10 Most Common Electric Fence Problems Part 1

For me it goes back to the old saying, “You don’t really know a subject until you have to teach it”. I have been repairing and building electric fences with my Dad for our beef herd and sheep flock as long as I can remember.  However, it did not take much time as Quality Assurance Manager at Kencove Farm Fence for me to understand exactly how the simplest issues with an electric fence project can be prevented.    Electric fencing is the most efficient fence in terms of cost and installation.  Technology is constantly changing to make each project easier and easier.  The same problems need to be avoided whether we are charging high-tensile, soft smooth wire, or twine fence.  The next few blog posts are meant to reassure folks that electric fencing failures can be prevented.  Continue to follow the blog as we discuss the top ten most likely problems with electric fence projects.

#1 Poor Grounding:  An electric fence must complete a circuit in order to shock.  We should be generous when it comes to the grounding system for our fence project.  Installing at least 3 galvanized ground rods 5’ deep, 10’ apart creates and adequate ground bed for most small energizers. It is very common for people to install 3’ of ground rod for every joule of output energy.  So if you are using a 3 joule energizer you should install at least 9’ of ground rods. Typically this would mean using 3- 3’ rods spaced 10’ apart to create a large ground bed.  Large ground beds in moist soils are the most effective.  Ground rods should be connected using good ground rod clamps.  Be sure not to mix metals when connecting your rods.  For example attaching steel to copper causes a reaction called electrolysis, which will corrode connections, reducing the shocking potential. Be safe; use stainless steel wire, galvanized ground rods, and brass ground rod clamps.   If at any point you can measure a significant voltage at your ground rods, your ground bed is not large enough.  Keep in mind you can never have too good of a grounding system and soil conditions do have an impact.



#2 Undersized electric fence charger (Energizer):  An undersized fence charger creates an ineffective fence.  If you don’t size your electric fence charger correctly animals will only see the fence as a physical barrier not as a pain or psychological barrier. Basically the fence does not stand a chance without an adequate charger.  So, how do you size an energizer?  Start by identifying what type of animals you are fencing, how much fence and what types will be energizing, and will there be heavy vegetation on the fence line? Most animals can be easily contained with 3,500-5,000 volts.  Choose a low-impedance (narrow pulse) energizer according to output joules.  The higher the joule rating, the greater shocking potential over a longer fence line and weed loads.  Use caution when buying an electric fence charger based solely on the information on the box.  Energizer companies use mileage ratings as a marketing tactic.  Many energizer manufactures establish mileage ratings for their products, such as an energizer that will charge 50 miles of fence.  This energizer might charge 50 miles of golf course fence. Always, always base your purchasing decision off of output joules and a reputable product specialist. For more information on choosing an energizer check out our recent blog post about Volts vs. Joules.

Kencove Energizers


Does your electric fence problem make the top 10 list? Check back as I describe the problems I have found to be most common!


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  1. Terry
    Posted February 25, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Gallagher M120 No output voltage but Red light flashes. Fence OK indicator not lighting. Input fuse OK. Any help appreciated.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 27, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Hello Terry, you can send your energizer in for repair! Simply mail your energizer to 344 Kendall Rd Blairsville, PA 15717 Attn: Dean. Please include your name and phone number. Dean, our technician, will take a look at your unit and give you a call with the repair estimate. We typically have energizers repaired and shipped in a week.

  2. lisa
    Posted February 25, 2017 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    hi is there no current if the ground is drought stricken

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 27, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      Hello Lisa, you are correct, if the ground is dry or frozen the fence can not complete the electrical current. You need the water in the ground to complete the electrical current. If the water is frozen or there is no water, you can not complete the ground part of the electrical circuit. Are you having problems with your ground bed?

  3. Jonah
    Posted February 25, 2017 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    I have a daken mt60 showing err 3 for the 4th time. What would cause this fault

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 27, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Hello Jonah, we are unfamiliar with this unit. If you would like our Energizer Technician to take a look at your unit please send it in to 344 Kendall Rd Blairsville, PA 15717 Attn: Dean. Please include your name and phone number on the energizer.

  4. Kurt Steinert
    Posted February 20, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I live in Vermont and right now my fence is almost completely covered in snow and the bottom two wires are buried, and in some cases three out of 4. I know it’s not delivering much of any charge right now, but I am wondering if it could be draining off electricity, as our electric bill has spiked. Is the amount of energy the charger puts out a constant, or can it vary based on the grounding situation? I do have a bunch of water heaters on at the moment, so I’m sure that’s using lots of energy, but want to make sure the fence couldn’t be a source of problems.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 21, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Hello Kurt, you are correct on the assumption that the spike is due to the water heaters. Your energizer uses as much electricity as a 100 watt light bulb would. Your energizer will not be pulling more due to the snow cover.

  5. Phillip
    Posted February 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I have a farm works 50b 100 mi charger and when it is on the neighbors hear a popping on their phone. How can this be corrected?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 9, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Hello Phillip, is your ground bed near underground phone lines? This could be the source of the problem, the electrons from the fence may not be traveling back to your fencing system but rather into the phone lines.

  6. Trent
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I have a solar powered controller good for 3 miles, 3 galvanized ground rods about 10 ft apart. The fence is really weak, I don’t know what the issue could be. I only have about 150 ft of electric fence. Does anyone have any ideas?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Hello Trent, what is the output Joule rating on your energizer? The best way to compare energizers and to find a correct sized energizer is by comparing output joules. We recommend one joule per mile of fence. You will often find companies using a “mile” rating. This may be true if you are fencing a golf course (perfect conditions, no weed load).

  7. Posted February 3, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Ref: Zimmerman – Evans electric fence charger. Years ago I used it for large animals. After many years of none use I recently set it up for predators around a chicken fence. Question. When in operations the green light a the red light both blink simultaneously. Somehow I was thinking that when the red light blink that was a sign that the fence was grounded. Not the case as the is charged. The unit has two fence voltage connectors beside the ground. As I recall one is high and the other is a lower voltage. Are you familiar as to the proper operation of the unit. Your comments will be appreciated. Kind regards, Don.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 7, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Sorry Don, we are not familiar with that unit.

  8. Lindi
    Posted February 3, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Sory my electric fence is not working but the status light is green but there is an error er 13 pls help

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 3, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Hello Lindi, could you provide more information? What type of energizer do you have? Is your energizer still producing voltage? Do you have a fence tester?

  9. Brandon
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I have a mile of fence run with to strands top and bottom bottom strands is run through 3/4 pvc pipe8 inches off the ground. When I only hook up the bottom strand I get 3.8 volts close to the energizer but a mile down my fence I get 6.3 kv it is a parmak mag ou 12 fence charger run with 16 ga aluminum wire what’s the problem

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Hello Brandon, are you reading a higher voltage down your fence line? Try testing your fence energizer. Unplug your energizer, unhook it from your fence, plug your energizer in, and test the terminal on your energizer. Your issue may be due to your energizer.

      • Brandon
        Posted February 8, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        I’ve tested the energizer and read 8.9 kv and yes the further down my fence the higher the voltage is

        • Kencove Kencove
          Posted February 9, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

          Hello Brandon, what is the output Joule rating of your energizer? You may not have a large enough energizer, we recommend one joule per mile of fence. The reason you are reading a higher voltage at the end of your fence is due from the voltage “doubling back”. In reality you are only getting the 3.8kv on your entire fence.

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