Gas vs Electric Golf Cart – What to Choose in 2024

Table of Contents

Golf carts provide a convenient and fun way to get around golf courses, retirement communities, resorts, and other locations. When choosing a golf cart, one of the biggest decisions is whether to get an electric or gas model. Both have their unique advantages and disadvantages in terms of upfront cost, maintenance requirements, environmental friendliness, performance, and more. This comprehensive article explores the key pros and cons of electric and gas golf carts to help you determine which is best for your specific needs and budget.

What are the Benefits of Electric Golf Carts?

1. Lower operating costs since electricity is cheaper than gas

Charging an electric golf cart battery cost just a fraction of refueling a gas cart. Electricity prices average 10-15 cents per kWh, while gas averages $3-$4 per gallon. Exact savings depend on local energy and gas pricing of course. But plenty of golf cart owners save upwards of $1000 per year on fuel or charging costs. Maintenance savings also add up with electric models over time.

2. Minimal Maintenance for Electric Carts

Aside from periodic battery maintenance, electric golf carts really don’t require much regular servicing. You’ll want to check battery acid levels, connective cables, dirt build up on terminals, and other aspects about once a month. But there’s no oil changing, air filter replacement, tune-ups, and related maintenance required as with gas vehicles. Electric motors have far fewer parts prone to wear and tear by their very nature.

3. Eco-Friendly and Emission-Free Electric Carts

Electric engines produce absolutely zero direct emissions since they don’t involve any internal combustion or burning of fuels. That means no greenhouse gases, particulates, carbon monoxide or other pollutants that gas-powered vehicles inevitably create. While power plants emit some emissions when producing electricity, electric cars keep those pollutants away from population centers. For golf cart owners concerned about the environment, this impact-free operation holds widespread appeal.

4. Very quiet operation

Electric golf cart motors produce very little audible noise—especially at low to moderate speeds. Without combustive engines revving loudly under the hood, electric carts allow for relaxed conversation without shouting while driving. This also keeps clubhouses, nearby homes and other areas surrounding the course quieter. Many senior communities and resorts limit or prohibit gas cart usage partially due to noise pollution concerns.

5. Smooth acceleration and handling

The instant torque created by electric motors provides responsive acceleration from a full stop. Step on the pedal and smooth, seamless speed-up follows. Electric powertrains also distribute weight more evenly for balanced cornering and nimble handling. Gas-powered carts feel noticeably rougher in their acceleration and turning tendencies by comparison. Better stability and fewer situations with loss of traction give electrics an on-course handling advantage.

6. Convenient Home Charging for Electric Golf Carts

Recharging an electric golf cart works similarly to plugging in any household item or mobile device—just on a larger scale. Simply connect the charging cable to your cart and let the electrons flow into the battery pack overnight. For full recharges twice a week or less frequent use, a 120-volt outlet works fine. High-usage owners may prefer faster 240-volt charging though. Just be sure your electrical panel and circuits can support the added wattage load.

7. Indoor storage and charging possible

Most electric golf carts lack any combustion components that require proper ventilation, so they can be parked and recharged in enclosed garages or storage buildings safely. No need to have them taking up space outdoors or worrying about rain, sun exposure, leaves, and other elements prematurely aging the carts when not in use. It also makes early morning or late evening charging convenient any day of the year regardless of darkness or bad weather.

Gas vs Electric Golf Cart - What to Choose in 2024

What are the Drawbacks of Electric Golf Carts?

1. Limited driving range per charge, usually 25-50 miles

Compared to a gas cart’s 50-100 mile range on a full tank, an electric cart’s finite battery capacity limits excursions to about 25-50 miles prior to recharging. Exact range depends on battery specs, power settings used and driving terrain. Lead-acid batteries on entry-level electric golf carts sit at the low end around 20-30 miles while premium lithium-ion setups achieve 50+ miles range per charge. Regardless of battery quality, keeping charging opportunities available is essential for longer trips.

2. Batteries must be replaced every 2-6 years

Whether using traditional lead-acid or more advanced lithium golf cart battery packs, replacements are inevitable every few years. Average golf cart lead-acid batteries last 2-3 years while lithium-ion may push 4-6 years of useful life on average. Battery range and charging ability gradually taper off over time regardless. Budget several hundred dollars for replacements to keep your electric golf cart performing reliably long-term.

3. Long battery charging time of up to 8 hours

Fully recharging an electric golf cart battery from empty requires 4-8 hours on typical systems—essentially an overnight process. Rapid charging can speed things up considerably to 1-2 hours, but costs more upfront. Plan your charging schedule wisely around anticipated usage periods. Letting the battery drain extremely low also shortens its total lifespan marginally. Using opportunity charges when time allows keeps things topped off.

4. Decreased Power in Low Battery Situations

Much like your smartphone losing juice by evening, an electric golf cart’s remaining charge level directly impacts speed capability. As the battery drains, maximum speeds drop incrementally along with slower acceleration response. With just 20-30% charge left, performance may drag to half its peak capacity or less. That’s why monitoring charge level indicators is important to avoid getting stranded at distant points on course routes.

5. Lower Towing Capacity in Electric Golf Carts

The greater raw torque and horsepower of gas engines lends gas golf cart models much greater trailering capacities. Electric golf carts top out around 1200-1500 pounds tow rating typically sufficient for one or two bags per person, a cooler and small supplies essentially. Gas-powered golf carts handle up to 2000 pounds or more, allowing for trailers carrying multiple passengers and gear. Load-carrying limits see similar disparities if passengers weigh over 200-300 pounds total. Performance drops off markedly with heavier electrical loads.

What are the Benefits of Gas Golf Carts?

1. Long driving range, over 50 miles on one tank of gas

Thanks to a full 4-6 gallon fuel tank paired with compact but mighty single-cylinder engines, gas-powered golf cart range reaches from 50 miles on up past 100 miles per fill up. Considering an average 18-hole course rings up just 10-15 miles total including errands between holes, that’s plenty capacity to drive multiple rounds or handle longer travel distances comfortably. Diesel-powered golf cart models now available in certain markets provide even greater range thanks to diesel’s improved fuel economy.

2. No charging downtime between uses

Pull up to a gas station or fleet refueling pump and fill ‘er up to keep a gas golf cart ready for action anytime. There’s no waiting around hours for batteries to recharge before driving off again. Just pay at the pump and take off whenever needed. Faster fill ups also enable renting a gas-powered golf cart for a few hours without range concerns derailing the day’s plans unexpectedly.

3. Consistent Power Delivery in Gas Golf Carts

While electric golf cart performance fades as batteries deplete, gas models deliver consistent muscle whenever you floor it thanks to direct energy ignition. Full speed ahead and ample towing power hold steady tank after tank until the low fuel light eventually clicks on far down the road. Performance stays reliable regardless of hours passed or miles driven since the fuel keeps flowing consistently.

4. Enhanced Towing and Load Capacity of Gas Carts

The robust nature of compact internal combustion engines contained in most gas-powered golf carts enables impressive, specified tow ratings of 1500 pounds and way more. That muscular torque pulls additional passenger trailers, club storage bags and cooler gear without noticeable strain. Heavier golfers also find gas models handle their weight aboard better. And since overall load capacities approach 1500 pounds, far more gear travels along comfortably.

5. Fast refueling taking only a few minutes

Given their larger 4-6 gallon tank capacities and high flow pump nozzles, gas golf carts refill start to finish in just 5-8 minutes at most. Even nearly empty tanks requiring a couple gallons of fuel feed quickly from gas station grade pumps. Carrying around some reserve fuel jugs can also provide emergency pit stops. Telescoping funnel spouts make pouring from cans simple. That speedy pit stop pace minimizes downtime disruptions.

What are the Drawbacks of Gas Golf Carts

1. Higher routine maintenance like oil changes

The engine oil, filters, spark plugs and related components in gas golf cart motors require ongoing service and replacement which electric powertrains don’t. While intervals stretch as wide as 100 run hours between some maintenance tasks, following the maintenance schedule is vital to longevity. Expect 30-50 hours between oil changes with air filter and other inspections every 100-200 hours or annually.

2. Emissions contribute to air pollution

Any internal combustion engine inherently emits greenhouse gases, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides and particulates that electric models don’t thanks to clean operation. While gas golf cart emissions represent just a tiny fraction compared to full-sized vehicle pollution impacts, they still negatively impact air quality and the surrounding environment to some degree through exhaust and evaporative emissions.

3. Noisier operation

The firing pistons, turning crankshafts and muffled exhaust noises from small gas engines under the seats result in audible operation that electric powertrains don’t match. Gas golf cart models require some engine noise by regulatory necessity also as safety warnings to nearby pedestrians since electric operation is so quiet by comparison. While models with better sound insulation and mufflers minimize the noise reasonably well, loud exhaust notes still permeate at times.

4. Must be stored and fueled outdoors only

Given the open-flame ignition components, exhaust systems and venting fuel systems onboard, parking gas-powered golf carts indoors presents real fire risks without proper ventilation safeguards. Likewise, refueling must only take place at outdoor pumps with vapor recovery systems or using portable gas canisters approved for outdoor use only. Keeping gas fuels separate from interior spaces prevents tragic explosions.

5. Higher vibration and rougher ride quality

While automotive-grade shock absorbers and cushioned seating help dampen impacts, the vibrating, combustion-driven powertrain in a gas golf cart transmits more road feedback through the chassis than electric models. The ride experience subsequently feels rougher and bumpier on gravel paths and over curbs and holes. Gas engines also exhibit some front/rear rocking at stoplights absent on electrics.

Gas vs Electric Golf Cart – Price Comparison

When comparing golf car prices, electric carts start around $2,500 for basic lead-acid battery equipped models while gas-powered carts start around $5,000 typically for recognizable name brands. However, those entry-level electric carts have batteries needing replacement every few years. Upgrading to better lithium-ion batteries adds $1,000 or more to the price. Evaluated over a 10 year ownership lifespan with battery replacements factored in, electric and gas cart total costs even out closer than purchase prices suggest initially.

Gas vs. Electric Golf Cart – Maintenance Considerations

When weighing gas versus electric golf cart ownership, the required maintenance between these two powertrain technologies differs considerably. Electric golf carts operate almost maintenance-free except for periodic battery attention. Meanwhile, gas-powered golf carts involve more intensive upkeep managing fluids, filters and ignition components.

Electric cart maintenance basically just entails recharging batteries regularly, adding distilled water to flooded lead acid battery cells every month or two, and occasional terminal cleaning if corrosion buildup occurs. With advanced lithium batteries, even those minimal fluid top-offs disappear. You’ll still want to wipe down battery connections outside the casing every so often to ensure optimum electrical flow and charging capacity. Otherwise, electric golf cart motors spin reliably for years with little human attention needed.

However, gas-powered golf cart maintenance schedules stay reasonably busy across the operating season tracking run time hours. Oil and filter changes come due every 50 hours normally, fuel filters and spark plug around 100-200 hours, valve adjustments at 400 hours and occasional engine tune-ups to keep things running optimally. Air filters and brake pad wear enter the inspection routine as well.

Neglected maintenance intervals invite premature breakdowns or expensive repairs down the road on gas models. But conscientiously following factory recommendations pays big dividends towards stretching gas golf cart operation reliably over thousands of hours and miles accumulating fun memories across a decade-plus potentially.

Lifespan of Gas vs Electric Golf Carts

The average lifespan of electric and gas-powered golf cart models varies primarily based on adequacy of maintenance for gas cart engines, and battery replacement frequency on electrics. But generally, today’s golf carts last between 10-20 years before retirement regardless of power source assuming proper upkeep.

Electric golf cart lifespans average 10-15 years assuming periodic mid-life battery replacements every 4-6 years to maintain rated range and charging capacity up to roughly 20,000 operational hours. With factory components and prudent maintenance, certain Club Car, Yamaha and similar premium electric golf carts log over 20 years reliably. Lower-cost models may decline sooner from heavy use and cut corners though.

Comparatively, gas-powered golf cart longevity depends more widely on diligence following scheduled maintenance examining valves, brakes and related components along with operating conditions seen. But with proper engine and transmission fluid changes applied timely per factory intervals, top Club Car, Yamaha and EZ-GO gasoline golf cart models also log 15-20 years of useful transport duty around courses and gated communities before metal fatigue, emissions and driveline issues necessitate retirement. Lesser brands may falter years sooner from overlooked upkeep.

Gas vs Electric Golf Cart - What to Choose in 2024

What is the Best Battery for Electric and Gas Golf Carts

When it comes to batteries for golf carts, you have two main options – lead acid batteries or lithium ion batteries. Lead acid batteries have traditionally been the battery of choice for golf carts thanks to their lower upfront costs. However, lithium ion batteries have been growing in popularity in recent years due to their longer lifespan, faster charging times, reduced maintenance requirements, and better performance.

For electric golf carts specifically, most models these days are configured for one of these two battery types from the factory. Entry-level electric golf carts typically come equipped with a set of 6V or 8V lead acid batteries connected in series to produce the necessary voltage and power capacity for the cart’s electric drivetrain system. These deep cycle flooded lead acid golf cart batteries utilize heavier lead plates submerged in acidic electrolyte liquid to produce power through a chemical reaction.

While lead batteries get the job done reasonably well in basic golf cart applications, they do require consistent maintenance checks to ensure reliable operation long term. Their water consumption through normal charging necessitates checking fluid levels monthly in each battery cell, adding distilled water as needed to prevent drying out. You’ll also need to clean any corrosion buildup off battery terminals periodically to maintain solid electrical connections for optimum current flow and recharging capacity.

For gas-powered golf carts, the 12V starter battery functions identically to any gasoline vehicle starter battery responsible for ignition and accessory electrical loads. Starter batteries utilize a lead acid chemistry typically but must maintain extremely high burst current discharge capabilities to spin the engine starter motor rapidly during engine starting sequences. Look for a name brand SLI battery meeting or exceeding your golf cart manufacturer’s recommended CCA (cold cranking amp) rating for most reliable starting performance across changing seasonal temperatures where you drive your cart. SLI starter batteries last around 3-5 years on gas golf cart use cases normally.

Should You Consider Buying Lithium Batteries for Golf Carts?

A lithium golf cart battery delivers noticeably improved performance and longevity over cheaper flooded lead acid battery alternatives—but at double or triple the upfront investment on average. Deciding whether lithium technology’s advantages justify their heftier initial pricing warrants careful comparison weighing your anticipated costs over the lifecycle ownership against priorities like driving range, convenience, maintenance efforts and eco-friendliness ultimately.

While lead acid batteries prevail on entry-level golf carts thanks to very budget-friendly pricing around $200-$300 each, their inherent drawbacks remind owners constantly why they only cost that little. The seemingly constant maintenance hassling with checking/refilling fluid levels every 4-8 weeks along with frequent cleaning corrosion buildup on terminals wears thin quickly for most golf cart owners. Then dealing with the rapid demise of range and charging capacity as lead acid batteries near the end of their depressingly short 2-3 year lifespan just piles on more frustration.

Switching to lithium batteries relieves owners of all those maintenance chores and nagging reliability concerns in one enlightening upgrade. Lithium ion cells tolerate thousands more repetitive charging/discharging cycles while retaining 85% or better capacity far longer through their approximate 5-10 year lifespan assuming proper BMS precautions. Running on lithium golf cart battery power, most late model 48V electric golf carts satisfy over 50 miles travel distance on a single charge—and you’re much less likely to get stuck out on the furthest holes from the clubhouse thanks to lithium batteries’ voltage stability as the charge level tapers down.

Best Battery Supplier for Golf Carts

When it’s time to replace the original factory-installed batteries that came with your golf cart years ago, or upgrade from outdated lead acid power to better-performing lithium technology, selecting the optimal replacement batteries tailored for golf applications means everything towards reliable operation plus convenient range and charging moving forward.

Among the better high-capacity lithium golf cart battery and charger package offerings available in the golf cart upgrade market nowadays, MANLY Battery stands out for delivering thoroughly matched lithium ion battery for seamlessly maximizing popular late model golf cart electrical systems day after day.

MANLY designs, engineers and rigorously tests their complete lithium golf cart battery solutions in-house to satisfy the most demanding owners and course conditions alike—not just reference and repackage cells from offshore commodity suppliers like many competing brands unfortunately still do. Rigorous pack voltage balancing, battery management system tuning, and thermal control measures derived from MANLY’s extensive electric powertrain research all help these lithium cells and encased packs endure extreme discharge/recharge cycling through more rounds and years of service staying cooler and safer than the average aftermarket DIY lithium golf cart battery experiment you may encounter online from less specialized sellers. Click here to learn about the best lithium golf cart batteries recommended by MANLY Battery.

Final Words

When deciding between electric or gas power for your golf cart needs, carefully consider your intended usage plans and budget over a 5+ year ownership timeframe. Electric models accommodate most typical golf community and rental fleet needs conveniently and cost efficiently. But gas carts take on distance and hauling challenges better year after year. Test driving both gives you the wheel time perspective to make the best-informed choice on green transportation for your personal golfing enjoyment over years of memories awaiting.

Learn More About Battery