A vital component in any electrical fence system is the charger, or energizer, which supplies current to the fence to keep it electrified by maintaining an electrical charge. But with so many models to choose from, it can get just a tad confusing as to which electric fence charger is best suited to power up your fence.
Most electric fence charger manufacturers and suppliers provide reviews of their products, which give an overview of the technical specifications and capacity of their chargers. But for the uninitiated, these reviews are very often meaningless, as the average reader doesn’t understand all the technicalities, or what the figures mean. The following electric fence charger overview provides information on the different types of electric fence chargers available, and will assist you to choose the most appropriate electric fence charger depending on your requirements.
There are three basic types of electric fence chargers: mains powered; battery powered; and solar powered. These three types of chargers come in a wide range of makes and models, and can be further defined according to their fire power – the strength of the charge they are able to deliver – which ultimately determines the shocking power and the length of fence they can push current along effectively. The choice of charger best suited to your needs will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Access to mains power
- Length of fence
- Type of animals being contained
Mains (AC) Powered Electric Fence Charger
Mains powered electric fence chargers offer the most dependable and cost effective way to keep you fence charged if you have a reliable power source handy. Mains powered chargers are available in a range of sizes, with the larger, more powerful energizers being capable of providing power to fences over very long distances. If you have a reliable source of electrical power available, they are the ideal choice for permanent electrical fences, or if you need a high powered electric fence that runs for several miles. Some units come with a battery backup to ensure that your animals remain safe and secure in the event of a power failure.
- Low maintenance
- Cost effective
- Can power longer distances
- They are not portable
- They don’t work if there is a power failure unless they have a backup system
Battery Powered (DC) Electric Fence Charger
Battery powered electric fence chargers offer greater flexibility as they are fully portable, which allows them to be moved around easily. They are ideal for temporary or semi-permanent fences, strip grazing, and for electrifying fences over shorter distances. Battery powered electric fence chargers come in a range of models, including: either 6 volt or 9 volt options that are powered by disposable batteries; 12 volt rechargeable units; and solar powered batteries, or batteries that have a built in solar panel for solar power backup to prolong battery life and keep the battery powered up for longer.
- Extremely portable
- Easy to use
- Convenient to set up
- Can be used in inaccessible areas to electrify fences when there is no mains power available
- Not suitable for long distance fences
- Higher maintenance – need to replace disposable batteries, or recharge battery regularly
- Less reliable than mains powered or solar powered chargers – the fence is ineffective if battery life dies
- Disposable batteries for 6V and 9V units can increase running costs – making these models less economical to run than solar or mains powered chargers
Solar Powered Electric Fence Charger
Solar powered electric fence chargers are available in two types: permanent solar powered chargers; and portable solar powered chargers. Both types operate by harnessing energy from the sun with a solar panel – energy is stored in a battery, which provides power to the fence, even at night and when the sun doesn’t shine. Permanent solar chargers run off a solar panel unit that is installed nearby, while a portable solar powered charger is a compact unit that comes complete with a built-in solar panel and battery, to allow complete portability. Solar powered electric fence chargers are the perfect choice for powering electric fences in isolated areas that do not have ready access to mains power. They can be used for strip grazing, temporary-, semi-permanent-, and permanent fencing.
- Can be used in isolated areas where no power is available
- Cost effective to run
- Low maintenance
- Reliable source of power
- Available in permanent and portable versions
- Not suitable for powering fences over long distances
The above overview of the different types of electric fence chargers outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each. However, for even greater flexibility, there are also electric fence chargers available that are able to run off any of the above power sources. These fence chargers – often referred to as ‘unigizers’ – can operate off mains, battery or solar power, depending on your needs. They offer all the advantages of the above, and none of the disadvantages – the only drawback, may be their price.
Image Credit: By Kreuzschnabel, via Wikimedia Commons; License [CC-BY-SA-3.0]