10 Most Common Electric Fence Problems, Part 3

#5 Energy Leaks:  An energy leak is a small energy loss from the fence line to earth and can occur for a number of reasons.  Common reasons are heavy vegetation, debris, poor insulators, broken wire, or interference of neutral wires.   You should constantly be on the lookout for vegetation that is growing up near electric fence wires, especially during the wet season.  After storms, fence line should be checked for debris. Fallen trees and branches will cause energy leakage, and weigh on the fence line.  Poor insulators often result in energy leaks.  Be sure to purchase insulators that are UV-stabilized, since sunlight deteriorates inferior plastics.  Once the plastic is deteriorated it cracks.  Then energy leaks through and makes direct contact with the posts resulting in a voltage drop on your fence line. It is also important to buy quality underground cable.  Often folks experience hidden leakage because their underground cable is cracked or deteriorated.  Kencove offers a UV-stabilized, double-wall insulated underground cable for superior protection.  A broken wire or interference of neutral wires will cause significant energy leakage.  When your fence voltage drops be sure to search for broken wires, and examine bracing units for neutral wire interference.  Sometimes the diagonal brace wire is installed too close to the hot wires.  The wires do not necessarily have to touch; energy can jump a very narrow gap. This is also something to be thinking about when erecting corner brace units.  Installing a tube insulator on the hot wire near the diagonal cross section with the brace wire will save headaches in the future.  Energy leakage can be kept at a minimum by clearing vegetation, buying quality products, and careful fence installation.

#6 Induction:  Induction is very common with electric fences.  Have you ever touched the gate to open it and surprisingly got shocked? This is a result of induction.  The transfer of electricity from an electrified wire to a non-electrified wire, gate, or any metal object without physically touching each other is known as induction.  The only way to solve this problem is to ground the non-electrified wires or gates.   Induction has minimal effect on the voltage of the fence line and is more common in damp conditions.   Induction can also occur in ground beds as well.  Do not put your ground bed for your energizer near existing water lines, because your water could end up carrying an electric charge. In this scenario induction would be the transfer of energy from the ground rods to the water piping. Induction can also occur from large power lines.  If your fence runs parallel to a large high voltage power line, it could be electrified by induction.  So be cautious of this when building near high voltage lines. Although this phenomenon does not cause a reduction in voltage, it does explain shocking situations.

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12 Comments

  1. Posted May 21, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi,

    I need to run grounding wire and leadout wire out toward the pasture from my workshop. There is already a trench headed that way with the Pex piping for the watering system. I read everywhere not to install ground rods and leadout wire near water pipes so that you don’t electrify the water/pipe. I’m wondering if the problem is the water or the PIPE. Since it is non-conductive pex, is it safe to run the leadout wire in the same trench.

    I would have to jump through some major hoops to run the leadout wire and do the ground field and keep them 50′ from the water line. Because the water line is in a trench that follows a beeline from the closest corner of my building, to the closest corner of pasture. All kinds of rocks, hills, creeks, ravines, to cross with hundred’s of feet of leadout wire instead of using this one 100′ straight shot trench.

    I’m hoping you want to avoid metal pipes and the PEX makes it ok. Of course, there is a possibility that somewhere on that water line there is a brass connector that could take the electric from outside the pex pipe to the water inside the pipe.

    So is it electrical interference and stray voltage passing inside a water pipe through the water that is a problem, or passing through the metal material of a metal pipe itself that is a problem, or potentially both?

    Thanks,
    Erik

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted May 23, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Erik,
      You should not run the underground in the same pipe or vicinity as your water line. The water will act as a conductor and carry current through the water lines.

  2. virgil
    Posted May 11, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I have a peach tree the squirrels are stripping bare. I don’t care if they eat a few, just leave me a couple dozen! Anyway looking at making an armature to cary a wire up and around the tree. Would PVC pipe be good enough to stop leakage? Of course some branches and leaves will touch the wires? Will this be a huge issue? Tree is now about 15′ tall and 7-8′ spread. I’m going to have to go near the top to bottom as neighbor’s pine gives a “jumping off / too” point for tree rats. Only year I got ANY peaches was the year I wrapped the tree in chicken wire… this made the tree grow wonky, and was a mess to take down at end of season.

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted May 13, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Virgil,
      PVC will be a good insulator. If branches are touching the wire, there will be significant leakage. Just keep a measure on the voltage with a voltmeter.

  3. Heather
    Posted November 5, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I have a 10 mile electric box we are going to install on a shed for our electric fenced in pasture. The shed currently has electric going to it so we thought this would be a great way to hook up the box. We have to install a few ground rods but are concerned that there are underground telephone and underground electrical wires near the shed. There are no underground water lines though. Is this a problem? If so, how many feet away should ground rods be from underground electric and telephone lines?

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Heather,
      You need to make a 1 call to check for all utility lines. It is very dangerous and potentially deadly if you strike a electric line. Make the 1 call for your state and location.

  4. Troy Hutchinson
    Posted July 20, 2015 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    I have a 4 line fence currently not keeping my horses in. I have 4.1 – 5 kV right across the entire system. If I touch the hot wires and grab an existing neighbors fenceline picket I get one heck of a jolt BUT my horses are able to do as they please. The two miniatures easily get through the two bottom lines. So I disconnected the bottom line and converted it to earth. Now if I touch the bottom line and any of the actives I get a huge jolt BUT my horses still do not feel anything even thoough they are touching both lines as they calmly climb through….any ideas would be very much welcomed by both myself and my vege patch/ orchard. Troy.

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted July 27, 2015 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Seems as though the horses may just not care that they are getting shocked. You may need to add some extra wires, to tighten up the wire spacing.

      • Troy Hutchinson
        Posted August 3, 2015 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Lacy. I thought the same but have never seen a horse just ignore a shock before so felt I needed some guidance. Thanks again.

  5. Linda
    Posted November 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    How much distance should there be between an electric fence and a watering hole/pond (for horses) so that there’s no chance of the horses getting shocked?

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted November 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Depending on how large the energizer is, I would use 6-10″ as a good distance directly above or beside water.

  6. wayne lacour
    Posted August 2, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    I have 3.5 miles…3 strand electric fence with a 10J unit attached…recent issue…low reading at end od line,,,not dead..just very low…no breaks, no serious weeds, no nothing I could see…wooden post with black insulators good quality….etc…after hours of riding that fence twice finding nothing…I cut off each of four legs to help locate most likely section with issue…we have 4 sections with cut offs to each…so decided to put meter on each post, nail etc…long story…found about 200 insulators that fere draining the system by .2-.4….cracked or nailed in too tight ….can’t see crack…placing meter on nail head the small drain showed up times 200+ …I’ve replaced about 100 and first 2 sections are up to 9.6…another 100 or so in third and fourth section will do it….these insulators are 4 years old and have had very few issues in four years…I guess they are all about to go at the same time…lol
    Great blog here..thanks to all the post…..

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