View Full Version : Solar charger can work without sunshine?

Dec. 21, 2008, 08:43 AM
Solar charger is convenient for people who usually travel out. But sometimes I want to ask such question “solar charger can work without sunshine?” Perhaps it is a stupid question. But I still want to know the answer. And if they can not work, is it still cnvenient. You can not use inside and you can not use in winter. Only without sunshine, it becomes rubbish. So is it worth for us to use?

Dec. 21, 2008, 09:22 AM
Solar panels can generate current in lower light conditions, but that current flow is significantly reduced and may not be reliable.

In the TN Valley in winter we can have a week or more of days with little or no direct sunlight. I've had solar fence chargers go "dead" after a few days of heavy clouds. This is not a common occurence but it does happen once or twice a year.

I looked at a solar powered stock watering system a few years back and concluded that the cost was not justifiable. I could run a pipe from my spring house for less money and run it for several years electrically before I got to "break even" with the solar powered system. This did not include the expense of hauling water or using a generator to power the pump during winter months of when sunlight was in short supply. Nor did it include the costs of dealing with The Alphabet Soup over pumping water from the stream that flows throught the pasture.

Solar is nifty in places with lots of sunlight. It's not so good in places like the TN Valley with our long periods of heavy cloud cover.


Dec. 21, 2008, 09:27 AM
We live in southcentral Indiana and we often have a good amount of sun throughout the year, however, even in winter during the not so sunny months we still have and use our solar charges (they charge the electric fence). We've not had a problem with no charge. I've heard that "light" in the form of UV rays will make it through the clouds so perhaps that is why they are always "on".

Dec. 21, 2008, 10:56 AM
Not a simple question really. We lived at roughly latitude 39 and had adequate sunlight to power a fence charger year round up on the hill, BUT not at the house, which was at the bottom of a north south canyon with a bend. 6 hours of tree filtered sunlight from November to Feb just will not do it. Made gardening tough too.

You have to figure your available sunlight and then factor in geography and weather, then figure cost and availability of electricity off the grid. DH had to very carefully site his fence charger out in the open without shade from nearby hills or forest, and there was no power anywhere nearby, so he crossed his fingers that cloud cover would never last more than a few days.

Dec. 22, 2008, 03:36 PM
Our 20-mile solar fence charger charges a battery that holds up to 30 days of charge. So, I imagine if we had 30 solid days of nothing but darkness we may be up a creek...but so far we've managed to avoid the never ending darkness. Yes, it was pricey, but well worth the investment of not having to worry about a few days of dark, overcast skies.

Sing Mia Song
Dec. 22, 2008, 04:08 PM
I have not had good luck with solar chargers. I am in a fairly sunny area (not Southern California, by any means, but not Tacoma, Washington, either). The solar chargers just never seemed to deliver the power I needed. I converted to a plug-in charger a few years ago and swear by it.

Dec. 22, 2008, 04:35 PM
Solar chargers are unforgiving of "installation errors." They have to be put in "by the book" to function.

They also require regular maintenance to ensure that NO vegitation gets on the wires. Batteries can be sucked dry real fast by anything conductive on the fence.

Plug-in chargers are less un-forgiving but still require a proper installation to ensure proper function. The biggest error I've seen over the years with either plug in or battery systems is lack of a proper ground. Folks just don't like to either buy the grounding rods they need or pound them into the ground as they should be.

Solar units are good for some uses, but not for all uses.


Dec. 23, 2008, 02:42 PM
I second Guilherme...our solar charger delivers quite the shock, but, we spent the extra time, planning and money to make sure it was properly grounded with 8 foot copper grounding rods at the suggested intervals recommended by the manufacturer. Grounding makes or breaks your fence, solar or plug-in. We have far too many power outages during the winter to be able to depend on a plug-in fence charger.

Dec. 23, 2008, 04:40 PM
I have two Gallagher fencers.

One is large - for double the acreage I have it working on. And it reliably tests 6.5 kV on the fence tester - and will knock the @#$^%^$ out of you. It works fine even with little sunshine. The battery can be charged on a battery charger if need be.

The other is small and not enough zap. I'm going to get another big one. The small one only puts out 2.7-3 kV which is something but I want anything that touches it to be very uninterested in trying it again.

Dec. 23, 2008, 11:15 PM
I've used solar chargers for about 8 years, i haven't had one go out because of lack of sun, it has a battery that holds the charge for 21 days per the manufacturer, you do have to put it in a place that gets sun tho, duh
i've had 2, replaced one after 6 years, i figure thats pretty good

Dec. 27, 2008, 12:42 AM
I have two solar fencers and have only replaced one in the last six or seven years, which is good. I've replaced the battery a couple of times. Now I'm only having to use one, the newest. It tests 6.5-7 all the way around and they know it.

I only had trouble last winter when it wouldn't keep a charge due to the really frozen ground and it not grounding properly. A decent thaw fixed that problem and so far so good this year (knock on wood!!)

I'm on a hill and it faces south.

Dec. 27, 2008, 08:33 AM
We've used a solar charger( a Parmak) for at least 20 years. Ithink I'm on my third. They work great, but, as was said, have to be installed as directed. I have a "Fence Alert" hanging which flashes if there is a short , or break somewhere. Thye're pretty handy and are only about $15.00(???).

Altamont Sport Horses
Dec. 27, 2008, 01:58 PM
I have the Parmak, the big one (12v), actually two of them. http://www.jefferspet.com/product/parmak174-solarpak-magnum-12sp-12-volt-24365.cfm I charge it in the sun for 5 days before using like the directions suggest. No problems. We've had nasty overcast weather with thick mist and fog and some rain for almost 2 weeks now. I got zapped really good yesterday when I accidentally touched it. I don't have it facing South like I'm supposed to and it gets a little shaded in the afternoon. But it is always hot hot HOT. Sunlight still gets through the clouds so it will continue to charge even in less than optimal weather.

We have stallions and I can't go without a fence charger if the power goes out here. I haven't had problems but I don't want to take the risk. We have a separate charger for the mares/foals and one for the stallions just in case one fence comes down there is another fence that is still hot. Stallions on one side of the farm, mares and foals on the other side. The stallions know it is hot, they snort if they get 4 inches from it, like "OMG, I almost touched it!!!"...I never see them touch it. The weeds get too tall sometimes and touch the fence but never dimishes the impact. This is why I go for a stronger charger than I really need anyway, just in case.

I've used these chargers for years and haven't had any problems.