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Replacing Golf Cart Batteries: One at a Time vs. All at Once

Replacing Golf Cart Batteries: One at a Time vs. All at Once

August 26, 2023
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Replacing Golf Cart Batteries: One at a Time vs. All at Once

You took your golf cart out for a spin, and now you’re stranded. The wind is picking up. You feel droplets of rain. You wonder if this is it – if you and your cart will be washed away by the storm.


Okay, maybe we’re being a bit dramatic, but the point remains. A dead battery in your golf cart is anything but fun. Many people are unaware of the type of batteries they have, and how their golf cart batteries work, much less how to replace them effectively.


If you need to replace the batteries in one of your street legal golf carts, we’ve created this guide to help you understand how to do it properly.

Types of Golf Cart Batteries

Before you ever think about replacing a golf battery, it is vital to know what type of battery your cart has. There are four main types of golf cart batteries.

Flooded Lead Acid Batteries

These are the most common and require regular maintenance like water refilling. They use thick plates and high-density paste material for energy storage.

AGM Lead Acid Batteries

Also known as Absorbed Glass Mat batteries, these are sealed and require less maintenance. They offer a long lifespan and can handle high currents.

Gel Lead Acid Batteries

These batteries use a thick paste instead of liquid, making them maintenance-free. They are ideal for extreme weather conditions as they prevent electrolyte evaporation.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

These are the newest addition to the golf cart world. They offer high energy density and require the least maintenance. They can last up to 5000 charge cycles.

Each of these battery types has it own set of advantages and disadvantages. For this articles purpose we are only going to be discussing golf carts that have lead acid batteries. 

How Lead Acid Electric Golf Cart Batteries Work

Electric golf cart battery packs contain 4, 6, or 8 individual batteries rather than just one. These connect in a series.

 

How many batteries you have will vary depending on whether your cart is a 36-volt or 48-volt system, as well as the voltage of each battery.

The Difference Between 36 V & 48 V Batteries

When choosing a golf cart, the voltage of its battery system is a key factor to consider. There are two main types: 36V and 48V batteries.

36V Batteries

These are generally more affordable and are ideal for flat terrains and designated cart paths. They offer less power and range compared to 48V systems. The 36V carts are perfect for cruising around flat-surfaced neighborhoods or golf courses at speeds of 10-12 mph. However, they are not recommended for off-road use due to their lower power.

48V Batteries

These offer higher torque and are more efficient, drawing one-third less amperage than 36V carts. They are better suited for rough and hilly terrains. 48V systems also have a higher resale value and are more readily available for upgrades. However, they are generally more expensive both in initial purchase and long-term maintenance.

Street Legal Golf Carts

For street legal golf carts, a 48V battery system is generally the better choice due to its higher power and efficiency. The increased power allows the cart to more easily meet the minimum speed requirements often set by local regulations for street-legal vehicles.

 

While 36V systems can be adequate for private paths or golf courses, they may struggle to reach the speeds required for street use.

 

Regardless of what type of batteries you have, if one of the golf cart batteries in the series has died, you may be wondering if you should replace the individual battery, or all of them at once.

Replacing Your Batteries: All at Once or One at a Time?

While it may seem tempting to replace just one failing battery in your golf cart to save on immediate costs, we strongly advise against this practice. Here’s why:

Imbalanced Power Distribution

Introducing a new battery into a series of older ones creates a power imbalance. The new battery will naturally discharge more efficiently, causing the older batteries to lag behind. This uneven power distribution can lead to accelerated wear on the new battery, as it bears the brunt of the electrical load.

Compromised Charging Efficiency

Battery chargers are not designed to distinguish between old and new batteries. When you mix them, the charger will continue to charge until all batteries reach the required voltage. Older batteries generally take longer to charge, extending the overall charging time and reducing the efficiency of your charging process.

Reduced Overall Battery Life

Older batteries are less efficient and lose charge more quickly. When paired with a new battery, they can cause the newer one to drain faster, reducing its lifespan and overall performance. This can lead to more frequent battery replacements, negating any initial cost savings.

Potential for Damage

Mismatching old and new batteries can lead to complications such as battery imbalance and even permanent damage to the batteries in the series. This could result in additional costs for repairs or replacements.

Long-term Cost Inefficiency

While you might save money in the short term by replacing one battery, the long-term costs could be higher. The reduced performance and potential for damage mean you may end up replacing batteries more frequently, adding to your overall expenses.

 

For optimal performance and longevity, it’s recommended to replace all batteries in your golf cart at the same time. This ensures balanced power distribution, efficient charging, and extended battery life, making it a more cost-effective solution in the long run.

When is it Time to Replace Your Golf Cart Batteries?

Knowing when to replace your golf cart batteries is crucial for maintaining optimal performance. Here are some telltale signs that your batteries may be nearing the end of their lifespan:

Extended Charging Time

If your golf cart batteries are taking significantly longer to charge than they used to, it’s a red flag. Over time, batteries lose their ability to hold a charge efficiently, leading to extended charging periods.

Reduced Range

If you find that your cart is struggling to cover the usual distance around your neighborhood on a single charge, it’s a strong indicator that your batteries are weakening. Reduced range can be particularly inconvenient for daily errands or leisurely drives.

Sluggish Acceleration

Electric golf carts are known for their quick acceleration. If you notice a decline in the cart’s ability to reach top speeds or climb inclines, your batteries may be weakening.

Visible Deterioration

Look out for physical signs like bulging, expansion, or even acid leaks around the battery. These are clear indicators that your battery is deteriorating and needs immediate replacement.

Voltage Drop

After using your cart for a few miles, test the total battery voltage and each individual battery using a Volt Meter. A significant drop in voltage after use can indicate a weak battery pack.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it might be time to buy batteries.