Golf carts often run on 36- or 48-volt electric motors. Judging the electrical condition of the motor can be challenging unless you monitor the voltage generated by the batteries. Reduced voltage indicates that the batteries require recharging or servicing, while normal voltage provides reassurance that the cart is functioning correctly. Installing a battery-monitoring voltage meter is a useful project requiring only basic wiring skills and the ability to use simple tools.
Things You'll Need
- 14-gauge insulated wire
- 2 cable connectors for meter
- 2 cable connections for battery terminals
Locate the battery tray and examine the batteries. Golf cart batteries are wired in series with the positive terminal of each battery linked to the negative terminal of the next one. This allows the voltage of each battery to be added to the voltages of the other batteries. For example, eight 6-volt batteries form a 48-volt battery, and six 6-volt batteries form a 36-volt battery. Find the voltage of your golf cart by multiplying the voltage of a single battery by the total number of batteries.
Identify the first and last batteries in the chain. Each will have one terminal connected to a thick wire leading away from the batteries. One battery will have the wire connected to the positive terminal, and the other will have a wire connected to the negative terminal. Using suitable battery connectors, attach a length of 14-gauge insulated wire to each terminal and run it to the point where you intend to mount the meter.
Mount the meter somewhere secure and visible when you use the cart. Two common types of golf cart voltmeter are available; rectangular LED meters and circular analog meters. LED meters have three pins at the back, labeled positive, negative and switch. Analogue meters have just two pins, positive and negative.
Attach cable connectors to the ends of the positive and negative wires from the battery, then connect them to the appropriate pins on the meter. Make sure you preserve the correct polarity, as LED lights will not work if the wires are the wrong way round. If you use an LED meter, connect the third pin to the switched side of the On/Off switch on the cart dashboard.
Tips & Warnings
- Analog meters can stay on all the time because they do not draw any power from the battery. LED meters need a switch so the lights don't stay on when the motor is switched off.
- The battery meter should show the voltage you calculated in Step 1. If the voltage drops below this value, remember to charge the batteries.
- Remove all metal jewelry and watches before working on the cart's electrical system. If your jewelry touches a live wire you will become part of the circuit. This may result in severe burns.
- Dirty battery contacts must be cleaned to maintain good battery performance. Battery corrosion and fluid are both acidic and poisonous. Wear protective clothing and wash your skin afterwards.
- Photo Credit electric golf cart image by itsallgood from Fotolia.com