How often do you wake up to find that your golf cart batteries are completely dead? This is common when golf cart batteries are kept for long periods of time, especially in extreme winter. During the extended period of storage, batteries slowly discharge and eventually die.
Parasitic draw is another issue that drains the golf cart batteries even when the golf cart is not in use, or the key is turned off. It occurs when certain electrical components or systems within the golf cart continue to draw power from the battery when they are supposed to be inactive.
Trickle charging, or drip charging, is the most effective way to combat gradual battery drain. The trickle charger slowly and continuously charges the batteries, typically at a rate lower than the battery’s self-discharge rate. In this way, batteries maintain their charge levels despite not being used for a long time. This is why we recommend keeping the golf cart plugged in at all times when storing it for long periods of time.
Note: Trickle charging occurs when the battery is not in use.
Trickle Charging | Overview
As discussed above, trickle charging is a way to keep batteries fully charged by supplying a slow, gradual charge that compensates for battery discharge rates. Mostly, you will need trickle or drip charging for lead acid batteries stored for a long time. One important thing to remember here is that trickle chargers are not compatible with lithium batteries.
How Does Golf Cart Trickle Charger Work?
A trickle charger works by providing a continuous, low-level amperage, usually 1-3 amps, to a battery. It charges the battery slowly and steadily, minimizing self-discharge and maintaining its optimal charge level. Make sure to match the voltage of the battery.
This gradual charging process helps maintain the battery’s capacity and prevent it from becoming deeply discharged during periods of inactivity, ensuring the battery remains in good condition and ready for use when needed.
However, a trickle charger takes time, actually days, to fully charge the dead batteries. The purpose of these devices is not to recharge batteries but rather to maintain their charge.\
The only caution while using a trickle charger is not to overcharge batteries. People tend to use these chargers for extended periods of time, which is why overcharging is always a risk. However, smart trickle chargers shut off automatically when the battery is fully charged.
Trickle Charger Vs Regular Charger
How different are these trickle chargers from your regular golf cart battery charger? The main difference between a trickle charger and a regular charger is the amperage output. As stated above, the trickle charger delivers 1-3 amps, whereas the normal battery charger puts out anywhere between 1-50 amps for the corresponding charging mode.
Trickle Charger Vs Float Charger
A trickle charger is designed to charge a battery at a low and consistent rate, helping to maintain its charge without overcharging. It’s typically used for long-term storage or infrequently used vehicles.
A float charger differs from a trickle charger because it maintains a battery’s optimal voltage level by providing a constant voltage charge so that it won’t overcharge. It’s often used for batteries in standby applications, such as emergency power systems.
Trickle Charger Vs Jump Starter
A jump starter delivers a sudden and robust surge of power to revive a vehicle with a dead or low battery, enabling it to start and run. It’s a practical tool for immediate assistance in emergencies when a vehicle won’t start due to battery issues. In contrast, a trickle charger provides a slow and continuous charge to maintain a battery’s power over time.
Trickle Charging Vs Fast Charging
Fast charging is a rapid charging method that provides a high-speed energy transfer to quickly replenish a device’s battery, commonly used for smartphones and electric vehicles to minimize charging time. The battery is charged quickly as opposed to having a trickle charger that maintains the charge rather than recharging it quickly.
Trickle Charger Vs Battery Maintainer
A battery maintainer, also known as a battery tender, is more advanced. It monitors the battery’s condition. Unlike trickle chargers, it adjusts its charging rate accordingly, preventing overcharging. It’s ideal for long-term battery maintenance, preventing overcharging, and ensuring the battery remains in optimal condition. Battery maintainers are typically a better choice for preserving battery health over extended periods.
Main Types of Golf Cart Trickle Charger
Trickle chargers offer two primary options: smart and manual. Each type has distinct advantages and drawbacks, so let’s explore their characteristics.
Smart Trickle Chargers
Smart trickle chargers are great for battery maintenance. They’ve got built-in smarts that sense your battery’s charge level and act accordingly. It’s like having a personal assistant for your battery – they turn on and off as needed, making the whole process super efficient and user-friendly.
What’s more, smart trickle chargers often come with features like temperature compensation and thermal sensors. These technologies ensure your battery gets just the right amount of juice, preventing overcharging and undercharging. If you’re all about convenience and want your battery in top shape without lifting a finger, smart chargers are the way to go.
Ideally, a smart charger matches your battery’s self-discharge rate with the recharge amperage, keeping it fully charged during storage. Sure, they might cost a bit more upfront, but think of it as an investment. They’ll help your battery live its best, longest life, and that means savings in the long run.
Manual Trickle Chargers
Now, manual trickle chargers are simple and easy to use. They do a great job, too, but they need a bit of human intervention. You’ve got to keep an eye on things and disconnect the charger when your battery is full. It’s like babysitting – if you forget, there’s a risk of overcharging, and nobody wants that.
On the plus side, manual trickle chargers are budget-friendly. With proper care and attention, they’ll keep your battery humming along just fine. So, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind lending a helping hand to your battery from time to time, manual chargers are a solid choice.
When and How to Use Golf Cart Trickle Chargers
The use of a trickle charger is best suited when you are storing golf cart batteries for a long duration. These chargers are also useful for seasonal vehicles, as their batteries are used less frequently. By using the trickle charger, you ensure the battery remains in optimal condition, thereby extending its life and improving its performance.
Now comes the important question: How do you use trickle chargers for your golf cart batteries?
This process begins with selecting the right charger. Next, inspect the battery voltage and battery terminals. Turn on the switch and adjust the voltage that is compatible with the battery. Connect the black clip to the negative (-) terminal and the red clip to the positive (+) terminal of the battery. Finally, turn on the charger by plugging it into an outlet.
Trickle charging mode is present in some chargers that offer a minimum voltage required for maintaining the charge levels of the batteries. This charging mode is only suitable for small batteries with low current requirements.
How to Choose Golf Cart Trickle Charger
To choose the right trickle charger:
- Battery Type: Ensure the charger is compatible with your battery type (e.g., standard, AGM, gel cell).
- Amperage: Select an amperage suitable for your battery size; a rule of thumb is 10-20% of the battery’s capacity.
- Voltage: Ensure the charger matches the battery voltage.
- Smart vs. Manual: Decide between a smart charger for automated maintenance or a manual one if you prefer manual monitoring.
- Safety Features: Look for features like overcharge protection and automatic shutoff to prevent damage.
- Brand and Reviews: Choose reputable brands and read reviews to gauge reliability and performance.
- Application: Consider the intended use, whether it’s for a car, motorcycle, boat, RV, or other equipment.
- Budget: Balance features with your budget, as smart chargers may be pricier but offer added convenience.
Can I leave a trickle charger connected to a battery indefinitely?
Yes, you can leave a trickle charger connected to a battery for extended periods. However, it’s essential to use a smart trickle charger with features like automatic shutoff to prevent overcharging once the battery is fully charged.
Are trickle chargers suitable for all types of batteries?
Trickle chargers are generally suitable for various types of lead-acid batteries, including standard flooded, AGM, and gel cell batteries. However, it’s essential to check the charger’s compatibility with your specific battery type.
How long does it take to charge a battery with a trickle charger?
Trickle charging is a slow process and may take several hours or even days, depending on the battery’s size, state of charge, and the charger’s amperage rating. It’s not intended for rapid charging.
Can I use a trickle charger on a dead battery?
Trickle chargers are not designed to revive entirely dead batteries. They work best for maintaining a partially charged battery. If your battery is completely discharged, you may need a different type of charger or jump starter to bring it back to life.
The trickle charger is an essential tool when storing golf carts in the winter. This device compensates for the automatic discharge rates and, thereby, avoids any damage to the battery, leading to extended life. Even though trickle chargers are expensive devices, they are worth the investment.