Touching an electric fence leaves a vivid and painful memory and the voltages are also high in comparison with standard mains electricity, because of this most will assume that the risk to life and limb must also be high. In fact, the opposite is true. Consider that hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world are “exposed” to the millions of electric fences every day—yet electric fences account for (but are not always the cause of) less than one serious injury per year worldwide. Compare that to thenumber of annual injuries and deaths that occur from human exposure to tractors, skid loaders, ladders, PTO shafts, balers, mowers, combines, bulls,stallions, shotguns, knives, etc. This is not to suggest that there is no risk.
There is, indeed, a small level of risk. And with risk, there is also liability to the fence’s owner.
The voltage being sent throughthe wires is high, but the current or amplification (amps) is very low. A220-volt shock will hurt just as much as a 10,000-volt shock, as long as the
current or amps are the same. Amps are what kills. Electric fence energisers put out high voltage (around 8,000 volts), but very low amperage or current (around 120 milliamps). This is 120 Thousands of an Amp ( normal mains electricity is 13 Amps). It should not even kill a squirrel.
This output is made safe in two ways, firstly by releasing the flow of electrons from the capacitor in regular pulses of about 1/300th of a second approximately a second apart. The amperage component of the electrical charge is greatly reduced to figures in the range
of 15 – 500milliamps. (The majority of units operate in the 100-150milliamp range)*. Compare this with two other scenarios.
- Static Electricity when you touch a door, about 30000 volts at 5
milliamps for 1/1000th. of a second, unpleasant but not lasting.
- Mains Electricity. 220volts at 13 Amps and constant, unpleasant
and regularly causes death.
The energy pulses through the wires. This means once every second for 1/300th of a second it sends a pulse of electricity down the line. The reason for the pulsating current is
that if the wires are touched and deliver a shock, whatever touches it has a chance to remove itself. If the current did not pulse (like most electrical appliances - hair dryer, radio, toaster, etc.), then whatever touched it would continue to be shocked until the power went out or something pried them off.
With low amps and a pulsating current, electrical fencing is a safe product. It is the amperage within the electrical charge and the constant connection that makes electricity dangerous.
What NOT to do!
- Never Place your head near an electrified wire. Accidental head or neck contact
can occur when pushing a voltage probe into the soil or when checking
voltage. Be very careful when you do so to avoid head-to-wire contact!
- Never allow anyone else to touch a modern electric fence. It is not a game!
What to do!
- Instruct all visitors and children to never touch electric fencing.
- The legislation that applies in Europe to fences accessible to the general public stipulates that an internationally recognised warning sign be displayed at the beginning and end of a fence and at every 50 meters interval
Warning: In 1991 an accidental fatality occurred when a young child’s head
contacted an electrified fence while the child was crawling on wet grass. The
fence was correctly installed and functioning properly. The energiser was an
approved unit. As a result, we strongly advise against allowing toddlers access
to any electrified fences. Also, due to this incident and others, experts now
suggest that human contact by an energised wire to the head and neck may be the
most dangerous point of contact. We urge all to especially avoid this kind of
* These figures vary between all the manufacturers.