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A Complete Guide to Lithium-Ion Batteries for Golf Carts

If you have a laptop, cell phone, or even a music playing device, the chances are good they are using lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have gained widespread popularity since the early 90’s and they are now penetrating the golf cart market in a big way.

Are lithium-ion batteries really better than lead acid batteries? How so?

BATTERY BASICS

Batteries simplified are basically canisters hosting chemical interactions. The chemicals inside of the batteries interact with each other to create Ions (Positively charged Particles) and electrons (Negatively Charged Particles).

The result of these interactions is electrical energy of course. Technology has advanced to allow us to create reversible reactions instead of single direction and this allowed us to create rechargeable batteries.

LITHIUM BATTERY BASICS

The cells in lithium batteries are made up of three components. First you have a negative electrode, secondly a positive electrode and finally an electrolyte, a chemical bond between the positive and negative electrodes.

As the lithium battery is charging, the positive electrode is releasing lithium ions that pass through the electrolyte to the negative electrode which is creating and storing energy.

ARE LITHIUM BATTERIES FOR GOLF CARTS THE FUTURE?

There is a definitive transition taking place in the golf cart battery industry. Lithium-ion powered golf carts are becoming more and more common. We are now seeing some of the big OEMs like EZGO and Club Car equipping carts with Lithium ion batteries.

While traditional lead-acid batteries are still an option, gradually we are seeing these being phased out. But why are lithium-ion batteries superior?

THE TOP 5 REASONS TO USE LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES IN YOUR GOLF CART 


Here are 5 reasons why lithium-ion batteries are better than •traditional lead-acid batteries.

 
  1. LITHIUM ION BATTERIES CHARGE FASTER

Lithium-ion batteries charge much faster than traditional batteries. Lead-acid batteries need a full 8-hour day to completely charge while lithium-ion batteries can be fully charged in as little as 3 hours.

  1. LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES HAVE A LONGER LIFESPAN

You are simply going to get more charges out of a lithium Ion battery than you will from traditional ones. A lead-acid battery will last around 1,000 charges on average. A lithium- eat ion battery can get you to a maximum of 5,000 charges. I’m not great at math but that appears to be 5 times that as traditional batteries.

  1. LITHIUM BATTERIES REDUCE THE WEIGHT OF YOUR GOLF CART

Lithium-ion batteries on average weight around 8OIbs. Traditional golf cart batteries can weigh over 300lbs. Your golf cart can run more efficiently, ride higher and experience TF better overall performance by shedding hundreds of pounds a of weight.

  1. LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES ARE VIRTUALLY MAINTENANCE FREE

The biggest draw-back of lead-acid batteries is water maintenance. It’s not fun. Guess what? Lithium-ion batteries require no water. They don’t corrode. In addition, you can leave the cart sitting and not lose substantial charge like you would with lead-acid batteries. If left alone a lead-acid battery could lose around 30% of its charge in a single month whereas a lithium-ion battery would lose around 3-4%.

  1. LITHIUM-10N BATTERIES DELIVER FULL POWER ALL OF THE TIME

Lead-acid batteries lose power the more you use it. Lithium-ion batteries deliver full power all of the time. Even if you only have 20% of a charge left with a lithium battery it’s going to deliver 1 00% power. 

CONVERTING YOUR GOLF CART TO LITHIUM ION 

It’s not difficult to outfit your cart with lithium-ion batteries. It’s not much more difficult than removing your old lead-acid batteries and installing the lithium-ion batteries. Just secure them and reconnect the wires. You will find that you have a lot more space under the seats.

YES, LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN LEAD-ACID BATTERIES 

Lithium-ion batteries are going to cost you between $1,500 – $3,000. Getting a superior quality product costs more. A Mac Book Pro costs more than a PC laptop. But like the Mac Book Pro, lithium batteries are going to last a lot longer and perform a lot better. 

THE TOP LITHIUM ION BATTERIES FOR YOUR GOLF CART

The top battery companies are all scrambling to grab market share of the lithium-ion battery industry. Here are some of the top lithium manufacturers:

RELiON Lithium Ion Batteries 
Trojan Lithium Batteries
Samsung Lithium Batteries
Allied Lithium Batteries

THE ADVANTAGES OF LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES

  • Lithium-ion batteries are more reliable than the older battery technology such as “NiCad” or nickel-cadmium.
  • Lithium-ion batteries don’t suffer from “memory effect” where they become harder to charge over time.
  • Lithium-ion batteries don’t contain the toxic, heavy metal cadmium so they are much more environmentally friendly.
  • They are far lighter than lead-acid batteries as mentioned earlier. 

To summarize, lithium-ion batteries… 

  • Charge more efficiently and don’t suffer from “Memory Effect”
  • Lightweight but still very powerful
  • Better for the environment

THE DISADVANTAGES OF LITHIUM ION BATTERIES

There are really no disadvantages to lithium-ion batteries when comparing them to lead-acid batteries. They are better in almost every way except for price. There is one drawback however, that must not be overlooked.

There have been some safety concerns with lithium-ion batteries. Most notably is that there has been a tendency for s lithium-ion batteries to catch fire if they are overcharged or somehow short circuit.

To solve this problem, try installing a Current Interrupt Device (CID), an internal circuit breaker that will stop the current if the voltage reaches a certain point or it the temperature gets too hot. 

You may have noticed that airlines prohibit taking lithium-ion batteries on airplanes because of similar potential hazards. As lithium-ion batteries technology continues to grow we expect these safety concerns to lessen greatly.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The first lithium-ion battery burst on the scene in the 1990’s and since then the technology is literally everywhere and is not going away. Over 5 billion lithium batteries are being produced annually.

The technology will continue to improve and they will continue to become safer.

Lithium-ion batteries are superior to lead-acid batteries in a variety of ways. They charge faster, they last longer, they require very little maintenance, they are lighter and they are better for the environment. True, they are expensive but like all new technologies, the cost will continue to decrease as more and more manufacturers compete for market share.

REFERENCE: Originally published in Golf Carting Magazine, September 2020 Issue 4



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