Whether you have a large pasture or a small garden, nature is bound to take its toll on your hard efforts. For pastures, predators and aimless wandering pose a serious threat to livestock – not to mention livelihood. For gardens and farms, deer, wild hogs, and other herbivorous or omnivorous pests pose problems.
That is why a number of people turn to electrified fencing. For creatures you want to keep in or those you wish to keep out, electric fences have served as an adequate deterrent for almost a century. However, each barrier needs to be charged, and not all chargers are suitable for all purposes.
That is why we have put together a list of the 7 best electric fence chargers as well as some pointers for which is best at what. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the electric fence charger that is right for you.
Best Electric Fence Chargers of 2017
|Parmak Solar Pak 12|
|Parmak Super Energizer 5|
|Taylor Fence Cyclops|
1. Zareba EAC200M-Z – Best Electric Fence Charger for Cattle
The Zareba EAC200M-Z is the first of two electric fence chargers on our list to come from the brand which itself is fairly well known in the ranching and farming community. The brand can trace its roots back to the Great Depression when small-scale farmers first started selling their homesteads to larger conglomerate agricultural companies. However, since that time, the brand has focused on a more specialized application, allowing other brands within its umbrella to pick up the slack in other departments.
In fact, the Zareba provides the second most joule power output on our list. At 15 joules, this charger can put even bulls and stallions on the ground. Moreover, it is exceedingly unlikely that a bear or boar will try to mess with the fence twice – even in the boar is enraged or the bear just woke up from hibernation.
However, the best coverage and second most powerful jolt do not come cheaply. This is actually the second most expensive charger on our list, though it is still less than half as expensive as the most expensive. Another consideration is the installation of the EAC200M-Z. For one, this is the largest and heaviest charger on our list, but it is also not waterproof. This means you will have to build an enclosure for it separately.
How to Install an AC Fence Charger
2. Parmak Magnum Solar-Pak 12 – Best Solar Fence Charger
Parmak may not have the same market share in the electric fence charger industry, but the brand actually has a bit more storied of a history. Having started as manufacturers of radios and wind turbines so that farmers could have access to electricity and the news before power was readily accessible to the more rural parts of the country, it was not until the 1930s that Parmak began making electric fence supplies. Coincidentally, the electric turbines also served to help power their electric fence chargers.
While Zareba may belong to a larger corporation that includes numerous brands and makes up a much larger segment of the market, Parmak continues to innovate and manufacture some of the best electric fence supplies and equipment available. In fact, Parmak is responsible for the first solid-state electric fence charger as well as the first solar electric fence charger. As such, it should come as little surprise that the Parmak Magnum Solar-Pak 12 comes in as the best solar electric fence charger on our list.
However, the Magnum Solar-Pak 12 does not come without its faults and inconveniences. For one, this is by and far the largest electric fence charger on our list – regardless the type or arrangement. Moreover, the solar panels are not integrated into the control box and instead sit on top of it. While this provides more surface area to absorb sunlight, it also makes positioning, installing, and caring for the Magnum Solar-Pak 12 more difficult – especially since the “waterproof” case does not handle the subtler condensation well at all.
3. Gallagher M300 – Best Electric Fence Charger for Horses, Goats and Deers
Gallagher is the first brand on our list that is not manufactured in the US, however it is made in New Zealand. This is important because New Zealand’s primary industry is ranching. As such, the backbone of their country’s economy requires keeping their herds safe. However, due to the prevalence of ranching Gallagher actually produces a full suite of products for agricultural needs. Moreover, Gallagher products carry with them the same historic pedigree as the other products reviewed so far, dating back to the late 1930s.
That is why it should come as little surprise that the M300 is one of the best all-around products on our list. First, it delivers a solid 3 joules of output energy. This output puts right in line with the lower Parmak and provides a solid jolt for most larger domestic animals. However, the more aggressive herd animals, like bulls and stallion, may not respect the charge quite so much. Moreover, large predators and boars are less likely to be deterred if they are truly determined.
Unfortunately, the M300 has more issues with water and condensation than the Parmak. Whereas the latter suffers from mostly condensation, the M300 features a plastic case that must be protected from the rain. If the case is not placed in a small covered area, the internal circuitry is known to short out. While this may lead to the electric fence charger not working at all, it thankfully will not create a situation where the joules delivered exceed a safe level.
4. Zareba ESP10M-Z – Best Solar Fence Charger for Goats
Our second Zareba is also our second solar powered electric fence charger. While Parmak may have led the way in terms of innovating solar-powered electric fence chargers, Zareba was not far behind. However, Parmak generally focuses more on large-scale livestock needs producing moderate to severe joule outputs and covering wider mileages of fencing. While that is great, it also often comes at a hefty price.
If you simply need an electric fence charger for goats, pets, or other small domestic animals, you generally do not need that kind of power. Moreover, many of the smaller domestic animals also do not require the same breadth of ranging, consuming far less grasses than larger beasts of burden. As such, Zareba’s specialty takes a potential flaw and instead strikes to the heart of a specific niche in the electric fence market. Moreover, it is able to so at a much lower price than many of the other products on our list – and much lower than any other self-contained solar powered electric fence charger, further reducing the total cost.
Another limitation of the ESP10M-Z is its total coverage. At ten miles total, the ESP10M-Z provides the least amount of coverage on our list. Were this charger suitable for larger animals, that may not be such a big deal. However, because the power level is so much less than even the next lowest competitor, you will almost certainly need to use two or three hot wires. This is because to keep smaller animals within the fenceline, you will need to run a hotwire high and low, or else the animal will be able to avoid a single hotwire altogether.
How to Install a Solar Fence Charger
5. Parmak Super Energizer 5 – Best Electric Fence Charger for Bears
While the first Parmak on our list is perfectly adequate, sometimes your needs call for a bit more juice. If you have bulls or stallions, you need an electric fence charger that can deliver a powerful jolt to aggressive males which may be running high on hormones. Similarly, if you live in an area that hosts bears or boars as a native species, you will definitely require some serious stopping power to prevent these thick-skinned and persistent pests from ruining your fenceline.
However, the Super Energizer 5 is not merely content with providing one of the most powerful shocks on our list as it includes even more maximum coverage than the other Parmak. With 50 miles of single hotwire coverage to work with, you can protect a wide acreage from predators and pests or a somewhat smaller acreage from herd dispersion. Either way, you are dealing with the second widest coverage on our list.
Finally, the Super Energizer 5 also happens to be one of the least expensive electric fence chargers we reviewed. This means that the widest coverage and the second largest joule output are both still reasonably priced compared to their competitors. The only real downside comes from its AC power supply combined with not being truly GFCI compliant. Basically, if hooked up to a GFCI outlet, the Super Energizer 5 will short the circuit.
6. Taylor Fence Cyclops – Best Most Powerful AC Fence Charger: Up to 32 Joules!
Sometimes your needs may exceed what is normal. Generally, five to ten joules of output power is more than enough to detract would be predators, pests, or aggressive livestock from testing an electric fence more than once. However, there are always those instances when “enough” simply is not good enough. In this case, you need something that will not only deliver a wallop of a shock but leave the offending animal a little reminder to remember you by.
That is where Taylor Fence’s Cyclops comes into play. With a 32-joule energy output, this is by far the most powerful electric fence charger on our list. In fact, it is almost more than five times as powerful as the next closest competitor. Of course, all of that power comes at a fairly steep price, and the Cyclops is not only the most expensive product we reviewed but the most expensive nearly three times over. Still, a cost to power ratio definitely places it in a value-rich category.
Of course, if you do not require that kind of power, Taylor Fence also offers a number of other joule outputs. In fact, this brand offers the widest range of power outputs out of any on our list – though it should be noted that the least powerful Taylor Fence charger is still 1.5 joules.
While this might not be much of an issue for livestock who often come to respect the boundary of the fenceline whether it is charged or not – after receiving a jolt – predators could be a bit more persistent.
Cyclops Boss vs Potato
7. Patriot P10 – Best Dual Purpose Electric Fence Energizer
Other than Gallagher, the Patriot brand is the only other brand on our list that is not an American company made in the US. However, just like Gallagher, the Patriot brand is also manufactured in New Zealand, giving it the chops of coming from a country that relies on livestock export – making it a necessity that it functions well. However, the P10 is definitely unique in a number of ways when compared to the other products on our list.
Easily the most distinguishing characteristic of this electric fence charger is how it is powered. However, it does not actually have a specific means of powering. Instead, the P10 can be powered in one of three ways. First, it can be powered by a solar array system. However, it can also be powered by a 12V direct current – generally from a battery. Finally, the P10 can also be powered by alternating current. This allows you to power the P10 in the way that best suits your needs.
Unfortunately, while this choice is exceedingly convenient, it also will increase the overall cost of the second least expensive product on our list. That is because the P10 does not come with any of the auxiliary components necessary to power it.
Patriot Energizer Installation
Electric Fence Chargers – Buyer’s Guide
The type of current the charger uses will determine the cost of powering the charger as well as its position. AC current is generally cheaper than DC but requires an outlet. DC current might be easier to position, but you have to buy and change the battery. One solution to DC battery replacement is a solar array, but those are less consistent and rarely deliver the same punch as either AC or DC battery powered units.
This is often the most important factor for an electric fence charger, however, this is simply not a matter of more being better. Depending on what you intend to use the electric fence for will ultimately heavily impact how powerful your charger should be – and this is not simply a matter of trying to save a few bucks.
1. Cattle and Horses
Similarly, most domestic livestock, especially if they are largely female, do not require a significant joule output. However, these animals are better suited to handle a bit more of a shock and might not respond as well to weaker units. Cattle and horses are the most common type of animal that fits this bill and do well with a three to eight-joule output.
2. Deers and Pests
Of course, sometimes you are not trying to keep animals in and instead are trying to keep animals out. If you own a small garden, deer and other pests can ruin your crop with late-night munching. However, most of these herbivorous pests are a bit more timid than larger livestock. As such, a solid, though not excessive, shock is generally more than enough to keep them away.
Finally, predators are the bane of any owner of livestock. Thankfully, the same joule output that will keep the livestock in will also often keep out the corresponding predators. For instance, chickens have a great deal more to fear from foxes and coyotes than cattle do. As such, if you are trying to keep foxes and coyotes out, you do not need to bother with an electric fence charger designed for cattle.
Still, there are two animals that are in a class of their own: boars and bears. The former are tenacious animals that can fly into a rage akin to a rhino. When charging, boars will often shrug off any blow that does not put them down. As such, a fence designed to keep out boar needs to deliver a considerable shock.
Bears are a bit different but still require a similar response. For one, bears have an almost insatiable appetite – at least when they smell some food they want. Combine this single-mindedness with thick fur and a thick layer of fat, and electric shocks often do not affect bears as much as they do other animals. In this instance, much like a boar, bears require a bit more punch of power to their shock.
This is because weeds and other brush that may come into contact with the fence will decrease the energy output if the impedance is too high. Only specific animals, like show horses and perhaps fainting goats, are better served with higher impedance chargers.
How to Choose Right Type of Fence Charger for your Needs
In the end, the best electric fence charger is determined more by your specific needs than any quality of the charger itself. You can spend a great deal of money for the most powerful charger on the market, but if you are only trying to keep in chickens, you are likely spending far more than you need to.
However, in the event that you have a large predator or pest to deal with, the Taylor Fence Cyclops packs the biggest punch on our list with 32 joules of output energy. Of course, if you need something powerful but not quite that powerful, the Parmak Super Energizer 5 gives quite a jolt at a much lower price.
Of course, fenceline away from an AC power source requires either a battery or a solar array. For the latter, the Parmak Solar-Pak 12 manages to offer an excellent joule output while cutting out the need for a battery. However, the Patriot P10 can skip all the fuss by being powered by both AC and DC current as well as a solar array.