Electric poultry netting question

dreamofwinter

Chirping
Mar 1, 2021
42
97
79
Downeast Maine
Electric fencing newbie here - I'm working on setting up poultry netting from Premier1 to fend off the local fox.
I've got an energizer that can use plug-in or battery power. The run is near the garage so I'm planning on running the hot lead and ground out the window to the corner of the garage (keeping the energizer itself inside protected from weather). I want to connect the hot lead to a cutoff switch, then from there run it to the fence about 2' away.

Here's my probably stupid question, though - do I have to connect the hot lead out alligator clamp to one of the galvanized bits that are on the end pieces of the fence? Or can I just connect it anywhere along the net? I'm asking because putting the opening of the fence next to the garage means I'll have to enter and exit the fenced area on the opposite side of where the coop, nest boxes etc are. Not a big deal right now but in winter, it may be.

Would it be better to extend that hot lead out to where I do want the gate? I've got insulated 12ga wire that can be aboveground or buried, and I do have enough to run it out there if I have to, in order to have the electric fence opening in a more logical spot. Would love to hear stories from anyone who has done this.

Second question: my secured run is a hoop run made of cattle panels and hardware cloth. Is there any concern about having the electric fence near this? Is there a minimum distance to keep them separated to avoid any electricity shenanigans?
 
Last edited:

Tankueray

Bird Nerd
Premium Feather Member
Feb 12, 2021
187
438
116
West Texas
I believe the galvanized bit is the correct answer. They make two types of fences, one that needs a separate ground and one that can go without. (Actually, three maybe, there's one that the bottom two rows either are unenergized or can be when needed, not sure if that's a P1 fence though.) The weave is wired differently in them, you wouldn't want to clip on to the wrong wire because you might not get full coverage.

My experience with energizers is that they should be as close to the fence as possible, so you have less potential issues with "breaks" in coverage. (Remember hunting down the one bad bulb in a string of Christmas lights?) You could mount it on a pole and put a bucket over it to keep it out of the weather. Battery/solar setups are fairly simple to weatherize by placing in a plastic tub or building a box (batteries need to offgas, so not completely airtight though). Okay, you're in Maine, you might need something beefier than a bucket, but it shouldn't be that hard to find something that will work, maybe an electrical enclosure used for RV hookups? Your switch should mount nicely in one of those as well.

The best answer is to call P1, they're super helpful and can walk you through just about any scenario. (Like letting you know that you don't have to "close the loop" on the fence for it to work (e.g., it can be a straight line). There is a different way to wire it to do that though.)
 

dreamofwinter

Chirping
Mar 1, 2021
42
97
79
Downeast Maine
Thanks! I heard back from P1 and they confirmed, need to attach the hot wire at the galvanized clip. After rearranging the fence line three times I've found my solution, with thanks to another post on here. I'll run the insulated wire out of the garage, through an old garden hose, to the post where I'll mount my cutoff switch. The end of the fence will be right there, and I can turn off the switch and enter the chicken area without having to trudge all over in the winter cold.
I'm happy to have found a solution where I can use AC power - I was trying to avoid buying a battery, which would then require me to buy a charger and a battery box... it all adds up! Life was so much simpler before Mr. Fox discovered my chicken restaurant ;)
 

Tankueray

Bird Nerd
Premium Feather Member
Feb 12, 2021
187
438
116
West Texas
If you ever get to that point, message me and I'll help you set it up for solar for much less than the accessories that the fence companies sell. Both my coops, my greenhouse, and my fence wire are fully solar. A 100W panel is about $80, charger for as little as $10, and batteries can be found cheap if you know where to look. Otherwise I think the last new one I bought was around $40.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,681
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North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
If you ever get to that point, message me and I'll help you set it up for solar for much less than the accessories that the fence companies sell. Both my coops, my greenhouse, and my fence wire are fully solar. A 100W panel is about $80, charger for as little as $10, and batteries can be found cheap if you know where to look. Otherwise I think the last new one I bought was around $40.

This would make a great article, which I'd love to read.

Maine might not be a good place for solar though. I have to give my solar charger a plug in charge about once a week during the shorter-day times even here in NC, much further south with longer winter days. :)
 

dreamofwinter

Chirping
Mar 1, 2021
42
97
79
Downeast Maine
Agreed, solar would work great about half the year, but those winter months, the days are only about 10 hours long and not frequently sunny. I'll have to see how the fence performs in snow, as well - hoping to get it going in the next few days so the fox has time to learn to avoid it, before snow comes and potentially lowers the charge.
Actually what I'm really hoping is that the fox, a long time local, has already learned to avoid electric fence. Not all the neighbors use it, but a few definitely do. One neighbor (who does not have electric fence) told me she lost 15 birds to the fox last year!
 

Tankueray

Bird Nerd
Premium Feather Member
Feb 12, 2021
187
438
116
West Texas
This would make a great article, which I'd love to read.

Maine might not be a good place for solar though. I have to give my solar charger a plug in charge about once a week during the shorter-day times even here in NC, much further south with longer winter days. :)
Yes, you have to have bigger panels and more batteries if you want to do solar in Northern or frequently overcast areas. West Texas is more like the desert, clear skies, low trees, and lots of sun most of the year.

How long have you had that charger and has it always been like that? If the solar panel is separate, you can try upgrading to a higher wattage one; or it could be that the battery is just getting old. You can try removing it and putting it on a car battery charger that has a desulfating mode to refresh it, or just about any of the auto parts stores can test it for free. I prefer taking them to Interstate Battery, because they can do a thorough 12-24 hour test which also desulfates it if it's not bad. They can also hook you up with a higher amp hour battery that fits the same enclosure, which may also help. It's a good idea to reevaluate your panel location every quarter so you're getting the most sun as the seasons change.

(Boring battery information and safety warning tangent starts here, but my solar setups are a little farther down.)

Assuming it's a purpose made solar fence energizer, the battery is most likely a small, deep cycle, sealed lead acid (SLA) battery in the flavor or Gel or AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) - which just means that they won't pour out acid if they fall over, but they're basically the same, performance wise. Deep cycle means they can be nearly completely discharged and recharged, which would quickly ruin a regular car battery. You'll find similar batteries in computer uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), golf carts, garage door openers, old school electric lawnmowers, commercial alarm/cctv systems, electric scooters, and a bunch of other things. I found a dozen on clearance at TSC last year and hooked them up in series for my greenhouse exhaust fan, built a robot, and did a few other mad scientist experiments. Because they're sealed, they "require no maintenance", however it's the maintenance (e.g., adding water to a car battery) that allows batteries to last longer, and why your car battery doesn't last as long now as it did 30 years ago, so technically, they "allow no maintenance". The information is out there on how to crack them open and refresh them with all kinds of crap like epsom salts and special blends of stuff, but don't try it. Just don't. I've done it and had a few potentially deadly mishaps, and I know what I'm doing. (I've filled the garage with deadly gas, um, more than once😥😬, and had one explode but was luckily protected behind a metal tractor hood. My safety training and preparation prevented a tragedy with the gas; but the explosion is something no one could have expected, I just got lucky that the tractor required my butt in the seat to turn it over.)

As far as solar panels go, monocrystalline is better (and more expensive) than polycrystalline, higher wattage is better (minimum of 12V, 20W for any practical application), you want to stick with a 12V or 24V system and run batteries in series or parallel as applicable, and you can't use the cheap used house panels you find on eBay unless you really know what you're doing. The nice thing about small solar systems is that there are a ton of used car parts that can be acquired inexpensively and used for all kinds of neat things.

(The following links are not affiliate links, and are basically the same items I used.)
My greenhouse fan is a radiator fan from a Volvo connected to an automotive relay (auto salvage yard), $3 temperature switch, $12 solar charge regulator (with 5V USB ports for more fans or lights), 7 12V batteries in series (TSC clearance), and 200W of poly solar panels (the OG Harbor Freight kit) it's super loud and turns it into a wind tunnel!

I just used a different solar controller (can't find a link), the small HF battery, and new 100W panel for both of my automatic coop doors (I've had good luck buying them used from Amazon Warehouse). The battery and controller are housed in the big hoop coop attached to the header beam, and I ran 15 feet of 12V landscape cable from the battery to each coop door to power them both.

Teaching y'all how to build killer robots will have to wait until another time.😁
 

dreamofwinter

Chirping
Mar 1, 2021
42
97
79
Downeast Maine
I thought I ought to report back and show how it all worked out.
Here's the energizer, plugged in inside the garage. I may eventually get a battery for it, but this works great for now (and bonus, no extra cash out the door)
20211002_092304.jpg

The garage wall conveniently had a hole in it, lined with PVC, left over from the propane or kerosene heater that's no longer used. Both the hot and ground wires fit through just fine. So nice to not have to deal with a partially open window all winter!
20211002_092306.jpg

Outside, we found an old ground rod that used to be connected to the telephone box. The telephone service to the garage is long gone (this was once a business office, 30-40 years ago) so no problem to remove the phone wires and repurpose it.
20211002_092318.jpg

We ran the hot lead wire out inside an old garden hose, mainly for protection as we are not ready to deal with burying it. The wire then goes up the wooden post to a cutoff switch. The other side of the cutoff is attached to the wire and alligator clip that came with the fence. We left about 18" of the old plastic poultry fence in order to form a gate and a buffer between the electric fence and the very metal-covered hoop run.
20211002_092333.jpg

A wide view of the whole setup - coop (hidden behind run), run (tarped against rain and snow), and grassy pasture area.
20211002_105702.jpg

Bonus shot of a very happy flock after two solid weeks on lockdown in the run.
20211002_105635.jpg
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,681
27,399
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Looks wonderful.

I'd be concerned about that plastic gate. Predators will always look for a weak spot.

It should be possible to insulate the metal of the coop where the netting connects. I used pipe insulation on the poles of my picnic flies where the net could blow against them.
 

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