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All the Basics on Solar Fence Chargers

Did you plant a garden this year that started out magnificently, but before you could harvest it, the deer had all but wiped it out? Are you thinking about getting a goat or two, but wonder how you’re going to contain those very adept escape artists? Maybe it’s time to start thinking about an electric fence.

However, the whole prepper strategy is to get off the grid, not create a greater dependence on it! That’s where solar electric fencing comes in. Ideal for small or large properties and out on the farm, solar fence chargers deliver the power you need in a dependable, convenient way.  Keep your livestock in or intruders out with an electric fence that isn’t tied to the grid and uses renewable, readily available energy. A minimal investment can take your perimeter electric fence to a whole new level.

Different Types of Solar Fence Chargers Available

Solar fence chargers are designed for specific circumstances and should be chosen based on your application.  Consider the length of fencing or the size of your property, as well as the use of the fence system.  What, if any, type of animals will be handled by this fence?  What are the landscape conditions? Are there any utility grounding systems close by?

Generally, you can choose between a 6-volt and a 12-volt model.  The 6-volt models are designed for use in small-to-medium-sized properties, such as temporary pastures for grazing livestock, or as pest deterrents for your garden.

Opt for the 12-volt model if the animals are larger (such as deer or bear) or if the length of electric fence surpasses what the 6-volt can handle.  For very small applications, there are also 4-volt models available.

Features to Look For

Be sure that the model is low impedance.  This means that the charger has enough power to push a charge through weeds and grass that may be blocking the conductor (wire).  Although you should try to keep the fence clear of vegetation, this feature will ensure the best performance even when you can’t.

Another essential feature to look for is a U/L or CSA listing.  Because electric fences are designed to issue a shock, they are highly regulated by either the Underwriters Laboratories (in the U.S.) or the Canadian Standards Association (in Canada).  If a charger is listed, you can be assured that the model has been thoroughly tested, has passed an inspection and is built up to current industry standards.

There are models on the market that are NOT U/L or CSA listed.  Installing them on your property means putting your family, livestock and surrounding land at risk of serious danger.

Some solar fence chargers come with a performance meter that will easily indicate whether the charger is working properly.  Should your fence quit functioning, you can take a quick look at the meter to troubleshoot the problem.  Read through the manufacturer’s directions on how to test the system using the performance meter.

The battery included in your system should be sealed for use in the harshest weather conditions.  A gel cell battery is a nice feature.  Also, the steel housing on your solar fence charger should be well-protected against corrosion and covered with a repair or replacement warranty.

Installation Considerations

Because you are dealing with solar power, the fence charger will need to be installed in a place with direct, unrestricted sunlight.

Take the time to properly ground your charger in order to ensure safe and dependable performance.  The most common reason for electric fence failures is inadequate grounding. Remember never to use painted posts or rods, utility grounds or water pipes to ground the system.  Your charger will need its own dedicated grounding system that’s at least 50 feet away from any utility ground system.

Also remember that sandy or rocky soil needs more rods for an effective ground and, depending on the type of grounding material you use, the rods will probably need to be replaced every two to three years, especially if using galvanized metal.

Good Models

Six-volt solar fence chargers are widely available.  Parmak has a well-built unit listed as a Model DF-SP-LI.  This low-impedance charger comes with a performance monitor built right in and powers up to 25 miles of fence wire.  This model claims to have operating capacity for up to 21 days of darkness on a fully charged battery.  It also carries a two-year warranty and should cost a little less than $200.

Hallman Fence Systems also has a six-volt model called the Solar 6, with a DC pulse and low impedance.  This model will power up to 10 miles of fence wire and has a gel cell battery within a UV, water and fire-resistant frame.  The unit carries a two year warranty, the battery has one year coverage and the model lists for $330 on the manufacturer’s website.

Parmak’s 12-volt Magnum model has all of the stellar features found on the DF-SP-LI, but with more power on board.  Up to 30 miles of fence wire can be charged with this unit and it has the advanced circuitry that Parmak is known for.  It also carries a two-year warranty and lists for just under $300.

Shop around for the most reliable model with the proper features and a solid warranty.  Run your electric fence with less hassle and worry using a quality solar fence charger.

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