FAQs - Hotline Electric Fencing Limited

This page contains a list of frequently asked questions related specifically to Hotline Electric Fencing Limited and their electric fencing products.

QUESTIONS:

 

  1. How long has Hotline been making energisers?
  2. What is a Hotline energisers life expectancy?
  3. How lightening resistant are they? And How moisture/humidity resistant?
  4. How can I check if my electric fence is working properly?
  5. How do they compare with American-made and New Zealand-made energisers in terms of Output power? Quality of components? Quality of construction? Safety? and Power consumption (cost to operate)?
  6. Can I earth the energiser to the earthing for the mains supply or the water pipes?
  7. Please explain the insect resistance feature.
  8. Explain Joules and how they are calculated by Hotline and rating possibilities from competitors
  9. Explain how the Joules rating is relative to the ohm load and how you create the load for testing purposes.
  10. How do we explain that, at times, our competitors use different levels of ohm load to state the Joule rating of their fencers? (Energisers)
  11. Explain the difference between stored Joules and output Joules.
  12. In the calculation that determines the Joule there are variables. How do you pre-determine values of the components of time, volts and amps to conclude how to reach the desiredJoule rating, i.e. if you wish to produce an 8 Joule unit what is the method of determining the levels of time, volts and amps?
  13. Break down and define the electrical properties on amps, volts, watts, ohms, joules, low impedance and capacitance and how they are related to fencers (energisers) and electric fence functionality.
  14. What are Hotline's manufacturing and assembly processes and materials do you think are positive selling points for your products that may be perceived as advantages over competitors?
  15. What are the mechanical properties and functions of the internal surge protection device? What happens to the device when a surge occurs, does it limit the power input, does it shut down the power and reset or does the device become dysfunctional and need to be replaced?
  16. Explain how the Radio Interference Suppression works.
  17. What is your quality control process? Do you ever do in-house testing if not what prevents you from putting out an entire batch of faulty product?
  18. What features/benefits do Hotline stress to their retailers & to their customers?
  19. What is Hotline's market position in UK, Europe, and in other countries?

 

ANSWERS:


How long has Hotline been making energisers? 

Hotline have been manufacturing energisers since 1968. We are the oldest energiser manufacturing company in the UK. 

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What is a Hotline energisers life expectancy? 

Life expectancy is at least five years. 

It really depends on how you look after your energiser. We receive energisers back for repair, which are between ten and twenty years old. Some energisers come back within two to three years, which have been mistreated. 

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How lightening resistant are they? And How moisture/humidity resistant? 

The MOV will help to protect all the mains energisers against lightning induced strikes on the supply. There are spark gaps fitted to the HP40, HP80 and HP120 to reduce the effect of lightning strikes. All other energisers should have a lightening arrestor fitted in the fence line. 

In areas of frequent lightning strikes the energiser should be disconnected from the fence and supply during electrical storms. 

The printed circuit board is coated in moisture resistant varnish with a fungicide added for use in tropical climates. The transformers are vacuum impregnated with varnish or potted. Also all energisers are tested by UL to a humidity of 90% at a temperature of 86 degrees F for 48 hours, water spray for two hours and hose down tests of 5 gallons of water per minute. 

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How can I check if my electric fence is working properly? 

Check your electric fence is working properly by using an appropriate fence tester that gives a volt reading. If you see 3000 to 4000 volts or more everything is working properly. 

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How do they compare with American-made and New Zealand-made energisers in terms of Output power? Quality of components? Quality of construction? Safety? and Power consumption (cost to operate)? 

Output power: At the time of writing the most powerful energiser we manufacture is the HP1200, which is a 12 (stored) joule energiser (The open-line output is 9000volts zero joules, at 500 ohms is approximately 3.6 joules 6000volts but at 100 ohms it is 8.75 joules at 3000volts.) 

As can be seen from the above figures the more load (lower resistance) on the fence the more work the energiser has to do to maintain a high voltage on the fence by transferring the stored energy to the fence. There becomes a point where the maximum amount of energy is transferred to the fence but the resulting voltage is too low to repel the animal. We are at present designing more powerful and efficient energisers. 

Quality of components: We use the best quality and UL approved components. 

Quality of construction: We also use the best quality UL approved materials in the construction of our energisers. One of the impact tests is to freeze the energizer to minus 30 C and then drop a two and a half pound steel ball on to the unit from a height of three feet and cause no damage to the unit under test. This is done at three different points on the unit. 

Safety: All energisers are subjected to output tests, and all mains energisers are flash tested at 4500 volts for two seconds. UL recommend flash testing to 1800 volts so we are testing to a much higher standard. 

Battery Energisers do not require flash testing but are tested for battery consumption and output. 

Power consumption (cost to operate): Based on rates of $0.085 per kilowatt Hour. A Mains Energiser rated at 2 watts would cost approximately $0.12 per month. 

The HP40, HP80 and HP120 all consume less than two watts. 

A 10 watt energizer would cost $0.62 per month. 

Battery Energisers: How long will my battery last? 

This depends on the ampere-hours of the battery and how many amps the energiser uses. A general guide is to divide the ampere¬hour rating of the battery by the current drawn by the energiser. (e.g. A 50 amp-hour battery and an energizer rated at 30 milliamps 50a/Hr divided by 0.03 amps = 1666.6 hours divided by 24 = 69.4 days divided by 7 = 9.9 weeks. 

Therefore a 100a/Hr battery at 30 mA would last twice as long). 

We strive to keep the current consumption to a minimum for the maximum output. 

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Can I earth the energiser to the earthing for the mains supply or the water pipes? 

No, in fact it's illegal to do so. You must install a separate earthing system. 

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Please explain the insect resistance feature. 

We currently use a golden varnish with an anti-fungal ingredient built in. 

Before we dip the PCB we hot melt glue across the pins of the Thyristor. The reason for doing this is that the high voltage released by the thyristor attracts insects. Thus shorting out the component, which causes the PCB to fail. This has greatly reduced failure rates coming back to us. 

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Explain Joules and how they are calculated by Hotline and rating possibilities from competitors. 
  • A JOULE is a measure of electrical work done (energy consumption) as in a UNIT of electricity (upon which the electricity tariff is based). i.e. A UNIT of electricity is 1,000 watts for one hour (1 kilowatt/hour)
  • A JOULE is 1 watt for 1 second Therefore 1 Unit of electricity is 3,600,000 Joules
  • A Watt is Amps (current) x Volts or Amps x Resistance squared. Therefore a Joule consists of volts, amps, resistance and time.

STORED Energy of a fence controller can be calculated by measuring the peak voltage across the storage capacitor and applying a simple formula (kilovolts squared times the value of the storage capacitor in microfarads divided by two) (kV² x C / 2) 

Some competitors state stored joules, some output joules and others maximum joules on the fence line or a combination, also the output volts are stated. 

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Explain how the Joules rating is relative to the ohm load and how you create the load for testing purposes. 

In European and Canadian Test Houses (CSA) and in the USA (UL) it is standard practice to connect a DUMMY LOAD across the output (500 ohms) in order to measure the output to make sure it does not exceed a limit set by the relevant standards. 

The Underwriters Laboratories do not state Joules but use a graph with a limit line on it, which utilises Amps, Peak Voltage and Time, all of which constitute the JOULE.
The maximum output allowed in Europe into 500 ohms is 5 Joules. 

The amount of pulsed energy (in terms of Joules) that an animal will receive at any given moment will constantly vary according to the electrical load (body resistance) that is imposed on the fence line at that particular moment of contact and not the maximum rated capability of the energiser itself. 

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How do we explain that, at times, our competitors use different levels of ohm load to state the Joule rating of their fencers? 

As explained above the maximum output in to 500 ohms is limited to 5 joules, this does not mean that this is the max output to the fence line. As the load (resistance) on the fence line increases so does the joules consumption (up to a limit where the energiser can no longer supply the demand), but the line voltage drops in proportion until a point is reached where in spite of a high joules rate the resulting low voltage may be insufficient to repel the animal. 

i.e. As the resistance decreases the energiser has more work to do to maintain an effective voltage on the fence line. Most animals require at least 3000 volts. Therefore some manufacturers state the maximum output of the energiser, which can be quite high, but do not say what the output voltage is. 

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Explain the difference between stored Joules and output Joules. 

The STORED Energy of a fence controller is the amount of energy stored (Stored Joules) in a storage capacitor, which is then discharged through the pulse transformer and onto the fence line. 

The OUTPUT Energy is the amount of energy in the actual pulse delivered to the fence line under load (Output Joules). 

It is very difficult for the consumer to measure. It requires specialized test equipment to be able measure output Joules. A very general rule of thumb is to assume that the pulse transformer is only about 75% efficient or less. Therefore if you multiply the stored energy by 0.75 this should give you a rough idea of the maximum output energy. We measure the output energy with the use of a storage oscilloscope and a computer. 

The actual energy of the pulse is calculated. With the formula V'mean/R x T where V'mean = V'total/number of samples. 

R is the load resistance in ohms and T is the Total pulse width in seconds. 

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In the calculation that determines the Joule there are variables. How do you pre-determine values of the components of time, volts and amps to conclude how to reach the desiredJoule rating, i.e. if you wish to produce an 8 Joule unit what is the method of determining the levels of time, volts and amps? 

Basically you would determine the values of components by mathematics and the use of preferred values. 

For Example you would need to charge a 30 micro-farad-capacitor to 730 volts for 8 stored joules (From the formula above (kV² x C / 2 0.73²x30/2=7.99joules). The pulse width would be determined by the impedance (resistance) of the primary winding of the pulse transformer, the lower the impedance the narrower the pulse. The output voltage would be determined by the step up ratio of the pulse transformer, 1:10 step up would give in theory for 730 volts in, 7300 volts out. 

Of course there are a lot of other factors to take into consideration but these are the basics. 

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Break down and define the electrical properties on amps, volts, watts, ohms, joules, low impedance and capacitance and how they are related to fencers (energisers) and electric fence functionality. 

  • Amps: Unit of current flow proportional to volts / resistance.
  • Volts: Unit of electrical pressure which causes current to flow. Volts =amps x resistance
  • Watts: Unit of power proportional to voltage x current.
  • Ohms: Unit of resistance proportional to volts/amps.
  • Joule: Unit of energy. One joule is one watt for one second.
  • Impedance: This is a measure of inductance, capacitance and resistance. i.e. The total effective resistance of the fence (Z). The effect of a heavy load on a high impedance pulse transformer would be to drop the output voltage to an unusable level. Whereas with a heavy load on a low impedance transformer the output would still drop but by only a small amount. Most of the energy is transferred from the storage capacitor to the load.
  • Capacitance: This is measured in Farads. Most capacitors used for storing the energy for electric fencing are in microfarads.



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What Hotline manufacturing and assembly processes and materials do you think are positive selling points for your products that may be perceived as advantages over competitors? 

The energizers that we supply are UL approved and/or comply with the relevant standards, in Europe: European/British Standards BSEN 61011 220V/110V, BSEN 61011-2 Battery, BS 60335-2-76 and relevant EMC Standards. 

All plastic parts are of polycarbonate construction. This is an extremely hard plastic, which will withstand temperatures of –35c. Flame retardant materials in the plastic prevent the plastic from burning. 

All mains energizers are flash tested and a record is kept on our computer system. All battery units are bench tested for current, speed and output voltage. All UL approved energizers are made to cover the risk of fire, electric shock and injury to individuals. All UL approved energizers meet these standards. 

We have a factory inspection from UL every three months. The inspector checks certificates of conformity and components used ensuring that all safety components used i.e. fuses, capacitors and transformers have the UL mark on them. This procedure is documented. Once a year batches of completed energisers are sent to UL to ensure they conform to the standards. The USA standard is UL 69. 

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What are the mechanical properties and functions of the internal surge protection device? What happens to the device when a surge occurs, does it limit the power input, does it shut down the power and reset or does the device become dysfunctional and need to be replaced? 

There are two protection devices fitted to all of our mains energisers, one being a metal oxide varistor (MOV) for over voltage protection and a fuse for over current protection. 

The MOV has a very fast response time and will clamp an over voltage spike and prevent it damaging any voltage sensitive devices within the energiser. If there is too much energy in the spike from a lightning strike too close, then the MOV could fail causing the fuse to blow protecting the sensitive electronic components in the energiser. 

The result would normally require a simple change of the two components and the energiser will be working again. 

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Explain how the Radio Interference Suppression works. 

Radio Interference Suppression works by slowing down the rise time of the output pulse. 

A pulse with a very fast rise time is made up of lots of different frequencies of a high power, all of which are very effectively transmitted down the fence line, which is a very good aerial. 

By limiting the rise time you are reducing the number of frequencies and the power in them. This is done by inserting combination of inductors and capacitors in the discharge path of the storage capacitor. All our mains energisers are sent to an independent Test House for testing to make sure they are within the limits set by the appropriate standards. 

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What is your quality control process? Do you ever do in-house testing if not what prevents you from putting out an entire batch of faulty product? 

All circuit boards are individually numbered and have a manufactured date code for easy trace-ability. All PCB are checked before the dipping process to ensure they are working and are of good quality. They are checked for dry joints and are set up for current consumption and timing. 

All energisers that are manufactured are individually tested as they are completed. This is to make sure they draw the correct amount of current and they operate at the correct speed. They also have the correct output voltage. All mains energisers are soak tested and flash tested. 

Hotline keeps a record of every tested energiser on a computerised system by serial number. The flash test consists of putting high voltage between the mains supply and fence line. This tests the isolation between the mains supply and the fence-line. The reason for this strict test is to ensure that the mains supply cannot get onto the fence line. 

UL insist on this test. 

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What features/benefits do Hotline stress to their retailers & to their customers? 

Reliability: We keep our designs simple but effective which keeps our returns very low. We still see energisers coming back to us twenty years old. 

Standards : All Hotline energisers have European or UL approval. 

Quality: All energisers are soap tested and checked for volts and current before leaving the factory. 

Warranty: Hotline offer a two-year warranty on all energisers. 

Information: Hotline pack as much information on products as we possibly can. 

General Display: The way we package all our accessories especially plastic posts in packs of ten and the green netlon packaging for the nets. All insulators have information telling the end user what it is used on. 

Service: Hotline offer a guaranteed 24 hr repair service for faulty energisers. 

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What is Hotlines market position in UK, Europe, and in other countries? 

Gallagher are the biggest manufacturer of Electric fencing in the world. We have been told they manufacture eighty thousand units per year. Horizont and Ako are the biggest manufacturers in Europe. 

There is not a lot to choose between Hotline and Rutland fencing for fourth spot. Hotline produced twenty thousand energizers during 2002. 

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