I’ve had many people ask me how to make their cart faster. I think most of them just want to go as fast as they can and not care what happens. I will try to explain the physics involved so that you will understand why, for instance, putting a 36 volt motor on your 24-volt system with 48 volts does little good.
If you are planning on modifying your electric golf cart I would suggest that you read this entire article before you do anything. If it were possible, without spending a small fortune, to make an electric golf cart go 50 MPH or faster I’m quite certain the US Postal Service would not be using them as their main source of transportation. It’s just not practical and the fact is they go fast enough to suit most people.
Golf Cart Speed at Different Voltages
First, let’s look at how fast an electric golf cart will go as the voltage is increased from 24 volts to 48 volts. These carts can go faster, but not significantly faster for very long because of overheating.
I’ll use my course as a test track. It’s about 1 mile long with a slight uphill grade on the back 9. With my 36 volt cart, I can go through the first 10 holes at about 18 MPH. The last 7 holes are 3/4 of a mile uphill so I can’t quite get 22 MPH on the back nine although it seems like I’m doing 30 MPH when I hit the top of the hill and start down. That same cart speed tested on level ground will be about 20 MPH or slightly faster with 48 volts (see below for specifics).
44-inch Golf Cart Wheels
The physics behind the speed is pretty simple to understand. If you double both voltage and motor RPMs you should theoretically double your top speed for very little increase in current usage.
There’s one other factor involved though that limits this theory, rolling resistance. The weight of the cart, the width of the tires, and their inflation all contribute to rolling resistance which in turn slows down your golf cart.
The problem with trying to improve the speed is that when you increase voltage it will put stress on the motor, controller, and battery pack so if possible, go up one volt at a time. This may mean you will need a bigger gear reduction in the motor, but bigger gears won’t hurt anything unless you’re trying to go faster than your golf cart was designed for.
5 Ways You Can Make a Golf Cart Faster
1. Better Batteries
The first thing you should do is upgrade your batteries. If you can get a 36-volt golf cart then that’s even better because it will put less stress on the other components in your electrical system. There are some 48-volt golf carts but they use more powerful motors and bigger controllers too to handle the extra voltage.
The batteries I use are Trojan T-105s which are designed for golf carts. They’re manufactured to deliver 225 amps but they can be damaged if discharged too deeply so you should not go below 80% of the total amp-hour capacity (C/20).
If these batteries were charged by an unregulated charger like what is used at public stations they would last longer but they would also get hot and could fail. When you buy good deep cycle batteries it’s worth spending more to get a high-quality regulated charger.
2. Bigger Gear Reduction in Motor
If you’re going to upgrade your batteries then it’s a good idea to upgrade your motor for that extra voltage. I’ve been able to get my 36-volt cart up into the mid 20 MPH range by putting 48 volts across it because I upgraded both battery and motor at the same time. It would have been better though to do it one at a time. It would have put less stress on my controller and motor.
3. Regulated Charger
If you upgrade your batteries and motor together as I suggested then you need to look for a quality regulated charger. A good automatic 3 stage charger will allow the batteries to be charged at high amps (up to 80 amps) without getting hot. Since they are deep-cycle batteries, you must fully charge them before using them because an idle battery will sulfate (this decreases its capacity) or even damage the cells.
4. Better Controllers
If you upgrade your batteries and motor to 48 volts at the same time it’s probably not necessary to upgrade your controller if your cart came with a large one like mine did, but it’s worth doing anyway. This increased controller allows me to use much smaller wires that won’t heat up as the old thinner wires did. It also gives you more freedom in where you can put your charger, motor, and batteries because it reduces line voltage drop.
5. Upgraded Charging Line
If you want to put your charger, motor, and batteries in the rear of the cart it’s necessary to use #2 AWG welding cable (1/4 inch) throughout. It will handle high amps at low voltage for short distances like that required in a golf cart without heat buildup which would damage the insulation.
It’s also important to upgrade the wire from your controller to your motor and from your charger to your batteries. This will reduce voltage drop during operation, making it possible for bigger motors and chargers to work at their maximum potential. You certainly don’t want a weak battery charging a big motor.
Gas vs. electric powered golf carts
The gas carts are faster and will require more maintenance, but the speed is fun. The electric carts have a better acceleration which can be important if you have hills to deal with. Their top speed will also come down as they age because batteries lose capacity as they get older.
Gas-powered carts should last longer overall though because their engine will most likely outlive the batteries but not necessarily the motor.
What’s important about an electric cart is that it goes where you point it and will stop on a dime without jerking around as gas carts do. Electric carts pull more amps off their batteries at startup (high torque) and slow things down as they decelerate (low torque) which can be a safety issue if you’re frequently stopping or slowing down.
Street-legal models are required to have headlights, brake lights, turn signals, parking brakes, and mirrors. The maximum speed for an electric cart is about 18 MPH on level ground when heavily loaded. On hills, the maximum is 10 MPH
Electric carts are quiet which can be a safety issue in some areas. They also use no gas which means zero maintenance compared to gas carts.
Luxurious and expensive golf carts usually have aftermarket stereos and speakers, leather upholstery, and other upgrades. The best golf carts may even have heat and air conditioning.
The least expensive golf carts can be bought for under $1500 and can usually be repaired by most mechanics. They are great for kids or adults who don’t care about speed.
Mid-priced Electric cars cost around $3000, but they run very quickly (20 MPH) and handle well because of their low center of gravity. They are great for older people whose bones aren’t what they used to be.
For the cost of a new gas-powered cart, you can get an absolutely beautiful electric low-floor model that will outlast both you and your kids. I knew a guy who had one custom-made with hydraulics, leather upholstery, heat, air conditioning, stereo, speakers, and just about everything else you can imagine. He stopped counting at $15,000 after the total cost was combined with his golf cart.
How to make an electric club car go faster?
I’m not an engineer, but I am an electric car enthusiast. I own a T3 Bug and based on its size and performance (not fast), I designed my own chassis to replace the existing one. Since we had no range problems with this vehicle, we did not want to make any major modifications apart from upgrading the speed and power of the drive train system.
Everything else was perfect: acceleration, stability, braking… It felt like it did everything better than our previous EZ go (gas-powered). So we got rid of that monster for $500.00 bucks just to replace it with another gas-powered vehicle that was slower than the unmodified EZ go plus needed some serious repairs! It reminded me of buying a big 4 x 4 to go fishing and then using it for that job only once every year or so.
On the other hand, we had friends that bought a $10K electric Roadster at the same time as us (2006). They only modded to install an 18HP motor on their factory-built two-seater roadster. The car can now outperform most sports cars available today, but they are still not satisfied with the range of the battery pack (35-40 miles).
I asked myself if there was room for improvement? What could I do to make my EZ go faster without spending any money apart from the money I spent on the EZ go in the first place? Then it hit me…
The gas-powered dune buggy had 10HP and I felt that was too much for such a light vehicle; After all, we never drove near its limits. So I decided to take one of our Ev 1.5 controllers (A Briggs&Stratton eng. commutator motor controller) and see if this would help overcome the problem of insufficient power and range at street speeds.
After removing the throttle limiter we installed a thumb throttle so we could control speed by wire without any extra equipment inside or outside of the car. The result: We now have 25+ HP available which is enough to turn the 24″ tires into smoke at will. I have timed the vehicle at above 80Mph in 5th gear, it has about 15 mph speed advantage over the roadster with an 18 HP electric motor over a flat surface. But there is another thing I did to make this car faster than any other EZ go out there (gas or electric).
The golf cart batteries are known to be very weak and prone to rapid failure. So what do you think would happen if we were not using the factory-supplied 6V 4AH lead-acid batteries but instead were using 48V 20AH LiFePO4 (lithium-ion) battery modules? Well, twice as much power AND two times longer life! What else can you ask for? The original 24V pack has a capacity of about 3.5KWH and the 48V pack has about 7KWH. But how long will they last in this application is still an unanswered question? At $600 for 4 modules, I think we can afford to replace them every couple of years.
A LiFePO4 module is composed of several cells wired in series to achieve the required output voltage (48V). The smart thing with these batteries is that they have very low internal resistance which means they need very little power from your EZ goes motor controller while providing all available current when called upon to do so!
In other words, you get full power at all times regardless of the battery condition or temperature changes, etc., I would say this technology alone justifies spending extra origami set money for this project.
We are currently building our packs but these are also available from other vendors.
If you ask me what is the range of this car with a 48V 20AH battery pack, I’ll say 100+ miles without even blinking! But do not believe until you’ve seen it for yourself!
The Cadillac Escalade golf car
If you want a super-luxurious, reliable golf cart it’s best to buy a new one from a reputable manufacturer because used carts have been abused or have had an unknown maintenance history. You can expect to pay between $6000 and $7000 for a brand new deluxe model that can be as luxurious as you want it to be.
A premium cart has great acceleration and can easily outrun the $2000 carts. It will hold its own against gas-powered carts that cost three or four times as much, but if you want to go really fast then gas is the only way to fly. If you just want a golf cart then an electric type car is the way to go because it will last longer and is much easier to maintain.
Some of the most expensive cart manufacturers are California Cart, E-Z-GO, Club Car, Yamaha, and Fort Myers. You can expect to get 10 to 20 years of service out of a new premium cart. If you pay more than $7000 you will be getting an excellent cart that will give you years of trouble-free service.
How to Change Gear Ratios on a Club Car
Changing the gear ratios on your electric golf cart is simple and quick, although it requires that you buy expensive, special tools. If you want to change them then plan on spending at least $100 or more for the tools and don’t be surprised if you need a few different sets to do the job right.
The first thing to understand is that there are two different ways to change your cart’s gear ratio: You can either raise the top speed or increase the torque and decrease the top speed.
If you’re thinking of increasing your cart’s top speed then you need to buy a special tool called a “pulley puller” and use it to remove all the pulleys and isolate the one you’re going to reverse. Once the original gear is removed then you can install a new one that will increase your cart’s top speed.
However, if you want more torque then just buy a pair of gears and switch them with the ones on your cart. You can do this by removing all of the belts, but it’s a good idea to keep them all for use as spares.
Take the new gears and line up all of the holes where they attach, then just screw them into place. The last step is to reattach all of your belts and you’re finished. You can expect to pay at least $100 or more for the special tools necessary to change the gears, but it’s well worth the money especially if you race your cart often.
Boost Your Golf Cart’s Revolutions per Minute (RPMs)
There are many different ways to increase the RPMs on your electric golf cart and it just depends on whether you want more power or a higher top speed. You can either change the gear ratios, install a new motor, use an improved controller to give you better acceleration, replace your pulleys for faster speeds, or all of the above.
Why Speed Controllers are Important
Speed controllers are the key to high-performance golf carts because they control how fast you can go. The simplest, oldest speed controller is called a resistor type limit switch and it does just what the name implies: It limits the number of volts that are sent to your cart through an electronic voltage regulator. A resistor’s resistance will cut off all of the voltage once a certain speed is reached.
Modern speed controllers are brushless, three-phase AC inverters, which have an onboard microprocessor that communicates with the controller to come up with the optimum power curve for your cart.
Modern controllers can give you more revolutions per minute, higher voltage, and better acceleration than older ones. Some of the newest controllers can even be programmed to change set speeds based on your cart’s position concerning its environment.
It is important to make sure that you never exceed the speed limit because it will damage your batteries, strip your gears and fry your controller. The best thing to do is put a governor on your cart if you ever want to go much above top speed.
Extremely high speeds – above 100 mph – require a special kind of controller called a “sine wave DC converter.” These types of controllers have a speed range from 0 to 60,000 RPM and they also cost more than regular voltage limit switches.
Q1. Is the 48V 20AH pack compatible with the original 6V 4AH lead-acid battery?
A1. No, it’s not compatible at all because the voltage is different and no connectors are interchangeable! And if you really want to use your old batteries in this car, I suggest you get a 24V to 48V voltage converter/charger which will cost about $100.
Q2. What kind of range can I expect running 11-12PSI on my EZ go after using electric power only?
A2. This depends on the tire size, wind resistance, terrain type, etc. Generally speaking, you could double your mileage compared to what you would get if using gas power (like when modded).
Q3. What would be the physical difference (besides the battery pack) if I were to make this conversion?
A3. You should expect no difference in performance or handling because other than 48V batteries, everything else appears stock. Of course, you will need another set of wheels and tires because these are specific for 24″ size (and other EV projects). Also, all instrument cluster gauges should be re-calibrated after conversion!
Q4. How much does it cost to upgrade my EZ to with 48V 20AH LiFePO4 battery pack?
A4. It depends on your current setup but generally speaking, about $900-$1,000 which includes the new controller and new batteries. Then again you could sell your batteries and controller and put that money towards a higher capacity setup.
Q5. How much weight will I gain after conversion?
A5. About 100 pounds but it’s mostly in front because we’re mounting batteries on top of the motor (as you can see from the picture above) so the overall effect would be negligible!