Can You Use 12-Volt Batteries Instead Of 6-Volt Batteries In Golf Carts?


Last Updated on January 24, 2023 by Chuck Wilson

Let’s face it… golf cart batteries are expensive. They are the number 1 highest cost item on an electric golf cart and need to be changed out every few years. Golf cart enthusiasts often try to cut corners when performing routine maintenance, and a $900 to $1400 hit is a real blow to the wallet.

Can you use 12-volt batteries instead of 6-volt batteries in your 36-volt cart? Yes, you can. You must, however, use a deep cycle battery and not automotive batteries. The 12-volt starting battery you have in your car is a shallow discharge type. It is designed to deliver a high amperage burst of power to start a car and not as a long, steady electric source.

You will also need to confirm that your speed control and battery charger are compatible with this change. A quick review of the specs and manufacturer’s suggestions will be in order. In most cases, the battery charger will not be an issue unless there is a large variance with amperage.

What Are The Differences Between 12-Volt And 6-Volt Batteries?

Other than the obvious difference in voltage, 6-volt flooded lead-acid batteries have an advantage over the 12-volt flooded lead-acid batteries.
6-volt batteries are built with heavier lead plates in each cell and usually have longer lifespans than 12-volt batteries. They can last from four to eight years, depending on maintenance, type, and use of the battery. 6-volt batteries also weigh less than 12-volt batteries, which makes them better for lowering the burden on your golf cart.

On a 36-volt system, three 12-volt batteries have a combined voltage of 36, just like six 6-volt batteries do.

There are four battery types available for golf carts:

  • Flooded Lead Acid Batteries (filled with water)
  • AGM Lead Acid Batteries.
  • Gel-Cell Batteries.
  • Lithium-Ion Batteries

What Are The Pros And Cons Of 6-Volt Batteries Compared To 12-Volt Batteries?

Pros of A 6-volt Lead-Acid Battery

  • They can last longer than 12-volt batteries – As stated before, a properly maintained battery will last anywhere between 4 and 8 years, as opposed to a 12-volt lasting between 3 and 7 years.
  • They have a bigger Amp Hour Rating– An Amp Hour is the amount of current a battery can supply for a certain period of time. Compared to 12-volt batteries, the 6-volt battery will run your cart longer and farther.
  • They have a larger discharge and recharge capacity – 6-volt batteries can discharge and recharge more often than 12-volt batteries, owing to the larger lead plates.
  • The bigger the Amp-Hour on a 12-volt, the larger it gets – Going for a larger Amp-Hour rating on a 12-volt to compensate for the difference with the 6-volt means that it may not fit the current battery box you have.

Cons of A 6-volt Lead-Acid Battery

  • A 6-volt battery is more expensive than a 12-volt battery – Depending on your expectations of performance and battery life, a 12-volt battery will be a cheaper purchase price.
  • A 6-volt battery is harder to find than a 12-volt battery – if you need the battery in a hurry, or you have some sort of emergency, a 12-volt deep-cycle will be easier to locate quickly.

What About A Marine Battery?

Sometimes, people find a great deal on Marine Batteries, or they are well stocked nearby and easy to obtain. Since they are also cheaper, can they be used to replace your golf cart batteries?

It is technically possible to use Marine Batteries in place of your golf cart batteries, but, as always, there are disadvantages.

  • A Marine battery needs to be replaced more often – On average, it is necessary to replace them anywhere from one or two years to seven years. The manufacturer’s quality makes that much of a difference in longevity.
  • They have lower Amp-Hour capacity compared to the golf cart brands – Like the standard deep-cycle 12-volts discussed earlier, the plates are larger and fewer, thus lowering the range and battery capacity of your vehicle on a full charge. 
  • Marine batteries are manufactured with lower quality components – Golf cart batteries are designed specifically for that one application, and the internal components tend to be higher quality.

How To Convert A 36 Volt System Golf Cart From Six 6-Volt Batteries To Three 12-Volt Batteries 

Switching over to a three 12 volt battery configuration is relatively easy, with the only hard part putting the new batteries into the original battery box. if you’ve taken the proper measurements and everything is going to fit in there well, here are the steps to converting over to 3 12 volt batteries: 

Step 1

Naturally, you are going to want to disconnect and remove the old 12-volt bank. Remove the positive terminal from the battery set first, then remove the negative lead. Retain the jumpers between the batteries to be reused.

Step 2

Taking care to keep the batteries close enough so that the jumper cables between them can reach, place the batteries in the battery boxes. Arrange the batteries to the best fit and secure them to the frame.

Step 3

Connect the jumper between the batteries, using the negative to the positive on batteries 1, 2, and 3. 

Step 4

Connect the positive lead from the golf cart to the positive post on battery number one, and place the negative lead to the negative terminal on battery 3. 

Step 5

If your electrical accessories and solenoids are operating on an18-volt tap, an important factor to consider is you will need to use a step-down from batteries 1 and 2. It is possible that the solenoids will operate with just 12-volts, but it is something to consider.

In Conclusion:

Saving money on your 36-volt cart maintenance may seem to be an important factor in the short term, but remember that you may end up spending the cash later on down the cart path. Always plan ahead.

Examples of the batteries physical properties and price differences

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Chuck Wilson

With years of expertise in both electrical and mechanical drafting, Chuck Wilson brings a unique skill set to the world of golf cart maintenance and documentation. This dual background allows for a deep understanding of the intricate systems that make golf carts run efficiently. Leveraging this knowledge, Chuck has spent several years specializing in golf cart upkeep, from routine servicing to complex schematic documentation.

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