Solar charger question

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sassafras manor

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2011
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south central IL
I have a Parmark Solar Pak 12 that will only work when the sun is shining. Do I have a battery problem or a charger problem? The batteries are 3 years old.
Sounds like a battery issue... run down too far. Typical of pretty much any solar charger.

IS this your fencer? The guage on the front there is supposed to tell you how much charge is in the battery. Here's their instructions for that:

When the Mag 12 SP is first turned to ON position, the performance meter on front of fence charger now performs 3 exclusive functions: 1. Meter operation test 2. Battery charge level test 3. Fence charger voltage output on fence.
1. Meter Operation Test: This test will sweep meter needle to full scale and back. This test shows that meter movement is smooth and able to indicate full scale. If meter is functioning correctly the needle will go to the top of green (full scale) and then return to bottom of red.
2. Battery Charge Level Test:
The meter will indicate the charge level of the battery. If the meter indicates "RED" the battery should be recharged before operating fence charger. If the meter indicates "YELLOW" the battery is low and should be recharged soon. If the meter indicates "GREEN" the battery has a good charge. To get the most accurate reading of the battery charge level, the battery should be in a no load/no charge state. Battery charge level will be indicated for the first 5 seconds immediately following the Meter Operation Test.

It has a 12-volt internal battery, but you can also hook up any 12 volt car/tractor/RV battery to it too if you want to. I'd recommend a deep cycle type. Lots of guys keep two, and then just keep switching them every so often, and recharging at home as needed.

I have 0 confidence in solar chargers... Aside from the eternal battery issues, they're ALWAYS minor players as far as oomph on the line... they have to be, or they'd drain the battery too fast... which they already have problems with. This Parmak states a MAX joule rating of 3.1, and the "regular" joule rating of 1.1... and then they call it a "30 mile fencer". That's like "nothing" basically.............. That having been said, it IS one of the "larger" solar fencers available. I have a 58 joule Gallagher5800i (plug in charger), rated for 87 miles of "typical fence" (430 miles of perfectly clean fence...). That's meaning "miles of wire"..., so if you've got a 4 wire fence, reduce that number by 75%. Fencer company "miles of fence ratings" mean absolutely nothing. TSC is a rebranded Zareba... and they will have different "miles of fence ratings" on the same model fencer. It's the joules... or amount of energy the fencer is capable of throwing down that line, that counts.

If you have ANY "drag" (shorts along the line somewhere, grounding through wet weeds, or even just damp air...), you'll be asking alot more from your fencer... and it'll end up draining the battery, even if you do have sun. That "drag" is measured in amps... a good fence tester/short locator will tell you how much "drag" your fence has at any given time... the locator will direct you toward the short as well. My Gallagher reads out the "drag" right on the fencer in amps... I have ALOT of fence running on it, some 3 wire, some single wire. On a dry summer day, it might be reading like 25 amps "drag", on a foggy day on the very next day, it might be reading over 100 amps.

You need JOULES to overcome that... and if a "solar fencer" had that much power, it'd drain the batteries way too fast. IMO, if reasonably possible to accomplish at all, spend more and get a good plug in, and use the Parmak as a back up in places you might need it, or sell it on FB Marketplace. Your goal is to keep the critters in reliably...

Parmak Magnum Solar-Pak 12 Electric Fence Charger
Model MAG.12-SP
12 volt – Solar/Battery Operated – 30 miles

It has been a great charger and has done exactly as needed these past few years. Dave when you replace batteries do you go back with Parmark or an off-brand?
The cattle have 5 strand barbed wire in this pasture away from the house and barn but we have a few new heifers that are riding the fence hard so I pulled this out to keep them off of the barbwire fence.
Don't know if you experience this issue where you are or not, but realize that if you have snow pack, the animals don't ground very well through that at all... even if you have an excellent ground system on your charger. Great grounding of the system is the only solution to try to overcome that problem, but great grounding will NOT solve it. You just have to recognize that as an issue, and work around it by not feeding/crowding the animals onto the electric fencing. Feed them away from it as much as you can, and keep them fed well, so they're not tempted to go out. Not much more you can do, IMO. I've got all new, 100% fully fiberglass post 3 wire HT perimeter fencing that's 4' high, buried under snow banks... cattle can walk right out over the fence on top of the banks, literally. I guess I could stick some "temporary" posts into the snow banks and string another wire up above what's already there... but so far instead, I just moved where I feed them to another area about 1/8th mile away from those spots, and they pretty much stay wherever the feed is put.
The BEST way to overcome the bad grounding situation is to run two wires on the fence... one hot, and one connected directly to the ground on the fencer. If they touch both wires at the same time, they're gonna get hammered.
Fortunately (or for the kids, unfortunately) we don't have an abundance of snow to interfere with the grounding aspect. Each grounding situation we have three 6' ground rods spaced 10' apart and get plenty of spark on the animals and the tester.
If these new heifers don't settle down I may add another wire to the fence to add to the zap. There are 5 of them in a 2 acre winter lot with round bales so they most definitely aren't crowded. I have a new battery pack on order to solve the issue. Thanks!
I had a steer once that just absolutely ignored the fence... 7 wire HT with a "200 mile" Zareba heater and well grounded, with fairly minimal "miles of fence" compared to what I'm running now. Got him back in twice, only to watch him head directly through that fence again, right from the gate we ran him back in through and out through the fence again. Black steer, tall corn at the time, out on the roads at night. I finally cured him of it with a rifle... too much liability risk to be worth it. He was better as good steaks and burgers than a money-maker in the pasture!
I have 2 of those. They have worked great for me. About every 4 or 5 years I have to replace the battery but that is the only issue I have had. They both have to be over 10 years old. If it only works when the sun is shining I would think it is a battery issue.
Same here Dave
"200 mile" Zareba heater and well grounded, with fairly minimal "miles of fence"
Just an FYI, the "miles" that everyone advertises mean nothing. It is all industry BS, plus those claims are always made under laboratory conditions, not the real world.

It is all about the joules that the charger puts out. More joules, more kick to the fence. Think of it as the difference between getting hit by a bicycle vs getting hit by a Mack Truck.

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