Battery is a term that simply refers to two different metals dipped in an acid. Batteries do not offer electrical storage as many people think. However, batteries are able to generate electricity as a result of a chemical reaction which gives out stored potential chemical energy in the form of electrical energy.
The longer a golf cart battery lasts, the less its capacity gets. Capacity refers to the time a battery can continue to provide its intended amperes after being fully charged.
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How do you tell that your golf cart batteries are failing?
The following are possible symptoms that may act like warning signs for a failing battery or batteries.
- If your electric golf cart experiences “shuttering”, you can take it to mean that it has low voltage. “Shuttering” could also be an indication that your chargers are not functioning properly.
- Failure by the cart to start is also an indication of low battery voltage. Most golf carts will not move or start if voltage drops below a pre-programmed level.
- Fully charged batteries should be able to help your golf cart run for at least two full rounds of golf per charge. Therefore, your batteries could be having issues if you notice that your range has been significantly reduced.
How to Test a Golf Cart Battery Using a Hydrometer.
A hydrometer is used to test the state of charge of battery cells. It gives the measurement of electrolyte density through a specific gravity reading. A greater concentration of sulfuric acid means a denser electrolyte. The higher the density, the higher the state of charge. You need to correct the temperature of the hydrometer reading to 27°C before you begin using it. Sulfuric acid to water concentration in a new golf cart battery is 1:280. A battery that is fully charged will be around 1:277, while a battery that has been discharged will read in the range of 1:140. Different brands have different procedures for reading and using a hydrometer. However, the following general procedure applies.
- Draw electrolyte into the hydrometer several times to allow the thermometer to adjust to the temperature of electrolyte and note the reading. Observe also the electrolyte color. A gray or brown coloration shows that the end of your battery life is nearing.
- Draw the minimum quantity of electrolyte into the hydrometer that can allow the float to float freely without making any contact to the bottom or top of the cylinder.
- Hold the hydrometer vertically at eye level and take note of the reading where the scale of the float meets the electrolyte.
- For every 6°C the electrolyte is above or below 27°C, subtract or add four points to the reading. Make adjustment to the reading to fit in with the temperature of the electrolyte.
- Test each cell and determine the readings. A disparity of 50 points of reading between any two cells is an indication of a problem with the cells showing the low reading.
How Can I Test a Golf Cart Battery Using a Load Tester?
A load tester gives a more accurate result within a short period of time. A load tester for a battery is a heating coil of a simple DC that is connected to a volt meter. When connected to one battery, it indicates the battery’s voltage. It is provided with a button that you can depress if you want to complete a circuit for the heating coil making it to generate heat from resistance. This makes the battery loaded. Watching the behavior of this voltage under this load can give you insights regarding the conditions of the batteries.
A fully charged battery that is in good condition should only drop about 3 volts when loaded and remain at that level. Observation of a voltage drop greater than 5 volts is a symptom of a failing battery.
Using a Discharge Machine
Another method of testing a golf cart battery is the use of a discharge machine. This method is not very common because of how expensive discharge machines are. The discharge machine joins the main positive and negative leads of your battery bank. It consists of a heating coil just like the load tester to provide a seventy-five amp load throughout the batteries during discharge. The machine tells you the time, in minutes, the golf cart could move under a typical load of this level before reaching a depth of seventy-five percent.
A Golf Cart Battery Charger
How to test a golf cart battery charger is another question that troubles many people. Testing a battery charger is pretty simple. Simple tests like just turning on the battery charge to see if the battery is getting any charge work really well. You can also check the amount of power your battery generates by connecting a voltmeter to the positive and negative clamps of the charger. There is a needle on the voltmeter that moves from left to right to show the amps available. The extreme left means the battery has no power while the extreme right indicates maximum amperage.
Testing your golf cart batteries and chargers are important since you need to be aware of any issues that are present and possible solutions.