How to Use a 12 Volt Battery on a Golf Cart

By Evan Strayer

woman hits wedge shot
A 12-volt deep cycle battery provides the power to start and propel an electric golf cart. Deep-cycle batteries are designed to be run down to as low as 20 percent of full power and recharged repeatedly. Because electric golf carts do not have an alternator to recharge the battery in use, as is the case with trucks and automobiles, a deep cycle battery is necessary to keep the cart running during a long afternoon on the course.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy
  1. Locate and install the battery in its compartment on the golf cart. Most batteries are located either under the front seat or at the back of the golf cart. Install the battery by raising the seat or compartment lid and lowering the battery gently into position.
  2. Connect the positive cable to the positive terminal and the negative cable to the negative terminal using pliers or a wrench to tighten the clamps. The terminals are designated + for positive and - (a minus sign) for negative.
  3. Smear petroleum jelly over the battery terminals and clamps to inhibit corrosion. Golf carts are constantly exposed to the elements, and moisture and humidity can seep inside the battery compartment. Petroleum jelly blocks water from getting on the terminals.
  4. Check the battery's charge rating, which is usually printed on top of the battery and can also be found in the paperwork that came with the 12-volt battery. The charge rating provides general guidelines for how long the battery will operated before a full discharge. Although a deep-cycle golf cart battery can be run down to as low as 20 percent of its power without damage, you'll get maximum life from the battery by discharging it to no less than 50 percent of full charge. For example, if the battery is rated to power a particular golf cart motor for 12 hours, it will actually reach 20 percent power in about 9 1/2 hours. The battery will drop to a 50 percent charge in roughly six hours.
  5. Connect the battery terminals to a re-charger when the battery reaches 50 percent discharge. The re-charging cycle brings the battery back to full power and also reduces the buildup of sulfur in the battery plates, which shortens the battery's life.
  6. Clean the battery terminals with a piece of steel wool when there is any buildup of white powder or discoloration. The steel wool ensures the terminals stay clean and make a good connection with the battery cables. Many a golfer has been stranded on the back 9 with a dead golf cart that would work if only the electricity could flow through corroded battery terminals.
  7. Remove the battery from the golf cart and keep it connected to the the re-charger when not in use. Set the re-charger to Trickle Charge to maintain full power if the battery will not be used for some time, such as during the winter when golfers are indoors dreaming about their next hole-in-one.

About the Author

Evan Strayer is an award-winning writer who began his career in 1994. Since then, he has written about stock markets, politics, the arts and popular entertainment. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University.