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

Golf cart hauling capacity vs ATV

hauling more lumber on a golf cart compared to an ATV or 4 wheeler

ATV particle board
A few months ago the golf cart was broke and Bradley brought his ATV to haul in some particle board.

It was a good chance to compare hauling capacity between the two.

My rough estimate says the golf cart can haul a little more than twice what you can load up on a medium sized ATV.

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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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What about an off road type of trailer option with the atv? Or is it that rough of ground you guys cross going back and forth.
Comment by Marco Mon Sep 24 16:35:08 2012
One of these days, I'm going to make a FAQ page and put this on it. :-) But for now, here's why trailers don't work for us.
Comment by anna Mon Sep 24 17:14:50 2012

An ATV would be less prone to getting stuck. It would have more ground clearance, for one. I've driven one on the beach (wet and dry sand) and through streambeds in NZ without problems.

But you could combine the two (for a price). A 4x4 gator has 6 inches of ground clearance and can carry 1000 lb.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Sep 24 17:20:28 2012

It's true that an ATV will be less likely to get stuck, but we don't get stuck all that often in the golf cart, and when we do it's usually not much work to get free.

Those Gator vehicles look like they can go anywhere, but I think most of them are gas powered and we prefer quiet electric motors to the internal combustion engine.

Comment by mark Mon Sep 24 20:01:46 2012
I'm not certain this is a fair comparison. Especially when one considers that neither were designed to do what you did in the comparison. With a little modification to the ATV couldn't it be made to haul just as much? You compared a stock 4-wheeler to golf cart you've modified to allow you to haul more than in its stock configuration.
Comment by Heath Tue Sep 25 12:51:52 2012

There can be little doubt that electric motors when considered by themselves are much better than internal combustion engines.

  • more efficient
  • more compact
  • less noisy
  • few moving parts
  • some can do regenerative braking
  • usually no need for a gearbox or clutch.
  • lots of torque from standing start possible

Unfortunately, the technology to store electrical energy hasn't kept up (although it is improving).

But if you get your electrical power from a fossil-fuel power plant, the picture is a bit different. Consider the efficiencies in the chain of your golf cart:

  • power plant: 40%
  • transport efficiency: 98% (not sure about that)
  • battery efficiency: 55% (lead-acid, partial charging)
  • brushed DC motor: 70%

The total efficiency from fuel to mechanical power output is 0.4×0.98×0.55×0.70 = 0.15, or 15%.

A car with an internal combustion engine would get 20-25%. So you are burning as least as much, and probably more fossil fuels with your golf cart than with a car.

This could be improved; the engine technology used in a golf cart is ancient, as are the batteries. But that new tech isn't cheap yet.

Comment by Roland_Smith Tue Sep 25 13:35:08 2012

Heath-You're right about that comparison being unfair. I'm sure someone could make a similar type of rack on an ATV to haul more then a few sheets of particle board, but I'm guessing the bigger wheel base on the golf cart will still put it ahead on pounds being safely transported.

Roland-Yes...we get our electricity from fossil fuels, and your number crunching makes a good point on how far there is to go in improving electric transportation.

I've always thought the easiest way to make the golf cart feel more "green" would be to use solar cells to charge up the batteries, which should bring our efficiency percent to a more respectable level. Maybe we'll get around to that project next year.

Comment by mark Tue Sep 25 15:43:08 2012

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