I was driving a golf cart around and playing my favorite podcast on a new radio I just bought, but then after a while, I noticed the volume started to quiet down.
Well, you guessed it, after some research I realized it was the lack of a golf carts’ voltage reducer that was causing the problem. So, that begs the question, does my golf cart need a voltage reducer in the first place?
Typically, running an accessory such as a stereo, LED head light kit, or light strips, it’s recommended that you also install a voltage reducer. It will help you run everything on the cart as intended.
In this article, dig deep into what these things do for an electric golf cart and what types additional accessories may require one.
What is a Golf Cart Voltage Reducer?
First, we need to know what it is and what it does. According to Britannica.com, a voltage reducer, also known as a voltage regulator, basically converts power into a form that’s more digestible for certain electronic components.
Widely used on motor vehicles, people use voltage regulators “to match the output voltage of the generator to the electrical load and to the charging requirements of the battery.”
They work by using a “spring-loaded, double-pole switch,” and either increase or decrease magnetic fields depending on what’s needed.
I won’t go into too much technical detail here, but all you really need to understand is that voltage reducers help reduce battery drain and wear and tear. This is particularly important on a 48 and/or 36 volt battery powered cart.
You don’t exactly need one per se, but according to some golf cart owners, it’s a good idea to install one if you’re adding anything to your vehicle.
What’s type of Voltage Reducer for my cart?
It depends. If your golf cart has a 48 volt power supply, then you’re in luck. That number is said to be the easiest to deal with.
A golf cart voltage reducer, once installed, will take those 48 volts of power and convert them into 12 volts.
This will allow most electronic accessories to receive a safe amount of power, and thus, reduce any chances of damage or underperformance.
However, as you may have guessed, voltage reducers tend not to be one-size-fits-all. For golf carts that use 36 volt battery configurations, you’ll need the appropriate reducer to match.
Make doubly sure you know what battery models you have before going to a store. Some voltage reducers feature universal fittings that connect to the negative terminal, but I’d recommend getting one specifically tailored for whatever voltage your cart uses.
What about the Operating Amperage (or Power)?
Figuring out what amperage you need might be simple as checking the electronic devices themselves. However, the more devices you wish to install and use, the more amperage you’ll need the voltage reducer to handle.
Lighting systems, like LED kits for example, will typically use 5-6 amps at the most. Other lighting kits such as those that use halogen bulbs will use more, around 15-18 amps.
Again, check the specifics on whatever system you wish to use.
Also, don’t forget to add up all the amperage that you’ll be using. If your voltage reducer isn’t designed to handle a certain amount, then you run the risk of seriously draining and damaging your batteries.
And according to one golf cart owner, it’s also a good idea to use a tester to see what voltage and amperage your power supply (batteries) are actually putting out.
Despite how many or how little accessories you want to use, it’s a good idea to get a reducer that has more than you need, so that in the future if you wish to add something else, your reducer will keep your devices running strong and smooth.
You never know when you’re going to be using all of your accessories simultaneously, and you’ll want a voltage reducer that can handle the extra load.
Sounds great. I think I’ll get one. Yet, how do you install it?
I find YouTuber DIY Golf Cart provides a helpful guide that’s relatively simple to understand. At the beginning of his video, he recommends that anyone wishing to install a voltage reducer gather all the necessary tools. Such tools include:
- Work Gloves
- Protective Eyewear
- Wire Crimper
- Wire Stripper
- Wiring Harness and Bucket Harness
- 9/16 Wrench (you might need a different one depending on the size of your battery pack terminal contacts)
DIY Golf Cart also emphasizes the need for safety. You’ll be working with live voltage, after all.
If I were installing my own voltage reducer, I’d make extra-sure that my gloves don’t have any holes or tears in them.
That last thing you’d want is a painful shock while working on your golf cart.
Considering how DIY Golf Cart installs his device inside a garage, I’d highly recommend that you do the same. In order to hook up any voltage reducer, you’ll have to expose the golf cart batteries.
All it takes is one freak rain storm to ruin your day, and therefore, your project. Water and electricity don’t mix well and can lead to electric shock.
Consider getting some extra wiring as well. It’s better to have more wire than you need than not enough. Speaking of wiring, DIY Golf Cart advises that you close off any exposed wiring with plastic caps.
Bare wires can make contact with the golf cart body, and cause things to short-circuit, thus damaging the batteries and any other devices you currently have on your cart.
When it comes to vehicle batteries, it’s recommended that you remove and install the wiring in a specific order to prevent harm.
However, in DIY Golf Cart’s video, he demonstrates how he installs the positive node last.
This step might be specific to the voltage reducer he’s installing, and your battery configuration might look different from what you see in the video.
Another guide does the opposite, but like I said, it depends on the model.
If you’re scratching your head at the moment, don’t worry. There are certain blogs you can go to and consult other golf cart owners on what to do next.
Just like how no voltage reducer is truly a one-size-fits-all, so is the process of installing one.
If you are ready to personalize your course, a voltage reducer is required to help power all the accessories you may want to add to them.
Click here to check out the perfect one that you may need for your cart.