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!


This entry was posted in Blog, Fencing. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Larry
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    My ground rods are at the edge of a pond

  2. Larry
    Posted November 27, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I have a Karnak solar system with 2 ground rods 10 ‘ apart . it shows it is putting out maximum but I can touch it and it doesn’t shock . ground it to a post and it sparks .what is wrong?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 28, 2016 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      Hello Larry, what is the joule rating on your energizer? Are you able to take a reading on your fence line? What is the voltage between your energizer and fence line? If your energizer is putting out the correct voltage you may have a dead short on your line somewhere. Try walking your fence line and look for cracked insulators, underground wiring, or debris on your fence line. Let us know if there is anything else we can assist you with. Sounds like you have excellent grounding conditions! If your energizer is not putting out the correct voltage you may have an issue with your battery, solar panel, or charge controller as well. Have a wonderful week!

  3. Karen grider
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    I purchased a used 2 mile ACC to fence charger for one side of my yard that the dog keeps jumping. The fence is only 90 feet long I had one grounding rod already installed so I install the fence connected it to the one rod. I can grab the fence with my hand and after a few seconds I feel a pulse of electricity. It’s uncomfortable but for my dog not much. I assume it’s not working right or I actually do need three grounding rods even for $.95. Do you think it’s broken since I bought it used or the fact that I don’t have three groundomg rods?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 22, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Hello Karen, are you able to read a voltage on your fence or energizer? What type of fence do you have installed? Do you know the joule rating for your energizer? Is your dog touching the ground when he touches the wire? A few things could be going on. 1.) Your energizer isn’t powerful enough. 2.) You need a higher fence 3.) You need the dog to touch the ground and hot wires to feel the shock and complete the circuit. One way around this is creating a posi/negative system where the dog would need to touch a hot and ground wire at the same time.

  4. Katie
    Posted November 16, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    we have a very old system in use and recently have been burning up fencer boxes like there going out of style. the last one lasted 3 months.
    after moving the grounding rod and moving where the wires connect about 3 times and getting a new box, now we have everything charged and hot! wires that are not connected to anything are hot, posts are hot, gates are hot, even the building is reading a charge. why would this be? we are no strangers to electric fence and systems but this has got us stumped! we cant figure this one out! HELP!!!!!

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 17, 2016 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Hello Katie, what size is your energizer? How large of an area are you fencing in? The leaking voltage on your neutral wires, posts, and barn can be from two things. 1.) Your energizer is far to large for the area of fence. We recommend 1 joule of power for every mile of fence. 2.) You do not have enough grounding/ your ground bed is not sufficient. Has it been extremely dry in your area? You may need to move your ground bed or add additional ground rods. Give us a call if you need any additional assistance! 1-800-KENCOVE

  5. innocent magadhi
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    GOOD,CHECK &BAD lights on NEMTEK wizord 4 energizer are contineously flashing. I disconnected & looped it but its still like that, what might be the cause?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Good Morning, you may want to check your fence line. Is there anything on it? Is your ground bed working? If you are unable to find a short on your line and have sufficient grounding try calling the manufacture of the energizer.

  6. Paul Longley
    Posted November 14, 2016 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    This fence is killing me please help. I unhook the fence and ground to test the fencer and get great voltage. Once I hook up the fence i lose 5000 volts at the fencer. Bad ground???

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      Hello Paul, you may have poor grounding or a dead short on your fence line. Check out this video to test your ground bed. If you have sufficient grounding you may have a failing insulator, underground cable, splice, connection, or some type of debris on your fence line. Let us know if you need any additional assistance 1-800-KENCOVE

  7. Michelle
    Posted November 10, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I have a parmack SE5 charger. It was working fine and I added a piece of aluminum fence wire to the existing steel wire. Now it does nor=t work, did I fry it? I smelled a slight burn odor after awhile.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 14, 2016 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      Hello Michelle, are you able to test your energizer? The addition of the aluminum wire if attached correctly should not have impacted your fence energizer. Is there a short on your new piece of fence? Are there weeds or an insufficient insulator on a post?

  8. Posted November 4, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    One of our volunteers took down a charger that wasn’t working and did not mark the ground and charger wires, Since these run underground under a gravel road to the fence and ground rod, we can’t identify which is which. Will connecting the wires wrong damage the charger if we experiment with a new one to find out which wire is which?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 7, 2016 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      Hello Allen, yes and no. If you where to connect both wires at the same time you could damage your energizer. However, you can attach one wire to the hot/ positive terminal, plug your energizer in, then test a “hot” wire on your fence. If you are reading any voltage than you have selected the correct wire and can connect your other wire as your ground wire. If you are not receiving any voltage unplug your energizer, disconnect the wire from the positive terminal than try the other wire. Make sure you test your fence with the second wire before attaching them to their respective terminals.

  9. Loren Martin
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I was having trouble getting a good ground for my energizer so I connected the ground rod to the ground on the 110 electrical circuit that feeds the energizer. That seemed to help significantly, any problem with that?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Correct Loren, that is the correct way to install your ground system. Let us know if you need any additional advice!

  10. keith
    Posted October 22, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    i have a FI Shock SS725 charger.I am getting voltage to my fence wire but no shock It has been very dry in my area for about 6 weeks . this is a dog fence about 1/2 and acre. I’ve got 1 ground rod 4′ long , do I need more ground rod?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 24, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Did you recently notice there is not “shock” on your wire? You may need to add additional ground rods, or you can try “watering” your ground bed since it has been so dry. Another option would be setting up an Earth Fence Ground Return. Let us know if we can be of anymore assistance.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>