A golf cart is a great way to get around, even in cold and snowy weather.
One of the most frequent questions we receive from customers is, “Can I leave my golf cart plugged in all winter?”.
Many people want to play with their golf cart in the winter but don’t know if they should leave it plugged in all winter or not.
Similar questions we receive are, “Can I leave my golf cart plugged in all the time?” and, “What effect does leaving it plugged in for a long period have on the batteries?”.
This article addresses these questions and provides you with good information regarding keeping your electric golf cart ready to go no matter what the season.
How Golf Cart Batteries Work
Golf cart batteries work differently from the battery in your car.
When you drive your car, the battery automatically charges.
When you drive your golf cart, the lead-acid batteries do the opposite and become depleted from the internal resistance that causes battery drain.
Imagine your golf cart battery is like a tank of gas; the more you use it, the more you have to replace it.
This depletion is because golf cart batteries comprise individual cells that hold an electrical charge.
These cells are connected in series (the positive terminal of one cell is connected to the negative terminal of another). And the number of battery cells determines its voltage.
Golf car batteries work by converting chemical energy into electrical energy.
This conversion occurs when the battery discharges, electrons flow from the positive terminal to the negative one through an external circuit.
Electricity flows in the opposite direction when the current is supplied from an external power source.
As soon as your cart’s electrical system requires a recharge, it would be best to connect the battery back into the circuit, and it will recharge in much the same way it discharges.
As a result, you may think it makes sense to leave your battery plugged in at all times to keep it strong. Unfortunately, this is a big mistake because it prevents the proper battery charging cycle from occurring.
Leaving the golf cart plugged in around the clock doesn’t allow the battery to complete this essential discharge-recharge cycle.
It’s the same reason you don’t keep your computer or smartphone plugged in constantly.
Your Golf Cart Battery and Temperature
With temperature, you’ll find that at 30 degrees Fahrenheit, your golf cart’s battery will discharge at around three percent per month.
The rate of discharge doubles when the temperature falls to minus-10 degrees Fahrenheit.
This means that your batteries will completely lose power faster in colder temperatures than in warmer ones.
Although you won’t notice it with a small amount of play activity, you might see adverse effects if you leave your golf cart plugged in all winter without ever using it.
That said, there are things you can do to increase the life expectancy of your golf cart and its batteries no matter what the season.
3 Types of Golf Cart Battery Chargers
Automatic chargers deliver a charge to the battery pack during nonuse.
Keeping your batteries full, even if they are not being used, assures that you have the power at all times.
This provides you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your batteries are always ready to go.
There are three types of golf cart battery chargers:
Regular Battery Charger
The good news is that a typical battery charger pumps enough amperage to get your battery going in no time.
The bad news is that overheating and overcharging your battery can occur, so you need to take precautions when using this type of charger.
One necessary precaution is to be sure you disconnect the charger after your cart is fully charged in case the charger loses AC power which will start deleting the battery power.
Battery Maintainer Charger
The battery maintainer is another option for keeping your batteries topped off, but it has several advantages over a regular charger.
A battery maintainer is an electrical device that slowly charges the batteries through a minimal draw on the AC power supply.
This low-watt device supports long-term maintenance charging to help prevent self-discharge and sulfation (when sulphuric acid separates from the lead plates inside your cells).
A typical battery maintainer includes a 12-volt plug with clamps, an LED indicator light, and a wall plug.
Battery Trickle Charger
A battery trickle charger is a type of charger used to maintain small amounts of power over time.
This type of charger is beneficial for keeping your battery-powered vehicle’s battery charged during winter storage periods.
These chargers have a trickle charge to keep the battery fully charged at all times.
During warmer weather, you can use this type of charger to provide an easy way to maintain your battery without overcharging it.
How to Winterize Your Electric Golf Cart
As far as using your golf cart and keeping it in good running condition during winter, there are a few things you should consider:
- Please remove the battery from your golf cart and store them in a safe, dry place.
- Clean off any corrosion around the terminals before applying grease or petroleum jelly to keep them free of debris.
- Store the golf cart in a safe place where temperatures stay above freezing (not under your carport).
- Before removing your batteries, make sure you fully charged them before storing them for an extended period.
- Disconnect any power cables so they won’t short circuit when not in use.
Most battery chargers are rated according to “cold cranking amps” (CCA), which measures how much amperage it will deliver at zero degrees Fahrenheit.
The higher the CCA number, the more likely your golf cart will start in cold weather.
Another thing you should consider is having a battery tender, or battery maintainer charger plugged in when not using your golf cart for an extended time.
This helps keep the power flowing to prevent self-discharge and sulfation while the vehicle is stored over the winter months.
Remember, you can also use a trickle charger to provide a “float charge” similar to a battery tender.
A trickle charger is used to maintain small amounts of power over time without constant monitoring.
Trickle chargers are beneficial for keeping your batteries topped off during winter months when there may be fewer opportunities to use your golf cart.
These suggestions will help you keep your golf cart in good working order for years to come.
If these steps don’t work, it might be a sign that a new battery is needed.
Leaving your batteries connected without recharging can reduce their life expectancy, damage wiring over time, and cause problems when you try to start the cart after sitting idle for long periods.
Safeguarding against this problem takes only a little extra work on your part to keep them charged with either a bulk charger or trickle charger during nonuse.
For more information about golf carts, call Carts & Parts at (937) 459-8891.
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How do you handle your golf cart in the winter? Do you use a charger? Let us know in the comment section below.