Why You Should Ditch Lead Acid Batteries

Written by SKRT on 11/10/2022

We sat down with a golf cart mechanic and asked him what every golf cart shopper wants to know.

Are lithium ion batteries for your golf cart really worth it?

The short answer is, yes!

But Why?

We asked Brock (a golf cart mechanic with a decades worth of experience tuning carts) some common questions to help us decide, are lithium ion batteries for your golf cart really that much better than lead acid batteries?

Brock is a mechanic with decades of experience in the golf cart field

How do lithium ion batteries change the performance of your golf cart?

Think of a race car and the pursuit of speed. In order to go faster, weight reduction is a must.

By taking out a set of lead acid batteries and replacing them with one lithium battery pack, your cart sheds 200-300 pounds.

This increases the overall performance of the cart both in acceleration and top speed.

What about the range?

You can think of the voltage rating as reference to the power of the cart and amp hour rating as a reference to the range.

A standard set of lead acid batteries is rated at roughly 60 amp hours while the average Lithium Ion battery pack is rated at 110 amp hours which means they are capable of almost double the range. You can go even higher in amp hours with a lithium pack and upgrade up to 130, 160 or 180 amp hour packs.

While the standard lead acid battery powered golf cart offers around a 25-30 mile range.

A 180 amp hour pack in a golf cart is rated up to 70 miles.

Keep in mind that these range estimates put out by the manufacturers assume there is just one person driving the cart with no additional persons riding.

The two biggest factors that determine your range other than the amp hours are, the weight added to the cart (think people, bigger tires, lift kits, sound bars) and how the cart is driven.

Just like with a gasoline powered car and the range of one gas tank, the way the cart is driven will greatly affect the range.

You can give two people the exact same cart to drive for a day and the miles driven at the end of the day once the charge is exhausted can vary as much as 10-15 miles. The heavier the foot, the shorter the range.

What about the maintenance?

To better understand why lithium ion stands out, we must cover the maintenance required by the traditional lead acid battery set up. Lead acid batteries contain flooded cells inside. These flooded cells must remain completely submerged in distilled water. If not completely submerged, the batteries will go bad. This means that monthly water level checks are required in order to properly maintain them. While the maintenance is not difficult and can be carried out by a lay person, it is an additional chore. When owning a lithium ion powered cart, there is no such maintenance required. Just make sure the battery is charged and you are good to go.

A Lithium Ion battery pack installed on a cart

How about the time it takes to fully charge the battery?

While the standard lead acid battery takes around 8-9 hours to charge. A lithium ion battery only takes 2-3 hours to fully charge. When equipped with an on-board charger, this means that you can easily plug in to a regular 110 outlet and charge up even when you are not at home provided you can find an available outlet.

What about the life cycle?

While the lead acid set up lasts on average 4-6 years, depending on how its maintained, the lithium ion batteries are rated up to 5,000 charges per life cycle. If charged every day for a year that makes 365 charges. Now multiply that by ten years and you are still only up to 3,650 charges. While it is true that these numbers are merely projections because lithium ion has only been used in carts for just a few years, we have seen lithium batteries used in other products and they have been known to last 12 years or more.

What about the warranty?

The warranty reflects how confident the manufacturers are in the life cycle. Lead acid batteries come with a standard warranty of 1-2 years while Lithium ion batteries come with 5-8 year warranties depending on the manufacturer.

If I let the batteries sit for months at a time, is it bad for them?

While lead acid batteries lose a charge (around 35%) if left to sit for a long time and generally need to be used often to remain in good health, Lithium Ion batteries barely lose any at all (1-3%). Lithium Ion batteries should be left to sit charged at 50% when you anticipate that they won’t be used for weeks or months. After this time passes, when you come back it will still be holding a 50% charge (or very close to it). In contrast, the lead acid batteries lose a charge when sitting and generally speaking it is not good for their overall health to be left without using for long periods of time.

A cluster of lead acid batteries

What about the price?

The only draw back to going with lithium is the up front price. The standard Lithium ion battery will cost around $2,500 to replace while a set of lead acid batteries will run around $1,000. When you zoom out and factor in the life cycle though, the lithium ion battery ends up costing less. The price of the lithium batteries is trending lower (just a few years ago, they were double the price) so in the future, it should be even more affordable.

I have been told that you should not drain lithium batteries down to 0, is that true?

Yes, it is true but all of the Lithium battery manufacturers such as Roy Pow, EZ GO, Club Car, Trojan, Evolution, etc. come with a Battery Management System aka B.M.S. that will shut off the battery when it gets below a 20% charge. It would be dangerous to operate a cart with a lithium battery that does not have a B.M.S. so no matter which brand you go with, make sure that they have a B.M.S. component.

Let’s break it all down.

Life Cycle
Charge Time
Management System
Lead Acid
25-30 Mi.
4-6 Yrs
7-9 Hrs
>300~ lbs
1-2 Yrs
Check monthly
Lithium Ion
35-70 Mi.
12-15 Yrs
2-3 Hrs
<250~ lbs
5-8 Yrs

For an additional $1,500 dollars you get a lot of bang for your buck. Lithium batteries are lighter, more powerful, offer longer range, charge faster, require no maintenance, last longer and are even cheaper over their life span when compared to lead acid batteries. Is it worth it? Now that is up to you but if you ask me and our trusty mechanic Brock, we would both choose the Lithium Ion battery pack.

But what kind of golf cart does Brock use at home?

He opts for a gas cart.

Why is that? Find out in our next article on Gas vs. Electric carts!

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