All About Electric Fences
Average Installation Costs, Types of Electric Fences & More
Electric fences are used to contain cattle or livestock in a field, or to keep unwanted animals out of a field or garden. They work by sending the animal a shock when it comes in contact with one of the live wires.
The term electric fence is often mistakenly used to describe pet fences (also known as invisible fences), but the two are very different. Electric fences are above ground, usually attached to an existing fence or a set of poles. Pet fences are typically buried underground. Click here if you’re looking for information about pet fences.
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The price of an electric fence varies based on the size of the property, how it is powered and who does the installation. Generally, budget about $0.50 to $1 per linear foot to have an electric fence professionally installed.
Types of Electric Fences
There are three types of electric fences: electric grid powered, battery powered and solar powered. Each relies on a component known as an electric fence charger to convert the incoming charge into a safer form of electricity. The difference lies in how each charger is powered.
A/C-powered electric fence chargers plug into an outlet and draw power from the grid. Battery- and solar-powered version are just as the names imply. Solar chargers do require batteries, but the batteries last a long time because they are constantly recharged by the sun.
Generally, A/C-powered electric fence chargers tend to be cheaper and easier to maintain, so most experts recommend going that route if you have access to power. Solar- and battery-powered versions are usually chosen where there’s no access to the electrical grid, or where access is difficult.
Cost of an Electric Fence
A/C- and battery-powered chargers cost about $50 to $400, depending on how many miles or acres the charger will power. A charger on that low end of that price range might power two or three miles of wire; a charger on the high end might power 200 miles of wire.
Solar chargers range in price from about $100 to $500. Occasionally, they run as high as $1,000 or more.
Wire is priced at about $0.10 to $0.20 per foot.
Again, if you’re hiring a professional to do the job, budget about $0.50 to $1 per linear foot. That includes the charger and materials such as posts, insulators, springs wire and grounding rods, as well as installation.
Replacement batteries, which are necessary every three to four years for solar chargers and more frequently for battery-powered chargers, usually cost anywhere from $10 to $100. The price depends on the voltage.
Installing a Solar Electric Fence
Installing an electric fence can be a DIY project if you’re handy. The process involves mounting the charger, setting up posts, running the wire, grounding the system and attaching the fencing to the charger. The step-by-step process is outlined here.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of problems with electric fences are related to improper grounding. If you don’t understand this step, seek help. Also, know that some cities and towns require a permit to install an electric fence, while others don’t allow electric fences at all. Check with local officials to be sure.
Maintaining a Regular Electric Fence
Inspect your electric fence every so often to make sure it is working properly. Check the charger for cracks or water damage, measure the volts to determine the amount of current coming through the wires and physically inspect wires for breakage. When you do this, make sure the electrical box and electricity are turned off. Replace any sections of wire that are damaged.
You’ll also want to trim trees and shrubs near the electric fence, as they can weaken the electric signal.
If you have a solar charger, the solar panel should be cleaned from time to time because a dirty or dusty panel will not operate at peak efficiency. Simply use a soft cloth and water. Solar batteries require some maintenance, too. When the battery is not in use, make sure it is fully charged before it is stored. Also, during any period when the battery is stored, place it in the sun for three days every three months to recharge (with the controller off).