To have a safe and fully functional electric fence you will need the following:
This provides the current pulse to your electric fence.
These convert the electricity from a mains, battery or solar supply into timed, high voltage, low current pulses that travel along the length of the fence.
The energiser you'll need will depend on the distance the fence is from your mains supply, the length and type of the fence, and the type of animal you wish to control with the fence.
The Conductor (wire)
You can use many types of wire or conductors for your electric fence. For a more permanent set-up, steel wire, either single or multi-stranded, should be your preffered option. Steel wire is strong, durable and highly effective at conducting electricity. Steel wire is the heaviest and hardest to work with it is also the most expensive option.
An lighter easier to work with alternative is polywire. This is a UV-stabilised polythene twine which has strands of stainless steel wire woven into it. Commonly used for temporary, semi-permanent fencing and strip-grazing. A heavier duty polyrope can be used for more permanent fence set-ups.
Polytape is similar to polywire, it is made of polythene strands woven into a ribbon with stainless steel wires and comes in a wide range of colours and widths. It can be used in permanent and temporary fencing and features high visibility, however it can be more vulnerable in open areas with high winds.
Netting is also an option and is made in a range of sizes for use with different animals. Usually set up with the horizontal strands being polywire and the vertical strands of plain polythene, the main uses for this are temporary fences and strip-grazing. These offer excellent protection from rabbits and can even be used to protect ponds.
For any electric fence to work correctly it needs to be properly earthed. An earth stake is inserted into the ground and connected to the energiser. This ensures the power returns through the ground and back to the energiser whenever an animal completes the circuit as it comes into contact with the fence.
Stakes and Posts
A permanent fence should be set up using timber fence posts with insulators attached. While a temporary fence would normally use metal or plastic stakes with anchor posts at the beginning and corners to take the strain.
Posts and stakes come in different heights and with different spacings to suit the animals or stock the fence will be used to control.
The purpose of insulators is to stop the fence wire from touching the post or stake, so there is no electricity leaking back into the ground.
High quality insulators should dry easily to prevent moisture collecting into and nooks or cracks. Otherwise the current would leak in an ‘arc’ which reduces the effectiveness of the fence.
It is also possible to use offset insulators to hold the fence away from the fence posts. This has the benefit of stopping the animals causing damage by biting the posts, leaning or rubbing against the posts. This will add to the life of the fence posts.