Can You Use a Car Battery in a Golf Cart? (Explained)

My golf cart runs with traditional golf cart batteries. Usually, carts are powered by electric motors. The batteries are located inside the cart itself.

If you want to charge these batteries, you’ll need to plug them into an electrical outlet. But they usually die faster the older they get and you will need some replacement batteries. 

Typically, you can use car batteries in golf carts, but it is not recommended. 

Regardless, it can be done with a little finagling. Let’s dive into what needs to be done to use a car battery in a golf cart. 

Can You Use a Car Battery in a Golf Cart?

Electric golf carts have a motor that works at either 36 or 48 volts.

The golf cart batteries will pull roughly 50 to 75 amps of power when they hit the max speed of 15 miles per hour.

If you are the owner of a car battery. Could you just throw that battery in my golf cart and be ready to rock?

It is not that simple, as a car battery is 12 volts.

You can string them together through the positive terminal and the negative terminal to get to the requirement in voltage to power the golf cart. But I would recommend not doing it. 

Can you use a 12V battery in a golf cart?

The standard car battery is 12 volts. While it may seem a bit complex, you can string together three to four of the batteries in a series. The connection of multiple 12-volt car batteries can get the golf cart motor to the voltage you need for power.

The way you would work the 12-volt batteries with the golf cart is that you would make a connection. Using negative to positive connectors, you link them together to form one large battery pack.

You will want to investigate the battery tray of the golf cart to be sure that you have the batteries in a secure state. Adjustment of the plate may be necessary to hold down the batteries.

The golf cart will require a constant release of electricity from the batteries to keep it running strong. For this reason, you need deep cycle batteries, but more on that later.

Are golf cart batteries the same as car batteries?

Car batteries have a design that works differently than golf cart batteries. The design of a car battery is such that you get massive surges of power over a short period.

Think about what your car battery does. It kicks on to start the engine. Once the engine is going, the power to electronics and everything else is done by the alternator in the vehicle.

The problem with the car batteries in a golf cart is the lifespan. When you drain a car battery below 50% multiple times over, it will wear out the battery.

What you will find is that you are replacing the standard 12-volt car batteries quite frequently to keep power to the golf cart.

The Concept of Deep Cycle Batteries

To understand the best-case scenario for powering a golf cart, you need to differentiate between a starter battery and a deep cycle battery.

A 12-volt deep cycle battery is what you get with a standard golf cart lithium battery. Deep cycle batteries come with a design where they are providing a steady flow of power or current. The steady flow lasts over a long period.

The design of a deep cycle marine battery is also such that it is fine with completely draining. Once the draining is done, it is then you recharge them over a short time.

Usually, a quality deep cycle battery will be fine with 5,000 full discharges and then recharges of power.

Starter batteries are different in that they have a design to provide a short burst of power. A car battery falls under the category of a starter battery.

Lead-acid batteries are usually what you find with a car battery. The trick with starter batteries is it lacks a design where it can handle draining and recharge over multiple instances.

You can do damage to the battery when you drain it fully and then recharge it.

Do you recommend using a car battery in a golf cart?

We now know that you absolutely can use a series of car batteries within a golf cart, but should you? Just because you can do something, it may not mean that you want to.

It is not wise to take three or four 12 volt batteries and string them together to power a golf cart. In a bind, this can work. Over the long-term though, you want to go with deep cycle batteries for the powering of a golf cart.

When you go with the replacement and put the car batteries in the golf cart, it will not run the same as it’d id when you had the standard golf cart batteries.

On top of that, since they are not deep cycle batteries, you will never make it fully around an 18-hole golf course.

Beyond the reality that the batteries will not last long, they will also die out quickly. Just a few cycles of using the batteries and trying to recharge them will begin to call for more frequent replacements and a higher price tag.

Experimenting With a Car Battery in a Golf Cart

You can experiment and get a golf cart running with a series of 12-volt car batteries. Building the connection bridge when all batteries have full power will get you up and running.

You need to understand the difference in the golf cart battery yes, though, and why this may not be a great idea for the long-term.

While it may help you get by with your golf cart temporarily, car batteries are not an ideal long-term solution for consistent power.

Conclusion

There are two things that we should keep in mind when thinking about whether or not car batteries can be used in golf carts.

The first is that golf cart batteries are designed to run golf carts, not cars.

This means that they are built differently than regular car batteries, so you will have an issue lining up stuff.

The key thing to remember is that doing this can be done, but is not recommended.

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