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Country Discussion Topics
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Solar fence charger blues
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Jerry    Posted 08-31-2001 at 18:47:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I have a 7 year old Parmak solar powered 6 volt and app. 1/4 mile horse pasture with a single hot wire across the top of the woven wire fence. I just replaced the hot wire with 14ga. steel. It's attached to wooden posts with plastic insulators. For the past few months, the charger has been working and then not working. I took the charger in to a local Agway after I bought a new battery and they said it was working fine. It did for a very short time and now its back to mostly not working. I'm pretty sure its the charger but I wanted to know if anyone had any ideas before I pack it up and ship it back to Parmak for them to look at it. I have not replaced the ground rod.


carol    Posted 05-05-2002 at 11:42:20       [Reply]  [Send Email]
we have a parmak solar charger and it worked great in western wa. (olympic peninsula) with one ground rod. it kept the mules in! we did not use it in the winter. we now live in a very arid climate and could not get it to work, changed battery, took it to a solar shop and they tested it said charger was fine, it is a ground problem. i just found the parmak web site. we diffently need to use more ground rods. they are saying 5 or more in series for use in this soil type. soil type and moisture level will effect your ground. parmak said to change ground rods every two yrs. check the parmak website and good luck


G Taylor    Posted 09-01-2001 at 09:41:21       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Is the fence not working because the battery is dead, failure of the fencer or a high resistance ground?
Soalr cells have limited capacity at the best of times. They have to point towards the sun at high noon & be at the correct slope. What is the nameplate capacity of the solar unit?
Any conductive wire will work on the fence, the voltage is high & the current is low.


Jerry    Posted 09-01-2001 at 19:38:43       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I don't know the capacity of the charger, just that it's a 6 volt Parmak. I don't think its the fence. I did soak the ground where the ground rod is and pounded it down as far as it well go. I just replaced the ground wire from the charger to the rod and the positive wire from the charger to the fence. I also cleaned some rust off the charger terminals and the gate handle.

The charger has worked well for the past 6 to 7 years facing the southern sky. Right now it seems to be working but not ticking when it blinks like it used to. I will see if it works when the horses go out in the morning. I'm not sure if the battery is not fully charged and needs more sun without it being used to work at full strength. Should I try taking the battery out and charging it with a trickle charger.

Thanks for all the suggestions.


rhudson    Posted 09-02-2001 at 07:44:10       [Reply]  [Send Email]
does it tick with the fence wire disconnected? and stop ticking with the fence wire connected. if so the impediance of the fence is too low (probably shorted or close to it). if it does not tick with the fence disconnected, its probably the discarge capacitor. try to pick up a fencing book from American FarmWorks or Galliah (sp, austrailian fencing company) it shows some pretty good troubleshooting steps with a highvoltage voltmeter. on the charging, use very low amp charger and keep an eye on battery temperature. those little gel batts will not take the abuse that wet cells will.


G Taylor capacitor    Posted 09-03-2001 at 14:33:57       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Good thought about the capacitors. We have trouble with them all the time at work in older equipment. They dry out & either go open or short with a smelly,smokey,sticky bang.


Hogman    Posted 09-01-2001 at 05:01:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
1 ground rod is at best scimpy plus they have a fairly short life span. My systoms suffered for years befor I woke up to this fact. Just put in a new systom on another pasture, used 4 rods 8' apart. This is a 12 volt battery set up with a lot more zip then You get from ole sun power. Have 8700 volts at end of line with tall grass suckin off a bunch.
I have solar but have decided battery power is mabe cheaper in the long run and a lot more effective. Use deep discharge battery,12 volt . And, parmar ain't tha best as ever came down tha pike. I have a few of them but none new and those are being retired. Remember You get what You pay for and I have a pile of cheap and almost cheap units to prove it. Have a 6v solar and a 6v btry collectin dust along with the other "cast aways".
Even still have one old transformer unit,ain't been used in years,mabe put it on e-bay as a collectors item..
Used a well casing for a ground once 35' deep,You would'nt believe what lightnin can do to a fence charger grounded to a well casin and tha "protective" devises in between.


Ludwig    Posted 09-07-2001 at 11:05:33       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Re: the unused solar units lying around.
If you get so you'd like to get that space back give me a shout. I've been tinkering around with solar power and could really use some more cells. I've only got about 4v of capacity right now. I use it to charge AA batteries.
I'd like to use the panels to charge some 6v batteies that I'm going to use to power a light for use with my video camera.
I've also considered powering my n-scale model railroad off of 12v batteries that I could solar charge. The "Northern Solar line"?


rhudson    Posted 09-01-2001 at 07:54:51       [Reply]  [Send Email]
i've got a bunch of the 12v gallion M80, (know the spelling is wrong,) i use weak tractor batteries with solar panels i purchase at northern hydraulic or surplus center. i agree with you on the parmar's. too weak for my stubborn cows, but i still use them for strip grazing. have you tried any of the lightning chokes (about 8 coils of wire before the charger on the fence side? if someone indicated to me that they worked, i would probably wind my own. once had black ants crawl up into the M80, and short it out. their bodies were around every component that gave off heat. never heard of that until years later saw it happen to a customers shop light switch


Hogman    Posted 09-01-2001 at 19:25:22       [Reply]  [No Email]
I do it tha hard way,just use a spare battery
and bring tha stale one in for recharge. Your idea sounds good tho,using panels to keep em charged. What kind of wattage do You use?
Re tha light switch ant problem We have had nuthin but problems with outdoor light, I have sealed with tape but they still get inside and gang up around the contacts. Have got in the habit of switchig the light on every few days,seems ta work tha best. They will sure stop it from workin otherwise.
Have had the well go down several times when the rascals get in tha pressure switch. Had My well man out several times befor I learned to check for ants befor callin.
As to the coils, have never used one but am sure they would help. Just forms a choke and should be no problem winding one.


rhudson    Posted 09-02-2001 at 07:35:30       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I use the 5 watt panels. cost around $49.00 but you see them on sale for about half that. its not a maintenance free thing, every few months or so you have to clean the various connections.
i don't tell the ant story around here much. people look at me cross eyed, noone beleives me.


Hogman    Posted 09-02-2001 at 18:33:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sounds good, I'll try,n pick one up. Glad for tha info.
Re ants, We have a lectric motor etc repare feller here ,told Me a while back it was tha mud doubbers that kept Him in business and I'd bet that a lot of electricians and well Men make good money "fixin"things just by cleanin tha blamed ants outta tha contacts. One ant can stop a well cold.


old paul    Posted 08-11-2003 at 07:49:05       [Reply]  [Send Email]
could someone give me the proper name of a mud doubber! would like to look them up. Thanks


rhudson    Posted 08-31-2001 at 22:00:24       [Reply]  [Send Email]
The Parmak solars are not so strong, but i have three that lasted about 10-15 years before needing new batts. i have a electric fence voltage meter, about $30. for a charger i was concerned about, i would disconnect fence and place voltage tester between fence connection and ground connection on charger. the 6v parmak will probably be around 3,000 to 5,000 volts. also check for solar voltage in sunlight, probably about 7.2 volts, charge batt in sunlight with fence charge off for about 3 days, cover solar panel and check batt voltage, should be about 6.8 volts. if yours are as old as mine, you should be able to hear the main capacitor discharge when the charger is functioning (ticking). hope i have not muddied the water.


Larry    Posted 08-31-2001 at 19:08:41       [Reply]  [Send Email]

How deep is your ground rod,and have you been getting any rain? If the ground(soil) dries up you can lose your grounding. Try a deeper rod,or soak the soil around it.


Jerry    Posted 08-31-2001 at 19:21:22       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Dear Larry,

My wife, Gail, created a small wire circuit to try to determine whether it was the fence wire or the charger. It worked fine for one day, then went back to not working. We had no rain for quite a while but the past week we have had plenty of rain. I'm not sure how long the ground rod is, probably a six footer with app. five feet in the ground. I could also try replacing the wire I have running to the ground rod since it is the original wire from some old Romex.


Franz    Posted 08-31-2001 at 20:10:06       [Reply]  [Send Email]
1, check for corrosion on the connections, especially the ground rod wire.
2, Use a meter to determine the charging voltage going to the battery when the sun is shining. If the voltage regulator in the charging circuit has gone sour, it won't charge the battery.


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