Electric Fencing Basics – 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.
How Electric Fences Work | zarebasystems ©
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. Does electric fencing use a lot of electricity? The fence uses electricity yes, but it’s negligible. The energizer is plugged into a battery, the battery is what you are charging… Similar to most alarm systems the battery can last about 8 hours on a full charge.
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 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…
8 Things you must consider when choosing your electric fencing system
1 Type of animals you need to keep in or keep out
2 Do you want a new fence?
3 What would you like to replace?
4 What would you like to add the electrical fence to?
5 Do you want to be able to move the electric fence?
6 How long should your electric fence last?
7 Dimensions of your plot
An electric fence is made from three elements:
1. Energiser. This generates a regular pulse of electrical current
2. Wire. This conducts the current
3. Earth. Returns the current back to the energiser.
The energiser sends a pulse of electrical current down the fence wire. When an animal touches the wire, their body completes the circuit. This allows the electricity to flow down to the ground and back to the energiser. The pulse lasts for a fraction of a second, the animal only feels a very brief shock. This causes them to move away from the electric fence immediately. Most animals will receive a shock within the first week of a fence being erected. It is completely safe, but animals dislike the sensation, deterring them from approaching the fence in the future. An electric fence is really a psychological barrier, so you can use fewer materials than a physical barrier, keeping cost to a minimum.
What makes up an electric fence
An electric fence consists of multiple components:
The energiser converts electricity from the mains supply or battery into high voltage pulses of electric current. A pulse is produced at one-second intervals and travels along the fence. This pulse lasts for a fraction of a second. The type of energiser you need depends on:
- How close the fence is to a mains supply.
- How long the fence will be.
- Type of animals you want to control.
There are many variations of wire available.
Steel wire, either single or multi-stranded, is strong, durable and highly effective at conducting electricity. The animal will receive a greater shock when touching the fence. Steel wire is heavier than other alternatives, and best used in permanent or semi-permanent fencing. This should never be used with horses.
Polywire is lighter than steel wire. It is a UV stabilised polythene twine and has three or more strands of stainless-steel wire woven into it. Polywire is designed for temporary fencing and strip-grazing, although the more substantial Polyrope can be used for permanent fencing.
Polytape and Polybraid consist of stainless-steel wires and polythene strands woven into a ribbon. It is available in a range of widths and colours. Both are highly visible but can be vulnerable in high winds. This can be used for permanent and temporary fencing.
Electrified netting is made in a range of mesh sizes for different animals. The horizontal strands are Polywire, while the vertical strands are plain polythene twine. It is most suitable for temporary fencing and strip-grazing.
A Reel allows you to unroll the fence wire evenly without creating potentially damaging kinks and roll it up again neatly for reuse. By locking firmly onto a reel post, the reel keeps the fence wire taut. We offer two kinds of reels:
Hand Reel – for manual fencing.
4. Stakes and Posts
Permanent fences use timber posts to hold the wire and temporary fences use metal or plastic stakes. In addition, anchor posts are used for temporary fencing in the corners or at the beginning of a fence. They help ease any strain on the fence. Temporary fences require a reel post at the end of the fence line to hold spare fence wire firm and keep the line taut. Posts and stakes are available in different heights and spacing’s, depending on the stock you want to fence.
Insulators stop the fence wire touching the post or stake. Insulators stop the electricity leaking back into the ground. Anchor or end-strain insulators take the strain of the wire at the end of the fence line or at corners. Polystakes are made of non-conductive plastic therefore separate insulators are not required. Good quality insulators should be smooth and dry off easily. This is to prevent moisture collecting in nooks or cracks causing current to leak in an ‘arc’. Arcing reduces the effectiveness of the fence and can be identified by a regular clicking sound. Offset insulators can be used to hold an electric fence wire a short distance away from a new or existing permanent fence. The wire stops animals causing damage by biting, leaning or rubbing against the fence. This will ensure your fence lasts longer.
6. Earth stakes
Earth stakes are inserted into the ground and attached to the energiser. An earth stake ensures the power returns through the ground and back to the energiser when an animal completes the circuit by touching the fence.
7. Fence Tester
All electric fences need regular maintenance. You should regularly measure the power on the fence lines. A fence tester, or voltmeter, will help you locate any problem areas where power is leaking away.
Types of electric fencing
Temporary Electric Fencing
Temporary fences allow you to strip-graze certain areas of fields or create short-term paddocks or enclosures. You can set them up and move quickly and easily, using stakes and posts driven into the ground. See our guide to Installing a Temporary Electric Fence for more details.
A permanent electric fence is a longer-term option combining timber posts with durable steel or polytape fence lines, designed to give trouble-free fencing for many years. See our guide to Installing a Permanent Electric Fence for more details
An electric fence wire placed at a small distance from an existing timber or wire mesh fence prevents the stock from biting, rubbing or pushing against it, thereby extending its life.
Safety in electric fencing
- Properly installed and maintained, electric fencing is safe for humans and animals. However, you must adhere to the following:
- Never electrify barbed wire or any other material that could entangle an animal or person.
- Never attach more than one energiser to a fence. Maintain a gap of at least 2 meters between separate electric fences.
- Put up Warning Signs at intervals of no more than 10 meters on any electric fence installed along a public path or highway, or at any other point where people may encounter the fence.
- Where your fence intersects a footpath or highway, you must incorporate a non-electrified gate or stile to cross the fence.
- Never install connecting leads (underground cable) in the same conduit as mains supply wiring, communication cables, or data cables.
- Avoid running electric fences parallel with overhead power or communication lines, as it may induce a dangerously high voltage on the fence line. When crossing under power lines do so at right angles and make sure the fence height doesn’t exceed 2 meters.
- Make sure you leave a distance of at least 10 meters between earth rods and any other earthing system for power supplies or telecommunication systems.
- Install mains fence energisers undercover, near a mains supply.
- Make sure they are out of reach of children, and away
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