Whether you’ve got a large farm on your hands, a brood of chickens, or a few acres of crop, keeping your land safe from predators and pests, such as moles and even larger animals, or your livestock securely contained within their fields and pens, can be tricky and expensive. Especially when you’ve got your electric fences powered by electricity from the grid. In fact, at times, powering your electric fence can seem an almost impossible task, if the field you’re looking to encircle is far from the nearest power source.
Thankfully, there’s an easy answer to questions of location, budget, and safety: a solar fence charger. Fitted with a solar panel, a solar charger is designed to power your electric fence and charge your battery during sunlight hours, so that your battery can run independently through the night. A solar fence charger can help cut costs dramatically in the long run, too. And if it seems confusing working out exactly which solar charger to buy for your specific needs, then fret not, this article is designed to help you make the best, most informed choice when shopping for the best solar fence chargers.
Having researched the market, we’ve picked out the best solar fence chargers to meet a variety of needs.
With a two-year warranty, the Premier Solar Intellischock 60 solar fence charger is the ideal buy for containing (or keeping out) large animals, such as horses, cows, bulls, and deer. Coming with its own sealed lead acid battery, and an overcharge regulator to ensure the maintenance of that battery’s health, Premier’s solar panel can be readily adjusted to maximise its daily exposure to sunlight, whilst producing an impressive 0.60 joules of power along 0.5-1 mile of electric fencing, and is intelligently designed to work well even when your fence is in frequent/heavy contact with weeds.
With low impedance technology to minimise battery drain even when your fence is in contact with weeds, and with a one year warranty (even against lightning strikes), the Zareba ESO2M-Z solar fence charger is the most affordable fence charger on this list, and remains one of our favourites. It can cover up to 2 miles of fencing, putting out the 0.4 joules required to keep your small livestock and pets (such as chickens and dogs) contained, whilst keeping the smaller pests (such as rabbits) out.
Built to handle the weather, and keep your electric fence charged through wet weeds and brush, so long as you ensure you ground the Parmak DF-SP-LI solar fence charger properly (grounding wire and rods sold separately), this kit is destined to fix any electric fencing issues you have, and will do so over a staggering 25 mile range. The Parmak comes with an exclusive-to-brand built-in performance metre, and with a huge 1.4 joule output, can stop even large bears from entering your property.
How Do Solar Fence Chargers Work?
Farmers have been relying on the power of the sun since agriculture was first invented, and in today’s modern world that dependency has evolved even further. Today, solar power technology is more affordable and more reliable than ever. It powers our homes, our businesses, sometimes even our vehicles. But it is never more necessary than in locations situated far from the nearest grid-electricity source. For those of us with land extending far beyond the reaches of conventional power sources, with electric fences bordering our property or fields, solar fence chargers are a godsend. But just how exactly do they work?
Typically, your electric fencing would be wired into a battery, which you would have to either keep charged via a grid-linked power source, or recycle and replace on a regular basis. Solar fence chargers simply replace the need for these external power sources. Compatible with most batteries (or sometimes coming with their own batteries), these chargers take the power of the sun, convert it into electricity, and then store this electricity in the battery attached to the electric fence, powering it throughout the night and day. There are, however, some pretty ingenious additional functions we know you’d like to know the inner workings of.
Let’s first start by explaining how solar panels harness the sun’s energy. Solar panels are frames containing many individual solar cells. These cells are made of polycrystalline or monocrystalline (mono- being preferable) silicon. This silicon is unique in that it reacts physically and chemically when exposed to sunlight, in a process termed the ‘photovoltaic effect’. During the photovoltaic effect, sunlight is converted into volts of electricity, which are then gathered together across the surface of the panel and sent, via wires, into the attached battery. Solar panels need direct sunlight to achieve their maximum potential, but many of today’s panels can and do still generate electricity even in low light.
In addition to the basic mechanics of producing electricity and charging your electric fence, solar fence chargers are designed to be smart and reliable when it comes to the voltage they produce. Crucial, considering it’s important that the voltage remains constant so as to keep out or contain the animals you need to (too high a voltage would be dangerous, too low ineffectual). This consistency is achieved thanks to the low impedance technology installed in most modern solar fence chargers. When your electric fence is in contact with weeds (potentially tricking your fence into thinking it needs to send out shocks), this low impedance technology recognises the ‘low impedance’ of the weeds and ignores it, thus preventing unnecessary battery drain and the risk of shorts. Similarly, when the weeds are cut back, this smart technology recognises that and avoids surging the voltage of the fence.
Solar fence chargers typically work with fences of the following material: steel/aluminium, poly wire/poly rope and poly tape. They are typically designed to be mounted on top of a post, but can also be placed on flat surfaces, and most of their panels can be tilted on a swivel mount to ensure that they face the sun throughout the year, thus maximising their efficiency. With the proper instruction, solar electric fences are easy to install on your own.
Pros and Cons of Solar Fence Chargers
As with all modern technology, especially that at the forefront of the drive toward green energy, it’s important to first examine the advantages and disadvantages before buying. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of solar fence chargers.
- Smart technology. The low impedance smart technology built into solar fence chargers means that you don’t have to worry too much about the effectiveness of your electric fence being impeded by weed growth. In other words, your animals and property will be kept protected by a fence kept at a consistent voltage, throughout the year.
- Green energy. For those of us living or working far from the grid, we know better than most how important the health of the earth is. In today’s society, the earth is taken far too much for granted. Replacing grid-tied electric power with solar powered electricity is a conscientious way to help the planet.
- Free electricity. Let’s not forget the biggest pull of any renewable energy: free power! Since solar technology takes its power from the sun, it is essentially a limitless and free power source, which can charge your fence without ever costing you a nickel.
- Easy to install. Even the least competent individual could install a solar fence charger. With minimal wiring, and no secondary power source (only the panel directed at the sun), you can get your solar fence charger up and running in next to no time.
- Sunlight dependent. This may seem an obvious one, but there are those who would forget it: solar power requires exposure to sunlight. Since solar panels are unable to generate electricity overnight, they do all of the charging of their batteries during the day. Thus, it’s paramount that in order for your fence to operate 24/7, your panel gets enough exposure to sunlight. Whilst there are monocrystalline panels which can still charge in low light, it’s important to angle your panel toward the sun, keep it clean and free of debris, and ensure that there is nothing above it which will cast a shadow over it during the day.
- Vulnerable to lightning. Most solar fence chargers do not come with a lightning diverter or arrestor, and as such are innately vulnerable to lightning strikes. We recommend you invest in a diverter and install this so as to drive lightning into the ground, away from your solar fence charger.
- No grounding rods. Most solar fence chargers also do not come with grounding rods, which are recommended so as to maintain the integrity of the charger and fence.
- No battery. Similarly to cons #3 and #4, most solar fence chargers do not come with a battery, meaning that you will have to provide one yourself.
Best Solar Fence Chargers Reviewed
We’ve taken a look at our top picks from the market, but there are still many more options available to you, and many other elements you may need to consider. Here’s our top 7 solar fence chargers at a glance!
1. Zareba ESP5M-Z 5-Mile Solar Electric Fence Charger
- Brand: Zareba
- Seamless Mounting
- Easy-Grip Terminals
- Track Your Fence Status
- Energizes up to 5 miles of electric fencing
Zareba is a trustworthy brand, proudly hailing from (and manufacturing in) the USA. As such, they features thrice on this best-on-the-market list. Zareba’s 5 mile solar charger has a patented mount allowing for 360 degrees of rotation when mounted on a T-post, ensuring that wherever you need to place this fence charger, you can maximise its exposure to sunlight. What’s more, even if your land faces often over-clouded or rainy conditions, the ESP5M-Z can continue operating for 2 weeks without a charge (after a full charge).
Easy to install, this particular kit puts out 0.1 joules of shock power, and is to be used with up to 5 miles of steel wire, aluminium wire, polytape, polywire, or polyrope. It is best used for short-haired animals, including chickens, dogs, pigs, horses, sheep and cattle, but because of its lower output, has limited use against larger predators or livestock (such as moose, deer, bears, and bulls).
- Reliable American brand
- Patented 360-degree rotation
- Impedance Technology maximises efficiency, minimises chances of shorts
- Limited uses with larger animals
- Doesn’t come with a battery
2. Fi-Shock ESP2M-FS 2-Mile Solar-Powered Electric Fence Charger
- Brand: Fi-Shock
- Energizes up to 2 miles of electric fencing
- Keep Animals In & Wildlife Out
- Operates up to 2 weeks without sun
- Low impedance technology reduces battery drain and weed shortages
The Fi-Shock ESP2M-FS, built and tested in the USA, is a great addition to this list, and only narrowly missed out on our ‘Best for Small Animals’ top slot (thanks to a higher price point than the Zareba ESP2M-Z). Still, this is a nifty piece of kit. Super easy to install, the Fi-Shock comes with a 1-year limited warranty (including against lightning strikes), and is designed to work most effectively in the containment and prevention-to-access of small animals, including chickens, raccoons, foxes, skunks, possums, and rabbits.
With a 1-second pulsing shock of 0.04 joules, the Fi-Shock is also built with the health and safety of our furry friends and critters in mind, ensuring that whilst they’re kept out (or in), they’re not harmed in the process. This solar fence energizer can power up to 2 miles of fencing, and has an ‘OK Light’ which flashes to indicate the working condition of the solar charger.
- Impedance Technology maximises efficiency, minimises chances of shorts
- Made and tested in the USA
- More expensive than similar competitor product
- Doesn’t come with a battery
3. Solar Fence Charger 12 Volt 2 Joule/Free Lightning Diverter
- Brand: EFL (Electric Fence Light)
- Powerful 2 Joule Solar Fencer
- Activates 1 to 100 acres of fence
- Low impedance design
Designed to work with any 12-V battery, this solar fence charger from EFL comes with a free lightning diverter rod and a 5-V lightning fuse 2-pack, to help ensure the safety and longevity of your solar product. With a two year warranty, EFL’s solar fence charger is also built with low impedance technology, to maximise its efficiency, whilst minimising the chance of shortage due to constant contact with weeds.
This solar charger will cover around 100 acres of fencing, which roughly equates to a half mile of fencing, and puts out a shock power of 2 joules.
- Kit comes with free lightning fuse and diversion packs
- Most powerful output on our list at 2 joules
- 2 year warranty
- Relatively expensive
- Does not come with battery or mounting brackets
- Only covers small length of fencing
4. Zareba ESP10M-Z 10-Mile Solar Electric Fence Charger
- Brand: Zareba
- Steel wire, aluminum wire, polytape, polywire, polyrope
- Energizes up to 10 miles of electric fencing
- Operates up to 2 weeks without sun
We promised you American brand Zareba would show up again, and here they are with a 10-mile fence energiser working on solar power, and putting out enough of a voltage (0.15 joules) to be used in contact with most short-haired animals (such as horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats).
Designed to work for up to 2 weeks on a full charge (even without further exposure to sunlight), the ESP10M-Z can be mounted on T-posts, round-posts, and Y-posts, is super easy to install, and comes with a 1 year manufacturer as well as an easily-readable fence charger status monitor.
- Easy to install
- Trusted American brand
- 10 mile coverage
- Doesn’t come with a battery
- Limited use on long-hared/larger animals
- Too strong for really small animals, like poultry
5. Parmak DF-SP-LI Solar Pak 25-Mile-Range Electric Fence Charger
- Brand: Parmak
- Solar-powered electric fencer
- Shocks through wet weeds and brush
- Lowimpedance and features exclusive built-in performance meter
We chose the Parmak DF-SP-LI solar fence energiser as our ‘Best for Fence Length’ product, as this kit can cover a pretty impressive 25 miles of electric fencing. What’s more, the battery is included, so all you need to do upon receiving your Parmak kit is locate the best location to install it, and plug it in!
Made in the USA, and putting out 1.4 joules, this is one of those electric fence chargers you can really rely on for use with large animals, including bears, moose, deer, horse, bulls, and others. It also comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty.
- Longest range of operation out of all the products on our list
- Comes with its own battery
- Low impedance technology maximises efficiency, whilst minimising chance of shortage
- Enough joules to use with large animals
- Doesn’t come with the full kit necessary to ground it
- Little additional information provided by manufacturer
6. Premier Solar IntelliShock 60 Fence Energizer
- Brand: Premier 1 Supplies
- Solar panel is easy to adjust for seasonal light availability
- Easily accessible fence and ground terminals
- Large capacity battery
- Highly visible on/off light with low battery indicator
- Won’t rust. Made from durable UV-treated polycarbonate.
This kit from Premier 1 Supplies is probably the best all-rounder kit on the market, ideal for use with larger animals, and ready to install straight out of the box. The IntelliShock (named for the intelligent technology which regulates energy demand even when your fence is in constant contact with weeds – allowing for greater energy efficiency) comes with its own battery, and a clever mounted solar panel with 180 degrees of rotation. This means that wherever you choose/need to install your solar fence charger, you can ensure it gets all the sunlight it needs.
Furthermore, this kit comes with a grounding stake, and overcharge regulator, keeping you safe and your battery healthy. Though the battery has a large capacity, allowing for continual use during long periods of low light, this solar fence charger can also be plugged directly into a 110V power source, giving you flexibility. The whole kit has a UV-treated polycarbonate case, meaning it won’t rust. It also has an easily-readable indicator light, and is marketed for use with small-medium sized animals.
- Everything you need (and more) for setup
- Highly-durable case
- 0.6 joules and IntelliShock technology makes it effective and efficient
- Can be used with solar power only, or an alternative 110V power source
- Only good for 0.5-1 mile of electric fencing
- Most expensive kit on the list
7. Zareba ESP2M-Z 2-Mile Solar Electric Fence Charger
- Brand: Zareba
- Powers up to 2 miles
- Fence using a sun charged battery
- Weed free fence conditions
- For use with small animals and pets
What better way to finish up this list than with another product from trusty brand Zareba, which also nabbed our top spot as ‘Best for Small Animals’ solar electric fence charger. This is the most affordable solar fence charger on our list, and yet it does not scrimp on effectiveness. Good for 2 miles worth of fencing, the Zareba ESP2M-Z puts out 0.04 joules, and comes with a battery included. Super easy to install, you’ll rarely have to worry about whether your fence is getting the power it needs with this kit.
Best used to contain or keep out small animals – such as poultry, rodents, rabbits, and dogs – this is another of the electric fence chargers which comes with built-in low impedance technology, perfect for use on farmland or over stretches of land which prove hard to keep free of weeds and brush. The manufacturers also provide a 1 year warranty with this product.
- Most affordable kit on our list
- Low impedance technology maximises efficiency, whilst minimising the chance of shorting
- Comes with a battery
- Limited use for anything larger than a dog
There are lots of things to consider when looking to power your electric fence with solar power. Here are some of the most crucial questions you should be asking yourself.
Types of Animal
Depending on what types of animal you’re looking to contain (or keeping out), you’ll be needing a very different level of voltage. And it’s not always about size, either; short-haired large animals, like most cattle and horses, can often be contained with the same voltage required to contain medium-small sized animals, such as sheep, dogs, and pigs. Of course, the bigger your problem – bears in the orchard, say – the bigger the joules you’ll typically need. Zareba offer a really good chart on their products’ pages to help you assess the sort of power you’ll need depending on the animal.
Type of Fence Line
Consider as well what type of fence you’ll be charging with electricity. Most of the brands listed here work just fine with traditional steel or aluminium fence wire, as well as polywire, polyrope, or polytape. However, if you’re using polywire/tape/rope, then you can expect the power output of your solar electric fence charger to drop by as much as half. You should therefore plan your buy accordingly.
Again, most of the solar fence chargers on this list are designed with their own versions of low impedance technology, meaning that they can detect the contact of weeds on your fencing, and essentially ignore them, thus saving your fence’s energy only for when there is actual animal contact with the fence. Of course, some work better than others, and by-and-large the worse the weed conditions on your property, the harder your fence charger is going to have to work. Factor accordingly.
Length of Fence Required
This may seem an obvious one, but it’s arguably the most crucial thing to consider. After all, it would be of no use to find the perfect solar fence charger for your budget and animal considerations, and then receive it to find it covers way too little (or indeed way too much) fencing. Measure out the land, preferably in mileage, which you need your electric fence to cover, and factor this into your shopping. You may end up requiring a few of the same kits, or just one larger one.
Taking into account price, length of fence charging, power output, brand reputation, and versatility, we have come to the conclusion that the best solar fence charger on the market has to be the Zareba ESP5M-Z 5-Mile Solar Low Impedance Electric Fence Charger. With a patented mount allowing for 360 degrees of rotation, a 5 mile power capability, and the power output necessary to be used with medium to large animals – not to mention Zareba’s 1 year warranty, and excellent consumer reputation – you can’t go very far wrong if you start out your renewable energy electric fence charging with this product.
Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best solar powered electric fence:
Unfortunately not. The logic behind this is fairly simple – if you’re looking to electrify a chicken coop, for example, you’ll want something gentle enough to keep your chickens contained and foxes kept out, whilst not hurting either animal. As such, you’ll need a low voltage/joule-output – in turn, this wouldn’t be strong enough to keep out (or in) larger animals, such as horses, cattle, bears or bigger. Still, there are some good solar fence chargers out there which do cover a wide range of animals.
Thankfully for you, the answer is: very. The most integral part of installation for any of the chargers listed above, it would seem, is that before they are first installed, they must be charged for around 72 hours in sunlight. After this period, installing most of the solar panels on this list is as easy as grounding them, and plugging them into your fence.
When working with (potentially very high voltage) electric fences, you must ensure you are sensible, and follow all safety precautions possible. Do not put your head or upper spine anywhere near an electrified fence; never encourage anyone (including yourself) to touch an electric fence; make sure the power to your fence is switched off before working on it; make sure it is properly maintained. Wear appropriate clothing and gear, and if worried, contact a professional engineer to help you install it.
One of the best things you can do to ensure the longevity of your solar fence charger, and to maximise the power output from your solar fence charger, is to keep your fence free as possible from weeds and brush. Regularly remove debris from the fence area, as well as from the solar panel of your fence chargers, to ensure it is exposed to maximum sunlight. Lastly, monitor the performance of your solar fence charger by checking its indicator light, and keeping it turned toward the sun.
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