Thursday, July 31, 2014

Energizers: Plug-in, Battery or Solar

(left to right) Battery energizer, plug-in energizer and solar energizer. 

When choosing an energizer here is one very basic thing to keep in mind—is it going to be a battery, plug-in or solar energizer. Note: solar energizers are battery energizers with added bells and whistles. 

With that in mind, what are the differences between the two basic types?
Plug-in—power source is a 110v outlet. Permanently located. 
Battery—power source is a 12v battery. Easy to relocate. 
  • A plug-in energizer is left in one location (usually close to an outlet). An insulated cable is used to carry the pulse from the energizer to the fence. 
  • Battery energizers are typically set close to the fence and away from any convenient outlets. They draw off a 12v battery. The pulse travels through a short wiring harness to the fence. 
  • Battery energizers cost more overall b/c of the need to purchase batteries and a battery charger. 
What about solar energizers?
Solar energizers are extremely convenient to use. Fences can be set up in the middle of nowhere. Depending on hours of usable sunlight, batteries rarely need recharging (but do keep an eye on them). 
The downside is the cost. The battery, panel, case, regulator (for high output panels) add to the price tag. That and if the sun doesn't shine for multiple days (the PRS units are sized for a 4-day reserve) the voltage on the fence will drop as the battery drops below a 40% charge). But for many convenience outweighs costs, hence why solar energizers are popular. 

Which to use?
If the energizer gets to stay in one place—we recommend plug-in energizers at every opportunity. No batteries + no reliance on sun = less hassle. 

If portability is needed, use a battery energizer. 

If portability with added convenience is desired, solar is best. 

If you have questions please call us at 800-282-6631 or email

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Premier's visits Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm

During the weekend of July 19th, Sara McArtor (Premier Product Consultant) operated a booth at the Polyface Farm Field Day ran by Joel Salatin.

Sara with Joel Salatin during the show. 

Last week one of our field consultants, Sara McArtor took a trip to the Polyface Farm Field Day hosted by the Salatin Family of Swoope, VA.

The field day entailed discussions on producing beef, pork, chicken, rabbit and eggs on pasture based systems. There were also talks on composting, on-farm processing and direct to consumer marketing.

The event is held once every three years but if you're interested in the Salatin Farm, see

Demonstrating how to use and position a Premier PRS. Folks were able to register to win the PRS 50. 

The Premier booth is typically busy at shows, Polyface was no exception. 

A future farmer getting ready to peruse Premier's catalog. 

Sara demonstrating how to set up and take down netting. 

The lucky winner!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Testing at Premier

Day 1 of our marking crayon test on a group of wool ewes. 
We thought our pastures could benefit from a color other than 'lush green'. Instead of planting wildflowers, we took a more immediate approach and colored a few of our ewes with our marking crayons.

In truth, we're testing how long the marks will stay bright. We hand applied one color to 6 ewes (for a total of 36 ewes). We'll check and document color changes for 3-4 weeks.

We applied the marks in 80ยบ weather, so we used 'hot' rated crayons. Though the purple used was a mild (it's a new shade of purple and we had only one sample on hand). The mild purple crayon applied much easier and left more of a mark than the hot crayon. That serves as a reminder to use the right type of crayon for the temperature, otherwise you will wear down crayons faster than necessary.

We'll post an update at the end of the experiment.

Crayons made for 3 average daily high temperature ranges:

  • Cold: 25 - 65°F
  • Mild: 65 - 85°F
  • Hot: 85 - 100°F

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What you need to know about ground rods

Make sure ground wires are firmly connected to the ground rod. 
Ground rods may seem to be just a trivial item. After all, they're just a metal rod you pound into the ground. They seem more of an anchor for the energizer than anything else. Don't be deceived by their unassuming demeanor, ground rods are vital.

How so? Try using an electric fence without the recommended amount of ground rod (3 ft per joule of output). For example, if using a PRS 100, an energizer with 1 joule of output, pull the ground rod out of the ground by a foot or two. Check the voltage of your fence (with a fence tester). Pound the rod back into the ground. Check the voltage again. See a difference?

We've established that it's important. Next, let's look into how an electric fence works. 
  1. The energizer fence terminal sends an electric pulse through the fence's conductor(s). 
  2. An animal touches the conductor
  3. The pulse travels from the fence through the animal and into the ground. 
  4. The pulse moves through the soil (via moisture) and to the ground rod. 
  5. The pulse goes up through the ground rod and back to the energizer (via the ground rod). Completing the circuit (and the animal receives a shock, learning to stay away from the fence). 
Note: all of above happens in 1/10,000 of a second. 

So what does the ground rod do? It picks up the pulse from the ground and brings it back to the energizer. 

However, if the energizer has a stronger pulse than the rod can pick up, an electrical charge can build up around the rod. Since the full power of the pulse cannot travel through the ground rod, an animal will not receive a full powered shock. The remedy? Pour water around the ground rod to increase the conductivity around the ground rod(s), or add additional rods. 

Why is this ground rod so far out of the ground? It's likely because we are using a 1 joule energizer and a 6' ft ground. At 3' of rod needed per joule output, the full 6' is unnecessary. 
It is possible to test to see if your ground rod is not adequate. Ground out the fence—with the fence off, place a metal rod on the ground and lean it against the fence's conductors. This will cause a 'dead-short' to the ground. Using a digital voltmeter, stick the ground probe into the ground and touch the fence probe to the rod. If a reading of more than 300v appears, you need more ground rod. Under 300v, you have adequate grounding.

Connecting an energizer to its grounding system.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pos/Neg fence tips

A normal electric fence consists of:
  1. Wire(s) connected to the fence (positive) terminal of a fence energizer.
  2. The soil’s moisture connected via metal ground (earth) stakes to the negative terminal of the fence energizer.
But the top soil moisture in many areas is too low to be a reliable conductor. In this situation, the animal may receive minimal pain even though a voltmeter touching a steel spike may register 3000 plus volts.
For these sites, one solution is to connect one or more wires in the fence to a second ground stake that is then ‘connected’ via subsoil moisture to the energizer’s ground stake. So some wires are now positive and some are negative—a Pos/Neg fence.
How does the animal receive a shock?
  • On a normal all-positive electric fence, the animal completes the circuit by standing on moist soil (which is connected to the energizer via metal stakes) and touching a hot wire. The current flows down the wire through the animal’s point of contact with the wire to his feet (which are on the soil) and back through the soil moisture to the ground stake.
  • With a Pos/Neg fence, the animal completes the circuit by touching a positive wire and a negative wire at the same time.
When is Pos/Neg wiring needed?
The simplest test is to look at the grass and soil. If the grass has been brown for 3 or more weeks and the top 3 inches of soil are very dry you need it. Second test is to lay the voltmeter’s probe on the dry ground (instead of sticking it in the soil or contacting a metal stake). If less than 2000 volts appear, revert to Pos/Neg wiring. A third test (not advised) is to wait until your animals escape.
Are some energizers better in dry soil situations with all positive fences than others?
IntelliShock & Kube units are superior – particularly the IntelliShock 31 & Kube 4000. They continue to deliver an animal stopping pulse long after traditional low-impedance units (HotShockPatriot, and most other brands) have ceased to do so.
What energizers work for Pos/Neg fences?
All do. From a safety aspect, it’s actually best not to use too large a unit.
What are the negatives of Pos/Neg fences?
  • Fences must be kept very clean. Any conductor (green weed stem or tree, metal post/wire) that touches 2 opposing wires will cause the pulse to drop from powerful to ineffective.
  • An animal or person that remains in contact with both wires (positive and negative) could be killed. That’s why, in Premier’s view, offset metal hot wires should be installed high enough to allow human contact to be broken by gravity.