Lithium batteries have taken the golf cart world by storm in the last few years. Whether you’re buying your first golf cart or you’ve owned a golf cart for a while and have lead-acid batteries, it might be time to consider using lithium batteries.
Either type of battery can power your golf cart and help you get around your neighborhood or the golf course. However, lithium batteries have a lot of distinct advantages over lead-acid. You can learn more about these benefits here, but one of the most significant advantages is that lithium batteries last longer than lead-acid.
So, exactly how long do lithium golf batteries last? That, of course, will vary based on how much you use your cart. We’ll discuss the details of lithium battery life, but the main thing you need to know is that they last longer, a LOT longer than lead-acid batteries.
The Cycle Life of Lithium Batteries
If you’ve looked into lithium versus lead-acid batteries at all, you may have read about the number of cycles each type typically gets. Before we get into the numbers, you need to understand what a cycle life is and what that means.
The cycle life refers to the number of times you can charge and discharge your battery before losing some of its performance capabilities. A full cycle is 100% charge and discharge, so if you only used half your battery charge and then charged it back to 80%, that’s not considered a full cycle.
When manufacturers test out batteries, they usually deplete the battery and recharge to 80%. For example, if they tell you that a battery has 500 cycles, the manufacturer actually charged the battery 625 times to 80%. 500 is 80% of 625, so the manufacturer knows that the battery could be fully depleted and recharged 500 times.
Now that you understand what a cycle is, let's talk about how many cycles you’re likely to get with each type of golf cart battery. Most lithium batteries can get between 2,000 and 5,000 cycles, whereas a lead-acid only gets 500 to 1,000, which means that a lithium battery lasts three to five times longer than lead-acid. If you currently have lead-acid batteries in your golf cart and replace them every 4-5 years, lithium batteries would get you closer to ten years.
Lifespan of Lithium Batteries
Besides the cycle life, there are many other factors that also contribute to the lifespan of batteries. Fortunately, this is another place where lithium batteries excel over lead-acid.
Lead-acid batteries need to be charged to 100% every time to prevent damage and really shouldn’t go below 50%, as they lose a lot of their power as the charge decreases. With a lithium battery, you can use the total charge without losing any speed or energy along the way. It charges to 80% and is safe to use at that point. This reduces the number of cycles you’re using, lengthening your battery’s lifespan. As a bonus, the faster charge times result in lower energy bills!
To get the most out of a lead-acid battery, you need to care for and maintain it properly. This requires adding water, cleaning corrosion, and checking acid levels to prevent any accidental spills. If you’re not doing regular maintenance, you’ll decrease the lifespan of the battery. However, lithium batteries are maintenance-free, so you don’t have to worry about doing any of that to increase their lifespan.
Another factor that affects your battery’s life has to do with how much you use your golf cart. If you’re using it to get around your neighborhood regularly, this may not affect you, but it may sit unused for months if you only use it during the golfing season. A lead-acid battery loses about 33% of its charge if it sits unused for a month. In contrast, a lithium battery only loses 2-3% in that same amount of time. You could go an entire year without using your golf cart with a lithium battery, and you still wouldn’t need to charge it yet.
Are Lithium Batteries Worth It?
The choice is yours. Lithium batteries have numerous advantages over lead-acid that make them a great choice. But, they are more expensive. We’ll go into more detail on what you can expect from a lithium battery and the cost/benefit analysis in future articles. However, the fact that they last close to ten years should be enough to convince you to consider looking into the option of making the switch.