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Top 5 Factors In Choosing The Right Polywire Or Polytape For Your Electric Fence

Table of Contents

Why use Poly Wire or Tape?

Poly wires, braids, ropes and tapes are primarily used in electric fences for their ability to improve the visual presence of an electric fence. Once an animal is aware of the electric fence wires, polywires and tapes clearly mark the boundary of any exclusion or containment zone.

Electric fence polywires, braids, ropes and Polytapes do two main jobs,

  1. 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.
  2. It is also used as a visual reminder of the boundary line of an electric fence
Basic electric fence diagram

The Safety benefits of electric fence polywire and polytape.

Another popular use for the poly range of wires and tapes is to fence valuable stock in safely, where the use of plain galvanized wire could cause heavy wounds and expensive vet bills like equine fencing. Horses are generally the worst for causing injuries while in panic and can benefit greatly from the use of highly visible Polytapes and round thick polyropes .

Poly Wires and ropes are also popular 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?

In electric fencing terms polywires, tapes, braids and ropes are known by many names and spellings such as hot wire, live wire, poly rope, poly braid, poly wire, hot tape, poly tape, tape rail, electric fence cord and many others but there are generally 3 types of poly electric fence wires used as named below:

  • Polywire- Thin, easy to use and great for short runs and strip grazing as it respools easily
  • Polyrope and braid– Thicker than polywire and usually better for longer fences. Ropes are twisted like polywire and braids are braided for added strength
  • Polytape– Highly visible and great contact area, the best for important fencing and can come in budget and high quality varieties.
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So how do I choose the right poly product for my electric fence?

Just as we closely inspect everything we buy, it is equally important to examine the qualities of polywires ropes, braids and polytapes prior to purchase. Poly Wires and tapes vary greatly in both quality and electrical properties and price is usually a good indicator of quality materials and proper U.V. treatments if purchased though a reputable supplier/manufacturer.

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

Where is it made and by who?

The best place for your products to be made is here in Australia.
While your product is designed for Australian conditions and generally of a far better quality it also supports jobs within manufacturing and agricultural industries along with others.
Where ever possible try to 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, Amazon and drop ship sites. 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 plastics and only last in the Australian sun and weather for very short periods of time.

Other quality cross checks:

There are several other quality factors that should be considered in your product choice.

Metal strands & fibres:

The most basic thing to consider is more and thicker wires are better and generally more expensive. There are 2 basic wire configurations on the market:

  1. Pure stainless steel wires: are mechanically stronger but less conductive than some other metals.
  2. Mixed metal strand wires (generally tinned copper wire):
    Can suffer deterioration if overworked (strip grazing) resulting in shorter lifespan but has far less resistance so keeps the high electric fence shock running for longer distances.

The make of the product.

  • Check that the poly wire or polytape is woven neatly. Look for a nice tightly bound or woven product
  • Loosely wound or woven poly products, usually found in cheap imported products, can fall apart very quickly.
U.V. Treated:

Make sure your poly product is U.V. treated. This means it has gone through a process to protect it from breaking down under ultraviolet radiation or sunshine. This is generally the cause of poor electric fence performance and breakages.

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 your electric 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 zap. You need to look for a product with low resistance values if your electric fence is going to be over a couple of 100 metres or if you require a full shock over the entire distance of electric fencing.

As you can see from the diagram below most ranges vary in resistance depending on the purpose and price of the electric fence tape wire or braid. 

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

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.

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 area itself and how visible you need the electric fence to be. Dogs are smart and dont require much of a visual reminder of the fence location so something that blends into your backyard surrounds is fine. Horses, while intelligent are fast and sometimes erratic so a highly visible tape, braid or rope is suggested that stands out from the surrounding backdrop.
White is best in most cases for high visibility with colours like orange and reds used for snowy lighter areas. Some animals like horses can see particular colours better. Horses for example are said to see Yellows and Blues better than other colours.

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

Thicker polyrope and polytapes are generally more visible and safer than thinner products like polywire. Thicker poly products are better for visual renforcement but have a tendency to catch more of the weather, resulting in increased wear and tear in windy areas and U.V. damage in sunny areas. For windy areas use a smooth edged electric fence insulator that won’t damage your hot tape and space your fence post closer together to lessen the winds effect.

While bigger is better, keep in mind the importance of stock and the containment or exlusion zone, the local weather conditions and your overall fence budget as the wire or tape can be a large part of the overall cost of an electric fence.
If you live in a windy area but have a very beloved horse that needs to respect the electric fence boundary, you may need to use a polytape and replace it at regular intervals or use a highly visible polyrope or braid. For a horse It would not be advisable you use a thin polywire. While the thinner polywire will last longer than the thicker tapes it will not be as effective as a visual reminder and injury preventative tool.

Every case is different and requires a different level of visibility, resistance and value for money.

Thinner Poly ropes, braids and wires are best used where visibility is not critical like pet containment electric fences or for such uses as strip grazing where it needs to be rolled up or moved around frequently. Generally thinner products will have less conductive wires so they are also great for shorter electric fence runs.

More on Electric fence poly tapes :

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.

Our Best Selling Electric Fence Polytapes

More On Electric Fence Poly Wires, Braid and Ropes :

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 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 and breaking strains are not always a factor.

Our Best Selling Electric Fence Polywires, Ropes and Braids

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

Top 5 factors in choosing the right polywire or polytape for your electric fence 1
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