Getting Started with electric fencing.
Here’s some of the basics you might need to consider:
“Electric fencing is ideal for grazing or pasture management by containing animals on a selected area of pasture or crop“.
What is an electric fence?
An electric fence is a barrier used to keep your animals safe and unwanted animals out of gardens and other landscapes you want to protect. Electric fencing is also ideal for grazing or pasture management as it contains animals on a selected area of pasture or crop.
It consists of the following components:
- Fence energiser – emits a current pulse.
- Conductor – tape, (plastic) wire, High Tensile or Equifence for conducting the power.
- Posts – for fitting the conductor.
- Insulators – insulate the power from the wooden or iron posts, so that it won’t flow to the ground.
- Earthing – conducts the power back to the energiser when the conductor is touched. This creates a loop.
The Basics – Uses and benefits of electric fencing
Electric fencing takes less time, effort and cost than traditional, non-electric fencing:
1. Economical and easy
An electric fence is half the cost and takes less than half the time to build and maintain. To make setting up the fence even easier, ask the Gallagher team to do it for you! Find the closet Gallagher representative near you. Find an assembly team near you
2. Safe and reliable
Electric fencing delivers a short, safe and memorable shock to create a psychological as well as a physical barrier. Animals remember and develop a respect for the fence, which also means less animal hide and pelt damage.
3. Durable and long lasting
As animals learn to avoid touching the fence, it lasts a lot longer than a traditional fence and stays in good condition..
How does an Electric Fence work?
Electric current (AMPS) only flows when a circuit is completed between a positive and negative terminal.
In this diagram the current cannot flow from the positive terminal to the negative terminal because the switch is open.
In the second diagram, the switch is now closed, allowing the current to flow from the positive terminal through the light bulb (lighting the bulb) to the negative terminal.
An electric fence circuit is made on a larger scale. The energizer fence terminal (positive) is connected to the insulated fence wires, and the energizer ground terminal (negative) is connected to galvanized metal rods driven into the ground.
The same ‘circuit completion’ (second diagram above) is necessary before the animal gets a shock. An animal standing on the ground and touching the electrified wires (shown right) will complete the circuit like the closed switch in the second diagram above.
For example, a bird sitting on the wire will not receive a shock (shown left). It is not touching the ground so the circuit is not completed. A person wearing insulated footwear will only receive a small shock because all the current cannot pass through the insulated soles.
Dry, sandy or pumice soil is a poor conductor of electric current, so it is a good idea to add an ground (negative) wire into the fence. The animal must touch both a hot wire and ground wire to feel an effective shock.
Where to Start?
If you’re new to electric fencing, all the terms and different items might seem overwhelming. Even if you are familiar with electric fences, you may not know everything about them and find yourself lost with all the different terms. The following is a quick guide to help you get started creating an electric fence, whether you’re fencing in 1,000+ acres or looking for a small, portable fence to create temporary pastures.
Choosing the Right Energizer?
Once you have decided what type of electric fence you want for your property, you will need an energizer also known as a fence charger to power it. The correct energizer size for your property is determined by the type of animal to be fenced, distance of fence to be powered and the number of wires in the fence.
There are two types of energizers:
- 240v powered – these are energizer units which are plugged into a 240v power supply
- Battery/Solar powered – these are energizer units which can be left out in your pasture and require a battery to run them. Two batteries can be rotated on a regular basis or a solar panel can be an effective means of continuously charging your battery.
- *Note: Some units will operate on either mains, battery or solar. Check the model specifications.
Steps to Good Grounding?
Grounding is perhaps the most neglected component of many fence systems. We recommend three ground rods, 1.8m deep and spaced 3 to 4m apart are the minimum recommendation. Never attach copper to steel. Electrolysis can occur and result in corrosion which weakens shocking power. Use galvanized ground wire and grounding rods to avoid this problem.
Consider that most energizers use galvanized or stainless steel terminals – not copper. Think of your ground system as an antenna that gathers electricity in order to deliver the shock to the animal. Modern satellite receivers can tune in to more television channels than the “rabbit ear” antennas of the past. A hose clamp holding a piece of copper wire to a rusty T-post has been the weakest link of many electric fence systems.
There is a misconception that dry vegetation touching an electric fence can cause fires – this is extremely unlikely. In order to create a short, vegetation needs to be damp or green so therefore the vegetation will not ignite. Once vegetation dries out it becomes non-conductive meaning any short created disappears.
What about fire? The only conceivable but still very unlikely scenario where an electric fence could start a fire is when a wire shorts to an grounded metal object, such as a steel post or wire where insulators have broken, in the presence of abundant dry vegetation. This scenario is very unlikely to occur in practice, and even less so on a well-maintained fence. Producers with fences on steel posts or using earthed wires are advised to ensure the live wires are well insulated and the fence is clear of vegetation. If these factors are of concern then on days of severe or above fire risk, consider switching the energizer off.
What do all the numbers mean?
Once you know what type of charger you need you can start to drill down to what size and power of charger you’ll need.
As you consider energisers, you’ll notice comparisons of power in Joules, Km’s/Miles, and Acres. It is important that the numbers that are provided are under assumed “ideal” conditions (enough moisture in the ground, set up correctly, no weeds along the fence line, well insulated, and so on). So let’s explain a little more on determining how these conditions affect your charger choice.
Here’s a bit about what each number means:
Joules – A measure of energy that essentially tells you the relative power of each energizer. For comparison by brands we provide both the “stored” and “output” joules for each product. Remember that the best use of this number is to look at two chargers and determine which one is more powerful. You won’t likely ever get the recommendation to buy a specific joule level of charger as that’s where measures of distance come into play. IMPORTANT: Do not confuse joules and volts. For instance all Gallagher products are around 7,000 volts at the charger. It’s unlikely you’ll need more than this for many animal control scenarios.
Km’s/Miles – All energisers have a a “Km” or “miles” rating to help you decide which will be ideal for your length of fence. The longer your fence line, the bigger charger you will need to maintain 7,000 volts along the entire length. If you have 3 miles of fence line with 4 lines of poly wire you actually have 12 miles of fencing material to be powered.
To make things simpler most energisers listed will show rating at a “multi-wire” distance (3 wires) and a “single-wire” distance.
Acres – It is not recommended to make a buying decision based on acres because the distance of fencing surrounding a single acre can vary by as much as 60% depending on how you set up the perimeter. However, in making quick estimates and comparing with other manufacturers, the approximate acreage can be useful.
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Mobile Electric Fencing
Keeping Animals In….
Electric fencing is there to protect your animals. As well as electric fencing to keep your animals enclosed.
Keeping Animals out….
Electric fencing can serve to keep animals out. As well as electric fencing to drive away animals.
Mobile electric fencing
Mobile electric fencing is temporary fencing that is easy to move. It uses light, easy to move posts together with suitable fencing wire and a mobile energiser.
Temporary electric fencing is the ideal solution for dividing your pasture into several smaller plots. It means you can use different types of grazing to obtain maximum yield from your pasture. Here you find the instructions for putting up a mobile fence.
Mobile fence posts
For mobile fencing, you can choose from various fence posts, which differ in height and application. The Horse post, for example, is a good solution for mobile fencing for horses. The Ringtoppost is extremely suitable to divide fields into multiple paddocks.
Electric Fence Insulators
The right insulator: Optimal guidance, minimal wear and tear:
We often see different insulators being used interchangeably and are not always of the best quality. But did you know that using a good quality insulator can save you an awful lot of time? And that it also contributes to the optimal performance of your fence?
Each situation requires a different insulator. That’s why we’ve worked out the most common ones for you so you can be sure you’re working with the right solutions and tools for the most optimal and safe performance of your fence. To help you in the best possible way, we will take you through four common fencing situations.
The task of insulators is to isolate the conducting wire on which the current stands in relation to the earth. It prevents shorting and at the same time keeps creep currents to humidity and dirt deposit low.
Situation 1: Wooden post, tape fence
With Turboline tape insulators from Gallagher for instance, you’re not only installing your tape in 1 click, but you’re also assured of optimal insulation of your tape fence.
With Gallagher’s XDI solution, you know exactly when the insulator needs to be replaced. So you always prevent short circuits on your cord, HT wire or plastic fence in time. With wood thread, specially designed for wooden posts
Situation 3: Iron pole, vidoflex
With the XDI solution you know exactly when the insulator needs to be replaced. So you always prevent short circuits on your cord, HT wire or plastic wire fence in time. With metric thread for clamping to an iron post
Do you have a traditional wooden fence for your animals? Then we still recommend an electric fence, but in addition. This is to prevent damage to the wood from animals leaning on and biting your fence
Note: For the safety of your animals and maintenance of your fence we advice to check our insulators at least twice per season.
Electric Fence Conductors
Everything you need to know about electric fence conductors:
The conductor is one of the most important parts of your electric fence. The conductor is the part that makes sure the current carries all the way over the fence and in the end passes the current to the animal, resulting in a shock. Therefore, it is important that you choose a conductor suitable for the animal you are fencing in or keeping out and that the conductor is properly installed. Only then will your fence work well.
In 75% of all cases where there is not enough voltage on the fence, this is due to conductors that are connected incorrectly.
What you have to know when choosing a conductor:
1. Type of animal: Not all conductors are suitable for all animals. Among other things this has to do with visibility and the breaking strength of the conductor.
2. The type of fence: First we need to decide if the conductor will be used in a temporary or permanent fence. Aluminised wire is not suited for a temporary fence due to the way this is installed. For a temporary fence a polywire would be better suited.
3. The length of the fence: This is also an important aspect to keep in mind when choosing a conductor. Basic conductors (Economy/Power/Vidoflex 3 & 6) are used for shorter distances up to 500 meter, whereas Pro conductors (Turbo and Vidoflex 9 & 12) are used for longer distances.
4. Maintenance and lifespan: The lifespan of a conductor differs per type. Therefore some conductors require more maintenance and need to be replaced more often than others. Also the UV-warranty differs per conductor.
Don’t knot your conductors together but use a proper connector designed especially for your type of conductor
Important – no matter which conductor you choose – is to make sure everything is installed properly for optimal conductivity, longevity and safety of your animals. In practice we often see conductors installed and connected incorrectly, causing a large loss in conductivity. This results in too much pressure on your energiser and the energiser will never perform to its best capability.
Using the right insulators & connectors
It is important to choose the right insulator for your conductor, to make it work best. Use of the wrong insulators, which are not suitable for your conductor, can cause damage to your wires. It can also cause less or no power on the wire. Therefore, always choose an insulator that matches the conductor.
For cord use the cord-connector and for tape the special tape connector. We often see in practice that threads are tied together with a knot. This causes a short circuit in the wires and allows them to burn out slowly at the location of the knot. So never use a button, this will damage the fence and will ensure that the current is no longer running properly.
Prevent un-tensioned conductors
Unfortunately, sooner or later, slack on your conductors cannot be prevented. But can be kept manageable with regular checks and good maintenance. An unpleasant situation, because it means that your fence is less safe for your animals. They can get caught in between the wires and injure themselves.
In addition, it is not good for the quality and durability of your fence. The slack causes the conductors to move through the wind, which causes wear and tear. This will decrease the conductivity of your power wire and you will need to replace the conductors sooner rather than later