We get a multitude of questions about how to gain more power from an electric golf cart. As with many questions of this nature, there are several means to an end. Below, we will discuss how to increase your torque to gain more power from an electric golf cart, as well as define some basic terminology to help understand these concepts.
First, let’s step back and define some basic electricity terminology and concepts which must be understood to adequately grasp this tutorial regarding electric golf cart power. For the purpose of this discussion, our use of the word “power” will be synonymous with “torque”. Further, the words “torque” and “power” are not used to address top end flat ground speed.
To further limit the scope of our discussion, we’ll also only address DC motors used in golf cart applications. We’ll save AC motors for another day.
So, how do you gain more electric golf cart power? When speaking about DC golf cart motors, you must first understand that voltage equals speed and amperage equals torque. If you want more speed, you increase the motor rpm. There are two ways to do that. First, you could leave the voltage alone and use a motor with a higher rated rpm for that voltage. Or, you could also keep the same motor and provide it more voltage resulting in a higher top end speed. You must also realize that according to the laws of electricity, that amperage and voltage are inversely proportional, so as one goes up the other goes down, and vice versa. Many modifications you make to gain one or the other may cost you performance elsewhere. Keep this in mind when upgrading your electric golf cart power.
To gain more power from an electric golf cart, you could also utilize a different motor. Series wound DC torque motors have a much larger field coil inside allowing them to generate a larger magnetic field and hold the armature more securely producing greater torque. On the other hand, series wound DC speed motors have a much smaller field coil producing a weaker magnetic field and allowing the armature to spin at a much higher rpm for greater top end speed. Usually, installing a torque motor will gain more “power” but will sacrifice speed. Inversely, a speed motor will result in a higher top speed, but will sacrifice torque.
However, installing a torque motor alone may not always be the solution. You also have two major electrical components between the battery bank) and the motor. These components are the solenoid contactor relay and the electronic speed controller. If these are not upgraded as well to support the higher current draw by the motor, you have effectively created a “bottleneck” situation. If your motor is trying to draw 400A to the motor, but your solenoid and controller are rated at a meager 275A, the motor cannot function at its full potential because of this current limitation. It is a best practice to upgrade these components to an appropriate amperage level when the motor is upgraded.
Not all applications will require a motor change to gain more power from an electric golf cart. In many cases, the stock motors can handle significantly higher current levels with no ill effects. If a customer asks for more power, we give them torque and generally begin with an upgrade to the solenoid, F-N-R switch, power cables, and solenoid. All else being equal, upgrading a 275A controller to a 400A version will gain 20% more torque, a 500A version around 30%, and a 650A around 40%, all using a stock motor. For this reason, we often upgrade in this manner. If the application calls for heavy hauling, or steep terrain, we will also upgrade the motor after the initial installation for further power gains.
By Michael Williams