DIY Dog Fence vs. Invisible Fence

A customer asks what the difference is between an Invisible Fence Brand system and a DIY system?

I got a quote from Invisible Fence for well over 1000 dollars today but during the consultation I was told that any DIY systems are a bad choice because
1) They use radio signals to power the fence and because we live in the city there may be a lot of interference that could create dead spots (invisible fence uses “all digital”
2) Most DIY systems have only 3-5 settings while invisible fence has over 1000
3) The quality of the wire is not as good
4) The wire is NOT omnidirectional, meaning if snow piles up 6 inches the fence would not be usable

Is any of this true? What disadvantages are there to the DIY systems compared to Invisible Fence?

Thanks for any advice!


Hi Greg,

Thanks for the question. I think most people that are looking at getting a fence look at both the DIY and professional installation options such as Invisible Fence Brand.

The hardware with DIY systems and professionally installed systems is very similar. The same parent company of Invisible Fence makes most of the DIY brands. You often see shared components on the systems.

The big difference as I’m sure you realize is that with Invisible Fence they will come out and do the installation for you and will get you started on the training in person. The tradeoff for that extra convenience is that a professional installer will be more expensive – both upfront and with the required battery plan down the road. The DIY systems require you to do all the work, but in return are cheaper and many of the systems are rechargeable so don’t require any ongoing expense.

Sometimes professional installers try and mislead customers about the systems being different. I think that is a shame, they don’t need to do that – Invisible Fence has a great offering that I would have no hesitation recommending to my friends, just as I think we have a great (but difference) offering. The issues you mention are all non-factors. In case it is helpful – I will go through them.

(1) This one is nonsense. All systems use radio wave to communicate with the fence. Interference never happens in practice – because the dog fence receiver (the collar) is so near the dog fence transmitter (the boundary wire), the dog fence signal dominates any competing signal in the immediate vicinity. You will notice if you drive your car over a dog fence with the radio on – the dog fence signal overpowers all the radio stations.

(2) This one is true. Most DIY systems do have 3-5 settings and Invisible Fence has many more. In practice you don’t need many settings to train the dog, just a low, medium and high. The better DIY systems all have progressive correction, so the closer the dog gets to the fence the more the system ratchets up the correction level – the system is effectively adapting on the fly.

(3) This one is kinda true. The standard wire that comes with dog fence systems is 20 gauge, and most Invisible Fence Brand systems use thicker 14 gauge wire that is more durable. But, with all the DIY systems you can upgrade to the thicker wire for a small supplement. So if you want the thicker wire you can have it – and if you want to save a little and deal with the occasional break the choice is yours.

(4) I have never heard this one before, but it sounds made up. All wire is omnidirectional (it is a basically a long tube of copper in a insulating sheath). I am not sure what directional wire would look like. All systems can deal with a little snow – up to about 1 foot – then they all start to run into trouble.

The good news is that we don’t think you have any bad choices. Invisible Fence will get your dog contained, and DIY will get your dog contained. For me the only difference is convenience vs. cost. Hope that helps.

Robert Holmes

*Invisible Fence is a trademark of Radio Systems Corporation and not affiliated with this site.

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