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Electric Fence Sensor

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    Electric Fence Sensor

    I have just put a small electric fence to keep critters out from under a sunroom that is about 18 inches off of the ground and surrounded with vinyl siding skirting. The raccoons and groundhogs would pull the siding back at the end and go under the sunroom. I added an LED strobe light under the sunroom that flashes every 10 seconds and that keeps them from staying more than a minute or two but I am hoping the fence keeps them out.

    I would like to figure out how to tell if the fence is working correctly and be monitored with HomeSeer. The fence charger is a small and outputs about 2,000 VAC at low current.

    I have seen some inexpensive testers that look like maybe they have a neon light. I suppose I could use one of the HS-FS100-L indicator light sensors I could probably permanently mount a neon light tester and watch the lamp.

    Does anybody have a better idea?

    Thanks.

    #2
    For starters 18 inches is too high for raccoons and groundhogs. They can walk right under it. One strand at 6 and one at 12 inches would be the best. Finding something that is outdoor rated to measure current like that is going to be a challenge. It likely would have to be something made for that, that can output a signal to a dry contact sensor or something along those lines.

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      #3
      Sorry for the confusion. The sunroom itself is about 18 inches off of the ground. The electric fence has three strands of wire. One at about 2 inches above the ground, the second at about 8 inches, and the third at about 14 inches. I also have hardware cloth (1/4 inch metal screen wire) over the ground next to the sunroom lightly covered with pea gravel and grounded with some 24 inch spikes. The critters should be well grounded when they touch one of the wires and the wires should be close enough to not let them get through without touching one or more. They are very likely to make contact because the vinyl siding skirt will have to be dislodged like they have done in the past.

      Hopefully I can figure out how to monitor with HS to make sure the fence is energized and not shorted out by any weeds.

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        #4
        Maybe a smoke detector.

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          #5
          The electric fence will obviously be powered, so just add a Z-Wave or comparable energy monitoring capable switch to it.

          Then just measure the normal idle power usage pattern, and you'll be able to create alert thresholds for when critters get zapped as there'll be a sudden spike in power usage. Should also work to detect grass interference.

          I'm using the same methods on a wide variety of appliances with my first usage being on fridge/freezer to detect abnormal power usage patterns to alert me that doors aren't properly closed.

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            #6
            My experience with electric fence leads me to believe that you will be tending to it frequently, whether you monitor it or not. I found that a physical barrier was much easier to deal with in the long run.

            If it were me, I'd remove the siding (temporarily) and install wire fencing that is firmly attached to the framing, adding vertical reinforcement as necessary between corners. Then replace the siding over the wire fencing.

            An easier option, if practical, might be to screw corner boards to the bottom two feet of the wall to sandwich the ends of the siding firmly in place against the framing. That would be quick and relatively easy to do, but might be visually unacceptable.
            Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
            HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

            HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

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              #7
              I had not thought about monitoring the power use of the fence charger. I can put an amp meter on the input side of the charger and then short out the fence wire with a weed to observe the power change then a full short to ground. From there I can decide if this can work.

              And ... yes a physical barrier might be the most reliable in the long term ... but sometimes the challenge is more fun ... at least for a while.

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