bug fix for Zareba SP10 solar fence charger; electric fences in winter

Last spring I mentioned in a post that I had trouble with water leaking into a brand new Zareba SP10 solar fence charger, and that I traced the problem to a woefully underdesigned seal in the housing.  I am pleased to report that the replacement provided by Tractor Supply is still going strong some seven months later in the dead of winter.  So, for anybody who plans to put up one of these triangular Zareba solar fence chargers, here’s the “patch” (literally).  Mount the charger normally (on a post, facing south), then apply a generous helping of 50 year durability outdoor-rated silicone sealant to the seam where the solar panel meets the housing at the top, just under the screw holes.  You apply the silicone after it’s mounted since the screw holes are pretty close to the seam between the housing and the solar panel, and the adhesive bond between the silicone and the black plastic of the unit is not super strong – also for this reason, try to spooge some silicone down in the crack between the module and the housing, and run some down the sides for good measure (but not all the way around; you want any condensation that does find its way in to run out).

As mentioned, the unit I subjected to this treatment was still going strong last weekend, and I’m hopeful that it will continue to work for a long time yet.  The subject of electric fences in winter deserves a bit more comment; I’ve taken the approach suggested by various folks and rewired our fences so that the bottom two wires (8 and 16 inches off of the ground) are connected to earth during the winter.  This is benficial both because wet snow would otherwise short out live wires, draining the battery, and because dry snow is a good electrical insulator, reducing the ability of the fence to shock animals in winter.  The idea is that animals in the course of trying to get through the fence, animals will touch both the live high wires and the grounded low wires, getting the maximum potential shock from the fence charger.  My mom reports that when she’s patrolled the orchard margin with fresh snow on the ground, there are deer tracks nearby but they seem to be giving the fence a respectful margin, suggesting that they have learned their lesson.  When the snow melts in spring we will reconnect the lower wires to the charger, the better to keep porcupines and raccoons out.  In any case, we still have the lightweight plastic deer netting on the inside of the fence posts, to act as a secondary barrier in case there’s a problem with the charger.  This netting is not physically strong enough to keep out a determined deer or moose, but apparently they don’t like it, apparently becuase they fear getting tangled up in it.  Between the electric and the netting, we have so far been successful (knock on wood) in holding the hordes at bay.


5 Responses to “bug fix for Zareba SP10 solar fence charger; electric fences in winter”

  1. Lee Johnson Says:

    Were it not for snow problems, do you find that you get enough hours of sunlight to keep the fence hot even in the winter? How many feet of wire are energizing?

    I’m planning on adding two electrified wires to about 1800′ of woven fencing, once we get it up. I was hoping to find a solar fence charger that would work. No snow to contend with here in Oregon, but lots of cloudy days.

  2. fiveislandsorchard Says:

    Clouds and snow are no problem – the charger has a brick-sized lead acid gel battery that can go for weeks. Fence chargers use very little power – the same company sells one that will go months on four D cell flashlight batteries. The charger I’ve got is a “10 mile” charger and I’m only doing about 1 mile of wire (8 strands enclosing ~1/8mi perimeter).


  3. Signe Gronbeck-Johnson Says:

    We have used the Zareba solar fencer for years, it is very reliable, ours was hit by lightening shortly after we bought it, fracturing the solar panel and charred the housing. I was really upset, this unit is not cheap to replace, so I tried covering the entire top with clear shelf contact paper, and to my amazement, it has worked fine ever since! It doesn’t look pretty, but it does the job for my horses, and it will still put you on your butt if you forget to turn it off. I had the same trouble with water infiltration before the lightening strike, but the contact paper fix for the panel, also kept the water out, I had covered the whole housing surface with the contact film and that sealed water out. Just thought I would pass along the tips for fellow owners that units leak, or, where hit by lightening.

  4. Ken Roser Says:

    I had the same water problem with my Zareba SP3. I decided to go the route of getting a warranty repair/replacement. The new unit I got from Zareba doesn’t exhibit the problem with the seal.

  5. Darmowy Katalog Stron Says:

    Darmowy Katalog Stron…

    […]bug fix for Zareba SP10 solar fence charger; electric fences in winter « Five Islands Orchard[…]…

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