Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Solar electric fence energiser

Since we first experimented with electric fences, we are gradually using them more with our cattle and finding how useful it is to be able to quickly create temporary fences when and where we need them. We have also made some semi-permanent fences, around a dam at Cheslyn Rise and around the hugelkultur at Eight Acres. We leave these in place and just hook them up to an energiser when the cattle are in the paddock (but we might replace them with a permanent fence one day). The only problem we have had with electric fences is when the batteries go flat.



Some of our cattle refuse to go near any electric fence no matter if it is connected to an energiser. This is very convenient as we don’t actually have to remember to attach an energiser. Bella and Molly (the dairy house cows) will not even step over a non-energised electric fence wire if I put it on the ground for them and call them over. I think they are superstitious. The braford cattle respect electric fences when they are energised, but if not, they are happy to just bust them down and walk where they please. As we are not at Cheslyn Rise with the brafords every day (more like once a week), it is important that the energiser keeps working.

We do have one energiser that plugs into mains power, which is very useful if you happen to be close to mains power. This is fine at Eight Acres, we can usually get power to the energiser somehow, but on 258 A at Cheslyn Rise you would need quite a long extension cord! For remote fencing we use a collection of old car batteries which Pete has on rotation on a trickle-charger, there are always a few ready to swap when the batteries go flat.

Late last year we decided that we wanted to try using a solar energiser, because one thing that we have plenty of in QLD at the moment is sunshine! I bought a really cheap solar-powered energiser from an importer of cheap things. We haven’t used it much, I have to say we don’t really trust it and should have just bought an expensive one (i.e. decent brand) that we would use, we probably will next time we see one on sale.

Around the same time, we also bought a couple of solar panel trickle chargers from a camping shop. They were cheap and very easy to use. We basically have the same set up with the energiser and the battery, but we also mounted the solar panel facing north (for Southern Hemisphere) and connected this to the battery. So far if we use a good battery, it doesn’t go flat, and it gets charged constantly for free!

The biggest change to our set up is to realise that the best place for the battery, energiser and solar panel might not be at the end of the fence, where we usually put it, as there is often too much shade, its probably better out in the middle of the paddock catching maximum sun. Out of habit we tend to set everything up near the end of the fence and then remember that the solar panel needs sun and have to change it around, but we are getting used to our new system.

We are so happy with our solar system we are now looking at a solar powered pump for our bore, I’ll tell you all about it when we get it running.

Have you tried solar energisers? Any recommendations? Anything else solar at your place?


6 comments:

  1. We use the solar energisers here for our lucerne paddocks ...and on occasion if I have had to move 60 head of cattle on my own across the creek, I have put the solar electric fence up as an 'extra person' to block an area they always try to sneak through. I had two 'interesting experiences ' with them...one was driving my motorbike up to one and getting zapped through the bike ( ouch!) and the other happened last week when I was carrying the energiser to a new spot and the on switch accidently came on and I got zapped straight from the energiser.

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  2. We use solar powered electric fencing on our property. We have three energizers of varying strength and use the most suitable one for the job. They are very convient when you come home from work and find the cattle have gone through a fence or a branch has gone across a fence or whatever. We use the electric fence to temporarily fence off the area and fix it later. We also use it to fence off the area around the shed or water tank or where ever we don't want cattle. Or boundary fences are well maintained permanent fencing but our internal fencing is a mixture of electric and not so well maintained permanent fencing. We also use electric fencing to keep the dogs in. Works well, they very quickly learn not to go near the fence as it bites!

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  3. We'd love solar for our fencing and I really, really, really want solar for our grey water which I don't utilise properly atm. If it could be set up to an irrigation system then the garden could receive a gentle water every time the sun shone and grey water was in the system.

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  4. Hi Liz, All our internal fencing is single electric wire and slowly as the boundary is being replaced we put in a top electric wire. We started with a solar powered battery energiser. For easy movement it was mounted on a wheeled trolley. The problem with the used car batteries was they would fail during the night. It was frustrating and we gave up and bought new batteries which would give us two years of reliability. The next problem was leakage when the grass grew a bit long or some other source of shorting cropped up. After looking at a few larger properties and why despite all sorts of short (pun not intended) comings in their fencing the energiser still delivered a punch that would raise you from the dead we concluded it was related to the quality of the energiser. The number of Joules (stored energy) it delivers. the more joules the better it copes with shorts. After continuing problems we went away from the solar/battery solution to a mains powered solution which was designed for a property our size (we went a size up). We spent that little bit extra and now have a great system which copes with our rough country. The real work is in designing the way in which power is delivered to the fencing system. From our workshop (don't connect it near the house) we run a high ovehead bare wire to a suitable tree near the closest fence and then insulated wire down to the fence. Various paddocks are connected with cutoff switches made from a piece of hooked insulated wire (http://homehillfarm.blogspot.com.au/search/label/Electric%20Fencing%20Tip) allowing us to electrify all/some or none depending on stock movements. After years of mucking about we finally came to the conclusion that this was an important item on the property and deserved an approriate amount of investment. We keep the surviving trolley solar battery system for odd jobs.

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, if you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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