Can you put a car battery into a golf cart?
You might think that if a battery can run a car, it must be good enough to run a smaller vehicle like a golf cart. You can make the golf cart run, but only for a while. The battery will not last because it’s not designed for repeated discharge cycles.
You see, there are two types of lead-acid batteries: starter (cars) and deep-cycle (golf carts, RVs, solar power systems). From the outside, they look the same. But the internal design and functionality of a deep cycle vs. starting battery are essentially different.
Finding out that you bought the wrong battery can be frustrating and costly. Here’s a quick starting battery vs. deep cycle battery guide to help you avoid this mistake.
Deep Cycle vs. Starting Battery: Marathon or Sprint?
Think of the two types of batteries as runners competing in track and field.
One trains for long-distance events while the other specializes in sprints like the 100-meter dash. While both types of athletes can undoubtedly run well, making them compete in the field they didn’t train for can turn into a trainwreck.
A starting battery is designed to deliver a quick and big burst of current for a short period. In this analogy, these batteries are sprinters like Usain Bolt. This surge of power is what’s needed to turn a car engine over when starting.
On the other hand, deep cycle batteries are your marathon runners. They’re built to provide steady and continuous power for an extended period. While a deep cycle battery can deliver a surge if needed, it’s not to the same level as a car battery can.
Starter Batteries: Starting, Lighting, Ignition
Starter batteries are also known as Starting, Lighting, and Ignition or SLI batteries.
As talked about, power is its defining feature. Engineers measure this power in CCA or Cold Cranking Amps.
CCA is the amount of current a battery can supply in 30 seconds at a cold temperature (0ºF). As you expect, starter batteries have a higher CCA rating than deep cycle batteries.
Its internal design consists of many thin plates in parallel to provide a larger surface area for drawing power. This also provides a low resistance environment for the electrolyte inside the battery.
The downside is that the thinner plates are prone to warping and pitting with repeated deep discharges.
What Is a Deep Cycle Battery?
A deep cycle battery has fewer but thicker and more solid plates. The surface area for the electrolyte to react with is less, and therefore, the release of current is slower. However, the design allows for a steady draw that can withstand a far greater number of discharge cycles.
Deep cycle batteries have lower CCA, but they have two to three times the RC of a car battery. RC, or Reserve Capacity, is a measurement of longevity. It’s the number of minutes the battery can deliver 25 amps at 80ºF.
There are different types of deep cycle batteries, such as a flooded deep cycle battery, absorbed glass mat (AGM), and Lithium-ion.
Choose the Right Battery
The similarity between a deep cycle vs. starting battery lies only in the outside appearance. Fundamentally and structurally, they’re very different. A starting battery provides a quick burst of short-lived power, while a deep cycle battery allows for a longer, sustained draw.
For more tech tips and advice, please check out the rest of the articles on this site.