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Unread 10-11-2012, 03:08 PM   #1
Getting Wild
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Michigan
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Default Battery/Charger Issues/Questions

Hello,

I've learned a bit about my cart and my batteries. I need someone to explain what is going on.

About the batteries
1) The batteries immediately after getting charged are getting to the 50.7 - 50.8 range. It's pretty consistent.

2) After the charger completes the charge and the batteries sit for a while, say over night, the batteries are typically at 49.9 to 50.0. The cart and charger are in an unheated garage in up north Michigan, though very well ventilated.

3) After letting it sit over night with no last minute charge, if I take the cart out for a run of lets say 2 miles round trip, on the way back it barely makes it up the big hill (hill in the road - not going off road with the cart- and yes only way back) with the voltage hitting in the 39v range. However, if I zap them right before I leave she runs good and I've done as much as five miles.

4) After sitting overnight even on the short run before even getting to the big hill the lights on the cart start to dim while driving.

Questions on the batteries:
Q1- Is this typical for 4 year old Trojan batteries, to lose that much overnight?

Q2- Could it be that my accessories are drawing the battery down overnight? I have two accessories, a precedent front light kit and a voltage meter. Can I test if the accessories are the cause by doing the following: Flipping the tow/run switch to tow and checking the batteries in the morning?

Q3- How does the cold weather affect the batteries?


Charger Issue:

1) I've left for a week twice now and left the batteries on the charger. Both times before I left the charger completely charged the pack to 50ish volts.

2) Both times after I've returned from a week away, the Batteries were sitting at approximately 48.6 volts and the charger was not charging the pack.

3) Even after pulling the plug out of the cart and replacing the charger would not kick on.

4) Simply hitting the reset on the charger does nothing.

5) I have to unplug the charger. Then hold he reset button. Then plug the charger back in before it will hit the batteries again.

6) The charger and cart are sitting in an unheated garage in northern Michigan. Very well ventilated.

Charger Question:

Q1- Is the charger bad or are the batteries bad and causing the charger to trip the fuse?

Q2- Does the reset of the fuse require that I unplug the charger or is that unique to my charger.

Q3- How does the cold weather affect the charger?

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read and respond to this. I'd really appreciate some insight here.

Tom
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Unread 10-11-2012, 05:01 PM   #2
The Last Moja Morani
 
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Default Re: Battery/Charger Issues/Questions

if your leaving charger plugged in once it shuts off its not gonna come back on until the voltage drops to a certain point...........as for batteries i suggest to load test them and check cells with hydrometer depending on how they were maintained they could be just about done at 4 years old.........................
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Unread 10-11-2012, 06:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: Battery/Charger Issues/Questions

Wow - there's a lot of good questions here.
I can try to answer a few, maybe it might help in your quest.

Cold temperatures negatively affect battery efficiency; as you approach 32 degrees (F) Lead Acid batteries can be up to 20% less efficient. What is not always discussed is that Lead Acid batteries also require slightly different Charge voltages at different temperatures. For example, a single cell that might require 2.3 volts to charge at 100 degrees (F), will need almost 2.7 volts to properly charge at 30 degrees (F). Some chargers have an internal thermistor, and are able to automatically compensate for the ambient temperature when charging - though I have not seen this in most Golf Cart chargers.

You asked a very good question: "Can my accessories be drawing on the batteries when not in use?" - Possibly. However flipping the Run/Tow switch won't help you. This is not a power on/off switch. Rather, this disables the controller only (mostly to prevent the Regen feature from activating when towing or pushing the cart). But it does not truly disconnect power from your cart. To do that you must disconnect a battery cable. Watch out for those sneak circuits that may be wired across just one battery. When in doubt, just disconnect one terminal from each cell to fully isolate batteries from circuits. It's a lot of trouble... but hey, that's what troubleshooting is about.

The most effective way to determine if you have batteries that are about to give up the ghost is to use a quality Hydrometer, not a volt meter, to determine the state of charge. You can identify variances from cell to cell. On a fully and recently charged pack there should not be a significant difference in specific gravity from cell to cell, and from battery to battery. Also, there should not be a significant difference in specific gravity when you measure that pack after being charged, and then again the next morning if the pack has not been used. So, If you charge the batteries, check the specific gravity of each cell, then disconnect the pack - let it sit overnight - and take readings in the morning only to find they have significantly changed... you have battery issues. At that point it doesn't matter whether it's age, number of deep discharge cycles, or whatever. Your batteries have an issue that's not going to improve.

Caution: Specific gravity readings change with temperature. Most good Hydrometers come with a temperature conversion table. Make sure you know the battery temperature when taking your readings. (battery temperature, not ambient temperature... since a battery just off of a charger will be considerably warmer.)

If after this you determine your batteries are good and that nothing is drawing current, you can probably look toward your charger. Although, since you said your batteries get up to 50.8 volts immediately after being charged... I might speculate your charger is working fine. Though you didn't mention how long it runs, and what current readings it shows during that time.

In a Club Car with a PowerDrive charger, the charging is somewhat dependent on the energy unit usage data that the OBC sends to the charger, via that extra data pin, when the charge cycle begins.
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Unread 10-11-2012, 08:30 PM   #4
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Default Re: Battery/Charger Issues/Questions

Canine and company,

I have a couple more questions based on your awesome response to my ridiculously long post.

1) Is there a reference on the site to using a hydrometer?

2) When I end up buying a new set of batteries can I upgrade to batteries that don't have water in them? Essentially maintenance free batteries?

3) In the event that there is a maintenance free choice for me will my existing charger work with those?

I'm going to do the accessory test tonight. I just came back from the woods and the cart is on the charger. Later I will go out there and pull the negative on the last battery. There isn't anything coming off any one battery. It's all 48 volt with a reducer for the lights.

****
I just realized something not good. I read the section on Battery Maintenance, the sticky. It says that I should be filling the water in the batteries just over the plates and I filled them a couple of weeks ago to just below the hole at the top of the battery. I have noticed that the performance has dropped since that time. What should I do at this point? Can I simply remove some water from each battery?
*****

Thanks

Tom
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Unread 10-11-2012, 09:35 PM   #5
The Last Moja Morani
 
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Default Re: Battery/Charger Issues/Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by statjunk View Post
Canine and company,

I have a couple more questions based on your awesome response to my ridiculously long post.

1) Is there a reference on the site to using a hydrometer?

2) When I end up buying a new set of batteries can I upgrade to batteries that don't have water in them? Essentially maintenance free batteries?

3) In the event that there is a maintenance free choice for me will my existing charger work with those?

I'm going to do the accessory test tonight. I just came back from the woods and the cart is on the charger. Later I will go out there and pull the negative on the last battery. There isn't anything coming off any one battery. It's all 48 volt with a reducer for the lights.

****
I just realized something not good. I read the section on Battery Maintenance, the sticky. It says that I should be filling the water in the batteries just over the plates and I filled them a couple of weeks ago to just below the hole at the top of the battery. I have noticed that the performance has dropped since that time. What should I do at this point? Can I simply remove some water from each battery?
*****

Thanks

Tom
you can try, at this point make sure your dealing with good batteries before wasting a ton of time.......all things aside your acc,s shouldn,t drain your batteries unless your leaving them on......i would test batteries..................
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Unread 10-12-2012, 06:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: Battery/Charger Issues/Questions

Stat -
You should never remove anything from your batteries. If you over filled them, just leave it... eventually the level will drop. If you remove liquid now, you will also be removing a small amount of acid mixture, something you don't want to do.

There are non-flooded battery choices, but none are as cost-effective as lead-acid. And even today, none have the efficiency across a broad temperature range -- even the most expensive option: Lithium packs, have a huge drawback in that they HATE being hot and will lose efficiency very quickly when hot. (This is why hybrid cars like the Prius and the Volt actually have cooling systems around the battery pack.) Plus they are ridiculously expensive.

Deep- Cycle Absorbed glass mat (AGM), or Gel Cells are one option. But they are also expensive and do not have near the life expectancy of a flood cell in a Golf Cart application. And they don't handle sustained high-current loads well. They are not suited to this type of application.

Stick with tried and true Deep-Cycle, flooded cell batteries. There's a number of reasons they are still the choice today in Golf Carts, Electric folk lifts, and other industrial machines.

You did add an interesting detail in your reply: You have a 48 volt reducer. Unless that 48 volt reducer is wired such that it has an "off" switch wired between it and the batteries... it also draws power, even when your lights and other accessories are off. It's only a small amount of power, but it is some. I have seen a lot of people, who don't understand how these switching power supplies actually work, simply wire them across the battery pack. In best practice, you should wire a switch between it and the power pack. There is a myth that these devices "shut themselves off when there is no load". In reality, they don't.

All of this said... your problems appear a bit larger than a reducer could cause. Check your batteries first - before spending too much time elsewhere.

Here is a basic Hydrometer conversion chart attached at the bottom.
I hope that helps.
Attached Images
File Type: png chart.png (32.0 KB, 0 views)
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Unread 10-12-2012, 01:08 PM   #7
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Default Re: Battery/Charger Issues/Questions

First of all I appreciate it very much that you guys have taken the time to respond. I'm learning a lot here.

Can anyone comment specifically about the results of adding too much water to a battery? Is it reduced run time? Because that is what I'm experiencing.

Thanks again

Tom
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Unread 10-14-2012, 06:59 AM   #8
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Default Re: Battery/Charger Issues/Questions

. . . with 4 year old batteries, you may have cell(s) that are about done which would cause the reduced run time you are experiencing . . . the excess water you put in will eventually "boil" off during charge cycles . . . make sure you only use distilled water when adding liquid to cells . . . best to have batteries load tested and cells checked with hydrometer to find out real condition of your pack, which may answer many of your questions . . . as previously stated, gel batteries are not designed or intended for golf cart use . . .
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