One of the most common questions I get from customers looking to purchase an electric golf car is “how far will my golf car go on a full charge?”
A 48V E-Z-GO RXV golf car with an AC motor and new(er) batteries will travel the following distances based on the stated factors:
- Trojan T-1275+ 12V batteries should run 102 minutes at 56 amps. The max range would be roughly 20.5 miles @ 12 miles/hour, or in golfing terms about 3 rounds or 54 holes.
- Trojan T-875 8V batteries should run 117 minutes @ 56 amps. The max range would be approximately 23.4 miles @ 12 miles/hr, or 3.3 rounds or 60 holes.
- 48V golf cars with DC motors (EZGO TXT, Club Car, Yamaha) generally will run 20% less distance. This is a function of the AC electric motor being more efficient than a DC motor.
The above figures are average range estimates. There are several factors involved in determining the range a golf car will go on a single charge.
The rest of the article will explore the various items that will influence the range you might expect to get.
What factors impact the run time of an electric golf car?
- Battery manufacturer
- Battery voltage
- Battery type (material- Lead Acid, AGM, Lithium)
- Age of battery
- Type of electric motor (AC or DC)
- Golf Car Controller
- Speed setting of golf car
- Tire pressure
- Driving terrain
Golf Car Battery Manufacturer – Not all golf car batteries are created equally.
There are many deep-cycle flooded lead-acid battery manufacturers in operation at a wide range of price points.
Golf car batteries are used for a fundamentally different application than a standard deep-cycle battery used for starting a vehicle, power storage, or powering small electric motors.
Some manufacturers market their deep-cycle batteries built for one application as being sufficient for operating a golf car, but when tested in a golf or neighborhood vehicle application, they usually suffer significant performance shortages.
Battery voltage – Smaller is better
Golf car batteries are generally build in three different sizes. 6V, 8V, and 12V. Usually, the run time on the battery is inversely related to the battery voltage rating.
Meaning, that a 48V golf car with 4 x 12V batteries will have a shorter run time than a 48V golf car with 6 x 8V batteries.
There are 3 main types of golf car batteries.
- Deep-cycle flooded lead-acid (FLA)
- Absorbed Glass-Mat (AGM) batteries
- Lithium-ion Batteries
Historically, the most common golf car battery was the “wet cell” FLA. The price and quality of this type of battery can vary significantly due to manufacturing materials and processes.
As is often the case, you typically get what you pay for.
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)
AGM or “sealed” batteries are often used in starter batteries for gas golf car and automobiles. They are maintenance free batteries, which is nice, unfortunately, they do not perform well as an electric golf car’s source of power.
In 2020, Yamaha Golf Cars announced that they are outfitting their electric golf cars with AGM batteries. Early tests are not encouraging.
The latest type of battery to hit the golf car market is the Lithium-ion battery.
Currently, the market leader in applying these batteries to golf cars is E-Z-GO. After extensive, multi-year, multi-vendor testing, they decided to use a Samsung-manufactured battery and Battery Management System (BMS).
Lithium battery-powered golf cars are the future. They are well suited to golf cars and automobiles. Maintenance-free, sealed, no gases or corrosion, long life, and no depth-of-discharge concerns.
The downside is that the batteries are fairly expensive relative to Lead acid.
Battery age has a significant impact on the performance and run time of golf car batteries, particularly with Flooded lead acid batteries.
Initially, a new set of batteries go through a “formatting” stage that will not give maximum capacity.
If the formatting stage completes correctly, the batteries will run at their peak performance for a period of time. After which, the run times will gradually decrease until they can no longer pass a “discharge” or specific gravity test.
Typically, it takes a fleet golf car 10-20 charging cycles to complete formatting.
At the end of the battery’s life (years 4-6), the golf car will struggle to finish 18 holes.
Type of Electric motor – AC/DC
Alternating Current or AC electric motors are a more powerful and more efficient technology that direct current or DC motors.
Tesla Motors began their electric car manufacturing by introducing an AC motor in their vehicles. The efficiency can be between 15-20% greater than DC. This impacts the run time of your golf car by a similar amount.
Golf Car Controller
The controller power rating also impacts the range of the golf car significantly. For example:
The E-Z-GO RXV has a max rated 235 Amp controller operating at a nominal 52V for a max 12,220 watts.
The new Club Car Tempo has a max rated 375 amp controller operating at a nominal 58V for a max 21,750 watts.
The larger the controller, the more power used from the batteries, which has the effect of drawing them down faster and reducing run time.
Speed of golf car – Less is more
When if comes to run time, the speed of your golf car is another major factor.
Consumer golf cars or personal transport vehicles (PTVs) often can have a top speed of 19.5 mph. This speed comes at the expense of the run time of your batteries. Golf courses usually have the speed of their fleets set at 12 – 15 mph.
Tire Pressure – what a drag.
Tire pressure can also significantly affect the driving time of your golf car and battery power. The tire pressure on a standard golf car tire should be inflated to 22 psi.
Under-inflated tires causes significantly more friction and drag, causing the golf car electric motor to work harder and pull more power from the batteries, thus reducing the driving time.
One last factor to consider is the terrain that the golf car will be driven on. Any terrain that limits the amount of work the golf car has to do will also limit the amount of power consumed from the batteries.
Terrain that has steep hills will require more power from the motor and from the batteries. Wet, soft ground will increase the drag on the golf car and limit the efficiency, causing the motor and batteries to supply more power.
Hard, flat terrain will extend the driving time of the batteries.