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Electric Slug and Snail Fence Kit for Raised Beds

Electric Slug and Snail Fence Kit for Raised Beds

Frequently Asked Questions

Question

Answer

How Does it work?

When a slug or snail touches both parallel wires a small electrical current provided by the 9 volt battery shocks them which results in their sensory tentacles retracting and then retreating away from the fence (video). Snail (Escargot) farmers have be using electricity for decades to contain snails inside an enclosure.

Is it difficult to install?

Depending on your level of experience working with tools it can take thirty minutes to one hour to install the fence kit on a 4' x 8' raised bed. Observe proper safety precautions when working with tools. Avoid touching the sharp ends of the fence wire and keep it a safe distance from your eyes. The majority of the installation time is stapling the wire to the wood. We provide detailed instructions and a mounting template.

What tools are required?

Small and medium phillips screwdrivers (#1 and #2 or 4-in-1 screwdriver)

Portable drill with 1/8" drill bit to drill holes for the screws (or use a nail and hammer)

T50 staple gun to fasten the stainless steel wire

Diagonal wire cutters to cut the stainless steel wire

Tape measure to center template on raised bed (optional)

Needle nose pliers to wrap the wire around the screws (optional)

Foam kneepad for comfort (optional)

What is the diameter of the stainless steel fence wire?

The diameter is .038" = 1 mm = 18 awg

What is the largest raised bed that can be protected?

The largest raised bed in our yard that is protected by an electric fence is 6' x 25' (perimeter 62' = 19 meters). Our largest kit we currently sell is for 12' x 24' (perimeter 72' = 22 meters). We have simulated an 80' x 80' (perimeter 320' = 100 meters) perimeter fence using resistors and the slug was shocked and retreated.

How do you attach the wire to the wood?

We recommend you uncoil and straighten the spool of wire before starting installation (instead of when stapling) on the raised bed. For a 50' standard wire kit (4' x 8' bed) cut the wire into two equal 25' length pieces to make it easier to handle. Follow the included documentation for wrapping the wire around the screws. Staple the wire about every 6 inches using a T50 staple gun.

What maintenance is required?

Remove any plant material that touches or creates a bridge over the fence wires allowing slugs and snails to bypass the fence. Top mounted fences can accumulate deceased slugs or snails on the wires and they should be removed to extend battery life. Depending on battery type replace or recharge the 9 volt battery when the voltage is less than 6 volts. Please recycle old batteries.

Check for broken wires and splice or replace as needed. The stainless steel fence wire can be cleaned with mild detergent and water. After the fence is dry test the battery. Chromium in the stainless steel wire reacts with oxygen to create a thin corrosion resistant protective layer of chromium oxide. If you see rust on the surface try using a mild citric acid (100% lemon juice) to remove exposed iron particles or WD-40. Contact us if you need to purchase replacement wire or ask your local hardware store. We use .038" diameter stainless steel wire.

What is the typical lifetime of a 9 volt battery?

It depends on the installation type (side or top mounted fence), number of snails or slugs, plants touching the wires, and moisture between the two conducting wires. The average battery lifetime for the fences in our yard is about 3 months. We have side mounted fences with batteries that have lasted all growing season (6 months). Please recyle old batteries.

What types of 9 volt batteries are compatible?

We have successfully tested our fences using both non-rechargeable (alkaline) and rechargeable (lithium-ion) batteries. We use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries on our raised beds because of the lower long term cost (and less waste) compared to disposable alkaline batteries.

Why not use solar power?

A high quality weatherproof solar panel would increase the cost and the complexity ("simplicity is prerequisite for reliability") of the fence to protect your plants in the shade and at night when the nocturnal snails and slugs are most active. The existing slug fence design with a lithium-ion battery can be charged hundreds of times and can last months between charges.

What is a self resetting fuse and why is it important?

A self resetting fuse is a current limiting safety device that protects the battery from overheating and the wire insulation from melting due to an accidental short circuit. It should never need replacement and will automatically recover after the short is removed.

How do I test the fence?

You will not be able to test the fence by touching with your finger. Snails and slugs have a mucus secretion on their foot which conducts electricity better than your skin.

If you have a voltmeter adjust the range for 10 volts DC (or next higher range) and place one probe on each of the 2 parallel wires (you may have to reverse the leads to measure a positive voltage). We recommend changing the battery if the voltage is less than 6 volts.

If you can find a slug or snail you can place them across the 2 wires to see how they react (relatively harmless to snails or slugs on side mounted fences).

Help - My fence is not working. What could be wrong?

Low voltage due to dead battery - Use a voltmeter to measure voltage across the two parallel wires and verify the voltage is greater than 6 volts DC. If lower than 6 volts remove battery and measure the voltage across the battery terminals and replace if necessary.

Low voltage due to low parallel resistance (short circuit) - Verify parallel fence wires (or staples) are not touching each other and remove any object touching both wires. The fuse will reset automatically after the short is removed.

Low voltage due to high series resistance (open circuit) - Check the fence for damaged wire. Verify spring lever wire connectors are making contact with both bare wires (end of battery wire and fence wire) by gently pulling on wires. If wire comes loose from connector then unlock lever (up position) and press wire into connector until it touches back of connector and then lock lever (down position).

Bayside, California USA

Last updated: May 28, 2018