How to Charge a Golf Cart with Solar Panels?
Want to drive your solar golf cart up to the 18th hole without needing to plug it in?
You should learn how to use solar panels to charge it.
Adding solar panels to your golf cart is a brilliant idea that’ll allow you to charge it with free solar energy and run it for a long time while reducing maintenance costs significantly.
- 1 How to Charge a Golf Cart with Solar Panels?
- 1.1 Can you Charge a Golf Cart with Solar Power?
- 1.2 What Golf Carts can be powered with Solar?
- 1.3 Buying Solar Golf Cart Kits
- 1.4 Voltage rating of your golf cart’s battery
- 1.5 How to Hook up a Solar Panel to a Golf Cart (A Step-wise Guide)
- 1.6 Custom-made Solar Roofs for Golf Carts
- 1.7 Can Solar Golf Carts be bought as a Complete System?
- 1.8 Benefits of solar golf carts over solar golf cart kits/ solar golf cart roofs
- 1.9 Cost of solar golf carts
- 1.10 Benefits of Charging a Golf Cart with Solar Panels
- 1.11 Solarize your Golf Cart Today
The best part?
You can do it all by yourself, nothing is complicated about charging a golf cart with solar panels and if anything, you’ll know how to do it in this guide.
If you’ve been wondering whether:
- it’s possible to power up a golf cart with solar panels
- there’re any golf buggy models designed specifically to be powered by solar
- you can power up just about any club car with solar power,
I’m writing this post for you as well.
Can you Charge a Golf Cart with Solar Power?
With a solar golf cart charging kit, you can convert your electric golf cart to solar. Getting to the bottom of this requires first understanding what drives a golf cart.
Golf carts are powered by a rechargeable battery in most cases, lead-acid. Some golf carts are equipped with Lithium-ion batteries or Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries.
A golf cart’s battery is usually charged by plugging it into a power source. The charge powers the golf cart for a certain distance until it discharges. After this, the battery is recharged by plugging it in again.
Having said that, solar panels come in after a golf cart battery has been recharged. They boost the charge of your golf cart battery, extending its runtime and thus the time it takes to call for a recharge.
What Golf Carts can be powered with Solar?
Any golf cart will be powered with solar as long as its battery is solar-rechargeable.
A solar panel can charge all the batteries mentioned above (lead-acid, lithium-ion, and AGM), so yes, almost all golf carts can be powered with solar. And aren’t these the batteries we use in a typical solar power system?
Knowing this, we can now explore the solar conversion kits that you can use for your golf cart.
Buying Solar Golf Cart Kits
To proceed with this DIY project, there’re some essentials you’ll need. A good solar panel charger kit for golf carts should include most if not all the items you’ll need:
- Charge controller
- Wiring/cabling and
So, what factors should you consider when selecting a solar golf cart kit?
Voltage rating of your golf cart’s battery
Most golf cart batteries are 36V or 48V. This will help you know the size and number of solar panels you need. If, for example, the available solar panels are 18V, you’ll need 2 for a 36V and 3 for a 48 V solar golf cart battery.
A higher voltage solar panel may work with any charge controller. However, a lower voltage module will need a booster controller to step up the power to the right voltage needed to charge the battery.
A perfect example of a booster controller for low voltage solar panels is the Genasun GV-Boost. With this solar charge controller, you can use 12 to 24V solar panels to charge 36V and 48V batteries.
All in all, proper sizing of the solar panels is crucial for this project. In fact, if your golf cart size allows, it’s cheaper to acquire several PV modules than a booster controller.
The roof size of your golf cart
It may be possible to size solar panels to fit your club car’s battery, but if the roof doesn’t allow for them, you may need to reconsider.
The good thing, though, you can still use a less powerful solar panel with a booster MPPT, as discussed above.
Your golf cart model
Solar golf cart kits aren’t all made equal, so you should make sure the one you are getting will charge your club car.
To give you some ideas of the golf cart kits you might want to buy, here are 2 popular brands of solar golf carts, along with their average price:
- Enervolt – 180W, 48V solar golf cart kit- $779
- Powerfilm – 45W, 48V- $995
You can find a solar golf cart kit in eCommerce stores, as well as at local solar equipment stores.
One great advantage of solar cart kits is that they work with any off-road all-terrain vehicle, not just a golf buggy.
How to Hook up a Solar Panel to a Golf Cart (A Step-wise Guide)
A refresher of what your golf cart kit will come with:
- A solar panel
- Connector extension cable
- Charge controller
- Battery terminal connector
Basic additional tools needed:
- A sharpie
- ⅛’’ bit drill
- Nut driver
- Cable ties
Average installation time: 10-30minutes
Follow these simple steps to charge your electric golf cart with solar:
1. Put the solar panels on the roof of your golf cart, ensuring that it fits perfectly. Also, make sure that the pigtail connector extends to the back end of your golf cart.
2. Use a sharpie to make marks where each snap makes contact with the golf cart roof.
3. Remove the solar panel from the top of the golf cart.
4. Drill a hole on each of the marked spots using the ⅛’’ bit drill.
5. Take the self-tapping snaps provided in the kit and screw them into the drilled holes using a screwdriver.
6. Place the solar panel back onto the top of the golf cart and snap it into place.
7. Connect the extension cable to the pigtail connector extending from the back of the golf cart.
8. Run the extension cable (use the cable ties) to the golf cart’s seat base.
9. Fix the charge controller on the base floor of the golf cart using self-tapping nut screws.
10. Remove the nuts on the positive and negative terminals of the golf cart’s battery (use the nut driver), fix the positive and negative ends of the battery terminal connector, and screw them in place.
11. Wire the charge controller on one end to the single terminal of the battery connector wire.
12. Snap the end of the connector extension cable to the other end of the charge controller to complete the solar panel & charge controller battery connection.
Caution: Avoid connecting your golf cart’s battery directly to the solar panel, as doing so may put it at the risk of overcharging and possibly damage.
Custom-made Solar Roofs for Golf Carts
Do you feel like the procedure above is complicated or have no time to do it as a DIY, there’s an alternative option for you, custom-made solar roofs.
You just need to ask a solar EV systems manufacturer to make a solar top that matches your golf cart roof.
A custom-made solar roof should be designed in a way that it’ll provide the power needed to charge your solar cart battery.
Just like a typical solar golf cart kit, a custom-made solar roof for a golf cart will have the assembled solar panels, an MPPT charge controller or charge booster, and the wiring is already done on the solar board.
The price of a premade solar roof is similar to that of a solar golf cart kit, only that you’ll have to pay a small assembly fee. You should agree on this amount with your solar EV systems company early enough to know what you’ll pay in the long run.
A solar roof for a golf cart is a must-have for anyone who’s not a fan of DIYs but wants to reduce the charging frequency of the club car.
Please note: Even with the premade solar golf cart roof, you’ll still need to screw the board in place and connect it to the golf cart’s battery.
Can Solar Golf Carts be bought as a Complete System?
Have you just started out in golf and want to take advantage of solar right from the start? There’re golf carts made explicitly for solar waiting for you.
The first golf cart fleet to run on solar in the US was the 125 E-Z-GO by Gulf City solar. The club carts are powered by thin-film panels and only need to be charged once a week.
While the initial cost of acquiring a solar golf cart is relatively higher than a solar roof or kit, there’re more than enough reasons why you should acquire it if you’re just starting out.
Benefits of solar golf carts over solar golf cart kits/ solar golf cart roofs
It can be used to run power tools on the golf course
Some solar golf carts come equipped with power ports that can be used to charge or run other power tools needed during play.
Improved performance and convenience
A solar golf cart is a complete powerhouse that may go without recharging for up to a month. This, in addition to proprietary power management, adds up to great performance and unmatched convenience.
No added weight
When you add solar panels or a solar roof to an electric golf cart, the added weight can sometimes cause the cart to malfunction. A complete system solar golf cart will come weight-optimized for best performance.
Cost of solar golf carts
Most complete system golf carts cost around $9000. A golf cart in this price range should come with 72-cells modules, a 48V rechargeable battery, and 5.5-hp. Additionally, it should go without a charge for at least 50 miles.
If you’re on a budget, you can go for a used $3000-$4,500 solar golf cart, provided it does its job effectively. If you want an edge of luxury, expect to spend around $20,000.
Benefits of Charging a Golf Cart with Solar Panels
You charge while driving
With a solar roof on your golf cart, you can be charging your club car batteries as you go about your golf course errands.
Saves on electricity bills
If you’ve been using electricity from the grid to charge your club car’s lead-acid battery, shifting to solar will save you big. You’ll not be charged to use energy from the sun, not to mention that you’ll not be limited on how you use it.
Reduces CO2 emissions
According to the US Energy Information Administration, fossil fuel combustion accounts for 92% of total US anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
While charging your golf cart with solar may seem like an insignificant effort towards reducing this emission, it definitely counts.
Extends the cart’s battery life
Solar panels reduce the depth of discharge, increasing the number of charging cycles of the battery and consequently its lifespan.
Reduces cart downtime
No one wants to keep shuffling club cars when busy playing this club and ball sport. With solar panels boosting your golf cart, you can be sure that it’ll last a full 18-holes.
Should I leave my golf cart plugged into the PV system all the time?
The role of a solar PV system for your golf cart is to give it the much-needed charge boost when it’s not plugged in.
The best way to make the most out of this is to leave it plugged into the PV system when you’re using it. Otherwise, you should disconnect it or risk overcharging and possibly damaging it.
Can I charge my golf cart’s dead battery with solar panels?
Certainly not. Solar panels are meant to extend the life of the cart’s battery as you play golf. If you have dead batteries, you need to first revive them since solar charging will not work for dead golf cart batteries.
Will I still need my golf cart’s conventional charger when I go solar?
Definitely. Charging your golf cart with solar panels is just a backup strategy of boosting your golf cart batteries and extending the cart’s running time. You’ll still need to plug it in once in a while for a full charge.
Solarize your Golf Cart Today
With a properly sized solar panel and high-quality golf batteries, you can run your club car without the need to plug it in frequently.
Follow our guide to acquire the best solar golf cart kit and hook it up following the simple 10-30 minutes procedure to keep your golf cart topped off at all times.
It’s easy to charge your golf cart with solar panels; you’ll save a ton by moving off the grid and will have your golf buggy always juiced up anytime you need to use it.