries that supply the needed voltage and amperage, so size and power requirements are key features for a replacement.
Be aware that golf carts do not use a single battery, but multiples of 6V, 8V, or 12V batteries. Ensure any replacement batteries you purchase use the same combination.
Do not upgrade your batteries over the manufacturer’s recommendations, which can ruin your cart.
Match the brand standard to the standard on your replacement battery packs. The wrong battery can waste money, a hazardous situation, and any combination in between.
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, the design of car batteries provides 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.
Golf cart batteries and car batteries have different requirements, standards, and maintenance needs. It can be dangerous to use car batteries in a golf cart.
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.
There are two power features to look for when you purchase batteries.
The voltage (Volts or V) translates to how much power.
The current (amps or A) translates to how fast the power goes.
Amperage is distance and time left on the charge. The higher the amperage, the further the drive per charge. For long leisurely rides, go for high voltage. For short but highly responsive rides, choose amperage.
Your electric cart will take 6, 8, or 12V batteries. Its volt electrical drive system will have a 36V or 48V system. To find out which type your cart takes, check the battery compartment. There will be 3, 4, or 6 holes. Multiply by two, and that is your cart’s voltage capability.
The voltage for the charger and the cart must match.
- Underpowered chargers will build sulfation on the negative plate.
- Overpowered chargers will build corrosion on the positive plate.
- Both situations reduce the long-term durability of either the charger or the batteries.
Maintenance for batteries battery life spans over 5-6 years.
- Clean with a bristle brush and mild cleaner that has anti-corrosive properties.
- Prevent oxidation and acid contact with the terminals by putting silicone paste on the terminal ends.
- Watch the wiring and replace frayed cables.
- Look for installations that are disconnected and reconnect.
- Charge your cart between 8 to 10 hours.
- Keep the charge above 20%.
- Instead of deep charging, just keep it regularly topped off.
The four types of golf cart batteries:
- Flooded Lead Acid (wet) batteries
- AGM Lead Acid Batteries
- Gel Lead Acid Batteries
- Lithium-Ion Golf Cart Batteries
- Most golf carts come with Flooded Lead Acid batteries but retrofitting with Lithium-Ion batteries is straightforward.
- Lithium Golf Cart Batteries cost more than Lead-Acid batteries but bring significant benefits.
- Last longer than lead-acid batteries
- Require no maintenance, no watering or cleaning
- Do not lose power as their voltage dips
- Recharge speeds are much faster.
- Weigh less
- The battery life span is based on the number of recharges and the quality of maintenance, making used batteries not worth the gamble.
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.
Golf carts use deep-cycle lithium iron phosphate (LiFeO4) batteries. Don’t confuse these 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.
What is the average life of golf cart batteries?
When standard lead-acid golf cart batteries are properly maintained, with the use of a golf cart battery charger, your batteries should last you up to 6 years with regular use. A high-quality golf cart battery charger / maintainer (like the ones we sell on our site) will deliver the correct electrical flow when charging your cart’s batteries and will also feature an auto shut-off function (so that you don’t fry your cart’s batteries from over-charging).
Lithium-Ion Batteries should last you 20 to 30 years!
How can I make my golf cart batteries last longer?
Checkout our guide on How to Get The Most out of Your Golf Cart Batteries.
You will also want to make sure you are buying “fresh” golf cart batteries.
Just like with fruit, when it comes to golf cart batteries: ‘The Fresher They Are, The Better’. Batteries work the best when they are fresh! All battery manufacturers (BRAVA Battery included) stamp the production date somewhere on their new batteries (this date code is federally required). It is wise to stick to buying batteries that are no older than 6 months old.
When it comes to reading date codes on Trojan Batteries, it is simple:
There is a 3-digit date code printed on each battery. If the code reads: D19, for example, the letter represents the month the battery was manufactured. The two numbers indicate the year the battery was manufactured. So according to the chart of month codes below, D19 would indicate that the battery was manufactured in April of 2019.
Here are the month codes from Trojan, for your reference:
A – January
B – February
C – March
D – April
E – May
F – June
G – July
H – August
I – September
J – October
K – November
L – December
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 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 BRAVA Batteries in My Golf Cart?
Yes, you can use BRAVA 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. BRAVA 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.
BRAVA 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.
How do Golf Cart Batteries Work?
Regular Golf cart batteries (lead-acid) work in a series, meaning the electrical flow works its way from the first battery in your setup through to the last and then distributes power to the rest of your cart.
- As mentioned in sections above, multiples of 6-Volt, 8-Volt, or 12-Volt are available
Lower-voltage batteries (6V) typically have a higher amp-hour capacity than a higher-voltage (8V, 12V) alternative. For example, see the 48-Volt golf cart example below:
- 8 x 6-Volt batteries = 48-Volts with more capacity and longer run-time, but less acceleration
- 6 x 8-volt batteries = 48-Volts with less capacity, less run time, but more acceleration
The reason that an 8-batteries 48V system will have a longer run time than a 6-batteries 48V system (even at the same overall voltage) is because using more batteries with lower-voltage overall will lead to less discharge across the series of batteries during use. While using less batteries with higher voltage will provide more power and discharge quicker.
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.
BRAVA 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 you charge it.
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. 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.
Are there any Red Flag issues with golf cart batteries?
Keep your eyes peeled for battery corrosion. Golf cart batteries are filled with an acid-and-water solution. The acid inside your batteries can cause a white crusty film to form on the top of your batteries, and at your battery contacts. This corrosion should be cleaned off thoroughly or it may cause your batteries to short, leaving your golf cart without power.
Is it okay to jump start my golf cart using my car batteries?
Do NOT jump start your deep cycle lead-acid golf cart batteries using your car. There is a very good chance you will destroy them. This is a big fat NO-NO.
Tips: more detail information,for golf cart batteries.