At the end of each use, you should charge your golf cart, but you should know how to charge an electric golf cart properly because improper charging can damage a battery, and batteries are not cheap. They cost anywhere from $800 to $2,000 to replace, so you should care of your batteries and charge them correctly. You’ll be kicking yourself if you inadvertently damage yours and needlessly have to fork out piles of cash.
Here’s how to charge a golf cart in 6 simple steps:
- Gather the Necessary Materials
- Park the Golf Cart in a Safe Location
- Connect the Charger to the Golf Cart
- Plug the Charger into a Power Source
- Monitor the Charging Process
- Disconnect the Charger
Since a golf cart is such an important investment, you want to avoid mistakes in charging because you could waste a lot of money on batteries or damage your wiring.
Read on to learn the best practices to charge your golf cart battery.
How to Charge a Golf Cart Battery in 6 Easy Steps
Step #1: Gather the Necessary Materials
First, you will need to gather the necessary materials to charge your golf cart. You need a charger and a battery. Now, with the charger, most golf carts require a 36-volt charger. However, some of the older models may instead need a 48-volt charger. Before buying a charger, check your owner’s manual to see what voltage your golf cart requires.
You don’t want to use the wrong voltage because it will damage your golf cart battery and shorten its lifespan. Lead acid golf cart batteries will last from 2 years to 5 years. In contrast, a lithium-ion battery lasts 10 to 20 years, depending on how well you maintain it.
After you have bought the charger, next you need the battery. To buy the battery, you must first decide if the golf cart is electric or gas. Gas golf carts may only require a single battery, but if you’re charging an electric golf cart, you will have from 3 to 8 batteries to fill up.
Again, check your owner’s manual to get this right. You will need to validate the combined voltage of your golf cart’s make and model. You can buy most lead acid batteries available in 6, 8, or 12-volts. Once more, refer to the owner’s manual for voltage.
While the voltage lets you know the number and type of batteries that you will need for your cart, you can gauge the overall performance of the batteries based on the amperage. Amperage looks at the power capacity of your battery. The higher your amperage, the longer the battery will last.
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Step #2: Park the Golf Cart in a Safe Location
Next, you will need to park the golf cart in a safe location. Now, when we say a safe location, you should always charge the golf cart in a well-ventilated area. Do not charge it in a poorly ventilated area because it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. The charger should sit on a flat, dry, and heat-resistant surface.
Never put the charger on the golf cart. Furthermore, don’t charge it in the rain or near water sources as water and electricity don’t mix. The most ideal spot to charge your golf cart is outside, but you might charge here instead if you have a well-ventilated garage or a detached garage.
Related Article: How to Test Golf Cart Batteries
Step #3: Connect the Charger to the Golf Cart
For this step, you will attach the positive charging cable to the positive terminal and the negative charging cable to the negative terminal.
You can use any charger for the battery as long as it was designed for the battery type that you will use on the golf cart. You can find many manufacturers on the market that make chargers for golf carts specifically. Just remember, the most important thing is that it matches the voltage to prevent damage. Most golf carts will come with their own charger, which will be easiest.
Always wear gloves and safety glasses when you connect the cables to the battery. Latex gloves will make this job easier for flexibility reasons. The reason you need to be so careful is that batteries contain sulphuric acid which can burn the skin and eyes. If you wear a ring or a metal bracelet, you should also remove this to reduce the risk of electrocution.
Remember to turn off your golf cart before charging as well, and attach the wires correctly. The positive wires are red for the positive terminal, and the negative wires are black for the negative terminal. Double-check to see that you attached the wires securely before you move onto the next step.
Related Article: Do New Golf Cart Batteries Smell When Charging?
Step #4: Plug the Charger Into a Power Source
Next, you will plug the charger into a wall socket or another equivalent power source. You will then put the charging plug into the charging receptacle of the charger. Verify the amperage readout on the charger. It should read at around 21 amps. In some cases, especially since you will likely be charging it outside, you may need an extension cord.
There is nothing wrong with using an extension cord on a battery charger. Just be careful to avoid damage. You may want to use a cord with a higher rating than what the charger requires. Check the tag of the extension cord and the charger to learn this.
Something else to avoid is overloading the circuit. To avoid a circuit overload, you must be aware of the amperage of your breakers or fuses. Do not use any electrical outlets or power cords displaying wear and tear signs.
Related Article: How to Add Water to Golf Cart Batteries
Step #5: Monitor the Charging Process
During the charging process, you should check to see that the electrical charge reaches the battery. You can use a digital multimeter to measure the volts and amps. When you look at the multimeter, it should be higher than the nominal voltage of the golf cart battery.
As a side note, when the golf cart’s battery won’t charge well, you may need to fork out for a replacement.
Don’t worry too much about overcharging a golf cart battery. Technically, most golf cart chargers are automatic, so they prevent overcharging. That being said, we recommend unplugging your batteries when fully charged to cover all of your bases. You can tell when they are fully charged by viewing the LED indicator.
You should also avoid undercharging a battery since this will reduce the riding time you get. Similarly, allowing a battery to drop to less than 20% of its overall capacity will hinder its performance.
So when should you charge golf cart batteries?
It’s simple. Just charge them after each use of your golf cart.
Step #6: Disconnect the Charger
When disconnecting the charger, you should first disconnect the negative terminal (black wire). This prevents short circuits between the positive and the ground. Afterward, you will disconnect the red wire from the positive terminal. Remember to wear safety equipment like gloves and safety glasses when doing this. Once again, if you’re wearing a ring or a metal bracelet, you should remove these to reduce the risk of electrocution.
Never allow both terminals to make contact at the same time, particularly with yourself.
Once you’re finished with charging it’s time to pack up and store the components. Whether you store a battery or a charger, you need to set them in a dry location out of direct sunlight. The ideal temperature is around room temperature. Avoid temperatures over 104 degrees.
This is also a good time to check for any signs of wear and tear. Never charge a battery if you see signs of damage since it could lead to electrocution.
Related Article: Should I Leave My Golf Cart Plugged in All the Time?
Golf Cart Battery Charging Tips
- Tip #1 Clean the Batteries: Batteries may collect dirt, dust, and grime that can interfere with a charge. Clean it with a brush, baking soda, and pure water for the best charge.
- Tip #2 Leave the Garage Open: If you’re charging in a garage, leave the door open to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Tip #3 Use a Good Battery Charger: Beware of cheap or counterfeit battery chargers since charging a golf cart with these can be difficult or even dangerous.
If you are curious about options beyond golf carts, I’ve been having a lot of fun with my ebike. Viribus is one of our partners, and they have plenty of bikes with power assist to get to and from the course in style.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take to Charge a Golf Cart Battery?
Lead acid batteries are the most common type of golf cart batteries. They require from 8 to 12 hours to charge fully. Fast chargers can cut the time down by 50%. However, if your golf cart hasn’t had much use, it may take as little as 3 hours of energy to charge fully.
How Often Should I Charge My Golf Cart?
You should charge your golf cart after every time you use it — even if you only used it for 15 minutes. This will help prolong the life of your batteries. Charging them to full power is especially important when they are new, and avoid letting your batteries run out of charge if at all possible, as this will result in damage.
Can I Charge My Golf Cart While Driving?
You cannot charge your golf cart while driving because you need to turn off the golf cart for safety reasons. The battery will also drain faster from use quicker than the rate at which it receives charge. Therefore it is not only dangerous but wildly unproductive.
Can You Charge a Golf Cart with a Regular Car Battery Charger?
Your safest bet will always be to use a golf cart charger because if you use the wrong voltage, it can shorten the lifespan of your golf cart battery. Golf carts will also come with their own chargers under most circumstances. However, you can use a regular car battery charger with the correct voltage.
Should I Charge My Golf Cart All the Time?
You should not always charge your golf cart because it will reduce the lifespan of your batteries. While most chargers are automatic, which means they stop charging once they reach a full charge, you should still unplug your batteries when fully charged.
How Do I Know if My Golf Cart Battery Is Dying?
A few signs to watch out for could mean your golf cart battery is dying. The main sign is that your battery won’t hold a charge effectively. Beyond this, your batteries may take longer than normal to charge, or your golf cart may struggle to accelerate as fast as usual.
What Happens if You Forget to Put Water in Golf Cart Batteries?
If you forget to put water in golf cart batteries, they will dry. This can permanently damage or destroy the batteries. For lead plates to function, they require water or they will warp and crack from overheating. You typically add water after charging the battery, which should be about ½ inch from its top.
Congratulations! You now know how to charge a golf cart battery properly and safely. The process isn’t tricky, but we went into a good deal of depth so that you can understand some of the deeper details about charging.
Ultimately, you’re in a good position as long as you purchase quality batteries and a quality charger. The automatic charging function will help prevent overcharging, so for the most part, the hardest task is to remember to charge your golf cart after each use. And I think we can all argue, this isn’t exactly tough.