Golf Car Battery
Corona, CA – A routine maintenance schedule can dramatically improve the life of your golf car's batteries
By Fred Wehmeyer, Senior Vice President of Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing
Golf courses and businesses that incorporate a fleet of golf cars know that extending the service life of the deep-cycle batteries powering their fleet can significantly lower annual operating costs. So it makes sense to implement some of these same techniques to extend the battery life of your own golf car batteries and save some money in the long run.
Whether you use your golf car year-round or seasonally while you are on vacation, the best way to extend the life of the batteries is to conduct a routine maintenance schedule.
1) Safety is of paramount importance, so be sure to wear gloves and eye protection and work in a well ventilated area. Turn off the charger and any electrical loads when servicing batteries.
2) Open the battery compartment of your golf car and check to make sure the vent caps on top of the batteries are properly seated. The vent caps contain spark arrestors to help prevent ignition of gases in and around the batteries. Always keep them in place except during watering.
3) Clean corroded terminals with a solution of baking soda and water to neutralize any stray acid. When brushing the terminals, use a wire brush with a wooden or plastic handle to prevent accidental arcing. Then rinse the area with water and dry with a clean cloth.
4) Check the terminal connections to ensure they are tight but never over tighten the connections. Recommended terminal torque is 100 inch-pounds or just 15-18 pounds on the end of a 6 inch wrench. That should be just enough torque to fully compress the split ring lock washer. Again, use insulated tools or wrap them with electrical tape to prevent accidental arcing. Use of a corrosion inhibitor or silicone spray on the terminals will help resist corrosion.
5) Check the electrolyte levels of the batteries every two to four weeks depending on use. Some electrolyte is lost after each charge cycle, so it's important to make sure the electrolyte is at the proper level; about 1/4 inch below the bottom of the fill-well.
6) Add water as necessary following these important procedures: a) Always charge the battery before watering but make sure the electrolyte covers the plates before charging. b) Use caution when removing the vent caps to prevent acid splatter. c) Use only distilled or deionized water. d) Use a watering gun or pitcher to fill each cell to prevent over-watering (never use a water hose). e) Water all cells evenly and replace the battery vent caps assuring each one is properly installed and seated.
7) After the first discharge and recharge after watering and once every 30 days during regular use, perform an equalization charge to mix the electrolyte. An equalization charge is an extended charge after the normal charge has completed. It causes additional gassing in the electrolyte which is essential for mixing the electrolyte to prevent electrolyte stratification. Stratification is a build-up of stronger acid at the bottom of the battery that can reduce battery life. Make sure to check the battery manufacturer's recommendations for proper charging to make sure the correct charger is being used.
a.) If your charger is equipped with an automatic equalizing mode, make sure the charger is connected and powered up long enough to complete a full equalization charge.
b.) If your charger is not equipped with an automatic equalization mode, assure the charger has completed a full charge and then restart the charger by disconnecting AC power and reconnecting. The charger should restart and extend the charge time by 1-3 hours.
Make these maintenance procedures routine and you'll see a dramatic increase in the life of your golf car's batteries as well as their overall performance.
Editor's Note: Fred Wehmeyer is the Senior VP of Engineering at U.S. Battery Manufacturing and has a BS Degree in Electrochemistry as well as over 40 years of experience in the battery industry.
For additional information on U.S. Battery's OSP™ battery design for Renewable Energy applications, visit www.usbattery.com.