The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How long do golf cart batteries last?

Golf cart in the snow

The golf cart is having more and more trouble keeping a charge.

Coming up the hill by the barn was too much for it a few weeks ago. We had to run an extension cord and give it a boost before the golf cart could make it home.

We think the batteries are six or seven years old. Perhaps it's time for a new set?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Car batteries last 6-7 years. Are golf cart batteries any different? Really?
Comment by c. Mon Jan 7 16:22:15 2013
I would guess 7 years is fairly long, depending upon usage & charging schedules. Jack Spirko had a great podcast on batteries recently (Episodes 1039 and 1040). His guest recommended not letting the battery drop below 50% before recharging. Those episodes are really valuable for anyone using batteries.
Comment by David Hicks Mon Jan 7 16:26:29 2013

Five years is typical for the batteries in our cars, which park outside in Michigan winters. The link below claims that premium golf cart batteries could get up to ten years with a desulfator, whatever that is.

Comment by NinetyEight Mon Jan 7 16:53:17 2013
you usually get about 5 good years out of them. Sounds like you definitely need replacements. They're rather costly to replace.
Comment by tammy Mon Jan 7 16:57:20 2013

C, This post gives a rundown on different types of batteries for solar panels. Golf cart batteries see about the same use pattern as batteries used with solar panels, while car batteries are very different in terms of what we ask of them.

David --- Yep, I think we would have gotten another year or two out of the batteries if we'd known the 50% rule from the beginning. At first, we thought it was good for them to get run way down from time to time, but a couple of years ago we learned otherwise and have been keeping them topped off ever since. Maybe our next set will last a full decade. :-)

Comment by anna Mon Jan 7 17:10:28 2013

You could try to recondition the batteries (when they're discharged).

Pulse conditioning might also help.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Jan 7 17:16:32 2013
Roland --- Good ideas! I think I want to start by testing each battery's charge to see if there's a single one dragging us down. Then we may try your tips to see if they can be saved for another year or two.
Comment by anna Mon Jan 7 18:16:00 2013

For accurate testing you should get a battery hydrometer to test the specifiv gravity of the battery acid.

Comment by Roland_Smith Tue Jan 8 01:52:52 2013

In another life I was a Battery Charging Election on a nuclear submarine which had an enormous battery. While a hydrommeter is excellent to tell the current charge it does not provide any information on the capacity. Your mechanic should have battery tester that puts a load on the batteryterms test the condition. Granted this is designed to test auto batteries but should give a good indication of overall health. Your golfcart dealer may have a better tester for your specific battery. 50% discharge is considered standard for these types of batteries. Reconditioning Is a good option, I read several solar sites recommend buying used golfcart batteries then recondition then recondition them for years of use. Make sure you follow instructions regarding periodic equalizer charging it does help to keep your batteries in optimum condition. Good luck.

Comment by Tom Tue Jan 8 09:42:31 2013

Cooincidentally I removed 6 bad batteries from my house's array this morning. The rest still seem to keep a good charge. They were manufactured in 1993.. 20 years old! These are nicads though, probably your gold cart is lead acid.

If you find a good cheap local source of deep cycle 6 volt batteries, let me know.

Comment by Tue Jan 8 10:46:11 2013

I'd say 7 years is a pretty good run for golf cart batteries, esp. if you ran them down several times. You'll do even better if you top them off at 80% or more.

It will be painful, but I recommend buying the entire batch at the same time. If you find you have just one bad one and replace it, it will quickly get dragged down to the level of the others. That strategy would be a better idea on a relatively new set. A load tester is the best way to check their capacity for vehicle use at higher amperage.

I also recommend buying from a golf cart supplier rather than Batteries Plus, as their supply is fresher. Electric vehicle nerds will often request that all the batteries come from the same lot, but I'm not really sure how much that helps over the long term.

Comment by De Wed Jan 9 08:37:12 2013
But I came across the notion of pulse chargers, which are supposed to desulfate lead acid batteries.
Comment by Jeffrey Miller Wed Jan 9 22:29:34 2013

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