Most electric golf cars utilize a battery pack of four or more deep-cycle batteries that can last a long time if you’ve performed the proper maintenance. Periodically, however, the vehicle may not seem to have the range it used to, and replacing all of the batteries may be cost-prohibitive at the moment. In most cases, it’s not the entire battery pack that is going bad, but instead, one battery is not keeping up with the rest of the pack and hurting performance.
Identifying A Bad Battery In Your Pack
1: Fully Charge Your Battery Pack And Take Readings
Perform a full charge to all the batteries and check the specific gravity readings on each battery with a hydrometer and multi-meter. Use the battery manufacturer’s data to see if the readings show the battery pack is undercharged. (Here’s an example of a typical deep-cycle battery data). Repeat the charge cycle to bring the state of charge of the pack up. If, after repeated charges, the batteries begin to increase in specific gravity readings, the problem is not the batteries, and further investigation is required.
2: Perform A Discharge Test At 50% DOD
If the specific gravities indicate charged batteries (1.260 or higher in all cells) and the voltage readings are good on each battery, discharge the battery pack on the vehicle in question. If one cell is significantly lower than the rest of the cells in the pack, mark that battery as suspect. Use a load tester or run the golf car through its typical routine. Battery packs that give less than 50-percent of the rated runtime are usually considered bad.
3: Test And Find The Bad Battery
Measure the voltage at the end of your discharge test to locate the bad battery. The one with a significantly lower voltage than the rest of the pack at the end of discharge is usually the culprit.
4: What If All The Batteries Show Low Voltage?
If all the batteries have a low voltage, and your hydrometer readings on all the batteries do not show a single defective cell, then the entire battery pack may be at the end of its service life.
Replacing Defective Batteries
Once you’ve found a bad battery in your golf car’s battery pack, it is okay to replace the single battery with a new one if it’s under six months old. If the battery is over six months old, it’s best to replace it with another battery from your fleet that has a date within six months of the rest of the pack or replace the entire pack.
When replacing a single battery or battery pack, it’s important to keep these facts in mind:
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 comparison when selecting a battery for a given application.
Having to buy a new set of batteries for your golf car is not something people always look forward to. A 48-volt golf car can take anywhere from four or even eight batteries, depending on the compartment space and vehicle model. This can be a big investment, so if you could get away with only buying four 12v batteries, would that be better? It might seem so upfront, but depending on how often you use your golf car and the amount of runtime you expect, fewer batteries with the same voltage may not always be the best choice.
Depending on the make and model of your golf car, it may seem less expensive to buy four 12-volt batteries connected in series to power a 48-volt system. Choosing higher voltage deep-cycle batteries, however, often means sacrificing amp-hour capacity. Under constant use, a four-battery pack will have a shorter life cycle than a pack producing the same 48-volts but made up of more batteries. The reason is that the larger battery pack provides a substantial increase in amp-hour capacity, leading to more runtime and cycle life than a smaller battery pack.
More batteries connected in series can produce the same amount of voltage, but because there are more batteries to share the load, it lowers the discharge rate per battery. The driving range is also extended because more batteries increase the overall capacity. Think of it like adding a larger fuel tank to your car. With a larger battery bank, you can drive your golf car farther between charges. If you keep your depth of discharge (DOD) on the battery pack less than 50 percent, it will ultimately add to making the pack last much longer than a pack with fewer batteries.
For example, on a 48-volt golf car, you can typically get a longer driving range and increased battery life with six 8V batteries, and even more capacity with eight 6V batteries. There are still other variables to consider, as there are various 6V and 8V batteries with different amp-hour ratings, but when you replace the batteries with the same amp-hour rating required by the golf car manufacturer and provide proper maintenance procedures, the battery bank with more batteries will last longer. Additional information on explaining the effects of wiring batteries in series and parallel can be found here: https://www.usbattery.com/info-center/configuration/
Club Car golf carts have been around for nearly 60-years, producing a variety of battery-powered golf cars, utility, and personal use vehicles. As most owners of these vehicles know, proper battery maintenance is key to longevity and reliability, but eventually, the batteries will need to be replaced.
When it comes time to get a new set of deep-cycle batteries for your Club Car, it’s important to make sure you select the right ones for your particular application, and most importantly, the type of use it will see. Club Car’s battery specifications are different for the various model vehicles they produce. Most utilize a 48-volt electric engine but depending on the model, have different amperage and power requirements.
As an example, Club Car DS and Precedent models (2in1, 2Plus2, Cargo, Professional), XF (2in1, 2Plus2) and XF Cargo models take six BCI Group Size GC8 eight-volt batteries. Choosing the right one depends on if you use the vehicle daily or if it says in storage at your vacation home. For each of these types of scenarios, there are different battery ratings to choose from that might better match your usage needs. U.S. Battery’s US 8VGC XC2 (with a 20-hour rate of 170) is a great choice for those who want a longer-lasting battery for this application. The US 8VGCE XC2 (with a 20-hour rate of 155) offers less overall runtime for applications where the vehicle won’t be used daily, offering a more cost-effective solution.
Club Car Precedent Champion models also use a 48-volt system but utilize four BCI Group Size GC12, 12-volt batteries. U.S. Battery’s 12VRX XC2 (20-hour rate of 155) provides a great compromise between daily and occasional use.
Proper Maintenance Makes The Difference
To get the most performance from your new battery, you must develop a regular maintenance schedule that consists of:
1. Checking and replenishing the electrolyte levels. Installing a BWT or Flow-Rite single-point-watering kit can make this an easy and quick process.
2. Performing an equalization charge
3. Checking and Cleaning battery terminals and connections
4. Performing an opportunity charge when possible
For a full list of proper Deep Cycle Battery Care & Maintenance procedures please see our page or download our Care & Maintenance brochure.
U.S. Battery Deep Cycle batteries are handcrafted in the U.S.A. The batteries also feature our exclusive XC2 formulation that gives them the highest initial capacity, fastest cycle-up time to full-rated capacity, improved recharge-ability, and the highest total energy delivered than any battery in their class. For a complete list of Flooded Lead-Acid or AGM batteries for golf cars and utility vehicles visit U.S. Battery’s Golf and Utility Vehicle Battery page to see all of the models, sizes, and specifications available to fit your particular vehicle.
U.S. Battery SpeedCaps™ Go Beyond Venting Deep-Cycle Battery Cells
The vent caps used on deep cycle batteries are designed to allow the escape of gases formed inside the battery when it is being charged and to limit the escape of electrolyte in normal operation. The vent caps are also designed for easy removal to visually check the electrolyte level in the battery and to add water as necessary. They also allow for the insertion of a hydrometer to check the battery’s state of charge. During regular maintenance that requires removing and reinstalling the vent caps, there is a possibility that the vent caps may not be properly reinstalled. This could allow electrolyte to spill over onto the battery and cause corrosion on terminals and surrounding areas.
To improve on the standard battery vent cap, U.S. Battery SpeedCaps™ are designed with a cantilever-style closure that is attached to three or four battery cell caps. This design allows all the caps to be easily removed with a single twist. The design not only makes the removal of the battery caps easier, but it also ensures that they are properly seated when being replaced. The locking ramp on top self-adjusts to maintain compression between the sealing gasket and vent well surface for the life of the battery. SpeedCaps™ are designed to make your job of battery maintenance as hassle-free as possible while also maintaining a proper seal and gas venting during use.
Proper venting is critical during charging when gas is being generated within the electrolyte and bubbles to the surface, helping to mix the electrolyte. To prevent electrolyte from escaping past the vent caps, U.S. Battery SpeedCaps™ feature 0.750-inch diameter porous discs that assure proper venting while maintaining flame retardance to prevent gas ignition inside the battery. They also have four separate vent holes that decrease backpressure and prevent internal pressure buildup.
Since vent caps are removed and replaced frequently during regular battery maintenance, U.S. Battery SpeedCaps™ are designed with a larger diameter flange. The enlarged flange ensures even pressure on the surface of the sealing gasket while maintaining a tight fit between the barrel and cylinder to eliminate side-to-side movement and the chance for misalignment of the gasket onto the sealing surface.
To prevent spilling of the electrolyte during vehicle movement in golf carts, aerial platform lifts, RVs, boats, etc., the SpeedCap™ design also features a double-sided internal baffle with multi-directional channels and a sloped center hole return drain, all designed to route battery electrolyte back into the cell.
With all these safeguards in place, U.S. Battery SpeedCaps™ are an example of one of the many details the company adds to its products to ensure they provide optimum performance and cycle life compared to other deep-cycle batteries on the market.
Anyone using deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries in their electric vehicle or other equipment knows the importance of routinely watering the batteries. During charging, the water content of the electrolyte will decrease due to the electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. If left unchecked, the electrodes inside each cell can become exposed, resulting in a loss of battery performance. Regular watering is essential to the continued life and performance of any flooded deep cycle battery.
Electric vehicles and other equipment using deep cycle batteries typically have from four to eight individual batteries – each with multiple cells. Watering each cell can take a significant amount of time, especially if you are maintaining a fleet of vehicles. Battery packs are often located in areas that are not easily accessible, increasing the time required for watering.U.S. Battery offers two single-point watering systems (SPWS), Battery Watering Technologies and Flow-Rite, which can make battery maintenance quick and easy while offering several other benefits.
- You Can Fill All Your Batteries At Once
A SPWS connects to all of the cells in each of the batteries within the pack allowing you to fill them with water from a single point.
- Save Time During Regular Maintenance
On a single battery-powered vehicle, you can water all of the batteries in about a minute, versus what would normally take 45-60 minutes per vehicle.
- No Chance Of Over Watering
With an SPWS, the battery cells fill up to the proper level and shut off to prevent overfilling.
- Monitoring Systems Can Tell You When To Water
Some SPWS offer a sensor that can monitor water levels in the battery and indicate when they need watering.
- Extended Battery Life
Frequent maintenance extends the life of your batteries which in turn lowers your annual operating costs.
When it comes to powering electric vehicles like golf carts, deep-cycle lead-acid batteries are the industry standard. The reason is that they are designed to provide the most cost-effective energy storage and delivery over the life of the battery.
Over the years, there have been two main types of deep-cycle lead-acid batteries that many golf car owners and fleets have used, the Flooded Lead-Acid (FLA) battery and the Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) battery. While both provide optimum performance in a wide variety of applications, their design difference can offer various advantages depending on the application.
The main design difference between FLA and AGM batteries is how the electrolyte is managed. In FLA batteries, the battery plates are submerged in the liquid electrolyte. During use, water in the electrolyte is broken down into oxygen and hydrogen gases and water is lost. This requires regular additions of water to be replaced to keep the battery plates fully submerged in the electrolyte.
In AGM batteries, the electrolyte is absorbed in special glass mat separators that retain all the electrolyte needed for the life of the battery. Since there is no free electrolyte, the oxygen generated on a charge is recombined at the negative plate. In normal operation, hydrogen is not generated and no water is lost. This eliminates the need to add water and also allows the battery to be sealed with a one-way valve that prevents leakage of the electrolyte.
FLA batteries have been used in a wide variety of applications for well over 150 years. Their popularity comes from their safety, reliability, and cost-effectiveness when compared with other types of rechargeable batteries. According to Fred Wehmeyer, U.S. Battery Senior VP of Engineering, FLA batteries deliver the lowest cost per watt-hour both in acquisition cost and in overall cost per charge/discharge cycle. “This is why they are the best choice for fleets of vehicles or equipment that are used heavily on a daily basis,” says Wehmeyer. “Also, both FLA and AGM batteries offer an environmental advantage over other types of batteries because they are essentially 100 percent recyclable and enjoy the highest recycling rate of any commercial product.”
AGM batteries offer the advantage of being maintenance-free. This can be significant in applications where regular maintenance is difficult or costly, such as when the batteries are located in remote or hard to access locations. Even though AGM batteries cost more per watt-hour, the elimination of maintenance costs reduces the overall battery operational costs. Also, since the battery is sealed and does not emit gases in normal use, it can be used in sensitive areas such as food or pharmaceutical storage facilities.
Selecting between FLA or AGM deep cycle batteries ultimately depends on the type of use and the capability to provide regular maintenance in the application.
AGM = No Maintenance + Higher Cost + Susceptible to abuse like overcharging
FLA = Requires Watering + Lower Cost + Susceptible to abuse from poor maintenance
No matter what type of battery you use, it is always best to target the depth of discharge to 50 percent or less for both FLA or AGM battery types. This will optimize battery life cycle cost vs acquisition cost over the life of the battery system.
Chan Hunt, the owner of OC Monster Carts in Southern California, is a custom golf car shop that has tried numerous golf car batteries over the years, but ultimately switched to using U.S. Battery products exclusively. “We meet out customer’s needs and always exceed them when it comes to personalization and registered street-legal vehicles,” says Hunt. “We’ve had some warranty issues with other battery companies that became significant. When we chose U.S. Battery, they exceeded our expectations and are more reliable and user-friendly.”
Hunt realizes that not all golf car customers take care of their golf-car batteries as well as they should, but after seeing OE golf cars come in equipped with U.S. Battery products, Chan says that it helped convince him that it was the right choice for his customers. “One of the greatest things for us and our customers is to have the peace of mind that we can present them a product that they can drive off and us not have to worry about it.”
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Aside from routinely adding water and charging your deep-cycle batteries, battery manufacturers recommend giving your batteries a tune-up. Simply put, this consists of a few methods to check the condition of the deep-cycle batteries and the associated components so that everything can continue to run perfectly.
Battery Terminals and Wires
1) Safety first. Always perform battery maintenance in a well ventilated area and wear eye protection and gloves.
2) Open the battery compartment of your deep-cycle battery-powered vehicle and check the wires and terminals connected to the battery. If corroded, clean them with a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize acid corrosion (easily done with a spray bottle). Remove the cables from the battery terminals and, using a wire brush with a plastic or wooden handle to prevent shorting, clean the terminals and wire connections down to the bright metal. Replace any wires that are frayed or broken.
3) Reconnect the cables to the battery terminals. The recommended terminal torque is 100-inch pounds or 15-18 pounds on the end of a six-inch wrench. Avoid using larger wrenches or power tools. Lead terminals can easily be damaged by over-tightening. The goal is to fully compress the split-ring lock washer but no more. Use insulated tools to prevent arching.
4) Once the terminals and cables are clean and connections are secure, use silicone spray or a corrosion inhibitor to prevent additional corrosion from forming.
Condition of the Batteries
1) Remove the vent caps on each of the deep-cycle batteries and check the electrolyte level in each cell. If some are low, refill with distilled water so that the plates are covered with at least ¼ inch of electrolyte before charging. After charging top up to within a ¼ inch of split-ring level indicator.
2) Use a hydrometer to determine the state of charge for each battery. During winter storage, all of the batteries should have been stored in a fully charged state. Check the battery manufacturer’s recommendation for the fully charged specific gravity for each type of battery.
3) If the batteries are fully charged, the vehicle is ready to start service. If the batteries are not fully charged, connect the charger and let it run through a full charge cycle. After charging recheck the electrolyte level and use a hydrometer to verify the batteries are at full charge.
4) After the first 30-days of use, perform an equalization charge to balance the cells and to mix the electrolyte to prevent stratification.
Once you’ve completed these steps, your deep-cycle batteries in your golf cart, aerial work platform, forklift or even your RV and boat, should be ready to go back to work. With regular maintenance, they will continue to run at optimum performance and last longer with lower annual operating costs. For more information on deep-cycle batteries for your particular application and maintenance tips, visit www.usbattery.com.
There’s something to be said about due diligence, especially when it comes to your golf car’s batteries. While many individuals and golf courses are content with simply charging batteries overnight, and checking water levels whenever they get around to it, others conform to a strict maintenance schedule that ultimately prevents numerous conditions that can lead to poor performance and ultimately, battery failure.
Run It Till It Dies
The downtime while your batteries are charging is often inconvenient and some golf car owners run the car until it’s nearly out of power or dead altogether. Batteries that experience frequent deep discharges (discharges of more than 50-percent of a battery’s rated capacity) will have dramatically shorter life than batteries with lower depth of discharge (DOD). The use of ‘opportunity charging’ or charging at every opportunity instead of waiting to recharge until batteries are fully discharged will dramatically increase battery life. (This should not take the place of fully charging regularly.) If you need longer runtime between charges, consider switching to batteries with higher amp-hour capacity. This may require switching to a different type of battery with a lower voltage per monoblock but higher capacity.
For example, a golf car with a 48-volt battery pack can use four 12-volt batteries, six 8-volt batteries or eight 6-volt batteries (if space is available). While all provide the same 48-volt pack voltage, the eight 6-volt batteries provide the highest capacity and runtime. According to Fred Wehmeyer, Senior VP of Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing, a battery that is routinely discharged to 40% DOD will last about 2.2 times longer than a battery that is discharged to 80% DOD. The initial cost for eight 6-volt batteries is higher than four 12-volt batteries; but considering how much longer they will last, the return on investment is much greater.
Failing to consistently check water levels and add water to your batteries can also result in low capacity and eventual battery failure if left unchecked. Watering flooded lead-acid batteries is one of the most basic and important maintenance procedures. During battery charging, gases evolved from the decomposition of water results in water loss. This lost water must be replaced by regular water addition. The rate of water loss can be even higher at elevated temperature and water levels must be checked more frequently. If water is not replaced regularly, the tops of the battery plates in each cell can become exposed to air and damaged to the point that capacity is reduced and battery life is shortened. Electrolyte levels should always be maintained above the top of the plates by adding water before charging and after charging to about 1/8-inch below the bottom of the vent wells. Final watering should be done after charging to prevent electrolyte overflow.
If you really hate watering batteries, consider a Single Point Watering System and a battery watering monitor. These often come in kits that are pre-made for specific golf cars and/or battery packs. Monitors such as U.S. Battery’s Sense Smart Valve works with SPWS systems and indicates via a dash or battery mounted LED when the batteries need water.
Summer’s Over; Park It Till Next Year
Improper battery storage is, unfortunately, a common practice with resorts and RV owners. Storing your golf car with the battery pack in a discharged condition for a long period of time can lead to sulfation (a condition that leads to the development of large lead sulfate crystals that reduce the battery’s available capacity). Over time, this sulfation can reduce both the full charge capacity and overall life of the battery.
The battery pack should always be fully charged before the vehicle is put into long-term storage. In winter months, this also prevents the batteries from freezing. Maintaining the batteries at full charge will keep your batteries in good condition until the next time you use them.