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Top 5 factors in choosing the right polywire or polytape for your electric fence

What is polywire and polytape used for in electric fences ?

Electric fence polywires and polytapes carry the electrical flow along your fence line to deliver a shock when an animal creates a connection between the live and earth connections of your electric fence.

Electric fence grounding diagram live and earth circuit for dry soil
Electric fence showing live and earth wires

In electric fencing terms it can also known by such names as:

  • Hot wire
  • Poly rope
  • Poly braid
  • Poly wire
  • Hot tape
  • Poly tape
  • Tape rail

Poly wires, braids, ropes and tapes are primarily used in electric fences for their ability to improve the presence of an electric fence. It is a well proven fact that all animals including humans will recall (after varying amounts of exposure) that the higher visibility of the wire basically means “stay away”.

Safety benefits of polywire and polytape.

Its other primary use is to fence valuable stock when galvanized wire can cause heavy wounds and expensive vet bills.
Horses are generally the worst for causing injuries while in panic.

Its is also good for animals like dogs jumping fences. If an animal is entangled in the fence and struggles the poly products cause far less injury than plain fencing wire, galvanised wire and barbed wire which can cause very deep lacerations.

What are all these funny names…How do I choose the right one for me?

Just as we closely inspect everything we buy, it is equally important to examine the qualities of polywire and polytapes prior to purchase. There are many different names for polywire and polytapes on the market some are not really suggestive of the actual product or what they can do for you.

Past all these names there are a few factors in considering which one to choose:

  1. Where is it made?
  2. Other Quality checks
  3. Resistance values.
  4. What colour should I choose?
  5. What thickness should I use? (Poly wire, rope or tape)

1. Where is it made?

Well we all know where the best place for your products to be made is here in Australia.
While you product is designed for Australian conditions and generally of a far better quality it also supports jobs and cash flow within the agricultural industry along with others.
Where ever possible buy Australian made and owned or buy a reputable brand that follows Australian and New Zealand Standards and produces quality products.

Beware of buying cheap polywires, braid, ropes and tapes sold on platforms like eBay. while the price might be attractive and visually there is little difference, these products are notorious for failing to meet basic quality standards like U.V. treatment of polymer and plastics and only last in the Australia sun and weather for very short periods of time.

2. Other quality cross checks:

While being made in Australia is a good start there are several other factors that should be included in your product choice.

Metal strands & fibres:
The most basic thing to consider is more and thicker wires are better. There are three basic wire configurations on the market:

  1. Copper wires:
    Used in some fence products is highly conductive but it is not as strong as stainless steel and can fatigue, deteriorate, and break easily.
  2. Stainless steel wires:
    Is mechanically stronger but less conductive than some metals.
  3. Mixed metal strand wires (generally tinned copper wire):
    Can suffer corrosion if scratched resulting in shorter lifespan but has .

The make of the product.

Construction:

  • Check that the poly wire or polytape is woven tightly. Look for a nice tightly bound or woven product
  • Loosely wound or woven poly products ( usually found in imported products ) can fall apart very quickly.

U.V. Treated:

Make sure your poly product is U.V. treated or Ultraviolet treated. This means it has gone through a process to protect it from breaking down under ultraviolet radiation (sunshine).

3. Resistance values Ω Ohms:

When looking at hot wire and hot tape products the best thing to look for (electrically) is the Ohms (Ω) or resistance values of the products. This will give you a good indication of how far a fence your product will be good for. The less resistance the better it works so 10 Ohms is better than 100 Ohms

By Definition an Ohm is:
The ohm is the electric resistance between two points of a conductor when a constant potential difference of 1 volt, applied to these points, produces in the conductor a current of 1 ampere, the conductor not being the seat of any electromotive force.

Hmmm Or…..

Basically Ohms is the amount of resistance hot wires have. This dictates the amount of electricity that can be pumped through you fence.

Think of it as water going through pipes, the thinner the pipes the more resistance so its harder to pump lots of water through.

In electric fencing terms this means the thinner and less of the metal wires the less electricity can go through, as well as the distance it can flow on you fence before running out of steam.

So you need to look for a product with low resistance values..

There are other things that can shorten the electricity flow.

If you get leaks in hot wires (earthed out) in the form of voltage leaks from branches, grass and fallen post your electricity will leak out of the fence and into the earth. This is very bad  for fence voltage down the fence line and fence checks should be carried out at least once a week on average depending on the growth rates and decay ( falling branches ) of the local plant life. Breakages in the wires should be repaired and connections should be solid and complete with no arcing or sparking. Connection bolts are usually the best option.

Nemtek Comparison Chart showing differences in polywires ropes tapes and braids
Nemtek Comparison Chart showing differences in polywires ropes tapes and braids

4. What colour should you use?

Poly wires and poly tapes come in many colours from white to black and all the colours of the rainbow.
When considering what colour will work best for you you take into account the surroundings of the paddock itself.
White is best in most cases with colours like orange and reds used for snowy areas. Some animals like horses can see particular colours better. Horses are said to see Yellows and Blues better than other colours.

5. What thickness should I use? (Poly wire, rope or tape)

Thicker polyrope and polytapes are generally more visible and safer than thinner products like poly wire and are better for re-cognitive values but have a tendency to flap in the wind more, resulting in increased wear and tear in windy areas. If you keep this in mind when selecting your electric fence insulators this problem can be overcome with smooth edged insulators that don’t damage your hot wires. So keep in mind the importance of the animal in questions in relation to the local weather conditions.
If you live in a windy area but have a very expensive horse you need to respect the fence, you may need to use a polytape and replace it at regular intervals or use a highly visible rope. But it would not be advisable you use a thin polywire. While the thinner polywire will last longer than the tapes it will not be as effective as the tapes for its designed purpose. A visual reminder and injury preventative tool. Every case is different.

Poly wire / hot wire :
Usually the thinner of the poly products it is generally like a thin polymer rope with metal fibres

Poly rope / hot rope :
Like poly wire this is just like a polymer rope but generally quite thicker. Highly visible and safer than thinner wires.

Electric fence poly tape :
Like it’s name suggest it is in the shape of a tape being thin and wide. This is the most visible out of the range of electric fence poly products.

Electric fence poly braid :
For a bit of added strength poly braid is the best.
Always keep in mind that an electric fence is not a physical barrier so tension is not always a factor.

Most poly product fences can be tensioned by hand, needing only enough to take any slack out of the wires or tape.

All our electric fence wire, braid, rope and electric fence tapes are U.V. stabilised for the harsh Australian environment.

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