Electric Fence Dangers
Electric fences are an affordable and effective solution for containing livestock in a particular area, and for preventing predatory and pest animals from entering a specific area. While there are many positive benefits to be gained from installing an electric fence, electrified enclosures also come with certain risks. You should always be aware of these dangers. We’ve outlined some of the most common electric fence hazards here. You can be mindful of them and minimize any threat posed by your newly installed electric fence.
We all know that electric fences work because they shock the animals (or people!) that touch them. But are they dangerous?
The short answer is “seldom.” Typically, electric fences work by way of pulses, so the animal or person being shocked can immediately disengage once they’ve received a warning shock. The shock rarely ever causes any injury. However, there are circumstances in which a small animal or a person, especially a child, might get tangled in the fence. They could receive multiple shocks, which might have lasting physical or psychological effects.
Always supervise children and smaller animals around electric fences.
And don’t worry about tiny animals like birds. Animals must be grounded to receive a shock from a fence, so your friendly neighborhood sparrows landing on a hot wire won’t be shocked or harmed.
Many people are alarmed when they realize how high the voltage is in standard livestock electric fences. Many are 2,000-4,000 volts, or even higher. But the fact is that voltage isn’t what causes harm. Amperage causes damage. Modern electric fences are typically high voltage and low amperage. The low amperage, in combination with the pulse technology used by modern electric fences, means that the voltage is not a serious concern.
A more pressing concern when it comes to electric fences is power disruption. After all, the fence itself isn’t a real physical barrier. Your average horse or cow can easily break the poly tape or wire that forms the boundary of the fence. If power is interrupted due to severe weather, or if moisture or debris compromises the fence, you’ll need to be extra vigilant. You must ensure that your livestock remains safe and contained.
Reduced Property Value
Whether or not electric fencing impacts your property value depends mainly on the type of property you have. Perhaps in a suburban neighborhood, the aesthetic associated with electric fences isn’t necessarily welcome. An electric fence might impact the value of your home. However, for farms and ranches, a properly installed and maintained electric fence is likely to increase your property value.
Even if you’re in an area where electric fences are considered unsightly, they are effortless to remove. So, this shouldn’t be a primary concern.
One issue with electric fences is that they might interfere with phone lines, wi-fi, or other telecommunications. Properly installed and regularly maintained electric fences aren’t likely to cause a problem. But if your fence has leaky insulators, overgrown vegetation, or bad joints, you may notice issues with your phone lines or internet connections. There can also be an issue if the grounding system is located too close to your household’s electrical grounding, water pipes, or telephone wires.
If you are conscientious about installation and maintenance, and use top quality equipment, including durable insulators, you are unlikely to encounter this hazard. If you do, however, it can usually be corrected quite easily.
We often hear from clients who are concerned about whether or not electric fences can increase the risk of fire. It’s improbable for this to occur, but in certain exceptional circumstances, a spark from an electric fence could potentially result in a fire.
Usually, landowners are concerned about the fence coming into contact with dry grass or leaves—or tinder. However, dry foliage isn’t conductive, so it doesn’t pose a risk by merely touching the fence.
The only situation in which an electric fence might set dry grass alight is if a live wire were to short to a grounded metal object. A grounded object could be a steel post or another wire with broken insulators, for example. Then the sparks might fall into dry vegetation. This is an exceedingly rare set of circumstances, easily prevented by regular inspections.