When discussing the performance of electric fences, one of the most important factors to take into account is the conductive material used within the tape, rope or wire itself. Regardless of what type of fencing you are using, the conductive material used has a huge impact on the performance of the fence.
Let’s look at 3 different conductive materials; copper, stainless steel and TriCOND, and highlight Pros and Cons for each, as well as which ones perform better for specific tasks.
Unfortunately no material allows 100% of the electric current to pass through it. The electrical resistance of a conductor (measured in Ohms) expresses how much current is “resisted” by the conductor. The lower the resistance, the better the conductivity of the material. For electric fences, this conductivity is often expressed in Ohms / Meter. The LOWER the Ohms / Meter the BETTER the conductivity of the material is said to have, because the material is “resisting” less current and allowing more of the current to travel through it. The immediate result of lower resistance is the ability to power longer fence lines.
Copper, which is often sold as tin plated copper, yields the best performance of conductivity which makes it an extremely efficient material to use in electric fencing. Copper boasts 40x higher conductivity compared to traditional materials (e.g. stainless steel), of the same thickness. This has a direct impact on the reliability and length of the fence to be powered. For this reason, copper is often suggested for long fence lines.
However, copper is:
- not the strongest material
- prone to oxidation and fracture over time.
In order to overcome these shortcomings, copper is often tin-plated to help avoid oxidation. A hybrid design of copper and stainless steal can often yield the best results with high conductivity and strength. Copper is also the most expensive material because of its high quality. For these reasons, one must decide whether the performance is worth the cost for a specific fencing situation.
TriCOND is a newer conductor material that boasts 5x-7x higher conductivity
compared to stainless steel of the same thickness. 5x higher conductivity means you can power 5x longer fence lines. This is of course a far cry from the 40x conductivity of copper, however TriCOND is less prone to corrosion, and like stainless steel it is “rust proof” and less expensive than copper! All of these factors make TriCOND a great choice for medium to long fence lines that need to withstand strong weather conditions.
Stainless steel is the traditional material used in electric fence lines and is
extremely resistant to fracture. It is also rust proof, making it the strongest of the electric fence conductive materials. The downside is that it provides the lowest conductivity. For this reason, even though it can withstand extreme weather conditions and lasts longer than other materials, it is not advisable to use stainless steel for long or medium length fences, or for external fencing of any kind. Stainless steel conductor wiring is best used for small fences, like smaller paddocks, strip grazing and fence lines within larger electric fenced areas.
Although stainless steel may not be a suitable conductor for your electric fence, it is advised that you use stainless steel accessories (e.g. connectors, gate handles, etc) like Litzclip® connectors. This ensures a long lasting connection that is rust proof and resistant to corrosion.
Due to the relatively large area of the connectors relative to the conductors, they also have no measurable electrical resistance.
Caution: conductor material made of galvanized steel, e.g. Is not to be connected to copper pipes, as corrosion will occur.
As stated earlier, conductivity and electrical resistance of the conductor material is most often expressed in Ohms / Meter. If a conductor material is greater than 1 Ohm / Meter, it should only be used for small to medium length fences. If the material is below 1 Ohm / Meter, it is possible for the fence to be several kilometers long!
The table below shows some basic information and generally compares different conductive materials. Note: the chart uses data for electric fencing tape.
Note: The following table compares various conductive materials in a 40mm fence band. The data is from AKO.