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A Closer Look at the 48V vs. 36V Golf Cart

General note: The 36V has been discontinued since 2008 and many manufacturers are also discontinuing 48V golf carts because of their lead acid; recently, there’s been a general shift away from lead acid golf carts. However, Diamond Golf Cars can service 36V and 48V golf carts as well as newer models of your favorite brands: Club Car, E-Z-GO, and Yamaha.

We always strive to give our clients the full picture and help you make the right choice for your particular situation (in respect to golf carts). With this in mind, today we’ll tell you everything you need to know when comparing 36V vs. 48V golf carts.

What Is Voltage?

The “V” after the numbers on both options stands for “volts”. So what is voltage? Voltage is the difference in potential electrical energy between two points (the positive and negative side of your battery).

The negative side is called an anode and it has a surplus of electrons. The positive side is called a cathode and it has a shortage of electrons. Once we close the circuit, electrons begin to flow from the negative side to the positive side, doing work in the process. The battery goes flat when both sides equalize and it needs to be recharged.

The greater the potential difference between the two points, the greater the voltage. Voltage also determines the strength of the electric current.

What does this mean for your golf cart? It essentially means that higher volts translate into more power. So the 48V cart is more powerful than the 36V—and the 72V cart offers more power than either 48V or 36V.

How to Determine Your Golf Cart’s Voltage

You don’t need to make any complex calculations to figure out your golf cart’s voltage. It’s a very simple process. Here’s what you do:

  1. Locate your golf cart’s battery compartment. It’s under the seat.
  2. Count the water holes on one of the batteries. The water holes are the holes you use to check out and maintain the water level in your batteries.
  3. Multiply the number of holes by 2 to determine the battery’s voltage. So if you have 3 holes, 3×2=6V. Easy. We promised there’d be no complex calculations!
  4. Next, multiply the number above by the number of batteries (usually 6). So, to continue our example, we get 6×6=36. So this is a 36V golf cart.

A 48V golf cart typically has 6 batteries, 8V each. This means there should be 4 water holes on each battery.

As a general note, 36V golf carts have been discontinued by virtually every major manufacturer. Set with certain safety features, both kinds of golf carts can drive at respectable speeds. However, the 48V golf cart offers significantly more power than the 36V. 

Why Are Amps Important?

We’ve cleared out the voltage. But what’s this amperage business? In simple terms, it’s the amount of electricity used by an item. It measures how many electrons are flowing through the current at any given time.

In other words, we can use amps to measure the efficiency of an item. If we’re comparing two items and one uses more electricity than the other (all other things being equal), then we say the item that uses less electricity is more efficient.

Battery capacity is measured in amp-hours (or sometimes watt-hours), or how many amps the battery can deliver in an hour. Higher capacity means more amp-hours. Fewer amps plus higher capacity means you get to drive around more before needing to recharge.

Enough with the technical stuff. Let’s get to the pros and cons of 36 vs. 48 Volt golf carts.

36 Volt Cart Pros and Cons

36V carts have their pros and cons (if you can find one or still have one from years back). 

Pros

  • Cheaper maintenance. The 36V option offers cheaper maintenance. Essentially, all parts are cheaper (including batteries).
  • Great for cruising around on flat surfaces. This is the perfect ride for exclusive communities, campuses, or other venues without steep inclines or declines.

Cons

  • Less power. The moment you try to climb a hill or drive it off-road, you’ll meet a serious challenge.
  • Inefficient. Even though they have a lower voltage, the amperage is actually higher than the 48V. This means the 36V uses more electricity for less motor horsepower and less range.
  • Lower top speed. They are a lot slower and less powerful than the 48V.
  • Generally no longer available for consumer purchase.

48 Volt Cart Pros and Cons

Now let’s have a look at the 48V—which does everything the 36V does—only better.

Pros

  • Efficient. Uses less amperage than the 36-Volt, giving you a better driving range.
  • More powerful. Considerably more powerful than the 36V option.
  • Higher low-end torque. More torque means faster acceleration.
  • Easy to convert. You can easily convert it to a hunting vehicle or an off-road cart. 
  • Can handle uneven terrain. It’s better than the 36V when it comes to hill-climbing capabilities.
  • Higher resale value. If you plan on reselling down the road, then the 48V will fetch a better price.

Cons

  • Price. More expensive than the 36V.
  • More expensive maintenance. With greater power comes bigger bills. Replacement parts for the 48-Volt are more expensive than the 36-Volt model.

Now let’s dive deeper into some of these points.

Price

48-Volt models are more expensive, but, as 36V carts are no longer sold, this point doesn’t have much bearing. The 48V comes with considerable improvements in both performance and freedom.

Maintenance and Repairs

Electric golf carts don’t usually require lots of maintenance. You need to check and maintain the water levels of the batteries once a month and that’s about it.

However, the batteries have a lifespan that slowly ticks away. Even with pristine maintenance, you’ll need to replace your batteries at some point. And when that time comes, the 48V often outprices 36V golf carts. This rings true for other parts and part replacements as well.

Performance

There is no contest between the 36V vs. 48V. The 48-Volt is more powerful, has faster acceleration, and has a greater top speed out of the box. Plus, 48V golf carts are actively sold on the market.

Going the Distance

You’d expect since the 36-Volt is less powerful, it would give a little more range. However, this isn’t the case. The 48-Volt is more powerful—and more efficient—so it utilizes the amps better.

You’ll get a better range with a 48-Volt golf cart than with a 36-Volt golf cart.

Upgrades

You can upgrade both 48-Volt golf carts and 36-Volt carts. For example, if you want more speed, you can install larger tires. This is a must if you want to climb hills with your golf cart.

Just like maintenance, upgrading your 48V will be more expensive than the 36-Volt.

48V vs. 36V

The 48V does everything the 36V can, only better (and is still actually sold on the market). In general, the 48V is the clear winner for most situations. However, we still see plenty of 36V golf carts come in for service at our shop.

Diamond Golf Cars offers high-quality golf carts from major manufacturers, including Club Car, E-Z-GO, and Yamaha. With these brands, you can rest assured your vehicle will last and parts (if service is needed) will always be available. These major brands have been around for 50 to 60 years and are first-class in a number of areas: handling, brakes, components, parts, and more. E-Z-GO and Club Car hold themselves to strict standards which go far beyond the mandated federal regulations for vehicle parts. Stop by our shop or contact us for more info before purchasing.