Guide to electric fencing – Part 1
The key parts to an electric fence :
Conductive electric fencing ( tape , rope etc )
Power source :
This is the power to run the electric fence. Typically this will either be mains 240 V or 12 V batteries. some energisers can also run from specialist 9 V batteries or the more common D cell batteries.
There is often a misconception over the use of solar power in electric fencing. Solar power will still always have a battery storing the power that comes from the sun. Without this an energiser would not be able to run this night and would probably struggle on a dull winter day.
The way to think of solar power is that the solar panel charges the battery and the battery runs the electric fencing Energizer.
Electric fencing energisers
This is the part of the electric fence that takes the energy from the batteries and converts it to a high voltage pulse that will provide the Zap on the fenceline. They come in a wide variety of styles types and most importantly power output and capability. More expensive models will have a variety of additional functions and self-monitoring capabilities that whilst can be very useful to the large landowner these functions are not necessarily required by people with small acreage. Some of the very latest models have even got the ability to send you a sms text message when there is a problem or if the unit believes it has been stolen!
D cells – low power unit
9 v low to medium power unit
12v low to very high power unit
240v mains low to very very high power unit.
dedicated solar energiser ( panel built in ) – low power
12v energiser with solar assist – low to very high power ( only limitation is budget and space, how many soalr panels do you want to install )
The function of posts is to keep the electric fencing off the ground. The actual electric fencing product (tape, rope, twine, steel wire) is held in position via electric fencing insulators.
For permanent fencing wooden posts are typically used though metal posts and concrete posts are available.
For semi permanent and temporary fencing plastic electric fencing posts are used. These have the advantage of being very light and very easily moved about as the grazing requirements dictate. For semi permanent fencing the use of a few strategically placed wooden posts will significantly help to stiffen the electric fence and make it less vulnerable to damage during storms.
The electric fencing insulators role is a surprisingly critical one especially in big permanent fencing installations. As the name suggests the insulators job is to ensure that the high voltage pulse of the electric fence is “insulated” and cannot leak to earth. It is very tempting to just wrap the electric fencing tape (rope, twine, steel wire) around a wooden post and while the weather was totally dry this would be fairly effective. As soon as the post was damp or wet the high voltage electricity would starts to find a path to earth at the bottom of the post and power leak from the electric fence. Whilst this may not matter if it only was occurring on one post on a larger fence that may have two or three hundred posts, all leaking power the loss would be virtually hundred percent of the available power and the fence could be rendered virtually useless.
Insulated come in a very wide variety of sizes shapes ( and now colours)
Electric fencing tape , rope , twine , steel wire
The role of the electric fencing tape is to carry the shock from the Energizer around the fence line. It is very important that the electric fencing tape is held in suitable insulators please see paragraph above.
There is a very wide range of electric fencing tapes, ropes, twines, and steel wire available on the market today. I have broken down the more common applications below though please understand that many of our comments are based upon the best practice and not in any way cast in stone.
Typically available in 12 mm, 20 mm and 40 mm. Primarily designed for use with horses they can be used with virtually all livestock and animals that might have poor eyesight can often benefit from the higher visibility that product brings. One downside of electric fencing tapes is that due to the increased surface area they can be very vulnerable to wind damage and I’m not necessarily well suited to Hilltop and coastal applications.
Typically available in 6mm, 5 mm and 8mm electric fencing ropes have been made, the larger diameter ropes can be prohibitively expensive. Electric fencing ropes can be used with virtually all livestock the primary benefit is the increased strength and significantly reduced susceptibility to wind damage.
Electric fencing twines are typically 2mm in diameter and are typically used for the fencing of cattle, sheep and pigs. The smaller size of twine makes it very useful for use on reel systems where significant distances can be loaded onto reels and still be a manageable weight. The reduced size of twine does not necessarily mean that this is any less conductive as manufacturers often provide twine with a very high specification of steel in the weave.
Steel wire is available as a smooth wire and as a multiple twisted stranded wire. It is typically NOT used for horses But is used extensively for cattle, sheep, pigs.
Steel wire is well suited to permanent electric fencing installations and is very conducted being able to carry a large shock over a significant distance.
Stranded steel wire is often used on the reel systems but care must be taken in its handling as it can fracture and have vicious barbs along its length.
Steel wire is also available as a high tensile variety this typically 2.5 mm diameter. Hi tensile wire does require special equipment to use it successfully and is not typically best suited to the requirements of a smallholder.
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