Why and How to Bypass the Club Car Onboard Computer
Why would you want to bypass your Club Car onboard computer? Ingersoll Rand Corporation, the makers of Club Car, started using an on-board computer (OBC) on their 48 volt golf carts and electric vehicles as early as 1995. When you plug the charger into your golf cart, the OBC will tell the battery charger when to start and stop charging based on the voltage levels in your batteries. Sounds like a good idea, right? In theory or in a perfect world this utilization of technology makes perfect sense. However, the world is not perfect and this particular arrangement leaves many in the golfing world left wanting.
The Background for 'Why'
Here is the #1 complaint. Regardless the brand of charger selected if you do not bypass the OBC, one of two Club Car charging problems will happen. For 2006 and newer Club Car models the attached non-OEM charger will not be able to recognize the voltage on the battery bank and in turn will not commence charging. For older models the attached charger will become a slave to the OBC and abandon its own charge profile in favor of what the onboard computer determines.
Complaint #2 has to do with system malfunction. If the OBC crashes you cannot charge your batteries at all or may no longer have access to the “brain” and its algorithms to tell the attached charger when to turn on or shut off for example. So you either can’t charge your batteries at all or you continuously charge and fry your batteries! Yikes.
The third complaint, in a way, is a combination of the two above, but it simply brings into question if the Club Car OBC is the best choice when it comes to extending the life of your golf carts batteries. Many in the industry seem to agree there are better charging options available. And several of these better golf cart charger options are less expensive and last longer!
There are two names we trust to charge your Club Car: Pro Charging Systems with their Delta Volt equipped chargers and Schauer battery chargers. Pro Charging Systems, also known as Dual Pro, is made here in the USA while Schauers roots date back to the early 1900’s. But enough about that, let’s get into how to bypass the OBC on your cart.
The Instructions for 'How'
Despite this being a pretty straightforward task, let me start out with the self-protection liability statement. If you have zero or little confidence in your ability to interpret and then correctly follow these instructions please stop. Go and find someone to help before attempting this wiring change. I personally and Impact Battery do not accept any responsibility for what you are about to do. So don’t do something stupid. There are a couple of different variations to accomplish the same result so please don’t over complicate what is essentially a very simple task.
The image below is a 48 volt Club Car golf cart wiring diagram. Allow me to orient you to what you are seeing. You can clearly see three sets of batteries each of which is 8 volts. The batteries are numbered 1 thru 6 and connected in series (positive to negative) to create the needed 48V output. In the lower right corner you will see all the wiring running through the on-board computer. The upper left corner depicts the backside of the charge receptacle.
Now look at battery number 6 in the lower left corner. To bypass the OBC you will need to connect a 12 gauge black wire from the negative terminal of this battery to where the black wire attaches to the back of the receptacle. That's it folks; you're done!
Your new smart charger with its automatic micro-processor controlled platform is now able to sense voltage and properly charge and maintain your electric vehicle. Sorry if you were expecting more, but it really is that simple. The Layman's science for what you just accomplished is easy: you created a circuit or a loop. Notice how there was a red positive wire coming off battery #1 going directly to the back of the receptacle? But before you added this bypass there was no negative black wire coming directly from the battery bank to the back of the receptacle. It had to first go through the onboard computer before reaching this location.
You have Bypassed the Club Car OBC, Now What?
If you haven't purchased a new smart charger yet and wanted to better understand what all the fuss was about before making the plunge then consider the following now that you know how simple it is.
Pro Charging systems makes this task really simple. If you purchase the i4818-DVCC it will come with the necessary bypass wire and instructions. This Eagle Performance charger series is probably the best charge profile money can buy and they are made right here in America. I don't say that flippantly or as an empty sales fact. The Delta Volt charge technology utilized by the Eagle is in a league of its own. When they first introduced this technology around 2011, if my memory serves me right, we stopped selling most all our other golf cart charger brands. We could not, in good faith, offer for sale other chargers that fall so far below the mark of excellence they had just established.
The only other brand we currently stock that comes close in our scale of excellence is the JAC1548 made by Schuaer. It is made in Taiwan and provides a more affordable option with a high level of value. (Update: This charger also comes with the bypass wire as of March 2018.)
You may also be interested in watching this video created by Do It Yourself dot com. They share a slightly different way to accomplish the same task. The main goal is for you to compare the cart diagram to a real life scenario. Even though he talks about cutting a black wire (which you do not need to) the concept is still the same.