Electric Fences and Winter Weather

Electric Fences and Winter Weather

Tuesday, 07 February 2023 10:05

When people think of Asheville and western North Carolina, they immediately picture the outdoors. Our region is renowned for picturesque mountain views, rolling hills, rivers, creeks, and waterfalls. It beckons residents and visitors to explore every inch of our protected forests. 

For most of the year, our weather cooperates with the desire to be outside. Western North Carolina has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Spring and fall are generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the low 40s to the low 70s Fahrenheit. Summers in Asheville are usually warm and humid, with temperatures reaching the mid-80s to low 90s. 

However, winter can throw a wrench in everything. While in the city, the cold months are relatively mild, with average temperatures typically in the low 40s to mid-50s during the day and dropping to the low 30s at night, things can change seemingly in an instant. 

Powerful cold fronts can pass through and drop temperatures dramatically. Northwest flow snow events develop behind these cold fronts, often bringing several inches to more than a foot of snow in the higher elevation areas like those near the Tennessee border in Yancey, Madison, Buncombe, and Haywood Counties. It might be snowing in Madison County and raining or sunny in downtown Asheville.

Freezing rain and sleet commonly disappoint snow lovers when the temperatures are cold enough at the surface for winter precipitation but too warm aloft to support snow. Ice events can wreak havoc on the power grid and make life in the mountains even more challenging. 

If you have a farm or property that utilizes electric fencing and hot wires, winter weather is definitely a concern. Here’s what you need to know about western North Carolina, winter, and your fence. 

How Electric Fences Are Used

Electric fencing is a type of barrier that uses electric shock to deter animals or people from crossing it. It is commonly used for a variety of purposes such as:

  1. Keeping Animals On Your Property: Electric fencing is commonly used in agriculture to keep livestock such as cows, sheep, and horses within a designated area and to prevent them from wandering into other areas where they may cause damage.
  2. Keeping Animals Off Your Property: Electric fencing can be used to keep out pests such as deer, rabbits, and wild boars, protecting crops and gardens from damage.
  3. Security: Electric fencing can be used to secure property, such as homes and commercial buildings, by creating a physical barrier that is difficult to cross.
  4. Wildlife Management: Electric fencing is also used in wildlife management to protect wildlife habitats, as well as to prevent wild animals from crossing into areas where they may be at risk or cause damage.
  5. Temporary Fencing: Electric fencing is also used as a temporary fencing solution for events, construction sites, and other temporary needs.

How Electric Fences Are Impacted By Winter 

While electric fences should hold up against a variety of weather conditions, winter can prove challenging, especially if there are existing maintenance concerts. Some things for which to look out include:

1) Loss of Electricity to Your Fence

One of the most common issues that arises in winter weather is the loss of power to the fence. Cold temperatures can cause the fence charger to lose power, which can lead to a weaker electric current running through the fence. 

This can make it less effective at containing animals and even cause them to break through the fence. To avoid this, it's important to regularly check the fence charger and ensure that it's functioning properly. Additionally, using a charger with a built-in low-impedance feature can help prevent power loss in cold weather.

2) Accumulating Snow and Ice

Another issue that can arise in winter weather is the accumulation of snow and ice on the fence. This can insulate the fence and reduce the effectiveness of the electric charge. 

It can also cause the fence wires to break under the weight of the snow and ice. To prevent this, it's important to regularly clear snow and ice off the fence, and to be aware of the potential for heavy snowfall in your area.

3) Accumulating Morning Frost and Ice

What if winter weather isn’t actively falling from the sky? Does that mean you have no cause for concern? Unfortunately, even morning frost or leftover moisture from rain can freeze and cause issues for your fence.

Frost and ice on the fence insulators can also cause short circuits. This can result in a loss of power to the fence or even damage to the fence charger. To prevent this, it's important to regularly check the insulators and clear away any ice or frost that may have accumulated.

4) Frozen Ground

Another consideration in winter weather or prolonged cold spells can be that the ground may freeze, making it difficult for the fence to properly ground. This can reduce the effectiveness of the electric charge, and can even cause the fence charger to overload and shut down.

To prevent this, it's important to ensure that the grounding system is functioning properly, and to use a grounding system that is designed to work in cold temperatures.

5) Hungry Wild Animals Testing the Fence 

Finally, it's also important to be aware that animals may be more likely to test the fence during the winter months when food and resources are scarce. This is especially true for wild animals such as deer and elk (for properties in and around Cherokee, Bryson City, and Waynesville), who may push against the fence in search of food. 

This can cause damage to the fence and make it less effective at containing animals. To prevent this, it's important to maintain a clear area around the fence to discourage wild animals from approaching it.

How to Protect My Electric Fence During Winter

Electric fences can be affected by winter weather in several ways, such as power loss, accumulation of snow and ice, short circuit, and grounding issues. 

To ensure the fence is functioning properly in the winter, it's important to regularly maintain the fence, check the fence charger and grounding system, and be aware of the potential increased pressure from wild animals. 

Additionally, it's important to use a fence charger with a built-in low-impedance feature and a grounding system that is designed to work in cold temperatures. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your electric fence is able to effectively contain animals and protect your property throughout the winter months.

Consider Alternatives to Electric Fencing

You might also consider replacing an electric fence with other options that are less susceptible to the weather. Farm and ranch fences, for example, come in a variety of customizable options. The best option for you will depend on many factors, such as the terrain of your land, livestock being contained, predators you’re up against, budget, and so on. We offer ranch rail in both vinyl and wood, as well as T-post fencing.

Whatever your fencing needs, Asheville Fence has you covered. We can help you determine exactly what type of fence product you need to accomplish your specific goals. Contact us for more information about fencing in western North Carolina.