36v vs. 48v Golf Cart: Are You Making The Wrong Choice?

The 36V and 48V golf carts have dominated the market since 1950 and 1995, respectively when they were first introduced by Club Car and later by Yamaha and EZGO brands.

We have drafted this guide to take you through everything you need to know about the 36v and 48v golf carts.

By the end of this read, you will be in a position to differentiate between the two and make an informed investment decision.

Let’s dive in.

How Can You Tell Whether a Golf Cart Is 36v or 48v?

The easiest way to determine the number of volts in your golf cart is by calculating the voltage.

Open up your cart seat to access the battery chamber. Inside the battery compartment are several batteries with either three, four, or even six holes.

Count to confirm the number of holes in one of these batteries, then multiply the count number by two and multiply the result by the number of batteries in the chamber.

The resulting value is the voltage of your golf cart.

For instance, assume that your golf cart has three batteries with six holes each. To get the voltage, you should multiply the six holes by two to get 12, then multiply the resulting value (12) by the number of batteries in the pack (3) to get 36v.

36V vs. 48V Golf Carts: Which One Is The Best?

Whether a 36v golf cart or a 48v golf cart is the best depends on your preferences. However, you can only follow your preferences after familiarizing yourself with various aspects of 36v and 48v golf carts.

Below are the aspects you need to focus on when comparing the 36v and 48v golf carts:

Power

Generally, a 48v battery power can push more current to run the motor than a 36v battery.

The higher current transmission implies that the 48v golf cart has more power to tackle challenging tasks like moving on a sloppy golf course, rough terrain, muddy roads, hunting, etc., which would otherwise be impossible with a 36v golf cart.

The 36v golf cart has average power capabilities and is ideal for less challenging tasks like:

  • carrying golfers on an even golf course,
  • paved pathways,
  • going for leisure rides on smooth terrains within the neighborhood.

Initial Purchase and Maintenance Costs

A 36v golf cart is cheaper than a 48v golf cart, whether you opt for a new ride or a used one.

The lower price is partly due to their battery pack’s low total voltage (36v), which translates to relatively lower torque than the one generated by the 48v battery pack.

Maintenance

Another important consideration before buying either of the above golf carts is their ongoing maintenance cost.

Anecdotal reports from various golf cart users indicate that 36v golf carts are relatively cheaper to maintain than 48v golf carts due to the low cost of replacing fewer batteries and other replacement components.

However, the lower initial purchase and maintenance costs don’t mean they are better than 48v golf carts.

📋 Keep in mind: 48v golf carters are more powerful than 36v golf carts. And, like the 36v, their replacement parts are readily available.

Upgrades

Both 36v and 48v golf carts are good candidates for aftermarket upgrades. For instance, you can upgrade either of them to a higher speed with some alterations in the motor, electronic speed controller, and the solenoid contactor relay.

For instance, you can go for a 36v golf cart and later upgrade it to a 48v golf cart if you are low on budget. Or, go for the 48v golf cart option and convert it to a more powerful ride (say 72v) later.

📋 Keep in mind: It’s important to note that most golf courses have a specified speed limit, which you must conform to during your upgrades.

Carriage capacity

Before you buy your golf cart, ensure that it has enough capacity to carry your intended number of passengers around the golf course or for exploration in the neighborhood.

The 36v golf carts offer cart designs for two and four passengers only.

On the other hand, the 48v golf carts offer cart designs for two, four, and six passengers, giving you more options than the 36v golf cart.

📢 Need To Know: The two-person 48v golf cart design might be ideal if you are looking for a machine that would eat up hilly terrains while hunting outdoors.

Tire Size

36v and 48v golf carts may have equal or different-sized tires. Some golf cart users believe that going for golf carts with larger tires can give them an upper hand when it comes to speed.

However, it’s important to note that it can only work if buggies with different-sized tires have the same number of revolutions per minute (RPM).

Average Drive Range

The 48v golf cart is designed for use in rough and hilly terrains, and it offers an extended drive ranging between 40 and 45 miles per charge.

On the other hand, a 36v golf cart works efficiently on flat and even terrains, and it offers a standard drive of 25 to 30 miles on a full charge, depending on the terrain.

Charging Time

The charging for either of the above golf carts’ batteries depends on:

  • The quality of the batteries
  • The discharge percentage of the batteries
  • The quality of the input charger

More specifically, your golf cart may take a short time (say up to three hours) to recharge fully if it has new batteries that are mildly discharged (say 10 to 20% discharged) and you are recharging them with a heavy-duty charger.

On the other hand, your golf cart may take longer (say 10 hours or more) to recharge fully if it has old batteries, which have lost 80% or more of their charge, and you are recharging them with a light-duty charger.

Considering the above factors, we can confidently conclude that the recharging time for a battery-powered golf cart varies from one buggy to another.

Charging Procedure

The procedure for charging 36v and 48v golf cart batteries is the same. All you need is to follow the charging best practices to keep the batteries in top-notch performance and elongate their lives. Examples of these practices include:

  • Maintaining the battery water levels: Check to ensure that the water is above the surface of the lead plates and that it touches the bottom of the plastic sleeve to allow for expansion during charging.
  • Ensuring proper connections by ensuring that batteries are tightly fixed to the charger
  • Not using all the power in the battery.
  • Recharging the batteries until they are fully charged
  • Ventilating the charging area to let go of charging gas

The above aspects can help you decide whether to go for a 36v golf cart or a 48v golf cart,

However, before you choose your perfect golf cart, let’s delve deeper into their pros, cons, and other aspects of each.

36v Golf Cart Strengths

A 36v golf cart has several benefits that may make it worth your time and investment. For instance, compared to their 48v cousins, 36v golf carts have:

  • Lower initial cost 
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Plenty of replacement parts
  • Easy to replace batteries, motor, controllers, etc

36v Golf Cart Drawbacks

The 36v golf carts have their shortfalls too. For instance,

  • They have a less powerful motor than their 48v counterparts
  • They cover lesser miles (up to 30 miles) than a 48v golf cart on a  single charge
  • They’re  not ideal for offroad use
  • They don’t maintain their value

48v Golf Cart Strengths

Below are the various reasons why you might love the 48v golf carts:

  • They are more powerful than 36v golf carts
  • They eat up mountainous and rough terrains like no one’s business
  • Their replacement parts are readily available
  • They have a higher resale value
  • They are power efficient as they cover up to 45 miles per charge

48v Golf Cart Drawbacks

The possible reasons why you might dislike the 48v golf carts include:

  • High initial cost
  • High cost of replacing the batteries, motor, and the controllers

Which Are The Top 36v And 48v Golf Cart Brands In The Market?

The top 36v and 48V golf cart brands include Club Car, Yamaha, and EZGO. They are also the pioneers of the two golf cart categories.

More specifically:

  • Club Car introduced the 36v golf cart in 1950 and later advanced to the 48v golf cart in 1995. 
  • EZGO came next with its 36v golf cart in 1960 and 48v in 2008
  • Yamaha came later with its 36v version 1975 and 48v in 1995

The three brands have dominated the golf carts industry till today.

Frequently Asked Questions About 36v And 48v Golf Carts

Is A 48v Golf Cart More Powerful Than 36v Golf Carts?

Yes, the 48v golf cart is more powerful than a 36v golf cart. It can generate more torque to give you hassle-free time in muddy, rough, and hilly terrain.

Can I Upgrade The 36v Golf Cart To A 48v Golf Cart?

Yes, you can upgrade your 36v buggy into a more powerful 48v golf cart by upgrading the:
– Batteries
– Solenoid
– Controller
– Motor
– Solenoid diode and resistor

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Author

Charl is a full-time writer who has been with Golfible since 2019. He is an avid golfer and tech enthusiast. When not writing, he tries to squeeze in a round of golf or escape to the mountains. Learn more about the Golfible team on our About Us page.

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