Since there isn’t electrical power at Dean Schneider’s ranch, solar was his only option for an electric fence.
As the manager of Bell Rule Genetics, a family ranching operation in northeast Oklahoma ranch, solar electric fencing has been a very cost effective and trouble-free part of his rotational grazing system.
While solar can be tricky, Schneider figured out how to make it work for his ranch operation.
Here are some details about two systems he uses.
Solar System #1
The first installation was built with a DC 6 joule charger, a charge controller, battery and a 100-watt solar panel. It currently runs about 3 miles of single strand wire. Living in a fairly high rainfall area, Schneider experiences pretty good weed pressure on the fence through the summer. So far, the fence has kept power up around 7,000 volts routinely.
For this installation, Schneider purchased a 6 joule DC powered fence. The solar panel was mounted on the side of a hay barn that faces straight east and west. There is a tree to the east and more trees further away to the west. We thought the east one was far enough away that it wouldn’t shade the solar panels. But during the winter, it will shade the panel until 9 or 9:30. The trees off to the west will begin to shade the panel at about 4 p.m. in the winter.
In mid-summer, the barn actually shades the panel from early morning sunlight. However, it still gets sun from about 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Once every one to two months, our charge controller will kick off and cut power to the charger. This could be due to the battery charge and output voltage falling too low, causing the controller to cut output power to protect the fence charger.
The charger is hooked to the output terminals on the charge controller. Hooking the charger directly to the battery might help it not be shut off by the controller. Overall, Schneider is satisfied with this setup. At some point, he says he may move the solar panel to the roof of the barn to eliminate sun blockage issues.
Solar System #2
Schneider’s second setup uses a 110-volt, 8 joule charger, charge controller, battery, DC to AC inverter, and a 100-watt solar panel. It is currently only running about one and a half miles of single strand fence. This one also has significant weed pressure. Schneider plans to increase this system to 3 to 4 miles.
After talking to the salesman at the solar supply business, Schneider decided to use an inverter and an older 110-volt AC charger. The new inverters are very efficient and trouble free, so this saved Schneider from having to purchase a new DC charger.
He mounted the solar panel on a brace post out in the middle of the field to keep it away from possible thieves and vandals. He mounted the panel onto an old satellite dish frame, which allows him to do some angle adjustments to maximize direct sunlight. Both setups were done this way and, so far, it has not needed adjustments. This panel is in a wide-open area with no shading problems. The setup has performed flawlessly and puts out 8,000 to 9,000 volts consistently.
Schneider suggests ranchers map out sunlight hours where an installation is going so avoid shading problems.
Watch Dean Schneider’s Soler Fencer Setup tips at Bell Rule Genetics.