Is it Safe to Charge a Golf Cart in the Garage? (Be Careful!)
I was recently wondering if it is safe to charge a golf cart in the garage. I have seen people do this before (including myself) and I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea or not.
So, I did some research and discovered some very interesting (and scary) stuff.
Charging a golf cart outside is safer than in a garage. As a general rule, if you charge in a garage, ensure that windows and doors are open to allow for proper ventilation.
However, there are still some dangers involved with charging a golf cart in the garage and in this blog post, I will discuss those dangers and what you can do to stay safe.
Can you charge a golf cart battery in a closed garage?
Preferably, you should charge your cart on the outside, but if you have sufficient airflow and ventilation in the garage, you should be fine.
However, beware of the potential dangers that lurk with charging your golf cart within an enclosed space. One such danger is overcharging.
Most batteries are designed to stop charging at full power, even when plugged into the wall, but things break down all the time.
One such unfortunate person in Palm Beach County, Florida, had this problem happen. At first, they believed that carbon monoxide was setting off their detectors, but later investigations by the local fire department revealed how their golf cart battery kept charging past full! The result was a buildup of hydrogen gas that was being circulated throughout the entire house.
There are a couple of tricks to avoid calling firefighters to your home.
These involve ensuring you have a good quality battery in the first place, and maintaining the one you already have.
It’s advised that most golf cart owners switch the battery out every 3 to 4 years, regardless of any maintenance done. Here’s a list of some quality batteries that you can buy today.
If you’re satisfied that your battery will last for a while, make them last a bit longer by keeping them in good shape. One such way is to keep your battery free of moisture and/or corrosion.
Simply apply baking soda and water while scrubbing dirty areas with a bristle brush, and don’t forget to wear something to protect your eyes! You can also use an anti-corrosive spray to prevent rust and corrosion on the battery cables.
Can golf cart batteries give off carbon monoxide?
The short answer is no, most lead acid batteries that golf carts use don’t emit that kind of gas. However, as mentioned above, they emit hydrogen gas, especially if the battery is at risk of overcharging.
Whereas hydrogen gas doesn’t cause as much concern as carbon monoxide, hydrogen can still be deadly in high enough concentrations. Asphyxiation can occur if exposed for too long, but the primary danger is its potential to cause deadly fires and explosions.
Hydrogen can seep through the smallest of cracks, and easily spread throughout the entire house quickly. This is especially concerning if there are multiple ignition sources present. There only needs to be a 4% to 7% concentration of hydrogen in the air to make it flammable.
Yet, why is it that some people had their CO detectors go off when they charged their golf cart at night? The answer gets a bit technical. Most CO detectors will go off when there’s 150 ppm (parts per million) exposure for 30 minutes.
However, those same detectors will also sound the alarm when they’re exposed to 300ppm of hydrogen gas for the same time period. To avoid this, experts advise you avoid placing your golf cart near any heating or cooling systems to prevent the spread of hydrogen throughout your home.
Should I store my golf cart outside?
This seems like the most obvious solution, especially if you live in a warm climate. You won’t have to worry all that much about hydrogen gas creating fires, but there are other issues with storing your golf cart outside that can come up if you’re unprepared.
Common Practices When Storing Outside
You’ll still need to protect your cart, and therefore your battery, from the elements. Find a nice, durable, water-proof cover that can encase the entire cart.
If your property has a slope, keep your golf cart in neutral and ensure it’s blocked from taking a trip on its own down the hill.
Also, check the tire pressure once in a while. Even if you live in a warm area, changes in temperatures outside can leave the tires under or over-inflated.
The battery may need more frequent maintenance checkups should you decide to remove it from the safety of your garage. Despite the cart being covered with seat covers moisture can still accumulate on the battery nodes and cables, meaning corrosion can happen a lot faster in the great outdoors as opposed to in an isolated room.
Speaking of corrosion, something similar could happen to the flooring and upholstery, depending on how long they are exposed to moisture and sunlight.
UV radiation from the sun is known to bleach any fabrics with bright colors, so if you decide to store your golf cart outside to charge, keep it in a shady area in addition to adding a rain-proof cover.
Golf cart charging safety tips
As mentioned earlier, a big piece of advice is to avoid overcharging your golf cart battery in the first place. This can be as simple as having the right equipment to begin with, such as owning a quality battery and charger.
Aside from having the correct hardware, even though this sounds like a broken record at this point, keep all that hardware properly maintained to prevent any hydrogen gas buildup. By doing so, you may be lucky enough to keep the same battery past the recommended replacement date.
Can You Charge A Golf Cart Overnight?
Again, keep the charging times in mind. Leaving your battery overnight to charge seems like a convenient idea, but can be dangerous when there’s no one awake for the process.
Only charge for a maximum of 8 to 10 hours, especially if your charger has any issues. The charge time also depends on the type of battery you have. The 8 to 10 hour timeframe is good for lead acid batteries, but a lithium-ion battery will only require 4 hours to fully charge.
Regardless, refer to the manual of the battery you own.
If the garage is your charging place of choice, or it’s too cold or stormy outside, keep the area well ventilated.
Doing so may require checking your HVAC system for any blockages and broken parts. The goal is avoiding hydrogen gas from accumulating to dangerous levels should your golf cart battery have a problem you’re unaware of.
Whereas CO detectors can detect hydrogen gas, it might be better to get a detector that detects hydrogen specifically. Click here for a good list of hydrogen detectors.
One last bit of advice is reading and following manufacturer recommendations. Some batteries may require fewer or more charging hours than what’s mentioned in this article. Also, where possible, stick with a battery charger provided by the battery manufacturer. This prevents the risk of overloading and any wear and tear.