Any foreigner visiting South Africa will immediately be struck by the electric fencing surrounding every residence in virtually every area of the country. It's become so common place for the walls that enclose our properties and protect us from the outside to be equipped with electric fencing that the only homes and properties that stand out are the ones that don’t have electric fences bolted around them. Acting as both a physical and psychological barrier these nifty stands of wires and brackets that now blend into our surroundings as inconspicuously as the blue sky above are our first line of defense against burglary and intrusion.
You Need your Neighbors Permission
In order to install an electric fence between the wall or fence separating your property from that of your neighbor you do need to ask for permission to install an electric fence. Since it will improve both your own security and their own this is generally not a problem and you will even find separated walls and fences with two rows of fencing. This double fencing actually increases your security since you do not need to rely on your neighbor to ensure their fence is working and properly maintained to be assured that your perimeter is secure.
How to Choose a Professional Company
With security being such a big industry it's no wonder that the market is saturated with one-man do-it-all shows who claim to have the best products, the quickest turnaround times and the lowest prices. When it comes to electric fences it can, and very commonly, be done WRONG. When looking for a company ensure that you choose a well-established firm that has at least 2 to 3 teams of technicians out in the field. They should have a landline number that is answered professionally and a website where they include a physical address.
Know your Basic Components
Apart from the obvious such as the electric fence wires and the wall-top brackets which are mounted atop your fence or wall you should know about the other components which work together to make your electric fence system function. This includes the energizer which is one of the most expensive parts of the system and converts the electrical power from your mains into electrical impulses with high voltage. Also important is the battery back-up system which will keep your fence working in the event of a power outage, lightening diverters and sirens to alert you in the event that the fence is tampered with.
Insist on Multiple Earth Spikes
For a residential property an electric fence system will typically incorporate 3-5 earth spikes but many of the less professional companies and one-man-shows out there will take their chances in an effort to get the job done cheaply and quickly. You must insist that the company ensure there are a minimum of 3 earth spikes or as many as they recommend for your property. Earth spikes are essential to ensuring that the fence is not easily hit by lightening.
Insist on Earth Loops
You may have seen some strange looking metal loops between wires on electric fences and wondered what in the world they do. Earth loops are placed between three wires on an electric fence to ensure that they cannot easily be separated or tampered with without setting an alarm off. If the central wire which rests in the middle of the metal loop makes contact with the loop it will cause an interruption in the electrical flow and set an alarm off. You should insist that the electric fencing company install anti-separation loops on your fences - especially if your fence has less than 5 wires.
Opt for Battery Back-up
Keeping your fence up and running during load shedding or a power outage is absolutely critical since it is during this time that burglars and home invaders wander the streets looking for easy targets. A 12-volt battery will be sufficient to keep your fence running for at least 6 hours which is certainly enough time to pass scheduled load shedding. Some batteries can last up to 10 hours. Most energizers come standard with battery back-up.
Know the Government Regulations
Government regulations require that an electric fence in any residential setting not carry more than 9900 volts. This is a fairly decent limit which is guaranteed to incapacitate and fend off any attack or attempted breach but is considered non-lethal. The electric fence company conducting the installation should be able to tell you what the voltage output of your fence is and if it's below this limit you need to find out why and insist on adjustments.
Electric Fences are Pet and Bird Friendly
Electric fences are deemed pet friendly because they are too far up for dogs to reach, are avoided by cats and cannot shock birds because they are not in contact with the ground (which is required for an electric shock to be delivered). To be more specific, cats can instinctively sense the electric current running through the wires and will avoid making contact with the fence and when it comes to dogs they will be unable to reach so high up as to make contact with the wires.
How to Maintenance an Electric Fence
Although most people don’t really consider their electric fence as a system that needs maintenance you will have to perform regular tasks such as trimming down trees and bushes which are touching the fence and conduct regular checks to ensure that the system is up and running the way it should be. This can and probably should be done by a professional on an annual basis who must check to make sure that everything is in working order and that the radio transmitter is able to send an intrusion detection signal if there is any interference. If the wires are corroded, they need to be replaced.
You Should Connect to a Security Company
If you're not home and someone attempts to breach your exterior perimeter the load siren can go on for hours without anyone doing anything about it. This is why it's always a good idea to connect your electric fence to your home's alarm system and to a security company. This will ensure than any attempted breach will be dealt with quickly and efficiently whether you're at home or not.