Guide to Electric Golf Cart Batteries
The term electric golf cart batteries cover a multitude of applications, from lighting an RV or tent during a camping holiday to powering a club car golf cart buggy for a couple of 18-hole games per day. The applications are diverse but the requirements for the cart battery are very similar. In all cases golf cart batteries need to be designed as deep cycle batteries & are subjected to deep discharge cycles, often daily. The purpose of a 6v cart battery is simply to provide the necessary power and energy for hobbies, sports, holidays and any activity or pursuit for pleasure rather than work or subsistence. Clearly this is a big area with many types of activity which need power. The requirement for battery-powered vehicles such as electric cart buggies, electric canal boats and barges, RV camper homes or tent lighting all have the same basic operating pattern.
Although called leisure battery, there is nothing leisurely about the role of the leisure battery. This a very arduous duty requiring as high a quality, toughness and performance as any industrial battery applications. The added problem is that as a rule the cart battery has to be as small and light as possible and the voltages available flexible enough to be used in a range of electric vehicle drivetrains. Hence the designs were made separately for 6v cart battery & 8v cart battery. Since it is a deep-cycle lead-acid battery sold to the general public it is known that maintenance, or lack of it is another major concern. Lack of regular battery recharging, topping up, being left for many winter months in a discharged or semi-discharged state and possibly regular over-discharge are common problems. Read on to know all about golf cart batteries
Types of batteries for golf carts
It is important then, that this range of golf cart batteries have properties which give the maximum output from the space available and have good gravimetric energy density to keep the weight down. The ability to recover from deep discharge cycle including the occasional “accidental” over-discharge from unregulated battery loads and the longest possible shelf-life to last in storage without significant deterioration are key features. There are many designs of golf cart batteries for sale from many battery suppliers with a wide spectrum of golf cart battery prices and features. The choice can be literally bewildering from cheap golf cart batteries to the more expensive lithium-ion golf cart batteries.
How many different types of batteries are there for golf carts?
- Flat plate flooded lead-acid battery (Cost-effective)
- Tubular Plate flooded lead-acid battery (best option for deep cycling; with outstanding performance; long life)
- AGM Battery: Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) VRLA Sealed Maintenance-Free Battery (Pros: Not much maintenance required; Cons: can have shorter life)
- Gel Battery (Flat Plate) Often mistaken for Tubular battery; Less maintenance; shorter life)
- Tubular Gel VRLA Battery (Minimum maintenance; life could be better than AGM; costlier; life not as much as flooded Tubular)
- Lithium Battery (Quicker recharges, high capacity with light weight; Very Expensive (don’t forget to add cost of Battery Management System) Prone to fire hazard
Tips for purchasing golf cart batteries
It is at this point that you have to examine your new golf cart battery requirements very carefully by referring to your particular deep cycle battery application. In the following sections I will be listing the most common deep cycle battery applications and examining the most useful deep cycle golf cart battery characteristics to look for. These will be compared with the Microtex Golf cart battery products and their unique construction and design features to see how well they cover the deep cycle application requirements.
The basic electric golf cart battery requirements of capacity, deep discharge recovery, good cycle and shelf life have already been mentioned. These properties relate to the construction of the cart battery, the chemistry of the active material and the grid alloys used for the positive electrode spine and the negative electrode grid. The Electric Golf Cart battery range offered by Microtex has a tubular positive plate construction with low antimony spine grids in the positive and flat negative plates. This construction is known to be tough with the highest deep cycle life and best abuse resistance of any lead acid battery construction. The low antimony alloys used in the grids will ensure that water loss is minimised with the right battery charger. How long should I charge my cart battery? Provided that there is sufficient time to recharge i.e. at least 15 hours, then the cart battery can be recharged with a good golf cart battery charger set to low maintenance or even a maintenance-free charge regime for AGM golf cart batteries. Microtex experts will advise if either of these options are available for your particular use. It would be wise to invest in a good golf cart battery charger.
Where to find the best golf cart batteries
All batteries look similar on the outside so usually it is very hard for an average buyer to make out the difference; however all batteries are not made the same. As given above you can see there are 5 different types & unless one reads the description it is easy to miss this. Considerations to look for: Capacity & Voltage It is sometimes thought that more the voltage more the capacity. This is not true. The capacity is in the Ah or ampere hours of the lead acid battery. It would be ideal to get the highest Ah for the size suited, but ensure that suitable charger capacity rating is available, by checking the charger nameplate. It should be minimum 10% of the rated capacity. Then choose the right type from the above list of different types of batteries available. Once this is done it is easy to find the best battery. Read on further, it gets interesting!
Deep cycle battery applications
Given below is a more detailed view of the most common applications.
- Battery Golf Carts
Daily driving range is a major consideration for selection of best golf cart batteries, along with the number of people carried and the terrain. Clearly the more people to carry, the longer the trip and the hillier the terrain, the more energy that is required from the deep cycle battery. The deep cycle battery range from Microtex offers the complete array of capacities and voltages to cope with any requirement the customer might have. The factors which affect the capacity required from the battery powering a golf cart can be listed as:
- Number of people the golf cart is designed to carry (Fig 1). It may seem obvious but the load carried by the golf cart is often overlooked.
- The terrain of the golf course, whether there are hills or valleys, are there roads or rough grass or sandy surfaces to drive over.
- What type of driving is required? Is it fast or slow, is the buggy used to ferry people quickly to hotel rooms or to be part of a game with long pauses between short runs.
- Battery charger: How much time is there to recharge? If the batteries have less than 12 hours to recharge after an 80% DOD then they will reach the required capacity more quickly if the golf cart battery is recharged to 90% state-of-charge (SOC). This means a larger golf cart battery will be required but a monthly equalising charge and preferably a high-quality golf cart battery charger will be necessary.
- Depth of discharge (DoD). In order to improve cycle life of a golf cart battery, it is possible to reduce the depth of discharge on each daily run. For example, a round trip leaving the battery 60% discharged will give at least 50% more cycles than if it were discharged to the standard 80% of capacity (Fig. 2). This is essentially a pricing argument but with a tubular construction you can get more capacity in the same space as a flat plate design.
- Ambient temperature plays a key role in determining the calendar life of a battery. Whilst the capacity is slightly elevated per 8 degrees Celsius, the battery life is effectively halved. Under most circumstances the cycle-life and calendar life of batteries is measured and quoted at 25 degrees Celsius. Above that the life of the electric golf cart batteries declines rapidly.
- The voltage of the golf cart electric motor. This can be a variable depending on the design of the leading golf cart manufacturers, usually
- 6 volt battery
- 8 volt battery
- 12 volt battery
- 24 volt battery
- 36v battery
- 48v battery
- 60v battery
- 72v battery
- The Microtex cart battery range entirely cover this in the monobloc design (Table 1 below)
How can marine batteries be used in golf carts?
- Marine batteries have to cater to twin roles of cranking the motor & cater to deep cycle marine onboard requirements like the boats’ sophisticated electronics including radio communications, GPS, fish finder radar etc. Microtex tubular cart batteries are designed to withstand the rugged dual use with a high CCA giving massive cranking power to start any motor in extreme weather. Once that is done, the deep cycle battery has sufficient capacity to give you plenty of time in the water before a recharge Cold Cranking Amps (CCA): This is a rating given to 12V Starter Lighting Ignition (SLI) batteries to show their ability to start an engine in cold weather. It is defined as the number of amps that can be removed from a new fully charged battery at -180C for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage greater than 7.2 volts.
- Recreation Vehicle (RV) Caravans & Camping leisure batteries – This is an increasingly popular use for cart batteries and perhaps the most difficult duty for a cart battery. This is not because of the depth of the discharges or the number of cycles per year that the cart battery has to cope with. It is the lack of control and maintenance which are the key factors.
Golf cart battery charger & charging concerns
How long will it take to charge the cart battery depends on the charge left in them & the cart battery charger specifications. If your cart batteries have run flat after a long game they usually take over 8 hours to recharge. If your electric cart battery is frequently draining charge it would be advisable to perform an equalizing charge with a day’s rest this will extend the life of the battery. Do ensure that the charger is connected to a clean AC power outlet properly grounded with ripple current less than 5%. You don’t need to charge your cart battery everyday, you only charge them when you use the electric cart. Good cart batteries have a very low self discharge rate. Self discharge is the rate at which the cart battery will get discharged when it sits without use. Remember overcharging your cart batteries will cause grid corrosion & your batteries will die sooner.
In RV camper van use for example, the batteries are generally in a compartment attached to the 12V supply from the alternator which charges only when the RV is moving. If the RV is stopped on location for a few days then recharging is difficult without using the alternator.
To fully recharge the leisure RV battery using the alternator means the engine must be running, this is an expensive and very environmentally unfriendly way to recharge. Use of solar panels is an alternative, but again this is a high capital expense and not a very effective way to put energy into the cart battery. In the case of camping, this is even more difficult as the leisure battery needs to be transported from the tent or the car and recharged from the 12V socket in exactly the same way. This means that cart batteries are often over-discharged, insufficiently charged and usually left in a semi-discharged condition for long periods of the year when not required. All of which leads to abuse and early failure of the cart battery.
Considerations for specifying a cart battery:
- The operational time and the loading. This gives the total time in use between recharges. The loads on the cart battery will be the sum of all the appliances being used, e.g. lights, TV, refrigerator and fans etc. How long they are used for and how often the cart battery is recharged will determine the battery capacity requirements.
- Battery charger inverter efficiency is a key part of the loading, at 85% it will give a higher capacity requirement than if it is 95% efficient. Do not take the battery charger manufacturer’s rating as necessarily the correct value, the efficiency of all battery chargers varies according to the load. There is a sweet spot where the battery charger will operate at maximum i.e. rated efficiency
- Ambient temperature. This is exactly the same as the cart battery with the same destructive effects above 25°C
- The depth of discharge of the cart battery is more difficult to control in camping holidays and often is measured by the number of appliances that will run or not run as the cart battery discharges. Apart from the life cycle arguments already given, this clearly will lead to abuse conditions when the cart battery can be seriously over-discharged. The lead-acid battery, tubular design with high-pressure die-casted lead antimony tubular grids offered by Microtex offers the best possible safeguard against over-discharge.
- Abuse resistance. The Microtex cart battery flooded design combined with the low antimony content of the positive spine enables the cart battery to recover from very low voltage discharges which would kill most other designs.
- The recharge time available for cart batteries used for camping is highly variable as most normal people do not generally plan their holidays around the requirements of their cart battery. Again, the use of maximum capacity is recommended as it will give the lowest recharge times with the maximum energy absorption. The Microtex tubular cart battery gives the best energy density and therefore capacity for size of any lead acid technology.
Self-discharge. The storage time of the cart batteries between holidays is important as leisure batteries can run flat even without a load being applied. This internal chemical process where the active material in plates converts to lead sulphate, can be very damaging and often leads to early failure of a cart battery. It is always recommended that stored lead acid batteries should be refresh charged with good quality battery charger at regular intervals, preferably every three months but six months should be regarded as a maximum stand period without charging. The self-discharge process is related to the antimony content of the lead alloy plate grids. Microtex cart battery has the lowest possible antimony content necessary to provide the best balance of corrosion resistance and long cycle life of any cart battery on the market. This provides a high degree of protection against self-discharge and plate sulphation, whilst still giving a superior performance and cycle life for the cart battery user.
The wide range of electric golf cart batteries from Microtex is given in the next section along with battery design features. Microtex cart battery range is the best choice for electric cart battery dealers and electric golf cart users (Fig. 3).
Main features of the Microtex Golf Cart Battery - Fig 3
- Robust PPCP Container
- Hermetically heat sealed leak-proof PPCP Cover
- Ridged PPCP lifting handle with SS hooks
- Special vent plug design with flame arrestor ceramic disc
- Terminal post with lead tin plated SS bolt for corrosion free connections
The Microtex golf cart battery is provided in a range of sizes and voltages to cover just about every golf car and leisure activity requirement. To ensure maximum flexibility for in-service requirements, there is a choice of either an L type of connection or a bolted M8 male threaded terminal, LT and P&ST respectively. The carrying handles also help in moving and fitting the battery into most receptacles. The strong high impact PPCP case design means that the battery can also operate unsupported in a stand-alone situation far from the comforts of modern technology.
Ampere Hour Capacity
|C5||C10||C20||C100|| KwH @ |
| Dry |
| Wet |
How expensive are the best golf cart batteries?
The price is usually a huge factor while considering a golf cart battery purchase. Batteries are expensive & battery purchase is usually a ‘grudge’ 🙂 purchase, unlike shopping for clothes. Where we can do window shopping, look around, see if we like it or not, & actually walk away from the purchase without being affected. Battery replacement usually is an immediate purchase decision when the old battery dies out & we need our EV/ buggy up & running again. Flat plate batteries are cheaper compared to the most preferred flooded tubular golf cart battery. Experts agree that tubular batteries though more expensive should be the best option since it recovers better from deep discharges.
Please remember the old adage, “you get what you pay for!” Investing in “cheap golf cart batteries” is not the best way to select a battery. There are lots of cheap batteries available in the market, however for a lay person the main considerations for choosing a golf cart battery should be:
- Ah of the battery
- Energy Density (KwH)
- Number of cycles given in the manufacturer’s spec sheet
- weight of the battery
- consider tubular plate batteries over flat plate batteries (read all about tubular plate technology here)
Which kind of golf cart battery has the longest lifespan?
Lead acid batteries employ commonly 2 types of positive electrodes – Flat plate & Tubular plates
- Of these the first-mentioned flat plate type is the most widely used in automotive batteries for starting; it can supply heavy currents for a short duration (for example, starting an automobile or a DG set), it has a shorter life. Here, a lattice type of rectangular current collector is filled with a paste made from a mixture of leady oxide, water and sulphuric acid, carefully dried and formed. Both positive and negative plates are made in the same manner, except for the difference in the additives. Being thin, batteries made from such plates can supply very high currents needed for starting an automobile.
- Tubular plates: The next widely used type of plate is the tubular plate for heavy duty industrial which has a longer life, but cannot supply burst of current as in the flat plate type of batteries.
- Tubular plates are robust and hence have a life of about 10 to 15 years in float operation. They are also suitable for cyclic duty and offer the highest cycle life. The active material is contained in the annular space between the spine and the oxide-holder. This restricts the stress due to the volume changes occurring when the cells are cycled.
- Tubular plate batteries are used mainly where there is requirement of long life with higher capacity. They are mainly used in standby applications in telephone exchanges and large factories for material handling trucks, tractors, mining vehicles, and for golf carts.
Why should you consider buying a used golf cart battery?
You shouldn’t! Do not buy used batteries! They will not last.
What is the best kind of replacement golf cart battery you should buy?
A battery’s capacity is a measure of how much energy can be stored & eventually discharged. The capacity of a battery is specified as the number of amp-hrs that the battery will deliver at a specific discharge rate and temperature. The capacity of a battery is not a constant value and is seen to decrease with increasing discharge rate. The capacity of a battery is affected by a number of factors such as active material weight, density of the active material, adhesion of the active material to the grid, number, design and dimensions of plates, plate spacing, design of separators, specific gravity and quantity of available electrolyte, grid alloys, final limiting voltage, discharge rate, temperature, internal and external resistance, age and life history of the battery. Ideally go in for a higher rated Ah capacity that fits your cart & budget. Batteries with higher rating usually have more lead & more lead means better capacity. Do check the manufacturers technical datasheet for rated ampere hour capacity, cycles, cycle life, depth of discharge & battery weights. A battery’s depth of discharge is the percentage of the battery capacity that can be safely drained of energy without damaging the battery. Lead acid batteries can be safely discharged upto 80% depth of discharge. Cycle – in battery terms one cycle is a complete sequence of one discharge from a fully charged condition plus one complete recharge to a fully charged condition. Cycle life refers to the number of defined charge-discharge cycles that a battery can complete until its voltage on discharge reaches a minimum set value. the parameters of depth of discharge, rate of discharge and recharge, voltage settings for charge and discharge plus the temperature are normally defined to describe the nature of a cycle life test. The number of cycles that a battery will complete is dependent on many factors in addition to the set test parameters. Typical factors are the design of the batteries, their chemistry and the constructional materials. Ensure your battery charger is of the required rated capacity.
What is the voltage that most golf cart batteries use?
Volt is defined as the SI unit of electromotive force, the difference of potential that would carry 1 ampere of current against 1 ohm resistance. Ampere (Amp, A) : is the unit of measure of the electron flow rate through a circuit. 1 ampere = 1 coulomb per second; while Ampere Hour (Ah, Am-hrs): is the unit of measure for a battery’s electrical storage capacity, obtained by multiplying the current in amperes by the time in hours of discharge. (Example: A battery that delivers 5 amperes for 20 hours delivers 5 amperes x 20 hours = 100 amp-hrs of capacity.) You can read more about voltage & ampere
Most golf cart use 6v batteries or 8v batteries interconnected together to match the DC motor rating
How many batteries are needed in your golf cart?
48v battery packs have become the standard in many golf carts like, Yamaha, Club Car, EZ-GO, (Disclaimer: Microtex is not associated with these brands). However they can also be 36v or 72v. No golf cart will use a single battery. Let’s open the battery compartment & look inside. Each battery block is interconnected to form the pack. If the system voltage is 48v then you could have 8 batteries of 6v or 6 batteries of 8v or 4 batteries of 12v. It should be remembered that more batteries mean more lead. More lead means more capacity & more range. As they get older, sometimes a single battery may become faulty in the pack. Replacing them one by one may eventually turn out to be more expensive in the long run. Never mix new batteries with old ones. The old batteries will drain the new ones faster. Read about golf cart durability here
What tools do you need to replace your golf cart batteries?
You must have the following tools for your golf cart battery maintenance:
- Protective apron/bib – plastic or rubber
- Protective clear goggles (select the ones that completely shield the eyes & no water can enter accidentally)
- Protective rubber gloves with longer arm cover
- Multimeter to record battery voltage & current
- Battery hydrometer with 0.005 division to record specific gravity of the electrolyte
- Non-contact digital temperature gun or glass bulb thermometer to record temperature during charging
- Demineralized water of approved quality
- Plastic funnel, jug & siphon
- Hard plastic brush to clean terminal post
- Insulated spanner of required size (wrap insulation tape over the handle)
- Petroleum jelly for applying on terminals (Do not use grease)
How should you properly maintain your new golf cart batteries once they are replaced?
Golf cart battery maintenance: Now that you have installed new batteries for your golf cart, it would be wise to protect this investment with some simple maintenance practices. Batteries are to be always handled carefully. Use safety gear as described above. Never smoke or use open flames near batteries. Batteries can explode due to the presence of Hydrogen naturally formed during charging.
Read & follow all the instructions in manual from the battery supplier carefully.
- Look for leakages of electrolyte
- Check for any cracks or unusual bulges in container, cover or lifting straps
- Corrosion of terminals
- Frayed cables connecting the battery
- Any damage in the battery compartment
- Refer your golf cart battery user manual for correct charger settings
- Never overcharge your battery
- Invest in a high-quality battery charger that shuts off automatically
- Keep your batteries always charged, this ensures they will not sulphate.
- After a full game, do not leave the discharged battery for charging later on. Charge it immediately. This one step will go a long way for getting years of good service from it.
- If you are going away on vacation, fully charge the battery before going. Batteries can last upto 6 months before requiring freshening charge again.
- Equalizing Charge: If the cells specific gravity (SG) show nonuniform (irregular) readings ie SG varies by 20 points or more & or voltage readings differ by 1 volt from battery to battery. Read all about the importance of equalizing charge here
Watering your battery
- Use only demineralized (DM) water of approved quality or distilled water
- Never let the battery acid level fall below the plates (or plastic protector visible inside when the vent plug is removed). This will cause severe damage to the battery & you run the risk of fire due to shorting
- The liquid inside the battery is mostly water mixed with acid to form dilute sulphuric acid usually of 1.240-1.280 specific gravity. It is normal for the water to evaporate during charging. We should only add DM water to the battery. Never add acid. This will kill the battery soon. If accidentally the battery topples over & acid leaks out, take it to your battery dealer immediately without letting it sit. They will know how to remedy this. You can read more about repair cart batteries here
- Never overfill the battery. If you do so, you will lose the correct acid quantity as per manufacturers design & battery will not perform well over a period of time.
- Use a funnel & jug to fill 1 inch above the plates. You can see the plates when you open the plug & shine a light. Do not fill to the brim, this will bubble out during charging
- Check the level every month
- Remember to fill each cell (filling one will not fill the other cells, they are not interconnected).
- If the terminals have a white build up layer, ensure the vent plugs are tightly closed & dip a plastic hard brush in baking soda & water. Clean thoroughly & apply a thin film of petroleum jelly around the terminals, bolts & cable connector
The requirements of a golf cart battery or leisure battery are clearly very demanding of any technology, chemistry or manufacturer. Microtex, with its unique blend of design and manufacturing experience combined with its international expertise has put this knowledge to good use to design and produce a world leading tubular plate leisure battery.
You can expect:
- Ultra-life expectancy
- Ultra-application flexibility
- Ultra-customer satisfaction
It is for these reasons that the Microtex golf cart battery and leisure RV range of batteries is the choice of the professional golfer. Get in touch with us now.
Dr Mike CTO – Microtex Energy P Ltd
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