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Lithium-Ion vs. Sealed Lead Acid Batteries for Electric Golf Trolleys

The traditional power source for electric golf caddies is a “Deep-Draw Gel Cell” Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery. Today the SLA battery is still the biggest in the electric golf caddy battery market. But, there is another player in town. The Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery is challenging the SLA battery market. Although it’s not yet the leader, the Li-Ion battery is increasing in sales rapidly. Why is this happening? We will go through the pros and cons of the Li-Ion and a few commonly asked questions about this new type of battery.

Pros Li-Ion compared to SLA
  • Weight: A Li-Ion battery can weigh on average anywhere from ½ to ¼ less
  • Size: The cube space occupied by a Li-Ion battery is about ½ to ¾ smaller
  • Life Cycle: The Li-Ion battery lifespan ranges from 2 to 4 times longer. Typical Electric Caddy SLA batteries will last through about 150 to 200 re-charges. Li-Ion batteries typically last through 300 to 1000 re-charges.
Learn more about the advantages of, and purchasing information for Li-Ion battery.

Cons Li-Ion compared to SLA
  • Cost: Li-Ion batteries typically cost 3 to 4 times more than the SLA battery. See the price differences here.
  • Weight Distribution: Some individuals claim that the Li-Ion design may tend to make the electric golf caddy less stable. This is due to the weight difference between the new Li-Ion technology and the SLA. This would only affect caddies which were built originally for the SLA battery. Electric Caddies such as these were designed with the lighter battery in mind, so there should be no cause for concern.

FAQs about Electric Caddies with Lithium-Ion Batteries

I’ve got an electric caddy with an SLA. Can I just pop a Li-Ion battery in?
Unless the manufacturer provides a retro-fit kit, significant modifications may be needed to your electric caddy. If the voltage and amp-hour capacity of the SLA and Li-Ion battery are the same, you may plug the Li-Ion in directly. However, you may need to alter the battery mount, charger, and cable connecters, in order to account for the Li-Ion’s design. In addition you may want to look into your warranty policy. If it is still in effect alterations to the caddy may void some or all of the warranty. If you are interested in retrofitting your caddy see this page for the resources you need.

Do Electric Golf Caddy manufacturers market Li-Ion Retro-fit Kits?
One manufacturer does precisely that. Bat Caddy sells a kit that will fit any of their electric caddies. It costs approximately $450 and can be purchased here.

What additional costs will I incur with a Li-Ion Battery?
The additional costs associated with any battery are directly connected to life-cycle. This term refers to just how long the battery lasts before having to be replaced. If the Li-Ion battery costs three times more than the SLA, the SLA battery is more cost effective. However, when the Li-Ion battery is only two times more than the SLA battery, the Li-Ion is more cost effective.
Today the SLA battery will cost you less in the long run than the Li-Ion battery. However, as the Li-Ion technology improves and the initial price decreases, it is expected that the Li-Ion battery will ultimately become the most cost effective battery on the market.

The Big Idea

There are lots of advantages to the Lithium-ion battery for your electric golf caddy. They are smaller, lighter, and hold a charge longer than the SLA battery. Although the SLA battery still has lower life-cycle costs than the Li-Ion battery, new technology is rapidly advancing causing the Li-Ion battery to become the ideal electric golf caddy battery on the market. If you are interested in learning more or buying a battery, View Golf Cart Battery Selection.