Home » Charge Smart: Safely Charging Golf Buggies Using Lithium-ion Batteries

Charge Smart: Safely Charging Golf Buggies Using Lithium-ion Batteries

Charge Smart: Safely Charging Golf Buggies Using Lithium-ion Batteries

Li-ion batteries can overheat and burst into flames if they are used, charged or disposed of incorrectly. Fires involving Li-ion batteries can be difficult to extinguish and require large quantities of water. Li-ion battery incidents often result from:

• Poor component quality
• Flawed design
• Physical damage
• Improper charging or discharging

Recent incidents involving Li-ion powered micro mobility devices have been widely reported both locally and globally, often resulting in tragic consequences. EV FireSafe recorded more than 500 battery fire incidents involving micro mobility devices in the first half of 2023, resulting in at least 36 fatalities. Fire and Rescue NSW responded to 114 Li-ion battery fires in the first half of 2023, reflecting a nearly 20% increase when compared to the first half of 2022.

Li-ion batteries offer significant advantages for powering golf buggies, but they come with inherent risks if not handled correctly. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

Mitigating the risks – Safety Tips for Charging Golf Buggies and other Li-ion-powered devices
Regulations relating to the use of Li-ion-powered devices vary in each state, and many Fire and Rescue authorities offer safety tips to mitigate the risks. To reduce the fire risks associated with LI-ion battery use, follow these practical steps:

• Avoid Battery Charging or Storage in Clubhouses: Ensure member-owned buggies or batteries are not charged in high-value club buildings.
• Implement a Cart Safety Inspection Policy: Ensure golf carts pass a safety inspection by a qualified contractor, with regular safety inspections performed annually.
• Designate a Safe Charging Area: Store and charge club-owned equipment in a low-value building at least 12 metres from non-combustible walls, and 24 metres from combustible walls or large openings in non-combustible walls. Charge batteries well clear of combustible storage on a concrete floor.
• Comply with Standards: Ensure the charging facility and equipment meet Australian Standards.
• Use Approved Chargers: Only use chargers supplied with or approved by the device manufacturer. Spare or replacement batteries must be compatible and approved by the device manufacturer.
• Check Battery and Charger Condition: Do not use damaged or discoloured charging cables or connectors, bulging or cracked batteries, or batteries with signs of impact damage.
• Monitor Charging: Disconnect devices once fully charged and avoid charging batteries overnight or unattended for long periods. You can consider setting timers as a reminder to unplug products.
• Prepare for Emergencies: Develop emergency response protocols, including isolating power supplies to the charger, notifying fire emergency services, and using fire hose reels to cool batteries if safe to do so. NOTE: Li-ion batteries are unsafe to handle during initial stage of thermal runaway (battery overheating). Only trained fire emergency service personnel with suitable protective equipment should handle batteries that are venting gases or have elevated temperatures. Damaged or faulty batteries should be temporarily stored at least 24 metres away from facilities and combustible materials/vegetation before being safely removed from the site.

Conclusion
Li-ion batteries offer significant advantages for powering golf buggies, but they come with inherent risks if not handled correctly. By adhering to these safety guidelines and being vigilant about charging practices, you can use Li-ion-powered golf buggies while minimising the risk of fire incidents.


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