Heavy Gauge Wire – Is It The “Wise” Choice
What many of you may not know, is that our parent company Radio Fence Distributors, Inc. Once owned and operated the PetSafe Professional Installer group. We recruited and trained all of the professional underground fence installers within the USA, helped develop new products and offered ongoing technical assistance and training to all PetSafe Professional installers. We are experts on all things related to underground fencing and underground fence installation, and as experts we can tell you that thicker gauge wire is, in most cases, an absolute waste of money. It is a marketing gimmick, and with the exception of only very limited situations, it provides absolutely no value to your customer.
Sadly, this is a problem of our own creation and it will not go away. In the early days of the PetSafe Professional group, things were very tough for the installers. They were going head to head with the Invisible Fence Company (now owned by PetSafe) and it was very much a David vs Goliath situation. The PetSafe Professional’s were offering their customers the exact same product that could be purchased at Wal-Mart in a do it yourself kit at a much lower price. Long story short, one of the ways that we differentiated ourselves from Invisible Fence and from the retail kits in Wal-Mart was, you guessed it, heavy duty wire.
In those days, the PetSafe retail kits came with a very flimsy looking 20g stranded wire, and quite honestly it wasn't the best. Stranded wire is inferior for many reasons, but the fact that the individual strands could break very easily was the biggest problem. Simply switching to 20g solid core wire would completely solve the problem, and eventually that is exactly what PetSafe did. However the perception of inferiority would remain. Instead of fighting this uphill battle, we simply switched to 18g solid core wire with a thick insulator, and the wire wars began. Next thing you knew it went to 16g, then 14g and some even went to 12g. The idea was that the thicker the wire, the less likely it is to break and fewer breaks = Good! The truth is, thicker wire means more semi-precious metal in the ground and more wasted money for the customer. The insulator around the wire is much more important than the thickness of the wire itself. You can use wire that is 10” thick, but if the insulation is somehow breached and the wire exposed, the system is still going to fail, even if the wire is completely intact.
When this type of failure occurs, it is extremely problematic because the system is going to act as though there is a break, yet you will not be able to find any break, because there isn’t one to be found. This is where thicker wire actually becomes a huge problem. In this example, if the wire that was used had been a 20g solid core wire, and the insulation was broken, the wire most likely will have broken as well. You would then be able to find the break and repair it with a 50 cent waterproof splice. However, because it was a much heavier gauge, the wire did not break and now all of the wire will need to be re-buried at a cost of $60 - $100 or more for the wire, and another wasted weekend for the customer. Some distributors want to sell their “Wise” wire option, but as you can see, an educated and knowledgeable distributor and retailer can best advise customers and help them avoid the very unwise extra expense and hassle of using heavy gauge wire.
To be fair, as we mentioned, there are some very limited times where a heavy gauge wire may be useful. If the wire is going to be installed in pasture where there will be livestock, or an area with a large deer or moose population, it could be useful. But again only if the insulation is upgraded as well, as we have done on our Heavy Duty Wire (RFA-1, RFA-500, RFA-1K and RFA-1000). However, simply burying the wire deeper in these situations will accomplish the same thing.
In the end, Essential Pet Products has had many requests over the years for us to offer heavier gauge wire options, and even very recently we have considered it, if only to provide our customers with what they have asked for. Yet we continue to resist for all of the reasons explained in this article. Often times it is easier to just give in and provide what is being asked for, and in the case of the wire it is something that would be very profitable and beneficial to Essential Pet Products, but would it benefit our customers (You) and would it truly benefit your customers? No, we honestly do not think it would. The decision is ultimately yours to make, but in our opinion it is best to properly educate your customer, rather than take advantage of a long held misconception. As always, we welcome your feedback and invite you to reach out with any questions or concerns.