Our Top Picks
- ParmakMagnum Solar-Pak? – Our Top Pick
- Zareba ESP5M-Z
- Patriot SolarGuard 155 Fence Energizer
- Parmak Low Impedance 6V 25 mile Fence Charger
- Silver Streak 12V
As people and industries become more environmentally aware, the use of solar-powered electricity is becoming more common. Anytime we can reduce our dependence on nonrenewable energy sources, it is a win-win. Not only do consumers see reductions in their electric bills, but using solar power reduces air pollution and helps to fight climate change.
While the benefits for the environment are certainly favorable, solar products are a solid choice for the consumer as well. When reviewing options for electric fencing, solar is an excellent alternative to traditional AC or DC chargers in many cases. For folks who require some extra flexibility for traveling with livestock, need remote fencing, or often move animals and supply power to other paddocks, solar is genuinely the way to go. Best of all, the solar electric fence chargers out on the market today are extremely reliable, can store enough energy to run up to two weeks without sunshine, and are surprisingly high-powered.
We have done some research on products from the top manufacturers of solar electric fence chargers in the industry and have compiled a list of our favorites. These five products are some of the best solar electric fence chargers available on the market today. We have also included a buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice for you.
Our List of the 5 Best Solar Electric Fence Chargers of 2020
Parmak Magnum Solar-Pak 12 Solar Electric Fence Charger
Parmak is a well-known name in the industry, and their products are typically sturdy and well made. ParmakMagnum Solar-Pak has a low impedance, and provides maximum and consistent power through the length of the Fence, up to a full 30 miles.
This unit is very powerful, with up to 3.1 output joules, and you can use it for midsize to large areas. At 500 ohm resistance, the voltage is 6100V. It will keep your crops or animals safe from almost any predators, including bears, and is appropriate to corral large or heavy livestock, such as cattle, hogs, and horses. This unit is not particularly portable, however. It weighs 25 pounds, and it is not compact or as easy to move as other smaller chargers.
The battery will keep the Fence working to nearly a week of sunlight under moderate weather conditions. Keep in mind. The battery is a 12V sealed lead-acid solar rechargeable battery. It is important to check battery level more often in the Winter, or switch out the 12V lead-acid to a comparable Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable battery in colder weather.
Setting up the Magnum 12 is relatively simple. To get the top performance out of this unit, you can set up using three grounding rods, with the solar panel facing South for best performance. The unit performs well even with reasonably significant weed build up along the Fence.
- Effective for mid- to large size farms
- Is effective for all farm animals
- Easy to read performance meter
- Low impedance, works well even with heavy weeds
- 2-year full warranty, one year warranty on the battery
- Not small enough for easy portability
- Cold weather may affect battery
2. Zareba 5 Mile Solar Low Impedance Fence Charger
The next charger on our list is the Zareba ESP5M-Z, which is a solid performer best built to handle smaller livestock and protect crops from predators. Its low impedance provides consistent performance over a 5-mile area if using steel or aluminum wires in a well-maintained field; or 2.5 miles if using poly wire in similar conditions. There is some reduction in performance, and some loss in voltage in areas where weeds are not correctly maintained, so be aware when considering placement.
This charger is one of the most straightforward units to install, and with a red “fence OK” light on the unit, it is easy to ensure proper functioning, even from a little distance. The unit has a mounting bracket on the back that will work with T, Y, or round posts; and easy-to-use screw on terminal knobs that connect the ground rods (using the green knobs) and the fence wire (using the red knob). Once up and running with the battery fully charged, the unit will provide power for up to nearly two weeks without the sun if necessary.
This unit can also be mounted easily on a flat, tabletop surface. It has decent power, with 0.10-joule output, it will be useful in corralling horses, goats, most breeds of dogs, as well as keeping out common predators. The Zebra 5 Mile fence charger is not suitable for larger animals, such as cattle and large pigs, or animals with thick hides or a lot of hair.
- Fully solar powered
- Easy to Install , versatile
- Weather resistant
- 1 year limited warranty
- Performance issues with weed growth
3. Patriot SolarGuard 155 Fence Energizer
This next fence charger is fully portable and works exceptionally well for travel and setting up temporary corrals, as well as for traditional use on a more considerable home lot or small farm. The Patriot SolarGuard 155 Fence Energizer provides adequate coverage for approximately 1.2 miles, with 0.15 joules of energy, a 500-ohm load voltage of 3700V.
This unit is handy for smaller animals, such as dogs, goats, sheep, and horses, and will deter most predators. This unit would not be the appropriate choice for larger animals, such as cattle, and more aggressive predators, such as black bears, may not be deterred by this charger.
The Patriot SolarGuard 155 has an excellent battery. It is a 12V 7Ah intelligent design battery which is remarkably efficient. After a full charge, this battery will supply adequate power to the fence charger for up to 21 days without sunlight. It makes this model a particularly right choice when traveling, with inconsistent charging, and in areas where sunlight is limited.
- Extremely efficient battery
- 2 year warranty
- Easily portable
- Provides limited coverage area
- Not appropriate for larger animals
Parmak Low Impedance 6V 25 mile Fence Charger
Our next choice is another Parmak product. Like the more powerful MAG12-SP, the Parmak Low Impedance 6V 25 mile Fence Charger is also a solid performer with good power. While many models claim low impedance, this model truly performs well under less than optimal conditions, with weed overgrowth, wet grass, etc. It includes a performance meter with a stoplight style battery indicator, as well as voltage and overall performance status.
The unit comes with a 6V battery that is solar charged, and can handle up to 25 miles of Fence. The unit has decent power, with a shock reading of between .75 and 1.6 joules. With a 500 ohm impedance, the voltage is around 2650. The battery will stay charged for over ten without sunlight.
While not nearly as powerful as the MAG12-SP, this unit is a very solid performer and will corral horses, dogs, goats, and even some small cattle, although animals with thicker hide, or long thick hair, may not be deterred by this unit.
Our biggest complaint with this product is design-based. The solar panel is rigid and not moveable. For top performance, the panel must face the South. With the rigid design, it limits mounting options. If you want to mount this on a T-post, a bracket needs to be purchased separately. The battery is also a bit difficult to access, as the entire top portion, including the solar panel, must be removed to access the battery.
- Solid construction
- Low Impedance; performs in less than ideal conditions
- Battery life is excellent
- 2 Year warranty; 1 year battery warranty
- Rigid panel, can not be adjusted
- Battery difficult to access
5. Silver Streak 12V Lightning Diverter Solar Fence Charger
We wanted to include one more charger that was suitable for larger animals, and the Silver Streak 12V fits the bill. It is a powerful charger that provides the output of up to 2 joules and can support 100 acres of fencing. Unlike the other models we reviewed, the Silver Streak 12V Lightning Diverter does not have an internal battery. However, it hooks up to any 12V standard battery, which would need to be purchased separately. It has truly low impedance and performs well, even in areas with overgrown vegetation.
The unique aspect of this model is the lightning diverter, which is included with the unit, along with two lightning fuses. It is a great option, particularly when using the unit in remote fields where lighting can damage your Fence and property. The diverter and fuses protect the internal circuitry against weather damage, and ensure that the Fence will remain working properly, even in harsh weather conditions.
This fence charger is heavy-duty, with voltage reading of 9.9kV (9900 volts) and shocks up to 2 joules. The charger provides adequate strength for cattle, hogs, and horses, and will hold up against tough predators as well.
- Rugged and versatile
- Can contain larger livestock safely
- Lightning converter is weather resistant
- Two-year warranty
- Does not come with a battery
How to Choose the Right Charger for Your Fence
There are several factors to consider when buying a solar fence charger. It is important to pre-plan and understand what materials you plan to use, the animals you need to contain, and have a good understanding of both the soil quality and the vegetation that exists in the area where you intend to build your Fence. To ensure that you select the best product for your unique environment, we will review the various factors you should consider before moving forward:
Type of Fence Line
The most common choice of material for fencing is galvanized steel. It is inexpensive and conducts electricity well over a large area. However, while it lasts a long time, galvanized steel will develop rust.
Aluminum wire is a solid choice as it is excellent at conducting electricity and is fairly maintenance free. However, it may not be the most economical choice if you are fencing a larger area. It can also stretch in areas of high tension and not maintain its shape as well as steel.
Stainless steel is a solid choice for fencing, and while it doesn’t conduct as well as aluminum or galvanized steel, it will still perform well, will maintain its shape, and can be used with any type of charger.
Another option is high tensile electric wire, which is typically 12.5 gauge carbon steel. It conducts electricity fairly well, and will last a long time with minimal maintenance required.
If you require fencing with higher visibility, a poly tape or poly wire may be something to consider. Poly tape is easily visible for horses, which helps maintain their safety, but the poly materials do not conduct a charge nearly as well as aluminum, galvanized, or stainless steel. They also do not have the lifespan of other wires, and require more maintenance. However,? poly materials are very useful for temporary pens.
Poly Rope is a great choice if you travel with livestock and want something easy and reusable.
You can use barbed wire to manage livestock on many farms, and in fact, some people still use it today. However, barbed wire is not a safe alternative to single strand wires, woven wire, poly tape, or poly wire. It rusts easily and can cause injury to livestock.
How much wire are you using?
Many chargers will provide a distance limitation on their charge of 10, 20, or 30 miles. This includes the length of all fencing strands. For example, if you are using five strands of wire on your Fence, and each section of Fence is 10 feet long, you would need to count each section as 50 feet of wire toward the total distance that is supported by one charger. For extremely large areas, you may need more than one charger to ensure total connectivity.
Weed control along the fence line
As weeds grow and begin to touch the lowest part of your fence line, it can draw energy away from the Fence and pull it into the ground. Low impedance chargers will work to fight that resistance, and provide an adequate charge throughout the Fence. Still, it is important to understand how the model you select is affected by vegetation. If you live in an area with a lot of rain, and significant vegetation growth year-round, such as in Florida, Texas, or Louisiana, you will want to pay very close attention to how a charger performs with resistance.
In technical terms, weeds will contribute to your fence load. When measuring performance, a low ohm reading is indicative of a heavy fence load, which means that you have some interference by foliage, weeds, and vegetation that are in contact with your fence line. If your readings show high ohms, the weeds or vegetation are not contributing significantly to your fence load, and the power throughout the Fence is consistent and well managed. Some fence chargers simply do a better job at managing fence load, so take climate and vegetation into consideration when choosing the appropriate unit for your needs.
For your solar-powered Fence to work at an optimal level, it is essential to have it properly set up. Ideally, you should be using three ground rods. Depending on the type and quality of soil,? you may need to adjust the length of the rods you use and the positioning. You want to ensure that your ground rods are deep enough to be inserted into moist dirt, and that you avoid, and get underneath any rocky soil. If you live in an area that is particularly hot and dry, water your ground rods regularly.
What type of animals are your keeping in?
In general, larger animals require a larger charge. Cattle and horses will require a higher charge than dogs and chickens. While that seems very obvious, there are other factors to consider, as well. Docile animals, even larger ones, can typically be managed with 2000 volts. Aggressive, or harder to handle animals, even if not large, should be operated at higher voltage, between 4000-5000.
You also want to consider the total number of fence strands and strand placement based on the animals you are housing. If you have animals that dig or root, like pigs and even some dogs, or animals that are hard to confine, such as goats, you want to consider using more strands and placing at least 2 of the low to the ground. Strands close to the ground will impact your fence load, but will help to control and discourage rooting and digging underneath the fence line.
Smaller animals will require additional strands, to ensure they cannot jump between, or slip underneath the strands. Docile animals and larger animals may be fine with 3 or 4 strands, provided that the voltage is strong enough to affect them on contact.
A special note on horses. For horses, you will want to ensure that the fence strands are visible, as many horses, especially young ones or those that are particularly noisy, can inadvertently get tangled in a fence that they cannot visualize well. Even having the top and bottom strands visible, for example, using a white poly tape, makes a big difference. Traditional strands can be used for the middle strands, as long as some visibility exists at the top and bottom of the Fence.
What animals are you keeping out?
Don’t forget about your predators! Animals such as deer, while not particularly physically imposing, still require a higher charge to discourage continued attempt to access your fields or your animals. Bears will also need a higher voltage as well. Otherwise, you should manage smaller nuisance animals by strand placement as well as voltage.
Benefits of a Solar-Powered Electric Fence Charger?
When compared to the costs of running AC powered fences. The solar options are much more economical. The cost of running acres or miles of electric fencing 24 hours a day can get expensive. Smaller charged areas are not much of an impact on a month to month basis. However, when you consider maintenance costs, and the overall costs at building and maintaining a system can add up.
Storms and other electrical outages can wreak havoc on an AC powered fence system. Outages and the work required to ensure an adequate backup plan. With generators or battery-powered options, it can get costly and inefficient. With Solar possibilities, the majority of solar fence chargers can operate for a significant amount of time, even without direct sunlight.
For remote fences far away from a power source or for individuals who travel to auctions. Dog or horse shows, fairs, and other distant locations, or even on your property, if you utilize several paddocks throughout the day, nothing offers the flexibility of solar charging. Many solar charging options are very lightweight. They can be used in tabletop format, and are easy to take along while traveling.
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