General Questions

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Recommendations on which fence charger to use under various needs.

The application of electric fence varies widely from fencing small pets such as cats, dogs to domestic livestock, cattle, horses, hogs, sheep to fencing wild animals, deer, bear, (elephants in Africa), etc. The model you choose will depend on the fence construction and the animals you are controlling.
Parmak offers ten (10) models which will meet any fencing requirement. We make the following suggestions on our most popular models:

MODEL DF-SP-LI (BEST) This is a six volt, solar powered model designed to be used on clear weed free fences. The DF-SP-LI is low impedance and will shock through a light amount of wet weeds and brush. It is designed for small to medium size pastures and is ideal for hogs, cattle and horses.

Model MAG-12-U.O. (BEST) MAG-12-SP (BEST) These are 12 volt models designed for medium to large pastures. Both models are low impedance and will shock through weeds and brush and are ideal for cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, deer, etc. The MAG-12-U.O. and MAG-12-SP can be used to fence large animals and larger pastures. The MAG-12-SP is solar powered.

Model HS-100 (110v-120v AC) and EM-200 (12v battery) Safe, effective, shock. Works well with small to large sized animals including dogs or horses. UL Listed (U.S. & Canada) Shocks through a light amount of weeds & brush, advanced solid-state circuitry. Quick, easy installation. Dual flashing operating light (red/green) on the HS-100 and single operating light on the EM-200. Rugged ABS housing. Ideal for small to medium pastures.

Model FM-3 (110v-120v AC) (GOOD) This AC model is for small to medium size pastures and will shock through a medium amount of weeds, brush, etc. The FM-3 is ideal for hogs, cattle and horses. The FM-3 is not recommended for sheep or deer fences.

Model MARK 8 (BETTER) Model S.E.5 (BEST) Model RM-1 (BEST)

These are the top AC models for the medium and larger fences. Ideal for all livestock or deer fences. The S.E.5 and RM-1 are the best choice for high tensile fences and can charge over 50 miles (S.E.5) and 100 miles (RM-1). The Mark 8, S.E.5, and RM-1 will shock through medium to heavy vegetation. The S.E.5 and RM-1 are also excellent for sheep, deer, or predator fences.

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What do the performance meters on the fence chargers do?

The Parmak models Mag-12-U.O., Mag-12-SP, DF-SP-LI, M-8, S.E.5, and RM-1 are equipped with exclusive performance meter. This meter tells the customer the exact condition of fence at all times. The meter takes the guesswork out of electric fencing and eliminates a lot of unnecessary returns. The Mag-12-UO, Mag-12-SP, and DF-SP-LI have an analog meter and the Mark 8, S.E.5, an RM-1 have a digital meter.

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What type of fuses are used in Parmak fence chargers?

All AC models use 1 amp fuses. These fuses are designed to help protect the fence charger against lightning and poor ground damage. When replacing fuses, use (3AG) 1 AMP fuse only. Do not use slow blow type fuses or any fuse rated higher than 1 AMP, doing so will damage the fence charger and void all warranties.

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Why is U/L listing important?

An electric fence charger is different from any other electrical appliance. All other electrical appliances are designed not to shock where an electric fence charger is designed to shock. That shock must be effective and at the same time safe. The maximum safe limit for electrical shock is defined by International Standards. In North America (U.S. and Canada) there are two accepted safety agencies for electric fence chargers, Underwriters Laboratories (U/L) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Parmak electric fence chargers are listed by both agencies. The continuous inspections at the factory by both U/L and CSA insures that Parmak fence chargers comply with both electrical shock and fire safety standards. It is important that the fence charger you use be U/L or CSA listed because this is your assurance that the fence charger has been thoroughly tested and is safe to use. NOTE: There are fence chargers on the market which are not U/L or CSA listed and are potentially dangerous to use.

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Why are AC models damaged by lightning more often than battery operated models?

Battery operated fence chargers are not connected to AC power lines. Most lightning damage to AC powered fence controllers comes in through the AC power line. The lightning may actually strike a long distance away from the fence charger but is transmitted through the power line and will damage equipment connected to power lines, such as televisions, stereos, fence chargers etc. Parmak AC powered fence chargers are equipped with lightning arresters and a 1 amp fuse (model HS-100 has no external fuses) on the AC line. These lightning arresters help to eliminate much of the lightning damage, however, it is impossible to stop lightning damage 100%. It is recommended whenever possible that the fence charger be disconnected from the AC outlet during electrical storms. We also recommend that you plug your AC fence charger into a surge protector (see information on the Parmak Electro-Gard). The surge protector will give additional protection to your fence charger. If a Parmak fence charger is damaged by lightning, it is covered by warranty and the fence charger can be returned for service.

When using an AC operated fence charger, we recommend using the Parmak Electro-Gard lightning protector for increased protection of your AC fence charger from lightning damage.

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Is the amount of Stored Joules (energy) the same amount of joules produced on the fence wire?

NO. It is important to know that the amount of Joules produced on the fence wire is much less than the amount of stored Joules.

As an example, a fence charger that claims to have 15 stored Joules may only produce 2 Joules on the fence wire. The loss of energy between stored Joules and the amount of Joules actually produced on the fence wire is caused by the loss of energy within the discharge circuitry of the fence charger. Poorly designed fence chargers can lose up to 90% of the stored Joules resulting in substantially reduced shock on the fence wire.

Knowing the stored Joules of any fence charger is useless information and cannot be relied on to determine the shock power on the fence wire.

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What is Stored Joules?

The term "Stored Joules" refers to the amount of energy stored in the fence charger capacitor.

Low impedance fence chargers are equipped with one or more capacitors which store energy until that energy is released to the fence wire through the fence charger`s output circuitry.

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How does the joule relate to the performance of an electric fence charger?

It doesn`t. It would take a lengthy discussion to explain all of the different factors which make an electric fence effective and safe. The joule does not measure the effectiveness or safety of electric shock.

Two easily measured factors determine fence charger performance. Guard voltage and shock current. Safety dictates that the amount of shock current, on time (the amount of time the shock is on the wire) and pulse rate be held within strict tolerances established by recognized safety agencies such as Underwriters Laboratory (U/L) and Canadian Standards Assoc. (CSA). The value expressed in the joule does not decode to the user the effectiveness of a shock.

What controls livestock is voltage and current. You must have voltage in order to force electricity through the conductor (fence wire) as well as vegetation touching the fence, etc., and you must have current in order for the livestock to feel the shock.

The most effective fence charger will have the highest, safest power (voltage and current) possible with the shortest on-time, thereby allowing the fence charger to develop a shock which is more effective and at the same time is safe to use.

Example of how misleading the Joule rating is: The Parmak model Pet Gard is a continuous current, non-pulsing type charger designed for very small animals in backyards, gardens, etc. Using the joule rating (Voltage x Amps x Time) the Pet-Gard (PG-50), because it is a continuous current fence charger, would have an unlimited joule rating making it the most powerful fence charger, which it is not.

In summary, it is important to point out that Underwriters Laboratories (U/L) or Canadian Standard Assoc., (CSA) do not recognize the joule as a measurement when applied to electric fence chargers.

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What is a Joule?

The joule is defined as a unit of energy used to measure the distance a given weight can be moved in a unit of time or the amount of heat produced in a resistor by electrical current. The joule is commonly described as one watt second. The joule does not measure the effectiveness or safety of electric shock.

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Does Parmak sell more than electric fence chargers?

Yes. Parmak offers a complete electric fence system including fence insulators, ground rods, fiberglass & poly fence posts, etc.

Baygard by Parmak, the leading brand in temporary fencing, offers a complete line of heavy duty 1/4" electric fence rope, polywire, and polytape in 1/2", 7/8", and 1 1/2" widths. Available in black/yellow or all white. Ideal for temporary pastures and rotational grazing. Super strength and conductivity. Excellent weathering properties. 5 year U/V warranty.

Baygard offers 3 choices in portable wire and tape: Light duty - Pasture Pride, Heavy Duty - Baygard, and Super Heavy Duty - Platinum with its exclusive black and silver color.

Refer to our website or our full line catalog for complete product offering and product specifications.

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Does Parmak Manufacture low impedance models?

Yes. The Parmak models DF-SP-LI, EM-200, Mag 12 U.O., Mag 12-SP, HS-100, FM-3, Mark 8, S.E.5, and RM-1 are low impedance, UL listed models. See Parmak`s full line catalog or website for details on these and other top quality Parmak & Baygard electric fence products.

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What does low impedance mean?

In non-technical terms, low impedance means the fence charger is designed to effectively shock through vegetation and other foreign materials contacting the charged wire. Vegetation such as grass, weeds, vines, etc., contacting the charged wire tend to impede or stop the flow of electricity by "grounding out" the fence. This is a common problem which exists on most electric fence installations. The low impedance fence charger is a solid-state capacitor discharge design and has enough power to force the shock through vegetation. It is recommended that the charged fence wire be kept clean of all vegetation, etc. to ensure maximum performance from your fence charger.

Installation

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My solar fence charger manual states that my fence charger was shipped with a fully charged battery but it also says that I should let it charge for 5 days in the sun before use. Why?

The batteries in all Parmak solar fence chargers are fully charged before they leave the factory; however, sometimes the units are stored at your local dealer’s warehouse. Depending on the length of storage, the battery may become discharged. This is why we recommend letting the solar panel recharge the battery in the sun for 5 sunny days prior to using the fence charger. Be sure that the fence charger is turned OFF while recharging the battery.

You can open the battery lid (click here to see how) and check the date stamp located on the top of the battery (shown in month/year). This will let you know when the battery was manufactured and when the battery was last charged at the factory. If the battery is older than six months, you should recharge the battery prior to first use.

b. SOLAR UNITS ONLY

Start with the fence charger. Remove the battery case lid (click here to see how), turn fence charger on, and check the voltage of the battery with a battery volt meter. The #901 - 6 volt battery should read 6 volts or higher for proper operation. The #902 - 12 volt battery should read 12 volts or higher for proper operation. If the battery is below these voltages, your battery will need to be recharged by either the solar panel or an external taper charger (#951 or #952) or if the battery is more than three years old, replace it with a new battery (#901 or #902). If the battery voltage is OK, then check output voltage of the fence charger. If you are getting a good charge from the fence charger, that means the problem is somewhere in either the ground or the fence.

c. How do I test the solar panel on my fence charger?

The solar panel on both our 6-volt and 12-volt fence chargers very rarely fail unless there is physical damage to the panel. If the glass or the plastic frame is damaged, the panel may continue to operate until moisture gets under the glass. When this happens, the solar panel will begin to deteriorate and it will no longer be able to charge the battery. At that point the solar panel will need to be replaced (replacement parts: 6v #920, 12v #960)
You can test your solar panel with the battery disconnected. To do so, aim the solar panel directly at the sun. Using your standard voltmeter connected to the battery cable connectors coming from the solar panel. You should get between 8 - 10 volts for the 6 volt solar panel and between 13 and 18 volts for the 12 volt solar panel. If you do not get the correct voltage, the solar panel should be replaced.

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Can Parmak fence charger chargers be used on high tensile multiple wire fences?

Yes.  The Parmak models Mag-12-U.O., Mag-12-SP, M8, S.E.5, and RM-1 are all high performance, low impedance fence charger chargers specifically designed to use on high tensile fences.  The model RM-1 is the most powerful model, capable of charging many miles of fence. All five models are equipped with Parmak`s exclusive performance meter which tells the customer the exact condition of fence. SPECIAL NOTE: For those customers using Poly wire or Poly tape, any of the Parmak low impedance models can be used with this type of fence without difficulty.

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Why is a good ground important?

Regardless of make or model of fence charger, it is essential the fence charger be grounded properly.

Think of an electric fence as an independent electrical circuit. In order for the circuit to operate properly, it must be grounded. AC models operated on poor ground will continuously blow fuses and will eventually be damaged by a poor ground. Battery models operated on a poor ground will have little or no shock on the fence. It is recommended that the higher performance, low impedance models Mag 12 U.O., Mag 12-SP, M8, S.E.5, and RM-1 have three ground rods to insure proper ground.

Remember, poor ground costs you. Refer to the fence charger Owner's Manual for detailed grounding instructions.

Troubleshooting

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How do I get my Parmak fence charger serviced?

PARMAK Electric fence chargers are warranted to perform exactly as represented and to be free from all defects in materials and workmanship. Any PARMAK Electric fence charger returned to factory within two years (one year on model PG-50) after purchase from dealer will be repaired or replaced free of charge. Warranty includes damage by lightning. Batteries in solar powered models are warranted one year. Parmak special steel housings warranted for life against rust. If Parmak housing ever rusts, it will be replaced free of charge - regardless of its age.

If you would like us to examine the unit and call you with an estimate of what the repair costs will be, you can include a note with the charger stating that along with your phone number.

Our general rule is if the costs of repair are more than half of the cost of a new charger, we will contact the customer to find out if they want the repair done.

For factory repair service you can send the fence charger directly to Parmak`s factory service center, the address is:

Parker-McCrory Mfg. Co.

Attn: Service

2000 Forest Avenue

Kansas City, MO 64108

Please include the following information with the unit when sending it to Parker McCrory:

  • Return shipping address.
  • Contact information (name and phone number).
  • Purchase date with receipt for warranty repairs.
  • Problem description.

Please keep a copy of your receipt, fence charger serial number, and shipping information for your records.

If you have additional service questions, you can call 800-662-1038 and speak to our service department.

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When my Parmak fence charger is operating, I hear a clicking sound. Is this normal?

YES. All Parmak fence chargers are "solid-state" with no moving parts inside the fence charger. The clicking noise heard when the fence charger is operating is caused by the magnetic field surrounding the output transformer being released each time the fence charger pulses.

NOTE: Fence load will affect the volume (loudness) of the clicking sound. As an example, the clicking sound will be the loudest when the fence charger is operated in an open circuit (not connected to the fence). When the fence is connected to the fence charger, the clicking sound will be reduced depending on the fence load. If the fence is shorted to ground or has a large current leak (weeds, grass, or brush touching the fence line, broken insulator, etc.), the clicking sound will be very weak and the shock on the fence will be reduced. In this case, you should check the fence to correct the problem.

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How do you troubleshoot a fence charger?

Over the years it has been proven that the biggest problem with electric fence is a direct result of poor fence installation (i.e., poor ground, shorts on fence, weeds, etc.) and not the fence charger.

ALL FENCE CHARGERS

If the fence charger is equipped with a performance meter (analog or digital), the meter can also be used in troubleshooting the fence line. If the meter is down in the yellow or red section on the analog meter or below 2.0 on the digital meter, you should turn off the fence charger and disconnect the fence and ground line from the charger. Turn the fence charger back on and see if the meter goes back into the green or above 2.0 on the digital meter. The analog meter should always read at the top of the green arc without the fence connected and the digital meter should read above 10.0. If you get the correct meter reading, this indicates the fence charger is operating properly and the problem is somewhere on your fence line. If the meter does not go to the top of the green arc or reads below 10.0 without the fence line connected, the charger may be in need of repair. Contact the factory for additional troubleshooting information.

Next check output voltage of the fence charger by itself without the fence connected. You can do this by using an electric fence tester (Baygard #813) as this is the most accurate way to test your fence charger. You can also test your fence charger by taking a plastic handled screwdriver and shorting across the terminals on the fence charger. Place the base of the screwdriver on the red fence terminal and bring the tip of the screwdriver about 1/8” from the black ground terminal. You should get a blue spark that will jump a gap between the screwdriver and the terminal (approximately 1/16" to 1/8"). If you are getting a good charge (spark) from the fence charger then the fence charger is OK and the problem is somewhere either your ground system or your fence line. You can also use this same test on the fence line if you are using metal T-posts, you can short between the post and the fence line. While this is not the most accurate way to test a fence, it will show you if you are getting voltage on the fence line.

Next check your ground rods. Here are some good tips:

  • Use at least two or three 3/8" -- 5/8" diameter, 6 to 8 foot long copper clad or galvanized rod. Drive ground rods a minimum of 6 to 8 feet deep into permanently moist earth.
  • DO NOT use painted fence post or any metal rod which has a painted surface because paint is an insulator and will not conduct electricity.
  • DO NOT use utility ground or water pipe to ground your fence.
  • DO NOT install fence ground rods within 50 feet of any utility ground system. This causes a poor ground condition. Your fence charger MUST HAVE its own separate ground system.
  • Install first ground rod within 20 feet of fence charger.
  • Use ground clamp to attach ground wire to each ground rod.
  • Replace ground rods every two years or so. The ground rods will rust or corrode underground and over time will no longer be a good ground.
  • Sandy, rocky, frozen, dry, or clay soil can reduce the effectiveness of your ground rods so additional rods may be needed to increase the shock delivered.

If you are still having problems, you should then check your fence line. Make sure that you are using insulators on all of your posts unless they are fiberglass or plastic posts. Wood posts DO need insulators because while wood is an insulator, it absorbs water and then it can cause a short in the fence.

Make sure there is nothing leaning against or in contact with the fence wire that can cause a short.
If fence charger still does not operate return it to the factory or authorized service center for service. REMEMBER, ALL electric fence requires routine maintenance.

Fence chargers and phone, radio, and modem interference.

All Parmak fence chargers are thoroughly shielded and filtered against radio, television, and telephone interference. When interference occurs, it is usually caused by one or more of the following:

  1. A current leak (spark) to ground at some point along the fence line. This may be a result of very dirty or cracked insulators, wire touching a post, trees, a building, or vegetation.
  2. A loose connection in the fence wire, possibly due to poor splices, gate opening, or a rusted wire causing a spark.
  3. Poor ground connection.

Any of these conditions could cause a "spark gap" resulting in a spark jumping the gap when the fence controller charges the fence wire. When the spark jumps, it acts as a broadcast antenna and noise is transmitted to all radios, telephones, televisions, etc. in the immediate area, and you will hear a "clicking" sound each time the fence charger pulses. A careful check of the fence wire installation will disclose the trouble. Two people checking together will help locate the source more easily.

To determine if the fence controller or the fence is at fault, disconnect the fence wire (ground and fence wire) from the fence charger, letting the fence charger operate while disconnected from the fence installation. If the clicking noise continues with the fence disconnected, the controller is at fault and needs repair. You can return the fence charger to the factory for the necessary repairs.

If you do not get the clicking with both the fence and the ground wires disconnected, this means the problem is in your fence line. You should check the fence line for loose connections in the fence wire possibly due to poor splices, gate opening, rusted wire, or cracked/damaged insulators. Check for spark gap due to vegetation (weed, grass, tree limb, etc.) contacting the charged fence wire. Poor ground can also cause interference.

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What causes an electric fence to fail?

Most people do not fully understand what it takes to correctly install and maintain an electric fence. They do not understand that any electric fence requires routine maintenance to keep adequate power on the fence or maybe they just are too busy to take the time to do the required maintenance. The biggest maintenance problems are inadequate ground (poor ground), poor connections, using wrong wire size, using too small of an electric fence charger for the job (under powered fence charger), etc. It all goes back to the "human factor":

- - - Poor knowledge - - -

- - - Too complicated - - -

- - - Too much time to do routine checks - - -

If you decide to use electric fence, take the time to learn how to correctly build the fence and maintain it. Buy the correct electric fence charger for the job and read your owner’s manual thoroughly.