Unboxing the WiFi Fence
The Perimeter Technologies Wifi Fence is a new wireless fence that is designed to have a longer range the previous PetSafe Wireless system and have a couple of neat new features like enabling two way communication between the collar and the base station.
PetSafe has had a wireless dog fence system, the PIF-300 out since 2004. This base station creates a circular field. You can set the radius of that field, from 10 to 90 feet, but it is always going to be a circle. The PetSafe is decent, though not anywhere near good as a wired system. The lure is that you press a button and you are up and ready to go. How it works is it sends out a radio signal out from the unit. The dog wear a collar. When the collar gets out of signal range it gives the dog a warning then a correction.
Here are some of the drawbacks:
You can not really direct the radio waves, you can only get a circular boundary. You also get lots of interference problems, it will only work in certain homes, and can have trouble getting through obstacles particularly metal. And when this happens the collar can get triggered in unintended places. Also the boundary is vauge, the boundary line can shift a few feet back and forward with no rhyme or reason making it harder to train the dog. And the biggest complaint people had was the range is too small. A 90 foot maximum radius is just too small for most people. The Wifi is a 2009 attempt to make a better dog fence. It uses the WiFi protocol, like the wireless router you use for your internet. The idea was to have a smarter collar that could not only receive the signal from the base station but could communicate back. The Wifi promised a 200 feet of range, taking the coverage from half an acre to over two acres. The first thing you notice when you get the box is how small and light it is compared to the PetSafe. It also has this very modern web 2.0 look to it.
Opening it up, you will see the transmitter also has that very modern look, with an elegant arcing and a simple controls. The transmitter is also a lot smaller; which is great because if you have to keep this in your house, you do not want this monster.
You control the unit using an easy to use menu system using these arrows. The system has 8 correction levels and a beep only level. You also set the boundary radius using this control pad.
Around the back of the system, you notice an inbuilt recharger with two slots. One slot is for the system battery which powers the unit in case there is a power failure. The second slot is used to recharge the collar battery. Recharge time is about 8 hours. They are both lithium ion batteries which should get you a lot of use, but as you can see they are removable, so if you ever need to replace them it is easy. They say you get about 300 cycles of charging and discharging on the battery, so it should last you about five years, that seems plausible but it is too new to tell for sure. The collar for the Wi Fi is much bigger than the PetSafe, so you should not use this on any dog under 15 lbs. The unit does however look like it has much better waterproofing and just feels a lot more solid. You unscrew this section here to insert the battery.
The first time you start up the system you need to pair the collar with the system. These new systems can handle two collars at the same time, unlike the PetSafes which have no limit on the number of collars. Each collar can have the correction level set independently here at the base station so there is no problem using it with a big dog and a small dog. The collar communicates with the base station, so when you look at the base station it can tell you cool things like how far away the dog is, and can alert you when the dog challenges the fence so you can go out and investigate.
All sounds good. But we have had a lot of problems with these units. The first is to do with dropouts, we have heard a lot from customers that the system will report the collar being out of contact seemingly randomly, even when the collar is right there in front of the unit.
The second issue is that the boundary is very imprecise. We sometimes see the boundary moving 3-5 feet minute to minute, so training the dog to use the system is more difficult than an inground fence where there is very little movement. Finally, it has a lot of trouble with obstacles. It just does not work in some homes, getting through the walls. In particular it does not work at all where there is metal siding or a metal roof. It does not play well with sloping lots or with trees. For all those reasons it is just not something that we can recommend
One day there will be a great wireless system and you will not have to bury boundary wire, but this is not the product. It has some cool features, but just does not do the basics well enough to use on your dog.