How to Charge a Golf Cart Battery
Both lead-acid, as well as lithium-ion golf cart batteries, must be charged regularly for their effective operation, whether your cart features a 36 volts system or a 48 volts system. Both batteries have their advantages and disadvantages.
Whichever battery you have fixed in your golf cart, you must first read the instructions that came with it when you bought the battery.
Make sure you have understood the instructions thoroughly.
In this guide I’ll tell you the complete steps to be followed when you charge both 36 volt and 48 volt batteries.
Charging Lead-Acid Batteries on a Golf Cart
- Keep the golf cart where there is good ventilation to prevent gases from accumulating during the charging process.
- Check if the surrounding temperature is very high. If so, you’ll have to wait until it becomes normal.
- Confirm that the voltage settings are as specified in the instructions and do the required compensation for temperatures over 80°F.
- Check the water level in all the batteries.
- Tighten the vent caps after making the above check.
It’s a good practice to charge the batteries after using the cart every time so that it doesn’t let you down. The charging process is not complicated and by doing it correctly, you can extend the life of your lead-acid cart batteries.
Charging Lithium-ion Batteries on a Golf Cart
- Check the temperature of the area where you have kept your golf cart. Postpone the charging process if the temperature is either too high or too low.
- Make sure that the cart is turned off before you begin charging. This helps the battery to attain an ideal saturation point.
- Avoid charging the batteries to the maximum extent. It’s recommended that lithium-ion batteries are charged slightly less than their maximum limit.
- Watch out for the batteries getting heated when the charging takes place. If you find this happening, stop charging for a while and resume once the batteries have cooled down.
You can always replace the lead-acid cart batteries with lithium-ion ones. However, the replacement must not be done on the automatic equalization mode.
How to Choose the Best golf Cart Battery Charger
You must choose a battery charger according to the voltage of your cart to prevent the possibility of damage to your batteries.
Check the charging receptacle of your golf cart and select your charger accordingly. This is very important because the plug heads on golf carts tend to vary according to models.
There are about 8 different types of charger plugs that you can find across various golf cart models. While some of plugs are exclusively for either 36 volts or 48 volts carts, others will work with both voltages.
Battery charging voltage
The optimum battery charging voltage depends on the type of batteries that you use in your golf cart.
- A typical wet-cell lead-acid battery should be charged to about 14+ volts. Some manufacturers allow their batteries to support a maximum charging voltage of 14.3 volts.
- A sealed battery like a gel battery must generally not be charged beyond 14.1 volts. You may want to check whether the manufacturer offers a variation.
The above values are applicable only when the charger is disconnected after they are recharged. When the voltage drops to between 12.6 volts to 13.3 volts, the charging resumes with an automatic regulator or manually.
When to Charge Golf Cart Batteries
The best time to charge your golf cart batteries is before they are completely discharged. Thus, it’s ideal to charge them even after using the cart for just a short amount of time.
- Extensively used batteries that have attained half-cycle discharge and not been charged for a few weeks or months are prone to permanent damage. This is because of the self-discharge ability of the batteries.
- You should keep the batteries plugged in for charging whenever the golf cart is stationary. Avoid disconnecting the charger for a long period.
The batteries charging time is directly related to the time they have discharged. Keep in mind that golf cart batteries discharge at a rapid rate in cold weather.
- Golf cart battery chargers are designed to be automatic so that they turn on by themselves when it’s time for the batteries to get charged. Similarly, they turn off on their own when the batteries are fully charged.
- Diagnosing the condition of your batteries properly before replacing them can help you save both money and time in changing a battery that you don’t have to. If you think that the battery is weak or the charger is not doing its job properly, then it’s better to seek professional assistance.
Golf Cart Battery Charging Tips
Charging your golf cart batteries is not as challenging as it sounds. The following tips can help you charge your batteries:
- Turn the ignition key of the golf cart to the OFF position. Although there is no battery draw when the key is left on, doing this is considered to be a safe practice.
- Check for fluid accumulation above the batteries. If the top is wet, this means that the battery has been overwatered.
- In gel or AGM cells, it indicates overcharging and can impact battery performance and life. If you use lead-acid batteries, keep in mind that they tend to gas resulting in the acid getting accumulated on top of the batteries and corroding the terminals. This is also a sign of impending damage.
- Examine the external appearance of the batteries. Make sure that the top and terminal conditions are clean and dry, as well as free of corrosion and dirt. If the terminals appear messy, clean the tops as well as remove the debris and dirt on the terminals.
- You can use a cleaning solution of baking soda and water along with a brush and a cloth to remove the accumulated dirt. Make sure that the solution doesn’t enter the batteries. Follow up with a rinse using clean water. Dry the terminals and top well. Do the cleaning process once a month.
- Check the electrolyte levels in all the batteries. Don’t charge the battery if the level is between 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch above the battery plates. Use only distilled water to refill the battery. Over-charging or under-charging batteries and charging when the electrolyte is not at the desired levels can lessen the battery life and expectancy.
- Ensure that the battery connections and cables are tight, corrosion-free, and clean. Corroded connections may result in a voltage drop between batteries causing a low-battery life. The cables may also overheat and fail because of high resistance.
- Substitute the affected cables with new ones and apply a terminal protector coating after cleaning the corrosion and before you start the charging. You can also opt for a thin petroleum jelly coating.
- Check if all the vent caps are secured firmly and apply some petroleum jelly or terminal protector around the batteries.
Allowing your golf cart batteries to die completely before charging them can do as much damage as overcharging them.
Also, do not turn on electrical parts like radios and lights in your cart when the cart is turned off.
If you notice that your batteries are expanding or bulging or have cracks on them, replace them at the earliest.
Golf Cart Battery Charging Maintenance
The following steps can help you with your golf cart battery maintenance.
- Charge the batteries continuously for 8 to 10 hours, preferably overnight, using a compatible charger. This ensures that the batteries have at least a 20% charge when you charge the next.
- New batteries must be charged fully before use and need at least 20 to 50 cycles before a full charge. Hence, use the cart as less as possible during this period.
- Follow the steps given in the above section to keep the terminals and tops of your batteries clean and dry. Make a periodic check for tight and secure battery connectors and vent caps at all times.
- Fill the batteries with distilled water after charging to the level specified above while making sure that they are neither corroded nor dirty.
- Use only golf cart batteries and opt for a refresh charge once in 45 to 60 days. You may have to do this charge more often in hot weather.
Remember that as batteries become older, their water requirement and charging time increases accordingly.
- Opt for an automatic golf cart charger to take care of the charging process so that the batteries are always fully charged.
- Do not charge batteries in extremely cold weather.
- Make a record of the golf cart battery voltage of each battery for later reference.
Remember that golf cart batteries tend to last for 5-6 years. After this period, they need to be replaced with new batteries.
How to Charge a Golf Cart Battery that is Completely Dead
You can charge your golf cart batteries that are completely dead in a few ways.
The best method depends on the size of the battery and the battery bank to get the juice back into it. Ideally you get the batteries geared up to their actual voltages before you activate the golf cart battery charger.
You can use a golf cart battery recovery unit to help you get the desired volts back into your dead batteries.
The charger is very simple to use and can be activated by just pushing a button. This action applies a huge voltage into the battery bank of the golf cart. This will in turn help in activating the charger and turning it on to resume the charging.
These battery recovery units are often readily available at golf stores. The Super Charger Battery Bank Recovering Unit is a trustworthy brand that you can consider investing in for emergency use.
How to Charge Golf Cart Batteries While Driving the Cart
The standard golf cart doesn’t support charging golf cart batteries while it’s on the move. You may have to do a few modifications:
- Replace the engine of your electric golf cart with a gas engine that has a generator fitted on it. The generator can charge the batteries that supply the power to an electric motor responsible for moving the cart.
- The 48 volts system in a golf cart usually features an onboard computer (OBC) that controls the battery pack charging process and restricts the charging when the cart is moving.
- You can adjust the connections to override the OBC. However, this will prevent you from having accurate control over the charging process and shorten the lifespan of the batteries.
- Install a generator and connect it to a Delta Q charger that you can buy separately. Remember to bypass the standard green interlock wire that stops charging when the cart gets energized.
Most players opt for a Honda generator for this connection.
- Remove the magnet from the plug of the charger. Alternatively, you can bypass the reed switch of the cart.
How to Charge a Golf Cart Battery With a Car Charger
You can charge a golf cart battery using your car charger designed for 6 volts or 12 volts applications by following the steps given below and adhering to a few precautions.
- Disconnect the battery cables from the battery using a wrench and take it out of the battery compartment.
- Connect the battery and charger the same way you would connect an automotive charger for manual charging. Remember to monitor the charging process periodically. The charging should not take place for over six hours.
How to Charge Golf Cart Batteries with a 12 Volts Charger
The charging voltage or the voltage of the charger must be greater than or equal to the terminal voltage of your golf cart battery. Since golf cart batteries are usually of 6V, 8V, or 12V type, you can charge golf cart batteries with a 12 volt charger.
You can charge either one 12V golf cart battery or two 6V or 8V batteries at a time. The connection must be done according to the steps mentioned in the paragraph above (How to charge a golf cart battery that is completely dead) for charging a dead golf cart battery. But, when you charge two batteries, they will not get charged fully.
Remember to loosen the terminal clamp screws of the batteries for connecting the cables. You must tighten the screws before the charging starts and after removing the cables when the charging is complete.
How to Charge an 8 Volt Golf Cart Battery
You can charge an 8 volt golf cart battery using a 6 or 12 volts charger. For best results, charge only one battery at a time after disconnecting them from the golf cart.
- Connect the battery and the charger like mentioned in the paragraph above (How to charge a golf cart battery that is completely dead) for charging a single dead golf cart battery.
- If you’re using a 6V charger, charge each battery for a few hours until they have a 6V rating and connect to your cart’s charging receptacle to resume the charging.
- If you’re using a 12V charger, charge each battery for about half an hour before you make the changeover.
Remember to watch out for the charging current. You can consider starting at 10 amps, but if you find that the current drawn by the battery is more than what your charger can supply, lessen the current rating. Also, watch out for the battery getting heated up. If this happens, pause the charging and resume after a while.
How to Charge a 12 Volt Golf Cart Battery
You can charge your 12-volt golf cart battery using a 12-volt charger.
- Connect the positive terminal of the charger to the positive terminal of the battery.
- Connect the negative terminal of the charger to the negative terminal of the battery.
- Connect the charger to a wall outlet and commence the charging process.
If you plan to use four 12-volt batteries in place of six 8-volt batteries, you’ll have to use cables of different lengths for this connection.
Also, the battery plate and battery tray in the cart must be modified accordingly because the size of an 8V battery is smaller than a 12V battery.
Charging 36 Volt Golf Cart Batteries
You can charge 36-volt golf cart batteries using a charger specifically designed for this purpose.
The EZGO TXT Medalist charger with 5 amps current rating and automatic trickle function for overnight charging is a good option. It comes with an LED indicator, an 8-foot DC cord, and a two-speed cooling fan.
- Connect the battery to the designated charger.
- Plug the charger receptacle to a wall outlet and turn the switch to the ON position.
- Monitor the charging process using the LED indicator. A red light specifies that there is an active AC power supply. A yellow light indicates that the battery charging is in progress. A green light highlights that the charging is complete.
Charging 48 Volt Golf Cart Batteries
If you have a 48-volt golf battery cart, you ideally have six 8V golf cart batteries to make up for the 48 volts. You can charge the batteries using the charging tips mentioned above.
Ensure that the charging takes place before the batteries are completely discharged.
How to Charge a Deep-Cycle Battery
The following tips give an insight into the effective charging of a deep-cycle battery.
- Charge the deep-cycle battery fully between two consecutive uses of the golf cart. The battery must complete at least one full cycle before use.
- Check the water level periodically. Old batteries consume more water just as batteries dry up faster in hot weather. Use only distilled water for replacement.
- Keep the battery clean and dry all the time.
- Replace all the batteries at the same time, even when replacing only an individual battery.
- Pull the plug and not the cord of the charger when it has to be disconnected after the charging process.
- Make sure that the cart is in the neutral position and the ignition is in OFF before the charging starts.
How Long Does it Take to Charge a Golf Cart Battery?
A new golf cart battery that is fully discharged will take 2-4 hours to completely charge. On the other hand, a 5 year old battery may take up to 10 hours to fully charge.
With a good charger, you should be able to get your cart on the move with a few hours of charging. The charging time depends on various factors and following the right steps can help you get the best out of your battery.
Some of these factors are the discharge level and quality of the battery, as well as the quality of the charger. Weather is another affecting factor with the charging process slower in cold weather.
An older golf cart battery that has 55 percent discharge, charges faster than a new one with full discharge.
Tip: It’s worth investing in an automatic charger and charging the batteries after every use.
How Long Do Golf Cart Batteries Last On One Charge
A new golf cart battery will last up to 25-50 miles on one charge. This means the battery will last about 1 hour of continuous golf cart usage if travelling at an average of 35 miles per hour.
This distance also depends on the voltage and model of the golf cart, along with the battery configuration, age, and condition. Some of them also go up to 50 miles, but this isn’t recommended as you may get stranded.
Golf carts with motors featuring AC drives travel more than their DC counterparts. Similarly, two-seater carts go more distance than four-seaters because of lesser luggage and passenger weight.
The depth of discharge is another important factor. 6-volt and 8-volt batteries have lesser discharge and last longer than 12-volt batteries.
How Often to Charge a Golf Cart Battery
It’s recommended that you charge your golf cart batteries each time you use it. It’s ideal not to allow the batteries to go with less than 70 percent charge. A golf cart should be charged after completing one round of 18 holes.
Institutional golf carts charged according to the criterion given above can travel for four to five hours covering a distance of 3.5 miles. Recreational carts can go up to 6 miles depending on the load weight and terrain slope.
How to Manually Charge a Golf Cart Battery
Most golf carts are equipped with automatic chargers to ease the charging process. However, if this fails or there is some other problem like there is a dead golf cart battery, you may have to rely on manual charging.
You can follow the steps given below for charging dead golf cart batteries or manually get the juice back to your batteries.
Here is what you can do to manually charge a golf cart battery that’s completely dead with a jumpbox or a handheld automotive battery charger.
The method outlined below shows you how to charge a couple of batteries at a time for a short duration of 5 to 10 minutes. This will charge your battery to the minimum requirements.
- Connect the jumpbox or charger to the battery with clamps before plugging it to the wall or activating it.
- If your charger is active before the connection is established, it may cause spikes to occur. The charger will match the battery voltage and display the value. This can help you decide if you want to charge one or two batteries simultaneously.
- If the battery voltage is the same as the charger voltage (for example, if both of them have 12V voltage), then you can charge one battery by connecting the positive and negative terminals of the charger to the corresponding battery terminals.
- If the battery voltage is less than the charger voltage (for example, if the charger has 12V voltage and the battery has 6V voltage), then you can charge two batteries simultaneously.
- Connect the positive terminal of the charger to the positive terminal of a battery. Similarly, connect the negative terminal of the charger to the negative terminal of the other battery.
- If the charger voltage cannot be equated with the battery voltage (for example, if the charger has 12V voltage and the battery has 8V voltage), you can follow Step 3 and charge two batteries.
- Turn off the charger and disconnect the power supply when you move from one set of batteries to the next set.
Once the charging is finished, remove the charger and connect the battery to the golf cart charging receptacle and resume the charging process of other batteries.
Charging Golf Cart Batteries in Tow Mode
Your golf cart usually runs in tow mode when it does not have enough power to get moving on its own. One reason may be that the batteries are old and do not have the same power as new ones. If this happens with new batteries, the most likely reason is that they don’t have enough charge.
The tow switch is housed inside a golf cart’s battery compartment and can help it to move freely. However, you must remember to remove the negative battery cable connection.
If you plan to charge in Tow mode, you must remember to reset the switch after recharging. Remember that when you charge your cart in tow mode, no current will be drawn from the controller.
The OBC gets shut off and the vehicle operating circuit gets deactivated although the warning light will still work. Ideally, you would toggle the switch to Tow Mode if you’re not going to use your cart for a long time.
Charging Golf Cart Batteries with Caps On or Off
There is no need to remove the caps of your golf cart batteries when charging them. But keeping them open offers the advantage of letting the gases go out instead of being inside the battery.
The best way to decide whether the caps must be removed or not during charging is to check if they are vented. If your batteries have vents, you need not remove them as they take care of the venting action.
Keep in mind that you must charge the golf cart in a ventilated area. You may want to take the caps off if there is prolonged gassing like when you use a new battery set.
If the vents become plugged, the caps may not remain in place and will either pop off or remain unseated.
EZGo Golf Cart Charging Problems
The following are some points that you must consider addressing if you have problems charging your EZ Go golf cart.
- Check the voltage at the plug point or receptacle on the cart. This must ideally be your golf cart battery pack voltage.
- Check if the black and white wires connected to the charger plug are hooked to the proper terminals at the other end.
- Check if the connectors of the charger receptacles have worn out. This is a common problem. To verify this, plug in a working charger and keep the corded plugged-in end at a lifted position. If the charger doesn’t work, it’s time to change the old connectors.
- Check if you hear the relay making a click sound when the charger is plugged into the cart and not AC outlet. If you don’t, it means that your charger is not sensing the battery pack voltage.
- Mount the charger above ground level and ensure that there is sufficient airflow surrounding it to avoid overheating.
- The power cord must be equipped with a grounded plug and care must be taken to ensure that the ground post doesn’t get damaged or bent.