Almost every barn I go to has some electricity wired into the barn—refrigerators, mobile device power chargers, music, fans, wi-fi boosters/routers and surveillance cameras. Ordinances are usually observed, and the wiring appears safe. Most barns today have enough power in high amperage service to run many of the diagnostic equipment vets bring, the equipment in modern farrier trucks and the exercise equipment found in many barns today. But then some barns are looking for a reason to start a fire with non-coded electrical installations and miles of extension cords. They place the horses in life-threatening danger.
Electrical problems are one of the biggest causes of barn fires. Many stories come from attached apartments where a careless tenant left a stove on or used space heaters in the winter. Other causes of electrical fires include battery chargers (usually the bigger ones like a saw) or any other electric appliance.
I like to look at well-done electric rooms where the wires are organized and installed correctly in conduit. I hate seeing a barn full of fans linked together using cheap household extension cords. I hate it even more when these cords are left close to where a horse can chew on them (see the image in the topic “Dangerous things”). Some horses have died from this oversight, and one client claimed her horse was murdered this way. No kidding!
Thomas Edison hated the current we use today because he invented the DC indoor light bulb. He only wanted direct current (DC), but you cannot transmit DC any distance over wires. We all now use alternating current (AC) starting in the early 1900s (only 120 years ago!). In the “War Of The Currents,” Edison killed animals, including horses and dogs, on a public stage, trying to discredit the use of AC. AC was killing a lot of people, and this “war” between Edison (DC) and Westinghouse (AC) created all the safety measures we use today in transmitting high-voltage AC along lines and into our barns. You need to hire a qualified electrician to wire your barn.
Generators are noisemakers but are handy to have when the power goes out. The most common use is for the water pump, but you can also keep a filled pressure tank in your water system for emergencies. Another good reason for backup power is for electric fans in the summer here in FL.
Generators require fuel, and this explosive mix needs to be stored away from the barn. Many outdoor generators outside the barn have the fuel tank buried. A competent electrician should install generators because you do not want that generator feeding power lines outside the house and electrocuting a repairman working on the troubled line.
Here are some examples of generators I have seen on farms.
Side note – Solar panels with or without a battery storage system will also do the trick without the noise or volatile fuel.
If you are interested in a fascinating book on the development of electricity, get “Empires Of Light – Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, And The Race To Electrify America” by Jill Jonnes. On Audible too!
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