Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

marsofoldmarsofold Solar Expert Posts: 42 ✭✭
Bought my six Johnson Controls golf cart batteries at Sam's Club three years ago. Other than a handful of discharges to the 75% SOC just to test them, they are almost virgin. Verified again today that they'll still run my 3/4HP well pump through my 6-Kilowatt MSW inverter & a GE-1.5Kw 120v:240v Transformer. How much more lifespan should I reasonably expect to get out of them?

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,837 admin
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    From the Deep Cycle Battery FAQ:
    [h=2]Lifespan of Batteries[/h] The lifespan of a deep cycle battery will vary considerably with how it is used, how it is maintained and charged, temperature, and other factors. In extreme cases, it can vary to extremes - we have seen L-16's killed in less than a year by severe overcharging and water loss, and we have a large set of surplus telephone batteries that sees only occasional (10-15 times per year) heavy service that were just replace after 35+ years. We have seen gelled cells destroyed in one day when overcharged with a large automotive charger. We have seen golf cart batteries destroyed without ever being used in less than a year because they were left sitting in a hot garage or warehouse without being charged. Even the so-called "dry charged" (where you add acid when you need them) have a shelf life of 18 months at most. (They are not totally dry - they are actually filled with acid, the plates formed and charged, then the acid is dumped out).
    These are some typical (minimum - maximum) typical expectations for batteries if used in deep cycle service. There are so many variables, such as depth of discharge, maintenance, temperature, how often and how deep cycled, etc. that it is almost impossible to give a fixed number.
    • Starting: 3-12 months
    • Marine: 1-6 years
    • Golf cart: 2-7 years
    • AGM deep cycle: 4-8 years
    • Gelled deep cycle: 2-5 years
    • Deep cycle (L-16 type etc): 4-8 years
    • Rolls-Surrette premium deep cycle: 7-15 years
    • Industrial deep cycle (Crown and Rolls 4KS series): 10-20+ years.
    • Telephone (float): 2-20 years. These are usually special purpose "float service", but often appear on the surplus market as "deep cycle". They can vary considerably, depending on age, usage, care, and type.
    • NiFe (alkaline): 5-35 years
    • NiCad: 1-20 years

    So much depends on how well you treat them (and mfg. choices/quality/age/etc.)--It is a gamble. Treat them nice, and keep money in the bank account in case "something bad" happens.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    I'm on year 12 (maybe 13)on a set that was used daily for 9 with 20% max discharge. Now they are on a small array, with very limited loads,, a couple of lights and a fridge igniter a few months a year.

    My "main set" is in year 5 and still tests fine. I budgeted for 5, expect to get 8 and hope to get 10 years.

    Tony
  • marsofoldmarsofold Solar Expert Posts: 42 ✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question
    icarus wrote: »
    I'm on year 12 (maybe 13)on a set that was used daily for 9 with 20% max discharge. Tony

    Thanks. I feel a bit better about mine now. I was hoping to avoid buying a forklift battery or two. The Crown forklift battery I was considering weighs 700 Lbs and I'm not sure that I could slide it down my cellar steps without the steps buckling. But there's no other way down there. Anyone have any experience with such things?
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 4,253 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    My Sam's Club 'Energizer' 6Volt golf cart batteries lasted 5 years, being abused for the last 4 summers, regularly run down to 50% capacity running an Air conditioner. I only expected and would only expect them to last 3-5 years in use after 5 years I'd think bonus years(I really thought after 3 years in my situation) 3 strings of 2 might make it a bit harder to maintain them. I had 1 string of 4 for most of their life.

    I switched to a 1100lb fork lift battery after and it took some time and good levers to move it 12 feet into my outside battery box.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, ForkLift battery. Off grid for @13 of last 14 years. 1000 watts being added to current CC, @2700 watts to be added with an additional CC.
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    Most battery manufacturers define a dead battery as one with only 80% of its rated capacity. In a typical RE application a dead battery may live for a few more years.

    I'm still on my first set of batteries (almost 3 years). Question for those who've had a few sets of batteries: When do you decide that your batteries are dead and need replacement?

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question
    vtmaps wrote: »
    Most battery manufacturers define a dead battery as one with only 80% of its rated capacity. In a typical RE application a dead battery may live for a few more years.

    I'm still on my first set of batteries (almost 3 years). Question for those who've had a few sets of batteries: When do you decide that your batteries are dead and need replacement?

    --vtMaps

    When they won't do the job anymore.
    This usually means they will not get from one charge period to the next under typical conditions (i.e. you have to start the gen at night because they've gone flat, you have to start it in the morning because they won't last 'til the sun does its thing, et cetera).
  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 361 ✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    My oldest set is 5 1/2 years old. They're getting tired according to the hydrometer.

    Old batteries:

    dscn7258.jpg

    The newer batteries:

    dscn7260.jpg

    A close-up of the meter:

    dscn7261.jpg

    So the older batts are ~ 1.25. Roughly 85% capacity remaining. The new ones are at 100%.

    These batteries live in a hot garage in FL, and have never been below 50%. I expected to get 5 years of useable life out of them. Not a bad deal for less than $80 batteries. I'll continue to monitor them. They might get replaced towards the end of the year. When these reach about 75-80%, I'll get another set from Sam's Club.

    Important to note the older batteries need watering more frequently than the newer ones.
  • CDN_VTCDN_VT Solar Expert Posts: 491 ✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    I can't post a like / point / whatever Robert , But i do enjoy your posts, toyz ;) .
    Great info Sir!

    VT
  • DillDill Solar Expert Posts: 170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    Robert, where did you get your hydrometer?
  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 361 ✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question
    Dill wrote: »
    Robert, where did you get your hydrometer?

    For $30-$40, you can buy one exactly like it online.

    I found mine at Ace Hardware for about $5.00. I've tried the ones from places like Wallyworld with the little floating plastic balls, hated those. Very inconsistant readings. This one has been very reliable. I do take the rubber bulb off the end and gently flush the inside of the glass tube and the bulb with the garden hose when finished taking readings. Nitrile gloves and a faceshield are also good things to have on hand when working with batteries. I keep a box of baking soda nearby too, just in case there's a spill.
  • 2manytoyz2manytoyz Solar Expert Posts: 361 ✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question
    CDN_VT wrote: »
    I can't post a like / point / whatever Robert , But i do enjoy your posts, toyz ;) .
    Great info Sir!

    VT

    Thanks much. I get good info here, just sharing a little of what I know in turn.
  • CDN_VTCDN_VT Solar Expert Posts: 491 ✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    Same here.
    I use a Imperial Eastman battery hydrometer from the 70's Glass & it has a temperature thermometer and correction factor off the temp reading.
    OLD , gets cleaned as you said and then put back into its storing box. (safety as Toyz posted is as important, eye & sparks)

    I'm glad you posted the pictures , so many who surf & drop into to read, they now get to see a unit in operation. I hate the hassle , and do take my time using such a tool. This as in quality meters makes the difference.

    VT
    Also good info in your checking also.
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    Sorry for butting in with a newb question, but when checking the SG, is it necessary to disconnect the CC and loads from the battery?

    Thx
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question
    Rybren wrote: »
    Sorry for butting in with a newb question, but when checking the SG, is it necessary to disconnect the CC and loads from the battery?

    Thx

    Nope.
    Good idea to be in a "low activity" state, though; lots of battery bubbling can put gas bubbles into the hydrometer that then stick to the float and give false readings by making it more buoyant.
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    Thanks!

    It looks as though the battery in my system (at my recently purchased camp) has never had the SG tested or had water added to it. The stickers over the caps are still intact!
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    Oops! Check the water yesterday if not sooner!

    Then check the SG ASAP.

    Tony
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    Will check it out this weekend when I head up there. The good news is (I think) that the battery must be in relatively decent shape - I measured 12.75V at the crack of dawn before the sun was above the hills.

    How is life in the Quetico region? Back in the late 70's/early 80's (in my much younger days) I did some bush flying out in your neck of the woods. I was mostly west of you, based in Nestor Falls, but did a bit out of Shebandawan(sp?). I do miss being in that part of the country. Living in the city just isn't the same.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    Who did you fly for at Shebandowan? Not very far away,, I probably saw you fly over a tie or two.

    Life is good,, been a bit warm. That said, I ahv been spending a lot of time away this year,, on the NW coast, and the Maritime coast of Maine. I should make it back home again after the first of Sept.

    T
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    At the time, I was actually flying with Confederation College out of Thunder Bay. We would base a couple of planes at Shebandowan for a couple of months in the summer. IIRC, we were colocated with Shebandowan Air. I then went on to fly with Northwestern Flying service in Nestor Falls and then Sportmen's Outfitting up in Armstrong. Then I saw the light and joined the Air Force.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    We often can see the Con.College students doing thier night cross countries from YQT to Atikokan going by on our south horizon sometimes in the winter, usually in groups of 3 or 4.

    Armstrong,,you aren't at the edge of the earth, but you can see it from there. the Hotel North on a Saturday night when the tree planters, native guides and loggers are all in town! Don't expect to sleep waiting for VIA! My dad flew a bit with OJ Weiban in the old days. I never got bitten by the bug, but everyone else in my family flew (or flies). I still entertain the idea of an ultra light on floats or skis, but somehow I don't think thats gonna happen. My favorite was flying around in a J-3 cub on a summer day with the doors open and my elbow hanging out,, you could dip a dring of water out the door.

    Thanks for the memories,

    Tony
  • RybrenRybren Solar Expert Posts: 348
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question

    I had it lucky in Armstrong - I first lived at the old air defence radar site and then later moved into the back of our office at MacKenzie Lake. When I was going to university, I did the tree planting thing, then managed to get on with the Fire Crews. We were based between Nipigon and Geralton, but had a satelite base in Armstrong. Spent many nights in the Hotel.

    I haven't flown anything in about 15 years, but like you, I keep thinking about those cubs or even an ultralight on floats. It's funny, as I was out fishing at the cabin last weekend, I was imagining myself coming in for a landing over the cottage.

    Like you said, good memories. I'd like to make it back up you way some day.
  • DMJ72DMJ72 Solar Expert Posts: 125
    Re: Golf Cart Battery Lifespan Question
    2manytoyz wrote: »
    My oldest set is 5 1/2 years old. They're getting tired according to the hydrometer.
    marsofold wrote: »
    Bought my six Johnson Controls golf cart batteries at Sam's Club three years ago. Other than a handful of discharges to the 75% SOC just to test them, they are almost virgin. Verified again today that they'll still run my 3/4HP well pump through my 6-Kilowatt MSW inverter & a GE-1.5Kw 120v:240v Transformer. How much more lifespan should I reasonably expect to get out of them?


    Sorry to bring back an old thread, but what charging parameters do you use for these batteries. All I have been able to get out of Johnson Controls/Energizer is that they should be equalised @ 7.8V for two hours.

    What Absorb voltage/duration and float voltage do you guys use? given your history with these batteries.
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