There is also lots of conflicting information that suggests that your batteries shouldn’t be left plugged in. Sadly, when it comes to the science of batteries, things are rarely simple. Hence, many golf cart owners rightly ask the question, ‘should I leave my golf cart plugged in all the time?’
When it comes to golf cart battery maintenance, one of the most important aspects is the manner in which you keep it charged. Batteries are complicated, and there is some legitimate information out there that suggests that keeping batteries plugged in all the time is the right thing to do.
Let’s examine the arguments from both sides, and then draw a conclusion about the best way to manage your golf cart battery.
Why Should You Leave It Plugged In?
Oftentimes, especially during winter, golf carts may go months without usage. The charge in your battery’s cells will gradually dissipate, which is fine and normal. However, if it sits there empty of juice for a prolonged period of time, it may negatively affect the long-term performance of the battery.
By leaving it plugged in throughout the winter, you can prevent this from happening. And theoretically, it’s a good thing to do, provided you have an automatic charger.
Non-automatic chargers would cause batteries to overcharge and damage the cells, creating long-term problems that are basically impossible to fix. But in this modern age, most people have automatic chargers, which switch off when the battery is at full charge. The charger then detects when the battery is low, charges it up, and switches off again.
Allowing the battery to discharge and then recharge is the best thing you can do for your battery. Thus, you’d think that leaving an automatic charger plugged in for prolonged periods of time is correct. If only it were that simple…
Why Shouldn’t You Leave It Plugged In?
When you leave a charger plugged in for prolonged periods of time, things can go wrong.
For example, a common issue that people who leave their cart plugged in find that their circuit breaker keeps tripping. This basically means that the automatic turnoff function could stop working, causing the charger to send a constant flow of electricity to your battery, overcharging it and thus damaging it.
Another issue that can occur when leaving your cart plugged in that the charger could lose AC power from the outlet. When this happens, the charger starts pulling power from the golf cart batteries, which is not only counter-productive but also damaging to the battery cells.
One more thing to consider when leaving your batteries plugged in is that you must regularly check their water levels. Periodic recharging lowers the electrolyte solution in batteries, so the levels should be checked and distilled water added when necessary in order to prevent the batteries from drying out.
A key point to remember is that batteries are designed to discharge and recharge. Maintaining a constant state of full charge is not good for your battery. Allowing the battery to lose charge before charging it up again supports its operational strength, keeping it performing optimally for much longer.
So, with all of that in mind, what’s the verdict?
No, it’s not recommended that you leave your golf cart plugged in all the time. Although automatic chargers are designed to prevent over-charging, there is still the risk of the circuit breaker tripping, which would result in damage to your battery’s cells. Plus, if the charger loses AC power from the outlet, it will start pulling power from your batteries, which is both counter-productive and damaging.
The best thing you can do for your battery is to charge it up fully and then disconnect the charging plug from the vehicle receptacle. This will allow your battery to discharge naturally, which is good for its longevity. Then, depending on the discharge rate of your specific battery, you should recharge it every 20-30 days, and repeat the process.
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Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.