Should I pack the volt meter?
You’ll need a voltage tester to make sure your Bear Sentry is working properly after set up and before bed. It’ll tell you if you need to troubleshoot for optimal voltage.
Voltage is the “pressure” that enables the fence to make an electrical connection with a bear (see How a Bear Sentry works).
The best and more likely scenario has the bear touching the polywire with its nose. That moist, bare skin will allow a relatively easy connection - “low voltage required.”
Warning signs are helpful because they attract curious noses.
But wild animals are unpredictable. If a furry body part hits the wire, hair will insulate the bear’s skin from the electrical charge. You’ll need more voltage. Pushing through 1/8” (3mm) fur requires about 5,000 V (the generally accepted ‘bare’ minimum rating for bear fence). However, it takes roughly 6,000 V for a Black Bear.
We don’t design for minimums, except for packable weight. The Bear Sentry energizer packs 10,000 V - think big, hairy Grizzly.
Even so, dry conditions - on the bear and underpaw - can lower this potential. Without moisture, electricity can’t make the leap or get to the ground stake as easily.
That’s why we include a tester with every Bear Sentry: you’re looking for optimal voltage. You can’t do much about the dampness of a bear (short of camping with a moat around you), but you can water your ground stake and even the area outside the fence where the bear would stand.
To use the volt meter, test the energizer first. Touch the metal clip on the meter to the positive (red) terminal and the probe to negative (black). The meter should blink dimly at 10,000 V in time with a clicking sound from the energizer (we explain this here). The light can be hard to see; best find some shade.
Next, stab the probe into the ground as deep as you can and touch the clip to anywhere on the hot line.
If you see much less than 10,000 V, water your ground stake at least.
(Other things to check for optimal performance are reviewed here).