An Electric Fence Primer for the Total Beginner Part IV

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by OldGuy43, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. OldGuy43

    OldGuy43 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hints & Tips (and stuff I forgot and should have mentioned earlier [​IMG] )

    Your fence does not have to be one wire. It can be several wires parallel to each other at different heights on the same fence or one or more wires going in multiple directions from the charger, or any combination thereof. As long as you have a path to the charger it will work. On the same subject remember that ground does not necessarily refer to the ground (earth). It can be another piece of wire or even a metal plate attached to a ground rod.

    If your fence wire just can't avoid a potential ground for whatever reason a piece of old garden hose can serve as an insulator. Just slip it over the wire, but keep it as short as practical. Remember, no bare wire, no protection. You can use the same method if you need to pass the fence wire through a wall or other possible current drain source. While we're on that subject don't use common insulated wire and expect it to work. The high voltages involved with a fence will "punch through" that insulation with no problem.

    A small amount of dielectric silicone grease, available at most electronics supply houses smeared onto the connections at your charger will help to prevent corrosion and arcing. Certainly not a necessity, but it helps to prevent problems in the future.

    Having trouble keeping the wire in some of the insulators? A plastic UV protected Ty-rap will solve that problem nicely.

    Small gates can be made useable without necessitating the shutting off of the fence by simply elevating the wire about 7' above the ground. If you feel the need to protect the gate itself you can add an extra piece of wire on the gate. For a large, drive-through gate you'll need a minimum height of 13' 6" (That being the maximum legal height of a vehicle in most states). If you are the type of person that worries about such things the National Electrical Code requires a minimum clearance of 18' above the highest point of the road surface.

    That brings us to how to splice the wire. While there are commercial devices for this purpose, I've never used them. I recommend a propane torch and rosin core solder. Thoroughly clean the wire with emery paper or steel wool, wrap the two pieces together tightly, remove the wire from any nearby insulators that might be melted in the process, heat the wire until it glows red and apply the solder while keeping the wire hot. Make sure the solder "sweats" into the joint. A large glob of solder means you have a cold joint, not a good electrical or physical connection.

    If you need or want the ability to shut off all or any portion of your fence without unplugging the charger do not use a common, household light switch. The reasons for this are twofold, both related to voltage. Common light switches are not insulated for the high voltages involved with an electric fence. Also, the actual contacts arc every time you throw the switch. The high voltages we're dealing with will cause the contacts to erode. Eventually they will get to the point where they no longer conduct and your fence, from the switch on will not work. The ideal thing is an old fashioned single pole, single throw knife switch installed between the charger and the portion you want to disable. They are self-cleaning, reliable, easy to install and tolerate being exposed to the weather. Another advantage is that you can easily tell if the switch is open or closed even from a distance. You don't need a very large one since it does not need to carry much current. When installing one decide how it will be used. If needed install it so that it can be easily reached from both sides of the fence. Remember, the exposed metal on a knife switch carries the same voltage as the fence. A bit of dielectric silicone grease smeared onto these connections, the pivot and the blade of the switch itself isn't a bad idea either.

    A carefully thought out and well installed fence requires very little, if any maintenance. There are only three things that are likely to go wrong. The ground system fails, the wire breaks or the fence gets shorted to ground. Of the three, the most likely is a short. Shorts are usually easy to find. They're usually caused by vegetation or something blowing up against the fence. Just walk along the fence, look and listen. That's right, listen. Unless the short is really solid you will hear a sizzling to the same beat as your charger. Can a charger fail? I suppose so, but I've never seen it happen. To test your charger just unplug it, disconnect the fence wire and plug it back in. Now touch the probe from your fence tester (You did buy one, right?) to the fence terminal and the ground wire. The little light on the tester should start flashing. If it does your charger is good.

    What type of charger do I use? Although I've owned several over the years my current one is a Red Snap'r Model 88C and I've been extremely pleased with it. For those who rushed to Google; yes, I know that's a 20 mile charger and I'm only fencing a 1/2 acre. I have it thanks to a lazy shelf stocker at H...D.... and Texas law. Whatever brand you choose make sure that it is of the pulsing type. Do not get one of the continuous current ones. I find them really scary.

    Well, that's about it. I welcome any questions or comments.

    DISCLAIMER: (Pretend that this is at the bottom of the screen and in really fine print that goes by way to quickly to really read. Imagining it in a non-contrasting color will help the illusion too.)
    The opinions, ideas and suggestions expressed in this series of topics are those solely of the author and do not necessarily represent those of BackYardChickens, any or all of it's membership, it's parent organization or anyone in their right mind.

    Part I here:

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