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First U.S. golf car fleet to run on solar

 Citrus Hills Golf & Country Club in Central Florida has proved golf carts can run on solar power without being plugged into electrical outlets every night. Gulf City Solar, a Bonita Springs, Fla.-based company, installed its thinfilm solar panels and power management systems on the club’s fleet of 125 E-Z-GO golf carts earlier this year. The club charges the carts overnight only once a week; solar energy provides enough power to run the carts for daily use.

Unlike solar power kits that use heavy glass panels that can weigh up to 60 pounds or require cart owners to replace their roofs, Gulf City Solar uses a thinfilm panel, weighing about nine pounds. Extra performance is provided by the proprietary power-management system, developed by William Heckenstaller, a principal partner.
           
The solar systems result in substantial savings on electricity, reliability on the courses and longer battery life. Because the sun charges the batteries while the carts are on the course, stranded golf carts due to battery depletion are practically unheard of. Gulf City Solar’s product significantly slows battery aging, easily doubling battery life. As a result, Gulf City Solar warrants the batteries at Citrus Hills for four years.
           
Other clubs in Florida have tested the solar power kits on their golf carts and were very happy with the performance, especially when they found it necessary to charge the test carts only once a month.
           
“We have run the fully solarized golf cart daily for almost three months and have been very impressed with the performance,” said David Gillespie, general manager of Pelican Nest Golf Club in Bonita Springs. “We charged it only a few times during the whole period.”
           
Based on positive test results with Club Car golf carts, Gulf City Solar now offers four-year battery warranties to Club Car fleet owners, provided they have Gulf City Solar’s product installed and use the overnight charger no more than once a week under normal operating conditions.
           
“Ours is the most efficient solar power kit in the market,” said Heckenstaller, the brain behind the technology. “Solar is now a mature technology for golf carts and other slow-moving electrical vehicles. We are in the process of rolling out solar-powered electrical utility vehicles with extra solar panels that enable them to go much farther than 60 miles on a charge. They can be equipped with 12-volt chargers that can run power tools on the golf course.”
           
“These high-performance electric utility vehicles offer dual speeds, 15 mph and 25 mph, switchable on the fly”, said Hans Holzmann, executive vice president of Gulf City Solar. “Equipped with four-wheel independent suspension, this is the right vehicle for busy golf course superintendents who need to be constantly all over the course.”
          
Gulf City Solar will offer seasonal rental of solar-powered golf carts to select Southwest Florida golf clubs, allowing these clubs to manage with smaller year-round fleets by supplementing with rental carts during the busy season. The carts come fully equipped and require charging only once a month under normal operating conditions, saving almost all the energy costs otherwise incurred.
           
“At the end of the season, clubs will have the opportunity to buy the solar-powered golf carts for their residual value, providing significant savings for the next season,” said Holzmann. “The carts will include a three-year warranty for the solar kits and batteries.”

See original story: http://www.golfcourseindustry.com/gci-083111-golf-cart-solar-power.aspx

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