The evolution of the solar energizer
Tuesday, 15 June, 2021
For more than 20 years, we have led the way in the development of solar powered energizers. And there are no signs of it slowing down.
Gone are the days of relying on heavy battery powered energizers to keep stock where they should be. Lugging 12-volt batteries around the farm that need to be regularly checked and replaced is a thing of the past.
Solar technology has changed the way farmers power up their fences and given them a truly self-sufficient source of power they can rely on.
As one of the first to introduce solar powered energizers to New Zealand in the mid-1990s with the S17, our Global Marketing Manager Mark Harris explains: “The S17 was about the size of a 10-litre bucket and was powered using a basic gel cell battery,” he says. “A solar panel harnessed the sun’s power needed to run the unit, but even the panel had to be large to capture the energy needed to discharge it.
“It was a very simple product. It used a basic circuit that would slow the battery down when the power was getting low. But it was really hard on the batteries, which could only be recharged a few times before they needed replacing.”
Since the move away from external battery powered units, solar has gone from strength to strength as technology has advanced. Solar panels have become smaller and more efficient, and battery technology has improved.
In 2014 we launched our second generation of Gallagher solar energizers, the S10, S16 and S20 family.
“We scaled up the technology and built-in micro-processor control circuits to track the solar energy coming in and operate the units in the most efficient way, even in low sunlight,” says Mark.
“We also managed to reduce the size of the energizers by half, so they were much smaller and lighter than the S17, but still incredibly robust.”
By embracing the latest battery technology, we have replaced heavy lead-acid batteries with lightweight lithium iron phosphate to create an even more powerful solar electric fence energizer.
“The S12 Lithium is half the size of where we started with the S17,” says Mark. “It performs even better with a lithium battery and built-in smarts to adjust output voltage when battery is running low to protect the longevity of fence performance.
“The small compact design provides lightweight portability, yet heavyweight performance. It is easy to transfer power around the farm and give farmers peace of mind knowing their livestock are where they are meant to be.
“The icing on the cake is that the S12 Lithium uses half the plastic required by its predecessor the S10 - saving 28 tonnes of plastic each year*.”
S12 Lithium was 18 months in the making, with more than 300 farmers having input into the initial product concept.
“You can’t put a price on involving farmers in a product’s development,” says Mark. “After all, they’re the ones using it out on farm so they know what works and what the issues are. Many of the features of the S12, like its built-in earthing lead, were included to resolve issues farmers told us they were having.”
Today, solar technology is a core part of Gallagher’s product offering and there is still room to grow.
“With more than two decades of development behind us, our team have a reputation for being the best in the business. But they are not resting on their laurels. New ideas are always in the pipeline and we will keep working with farmers to make sure they have the technology they need to run a profitable, sustainable business.”
* * Based on S12 annual sales forecast