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. Irene
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I have a newer 5 mile Red Snapper unit, around a garden. The fence line is unobstructed and everything else is per direction’s. The red light is flashing but I don’t hear the ticking any longer and I believe the fence is no longer working.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 28, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Irene, do you have a voltmeter? If you are not reading any voltage at your energizer, you should send it in for repair. To send your energizer in for repair, please mail it to 344 Kendall Rd, Blairsville PA 15171. Please include your name, phone number, and mailing address in with the energizer.

  2. Joël Charo
    Posted August 23, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Am looking for replacement transformers to repair the Gallagher M800/M1500 fencers. Do you know of manufacturer that makes them because they are no longer available thru gallagher

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 28, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Joel, if Gallagher has discontinued the product, we are not able to get replacement parts. If you are interested in replacing the unit, please give our sales team a call. We would be happy to find the perfect energizer for your situation.

  3. Brandon
    Posted August 7, 2018 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Ok, we have an issue. I have tried 3 different batteries and have a electric fence powered by solar, the solar panels says charging , the battery when hooked up to a charging station holds charge, the electric fence main unit hums and flashes its led like it’s working. I cleaned the grounds and drove it deeper. And watered the area. I can hold the wire and no charge any suggestions

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 9, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Brandon, do you have a charge controller? If so, can you take the energizer off of everything and test it separately? If your energizer tests well (over 6,000 volts), then the issue lies with the charge controller. If the energizer does not test well, you may want to send it in for repair.

  4. cjf12
    Posted August 4, 2018 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Was curious about why I get a slight shock when touching my furnace. You can feel the pulse of the fencer. Is there a minimum distance from utilities you should keep your grounding rods from? You can also feel it in a large fan we have plugged in at the barn the fencer is in. Just make a larger gronding bed?

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

      We recommend your ground bed be at least 50 feet from any existing ground bed. You may be experiencing some stray voltage on those appliances. A second issue could be the size of your energizer.

  5. Kim
    Posted August 2, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I have a new, coated wire electric fence. When I placed a tester on the coated wire, it sparked (and I jumped!). When I placed the tester on the bare wire near a post, it did not spark. At that point, I had also put on rubber gloves, so maybe that’s the difference? Do I need a special tester for coated wire? The tester flashed all the lights when attached to the bare wire, rather than turning on one specific light. Not sure what I’m doing wrong! Thank you!

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 2, 2018 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kim, are you referring to the Hotcote wire? If so, you can only test voltage on the thin black carbon strips. The reason you may not be getting a reading is because the coated wire is insulated, and you can only get an accurate reading from the carbon strips. You do not need a special tester to test the voltage on coated wire.

  6. Mike
    Posted July 24, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Hello, I have a 2 mile .7 Joule Zareba that only works if both the fence and fencer wire are touch together. The soil is dry and the fence is 250’, partially buried deer fencing (all metal). I suspect the ground rod and fence make a better ground path than our dry soil(I was testing with one rod to see the results). When testing with a light probe, it reads 4K volts – fenceing to hot wire and nothing touching to soil. This is to keep dogs in. Will this work like this or do I need to add more ground rods?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Mike, you can add additional ground rods or create a positive/negative fence system. For assistance in creating a positive/negative system, feel free to give our product specialists a call at 1-800-KENCOVE.

  7. Sean Slocum
    Posted July 22, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I have this old fencer.. worked last time it was used (to my knowledge) its an older Gallagher Ranch King Solar Charger.. it charges the battery but I cant seem to get anything at output… what best way to test this before trying to build a system and finding charger is junk?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Sean, if you are unable to read a voltage at the energizer, our most educated guess is the energizer needs repaired or replaced. If you are interested in repairing the unit, please mail it to 344 Kendall Rd, Blairsville, PA 15717. Please include your name and phone number with the unit. If you are interested in replacing the energizer, feel free to give our product specialists a call at 1-800-KENCOVE.

  8. Judy
    Posted July 21, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    My 25 mile electric Zareba fencer is not making the ticking noise it usually does.
    Instead it is making a constant noise.
    Have checked fence and ground – is the charger just worn out? It’s less than a yr old and only fences in about 3 acres.
    Thank you for any help you can give me.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      Judy, do you have any way to test the voltage on your energizer? If it is indeed defective, we repair most energizers. For instructions on energizer repair please visit Kencove.com.

  9. Kema
    Posted July 18, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    My solar panel was working great when I put it away for the winter. I have hooked everything back up it is flashing green when I turn it on but there is no charge on the fencing, am I missing something?, is there actually a battery in my solar panel I have to replace? or is my ground not in deep enough not sure where I am going wrong.

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted July 26, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Hi, Kema. Can you give us a call at 1-800-536-2683? We would like to talk more in depth about the issue you are having. Our product specialists will be able to assist in diagnosing the issue and determine whether it is with the panel, energizer, charge controller, or battery.

  10. Brandon
    Posted July 18, 2018 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    We have just built a new construction residence. We went with concrete floors. When you take your shoes off or take a knee inside the residence then touch a ground wire or stainless steel appliance we are getting an electric pulse. Our neighbor across the road has cattle. When we unplug his fence box the pulse stops. The residence is about 150 to 200 yards from his fence box. How could this be? His box I assume has poor ground (like fence wire wrapped around a standard rebar fence post) but can it travel some 150 yards and up through my grounding rod?! If so do I just need to add to his grounding system? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You very much.

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

      Brandon, electricity is a funny thing! You may want to see if the neighbor can move his ground bed. We recommend to keep ground beds at least 50’ from other ground beds to prevent electricity from moving. He may also need to add additional ground rods.

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