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. Jan
    Posted November 24, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    How far away from my grounding rods does my water tank need to be with a heater in it for winter. When it is real wet out like now my horse lick the water instead of drinking,so i know they are getting some sort of a shock. if i unplug the fence they drink normally if i unplug the heater they drink normally.

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      If the water heater has a ground rod, it should be at least 50′ from the grounding rods for your energizer. Your horses could very likely be getting shocked.

  2. Tony Graham
    Posted November 21, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I just put up my first electric fence for my boxer to stop jumping the fence. The unit shows I have good power, the ground shows I have a good ground but if I check it on down through the yard by placing the probe in the ground and the positive on the wire …..nothing??? Can you help explain this to me as I don’t really understand electricity. Also I did wrap the wire 2 or 3 times around each insulator to keep the wire tight would this cause a problem??? should I only had run the wire straight through instead of wrapping it around?? Thank Yall for ANY HELP AT ALL you can give me.

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted November 27, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      You will be loosing just a very small amount of voltage due to the resistance causes by wrapping, but very little. How much fence do you have? What type and size of energizer did you install?

  3. Linda Montanez
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    i have a power wizard solar charger .15 jewel output. The fence got grounded out and drained the battery.. could not get it to charge again . bought new battery which came with a red tip on the black neg wire. A mistake was made and it was hooked up to the charger neg to positive.. The charger was then turned to charge battery and left over night. I asked if they check to see if it blinked when flashed to on. They said no… Next day I checked to see if i was charging… nothing. Asked for it to be unhooked and check… didn’t happen so two day later I drove over there and unhooked the charger and took the battery out discovering the mistake. Hooked it back up right and there was no indication of a charge… left it charging…. Is this new battery cooked and or the charger.. How do I tell if one or the other is not working.

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