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. Posted December 14, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    thank you for the information.

  2. Kim
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Hi our fence alarm went off during a storm and when we switched it back on the panel sparks. Pls can you help? Thanks

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted January 24, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Hello Kim, do you have any type of lightning protection for your fence line? Is your Fence-Alarm still working? Please give us a call at 1-800-536-2683 so we can further assist you. Thanks.

  3. David
    Posted November 26, 2017 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    I have a Gallagher M120 Energizer and a Gallagher fault finder. When I place the fault finder on the fence and check for amps the direction arrow points back to the energiser unit. I have traced the amps all the way back to the unit. What does this tell me???? Is the unit faulty??? It’s kicking out over 5Kw on the fence so it seems to be OK. I just don’t understand why it tells me I’m leaking amps at the energiser.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted January 24, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      David, you may want to check the wires you are using to connect your energizer to your fence. If you are worried about a faulty unit, you can send the energizer and fault finder in for our certificated technician to take a look at. Simply include your name, phone number, and return address in the package with the energizer. You can send them to 344 Kendall Rd Blairsville, PA 15717.

  4. David Kutil
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    My fence light is red and my ground is green. If I disconnect my ground I get a pulse on the fence but when the ground is connected I get nothing on the fence. We’ve checked the fence twice and it all looks good. There’s nothing on the fence wire right after the charger.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 22, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      David, do you have a voltmeter? If so, have you tested your ground bed? If you are reading more than 2,000 volts on your ground, you have a dead-short somewhere on your fence line. Typically this is caused by faulty insulators, underground wires, or your bracing system. Check out our video on voltmeters to learn how to successfully test your ground bed.

  5. ronald zaiontz
    Posted November 8, 2017 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    just installed a 2 mile fence charger, don’t have a .
    tester, but i tested it myself and just get a very small feeling of a charge. i put a 8 ft. ground rod with copper wire to it and the fence. there is another ground rod thats connected to my house breaker bix about 12 ft. away. this is a one wire fence about 900 ft.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 22, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Ronald, are you connecting your fence ground system to your house ground system? We do not advise this. We recommend each ground bed be 100’ apart. Connecting these ground beds could be causing your low voltage. We highly recommend investing in a fence tester. Check out Kencove.com for our complete line of fence testers.

  6. Rachel
    Posted November 5, 2017 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    Hi, I’m trying to keep my cats in, and others out of my garden because of fighting. I have installed an electric wire (using ring insulators) along the top of my existing fence and stone wall, powered by an electric shepherd ESB25. The fence appears to be electrified, but my cats are still getting out. I have seen her push under the fence with no ill effect. I think this might be because the gap between pulses is too long(so she is getting through in the gaps of electric) , or because her feet are touching the wall and not the ground and so not completing the circuit? Could you please advise?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 22, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Hi, Rachel. Unfortunately, our company specializes in livestock fencing. We cannot offer any advice on feline fencing.

  7. Steve Echols
    Posted October 29, 2017 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    I just installed a 2-strand high tensile electric fence (both wires are hot). Grounding includes 3-6 foot galvanized rods that are 10 feet apart. The first ground rod is 30 feet from the energizer because of the proximity to the ground rod of the adjacent power supply pole. I have a Gallagher M120 (1.2 stored joules). When I tested the fence with my voltmeter, I’m only getting readings that range from 1.3 to 2.8 kV. Could the problem be my connections? I didn’t use crimps. I hand/tool wrapped all the connections. I didn’t do a ground test either. In order to do that, do I use the voltmeter in the same way I would use it to test the hot wires? To test the output of the energizer, after unhooking hot and ground connecting wires, do I attach the red wire of the voltmeter to the red terminal and touch the ground probe to the ground terminal?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      Steve, what is the length of your fence? A 1.2 joule energizer will power a little over a mile of fence. If your fence is longer than a mile, you will need a larger energizer. You can test your ground bed using your voltmeter. Simply touch the first ground rod with the voltmeter. If you are reading over 2,000 volts on your ground bed, you have a dead short on your fence line. Check out our video for further instructions on testing your ground bed and fence.

    Posted October 28, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    How do I keep wildlife from taking down my top rope? I have a 4 strand rope fence with an ample solar charger. It works GREAT when it works. But we have lazy deer and antelope that drag over it when they jump it. They take it down ALL THE TIME!! I am considering putting electric tape on the top for a more solid visual — they CAN jump a little higher. HELP!
    Thank you,

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Kyle, you can try tying orange safety tape along your top line to help give your fence more visibility. Since the wildlife are more than likely jumping over your fence, they will not get shocked. You can also create a 2-D fence, which essentially is one strand a few feet in front of your fence. The wildlife are unable to judge the space between these fences, and, more than likely, will not test your fence. This should slow them down enough to try and find a better way over your fence.

  9. Russell Thomas
    Posted October 25, 2017 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    What would cause my fencer to stop working after about a year and a half? I’ve got a Parmak Super 5. Worked great for almost a year and a half, and then one day it was just dead. Checked the fuse. Tried plugging it in to other AC outlets. Walked the fence several times. Nothing seems wrong or out of the ordinary.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Russell, do you have lightning protection on your fence? If not, a recent storm may have damaged your energizer. If you haven’t experienced a storm, do you have voltmeter to check the output voltage on your energizer? There are a lot of things that could be happening here. You can send your energizer in for service by our certified technician. Please include your name, phone number, and address on a sheet of paper attached to your energizer. Energizers can be sent to 344 Kendall Rd, Blairsville, PA 15717.

    • Posted February 11, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I have a Fi-Shock Soloarizer and have used several and am familiar with unit. This is new one and it is not energizing wire. I have a single strand of 14 gauge wire, within limits of units. It just is not working even new.

      1. Grounding-2 deep rods
      2. No part of wire is touching shrubbery or and metal of fence
      3. I have replaced the insulated wire from fence to unit with a piece of the 14 gauge wire.
      4. The amber light is not flashing.
      5. Using my tester or my hand, no charge on about 200 foot strand.
      6. Unit facing south in full sun daily.
      7. In other units I would pull 3K volts or higher, enough for my horse or dogs.
      8. I poured water around ground rounds as we have arid climate here.
      9. I have called manufacturer to problem solve.
      10. There is no compromised wire in the strand, ie, broke, etc.
      11. I tested unit hot terminal and do not get a reading.

      Please help. I just don’t get it.

      Thank you in advance.

      • Kencove Kencove
        Posted February 28, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Ron, it sounds like you have tried just about everything we would recommend. There are a lot of variables at play, and it would be best if you gave our product specialists a call. They can be reached Monday – Friday 8 AM to 5 PM and Saturday 8 AM – 12 PM EST. Give us a call at 1-800-KENCOVE.

  10. virginia l callison
    Posted October 19, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I have the Fi Shock for my dogs fence perimeter, she is a digger. Lately she is still digging out. I took the energizer down and looked inside. The two squares that generate the electricity were hot, but the wire around fence is not. What could be the problem? Also, I notice the hot wire connection in the box to be loose, could that be the problem?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted October 26, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Do you have a fence tester, Virginia? You could try testing your energizer. If you energizer is not producing any power, feel free to send it in to our technician. Please include your name and a good phone number. We repair all makes and models of energizers. Simply mail the energizer to 344 Kendall Rd. Blairsville, PA 15717.

      • robert
        Posted October 30, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        I have a problem
        All the insulated wire around the electric fence has juice what could cause that.

        • Kencove Kencove
          Posted November 1, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          Robert, what is the output joule rating on your energizer? How many feet of fence are you powering? We recommend approximately 1 output joule per mile of fence. Your energizer may be too large for your fence, and you are experiencing induction. If your energizer is properly sized, the culprit could be a brace wire, or your hot lines are too closely spaced to your neutral wires.

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