Electric fences 101: how to keep your home safe

21 Apr 2017

You have to admit, the thought of having a large croc infested moat around your home is a little appealing. Even better, if that moat was electrified and couldn’t be penetrated by criminals. The next best thing? An electric fence.

Electric fences are all the rage in many South African suburbs, and it’s becoming increasingly rare to find a street that doesn’t have a home surrounded by one. But is an electric fence really worth the money? Do they keep criminals out? How do they work?

Anchor South Africa shares some tips…

How does an electric fence work?

An electric fence converts power from a battery, the sun or your mains into a high voltage pulse.

When someone makes contact with the fence, a circuit is completed and the fence delivers a short, sharp pulse of energy. This pulse is what delivers the shock.

The delivered shock, however, is not lethal, but is highly unpleasant. The voltage that is legally allowed to pass through electric fences is capped at 10 000 volts, but the effect that the intruder experiences depends on a number of factors. Suffice it to say that an intruder can get a nasty shock from an electric fence.

Electric fences are usually connected to an alarm and to the services of a private security company. Should the perimeter be breached, an alarm will sound and the security company will dispatch their armed response team.
Does an electric fence really keep criminals out?

An electric fence around your property looks and sounds imposing. The average criminal is an opportunist looking for an easy target.

An electric fence protects you in a few different ways. First, the sight of an electric fence is intimidating. Even more so when you are up close and can hear the current buzzing through it.

If the criminal is ‘brave’ enough to continue, they’ll have to deal with the electric shock they’ll receive when they make contact with the fence. If this still isn’t enough, your alarm would have sounded and the security company would already have a response team high tailing towards your home to apprehend the criminal. This, all before they have even made it to the front door.

But not everyone is convinced that electric fences are effective. They feel that it is possible that the mere presence of an electric fence signals to thieves that you have stuff worth stealing. If a thief is determined enough, nothing will stop them. An electric fence should not be your only defence, but it is another layer of protection between yourself and the bad guys.

Electric fences: a buyer’s guide

As far as home security measures go, an electric fence is surprisingly affordable. People who have installed electric fences say they barely notice a difference in their electricity bill.

Choose your installer carefully and ensure that your electric fence complies with current regulations. You’ll need a certificate of compliance and clear warnings visible from the pavement and driveway.

We may not be able to surround our homes with moats these days, but we can put an extra layer of protection around ourselves.

You’ll sleep more soundly to the faint hum of an electric fence around your home, safe in the knowledge that there are 10 000 volts waiting for any villains. That’s some shockingly good security.