LIVING in a spacious landed property is a dream for many.
However, having such a property comes with its share of problems – topmost being security.
Safeguarding their home and family from burglars has become a challenge for owners, who have security guards and guard dogs.
These days, many homeowners have resorted to installing electric perimeter fencing, as seen around older houses in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya.
StarMetro called on some owners of homes with these “thief proof” fences.
Mostly installed at corner units, thin electric wires were seen running across fences or walls with small signs that read “Danger”.
The owners spoke about what pushed them to instal electric fencing, while electric fence providers, the local authorities and the Energy Commission (EC) voiced their concerns about safety and the legal implications.
For safety’s sake
Kuala Lumpur resident Wong Hung Nung is among those who has installed electric fencing at his home.
Concerned for the safety of his wife and two daughters, he had been looking for a good security system when a friend suggested electric fencing.
Wong immediately surfed the Internet for more information.
“I found it to be a more attractive alternative to the conventional alarms and grilles.
“Grilles often block the view from windows and are not aesthetically pleasing.
“As for the alarm, by the time it is triggered, the burglar has most likely already entered the house.
“I wanted something that would act as a deterrent and prevent break-ins, ” he said.
In 2013, Wong engaged the service of a third-party contractor for RM21,000 to instal the electric fence around his 7,000sq ft home in Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur.
His neighbour Andrew Ng, who also had electric fencing installed, said robbers would normally be put off just by looking at it.
“Imagine two houses, one with electric fencing and the other without. Which one do you think a burglar is more likely to break in?
“The electric fence will surely scare burglars away, ” he said.
However, Ng said it was important for homeowners to get the approval of the relevant authorities before installing the fence, to ensure safety and prevent any untoward incident.
He suggested that they consult Energy Commission (EC)-licensed contractors for vital advice on the technical aspects of installing electric fencing.
The owner of a corner unit in Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he inherited the electric fence from the previous owner.
“The previous owner fixed it when the house was broken into in the past. We continued using it, ” he said.
The fencing, he said, had not killed any animal, such as birds or stray cats.
Admitting to having touched the wire by mistake once, he said apart from an immediate reflex to let go of the wire, he was not harmed.
“We were told that the electricity in the wire is of low voltage and it would not endanger humans or animals that can move away fast, ” he added.
The owner also said that the fencing did not contribute to a high electric bill as the electricity functioned round the clock.
A neighbour, he added, has followed suit and installed the electric fence to keep robbers away, especially during these economically challenging times.
Electric fence provider Efence Solutions Sdn Bhd director Kenny Yee said prior to giving its approval for the fencing, the Energy Commision would review the plan and later inspect the installation.
Only after the installation is approved will the provider get the green light.
“We submit the wiring plan to the commission.
“We instal only with the approval of the commission.
“Upon installation, the commission will carry out a site inspection, ” Yee explained.
The voltage that runs in the wire is between 1,000 and 9,000 kilowatt.
“It is known as the ‘hot wire’.
“You will immediately release your grip upon touching it but you won’t die as a result of this.
“As for animals, we have noticed that only those that cannot move fast or release their grip quickly will die, like snakes and lizards.
“We notice that they just stick to the wire.
“However, cats and birds are safe when they come in contact with the wire, ” said Yee, who has installed such fencing at the homes of dignitaries too.
Yee added that in his five years of installing electric fencing, he had noticed an increase in demand in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur and that the electric wires are installed during the renovation of landed properties.
“In the past, homeowners wanted to prevent wild animals such as wild boar or monkey from entering the houses.
“These days, the wires are installed to prevent burglars, ” he said.
He also said that there were enquiries from house buyers in new townships that were formerly forests, to keep wild animals out.“The problem is we have invaded the animals’ habitat by building our townships there, ” he added.
Meanwhile, licensed electric fence contractor Chan Boon Liang from Taman Tun Dr Ismail said many contractors were now offering installation service.
The key component of electric fencing, he said, was the energiser that would send a small voltage across the fence at one-second intervals.
“Once operational, the fence will deliver a small jolt to anyone that comes into contact.
“It will sting, but not enough to harm a person.
“You can also set the system to send an alert to your mobile phone when the fence is touched.
“That way, you will know if there was an attempted break-in, ” he added.
Chan said the wires could also cause a shock to animals such as dogs and cats, but does not harm them.
“The low voltage is not enough to hurt animals. The initial shock will only scare them away, ” he assured.
The Electric Fence Installation Guide issued by the Energy Commission in 2010 states that the fence must not be less than 1.5m above ground.
Applicants must also submit their property address, name of the contractor, a complete plan and technical specifications before an approval can be issued.
An Energy Commission officer will then visit the property upon installation to ensure compliance to the set standards before it can be operational.
Another matter to consider is who will be liable if an intruder is injured.