Electrified fencing has been in use in South Africa for many years; but since many people remain unsure
about it, we put a number of questions to Martin Smolders of Shockoloza Electrified Fencing:
1. Is electrified fencing very expensive?
Compared to other effective security measures, I think that electrified fencing is relatively inexpensive. For most home-properties, the most expensive part of the system is the energizer (which produces the electrical impulses for the electrified fence), and for most homes, it’s a third or more of the cost of the whole installation. Thereafter, the brackets, wires, etc. are relatively inexpensive.
2. Is the use of electrified fencing increasing, decreasing, or remaining constant in SA?
It’s difficult for me to comment on the whole of SA, but our sense is that it’s increasing throughout the country, and especially in the major centres. The proportion of electrified-fenced properties in Gauteng is higher than in Cape Town, but the Cape Town market is growing steadily. Electrified fencing is a highly effective perimeter-security measure, so it’s logical that its use is increasing wherever people have security concerns.
3. Can I add electrified fencing to the wall between my own property and my neighbour’s?
Yes. You can add electrified wires to the top of any wall, palisade fence or reasonably solid wire or wooden fence. Besides a number of installation safety regulations, the only government restriction that generally applies to common walls is the height of the lowest part of the fence. You must also obviously get your neighbour to agree!
4. Can I use electrified fencing in conjunction with other perimeter security measures? Eg. wall spikes, etc.
Yes, certainly. We commonly use electrified fencing in conjunction with a number of other security measures like alarms, CCTV, beams, etc., with the electrified fence being the perimeter-protector, and the other measures applied within the property. The electrified fence will probably remove the need for other wall-measures like spikes, but it will depend on the specific application.
5. Is electrified fencing safe for my family?
If correctly installed, and if all family members know how the fence works, it’s very safe. Electrified fencing is, by law, a non-lethal security measure. The “shock” is a considerable deterrent, but the would-be intruder will survive. We have done literally hundreds and hundreds of home installations, and we haven’t had any problems with families being injured. Families will, of course, feel a lot safer inside their property once the fence is installed!
6. Can animals (eg. cats and birds) be harmed by my electric fence?
Any person or large animal that touches the fence will be shocked. It will not harm birds, because they usually won’t be earthed in the process. Cats can usually “sense” an electrified fence, so they will seldom touch it – and if they do it they will survive it. Dogs can seldom get up high enough to touch the electrified wires, but it’s very effective in keeping baboons and other unwanted creatures out of your property!
7. What happens if there is a power failure?
Because most systems have a back-up battery, the energizer will continue to generate a powerful electric pulse for four, six, or more hours without mains power. We find that even when power has been off for a long period, the fence remains a significant barrier – because the would-be-intruder can’t be sure than he/she won’t be shocked. It is very difficult to touch and electrified fence when you’re not 100% sure that
there is no power at all to the unit!
8. What is the weakest point of your electrified perimeter?
If your fence is relatively well designed, there shouldn’t be any weak points. In all security measures, it is well known that the would-be-intruder will try and find the “weakest link”. With perimeter security, this is normally gates and points where trees go above, or overhang wall, but if one identifies potential “problems”, and makes allowance for them, then there shouldn’t be a “weakest point”.
9. Will my home look like an army base if I surround it with an electrified fence?
Only if you want it to look like an army base! With electrified fencing, there is no one-size-fits-all. We design each fence in accordance with the needs and wants of the property owners. It can be small and discreet, or it can be large and very evident. The choice is yours.
10. Do I have to warn people (using signage, etc.) that I have an electric fence?
The law dictates that when an electrified fence is installed, warning signs must be attached where it might reasonably be expected to be touched by the public. These signs are reasonably small, and attached to the wires of the fence, and the installer will automatically erect them when they commission the fence. The property owners also usually want a larger sign or two to deter people trying to get into the property – and these are usually placed where they are most likely to be seen, or where the property is most likely to be accessed.
11. Are there a variety of fence options to fit my budget?
An electrified fence isn’t an enormously expensive item. One can vary the fence spec somewhat to suit the budget, but the security needs should ultimately dictate the fence design and specification. It’s a waste of money if the fence isn’t effective.
12. How high or low can my electric fence go?
The minimum height is 1800mm. There is no maximum height, but one has to be cognizant of other overhead wires or electrical or telephone earths. In built-up areas, we sometimes have to put a few strands of electrified wire across the top of a building if the building top can be accessed from an adjacent building.
13. Is electric fencing in Cape Town expensive to service/maintain?
An electrified fence is a pretty robust item, and designed to be outdoors and withstand all types of weather and climatic conditions. In Cape Town, conditions vary greatly between different areas, and the fence specification should change a bit according to things like wind exposure and proximity to the sea, and the installer must make allowances for that. As with all things, maintenance is important, and if a
fence is well designed and well maintained, it should provide trouble-free use and protection for many years.
Martin Smolders represents Shockoloza Electrified Fencing – a South African company specialising in the sale & installation of electrified fencing. firstname.lastname@example.org