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    Battery Charging Basics

    • Cycle new batteries lightly (20% or less depth of discharge) the first few cycles. This helps complete the forming process of the plates (in case they are not completely finished forming).
    • Always allow batteries to "cool off" after charging. The cooling time is very important because heat is generated during the recharge and discharge cycles. Without the cooling time the heat grows, accelerating grid corrosion, which is one of the major causes of battery failure.
    • Opportunity charging (quick charging between uses) is detrimental to battery life. While it is true that the shallower the cycle, the more cycles the battery can deliver, opportunity charging is not good because the cooling time is eliminated, shortening life. (I.e. One charge cycle per day is preferable.)
    • Never charge a wet battery with a sealed (gel cell) battery charger. Use the charger that comes with the golf cart. The wet battery needs the higher voltages to finish the charge and without it, the batteries never come back to 100% and sulfation can occur.
    • Never let the electrolyte level of a wet battery fall below the plates. Lack of maintaining the electrolyte in a wet battery causes damage (sulfation) to the exposed portion of the plate, which reduces capacity.
    • Never store a battery in a discharged state. The sulfate that will form during discharge should not be ignored for an extended time period because severe sulfation takes place sometimes, making the battery impossible to recharge fully.
    • Always keep the tops and terminals of batteries clean and free of corrosion. The film on top of the battery can cause the current to migrate between the posts, accelerating self-discharge.
    • A fully charged battery will give you the best and longest service. Be sure the batteries are fully charged before testing or using your Golf Cart. A fully charged battery, without a drain or load, after the surface charge has dissipated, is: 
    • Always fill your Golf Cart deep cycle batteries with distilled water after they have been charged. If the electrolyte level is at least above the plates, do not fill the battery until after recharge. The electrolyte expands during charging and if you fill them before recharging, the electrolyte will possibly bubble out of the battery. The plates must be covered with electrolyte for recharge but be careful not to overfill.
    • Do not discharge Deep Cycle batteries below 50% State of Charge. If this happens, the State of Charge may be too low for the Charger to activate and charge the batteries. This will necessitate “jump starting” the battery(ies) with like-size batteries. In other words, a 48-Volt Golf Cart will need another 48-Volt system to jump start it and bring the charge up high enough so the Charger can take over and finish charging the system.
    • An overly discharged battery may need to be cycled a few times before it can recover fully. If a battery begins to heat before coming up to a full state of charge, it may be necessary to discharge the battery and recharge it a few times. This charge and discharge cycle may help the current acceptance of the battery and facilitate its recovery to a usable condition.
    • In situations where multiple batteries are connected in parallel, series or series/parallel, a replacement battery(ies) should be of the same size, age and usage level as the companion batteries. Do not put a new battery in a pack that has used 50 or more cycles. Either replace with all new or use a good used battery(s). The older batteries will draw down the performance and life expectancy of the new ones. The older the batteries are, the larger the negative impact they will have on the new batteries.
    • When replacing old batteries, it is good practice to replace the connecting cables at the same time. Corroded terminals connectors can be replaced but often times corrosion is hidden inside the insulation jackets of the cables. Corrosion will always increase resistance to electrical conductivity and excessive resistance will cause excessive heat.
    • Deep Cycle batteries need to be equalized periodically. Equalizing is an extended, low current charge performed after the normal charge cycle. It helps keeps cells in balance. Actively used batteries should be equalized once per week. Manually timed chargers should have the charge time extended about 3 hours. Automatically controlled chargers should be unplugged and reconnected after completing a charge cycle. Newer Smart Chargers will often have an Equalization Cycle programmed into it.
    • As batteries age, their maintenance requirements change. Generally, their specific gravity is higher. Gassing voltage goes up. This means longer charging time and/or higher finish rate (higher amperage at the end of charge). Usually, older batteries need to be watered more often. And, their capacity decreases.
    • Inactivity can be harmful to deep cycle batteries. If they sit for several months, a "boost" charge should be given; more frequently in warm climate (about once a month) than in cold (every 2-3 months). This is because batteries discharge faster at higher temperatures than at colder temperatures.
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    The Case of the Pickled Battery

    It does not happen often but every once in awhile we get a question that just plain stumps us.  Recently, a Customer called late on a Friday, just before closing, with a question that left us scratching our heads.  Apparently, he was doing his monthly water service maintenance on his batteries and he accidently grabbed the “Distilled Vinegar” jug instead of the “Distilled Water” one.  Oops!  He used his battery water fill system and poured about ½ cup of vinegar into the batteries before he caught his mistake.  He knew it was wrong and stopped immediately but wanted to know how much damage he may have done to his batteries.  So he called us.

    When we answered, he explained his situation and we answered with, “Huh?”  He explained some more and again we responded, “Huh?”  At the end of the story, we summarized our answer with, “Huh, we never heard that one before.”  So we called our Battery Supplier and got the exact same responses.  So he called the Battery Manufacturer and got pretty much the same “shoulder shrugs”.  Fortunately, the Engineers were still at work that evening and were able to come up with an answer after a bit of thought and analysis.

    Bottom line … Vinegar is bad for the battery.  It shortens the life expectancy, decreases performance and endurance, and voids any applicable warranties.  DON’T DO IT!

    If you like Chemistry, here’s a little bit of the “why” to explain the situation.  Battery Water is an electrolyte made up from Sulfuric Acid and Distilled Water.  It is the “engine” that drives the process of transferring and storing electrons onto the Lead Plates within the battery when electrical current is applied during the charging process.  When batteries are being discharged, such as while driving or turning on lights, fans, radios, etc., the Lead Plates will discharge electrons and absorb the electrolyte as they lose electrons.  Basically, the Lead Plates act like sponges.  This is not a perfect analogy but hopefully you get the idea.  If there are contaminates in the Electrolyte, such as Vinegar, then the ability of the Lead Plates to absorb the Electrolyte is decreased.  Essentially, the Acetic Acid (Vinegar is mostly water with about 5% Acetic Acid) corrodes and damages the Lead Plates (Acetic Acid is very corrosive to metals).  This decreases the available volume of lead to absorb Electrons during the Charging process.  Charging the batteries reverses the process and pushes Electrolyte out of the Lead Plates and back into the battery casing while allowing electrons to again migrate onto the Lead Plates.  But the damage to the Lead Plates from the Acetic Acid remains and the damage will increase over the remaining Charge/Discharge Cycle life of the batteries.

    The other question our Customer had was, “What do I do about it?”  Another great question which we deferred to our Subject Matter Experts.

    Just in case you were thinking that all you would have to do to fix the problem is to dump out the contaminated battery acid and start fresh.  In a word … DON’T.  Sulfuric Acid is dangerous to work with even while paying attention to proper safe handling, storage, and disposal procedures.  Mixing the Acid and Water to the correct ratio is also a specific science.  And you must be very careful even just servicing your batteries.  We do not have the facilities to store or dispose of Sulfuric Acid safely so we refer any such issues to our Supplier.  Once you use the batteries, even just once, the damage is already done.

    The recommendation we received was to go ahead and use the batteries normally and try to get as much life out of them as possible.  Since the warranty is already voided, it does not make a lot of economic sense to just dispose of them and start over.  Some of the Acetic Acid will “boil off” along with the water during normal Charge and Discharge Cycles and should lessen additional damage (but not reverse) over time.  When you decide that Performance and Endurance are no longer satisfactory, then that will be the time to change out your batteries.

    In summary, what does this all mean to you, the Driver?  Fewer electrons stored on the batteries, means shorter run times.  Restricted flow of electrons due to contamination means slower speeds.  Corrosion of the Lead Plates means a shorter life expectancy.

    Lessons Learned:

    GOOD : Only use Distilled (contaminate free) Water

    BETTER: Service at least once a month so that the batteries have the proper mixture of Distilled Water and Sulfuric Acid that completely covers the Lead Plates

    BEST: Remember that Distilled Water will “boil off” during normal usage (Charging and Discharging) and you may need to check your water levels more frequently depending on usage

    NOTE: We used this story with our Customer’s permission. We sincerely appreciate his candor and honesty. We all learned something, including our “Experts”.

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    Yamaha Recalls Golf Carts

    Do you own a Yamaha cart? This popular brand has an active recall alert – make sure you take a look at the full article to see if you’re affected.
    You should contact the nearest Yamaha dealer, as they will do the repair for free.

    Link to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission 

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    Charge at Night - Water in the Morning

    Battery Manufacturers recommend leaving your cart plugged in and charging every night after you finished using it for the day. Modern chargers and On Board Computers (OBC's) will shut off automatically either when they are done charging or timed out. The charging process heats up the water/acid solution (electrolyte) and forces the electrolyte that has been absorbed by the battery's lead plates back into solution. By charging the batteries first, the liquid electrolyte will be at the highest possible level before adding more water. 

    • If low, then add Distilled Water (only Distilled Water) until just below the fill port of each cell. You should see about 1/4" to 1/2" of electrolyte above the lead plates. 
    • If you can see water up into the circular part of the Fill Ports, your cell is over-filled. 
    • If you over-fill the cells or fill prior to charging, there is a chance that the mixture will overflow through the Vent Holes in the Cell Caps, since the electrolyte typically boils while it is charging or while driving your cart. 
    • If the cells over-flow, then there is a strong potential for it to drip and damage your Battery Compartment Metal Tray (some manufacturers use plastic trays to minimize damage) or damage the finish on your garage floor. 
    • You can rinse off any spillage with plain water from a hose (don't forget to put the caps back on your batteries before rinsing ... remember ONLY Distilled Water goes into the batteries) but keep in mind that what you are rinsing off is "acid" whether it is still in liquid form or has left a dried-off residue. 
    • Be sure to rinse off somewhere where the run-off does not cause damage (such as to your lawn or driveway). 
    • Do not use the Spray Nozzle on your hose. The high-velocity spray may cause the acid to spatter and damage the finish on your cart, or eat holes in your clothes, or injure your eyes or other body parts.

    We are frequently asked how much Distilled Water should normally be needed when doing your monthly water maintenance? 
    The answer is, "it depends". Generally speaking, about 1/2 to 1 gallon is fairly typical. If you need more than 1 gallon, then you waited too long. You will need to do your maintenance more frequently than once a month. You should NEVER look into the battery cells and see the tops of the lead plates above the electrolyte level. This is the one exception to the rule, "Charge at night / water in the morning". If the tops of the plates are exposed to air, then your battery is "DRY" and you should add Distilled Water before charging. Just be mindful of spillage and take appropriate precautions.

    Lastly and with emphasis, be careful! 
    You are working with acid and it can hurt either you, your cart, or its surroundings if you ignore common sense and the Battery Manufacturer's Safety Protocols. Wear protective clothing and gear, service your cart regularly, and be absolutely sure to enjoy your cart as frequently as possible.

    Masterbilt Golf Carts
    904-644-8790
    info@masterbiltgolfcarts.com
    www.masterbiltgolfcarts.com

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    Hurricane Florence approaching

    Stay safe and dry the coming days as hurricane Florence is approaching the east coast. 

    Disconnect the batteries prior to an anticipated flooding event, and move battery to higher ground if possible.

    After the storm, allow the cart to thoroughly dry inside and out. Have it inspected by a trained professional before reconnecting and applying power.

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