A brief history of electric fencing

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The concept of electric fencing dates back to early 19th-century fiction, where authors including Fanny Trollope, Jules Verne and Mark Twain wrote about the defensive possibilities of fencing charged with an electric current. The practical history of electric fencing, however, is even more interesting. In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at a brief history of electric fencing and its practical uses over the years.

19th century

The first instance of electric fencing being used for practical purposes was in 19th-century Texas, in which cattle ranchers experimented with electric fencing to prevent their cattle from escaping captivity. The fences were designed to cause the cattle less physical harm than barbed wire fences, but these early electric fence designs were extremely dangerous and impractical because they were charged with standard mains electricity. Unsurprisingly, the use of electric fences for farming was not widespread at the time.

20th century

In 1915, at the start of the First World War, the German Army created the ‘Wire of Death’, which was a 300km stretch of electric fencing that ran along the border between the Netherlands and Belgium to prevent people from crossing the border without authorisation. The wire was charged with several thousand volts and caused the death of nearly 3,000 people and livestock. During the Second World War, high-voltage electric fencing was used once again around the prisoner of war camps and concentration camps in Germany, England and Japan.

By the 1980s, the shock pulse and amperage from early electric fencing were significantly reduced to several milliseconds, which made electric fencing much safer to use. This allowed engineers to make the length of the wire charged by energisers much longer. With the addition of thin elements installed in woven plastic twines, ‘low impedance’ energisers were created, which are used by today’s reputable electric fence manufacturers.

If you’re looking to install electric fencing on your business premises, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.

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