Solar Chargers and Energizers
Pros & Cons
- Very simple to install. Unlike others it’s a “plug and play” energizer. No need for extra leadout wires, buried cables, switches, etc. Just set it near the fence, connect it by simple wires (usually included) to a ground rod and the fence and flip the “on” switch.
- Like all DC units (which they are) solar units cost more per joule/output than AC units.
- Premier’s PRS solar units have reduced the cost/joule dramatically—and are also easier to use because, in the summer, they can sit on the ground.
- For some reason solar units are attractive to thieves and vandals. Best to keep them out of sight.
- Most farm store units are too weak to stop more than a horse or dairy cow—and often not even then if the fence happens to experience high weed contact. Why are they so weak? To reduce cost with smaller panels and smaller batteries.
- The cost per joule of output for solar units is much higher than AC 110v (plug-in) units.
- The PRS solar panel is large enough that it doesn’t need to be supported at an angle to face the sun (in the summer).
How do solar units differ from other fence energizers?
- Their output is the same—a very brief high voltage pulse of energy.
- Input source is a DC battery.
- When the sun shines the solar panel recharges the battery—which eliminates the hassle of carrying the battery to and from a recharger.
- They’re larger in physical size than 110 volt energizers—because of the solar panel, the battery and the case.
Are solar energizers less expensive?
No. Plug-in units cost less because they don’t need a battery or solar panel.
Are they less costly to operate?
No. The cheapest energizer to operate plugs into 110-volt AC current. Consider—a Kube 4000 provides 10 times more pulse energy than most farm store solar units. Yet it uses less than 70 watts/day. That’s only $2.50 per year! By comparison the battery in a typical farm store solar fence energizer (1/10 the energy output of a Kube 4000) costs $24 and needs replacing every 2 years—an annual operating cost of $12.
If they cost more to buy or use—why are solar energizers so popular?
Because they’re so easy to set up and use. The steps are simple and few.
- Place unit on or beside the fence (no need to be at the end of the fence). Face it south towards the sun.
- Clip the leadout wire (included in all solar units) to the fence.
- Clip the other leadout wire to a ground rod or any galv. steel fence post or grounded steel wire fence.
- Turn it on.
- Check the fence for voltage.
- Before you purchase you need to identify the unit’s location—as you will need “stuff” to connect the energizer to ground rod and the fence. It needs to be:
- Near a 110 AC receptacle for power.
- Inside a building and away from animals and machines.
- As close as practical to the fence to be electrified. Why? Because you need to run double-insulated wire (which will withstand 20,000 volts) to carry the energizer’s pulses. (It’s much better to use this wire than an extension cord.) If there is a gate opening between the energizer and the fence you will need to bury it or suspend it above the height of equipment (14 ft for us).
- Determine the location of the ground rod(s). From this measure how much insulated cable will be needed to connect the ground rods to the energizer.
How do solar energizers differ from one another?
- Input needs (milliamperes per hour).
- Pulse energy output (joules).
- They rarely differ much in volts even if pulse energy is 5 times greater.
- Pulse rate per minute.
- Size of battery (in ampere hours).
- Size of solar panel (in watts).
- Number of days the battery will last on its own without sunlight.
- Cost/joule of output and durability.
So how do Premier solar energizers differ from farm store energizers?
- Higher output energy. Farm store solar units vary from 0.04–0.17 joules—enough to stop a mature horse or dairy cow but not enough for sheep, goats, poultry, wildlife or any fence that will experience significant weed contact. Premier’s solar units are much larger. They vary in output from 0.25 to 6.0 joules.
- We offer “extreme” version of PRS units for areas with less sunlight and/or colder temperature—and we tell you where those areas are.
- Larger solar panels and batteries.
- Much lower cost per joule of output.
- Stronger case that can either be placed on the ground (summer) or hung from a post (winter for snowy areas).
Why do we offer nonrechargeable batteries for some solar energizers?
Because they pose less risk of premature battery failure and may result in fewer escaped animals. While a rechargeable battery may have capacity for a week without sun, a 165 AH EzePower battery will power a solar 20B for 100 days even if the sun never shines (200 days if the fence is free of weeds). Adding a 12v solar panel extends the usable dry battery life further by reducing the daylight battery drain to virtually nothing—even when it’s cloudy. Also EzePower batteries weigh less and disposing of them is less of an issue.
What powers a solar energizer at night and on cloudy days?
A DC battery. They all have one—even if it’s hidden inside a plastic case. Since it is common for cloudy weather to last a week the battery must be large enough to supply the energizer for several days.
Some regions have much less sunlight than others. And the hours of sunlight vary from winter to summer. How do solar units cope with the differences?
The maps to the right depict the differing hours of solar “insolation” for a region in the winter and in the summer. (Solar insolation is the hours of sun available per average day that has sufficient intensity to enable a solar panel to charge a battery.)
Two very important things to note:
- The summer insolation hours for all areas are much higher than in the winter. For SE Iowa it’s 6 hours in summer and less than 3 in the winter.
- The hours available are very different depending upon where you live. Michigan in summer has 5 hours vs 7.5 in Arizona!
If this is true, why is the same solar energizer that’s sold in Michigan stores also sold in Arizona?
It suits the needs of manufacturers to keep things as simple as possible. The panel and energizer are too small for Michigan (except mid-summer) and too large for Arizona (except mid-winter). That’s why farm-store solar energizers often fail in the NE USA winters. And it’s probable that the extra sunlight in the Southwest may damage the battery in the summer by overcharging it.
- Volts/voltage: A measure of electrical potential. Comparable to pressure (psi) in water and air systems. Electrons can’t flow from point A to point B unless adequate voltage is present to overcome the resistance (measured in ohms).
- Joule(s): Measure of the volume of electrical energy (electrons) in a pulse. Comparable to pints, quarts, gallons in water systems. When enough “uninvited” electrons (joules) pass through an animal’s (or human’s) nervous system, it reacts in pain and surprise.
- Amps/ampere/amperage: Measure of rate of flow of electrons per unit of time. Comparable to gallons per minute in water systems.
- Pulse frequency: Number of pulses per minute. 40 pulse/minute = a pulse every 1.5 seconds.
- Ohms (Ω): Measure of resistance to electrical flow. More Ω means more resistance. It’s additive—if 1000 ft of wire is 200Ω then 2000 ft is 400Ω.
- Conductor: A material with low ohm numbers—copper, aluminum, stainless steel, hi-carbon steel. Wood, if wet internally (e.g. sap) or externally (dew, rain) is a conductor. Moisture in soil and grass stems is also a conductor. Animal tissue with body fluid in it or moisture upon it is a conductor.
- Electroplastic conductors/netting: A cable or ribbon comprised of small conductive metal strands and non-conductive plastic strands. The metal carries the electrons. The plastic provides visibility and elasticity.
- Insulators: Materials with high ohm numbers such as fiberglass, plastic and coated ceramic. Wood, if dry internally and externally is an insulator. Dry animal hair and wool are poor conductors and so are considered insulators (so much so that I’ve thrown sheepskin over a live fence to allow me to step over it).
When you buy an energizer from Premier, you purchase more than an energizer. You also obtain these benefits:
- If an energizer fails within 2 years of its date of purchase, we will replace the module or unit at our cost. Your credit card will be charged for the replacement but you will receive full credit when the failed item is back at Premier. Your only cost is shipping the failed item to us. If the original energizer is over 2 years old, we will repair and/or replace it, but you pay for the repair cost and freight. Note: Policy does not apply to: failure due to abuse or neglect.
- Free next-day shipment of warranty replacement energizers. A unit can be shipped by 2 p.m. Central Time to be received the next day. (Calls on Friday after 2 p.m. will ship Monday.) If you think your energizer has failed, call us at 1-800-282-6631. We’ll help you test your energizer to ensure that it has truly failed. This is important because 25% of the units we receive back work fine. The fence was at fault instead of the energizer.
- Free technical support. We will provide free advice and support both before you purchase an energizer or fence and afterwards for as long as you wish our help. This applies to energizer repair issues also. If you are not sure how to replace a module, our people will “walk” you step-by-step through the process via telephone.
- Solar energizer packages. With larger energizers (over 1 joule), the panel, battery and energizer need to be correctly sized for each situation. We will do this for you at no cost if you call us.
- Five-year assurance against energizer obsolescence. Premier’s “contract” with our customers includes repair or replacement of any non-working units for up to 5 years whether the unit is “obsolete” or not. During the 2-year warranty period, Premier pays for the replacement cost.
NOTE: Do not use an energizer that is labeled high impedance, continuous current, weed burner or weed chopper. We recommend only low or wide impedance energizers. Continuous current (high impedance) energizers have a pulse type that is long (in time) but low in energy. Low impedance have pulses that are very short (in time) but higher in energy. The long duration continuous current pulses create a spark that is also long in duration - long enough for it to set fire to grass/weeds/leaves/needles that might touch the fence. In our opinion they should never be used on any fence - for this reason. They must not be used on electroplastic fences (can melt the plastic). Low impedance pulses are so short (3/10,000 of a second maximum) in time that heat build up is less likely.
Warning: In 1991 an accidental fatality occurred when a young child’s head contacted an electrified fence while the child was crawling on wet grass. The fence was correctly installed and functioning properly. The energizer was a UL approved unit. As a result, Premier strongly advises against allowing toddlers access to any electrified fences. Also, due to this incident and others, experts now suggest that human contact by an energized wire to the head and neck may be the most dangerous point of contact. We urge all to especially avoid this kind of contact.