How Often Should I Charge My Golf Cart Batteries?
If you own an electric golf cart, you’ve probably run into a myth or two regarding golf cart batteries.
I’m on a mission to knock down these misconceptions one by one. In fact, I’ve written over 30 articles addressing common golf cart questions.
People keep telling me I should find a better hobby…
If you own a golf cart, the life of your golf cart batteries should be your top priority. Those bad boys cost about $1,000 to replace, so the longer you can keep them running at optimal efficiency, the better.
Today I want to talk about one of the most common questions I hear:
How often should I charge my golf cart batteries?
The simple answer is this: You should charge your golf cart batteries as often as possible. It doesn’t matter if you’ve driven your cart for 10 minutes or 10 miles. As soon as you’re finished using your golf car, plug it into the battery charger.
You might say: “But I heard that you should X, Y, Z…”
I don’t care. Every other piece of advice you’ve heard about battery charging is wrong.
Most electric golf carts operate using a series of deep cycle lead acid batteries. If these batteries could speak, they would beg you to put them on the charger after each use.
Here’s the key takeaway: The more often you keep batteries fully charged, the better long term battery life you can expect.
Battery Charging Details and Disclaimers (Keep Reading)
There are always “exceptions” to the rule, but in my effort to dispel several terrible myths, I start by emphasizing the importance of charging your golf cart batteries as often as possible.
Now that I’ve laid that important foundation, let me highlight a few details and disclaimers.
As long as you’re using the original golf cart battery charger or a modern equivalent, you should charge your deep cycle battery series as often as possible.
These chargers are designed to do two things:
- Bring your batteries back to full charge.
- Maintain that charge while the cart is in storage.
An automatic charger is designed to keep your battery pack in top condition without overcharging.
But here’s the disclaimer: if you’re using a standard battery charger (that is, a charger that isn’t designed specifically for a golf cart), you should not leave your cart plugged in all the time. In that case, you run the risk of actually overcharging and damaging your cart’s batteries.
Some owners falsely treat the cart batteries like a car battery. They’re not the same thing.
As a golf cart owner, it’s your job to make sure you’re using the right type of battery charger.
Some exceptions can be made for prolonged storage.
I’ve been dishing out rules for folks who have year-round access to electricity. If you fit that description, follow my rules and keep your ride hooked up to the golf cart charger.
However, if your cart is stored somewhere where it can’t stay plugged in, you may need to get more creative. In that case, your goal should be to bring those batteries back to a full charge every 45-60 days.
Your main battery maintenance goal is to keep your set from dropping below 80% capacity. Once they fall below that point, damage can occur and long-term battery life will decrease.
So if you have a less-than-ideal setup, you need to get creative.
Hook up the charger to a generator. Pay a friend to give your cart some TLC. Do whatever it takes to get those batteries some juice during the offseason.
This is even more important in hotter climates (where batteries drain faster, even in storage) and very cold climates (where you run the risk of your golf cart batteries freezing).
Should I treat new batteries any differently?
No, no and no. There is a common myth out there that you need to train a battery’s “memory” when you first start using it. This myth goes something like this:
- I got a new batteries. Yay!
- I should drain them as much as possible during their first use.
- This technique will train the batteries’ “memory” and they will have more stamina in the future.
Again, talk to your local golf cart dealer or a deep cycle battery expert. This is a myth.
Your “training” is more likely to damage your batteries than it is to help it.
Let me re-emphasize what I’ve already said. Your new golf cart batteries should be charged after every use. A consistent and regular charging process is the best way to preserve each battery cell.
What about a lithium golf cart battery?
A lithium battery is not the same as a lead acid battery, so the same rules don’t necessarily imply.
The experts over at RELiON Batteries offer the following suggestion for lithium ion carts:
The best answer is to charge the batteries whenever the vehicle is used, just to maintain full range and full charge on the unit. However, that being said, lithium batteries are OK not being charged. They’re not going to be damaged, unlike lead acid.
In the future, I’ll be writing more about lithium ion setups, but for now, I hope that helps.
Back to the original question:
Should you charge golf cart batteries every day?
Yes. Every time your golf cart is used, those batteries should be charged.
Even if the cart hasn’t been used, it should stay connected to an automatic charger. As the capacity drops in storage, the automatic charger will bring your batteries back to full charge.
Whether it’s an old 36 volt Club Car DS or a newer 48 volt Club Car, the rules remain the same.
Don’t forget the water!
In addition to keeping your batteries fully charged, you also need to make sure the distilled water levels are where they’re supposed to be.
Each battery cell needs to be checked on a regular basis to ensure that it has the proper amount of distilled water (the cells should be covered).
While you’re tackling this important maintenance item, check each battery terminal for loose connections or signs of corrosion. These issues can also lead to poor battery performance.
So to sum things up: How often should you charge my golf cart batteries?
AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.
Yes, I am yelling. Any other answer is bad information.
See also: Should I leave my golf cart plugged in all the time?
Thanks for reading! Feel free to post your questions and critiques in the comments below.