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Typically, a golf cart requires a 48-volt battery. However, the 48-volt battery kit may not be the most cost-effective one out there.
Golf carts don’t have an alternator to recharge the battery when the cart is running. It means that even the 48-volt battery may struggle if not used right during a long afternoon and evening on the course.
On the other hand, 12-volt batteries are much more cost-effective, and if you use deep-cycle batteries, they are expected to last much longer. But can you use 12-volt batteries in a golf cart? Is it safe for your cart’s systems, and would it last long enough?
You can wire four 12-volt batteries together as well if you wire them in series. The minimum requirement for a golf cart is usually 48 volts – it doesn’t matter if it comes from one battery or four.
However, be ready to retrofit your cart as well to make room for the four batteries.
Let’s take a closer look at the concept and see how you can use 12V batteries in a golf cart.
Can You Use 12V Batteries In A Golf Cart?
Regular car batteries are designed to provide short, high-powered bursts to the car and crank it up when triggered. Deep cycle batteries, on the other hand, are designed to keep on providing power until it gets run down to about 20%.
These batteries can be charged and discharged repeatedly without losing their properties.
When choosing a battery to use in a golf cart, it is important that you choose a deep cycle battery. While your car has an alternator to charge the batteries, golf carts don’t. Instead, they keep on using battery power, which is why most golf courses ask that you either ask the ball boy or put the battery on a charging station once done.
To operate properly, golf carts need 48 volts – it doesn’t matter where it comes from. Usually, this power is drawn from six 8-volt cells. If you look under the seat (or hood, depending on the model), you will find that the main concern with using 12V batteries in a golf cart is where you’ll place the extra batteries.
The battery tray can only hold a single battery usually. If you can somehow remove the current tray and install a bigger one that can hold your four 12V batteries, the rest should be a piece of cake.
Keep in mind, though, that when placing your battery on the tray, you will also need to design a mechanism that can hold your batteries down. Yes, you’ll be driving on the cart path, but those paths aren’t without any bumps, either. Who knows, you may even run over a golf ball someday.
So, in essence, you will need a bigger tray. Depending on your model, you may have a 48-volt battery in your car or six 8-volt batteries. The 8-volt batteries are smaller, and despite there being 6 of them, you will need more space. 48-volt deep cycle batteries, on the other hand, have a relatively bigger footprint and, therefore, may have enough room for your 12-volt setup.
Using 12V Batteries in a Golf Cart – How To
You may need to buy or rent an angle grinder, welding equipment, and aluminum or steel sheets to make a battery housing. Some also make the housing with plastic, but it involves a molding and casting process, which requires more skill and releases toxic gas as well.
You will also need some high-intensity, weather-resistant copper wires to connect the batteries with each other (in series!!!), while the main connector wires can remain the same.
I would recommend buying a single wire of at least 10 feet (3 meters) and a pair of wire cutters.
The length of wire you will need will vary with respect to how you place the batteries. This is because the distance between positive and negative will vary.
To connect the cables in series, you will need to connect the negative nodes with the positive of the next battery and vice versa.
Connecting 12V Batteries To A Golf Cart
To use 12V batteries in a golf cart, start by locating the battery. It is usually under the front seat, but newer and bigger models have batteries at the back now.
1. If there is already a battery in the compartment, remove it. You can use a pair of pliers for this or a wrench, if available.
a. Start by removing the fastener. In later models, this is just a rubber strap with a clasp at its end. Older models had a fastening rod on top of the battery.
b. Remove the positive node first. Avoid touching the battery terminals. Pliers are recommended here, especially if you don’t have insulated boots or if it is raining.
c. Remove the negative node. Be very careful with it.
d. Put up the existing battery and clean its housing, if needed.
2. Compare the current battery with the new one(s).
Place the four batteries next to the one you just replaced and see how much more space you need.
3. Let’s say you need 6 more inches. Cut the aluminum or steel (I recommend aluminum) sheet about 8 inches long and a quarter inch wider than the compartment’s width.
a. Use an angle grinder with a diamond blade for best results, but normal metal cutting discs should work too.
4. Once cut, see if the compartment needs to be cut as well. Be careful when cutting here that you don’t accidentally cut anything else. Make small cuts first to see what’s underneath the compartment.
a. When cutting, make sure you cut with respect to the original compartment, not the aluminum piece.
5. Measure the compartment again to make sure the batteries will fit.
6. You will not need to get under the cart. Take the metal piece and the welding machine. Weld the whole piece or make small joints with 1-inch gaps. Make sure the aluminum sheet is strong enough to hold the batteries’ weight. If not, add a stainless-steel rod underneath for support.
Always wear protective gear when working with power tools or a welding machine.
7. Now, install the battery in the new compartment. Lower the battery gently.
8. Connect the first battery’s positive with the cart.
9. Now connect the last battery’s negative with the cart.
10. To connect the batteries in series, connect the positive of one battery to the negative of another.
11. Tighten the batteries and fasten them together, as well as with the cart. Make sure there is room for the battery to breathe. A simple hole in the compartment should be enough.
By following the steps above, you can use 12v batteries in your golf cart easily. For recharging, connect the same final terminals with the recharging port.