If you are an avid golf player, having a golf cart is something that you should certainly look into getting. While you may think that the cost is too high, think about all of the times that you have rented, and how much you have spent on renting. The most common problem that you will run into with any golf cart though, is the batteries. In this article, we will take a look at what the best 6-volt golf cart batteries are, and why.
The first thing that you probably wonder is why you use 6v batteries in something so big. Well, that’s an easy question to answer; most golf carts are actually 36v, which means that you have six batteries in series that are all 6v each. The next question that you may wonder is, why don’t you use three 12v car batteries? Again, that is easy; car batteries are not designed as “traction use.”
What that means is that car batteries are for short bursts of power to start an engine, and then they get recharged by the engine and alternator. Golf cart batteries will discharge much more than a car battery, and they will produce a higher output for a longer time.
What to Look For in a 6 Volt Golf Cart Battery
While you may think that a battery is a battery, that is simply not true. Different batteries will perform differently to others, and it all depends on the way they are designed and made. That means that you need to look at the specifications of them and know what to look for. One piece of advice that I want to give you straight away is that if you buy cheap, you will buy twice.
Before you buy any batteries, you need to know what voltage your cart needs. Working that out is an easy task:
- Locate the batteries
- Count the holes on the top. Some of them have removable caps, while others are sealed; however, they are still there.
- Multiply the number of holes by 2. (Each hole is a cell, and each cell is around 2.2v, but we tend to ignore the 0.2v, as that is a charge difference, not the working voltage.
- Now you know the voltage of one battery: 3 holes = 6v, 4 holes = 8v, 6 holes = 12v.
- Now count how many batteries your golf cart has.
- Multiply the number of batteries by the voltage from step 4.
So, as a common example, if you have six batteries with three holes in each, you have 3x2v = 6v batteries. 6 batteries at 6v each = 36v golf cart.
Type of Battery
The first thing that you need to think about is the type of battery that you want. There are four main variations of traction battery, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. In this section, we will take a brief look at what they are and which ones are best for what.
- Wet Cell batteries or Flooded Lead Acid. – These are the batteries closest to the car type, they are widespread on golf carts, and will perform well enough for most people.
- Gel Lead Acid. – An upgrade to the wet cell variety, a thickening agent, turns the electrolyte into a gel, which stops them spilling, even in the case of a cracked case.
- AGM Lead Acid. – Absorbed Glass Mat batteries are sealed, and do not need filling. They are an upgrade to the GLA batteries, as they are lighter and still do not spill.
- Lithium-Ion. – The most up to date, and best batteries that are available. They require zero maintenance, last up to 5 times longer than wet cell batteries, they are lighter, do not lose power during discharge, and they charge much faster than FLA batteries, too.
As you can see, there are various advantages to each battery, and as they are written on the list, they go from worst to best, but also cheapest to most expensive.
Capacity is how much power a battery can hold, thus supply. The higher the capacity, the longer they will last. The capacity will not change the speed of the golf cart, though, as the motors will only take as much power as they need, but they will make it run for longer.
Battery capacity is the number marked with Ah (Amp-hours); the higher the number, the longer they will last. The basics behind Amp-hours is that the number is how many Amps the battery can provide, from full to empty, in one hour. So, if you have a 170Ah battery, it can provide 170A over an hour. However, if the motors only pull 17A total, one battery will last 10 hours. Bear in mind that those numbers are only for explanation, and you are highly unlikely only to need 17A; therefore, you will not get 10 hours of use from them.
While there are other considerations, such as construction and longevity, they are both connected to the type of battery that you buy. For example, if you buy a Flooded Lead Acid battery, you are a lot more likely to damage it and spill acid than you are with an AGM battery. Furthermore, with the advancement in technology, a Lithium-Ion battery will have a higher cycle ability (the number of charges and discharges) than FLA.
Testing Your Batteries
The last thing that you want to do is replace good batteries unless you are looking for an upgrade. Therefore, you will want to test them to see if they are still working at optimal performance. The first sign that you will see, if you do not check them, is that the use time is starting to reduce. The problem with using that as a gauge is that they are probably too far gone by that time to do anything about it. That is why you need to have a maintenance schedule.
- Disconnect the batteries and performs a full visual inspection. You are looking for cracks, leaks, and corrosion. If you have any cracks or leaks from the body, you need to replace them.
- Clean the batteries with baking soda and water, or battery cleaner. A steam cleaner and rag will work, but remember to use gloves.
- Check the manufacture code for the manufacture date. If the battery is more than 12 months old, you are likely to require a replacement, but not always.
- Check the overall voltage of each battery. As I said earlier in the article, you are looking at about 2.2v for each cell, so if there are three holes, you want a reading around 6.6v. If it is much lower than that, you probably require a replacement.
- Check the electrolyte level. Do that when it is fully charged, as the level does rise a bit through charging. If the electrolyte is not covering the plates, you can top it up with distilled water.
- Check the Gravity of the electrolyte. If you have topped it up, you will need to wait a while before checking, as you may only be testing the water you added. You will need to check the reading in comparison to the manufactures recommendations.
If there are any significant signs of deterioration, you should consider getting a replacement. However, if you are only replacing one battery, make sure that it is the same type as the others. (Do not mix FLA with gel, etc.) If you have a few batteries that are starting to show signs, you may want to replace them all with a better type, as the “OK” batteries will not take long to get to the same state.
Best 6v Flooded Lead Acid Battery For Golf Carts – Trojan T-145
Trojan Batteries are the leaders of FLA batteries for golf carts, and with good reason. The T-145 boasts a great 260Ah @ 20 hours capacity, and at roughly 10.4 x 7.1 x 11.6 inches (l/w/h), it should fit into most golf carts out there.
It is a battery that incorporates all of the technology that Trojan has to offer, providing you with a superior deep cycle performance. They are the cheapest cost per amp-hour of any battery here, but the downside is that you have to take care of them with topping up, cleaning, and equalizing charges. However, all of the information that you need will be included with the battery when you get it.
- Maintenance Required
If you are looking for a great, cheap replacement for your existing lead-acid batteries, you are not going to go wrong with the T-145. However, you do need to remember that you will need to keep on top of the maintenance, which can be an issue for some people, which is why most tend to go for Sealed Lead Acid or Absorbed Glass Mat batteries.
Best 6V SLA/AGM Battery For Golf Carts – ML200-6
If you want a maintenance-free battery for your golf cart, then look no further than the Mighty Max ML200-6. The significant benefit to AGM batteries is that you can mount them in any position that you want, which also means that you can use them for “rough terrain” golfing. You never need to worry about them leaking or having to check their electrolytes. All you need to do is fit and go.
However, as we have said before, if you are only changing one, then you will need to replace it with the same type. However, if you want to completely upgrade from FLA batteries, six of these will certainly do just that.
- No maintenance
- Shock and vibration resistant
- 1-year warranty
- Lower Ah rating at 200Ah
If you do not want to have the hassle of maintaining your batteries, and you don’t mind the slightly lower capacity, you will not go wrong with the ML200-6. With the high range of operating temperatures, this will not let you down, no matter when you play golf, or if you need to store it in the cold.
Best 6 Volt Golf Cart Batteries – Conclusion
The first thing that you are going to ask is why I haven’t included Gel Lead Acid and Lithium-Ion batteries in this article. Well, the reasons are:
- Gel lead-acid is not as good as AGM batteries, but roughly the same cost.
- Lithium-Ion batteries are very expensive as they are a newer technology within the golf cart industry.
That means that you should really choose between the two types that we have listed above, as they are the most cost-effective options that you have. The decision between the two is entirely up to you. However, the main points to consider are:
FLA = Higher capacity but require maintenance.
AGM = Lower capacity, no maintenance.
If you have the time and inclination to upkeep your batteries, then I would still suggest the FLA batteries. However, if you are prone to forgetting a maintenance schedule, then you are much better to buy AGM batteries and deal with the slightly lower capacity. Both of them perform very well for the requirements, they are both very durable, and they both have extended life cycles and deep cycle ability.