Looking to purchase a new battery charger for your golf cart care? Well you have come to the right place. In this guide we are going to explore the ins and outs of a golf cart battery chargers. Being more knowledgeable about battery chargers can help you feel confident in your next charger purchase. Common questions such as “are there more than one type of charger?” and “how do I maintain a charger?” will be answered below.
Introduction to Golf Cart Battery Chargers
To put it simply, battery chargers are exactly what you would expect them to be. They are the life source to the cart. Most chargers work by feeding electric current through a battery, in hopes that the cells inside will hold the energy that just passed through it.
This is why it is important to invest in the right charger and maintain it properly. Batteries will not last forever but you can do your best to expand the batteries life time.
Types of Battery Chargers
There are quite a few options for battery chargers on the market, which we will breakdown further in another article.
For now, you should become familiar with the main types of battery chargers you can purchase for your vehicle. Understanding these various charger types will give you the confidence you need to choose the right one for your specific cart.
Off-Board Battery Chargers
Off-board chargers are essentially portable chargers for your golf cart batteries. A charger sitting in your garage plugged into the wall would be considered an off-board charger.
These particular chargers are the most common chargers used when refilling the juice in your golf cart.
On-Board Battery Chargers
On-board battery chargers are typically wired, or built-in to your golf cart. These portable battery chargers are great for riding around and plugging in anywhere when your juice is running low.
These chargers can be great additions to your custom golf cart, but they can be tedious to install, and may cost you more than a typical off-board charger.
We should also mention, using an off-board charger as an on-board charger is typically frowned upon. Off-board battery chargers are built for a stable environment.
Taking an off-board charger along for the ride can cause damage to your charger, considering they aren’t meant to withstand inclement weather, bumps, or banging around.
It is possible to take your on-board charger and convert it to an off-board charger. All you need is a DC plug adaptor and you can set your on-board charger up in your garage. This can create more space in the golf cart, and potentially add longer life to your charger.
The Cost of Battery Chargers
Like I previously stated, battery chargers operate by sending a current through the battery which is then held by the battery cells, causing the battery to charge.
This is of course is a very simple explanation. The process is much more complex than that. Understanding everything you can about how the chargers work will help to relieve some of that nervousness when purchasing a new battery charger.
Typically, the cheapest chargers on the market are your constant current chargers. These chargers are connected to your batteries, and send a constant current straight to the batteries until they are charged. The only problem with these chargers, is that you have to manually shut them off.
Sure, you saved some money on your battery charger, but now you’re experiencing the negative effects…
One of the problems is that you can potentially overcharge your battery which can lead to a ruined or damaged battery.
Overcharging is probably the worst thing you can do to your golf cart batteries. When you continue to pump current into a battery that is fully charged, that energy has to go somewhere.
In order for the battery to release that extra energy, this causes the battery to build pressure and heat, which could eventually lead to ruptures, gas leaks, or even explosions.
Unplug the battery charger too soon, and you may find yourself pushing the golf cart back to your house, or getting an unwanted tow.
Moral of the story… if you’re thinking about taking the cheap way out when it comes to your battery charger, think twice! It’ll inevitably turn out to be much more expensive.
Buying the correct charger for your golf cart setup, and making sure it has an auto shut-off, is the key to maintaining a long battery life.
Choosing the Right Battery and Charger
When purchasing a battery you want to consider cycle life and maintenance.
Cycle life is how many charge and discharge cycles the battery has in its life. Having a battery that has a cycle of around 750 is optimal. Search for batteries with good reviews on the cycle life.
The flooded lead-acid battery needs more maintenance. These chargers require water maintenance. Over the life time of the battery the water level may lower. It is a simple fix however. Adding distilled water to refill to desired water level will fix this problem.
Now you have the battery and need the charger…
The battery you purchase will need a specific charger. Your charger needs to match the battery for it to work. Your charger will need the right voltage and plug to match your battery.
Each battery runs off a certain amount of voltage.
You want to choose a charger that matches this voltage. For example, if you cart has a 24-voltage then you need a charger that is meant for 24 volts. In addition, make sure your charger has the right plug to fit your cart.
Tips to Maintaining a Golf Cart Battery and Charger
Maintaining your battery charger is important to keeping your batteries charged and your golf cart moving down the road.
In order to keep that battery charger running smoothly we suggest you take the following steps in order to keep your charger in healthy condition.
Make sure your golf cart is in the off position, and you have no draw from the battery. Also you should inspect the battery, making sure that it is free of dirt, or corrosion. Corrosion can cause voltage drop, and also could cause the cables to overheat.
Keep It Clean
Cleanliness is an obvious tip to keep that charger running for a long time. Make sure your charging plugs are always clean of dust, and that your charger is stored in a dry area. The last thing you want is your battery charger sitting in a pool of water in your garage.
Next you should clean the connectors on the battery, you can do so with a cloth, or a wire brush. Your solution should be made from water and baking soda.
Be cautious when pouring your solution on the battery, you don’t want any to drip inside the battery. Rinse with clean water, and wipe away the excess moisture.
Be Cautious of Fluids
Fluids on the top of your batteries could mean that your batteries are over filled. If that’s the case, you’ll want to remove some of the water from the over-filled compartments.
Battery Water Levels
Making sure that your cells have the proper amount of water, can be the difference in a good charge. Your electrolyte levels should be consistent across all cells, and shouldn’t be filled any further than the top of the battery plate (1/4 to 1/2 inch above is optimal).
Overfilling your batteries can cause the vent caps to pop off during the charging process, this is due to the water levels rising while being charged.
Knowing When to Charge
You should always charge your batteries after any amount of use. Keeping your batteries fully charged will actually expand their life. This is why purchasing an auto shut-off charger is key.
After your ride, you can plug your golf cart batteries in while parked, and the charger will shut off once the batteries are fully charged.
Batteries are discharging as soon as they are unplugged, so keeping them unplugged for extended periods of time can damage the overall lifespan.
Battery Charger Safety
All batteries can generate explosive fumes, so it’s probably smart to keep any type of flames away. This also includes cigarettes or sparks from a grinder.
Also be aware of live circuits. You should never disconnect any plugs or wires from a live connection. This may cause serious sparks, or even give you an unexpected shock.
Choosing the right battery charger for your golf cart is going to make a huge difference in how long your batteries last.
In this article we have gone over the common questions about buying, maintaining and using a golf cart battery charger. We also touch on the urgency of purchasing the right charger for your specific setup.
Hopefully now you feel more knowledgeable and confident when purchasing and using your battery charger.