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. bill cain
    Posted May 3, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    i am looking into a problem that one of my friends has. He two Gallagher chargers. The smaller one is for the fence near his house. The larger one is for his pastures.
    His problem is with the small one. When he had it plugged into a receptacle for his barn he told me that he could hear the building tin “pop” every time the charger pulsed. When he moved it to his cattle working area, and plugged it in he heard it “popping” again. this time he traced it back to a remote control switch for his hydraulic squeeze chute, it was laying on a concrete floor. When he picked the control up the popping stopped. when he put it down the popping started again. Note: his squeeze chute is 220 volt. I thought that he might be having issues with the incoming service ground, since both buildings are coming off of the same power pole. other than that we are at a lose. Another note: where he has it now the hot wire runs through a pipe for a cattle guard.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Bill, it sounds like the ground bed for his smaller energizer is too close to his building, or there is a short somewhere along his lead-out wire. Is the wire running through his chute insulated? If not, that is why it is energized.

  2. Chris
    Posted May 1, 2018 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    I am running a poly wire fence with a 1.7 joule 30 mile fence charger. Question is I want this fence about 200 yards from a power source. How do I make this happen? Thanks much

  3. Debbie Kitchings
    Posted April 17, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I put an solar powered fence charger around y yard. It worked beautifully for about a year. We got an enormous amount of rain and it stopped working. Everyone told me the battery got wet. I changed the battery. Now the wire going to the ground will shock a little but the other side does not. If I touch both sides at the same time it will shock. What am I doing wrong? Thank you for your help. Debbie

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Debbie, you may need to replace your lead-out wires. Water may have damaged them as well.

  4. Dave
    Posted April 16, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    My energizer turns ietself off for no reason fence is clean.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Dave. You can send in your energizer for repair.

  5. larry jensen
    Posted April 12, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink


    I installed an electric fence last year and it worked well all summer. I turned it off during the winter months.

    When i started it back up this spring, I found that my controller had gone bad so I replaced it. It worked for about a week then stopped working. I found a metal flag was touching the fence removed it and it was working again.

    Now it stopped working. I have power on the unit. When connecting the unit there is no power on the line at all. I disconnected hot line, I tested my ground with the power termiunal and all was good.

    I then put the meter on the output terminal and touched my main line and showed power which indicates to me that my main fence line is grounded somewhere but for the life of me I cannot find it.:

    You wrote:

    “If you need a voltmeter, check out the Kencove Digital Voltmeter (item code: VSXK). This tool will allow you to test your fence, energizer, 12-volt battery, and ground bed. It is great for identifying shorts on your line and finding the issue.”

    I would like some guidance on how to track down the short. The fence is servicing about 1/2 acre.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Larry, for the best assistance, please call our office. One of our product specialists will be able to troubleshoot with you over the phone.

  6. Gordon Burns
    Posted April 9, 2018 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I have an M1800 Gallagher Energizer. It was shorted out for a few days and quit pulsing. There is a solid green light and it only pulses once when it is plugged in? Any ideas greatly appreciated

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Gordon, we repair all types of energizers. Feel free to send your energizer to 344 Kendall Rd, Blairsville, PA 15717. Please include your name and phone number with the energizer.

  7. Jen
    Posted April 3, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink


    I’m running a pos/neg three strand fence round the top of my garden. All was working fine until a week ago when the energiser stopped pulsing if the earth is connected to the cool wire. If I send the earth through a ground rod then the energiser pulses no problems but as soon as I reconnect to the negative wire it stops. I have to use a pos/neg fence due to its location. There’s no cross overs and nothing obstructing it. Any ideas?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Jen, could there be an issue with the cord you are using? Are you able to test the actual voltage coming out of your energizer? There could also be an issue with your “cool” wires on your fence line, maybe a cracked insulator?

  8. Shaun Cruickshank
    Posted March 25, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    all right got a weird one. i have about 3 miles of fence wire with a parmak 25 mile charger and three grounding rods, started losing shock even though it read 4kv. after going over the fence a dozen times and not finding anything, i replaced the charger with a AC powered 5 mile, 0.7 joule charger. now, before i installed it, the fence tester read 9.9kv, and after installing it read “hi” on the tester, something went “snap” in the tester, and i think i broke it. anyone had this happen before? what’s going on?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Shaun, you can send in your energizer for repair. Please mail the energizer to 344 Kendall Rd, Blairsville, PA 15717. Please include your name and phone number in with the repair.

  9. Leroy
    Posted March 22, 2018 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Im having the same problem as Chris . I have a small solar charger that takes a 4v battery. When no wires are connected to it and it’s turned on the light blinks , it ticks and gives voltage. When hook to fence and turn on , nothing no blinking light no tick no volt. I did what you told Chris added 2 more ground rods to my 1. They are at 4ft 10ft and 4ft deep and 10ft apart. I have checked 100 times the wire touching things and it’s all good . All correct metals galv steel Lightning rods brass clamps steel wire. It was on a 4 wire fence 1 strait line . Wire went down back up back down and back up . I cut it down to 2 lines thinking not enough power to register and still not working. Can you please give me an answer as to how to make that charger work . This is a time sensitive situation.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Leroy. Depending on what energizer you have, you should read about 6,000 volts (6Kv) from the energizer with nothing connected. If you are getting this reading, then the issue is not the energizer, but the fence. If you are not getting a high reading on your energizer, there may be something wrong internally with the energizer. We repair all types of energizers. If you wish to have your energizer repaired, please send the unit to 344 Kendall Rd, Blairsville, PA 15717. Please include your name and phone number in the box with the energizer.

  10. Quasiem
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Hi I’m having a problem with my electric fence there is a spark jumping from the line to the electric fence poles on a few spots

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 22, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Hello, what size energizer do you have (how many joules)? Also, how many miles or feet of fence are you trying to energize? It sounds like you are experiencing induction along your fence line.

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