Golf Cart Battery Chargers
A good quality battery charger is needed to recharge electric carts and ensure that the correct amount of current is supplied to the batteries during the charging process. This will prevent under-charging or over-charging which can damage your batteries. The price of a good quality cart battery charger is a lot less than for a set of new batteries.
When buying a battery charger it is important to know which type is required for your batteries. Your electric cart will be powered by either a 24V, 36V or 48V system and you must get a charger that is rated that total voltage. A 36V charger is used for a 36V battery pack and a 48V charger for newer carts with a 48V pack.
Golf carts use deep cycle batteries which are designed to be discharged down as much as 80% time after time, before recharging, but to get the best lifespan vs cost ratio it is advised to keep the average cycle at about 50% discharge. This means that you should recharge the batteries after each round of golf to return the best lifespan of the batteries. A cart battery will last around 2-7 years, but to get the maximum lifespan you will have to use the correct charging method and a good quality 3-stage charger.
Most modern chargers are able to regulate the voltage by charging in a 3-stage charging process: bulk, absorption (or acceptance) and float. “Smart” chargers are completely automatic, meaning that you can keep them plugged in for extended periods of time without the risk of overcharging. Some chargers will also have a “trickle” charge mode that keeps the batteries at the ideal voltage during any time that they are not in use, for example during the winter months.
- Bulk Charge – The initial part of 3-stage battery charging. The charging current is supplied to batteries at the maximum safe rate they will accept until voltage rises to near (80-90%) of the full charge level.
- Absorption (or Acceptance) Charge – The middle stage of 3-stage charging. The charging voltage is kept constant and current gradually tapers off as internal resistance increases during charging. It is during this stage that the charger puts out maximum voltage.
- Float Charge – The final stage of 3-stage battery charging. After the batteries reach their full charge, the charging voltage is reduced to a lower level to reduce gassing and prolong their life. This is often referred to as a maintenance or trickle charge, since it’s main purpose is to keep an already charged battery from discharging.
Once the batteries are charged they should be watered, unless the plates are not exposed, so add just enough distilled water to cover the plates. After a complete charge, the water level should be even in all cells and usually 1/4″ to 1/2″ below the bottom of the fill well in the cell (depends on battery size and type). To ensure the correct level a battery watering kit should be fitted which will prevent under-watering or over-watering which can both damage batteries.
When connecting the charger take the opportunity to examine the cables and connectors to make sure they are free from corrosion and tightened down so that they make a good connection. Loose connections will reduce the amount of power that the batteries can provide and can be a potential fire hazard due to sparking.