How To Properly Charge A Golf Cart Battery

Golf Cart Batteries at RMI

We've already gone over the value and advantages of powering your cart with a lithium battery, but to make sure you treat your transport with as much TLC as it deserves, learning to charge those batteries requires you to learn a little more about doing it properly. 

What battery type does your cart use? 
You’re in luck: there are only two types of batteries made for golf carts, so identifying the proper power source is your first job. Your vehicle may be engineered for a 36-volt system (that’s six 6-volt batteries) all the way up to a 48-volt system that is driven by either six 8-volt batteries or four 12-volt batteries, all of which belong in what’s called the deep cycle lead-acid battery family. 

The first relies upon electrolyte levels maintained within each cell, while the second, lithium-ion, offers limitless benefits via power-pushing conductive cells that rely upon ion production to keep these batteries cranking out power at an efficient rate. Since lithium batteries don’t rely upon liquid electrolytes, you won’t be burdened with constant fuel level monitoring or refilling if your golf cart is powered by energy-efficient lithium. 

Is one superior to the other? 
That can depend upon the cart you drive, the replacement battery cost and your cart’s age. If you’re driving a dinosaur that just keeps going, you’ll spend less cash on a lead-acid unit when compared to its cousin. Plenty of duffers stick with this lead-acid because they resist change. Folks who already complain that they spend too much on their favorite sport may balk at spending even more on the lithium upgrade. On the other hand, lithium has so many benefits, plenty of golf cart owners have become converts once they learn that lithium-ion batteries deliver on these 4 points: 

1. They’re small, compact, light and efficient (on average half the size). 
2. They charge faster and stick around 5-times longer than lead-acid units. 
3. They’re more reliable and environmentally friendly. 
4. In the end, they deliver more cost-efficient rounds of golf (or trips to your neighbors house). 

An industry in flux 
According to members of the battery industry, this is an industry in flux because the only thing you can count on is that you’ll have to take a pass on your game until your cart is recharged. A lead-acid battery can slow a cart down and take 8 hours to get up to speed, while lithium can get you to around 80-percent capacity in an hour. Replace a lead-acid battery with lithium and you could see a nice performance boost, but you will have paid a price to do it. 

But, here’s the quandary: cart owners have relied upon lead acid batteries for so long, they are almost conditioned to choose them. In fact, the demand for cart batteries is expected to continue to increase and lead-acid models generally make up the majority of those, so never underestimate consumer preference.


How to charge a lead-acid cart battery 
The process of charging this type of battery isn’t uncomplicated, so do it correctly and extend the life of the battery and cut back on the number of times you seek golf cart repair. Follow these steps: 

-Read all of the instructions that came with your battery twice. 
-Plan to routinely charge your battery after every use so it’s always ready to go. 
-Charge in a well-ventilated area to avoid gases that build up during charge time. 
-Take a pass on charging your golf cart in high temperatures. 
-Understand that ion batteries needn’t be fully discharged to take a new charge. 
-Double check voltage settings and compensate for temperatures above 80-degrees F. 
-Check water levels and tighten vent caps. 

How to charge a lithium-ion cart battery 
First: the gorilla in the room. You may wonder if you can replace a lead-acid battery with a lithium battery and in fact, it’s done-—as long as the replacement doesn’t operate on what’s called automatic “equalization mode.” If the motor can't be permanently turned off while charging, a battery could sustain damage, sending you to the land of golf cart repair. Your best bet is installing a product designed with a specific algorithm that protects your battery’s health, performance and life span and then follow these steps: 

-Read the instructions appearing on the literature that came with your battery. 
-Don’t charge the battery if the temperature is extreme; either too cold or hot. 
-Turn the cart off while undertaking the charging process so the battery reaches a proper saturation point. 
-Don’t fully-charge because less is always better when it comes to lithium-ion. 
-If the battery or charging unit starts to heat up in mid-process, give it a rest. 
-Become accustomed to the way your cart battery indicates readiness. When in doubt, read the manual. 

Is it time for you to change the battery in your golf cart? 
Properly diagnosing the health of your cart batteries before deciding to replace your unit is important so you don’t spend money and time to change battery in golf cart that doesn’t need changing. Consult a battery hydrometer if you’ve a lead-acid battery. All you may need is an assessment of electrolyte gravity. On the other hand, if either battery type is over the age of three, look for signs that your battery has given all it has to give and needs replacement. 

Gather up your tools, battery carry straps, rags, a scrub brush, safety goggles, a good corrosion block product and situate yourself near a water source. Disconnect and remove the old battery, clean out the battery hold with a hose and let dry (you can use a hair dryer). Apply corrosive block to the frame so it comes into the best contact with the new battery and install it. Hook up the cables and once everything looks good, take a test drive so no surprises await next time you’ve got your clubs ready for 18 holes. 

Need more info about batteries? Give us a call at any time and we would be glad to help you out.