Generally speaking, if you are interested in purchasing a single 25m or 50m electric net then you are probably a backyard chicken keeper with a small number of chickens> for the purposes of this article I am going to assume that you have a maximum flock size of about 25 birds and you have a chicken coop inside the electric netting enclosure where the chickens sleep at night. If you need the fence to run a night to keep the foxes away and your chicken coop itself is not really fox proof then I am going to term you a “24/7/365” operator. If you only use the netting as a daytime fencing option and the chickens are securely locked away at night (and you therefore turn the fence off at night” I am going to term you a “daytime” operator.
So there are two basic questions we need to answer in order to start. Where do you live and how much power do you need from your energiser? If you live in Tasmania or Victoria then you are considered a “Southern” Australian, Queensland and NT etc are “Northern” Australians. The rest of Australia fits somewhere in the middle.
The good news is that you do not require a lot of power to charge a 25 or 50m net. Generally speaking a 50m net requires 0.25J as a minimum and most energisers do that quite easily. A 25m net requires less. If you intend to increase your flock and therefore increase the number of nets you need in the future then the best course of action would be to purchase an energiser which has the capacity to manage your future requirements. For example, if you intend to purchase a 50m net now, but you intend to be using 100m of netting in six months time then purchase an energiser suitable for 100m of netting so that you don’t need to double up on energisers in the future. You can read more about 100m electric netting energiser requirements here.
A quick note on energiser capacity – energisers are measured in “Output Joules” (J). A 25m net requires an energiser with a minimum of 0.15J, 50m around 0.25J etc. You can always put more power than you need into an electric net but you cannot put less. Another way of looking at this would be to say – regardless of where you live or what your expectations are, the power level you require remains the same, what changes is the size of the battery and the solar cell.
Energiser options for 24/7/365 Operators in Southern Australia
The big issue here is that you will need sufficient solar cell wattage to charge the battery all year round – especially during the winter months. For example, if you live in an area that gets about 4 hours of Sunshine per day in June (primarily VIC and TAS) then you will need an absolute minimum of a 10W solar cell to get a 0.25J energiser powering a 50m electric net through the winter.
Essentially most energisers on the market have a minimum of a 10W solar cell except for some of the smallest. Both Nemtek and Thunderbird offer good value “all in one” solar energisers so these would probably be your best bet.
Energiser options for 24/7/365 Operators in Northern Australia
If you live in an area that gets more than 6 hours of sunshine per day in June (roughly north of the line from Coffs Harbour to Geraldton) then you can reduce either your solar cell or your battery but not both. You will need the same size energiser however as you are still powering the same length net.
So the sensible thing here would be to reduce the size of the solar cell and keep the same size battery.
Energiser options for Daytime Operators in Southern Australia
For the purposes of this article I am going to assume that a “Daytime Operator” only uses the net in the warmer months of the year (say September through to April) or locks their flock indoors at night and turns off the energiser.
The big advantage that “Daytime Operators” are going to have over the “24/7/365” crew is that the hobby operator can turn off the energiser at night during the winter months which effectively doubles battery capacity.
You are still going to require an energiser with an output over 0.25J, which means we can look at integrated sets such as the Thunderbird S28B or the Nemtek Agrisolar 3.
Energiser options for Daytime Operators in Northern Australia
By and large the same rules apply in Northern Australia for daytime operators. Having the ability to turn the energiser off at night makes roughly halves the amount of battery or solar cell capacity required.
What I am going to do here is try and make an educated guess and rank all energisers on the market that fit in the 25m to 50m electric netting sizes. I will rank firstly by capacity, taking note of the solar cell and battery capacities and then price.
Thunderbird S18B. Output 0.15J, Solar cell 2W, Battery 7Ah. Sufficient output and battery size to power a 25m net but not more. Also let down by a 2W solar cell. So this energiser is good for someone living in Northern Australia all year round or Southern Australia during the warmer months only. It does have a mains battery back up charger so it can be used to power a 25m net in the colder months but would require mains power top up.
Sunrise SRS6. Output 0.6J, Solar cell 6W, Solar cell 6W, Battery 6Ah (lithium). A good amount of kick and can power a 50m net quite effectively. Has a small battery (although it is lithium so should be better than lead-acid) and has a 6W solar cell which is good compared to the competition. Does come with a back-up mains charger which also makes it good at this price point. A good cheap option with the mains back up charger able to assist during the winter months to keep the charge flowing.
Nemtek Agrisolar 3 Output 0.26J, Solar Cell 5W, Battery 7Ah. Can power a 50m net and this is the cheapest energiser that comes with a 5W solar cell. Has a lithium/iron battery with a 2 year warranty rather than the standard 12 month warranty of other energisers. Does not have a mains power back up charger, but the lithium battery has better charging and storage characteristics than a lead -acid battery so in my experience the lack of a mains charger is not a concern.
Thunderbird S28B Output 0.23J, Solar Cell 5W, Battery 7Ah. This can charge a 50m net, and if the weather is bad then it can be brought indoors for a top up on the mains. Therefore this energiser is a good option for most Australian conditions but it will require topping up to make it through winter in the South.
Nemtek Agrisolar 5 Output 0.47J, Solar cell 10W, Battery 7Ah.
Thunderbird S45B. Output of 0.47J, Solar cell 5W, Battery 7Ah. Can power 100m of netting but does not have the solar cell / battery to get through winter in the south. Can perform year round in QLD but only seasonally in the south. Does come with a mains charger to get you through the less sunny months if required. Low battery warning, high and low operations.
Nemtek Agrisolar 8. Output 0.7J, Solar cell 10W, Battery 7Ah. Can power 100m of netting quite easily and should be able to power 150m of netting. Has a 10W solar cell which is bigger than the competition, but the battery is the same size (but has a longer warranty and is also a lithium / iron battery that performs better than a standard lead / acid combination.).
Thunderbird S75B. Output of 0.7J, Solar cell 5W, Battery 7Ah. Can power 150m of netting but is marginal. Does not have the solar cell / battery to get through winter in the south. Can perform year round in QLD but only seasonally in the south. Does come with a mains charger to get you through the less sunny months if required. Low battery warning high and low operations.
Nemtek Agrisolar 10. Output of 1.0J, Solar cell 10W. Can easily power 150m of netting but does require the purchase of a separate battery. Paired with a big enough battery this energiser should get you through winter in almost any part of Australia.
Thunderbird 12S. This is a basic energiser with a 1.2J capacity. Therefore it will power 200m of netting, but it has limited battery and solar cell capacity. The biggest drawback is that it does not have a mains charger – therefore if the battery runs flat the only way to recharge it is to leave it sitting in the sun for a few days – not ideal in winter. However, if you only use the net for a few days at a time and in the warmer seasons it should work fine.
JVA MB1.5 Solar. Puts out a charge of 1.5J which also puts it in the 200m of netting category. This is a nice simple system with a 20W Solar cell but you will need to supply your own battery. Pair it with a big battery and the 20W solar cell should be able to get a 100-150m electric net powered throughout the year in all areas. The main downside is that it has no battery condition lights or a display to indicate output levels.
Thunderbird S180B. This is the biggest integrated solar energiser on the market. It puts out 1.78J and therefore can handle up to 250m of netting. You can switch between high and low output functions. It has a digital screen which displays voltage, amps and low battery. It also comes with a mains charger so if you do run the battery flat you can bring it inside for a top-up charge. It has a 12W solar cell and a 14Ah battery. This makes it a good option for summer operations but not for winter especially the further south you get.
- Don’t just choose the biggest! An energiser with twice the output will also drain the battery twice as fast. So if your fencing set up requires 0.5J in order to function, choosing an energiser with an output of 1.0J to 2.5J might make sense but 5J is a bit silly.
- Nemtek is a more technologically advanced option. Their batteries are lithium / iron (as opposed to lead / acid) and come with a 2 year warranty. Also their solar cells are better in that they only require light (as opposed to sunlight) in order to charge.
- Thunderbird and JVA are made in Australia, Nemtek in South Africa and Sunrise in China.