What is electric fencing and what is its purpose?

How does it work? 

An electric fence system consists of:

  • A) An electric fence unit that generates a regular electrical pulse. (Energiser)
  • B) One or more wires to act as the conductors to transport the electrical pulse.
  • C) Insulators that isolate the electricity from Either and help the conductors do their job.
  •  D) Permanent or movable posts these are used  to attach the insulators to of which keep the conductors off the ground and at set heights.
  • E) The energiser earth. The number of these will vary depending on length of fence. However always needs to be buried as deep as possible and in damp soil.

The energiser sends electric pulses out along the conductors (electric tape/wire/netting)  when something (animal) touching the ground and touches the conductor at the same time an electric circuit is closed.( The electrical current flows through the animal and the earth back to the unit) during this process the animal will receive a harmless yet unpleasant shock. This will make the animal retreat away from the electric fence.

Where to start?

So you need to install electric fencing, but the choices are endless where do you start? Follow our step by step guide to choose and install the right fencing for you.

Step one:

There are multiple products to choose from but making sure you choose the right one for you is essential.

A few questions you need to ask yourself to help choose an energiser:

1) What power source do you have available to power your energiser?

2) Is this for permanent or semi permanent electric fencing?

3) How large is the area? 

4) What animals are you keeping in or out?

5) What is the vegetation like where the fencing will be situated?


Mains Powered Energiser

Perfect for where permanent electric fence is require, or when fencing large / multiple areas. They are always the preferred choice for any electric fence where a 230v supply is nearby as you don't have to change and charge batteries. The power can be taken from a mains energiser unit to the fence and the earth stake by insulated 'Lead Out Cable' which can be buried. This is usually a low cost insulated steel cable which has the ability to cope with high voltages and has minimal resistance. With a mains energiser, the running costs are very low with no maintenance required - you just switch them on and forget about them! A timer can be added to this set up to allow you control when they are on or off without having to go and manually press a switch.  Being run on mains power alone can be risky if there is a power cut your fence will not be able to work until the mains power is back on. (Many of these units have the ability to be adapted for battery and or solar) 

Battery Powered Energiser

The Battery powered energisers can be broken down into to two main categories 9v and 12v

9v Battery Energiser
These energisers are powered by dry-cell 9v disposable batteries.  They are very popular for strip grazing, small line fencing due to their mobility. The 9v batteries are usually non-rechargeable and you will need to check and then consider the cost of replacing the battery when it runs out.

12v Battery Energiser
This is perfect for semi-permanent electric fences or where mains power is not available.  A rechargeable 12v battery (car/Leisure /battery) is used to power them. A good quality battery can generally power longer fences at a higher voltage than 9v energisers. A good quality car battery can be used, however a 'leisure' battery will proof better.  Car batteries give out maximum power over a few days and then the power dwindles over the weeks, a leisure battery on the other hand is designed to give a steady output over the weeks and will then go from full strength to flat in a couple of days. This is known as 'deep discharging'. Please consider when buying a 12v leisure battery, the higher the Ah of the battery, the longer between recharges.

There are Solar panels that can have adapters that can be added to the battery powered systems to assist in charging the batteries. ( please note these are no guaranteed to fully charge a flat battery nor stop a battery from running out)

Mains & 12v Combination Energisers

 Designed to run from a variety of power sources. Supplied with different adapter cables; one for the mains which just plugs into a socket on the wall and one with crocodile clips to clamp onto the terminals of a 12v battery. Some units can also run from 6v battery.

These energisers are abler to give the user the ultimate versatility. Perfect solution for those whose circumstances change from time to time. Animals which are quite often kept in remote fields with no main power can have their fencing powered by battery and if brought closer to home in winter the energiser can be moved and powered from the mains if outbuildings have 230v sockets.

Compact Solar Energisers 

Compact solar energisers are energisers that have a 12v or 9v battery that is constantly charged by a solar panel. These energisers can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are available as one unit or they can come sealed in a lockable box with a solar panel on top and the battery and energiser separate inside the lock box. Solar is a benefit to open fields where there is a lot of natural sunlight and no mains power. 

Step 2 :

How permanent does it need to be?

Now we need to make decisions on how permanent you wish your fencing to be?

How permanent your fencing  needs to be can have a large affect on what products you will need.

Starting with the boundary:
Most people require a good solid boundary fence and this will apply to almost every location and for all animal types. Not everyone is able to have Post and rail or Stock fencing  and more often then not the fields are edged with a hedge/ tree line which is not always a guarantee to keep animals in /out.  Based on these facts wooden posts are highly recommend. Wooden posts can be post thumped into the ground by hand or machine to create a more permanent but semipermanent fence. Using wooden posts this this fashion will give you a very strong structure to work with that is  easy to install and remove / replace they come in a variety of shapes and sizes and you can paint them to personalised them.  Wooden posts are very versatile in that you can add stock / wire / barb/ rails at a later date. You also have the ability to choose exact heights of where these go. Adding electric fencing to a boundary will add a reenforcement element to encourage people and animals not to cross it or touch it.  

For those that are fencing a small area maybe for poultry/pets or for those that need to move entire paddocks, then plastic field stakes are highly recommended. This form of post come in a variety of colours, styles and heights. The are also easy to install or remove/ replace, you simply push down with your foot on the stake step until the metal part of the stake has sunk all the way into the ground. when you want to remove simply pull up out the ground.