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Golf Cart Battery Types
This is a basic overview and comparison of the types of batteries used in electric golf carts.
Note: Battery life expectancy is not measured by a year count. It is measured by the number of times it can be charged and discharged. This is referred to as the battery’s cycle life.
In general there are 4 types of batteries used in Golf Carts and LSV’s. Flooded Lead Acid, AGM, Gel and Lithium.
Lets look at each types pros and cons.
Lead Acid, AGM and Gel are very similar in design. All three use Lead and an acid based electrolyte.
Lead Acid (flooded) – Been around for over 150 years. Invented in 1859.
• High Maintenance
◦ Heavy – A typical set of Lead Acid golf cart batteries weigh 350+ pounds.
◦ Life time cycles 500 to 750 cycles.
◦ Fluid level must be maintained. Lead plates never to be exposed to air.
◦ Gases off Hydrogen when charging. MUST BE CHARGED IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA.
◦ Corrosive electrolyte (Deionized water and sulfuric acid).
◦ Never discharge below 50%.
◦ Never leave Lead Acid Batteries discharged. Always keep at full charge.
◦ Charge time 8 to 10 hours.
AGM - AGM stands for Absorbent (or Absorbed) Glass Mat (or Material). Still a Lead Acid battery with a fiberglass separator to keep the electrolyte in place and absorb the battery acid. AGM has a low internal resistance and can deliver high currents when needed, and offers a long life span, even when deep cycled.
Spill-Proof - Unlike traditional lead-acid batteries that freely flood their electrolytes, AGM batteries have fiberglass mats that prevent this.
Long Lifespan - AGM batteries have a longer lifespan and can serve for a more extended period when they perform the same task. AGM charges up to five times faster than the flooded battery.
Durable- The AGM batteries were initially designed for use in military aircraft, which means they have a sturdy design that accounts for power, reliability, safety, and weight.
Life time cycles - The deeper you discharge the AGM battery, the less cycles you will get. For example, if you discharge the battery to only 30%, you’ll get about 1,200 cycles. However, if you discharge the battery to 50%, you will get about 550 cycles. In the worst case scenario, if you completely discharge the battery to 100%, you will only get about 320 cycles.
GEL – Still Lead Acid based battery with the electrolyte suspended in Gel form. Gel batteries are similar to AGM, but they use a thick paste instead of a fiberglass mat. The significant difference between Gel and AGM batteries is the charge rate. AGM batteries can handle higher charge as well as discharge rates compared to gel batteries.
Gel batteries contain a silica type gel that the battery electrolyte is suspended. This thick paste-like material permits electrons to run between plates but will not leak from the battery if the case is broken.
Maintenance Free - Because the batteries are designed with gel instead of liquid, there is nearly no maintenance required to keep the battery working correctly.
No leaks - Get batteries are sealed in a plastic encasement with a valve that removes extra pressure.
Longer Lifespan in Extreme Weather - Gel batteries prevent electrolytes from being evaporated in high temperatures or frozen in low temperatures, which keeps the battery in high performance even in extreme weather.
Life time cycles - Similar to AGM batteries, the number of cycles decrease as you further discharge a gel battery. For example, discharging a gel battery at 30% gives you about 2,600 cycles, compared with only 1,200 cycles with AGM batteries. In fact, if you discharge a gel battery to 90%, it will give 700 cycles, which is more cycles than an AGM battery discharged at only 50%.
• Requires special charger.
• Heavy as they are a Lead Acid type battery.
• Slower rate of charging compared to a lead-acid battery.
• Overcharging can cause internal damage and degrade the charging capability.
• Prone to deteriorate slightly when exposed to high temperature.
• Higher price compared to Lead Acid (Flooded) and AGM batteries.
Lithium – What is in your smart phone and electric car like the Tesla. A lithium-ion battery has become popular in recent years. It is an advanced battery technology that uses lithium-ion as a primary component of its electrochemistry.
Lithium batteries are renowned for their longevity. These batteries have been the top choice for rechargeable batteries for nearly two decades as they can last about 5000 charge cycles.
Last the life of the cart.
Can use to Full discharge.
Charge time 2 to 3 Hours.
High Energy Density - High energy density is one of the significant advantages of lithium-ion batteries. With electronic equipment needing to operate longer between charges while still consuming power, there is always a need for batteries with a significantly higher energy density.
Low Self-Discharge Rate - One problem with many rechargeable batteries is the self-discharge rate. Lithium batteries can sit without use for a long time and still power up when needed.
Low Maintenance - Lithium-ion batteries do not need watering like lead-acid counterparts, reducing the maintenance cost.
Light Weight – A typical set of golf cart batteries weigh approximately 72 pounds.
• Price. A set of golf cart batteries will set you back $2.5k to $5k.
• Requires special charger.
In conclusion Life expectancy of Flooded Lead Acid is about 3 years. This is primarily do to lack of maintenance. If maintained properly can last as long 7 years. Most Flooded Lead Acid battery manufacturers warrant defects for 1 year. AGM and Gel somewhere in between Flooded and Lithium. Lithium in general will last the life of the cart. Warranty such as Allied Lithium is 8 years.
If you are going to keep your cart and have the funds, then Lithium is the way to go. AGM would be a good second choice followed by GEL. AGM costs more than Flooded Lead Acid batteries and Gel batteries cost more than AGM’s. Buy Lead Acid if you are on a budget. Just be ready to replace them more often and plan for the maintenance required with Flooded Lead Acid batteries.