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. Phyllis Smith
    Posted May 26, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    We just purchased a new battery for our Zareba SP3B fence charger. The light is on and the clicking noise but not putting out any voltage. Any suggestions???

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted May 27, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      This sounds like a problem with the output of the energizer and it probably needs repaired. Kencove Farm Fence has a repair center.

  2. Luanne
    Posted May 24, 2016 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I have a fence to keep bobcats out of chicken area. Above my wooden fence I run hot, ground, hot 5 inches apart. Below, about 6 inches, above the chicken yard, another hot wire. I am getting very poor reading 1.35 KV. the fence unit tests 6-7 KV. If I disconnect the lower hot wire, I still get 1.35 KV so weeds near the lower wire is not my problem. The bare ground wire in my upper configuration passes by my barn. Can this cause my ground wire to be ineffective or does incidental grounding to a wood structure not cause a problem.
    I wrapped the hot wire around the insulator prior to
    the insulator at the end of my line. Does a wrap around the insulator instead of threading through cause a problem?

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted May 27, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      It sounds like you have a short on your hot-wire somewhere. Do you have a posi/neg system? Or are you just referring to your neutral wire that might be touching the wood structure?
      I would start by checking all insulators and connections of the hot-wire. Wrapping the wire would cause slight resistance but not enough to see the voltage drop that you are experiencing.

  3. Wendy Davis
    Posted May 23, 2016 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Hi we have a solar 1100 electric fence unit we are onto our third one as once we have had then between 9-12 months they stop working. I think it is the unit itself as it has a red light that used to flash now it just stays on and there is no clicking sound. Any help I would be so grateful. thanks.

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted May 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Kencove has a repair service. You could ship the energizer and the technician could take a look, it maybe a cheap repair.
      Check out the information here-http://www.kencove.com/fence/72_Energizer+Repair_resource.php

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