Had a great day today fixing an electric fence set up on a 100 acre property in the Perth hills.
I stumbled upon this opportunity while we were on a window install job for my glass business, I swear the coincidences that happen like this are crazy, when you start being open these opportunities are everywhere, turns out the owner is a frustrated businessman that is turning the property into a yoga and meditation retreat and just somewhere to escape the craziness of what sounds like a very time dependent business, also this guy has just discovered permaculture.
The owner is a very nice and appreciative man, though I suspect on this project some people have taken advantage of his trust and kindness and have ripped him off and bullshitted him on things he was not familiar with, this is what happened with the fence, three times! and while he was telling me about this he reluctantly agreed to let me have a crack.
Firstly we sized the system and realized that the energiser was far to small for the property, this was hand picked twice by an employee at a landmark store that assured him that it was the perfect size even though it clearly stated “up to 17 acres” on the box. When sizing a electric fence energizer it is important to look at all the numbers, the companies use some tricky marketing to make there units seem better than the are, if it says 14km that is the length of wire that can be electrified but you also need to take into account the area, both should be more than what you need not just one.
Anyway he ended up getting the right sized energizer and today i had my first look at the fence and oh man, after a two minute walk iIknew it was going to be a long day, when installing electric fence it is important to be pedantic everything on the line needs to be clear or insulated against anything that will earth it, this had not been done! the person before me obviously had some idea of what he was doing but was either confused about a few things or maybe just lazy and mooching of the kindness of the owner, either way he was happy to invoice for three days with no result.
The fence had a top wire and a bottom wire and it was decided to just get the top wire working first and worry about the bottom wire later on, the bottom wire will always be harder because its closer to the ground and grass will earth it out and you will loose voltage.
The bottom wire had been disconnected near the house but not in about 20 other spots, so the first thing i did was isolate the top wire and make sure it was insulated from all the posts, I also noticed that the fence was tied into the neighbours fence, this is not a good idea as who know what the integrity of there system is like and a fault is a fault is a fault, so all of those connections were cut.
After this I hooked up the energises, it was a gallager 1200m and a very cool bit of kit it featured a separate control panel witch uses a reference earth to pick up faults and can even notify your phone if there is a fault. This is the moment were a fence tester is a must, I have serviced my very small system at home by simply earthing the wire to make sure there is a spark, but anything over an acre a tester is the go. all up with the tester I found another 10 faults and eventually got consistent reading of 6000 volts all around the property, for goats and sheep, “the most escape prone livestock” you want a voltage over 5000 volts and considering it is the end of summer and the ground is bone dry id call this a success.
If you want to learn more about electric fences check out this podcast, an interview with a guy that herds thousands of goats a few km from the centre of San Francisco all with temporary electric fencing.