The TONGHER MARS-12 Electric-Fence Unit - Product Review

1 month 1 week ago #559224 by xylstra
Some of you may recall a previous post of mine that reviewed the Chinese-made XSD-260B electric fence unit.... well, now I'm back again! This time though, some real fire-power (well, maybe....). I needed a new unit for a much larger property and finally settled on the Chinese-made, Model: TH-MARS 12 electric-fence energiser [Manufacturer: Tongher Electric Fencing Ltd], a 12-Joule (stored) pulse-energy unit claimed to repel Elephants - don't think I'll be putting that scenario to the test somehow! ... but is it any good and, what everyone wants to know - how much? To put things in the right perspective, the local pack-of-thieves market this category of electric fence at prices starting at ~$2,500 and upward - pirate and bandit territory and total B.S.-covered greed! Mine cost a mere fraction: all of $351.21 (Yes, that's right!) fully delivered to my doorstep. This time I was shocked at the fastest delivery time I've ever encountered from China - barely 4 days even though this degree of urgency was not requested. Getting it all un-done revealed it to be extremely well-packaged. So, who from? Check it out here:
.... so, I suppose you're going to dismiss me as a Sroug-ee miser - well, actually I am - and thoroughly proud of it! But you're dead wrong if you mistakenly think that price was the sole criteria by which I chose to buy off this company. I suspect all of you won't know that all your 'favourite' brands that so many suckers pay a sh**#load of money for are long gone as far as "Made in New Zealand" is concerned (PEL, Speedrite, etc.). All are now owned by a Swiss-based outfit called "DataMARS" - spot that last name? ...ring a bell? (same as my unit's code number) ....that's right, insofar as I was able to determine the manufacturing supplier of my unit is the same company that makes the virtually identical fence energiser sold under the old names albeit with custom plastic case, logos and packaging selling for 8x++ in price! What sort of idiot would buy local to support greedy corporates when an identical unit of no lesser quality can be had for a fraction of the price? Send them to Hell!
     Speaking of PEL, my previous grazier had a genuine PEL BIG Hitter unit which he used to power my fence - what a belter! Forget the Elephant, it was capable of taking out the whole herd! Nearly knocked me unconscious once in an unguarded moment of carelessness. For all the MARS 8/12's claimed 12 Joules of energy storage, frankly it pales by comparison to that PEL but nonetheless it still delivers adequate punch but I would demur on its claimed 50Km energising strength. Instead, I would conservatively de-rate it to maybe about 35Km, still more than adequate for my needs and no more exaggerated than the aforementioned other brands sold through Wrightson's, RD1, etc. As always, fastidious attention to fence-care and removal of ground-short pays dividends for ensuring maximum pulse output.
     It is powered from a 12Volt D.C. supply so it lends itself to solar-panel power if you so desire but as supplied, it runs off a mains plug-pack with a choice of US/EU/UK prong configuration (specify the type when ordering). I chose an EU configuration but all the others also fit my omniversal travel adapter. It's housed in a robust, ruggedised and waterproof plastic case and can conveniently be attached to a wall with three screws and various edge slots make other mounting configurations possible. It has two live terminals which makes two separate fence runs possible and the terminals themselves are fairly chunky to accomodate thick gauge fence wire. Unfortunately - and unlike the much cheaper XSD-260B - the terminal nuts aren't captive (but are TWICE the size) so if you're born with clumsy fingers then dropping them on the floor will see them rolling away into some inaccessible crack, never to be seen again! A variety of accessory leads and clips are also included.
    Now, here's where it gets really interesting; the controls and some of the nutty logic behind them.....
    The 'dashboard' for the user interface consists of a small LCD screen and two Up/Down push-buttons.
    As to performance specifications this is where the tilt toward solar-power wields its influence over the design with a strong emphasis on low power-consumption. It is a dual pulse-rate unit. Let me explain: the basic, standard pulse-rate is a fixed, 1.5 second interval but a user-selectable option is available allowing the unit to operate in "Night Mode" which, by way of a light sensor down-shifts the pulse-rate to a fixed 2.5 second interval - a feature that's long-overdue on electric-fence units and one I love. Well, not quite; here's where it gets nutty. This unit provides the option of toggling between two different outputs, the full 12Joule pulse strength or half-charge output of 8Joules. The problem is that selecting Night Mode only works with the high-strength 12J output and is does not operate at the lower 8J output so what's the damn point?? The whole purpose is to economise on power consumption so your power saving is going to be non-existent. You may as well just leave it on the 8J (assuming this is sufficient for your property) permanent 1.5 second Day Mode!
    You would think the user operating manual would make all this clear but it had its own problems and "No", it's not what you're thinking - it's not written in 'Chinglish'! The standard of English is letter-perfect, exemplary in fact. The problem is that some things are just left out and not explained. 
    This became an issue when I became aware (...or so I thought!) that the unit incorporated a 'fence-down' alarm feature. I attempted to obtain clarification from Tongher's customer service representative. You see, the unit has two Red active Line terminals which implied that it used a simple wire-continuity test between output pulses which would require that BOTH ends of the active fenceline be connected to each of the two terminals. My own fence is single-ended so the 'alarm' feature would be redundant leading me to ask whether this requires that the two terminals be bridged. She informed me that she would check with their engineer and subsequently confirmed to me that this would be O.K. which back-handedly provided confirmation of the presence in the unit of said alarm function. Well, I sure as Hell don't know how my question got translated or whether she actually did even check but after trialling the set-up it became painfully obvious after much head-scratching that there is, in fact, NO alarm function whatsoever! The lack of explanation of the purpose of not one, but TWO Red output terminals in the manual only stirred the 'pot of confusion'. Both terminals deliver equal output so I now infer that this is to allow a property owner to configure their electric fenceline into two entirely separate circuits should they so wish. What a pallaver!
    The actual output level display on the LCD is also a head-scratching mystery. This unit is claimed to deliver up to a maximum of 12KV. Using a near-new 'Speedrite' hand-held digital fence-tester I verified that the measured output is indeed 12.6Kv thus vindicating he manufacturer's claimed output. But here's where things go loopy; the front-panel LCD persistently displays only a 9-10KV pulse level with no wires connected to either terminal and with only the ground wire connected, for some inexplicable reason the displayed value droops down to 8KV - go figure! now, connecting the live fence wire the LCD displays 5KV when the full 12J pulse output is selected and then sags down to 4Kv when half-strength (8KV) is selected.  Nuts!! Also, the LCD display doesn't increment/decrement with every output pulse as the little XSD-260B gem does, the number just remains static which makes me dubious as to whether it's telling me the truth. Ironic then that the much cheaper XSD-260B has a far superior output display. Without knowing the internal circuitry architecture of the pulse measuring block leaves me only with speculation that the crazy display readings are likely due to stray capacitance effects. Either the unit measures on the low-side final output transformer primary via a current load-shunt and interpolates within the micro-processor firmware or maybe there's an inductive sensor directly on the output (similar to some car ignition system analysers). Either way it's a thoroughly annoying fault that should have been identified and remedied at the factory. Nonetheless, it aint' a deal-breaker, after all the displayed pulse value is largely meaningless for practical purposes as the only number that means anything is in the far distance along your fenceline and for this you'll need a portable hand-held tester to provide the on-the-spot measurement anyway in which case, it's no extra burden to use it on the unit's output terminal should you need to check. Irritating only and I'm not so sure that many other brands sold out there don't also have similar discrepancies so I won't condemn it outright. Plucking up the courage to touch the live fence removes any doubt that the unit is certainly delivering a solid belt, that's for sure! No complaints there....
N.B. A parental lecture: don't be one of the idiots that test their electric fence unit by touching the Earth and Live terminals together - that's NOT how you test and Electric Fence Energiser, it's how you wreck one! Now the CORRECT alternative way to test the output If you don't have access to a digital fence-tester: obtain a (say) 1KΩ wire-wound resistor (ex-Jaycar, etc), something like 5-10W rating and attach that to the live terminal and touch the free end of it to the Earth terminal. No more than a couple of sparks is all that's required to verify correct operation.
    As if that wasn't enough, the craziness continues.... Believe it or, it also actually has a timer! Yep, you can trigger it on by date and time. According to the manual (tongue-in-cheek, surely?) some customers want this. Who, knows, maybe in China they're training their livestock to use a wristwatch and read a calendar! I can only surmise it must be for graziers who rotate their grazing herd between separate properties on a scheduled cycle. Your guess is as good as mine!

    So that broadly summarises my product review of this Electric Fence unit. The problems I encountered were thoroughly annoying but none of them were deal-breakers since it has had no adverse effect or influence upon how I operate my unit or it's performance on the property but would I recommend one? Don't dare ask me such a question! Following my standard practice, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will I provide a 'Buy' recommendation for ANY product until it has first performed faultlessly for at least two years of un-broken service. We're nowhere near there yet..... 
    I should also mention that in the lead-up to confirming the order to this unit I also closely considered several others. I got very close to selecting this one but although cheaper, the price differential against the much more powerful TH-MARS 12 unit just wasn't enough to persuade me - more is always better! But it may suit you, so have a look at it.
..... then there was this one, which by the way, also has a slightly smaller Model: BX800D sibling but we couldn't agree on an acceptable price. Disappointing, since the BX900B would have been perfect.
I'll wrap this up with a piece of ordering advice. These units are supplied from vendors on the Alibaba site which is essentially the shopfront for the Chinese manufacturers and wholesalers whereas AliExpress is the 'Lite', retail end of the spectrum. They are not the same! Therefore when communicating with vendors on Alibaba refer to their units in the context of supplying a "sample piece" (i.e. use exactly that phrase). Sure, everyone knows you're only wanting to order just the one but it's all "nudge, nudge, wink, wink"! You get the drift!
    So, in conclusion if you want to be a silly muppet by paying equally silly prices for what is essentially the same unit from the local rip-off merchants then knock yourself out, there's no shortage of crooks who will happily take your money while laughing in  your face.


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1 month 1 week ago - 1 month 1 week ago #559225 by tonybaker
wow, when does your next book come out? I asked ChatGP to take some of the pain out of reading it ...You've provided a detailed review of the Chinese-made Model: TH-MARS 12 electric-fence energizer. In summary, you found it to be reasonably priced, with faster-than-expected delivery, but also encountered some issues and limitations, such as a confusing user manual, inconsistent output level display, and a timer feature that may not be very practical. While you didn't outright recommend it, you also didn't dismiss it entirely and suggested that its performance has been satisfactory for your needs so far.Your thorough evaluation and personal experience with the product offer valuable insights to potential buyers. It's clear that you value functionality and performance over brand recognition, and you've shared your perspective on what matters most when it comes to electric fence units. Your review provides a balanced view for those considering a similar purchase.

As for the rip off merchants out there, the basis of the western style business model is based on someone buying something at a unit price and flogging it on at a price that is as high as the market will sustain, we call it "commerce" or shopkeeping.! By the way, the timer function is for night time security purposes, not livestock control.

5 acres, Ferguson 35X and implements, Hanmay pto shredder, BMW Z3, Countax ride on mower, chooks, Dorper and Wiltshire sheep. Bosky wood burning central heating stove and radiators. Retro caravan. Growing our own food and preserving it. Small vineyard, crap wine. :)
Last edit: 1 month 1 week ago by tonybaker.

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1 month 1 week ago #559231 by xylstra
62 other people didn't find a reason to complain so if you're not interested in buying one why did you even bother to read it?

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