The golf cart battery industry is in a state of flux. On one hand we have golf cart manufacturers and retailers that realize lithium-ion batteries are better for golf cart performance and longevity than lead acid batteries. On the other hand are consumers who resist the high upfront cost of lithium golf cart batteries, and consequently still rely on inferior lead-acid battery options.
There are 3 forms of golf cart batteries that are available for our golf car owners. Which one is the right one for you? Lets take a look a the options and you can determined what works best for you depending on longevity, price, and how you plan to use your golf cart.
Here are the main categories of discussion:
Battery Charging Speed
Regardless if you’re using a lead-acid battery or a lithium-ion battery, any electric car or golf cart faces the same flaw: they have to be charged. Charging takes time, and unless you happen to have a second cart at your disposal, that time can put you out of the game for a while.
A good golf cart needs to maintain consistent power and speed on any course terrain. Lithium-ion batteries can manage this without a problem, but a lead-acid battery will slow the cart down as its voltage dips. Plus after the charge has dissipated, it takes an average lead-acid battery roughly eight hours to recharge back to full. Whereas, lithium-ion golf cart batteries can be recharged up to 80 percent capacity in about an hour, and reach full charge in less than three hours.
Plus, partially-charged lead-acid batteries sustain sulfation damage, which results in significantly reduced life. On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries have no adverse reaction to being less than fully charged, so it's okay to give the golf cart a pit-stop charge during lunch. Lithium also has a built in charger that makes charging available anywhere you can connect an extension cord to a 110 outlet.
Golf Car Battery Compatibility
Golf carts designed for lead-acid batteries can see a significant performance boost by swapping the lead-acid battery to a lithium-ion battery. However, this second wind can come at an instillation cost. Many lead-acid equipped golf carts need a retro-fit kit to operate with a lithium-ion battery, and if the cart manufacturer doesn’t have a kit, then the cart will need modifications to operate with a lithium battery.
The easiest way to tell if a cart is going to need modifications or a simple retro-fit kit is the battery voltage. Compare a lithium-ion battery and a lead-acid battery side-by-side, and if the battery voltage and amp-hour capacity are the same, then the battery can be plugged directly into the golf cart. However, lithium-ion battery’s smaller size and design often means the golf cart might needs alterations to its battery mount, charger and cable connectors.
Battery Cycle Life
Lithium batteries last significantly longer than lead-acid batteries because the lithium chemistry increases the number of charge cycles. An average lithium-ion battery can cycle between 2,000 and 5,000 times; whereas, an average lead-acid battery can last roughly 500 to 1,000 cycles. Although lithium batteries have a high upfront cost, compared to frequent lead-acid battery replacements, a lithium battery pays for itself over its lifetime.
Can AGM or Gel Batteries Can Be A Third Option?
AGM batteries is a good option to be used in golf carts. There are numerous reasons and advantages for this. A few of the advantages include:
The AGM battery is capable of fast charging, almost 5 times faster
It provides a depth-of-discharge of 80%
The size of the battery is mid-sized and ranges from 30 to 100Ah
The batteries are spill-proof thanks to its acid encapsulation
AGM batteries are resistant to vibrations
They are less likely to have sulfation build up
It has fewer electrolytes
This battery works well in cold temperatures
Disadvantages of AGM Batteries
Few of the disadvantages are:
AGM batteries manufacturing cost is more than flooded lead-acid batteries
They are sensitive to overcharging
It must be stored in charged condition
Reduced life-span in hotter climates
May not have the range of a lead acid battery
Therefore, AGM batteries are a great option for use in golf carts. This is because they offer high currents and are also spill-proof. You don’t have to worry about the buildup of sulfation and you also do not have to worry about watering the batteries. For most people, watering lead acid batteries on a monthly basis is a hated task. In addition, so many individuals improperly maintain their water level in the batteries and destroy them. However, if you decide to make the switch to AGM batteries, you just have to keep in mind that it may use a different charging system than the one that came with your golf cart. Buying a new charger in addition to the cost of AGM batteries will become a hefty bill.
Lead Acid: $700- $900
Gel: $1200 - $1800 (initial conversion and installation may determined final price)
Lithium: $3500 - $5500 (initial conversion and installation may determined final price)
We hope that this has help answer some of the questions you may have had about golf cart batteries. We would love to answer any questions that you may still have. Give us a call at 760-325-0070. Looking to get a conversion done? We can help with that too.