November 30, 2013

Fencing Focus: Solar Powered Energizers


Making use of the sun to power your electric fence line is both economical and sometimes necessary, if you need to power an electric fence which isn’t near a mains power supply.

Gallagher PowerPlus solar powered battery energizers provide effective animal control, and are a great way of making use of the sun as a natural resource. The following is a guide which will help you determine what you need to power your electric fence by the sun.  The components required for a Gallagher electric fence solar system are; a solar/battery energizer, solar panel, regulator, battery, earth and fence.

Solar selection guide
Solar power is the technology of obtaining usable energy from the light of the sun. Solar energy has been used in many traditional technologies for centuries and has come into widespread use where other power supplies are absent, such as remote locations or where mains power is not available.

A Gallagher solar panel (a photovoltaic panel) converts sunlight into electrical energy and this is used to charge up a battery. The battery allows you to collect energy when the sun is shining and store it until it is needed to power your fence.

Components of your solar system

1. Solar panel
Solar panels generate power by processing the UV light in the atmosphere. Depending on your power requirements Gallagher have a range of solar panels to meet your needs.

2. Battery
There must be sufficient capacity to reliably power the energizer during winter or reduced light conditions. The recommended battery type is a deep cycle (also called leisure or marine) battery.

3. Energizer
Gallagher has a range of battery energizers that are suitable powering a multiwire fence up to 60km.

4. Earth
The earthing system refers to the galvanised metal stakes that are placed in the ground near the energizer. The earth completes the circuit which is what allows the animal to get a shock.

5. Fence
Connect a lead set between the energizer and the fence ensuring that the connection is for powering the fence

Step 1: What size solar energizer do I require?

Permanent solar powered battery energizers are the logical choice for areas where there is no mains power supply. The energizer uses the battery to operate during day, night or during periods of low sunlight. Gallagher have a range of PowerPlus battery energizers that are well suited for permanent solar applications.

There are several factors which must be taken into consideration when selecting your energizer
• The size of the area/ how many paddocks that you plan to fence
• The type of animals you are wanting to fence
• The total distance of wire that you need to be electrify (either single wire or mutli-wire)
See your nearest Gallagher dealer for help on choosing the correct solar energizer for your property.
Step 2: What battery should I choose?
The key consideration in choosing a battery for a solar power electric fence system is the battery type and capacity (amp hours). There must be sufficient capacity to reliably power the energizer during winter or reduced light conditions.

If you leave the solar panel connected to a battery, the battery will slowly charge up. If you are putting in more energy than you are taking out, then the battery will eventually become fully charged. If this continues, the battery will become overcharged and be damaged by corrosion of its plates. To avoid this, all Gallagher solar panels have been regulated to maintain the health of your battery.

We recommend Deep Cycle batteries for your solar installation because they are designed to discharge and re-charge hundreds or thousands of times. A deep cycle battery will typically last two to four times longer than an automotive battery when used for powering energizers. A deep cycle battery is also designed to be deeply discharged over and over again.

Batteries need to be placed on a level surface and protected against extremes of temperatures- they should not be in direct contact with a cold surface such as the ground. Placing suitable insulating material under the batteries, or placing them in a battery box and burying the box, will also help increase their service life. Ensure that the battery has adequate ventilation to allow any gases to escape.

The electrolyte level (water levels) needs to be checked regularly (once a month for deep cycle batteries, and at longer intervals for valve regulated and flooded batteries). If the level is below the full indicator, then pure water (distilled or demineralised – never tap water) may be used to top up the level in each cell.

For further information contact your local Gallagher dealer or battery retailer for the most suitable battery for your solar system.

Step 3: What size solar panels do I require?
Depending on your power requirements Gallagher have a range of solar panels to meet your needs. Gallagher large energizers draw more current, therefore require more solar panels to charge the battery to a level it can satisfactorily power the fence.

Seasonal conditions also play a part as to how many solar panels you will need. The amount of sunlight can vary considerably depending on geographical location of the solar panel and the time of the year. You would need a larger solar panel if the location you choose has limited sunshine hours.

All Gallagher solar panels come with the option of a solar hardware kitset which attaches the energizer to the solar panel. This kitset is easy to assemble and allows you to set your solar panel for premium cover during sunlight hours. This is a permanent fixture and attaches to wood or steel posts to last years.

Step 4: What sort of earthing do I need?
The earthing system refers to the galvanised metal stakes that are placed in the ground near the energizer. The metal stakes in the ground are part of the circuit that is completed when the animal touches the wire. The completion of the circuit is what allows the animal to get a shock.  It is essential to have an effective earthing system. Visit our website and download a copy of our Gallagher Power Fence™ Systems manual which will give you a detailed explanation on all you need to know about earthing.

Step 5: How do I connect the fence from the energizer?
It is important to gain a good connection between the energizer and the fence.  You need to have a lead out cable that is able to deliver the full power of the energizer to your electric fence.  Think of it like water being pumped through a pipe.  If the pump is capable of delivering enough water to fill a 100mm (4”) pipe, but your pipe is only 25mm (1”) you are not utilising the pump to its full potential.

When selecting a leadout wire/cable, remember the longer the wire, the higher the resistance and the larger the cable the lower the resistance.

Below are some key tips that you need to take into consideration when you are installing your solar unit.

It’s best to install your solar panel in an area which can be visited for general maintenance of the battery which needs to be checked once a month. It is also a good idea to give your solar panel a clean with a damp cloth to allow the panel to perform at its designed capacity. Cleaning is more important if you are in areas that are exposed to dusty conditions, or close to the ocean where salt might build up.

When you design your solar system it needs to be protected from livestock that might want to interfere. If the panel is to be installed on the farm fence it is recommended you fence an area off around the panel for safekeeping.

Setting the tilt angle for the solar panel is also important.  The solar panel should be set to face the Equator, i.e. North in the Southern Hemisphere and South in the Northern Hemisphere

The tilt angle of the panel is measured from the horizontal. A minimum of 15° tilt angle is recommended to minimise the build up of dust and dirt and to allow rain to wash the surface clean.

Handy hint: When set correctly, the panel will create its largest shadow at midday on the shortest day of its use.

Next month we will take a look at security of your property and Gallagher products which can be used to do this.

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