The first decision you make before buying a golf cart is whether to purchase an electric or gas golf cart. Unlike electric golf carts, gas-powered golf carts run on gas instead of batteries.
This means that they run on combustion engines where the gas is lit in an enclosed space releasing power and causing your golf cart to move.
Like all other vehicles with a combustible engine, all gas-powered golf carts have alternators. The aim of using an alternator is to provide additional power to a vehicle’s electrical system.
Gas-powered golf carts vary in the number of engine strokes. Older models have two-stroke engines while current models have four-stroke engines.
In the case of diesel-run golf cart engines, the alternators are part of the main electrical components. Their primary role is to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy which is essential for charging the battery system of the golf cart.
There are cases where golf cart engines are oil-powered and use starting motors, but in other instances, such as with golfcart batteries, they operate on electric power.
Functions of an Alternator in a Gas Golf Cart
As earlier indicated the alternators simply convert mechanical energy to electrical energy through an alternating current hence their name. In most cases, the electrical components consist of a magnetic field that is created around a stationary armature.
The power is produced through the electromagnetism process which is as a result of the interactions between the stator and rotor relationship.
The gas golf carts then use the alternators to charge the battery system from energy produced by the combustible gas.
Then the battery is used to generate energy that the electrical system in the golf cart can utilize such as lights both internal and external. Furthermore, alternators in gas golf carts can serve additional functions including:
- By enabling the battery to be charged they enable the provision of electricity that is required to start the gas golf cart
- Once the gas golf cart is running the alternators continue to facilitate the generation of energy that can supply the electrical system of the golf cart as well as its battery system.
Major Components of a Gas Golf Cart Alternator
So what are the major components of an alternator used in a gas golf cart?
1. The Regulator
The regulator controls the voltage. This means the voltage regulator limits the supply of power from the alternator to the golf cart battery system.
This enables control of battery charging system of the golf cart since it is made to serve numerous functions depending on how the golf cart is being used.
A rectifier, as the name suggests it is used to convert ‘rectify’ alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC), when the charging process is taking place. In addition, there is a rotor.
It normally spins inside the alternator and facilitates the rotation of the pulley enabling the belt system to move along. Simply put it plays the role of a spinning electromagnet.
Speaking of the pulley it is made up of the connected rotor shaft and the drive belt system.
3. The Slip Rings
The slip rings also make up the gas golf cart alternator with their primary role being supplying the direct current, which is power that facilitates the movement of the rotor.
In close relation, there is the slip end bearing that is made to enable the spinning of the rotor shaft. Whilst the drive end bearing aids in the support of the spinning rotor shaft.
Finally, the alternator is made up of a stator which is an iron ring that consists of several coils of wire that are tied around it.
The stator makes part of the framework of the alternator creating an electrical current that is produced by the magnetic field that has been established.
Finally, the golf cart’s alternators also contain other minute components such as rotor field winding, diode rectifier, field winding, finger poles among others.
Types of Gas Golf Cart Alternators
Having established the main components of a gas golf cart, it is key to look at the various types of alternators that can be used. They tend to be categorized based on their designs and applications. They include the following:
- Diesel-electric Locomotive Alternators that are deployed in diesel-electric multiple units system.
- Automotive Alternators that can be spotted in most modern gas golf carts.
Complications of Gas Golf Cart Alternators
Like most gadgets, golf carts alternators can develop complications or fail. The problems are compounded by worn contact rings, a failing voltage regulator, or worn carbon brushes.
The remedy to these complications is pretty simple as you can rebuild the alternator or replace the components such as the voltage regulator, the carbon brushes, and the bearings.
To help prevent the above issues in your golf cart alternator, you need to take your golf cart for regular checkups and maintenance.
This will ensure the longevity of your vehicle and save you money in the long run.
Alternatives to Gas Golf Cart Alternators
However, there are cases where golf carts do not have alternators. In such cases, the golf carts are not gas-powered.
For instance, electric cars such as Tesla golf carts do not have alternators instead they have a pair of direct current (DC) to direct current (DC) converters hence no need to maintain alternators.
Their downside is that they rely on either four or six lead-acid batteries that tend to have a relatively short life span of about three years. Also, they are prone to failure during extreme weather events such as winter.
Despite the proliferation of electric golf carts with Lithium-ion batteries taking center stage, still, gas golf carts are being widely used.
Therefore, alternators are going to find use and purpose in these golf carts. As a matter of fact, they are an essential component of the charging system of the gas-powered golf carts.
As long as we have golf courses and a continually growing population of golf enthusiasts, the gas-powered golf carts will find use and so will be the alternators that are integral to their electrical system.