Technology is constantly advancing, creating new and better products to take the place of old ones. This is something we see continually taking place in our lives. For instance, think about how music listening has evolved: from records to 8-track tapes and cassettes to CDs and now digital streaming. Customers always want the latest and greatest. For golf cart owners, that’s where lithium batteries come in.
Lithium batteries are very powerful considering their size and weight, and we wouldn’t have smartphones and be able to power other electronics without them. Recently, they’ve become increasingly popular with golf cart owners. Lithium batteries offer many advantages over the lead-acid batteries that traditionally powered electric golf carts. If you own a golf cart, you may be wondering why you should make the switch. What are the pros and cons of using lithium batteries in your golf cart?
Pros of Lithium Golf Cart Batteries
Lithium batteries have many benefits over lead-acid when it comes to powering your golf cart.
These advantages are:
- Improved Technology
- Performance Enhancement
Let’s take a look at each of these in a little more detail.
Lithium batteries are a fraction of the weight of lead-acid batteries. You also won’t need as many batteries in total. Because of this, they can reduce your overall cart weight by 300-400 pounds and increase top speeds by 4-5 mph, depending on your setup. That’s a huge difference! You can carry an additional two passengers or their average equivalent in weight. This can also slightly increase your ride height by up to an inch, making it a little easier to get over speed bumps if you’re using your golf cart to get around your neighborhood.
Lead-acid batteries take an average of 8 hours to recharge fully. Lithium batteries only take half that. Plus, they will charge 80% in just an hour. Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries aren’t susceptible to damage when repeatedly charged to less than 100%.
The decreased charging time alone is a huge benefit. However, lithium also excels in charge loss over time. They only lose about 2-3% of their charge in a month of non-use. Lead-acids lose 33%. Snowbirds won’t have to worry about coming back to a dead battery after 3-4 months. Instead, their golf cart can be left unused for a year, and it would still have 75% of its battery charge!
Another advantage that lithium batteries have over lead-acids is they last longer. An average lithium battery has around 2,000-5,000 cycles, while a lead-acid has 500-1,000. We won’t get into the details about cycle life, but you can read more about how long lithium batteries last here.
What this means, though, is that lithium batteries last 3-5 times longer than lead-acid. Typically, you’d get about 4-5 years out of lead-acid batteries. With lithium batteries, you’ll get closer to 10 years.
One of the best parts about lithium batteries is that they don’t require any maintenance at all. Lead-acid batteries require regular maintenance, such as checking acid levels, cleaning corrosion, and adding water. You also have to be careful of accidental spills. Since lithium batteries don’t have any acid, none of this applies. The only thing you have to do is charge them.
Lithium batteries come with a built-in BMS or battery management system. This system monitors the battery to make sure that it is in optimal working range. It ensures that the battery is not overcharged or over depleted. The BMS also has multiple safety circuits that prevent the battery from getting too hot by monitoring the energy storage temperatures.
Additionally, they have a CSC, or cell supervision circuit, that monitors each individual cell. This not only ensures optimal performance but also improves the safety and reliability of the lithium battery.
Performance enhancement is probably the most significant advantage that lithium batteries have over lead-acid. Lithium batteries provide instant power for your golf cart, no matter the terrain or the level of charge left on your batteries. This means that they have the same voltage outputs at every level of charge.
If you own or have ridden in a golf cart powered by lead-acid batteries, you may have noticed that the speed slows when you’re going up a hill or when the battery is low. This is something you’ll never have to worry about with lithium batteries. You’ll get the same power and performance whether your batteries are at 100% or 1%.
Cons of Lithium Golf Cart Batteries
There really aren’t many downsides to lithium golf cart batteries. In the past, they were associated with the risk of fire or explosion. However, now they come with the BMS that we discussed above, which nullifies that risk.
There’s really only one disadvantage to lithium batteries:
- High Upfront Cost
High Upfront Cost
Lithium batteries are quite a bit more expensive than lead-acid batteries. In fact, they’re about double the upfront cost. This can seem like a pretty serious reason not to make the switch, but lithium batteries will actually save you money in the long run.
As mentioned above, lithium batteries don’t require any maintenance, which means you won’t be spending money on these services or the tools and supplies you’d need to manage it yourself.
They’re also much lighter, which means you could install them yourself, saving money there too.
Especially since lithium batteries are also drop-in ready, which means they’re very easy to switch out. All you have to do is remove the lead-acid batteries, replace them with lithium batteries, reattach all the cables, and secure the holding brackets.
Of course, the most significant cost saver is that lithium batteries last so much longer than lead-acids. The cost savings over time make the upfront cost worth it. You can read our more in-depth article on golf cart battery pricing here to better understand what this looks like.
As you can see, the pros far outweigh the cons of lithium batteries for golf carts. The higher cost is more than worth it for the performance enhancement you’ll experience when making the switch. More and more customers are moving to lithium golf cart batteries. You can even find some manufacturers that are selling golf carts with these batteries already installed.
If your golf cart batteries are working, you don’t need to convert over to lithium batteries immediately. However, when it comes time to purchase new ones, or if you’re unsatisfied with the performance of your current batteries, you should definitely consider upgrading to lithium batteries.