How to Charge a Golf Cart Battery? (Even If It’s Dead)
I hate it when my golf cart batteries die on me because they obviously don’t charge themselves and run down after use, so it is up to you, as a proud owner or hapless attendant of a golf cart, to practice proper golf cart battery maintenance and keep it fully charged when in use.
Properly looking after this crucial part of your cart means you’ll maximize its lifetime use and save bundles of cash for the health of your pocket and the joy of your soul.
In this article, I will show you how to charge your golf cart’s battery and point out a couple of “gotchas” to avoid along the way. Let’s begin with the short answer.
How to charge a golf cart battery
Make sure to first ensure that the electrolyte covers the battery’s plates, then hook up the battery to a suitable charger and leave it charging for as long as specified by the manufacturer. Stay within time limits if specified by the manufacturer.
Charging golf cart batteries–water and electrolytes
Electrolytes are the lifeblood of charged particles that enable these to work. And just as with humans, blood hydration is essential for optimal health. To keep a golf cart cell in peak condition, we must always keep its distilled water level above its plates, especially before charging.
You will find many involved, sometimes passionate, arguments on the Internet about the correct level at which you should maintain distilled water. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t really matter so long as the level is above the battery’s plates and below the maximum indicated level.
From the point of view of keeping its health and ability to hold its charge, there is no need to add acid to the individual battery; it comes fully acidified for its lifetime from the factory.
Golf Cart Battery Chargers–selecting the correct charger
The internet is not the right place to look for what kind of charger you need for your golf cart. The right place to look should have been in the box along with your unit. In short, the manufacturer’s instruction manual.
If you have lost the manual or, for some reason, your unit didn’t arrive with one, then try the manufacturer’s website. If push comes to shove, you might want to return it or at least get in touch with the seller to see if they can send you a replacement manual; it’s that important.
I would use caution when using an automotive battery charger as they are designed for, you guessed it, automotive charger purposes. So be sure to check with the manufacturer before using a random charger, especially if it is a 12V battery.
However, I’m not so naïve to think that if you’re hellbent on acquiring a charger on your own, you will take my staid, safe, boomer advice, lol. So, if you must get a charger, here is one of the better resources to guide you (but don’t say I didn’t warn you).
Charging times for golf cart batteries–neither over- nor under-charging helps!
A smooth-talking salesperson might have you interested in a gizmo he describes as an “automatic charger.” The salesperson will tell you that the charger will cut out automatically when the cell charging is complete (which it will).
Unfortunately, he probably won’t tell you that automatic charges don’t switch themselves back on to replenish the cell when the charge drops (it doesn’t). If you’re not informed about this, you might think you can simply hook up your cell to an automatic charger and forget about it. Sorry, you can’t.
Bringing a dead battery back to life
You might have heard that it is a good idea to drain some batteries below 10% to 20% completely before charging them fully again. If so, you heard correctly.
That procedure works for phone batteries. It does not work for golf cart lead-acid batteries!
It really isn’t good practice to drain your expensive golf cart battery clean of all its charge, nor is it a good idea to use a fast charger to rejuvenate its charge since repeatedly will significantly lower the cell’s lifetime.
Still, for technical reasons, I don’t have the space to discuss this here. Bringing a dead cell back to life is better done using a fast charge.
The discharge of a Deep-Cycle battery
There are ways and tools that you can use to determine the capacity of charge the cells can hold. This way, you can know how long to charge it and how long to let it sit in case you store it for the winter.
By the way, when storing for the winter, it is best to cover the positive and negative terminals to prevent corrosion. We are talking about a deep-cycle battery, so corrosion can happen.
Based on its size of it, the depth of discharge will be different. Smaller ones like 8V or 6V have a much slower discharge level than a normal 12V or even 48V battery.
When storing, it is best to allow a batter to have a percent discharge of less than 50% but no more than 20%.
The time it takes to have a batter discharge while just sitting idle is largely determined by the half-cycle discharge. Older batters have a different capacity to hold a charge. The process of using a charger will indicate this.
What mode should the golf cart be in when charging?
Most carts should be in “cart in tow mode” or “storage mode” this way, the cart’s internals will lay off the energy cells for dependence and allow it to charge fastest.
Are Trojan golf cart batteries worth the money?
Trojan golf cart batteries are the Duracell of golf carts–they last way, way longer than other golf cart batteries, but they cost way, way more.
Whether Trojan golf batteries are worth the money depends on factors such as how often you use your golf cart.
The more often you use your cart, and the better you (or someone you pay) look after its battery terminals, the more a Trojan would be worth it.
Is it okay to use a regular charger on my golf cart battery?
It is not ideal, but if needs must, then as a rare ad hoc solution, if you find yourself in a bind, you might be able to get away with it, whether it’s an electric golf cart or a standard one.
That said, remember that you are probably not helping your battery, and in a worst-case scenario, you may be doing irretrievable harm to the battery compartment. (By the way, if you were wondering, you can charge your battery by hooking it up to a regular outlet. Think about it. If you could, we all would.)
How long does it take to recharge a dead golf cart battery?
Typical values range from your source through the battery cables to the cart and can take between 8 and 12 hours. Whatever charger you use, ensure the current and lights are consistent, showing that the cart is indeed charged.
Most charges will have a green light to indicate that charging is complete. Prolonged use of a charger that does not have a trickle or automatic shut-off can cause damage to the cells. So always be in a position where you can spot-check it until you are comfortable that it can charge reliably.
You can shorten this time by using a fast charger, which, unlike other folks, isn’t something I would ever need to do as I never let my golf cart go dead.
In fact, quite the opposite–before I go on vacation or as winter heaves into view, I bring up my cart to a full charge and store it away until spring.
Final Thoughts on Charging Your Cart
Charging a golf cart involves reading the manufacturer’s instructions carefully (and I mean really read it, really carefully).
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions in the letter.
This includes maintaining distilled water at the correct levels and using a recommended charger. Do not skimp on charging time, but also do not overcharge it. Use a timer if required.
If you do this well enough, you can really extend the life of your batteries within your golf cart and use it for years to come.