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. Marco
    Posted October 17, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I get low electric impulses in house water instalation, from energizer. All my in house water instalation is grounded. Energizer is located 100 feet away from house. Thanks for Your sugestions why this happen.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 26, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Are you sure the impulses are from the energizer? How far is your ground bed for your energizer from any underground pipes, lines, or other ground beds? How many ground rods do you have? You may want to increase your ground bed, and potentially move it farther away from any underground pipes, electrical lines, or existing ground beds.

  2. Dennis McHenry
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Is it dangerous for my dog to touch electric fence while standing in water?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 26, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      There are a lot of variables to determine the danger of this. What size are the dogs? How large of an energizer do you have? Is it a low-impedance energizer? How many feet is your fence? If your fence is built correctly, and you are using a low-impedance energizer that is sized appropriately for your fence, your pets should be fine for a short time. As long as your dogs are able to get away from the fence and electrical pulse, you shouldn’t have any concern. However, if they are unable to escape the pulse and are experiencing it constantly, you may want to consider removing the dogs or energizer.

  3. Teri
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    My solar charger got rain in it during hurricane.
    I replaced battery ,,but still not working. Any ideas?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 17, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Teri, although most solar energizers are designed to be out in the weather, a hurricane is an extreme weather event. What type of solar energizer do you have? You can always send it in for our technician to look at. Your energizer may need to be replaced. Give us a call at 1-800-KENCOVE. Or send your energizer into 344 Kendall Rd. Blairsville, PA. 15717. Please include your name and a good phone number to reach you.

  4. Steve
    Posted October 12, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    My fencer gradually looses power over time. What would cause this? I have three 8′ ground rods spaced 10′ apart. The fence is wire/rope twist.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 17, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      Steve, there are many causes to a loss of energy on a fence line.
      What condition is your rope in? Is it frayed? If your rope is in poor condition, you can be losing power down your fence line.
      What is the output joule rating on your energizer? How many feet of fence do you have? Your energizer may be too small for your current situation. Often times, energizers purchased at local farm stores are over rated on their actual power. The best way to decide if an energizer is the correct size is to look at output joules. We recommend one output joule per mile of fence. Poly products have a higher resistance and require a little more power if you are on the line between sizes.
      Have you tested your ground bed? If you are reading over 2,000 volts on your ground bed, you have a dead short on your line.

  5. Tawnya
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Just got done with 4 acres electric fence. So many.problems. 2 joules. My dad ran 3 wire insulatef copper under gate entrances inside conduit with elbows 2′ up to ends and caulked where it comes out each side. It is now snapping inside and sparking. He says no way. I.turned it off til i get fixed. Is it too much with 3 strand coppee? I dont know how it can be shorting out.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 17, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Tawnya, try using solid wire for your underground. Stranded wire is not built strong enough to handle the voltage from an electric fence. You can use copper wire, however, it needs to be one solid wire. We would recommend using underground wire.

  6. Dolly Sullivan
    Posted October 5, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    We have a Zareba fence charger. The clicker is hard to hear and the light is always dim. Can this be corrected? It is connected correctly and is hot. Is there a power connector or something that can fix that?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 17, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      Dolly, you can always send your energizer in to our technician. He can fix all makes and models of energizers. Simply send in your energizer to 344 Kendall Rd. Blairsville, PA 15717. Please include your name and a good phone number to reach you.

  7. Lance
    Posted September 28, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I recently added 1 acre with 6 strands of electric to my existing 1/2 acre, once complete I flipped the switch to turn everything on and I began watching my voltage drop from 13-15 volts down to 4-5 volts. Is this ground issue? My fence charger is rated for 50 miles of fence. Any help is appreciated

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 3, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Lance, do you know the output voltage of your energizer? We recommend one output joule per mile of fence. Although your energizer may be “rated” for 50 miles of fence, this is only on perfectly ideal fences, such as a fence you would find on a golf course. You could also have a dead-short on the new section of fence you have added. I would start by walking around your fence and checking for broken insulators, a heavy weed load, wires too close to each other, or wires touching your bracing system. You can also test your ground bed. If your ground bed is reading more than 2,000 volts, you may want to add additional ground rods to your system.

      • Lance
        Posted October 6, 2017 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        How do I check for a dead short? and how do you check your ground bed? the grounding shouldn’t be carrying voltage correct?

        • Kencove Kencove
          Posted October 17, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

          Lance, you can test for a dead short by using a voltmeter. We offer a few different options, and any will give you an idea of what is going on. To test your ground bed, simply touch your voltmeter to your first ground rod. If you read anything higher than 2,000 volts, you have a dead short on your fence line. I would start by checking any underground wires, around gates, insulators, and your bracing system to locate where the energy is being drawn to. If you need a recommendation on a good voltmeter, the VSXK is an economical, yet useful tool. If you have more room in your budget, I would go for the VPA. The VPA (Kencove Fault Finder) will point an arrow in the direction of the energy pull, helping you to quickly locate the dead short.

  8. Tom
    Posted September 11, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    I put up welded wire then put 2 in insulators on and run the hot wire have no power but when I unhook it I got power what do I do ok

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted September 13, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      It sounds like your hot wire is grounding out on your welded wire. Check your brace wires first. You may need to insulate your corners and bracing wire to prevent the loss of energy. Give our sales team a call at 1-800-KENCOVE for additional advice!

  9. Fred
    Posted August 30, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    My energized started flashing for service and now the fence can’t turn on.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted September 13, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Fred, why don’t you send your energizer in for our technician to take a look at it? Simply mail your energizer to 344 Kendall Rd. Blairsville, PA 15717. Please include your name, and a good phone number on the energizer.

  10. Luvo
    Posted August 30, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    My electric fence energizer is all of sudden making a loud ticking sound than normal soft sounds. What could be the problem?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted September 13, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Luvo, do you have a Kencove unit? If so this sounds like an issue we have been having with some internal parts. We have a 3 year warranty on all Kencove units. You can send your energizer in for our technician to take a look, simply mail your energizer to 344 Kendall Rd. Blairsville, PA 15717. Please include your name, and a good phone number on the energizer.

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