Electric fences are used extensively to contain livestock and pets, and to keep problem animals at bay. One would immediately assume that access to an electrical supply is essential to power an electric fence, however, this is not true. While AC fence chargers provide the strongest current, an electric fence can also be powered by a battery powered DC charger, or even a solar powered charger.
DC battery fence chargers – or energizers – are battery powered chargers that run off a 6-, 9-, or 12-volt battery, ranging in size and output from a couple of D-cell alkaline flashlight batteries, up to a 12-volt deep cycle automotive battery. Unlike AC fence chargers, a DC electric fence charger is not automatically recharged from a power supply, and the charge eventually drains from the battery, which, depending on the type of battery used, necessitates that they get recharged or replaced. While the deep cycle automotive batteries can be recharged, alkaline battery cells have to be replaced once they have lost their charging ability.
Larger batteries not only provide more fire power, they tend to hold a charge for longer. The battery life of a 12-volt deep cycle battery is typically anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 months, depending on the shocking capacity, length of the fence, and the number of grounding events. Grounding – either from vegetation touching the fence, or from livestock or other animals coming into contact with the fence – will short circuit the fence and drain power from the battery. Bearing in mind that the larger the shock, the larger the drain on battery power; the battery will drain quicker, and need to be recharged sooner, when shocking power is greater.
To get the optimal performance from a battery fence charger, it is advisable to select a charger that is capable of performing the task at hand, without over engineering. If you only want to electrify a paddock or two for your horses, there is no need to purchase a DC charger that is capable of powering a 50 mile fence line, when a smaller unit will do. At the same token, an underpowered fence may not deliver the required shocking power to keep you livestock safely contained. You need to consider your requirements prior to purchasing an electric fence charger, and if necessary, consult with an expert who can advise you on the best unit to purchase to adequately meet your needs.
Battery electric fence chargers offer great flexibility to farmers who want to set up electric fences in areas where there is no power supply. They are also fully portable, which allows them to be moved around easily – this is especially useful for rotational/strip grazing of livestock.
A DC battery fence charger can also be used effectively to establish electrified horse paddocks. They are used extensively by endurance riders, and horse riders who travel with their mounts to attend shows. A simple electric fence, together with a lightweight battery fence charger provides a completely portable containment option to ensure that their horses are safely contained when riders spend time overnight at these sporting events.
If electric fencing appeals to you but access to power poses a problem, consider the options – a DC battery fence charger, or even a solar powered unit, can do the job when there is no AC power available. In fact there are times when the flexibility this offers makes it a better choice overall.
Image Credit: DC Battery Fence Charger by Swampy Acres Farm