Can You Use Marine Batteries in a Golf Cart?

Golf carts are among the best inventions ever to grace the game of golf. They make each round more enjoyable and save us from having to do any real exercise. In return, they ask for some basic maintenance.

In the case of an electric golf cart, battery maintenance is the most important detail. Unfortunately, with a 48 volt golf cart, a series of new batteries can be quite expensive. Sometimes owners try to replace one battery on a golf cart, but that’s not the best idea.

For those of you looking to cut corners or repurpose other resources for your golf cart battery replacement, you may be wondering, can you use marine batteries in a golf cart? The simple answer is you can, but you shouldn’t. More on that later.

Can You Use Marine Batteries in a Golf Cart?

An Electric Golf Cart Battery vs a Marine Battery

In the list of negative golf experiences, nothing is worse than your electric golf cart running out of charge with six holes to go.

In those moments, when your simple 18 holes of golfing pleasure evaporate into a long cart-push back to the clubhouse, your mind may deep cycle (good pun, eh?) to dark places. As your battery bank of anger begins to charge (puns #2 and #3), you may consider lighting the cart on fire and letting it smoke in your least favorite bunker.

But alas, the amp hour (pun #4) has passed and your good nature prevails. You hook your mind back up to a positive terminal (pun #5) and start to consider some solutions. After all, you’d still be cruising from hole to hole if it weren’t for that 10 year old Trojan battery system. And in this moment, you may consider a marine deep cycle battery as your ace in the hole.

You may even utter the words “I bet I could power this bad boy with a marine battery…”

Your words will ascend to the golf gods, to whom nothing is new under heaven, and they roll their eyes in foreknowledge of your fate. You’ll trudge on home (or back to the clubhouse), pushing the cart ahead of you with this fresh, albeit not very wise, idea in your mind.

Marine batteries… they should work, right?

Yes, technically, you should be able to use a marine deep cycle battery in your cart. After all, they’re both gel lead acid batteries, and they’re both designed with deep cycle functions in mind. But there’s a crucial difference between being technically able to do a thing, and it necessarily ‘working’ as a long term solution.

The point is that battery makers are neither stupid nor malicious. If a marine battery were ideal for golf cart use, they’d happily sell it to you on that basis, make more money and call it a day.

The fact that they don’t advertise marine batteries as suitable replacements for golf cart batteries ought to tell you something. Yes, it’s possible to use marine batteries to power your golf cart, but why would you do it? What is there to gain?

Unless you have no other option, find a 8 volt or 6 volt battery replacement designed for a golf cart.

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03/07/2024 11:05 am GMT

You can use a marine deep cycle battery, but you shouldn’t.

So we’ve answered the question, can you use marine batteries in a golf cart? Yes, you can. But that doesn’t mean you should.

A marine battery is designed for boats. A golf cart battery is designed for golf carts. Each battery has been optimized by the manufacturer for very specific performance requirements.

Still want to swap out your golf cart battery with something else? You should expect:

  • Shorter run times (which surely defeats the purpose of this whole exercise)
  • Faster battery replacement periods (do you want to spend more money to prove a point?)
  • Damage to sensitive electrical components (are you trying to kill your golf cart or save it?)

Don’t let a bitter breakdown lead you to a low voltage (pun #6) decision. A car battery, RV battery and a boat battery are all designed for those applications. If your golf cart battery let you down, look for a reliable 6V or 8v deep-cycle golf cart battery to solve the problem.

Also, before you start stressing about a replacement, make sure your cart gets a full 24 hours on a battery charger. After the charger is finished, go out and test its performance. It’s possible that it wasn’t fully charged before your last outing.

Helpful References: How Far Will a Golf Cart Go on a Full Charge? / When to Replace Golf Cart Batteries

Still want to explore this possibility? Give the golf gods a chuckle and consider the following scenarios.

Battery Temperatures

Here’s a thing. When you charge most commercially available marine batteries, you do it like you’re simmering a stew – low and slow. Lower and slower than you do when you’re charging a standard golf cart battery, certainly – you rarely get them above 90 degrees F. Golf carts tend to be hotter than this.

Why does it matter? Because charging rates fluctuate from battery type to battery type. A flooded lead acid battery requires different rates than an agm battery.

If you put a marine battery in a golf cart, it won’t sit comfortably in its temperature comfort zone. That means you might get six or nine holes of power, and then you’ll end up back where you were when the idea first came to you – pushing your golf cart home against its will.

So, ultimately, you may gain not a thing from the marine battery experiment. Eliminate your headaches with the right solution the first time.

A Downgrade in Battery Performance

Batteries are fickle things, but golf cart batteries are usually manufactured with at least slightly better, more robust internal components than marine batteries. So while you can use a marine battery for a purpose out of its thermic comfort zone, you’ll be using technically inferior components to do a job for which golf cart batteries are already optimized.

Likewise, marine batteries aren’t designed to be run 80% of the way to flat, and then recharged to full. Usually they’ll go 50% of the way to flat with no problem, and after that you’re in trouble. You’re literally trading down the scale of effectiveness if you change a golf cart battery out for a marine one.

Take a marine battery past that 50% discharge level too many times and you will significantly reduce its lifespan. That translates to mo’ money and mo’ problems.

Battery Plates

You’re trading down on plate effectiveness too.

Plate what-now?

In every battery, there are plates that store energy. In a 6v battery designed for golf carts, there are large plates that will store power over considerable periods of time.

A marine battery is usually a 12v battery with significantly smaller plates. That means that it can’t and won’t store power in the way that a golf cart needs them to. Sure you could use three 12v battery options to replace the 6v battery series in your cart, but you should plan for a short outing.

In the words of a mechanical sage, just because a thing is possible, it does not make it a good idea.

But hey, you can do whatever you want. If you decide to go this route, I’ll give you a friendly wave as I breeze by your stationary cart.

You have all the information you need. Use it wisely.

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