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 July 15, 2018 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    I have a parmak solar pak 6. I built a fence surrounding about a creek. The ground rod is about 2ft deep in creek water n soil. If I connect the ground it drops in red to check fence…I walked the whole fence of about a mile. If I disconnect ground needle goes to green good. I was shocked pretty hard6 3 times. Once from touching ground black knob and twice from touching screw driver to on off switch while on as knob is broken off so the box itself shocked me very strong yet it will not work with ground hooked up even in running water with very wet soil. Please help.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Hi, Jim. Are you able to test your energizer itself? We also recommend having more than one ground rod to increase your ground bed.

  2. Randy Smith
    Posted June 28, 2018 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    I have 5 ground rods in moist ground spaced about 12 ft apart. At the last ground rod connection there’s a short. Do I need a larger grid or could it be coming from the nearby fence?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Randy, how far is your ground bed from your fence or other ground beds? I think you may be picking up voltage from a source other than your fence ground bed.

  3. Kris
    Posted June 26, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Hello, I have a solar-powered I-SHOCK ESP2M-FS 4 VOLT 2 MILE charger for my poultry netting which is only about 100 ft or so. I purchased the charger off of Amazon; when I followed the directions exactly (charging for 3 days) the charger worked (light flashed) but no voltage out. I called Amazon, and they sent a new one.
    I still could not get it to work with the same issue (light flashes, but no voltage output.)
    I then got a new ground rod (5 ft. I believe) and tried to check the output voltage again, still nothing. I don’t think I got another bad charger, I would just like some insight to get my fence energized. I saw the comment about needing 3 separate ground rods, would only 1 rod being hooked up cause a no-power failure?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Hi, Kris. Do you have a way to test voltage? Typically, no voltage along a fence line with an energizer testing well indicates a fault somewhere between the energizer and the fence or somewhere along the fence. If the energizer is not showing a good voltage (6,000+ volts), the issue lies with the energizer. Do you know the output rating of the net? We recommend 0.25 output joules per electric net due to high resistance of poly fencing.

  4. Moveen
    Posted June 20, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Please may you advise me. If an earth wire is cut on an electric fence will the alarm sound to activate a fault.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Hi, Moveen. We need a little more information to help. Can you give us a call at 1-800-536-2683? Thank you.

  5. Mike Wells
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Zareba 50 mi charger, worked fine untill a week ago. Checked grass,branches, all ok. I have the nite lites on the wires, maybe 1 flash every 15-20 sec. It used to put out 7K volts, now 0. I checked all wires hot and ground,got a pretty good shock on the ground wire.
    Three ground rods, I changed out charger with spare and no change. Whats up?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      Mike, can you test the voltage on your energizer? If you are reading a good voltage at the energizer, you may want to check your leads and underground wires. It sounds like there is a short somewhere along your fence line. It may not be grass on the fence, but a cracked insulator, broken underground wire, or faulty lead-out wires.

  6. Paul McKenna
    Posted May 30, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi I have a mains fencer I am getting volts threw my earth pole have u any suggestions why

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Paul, typically a high voltage reading on your ground indicates a short or too large of an energizer on your fence line. Can you give us a call at 1-800-KENCOVE for additional assistance in trouble shooting?

  7. Tommy
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I have a solar powered fence charger, instead of voltage this thing uses joules. it says it puts out .15 joules. I don’t know what that is. I’m an old country boy all I know is voltage. I put my meter on this thing and I am reading milliamps, I see very little volts, I can grab this thing with my hand right at the charger and don’t feel anything, this is not going to keep hogs out of my field like they told me. Please help.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Hi, Tommy. Joules are what push the voltage down your fence line. We recommend one joule per mile of fence. What type of fence tester do you have? You want to have a low amp reading on your fence line and a high voltage reading. When you touch the fence, are you wearing rubber boots? If so, you are insulating yourself and preventing a shock. One way to improve voltage on a fence line is to remove any type of weeds along the line and add additional ground rods. Give us a call at 1-800-536-2683 for additional troubleshooting advice.

  8. Patty
    Posted May 19, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    My husbands friend has offered to place my energizer in a weather-proof box. The system has worked well for many years. Havaheart SS-725CS light duty. I wonder if I should relocate the Energizer. Currently it is mounted on a patio post 5’6″ from our house AC circuit box. The hot wire on the other side of a slated wood fence passes at one point 3’8″ to the house electrical box. I have a couple pictures if you would like to see. Q: Do I need to move it and what would be a safe distance if I relocate the Energizer? I have another AC outlet 28′ away.
    Thank You.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Patty, I think a weatherproof box over your energizer is a great idea. Although the energizer can take some weather you will prolong the life of your energizer by protecting it from the elements.

  9. Sharifa
    Posted May 11, 2018 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Why is my electricity fense making noise?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Sharifa. There are a lot of reasons you may be hearing a noise on your fence. You could have a short along your line, too large of an energizer, or poor grounding. For the best troubleshooting results, please give our product specialists a call at 1-800-KENCOVE.

  10. Kristen
    Posted May 7, 2018 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    My electric charger is in a barn with the wires running underground to the fence. After many good years, the fence is no longer hot. The charger is working. I have been told to start at the grey housing for the wires and insulating pipe just outside the barn but am not sure what I’m checking. Any ideas?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Kristen, I would check your underground wire first. It sounds like that is where the fault is.

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