Using Runtime Ratings To Compare Golf Car Batteries

 

When it comes time to purchase a new set of batteries for your golf car or complete fleet, it makes sense to compare products and shop for the best value.  Because there are so many batteries available for a single type of vehicle, it’s important to make sure you’re comparing batteries with the same internal construction (Flooded vs AGM vs Gel), voltage output, and capacity ratings.  This is where it can get confusing for many golf car owners and fleet managers.

The information on the labels can sometimes be confusing as manufacturers don’t always list the same testing criteria, making comparisons difficult. An example of this is when trying to compare two similar batteries that show different battery cycle life ratings. Battery cycle life ratings are often based on selective data from the manufacturer.

Comparing Depth Of Discharge

Typically, cycle life ratings are determined based on the depth of discharge (DOD), the percentage of amp-hour (AH) capacity discharged from the battery on each discharge. Most battery manufacturers recommend a 50 percent DOD for optimum cycle life vs runtime. The problem is that cycle life can be quoted at a wide variety of DOD ratings which can result in what appears to show a longer cycle life for one battery type over another. This makes for a comparison that is not accurate. When comparing cycle life ratings, make sure they are rated using the same DOD.

Comparing Amp-Hour Ratings

Amp-hour ratings are often used to compare similar lead-acid batteries and can also be misleading. As an example, a 6-volt battery may list its amp-hour (Ah) rating as 200 Ah at the “20hr rate”. This means that the battery will provide 10 amps of current for 20 hours until the battery is fully discharged or “spent”.  A common mistake is assuming that a battery with a 200 amp-hour rating will provide 200 Ah at all discharge rates. Enter Peukert’s law. This states that battery capacity decreases as the rate of discharge increases.  If the same 200 Ah battery is fully discharged at a higher rate over five hours, the battery will deliver only about 150 Ah at 30 amps.  Also, the relationship between battery capacity and the rate of discharge is not linear, so it is important to find the rated capacity at the discharge rate for the application in which you plan to use the battery.  Most battery manufacturers publish tables of ratings vs discharge rate or discharge time for each battery type.

Look At Runtime Ratings

Even though manufacturers list various amp-hour ratings, it’s often difficult to know which ones to use in order to make the right comparison for your application. It may be more accurate to use the runtime ratings in minutes that can typically be found on the battery manufacturer’s spec sheets and websites.  As an example, U.S. Battery publishes ratings that show how many minutes a battery can provide at 25, 56, and 75 amp-draws. By comparing the rated runtime in minutes, you’ll get a better idea of the performance you can expect when comparing two similar batteries. These runtime ratings are based on the actual discharge currents seen in typical applications and may be more applicable than the amp-hour ratings. For example, RV and marine discharge rates usually fall into the 25 amp range while most golf car discharge rates fall into the 56–75 amp range (56 amps for 48-volt cars and 75 amps for 36-volt cars).

Key things to remember when comparing batteries:

  1. Cycle life comparisons should be made at the same depth of discharge (DOD).
  2. Amp-hour ratings should be compared using the same discharge time and/or discharge current that will be used in the application.
  3. Run-time ratings may be the most accurate comparisons when selecting a battery for a given application.

Making The Right Connections

Connecting Batteries In Series Or Parallel

Electric golf cars are typically powered by several batteries that act as one single power source. The batteries are connected in a configuration that provides the voltage necessary for the golf car’s electric motor to operate correctly.  As an approach to lower battery pack costs, some golf car manufacturers and fleet managers have converted to fewer, higher-voltage batteries with the same overall pack voltage.  Even though this approach is acceptable, it’s important to understand the effects on power and range by first understanding how deep-cycle batteries are connected to provide voltage and capacity before making any changes.

The battery connections within a golf car are dependent upon its motor’s voltage requirements. Most golf cars come from the manufacturer with the batteries connected in series. This results in a battery pack with the same amp-hour capacity as one battery, but the voltage is equal to the sum of all of the batteries combined. For example, two 6-volt 200 Ah batteries connected in series will produce 12-volts at 200 Ah. Battery amp-hour capacity is independent of battery pack voltage but the total energy content of the battery pack is equal to the battery amp-hour capacity times the battery pack voltage.  You can think of energy content as similar to the number of gallons of gas in a car’s gas tank. The more energy, the farther you can drive between charges.

 

Batteries In Seriesconfigurations_all

 

In other applications such as large diesel trucks or recreational vehicles, it’s common to connect deep-cycle batteries in a parallel circuit. This has the opposite effect from batteries connected in series because the total battery voltage remains the same as one battery, but the total amp-hour capacity is now the sum of the batteries in parallel. For example, two 6-volt 200 Ah batteries connected in parallel will result in a pack with 6-volts at 400 Ah.

Batteries In Parallel

configurations_all

 

 

In golf car applications it’s unusual to see batteries connected in parallel, it is common to see fewer, higher voltage batteries connected in series to achieve the required pack voltage. The trend to fewer batteries with higher voltage may seem like a good approach, but keep in mind that higher voltage golf car batteries typically have lower amp-hour capacities than their lower voltage counterparts. For example, a 48-volt golf car can use four 12-volt batteries or six 8-volt batteries. While the total battery pack cost is usually lower for a set of 12-volt batteries, the amp-hour capacity is also lower resulting in lower driving range.  This may also result in shorter battery life from the set of 12-volt batteries. This is due to the deeper discharge on the lower amp-hour capacity set of 12-volt batteries. By using more of the battery’s available amp-hour capacity on each discharge, more active material in the battery is “worked” and the batteries overall lifespan is reduced.

If your course isn’t getting adequate life from your batteries or if the batteries simply aren’t providing enough range, it may be more cost-effective to switch to a higher capacity battery pack with a greater number of lower voltage batteries. This can be done with either six 8-volt batteries or eight 6-volt batteries to provide a 48-volt battery pack with higher amp-hour capacity, higher energy content, and greater driving range. See the chart below for a comparison of relative driving ranges with the three different battery configurations.

If the cost of an unplanned switch to higher capacity batteries is outside of your current budget, it may still be advantageous to replace with similar higher voltage batteries to save initial cost.  However, it is important to replace the batteries with the same amp-hour capacity as the original batteries or higher.  As golf cars age, their energy efficiency decreases and they may require higher amp-hour capacity for the same driving range.

Either way, it is important to make sure your batteries are connected correctly and matched to the vehicles required voltage. If you have any questions regarding series and parallel connections, you can visit https://usbattery.com/info-center/configuration/ to view diagrams for various connection possibilities.

Note: Some large golf utility vehicles, personnel carriers and off-road vehicles that require even higher energy and power may have battery packs connected in a series-parallel configuration.  This allows them to use a similar 48-volt electric motor as a standard golf car but with a higher amp-hour capacity battery pack to supply their increased power and energy requirements.  Since these series-parallel battery packs can be connected in multiple configurations, owners should consult the vehicles owner’s manual for proper battery connection.  Diagrams of some typical series-parallel configurations are also shown at https://usbattery.com/info-center/configuration/

 

 

 

 

U.S. Battery’s 8VGCi XC2 Offers A Performance Upgrade That Fits Most Single Point Watering Systems

U.S. Battery’s new US 8VGCi XC2 enables vehicle owners to easily upgrade their 8-volt deep-cycle battery to a higher-performing, longer lasting battery, and continue to use their existing manifold-style single point watering system.

Since battery manufacturers have different styles of vent caps, it’s often difficult to change or upgrade to a different battery brand, especially if you’ve already invested in a single point watering system. With the introduction of U.S. Battery’s new US 8VGCi XC2 option, it’s easy to upgrade to a better battery and keep your existing watering system.  The new US 8VGCi XC2 version will also fit existing Flow Rite and BWT systems as well, giving you the option to upgrade your single point watering system at a later date.

The new US 8VGCi XC2 is a Group GC8 size battery that provides 170 amp-hours at the 20-hour rate, making it a powerful and reliable upgrade for a variety of heavy-duty applications. Equipped with U.S. Battery’s exclusive XC2™ Formula and Diamond Plate Technology®, the 8VGCi XC2 reaches higher initial rated capacity, and faster cycle up time to full-rated capacity, than any other battery in its class and price range.

Manufactured in the U.S.A., the US 8VGCi XC2 weighs 64 lbs. (29.0kg) and comes in a durable polypropylene case. This battery is only available with bayonet vent caps, and does not come with U.S. Battery’s exclusive SpeedCap®. It can also be ordered with a variety of precision-made terminals to fit your particular application. For more information contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit www.usbattery.com.

North Carolina Golf Course Owner Relies On U.S. Battery Products To Keep His Golf Car Fleet Running Longer

When you own and operate a golf course, managing your overall operating expenses becomes a big priority. This is the case for Dennis Watkins, general manager and owner of the Lakewood Golf Club in Statesville, North Carolina.

Watkins has been in the golf course business for more than 40 years and knows that a large part of any course’s operating expenses goes into maintaining and operating a fleet of golf cars. “The batteries we use in our golf car fleet are my life-blood, so I use U.S. Battery US2200 six-volt batteries because they outperform any other brand of I’ve tried in my 40-years in this business,” says Watkins.

As the golf course’s owner and operator Watkins works hard to get as much use out of his fleet of 70 golf cars, which in turn helps lower his overall operating costs. “I make sure that the water levels are above the battery cell plates and I maintain a strict maintenance schedule,” says Watkins. “Compared to other brands, I can consistently get four seasons out of U.S. Battery products before they need to be replaced.”

“I’ve used other competitive brands that cost the same, but the failure rate always left me stuck with unusable batteries. Some have only worked for 24 months. In my experience, U.S. Battery’s US2200-XC2 deep-cycle batteries give me the most value of what I expect to get out of my golf car fleet.”

U.S. Battery’s US2200-XC2 is the company’s most popular six-volt deep-cycle flooded lead-acid battery for the golf car industry. With its exclusive XC2™ formulation and Diamond Plate Technology® the US2200-XC2 has the highest initial capacity, the highest rated capacity, and the ability to reach peak capacity in fewer cycles, than any other battery in its class. Aside from its performance, the US2200-XC2 batteries also feature extra heavy-duty connector lugs, a tough polypropylene exterior case, and the company’s positive locking SpeedCap® venting system for easy maintenance and durability in a variety of conditions.

U.S. battery products are manufactured in the U.S.A. and distributed worldwide. For more information, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit https://www.usbattery.com.

U.S. Battery Attends Beijing Golf Show With Shenzen Beixing Trading Inc.

Paul Harchick from U.S. Battery, attended the Beijing Golf Show with U.S. Battery’s China partner and distributor Shenzen Beixing Trading Inc. A majority of the interest was in U.S. Battery’s golf products, especially the new US 12VE 12-volt deep-cycle battery, and the US 8VATB 8-volt battery. Visitors to the Shenzen Beixing Trading Inc. booth included many large golf course superintendents that are keen on utilizing and U.S. Battery products.

New 12-Volt Deep-Cycle Battery Offers An Economical Solution For Reducing Operating Costs

U.S. Battery now offers a reliable 12-volt deep-cycle battery for fleets and operators wanting an economical, high-capacity battery that can lower annual operating costs. The U.S. Battery 12VE XC2 is the company’s latest design incorporating a new cell configuration that supplies 145 amp-hours at a 20-hour rate, making it suitable for a variety of equipment and vehicle applications. This new economical design however, doesn’t mean reduced power or performance, as the USB12VE XC2 battery incorporates the company’s exclusive XC2™Formula and Diamond Plate Technology®. This allows the battery to reach higher initial rated capacity, and faster cycle up time to full-rated capacity than other battery in its class and price range.

Manufactured in the U.S.A. to the same external dimensions as U.S. Battery’s USB12V XC2, the USB12VE XC2 offers a weight reduction of five pounds, and comes with a variety of heavy-duty terminal options. With a durable polypropylene case and U.S. Battery’s exclusive SpeedCap® battery vent cap for easy maintenance, the 12VE XC2 can be used with an optional single point watering system and Sense Smart™ valve, that indicates when electrolyte levels are low and the battery(s) require water.

For more information contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit www.usbattery.com.

U.S. Battery And Battery Systems Provide Batteries To Horses 4 Heroes

U.S. Battery and one of its distributors Battery Systems provided eight golf car batteries to Horses 4 Heroes, a Las Vegas-based non-profit organization that runs an equestrian center to provide affordable riding activities for veterans, at-risk youth, and more. The batteries they received, U.S. Battery’s US12VXC deep-cycle 12-volts, will be used in two of the organization’s golf cars that were donated last summer to help the group get around its 680 acre facility. “When we heard how much eight batteries cost, we had no choice but to let the golf carts sit until such time as we could afford to buy batteries or raise the funds,” said Sydney Knott, President/CEO/Founder of Horses 4 Heroes. “So we are simply and completely overwhelmed, grateful, and honored that U.S. Battery and Battery Systems are willing to do this for us.”

Horses 4 Heroes provides affordable horseback riding activities for Active Duty service members, veterans, first responders and their families. The organization also provides free or low-cost “EAL” (Equine Assisted Learning) workshops for at-risk youth, veterans with PTS/MST/TBI, victims of domestic abuse and violence, and recovering addicts. “This organization does a lot to help people discover that horses can provide great enjoyment and therapy,” says Dan Grigsby, Western States Regional Manager for U.S. Battery. “We were happy to partner with one of our dealers to provide Horses 4 Heros with the most reliable batteries on the market so their golf cars can run longer and last a long time with proper maintenance.”

The Horses 4 Heroes’ Community Equestrian Center, is located within Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs, in Las Vegas, Nevada and has more than 300 affiliates in 45 states plus Canada. For more information on Horses 4 Heroes, visit www.horses4heroes.org. For more information on U.S. Battery products, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit https://www.usbattery.com.

Lead Batteries The Most Recycled Product In The U.S.A. According To The EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency compared recycling rates for a multitude of materials and found that lead-acid batteries had the highest recycling rate of all consumer products. The facts were published in a June 2015 EPA report titled Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2013 Fact Sheet. The report assessed the disposal and recycling trends in the USA. In a 2013 study within the report, the EPA found that the rate of lead-acid battery recovery was about 99 percent (2.85 million tons), the highest recycling rate over other products such as newspapers, yard trimmings, aluminum cans, tires, consumer electronics, glass, PET bottles and more.

“The recycling infrastructure for lead-acid batteries is a closed loop (cradle to cradle) system,” says Fred Wehmeyer, Senior Vice President of Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing. “As an example, new flooded lead-acid batteries are manufactured from recycled raw materials and the safe delivery methods used to ship batteries worldwide are also the same methods used to return spent lead-acid batteries to be recycled. Throughout the years the process has become extremely refined and efficient, making it one of the most successful environmental reclamation systems in existence.”

According to the Battery Council International, a variety of processes go into recycling lead-acid batteries in which recycling facilities are controlled under some of the strictest U.S. EPA regulations. Innovative systems have been developed to capture all of the components of lead-acid batteries for recycling. For example, lead from spent batteries is smelted and refined to be reused to build new lead-acid batteries. The sulfuric acid electrolyte is also captured and neutralized during the recycling process and then processed into fertilizer.

With a high recycling rate and low operating cost, the FLA battery remains the best solution for most electrically powered vehicles such as golf cars, floor maintenance machines, access lifts, and other battery operated vehicles. It is also the most efficient technology for storing energy and has the longest track record for safety and reliability. So when you combine this with the highest recycling rates on the planet, it stands to reason that this 150-year-old technology has definitely evolved into an energy source that’s hard to beat.
For more information on flooded lead-acid batteries and battery recycling, contact U.S. Battery Manufacturing, 1675 Sampson Ave. Corona, CA 92879. (800) 695-0945. Visit https://www.usbattery.com.

Lithium vs Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries

Comparing The Real Cost Benefits For Use In Golf Cars And Other Industrial Uses

By Fred Wehmeyer, Senior VP Engineering for U.S. Battery Manufacturing, and Zachary Cox, Product And Process Engineering, U.S. Battery Manufacturing

With the popularity of small electronics and new battery technology, we often hear that “lithium is the way of the future.” In many ways, lithium has proven to be beneficial for hand-held electronics and high dollar electric vehicles. But for many other industrial applications, like in the golf car industry, lithium doesn’t always add up.

When it’s time for a new set of batteries in your golf car, lithium sounds like a good alternative for many of the popular reasons, including no maintenance and a seemingly environmentally friendly footprint. Taking a closer look, however, we can see that switching to lithium in golf cars, is not limited to simply swapping out a set of batteries.

The facts are that lithium batteries require a new charger and a Battery Monitoring System, an on-board computer known as a BMS. The BMS monitors each cell individually and regulates charge and discharge for cell balancing and safety. The BMS must communicate with a charger that is capable of reading the BMS communication protocol. This is not required for lead-acid batteries.

With operational costs being a major concern for anyone with a golf car fleet, it’s important to point out that there is the initial cost of a lithium iron phosphate pack (LiFePO4), plus the required additional equipment necessary to operate it. A single LiFePO4 cell has a nominal voltage of 3.2 volts, thus requiring 15 cells in series for a 48-volt pack. The average retail price of one 100 Ahr (amp-hour) cell is $155, putting the pack cost at $2325. A compatible BMS and charger cost $290 and $1075 respectively. Altogether, a conversion would cost $3690 and will provide a reported 2000 cycles at a lower energy content of 4800 watt-hours vs 7200 watt-hours for a comparable flooded lead-acid battery pack.

When comparing the costs, (see the chart below) you can see that for a 48-volt pack, you can buy four 12-volt lead-acid batteries for about $640 retail. That will get you around 150 Ahr and 750 or more cycles with no additional equipment needed. Overall, the flooded lead-acid battery pack will deliver more energy per cycle at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour on each cycle by a factor of over 3:1.

Lithium batteries are also touted as the “green” alternative to lead-acid because they do not contain lead or corrosive materials. The facts are, however, that lead-acid golf car batteries are recycled at a rate of 97-99 percent, with the recycled lead going back into new golf car batteries, not the environment. The recycling infrastructure of lead-acid batteries is a closed loop process that more than pays for itself, while recycled lithium rarely goes back into new batteries due to the high cost of recycling.
For golf courses and golf car fleets intent on lowering operating costs, it’s clear that lead-acid batteries remain the best choice because of their lower operating cost, proven track record, and a great recycling system that produces a small environmental footprint.

The chart demonstrates the direct cost comparison between lithium and FLA batteries as they pertain to the golf car industry and the voltage vs amp-hour requirements. For additional information on deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries for golf car and other industrial uses, visit U.S. Battery Manufacturing, www.usbattery.com.

 

COST COMPARISON CHART

LithiumVsFLA-CostChart

 

Diagnosing Battery Charger Problems

Undercharging is one of the most common reasons for reduced operating time and overall poor performance of golf cars and other types of electric vehicles that use deep cycle flooded lead-acid batteries. While many golf car operators blame the batteries, the problem can also result from a poorly performing charging system. Keep in mind that battery chargers are subjected to temperature extremes and corrosive environments that can affect their performance over time. So before you replace another set of batteries, try these diagnostic procedures to ensure your charger and charging methods are working properly. 1. Connect the charger and make sure it is on and charging. Test the voltage at the battery pack positive and negative terminals. On-charge voltage will normally continue to increase until the charger terminates the charge automatically. It is important to determine the maximum on-charge voltage and charge current (on the charge meter if available) observed near the end of the charge cycle just before the charge terminates. 2. Once the charger has completed a charge cycle and has automatically turned off, unplug the power to the charger. Wait one to two minutes and reconnect it. The charger should resume charging normally. Note the charge current and the time at the beginning of charge. This is usually described as an ‘equalization charge’ and should continue for at least 30 minutes before checking the charger’s performance. With many chargers, this step can also be performed by unplugging the DC power cord from the charger to the battery pack. If this method is used, confirm that the charger restarts and continues to charge for at least 30 minutes. 3. It’s at this point that you can begin to check the charger’s performance. Check the on-charge voltage at the battery pack’s positive and negative terminals. The voltage will normally continue to increase to the range of 2.50-2.60 volts per cell, until the charge terminates automatically. See Table I to determine the minimum and maximum on-charge voltages for the battery pack based on nominal pack voltage. If the voltage does not increase or initially increases and then decreases, record the following information. a) The maximum and final on-charge voltages. b) Charge current (if available). d) The charging time from the start until it terminates automatically.

 

Graph Battery On Charge Voltage

4. The next step is to check the on-charge voltage of each battery and compare it to Table II to determine the acceptable Charge Voltage Variation for each battery’s nominal voltage. If the voltage varies beyond the values stated in Table II (either variation from pack average or variation from highest to lowest), replace the lowest voltage battery and repeat the diagnostic test. Test the failed battery separately to determine mode of failure.

 

 

Graph Battery On Charge Volt Variation

Armed with this information, you may be able to determine that the charger is not working properly if:

a) Both the on-charge voltage for the battery pack or on-charge voltage for each battery fail to reach the equivalent of 2.5 volts per cell times the number of cells connected in series.

b) The on-charge voltage increases and then decreases (with charger still charging), and if the on-charge voltage of each battery does not vary by more than the values shown in Table II for 6, 8, or 12 volt batteries; either variation from pack average or variation from highest to lowest. c) If the battery pack on-charge voltage reaches the equivalent of 2.60 volts per cell ( the maximum in Table-I), and the charger does not terminate the charge after 1-3 hours. If you found that your charger is not working properly, keep in mind that your batteries may still be good. Flooded lead-acid batteries can be brought back to full capacity with a full charge.

If you decide to purchase a new charger, look for a programmable charger with a selection of multiple charge algorithms. Deep cycle batteries from various battery manufacturers require different charge characteristics to deliver optimum performance and life. Most charger manufacturers provide programmable chargers with selectable charge algorithms designed for each battery manufacturer’s products. Using the battery manufacturer’s recommended charging procedure will optimize battery performance and life of your battery pack.

After you fully charge the batteries with your new charger, you can always take specific gravity readings for each battery with a hydrometer to determine if the battery is at a full state of charge. Several cycles of charging and discharging with the new charger may be required to return the battery pack to peak capacity. For a more detailed version of this charger diagnostic procedure or more information on flooded lead acid batteries or specific gravity readings for batteries, visit www.usbattery.com.