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. Nicholas mallison
    Posted February 23, 2019 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I have a zareba 2 mile and there is no obstructions but when we connect the fence the ground his hot but the wire wire we want hot isnt hot every time we switch them its the same out come whats is wrong thank you for your help

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted March 1, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Nicholas, there could be a few things going on. First, what is the output joule rating of your energizer? How many feet of fence are you trying to power? If you have too large of an energizer, it could be pushing the energy places you don’t want. If you have an energizer that is correct for the size of your fence, you may have a dead short on your fence, causing the energy to go straight to your ground. I would start by checking the voltage on your energizer when it is not hooked up. If you are reading over 4,000 volts, hook your fence back up, and try to identify were you are losing your power. A common place to start is to check for cracked insulators or poor lead-out wires.

  2. Richard okello
    Posted February 20, 2019 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    Hi am a technician, the electric fence am trying to trouble shoot, shows fence all the time even if i have disconnected it from the energiser

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 22, 2019 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Hi, Richard. Do you have a voltmeter? If not, we highly recommended investing in one. Just to clarify your question, are you saying your fence has voltage on it even if your energizer is disconnected completely from your fence? If so, is your fence constructed under high-voltage power lines? This could be a cause for unwanted power on a fence. For more advice, please give us a call at 1-800-536-2683.

  3. Sharon
    Posted February 10, 2019 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I have your 5 mile solar fence charger.I have to turn it off each time I enter the pen to feedmystallion. I have had it for 7 months. Now the switch is not going on(blinking red) every time I go in and out. Sometimes I have to click the switch several times to get it to work(flash red). Do I need to change the on/off switch? Ifsowheredo I get one?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted February 22, 2019 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Sharon, if your energizer is a Kencove brand, it is covered by a two or three-year warranty. For warranty repair, simply mail your energizer to Kencove Farm Fence, Attn: Repairs, 344 Kendall Rd. Blairsville, PA 15717. Include your name and phone number in the box with the energizer. Once it has been repaired, we will ship it back to you. Most other brand energizers do carry at least a one-year warranty. Follow the steps above to get your energizer repaired under warranty. We do not recommend doing any repairs yourself because it will void all warranties. Give us a call at 1-800-536-2683 with any questions. Thank you.

  4. Jeff
    Posted January 18, 2019 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    My fence was sparking by my gate, at the point where the wire from the charger ties to the fence line. I have it running through a hose so we dont step on it and looks like it melted the top of the hose.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted January 23, 2019 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      Hi, Jeff. Your best bet is to use underground wire from your energizer to your fence. Check out our Double-Wall Insulated Wire (item code: GU50 for 50′ length), which is available in a few different lengths.

  5. Amanda
    Posted January 14, 2019 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I started with a solar unit then it stopped working after 3 days presumably due to cloud cover. I went and exchanged it for one that plugs in so I didn’t have that issue but it isn’t working either. I have unhooked it multiple times and reconnected it different ways because everyone says to do it a different way. We have it grounded. It’s a single wire ran around the top of the pen to keep dogs from climbing out. The wire isn’t touching anything it’s not suppose to but still not working….

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted January 17, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Hi, Amanda. Do you know what the output joule rating is on your new energizer? Also, how many feet of wire are you trying to electrify? If your energizer is too large, you may be pushing unwanted voltage onto other parts of your fence even though the wire is not touching anything. This is caused by induction. You also may not have enough ground rods for the size of your energizer. You need at least three 3-foot ground rods per output joule of energizer. Depending on your ground conditions, you may need additional ground rods. Do you have a voltmeter? This will be helpful in determining if you have an induction problem, or if you need to add more ground rods.

  6. Shannon Bartley
    Posted January 2, 2019 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Our electric fence charger stops working when hot wire is attached. When we un hook the positive we get pulsing like it should on the box. Please any ideas. Xows are getting out.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted January 4, 2019 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Shannon do you have a voltmeter? If so, test your voltage on your energizer when the fence is not connected. If you are getting a low reading, under 6,000 volts you will need to replace your energizer or send it in for repair. If you are getting a good output, there is an issue along your fence such as poor lead-out wires, insufficient ground, or a fault along the fence line. To send your energizer in for repair, mail it to 344 Kendall Rd, Blairsville, PA 15717. Please include your name and phone number in the package with the energizer. Thank you.

    • Owen Davis
      Posted January 5, 2019 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      If the charger stops when the hot wire is connected there are a few things to check. One is that you have a short in the fence (touching a t-post – direct short) or wet grass hanging on the line. I would hook the charger up and walk the line. If its just close and jumping across you will hear a snapping sound. On wood posts you have to insulate off the post since wet post will conduct power to ground and short your fence as well. Also check your ground that you have a good ground at the charger. I use Gallagher setup of 3 grounds set 10 ft apart connected in a series.

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