Wired vs. Wireless Invisible Pet Fences

Pets love the outdoor life, but you don't always have time to be there to watch over them.
There's no doubt that an invisible pet fence is an excellent way of keeping your pets safely contained within your property, while still allowing them the freedom to play in the yard without needing constant supervision.

That your pets enjoy a vastly better quality of life by being confined indoors is a compelling reason for purchasing an invisible fence. However, there's one important question you must ask yourself before choosing an invisible fence: Do you want a wired or wireless system?

Both systems have their benefits and downsides, so we sought the advice of experts including installation technicians, professional pet trainers, product experts, and existing pet fence users.

Wired vs. Wireless Invisible Fence - Installation
Wired: A wired pet fence is relatively easy to install. The simplest installation is to just lay the wires on the ground and let grass and leaves slowly cover it. However, to protect the fence from damage or breakage it's best to bury it, which typically means digging a trench. This is labor intensive and time consuming, particularly around larger properties.

Wireless: A wireless pet fence is very easy to install. Simply find a central location for the transmitter and then set the desired boundary size.

Verdict: Wireless

The PetSafe Little Dog Fence is a wired pet fence system
Wired: Properties' boundaries are usually rectangular and wired fences can be run to the very edge of the entire perimeter, thus making the whole property a safe zone for a pet.

Wireless: Wireless systems work by a transmitter sending out a signal in a radius from its central location. This circular safe zone may not cover every corner of your property.

Verdict: Wired

Perimeter's wireless fence uses WiFi technology
Wired: Driveways, pathways and other solid constructions that cross the perimeter of a property present a problem when laying wire. You may have to use special cutting equipment to bury wires across them.

Wireless: The wireless system can set the boundary anywhere.

Verdict: Wireless

Wired: You can make the containment boundary any shape you wish. By running the wire around pools, ponds, flowerbeds, etc. you can designate areas as 'out of bounds' zones.

Wireless: You cannot create exclusion zones with a wireless system.

Verdict: Wired

Wired: Wired fences can easily cover areas up to 25 acres in size; the boundary is really only limited by your imagination.

Wireless: At present wireless technology limits wireless systems to a few hundred feet of coverage at most.

Verdict: Wired

From an installation point of view there seems to be little to choose between a wired or wireless fence. Both systems have a similar number of upsides and downsides, so ultimately you should base your decision on the criteria that apply directly to you.

The Wired vs. Wireless Invisible Fence - Operation

Wired: Rugged characteristics. The base unit has only got to be protected from the harshest elements so it can be placed out of the way in a garage or shed.

These two aren't bothered whether it's a wired or wireless fence, as long as they can play outside all day
Wireless: Delicate technology. The base unit needs to be kept indoors.

Verdict: Wired

Wired: Highly dependable. Except for a power-out or if a wire is completely severed the boundary wire never loses its signal and the system will work flawlessly. However, if a wire does break it can be very difficult to locate the problem area, particularly if the wire is buried.

Wireless: More susceptible to losing signal. As well as power outages the system can lose its broadcast signal if there is any interference. Interference can include metal objects (aluminum shed or siding), electronic equipment (television, radio), dense trees, or rises and drops in the land that prevent 'line of site' communication.

Verdict: Draw

Wired: If the system does fail for any reason, nothing happens to the pet.

Wireless: If the system does fail for any reason the pet will receive a corrective input from the collar, even though it hasn't attempted to cross the boundary.

Verdict: Wired

Wired: Reconfiguring the boundary is very time consuming and labor intensive, particularly if the wire is buried. If you plan on moving house or altering your property (build an extension, add a pool) a wired system can be a hindrance.

Wireless: Very portable and can be moved and reset within minutes.

Verdict: Wireless

The actual day-to-day operation of wired and wireless invisible fences are very evenly matched for pros and cons. The wired systems outscore the wireless systems in reliability but lose out when it comes to maintenance and mobility.

Wired vs. Wireless Invisible Fence - Conclusion

A happy owner with happy pet

Installation specialists preferred wired systems for their dependability, product experts leaned towards wireless systems due to the features they offer, professional trainers favored wired fences because of their accuracy in creating boundaries, and existing users liked the simplicity and portability of the wireless systems.

People seemed to like the system that best addressed the criteria at the top of their individual lists and perhaps this should be the deciding factor for you too. Identify the requirements you want form an invisible fence and get the system that checks all those boxes - if you live in the middle of town you probably don't need 25 acres of coverage, if you frequently move because of your job it's doubtful you'll want buried wires. Find the system that best matches your specific needs and you'll be more than satisfied. Chances are you'll be happy with either a wired or wireless system, but by getting the perfect one for your home your pets will be doubly happy.

By John Bone
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