Testing Electric Fence

Testing your fence when it is first constructed is always a good first step. This will give you an idea of what the fence voltage should be.  Test your fence with an electric fence voltmeter.

The active voltage on the fence will usually be less than the output of the fence energizer due to resistance in the fence material. The fence voltage reading on the voltmeter will typically be less than the active voltage in the fence due to resistance in the earth. Therefore, fence voltage readings may be higher the closer you are to the energizer and ground rods, and lower the farther away you test the fence.

How to Test Your Fence:

  1. First, make sure that the power is active in the power outlet of 110-volt units or the battery is fully charged on battery or solar models.
  2. Next, test the output of the energizer by disconnecting the positive lead to the fence and reading across the positive and negative terminals of the charger. If the power is much less than the manufacturer’s open line specifications, you have an energizer problem and should address that first.
  3. If the power supply and energizer output are good, check the ground rod connections next. Poor grounding is the most common failure in an electric fence. If you have 3 or more ground rods, you can disconnect the end rod and take a reading between the wire and the disconnected rod. This will indicate if power is leaking from the fence into the ground and back to the ground rods.
  4. To test the fence line, start reading the power close to the energizer. You should expect readings above 2000 volts for horses and above 4000 volts for all other livestock. If readings are good close to the energizer, move down the line taking readings between every other fence post. You should expect a gradual drop in voltage as you move away from the energizer.
  5. If the voltage reading is low from the first few readings, you have a short in the fence and should look for foliage touching the fence, broken insulators or hardware, faulty wire connections, or actual fence that is sagging or down.
  6. If the voltage declines rapidly the farther you get from the energizer, you most likely have a ground problem caused by dry or barren soil. This may be corrected by adding more ground rods or converting to a hot/ground fence system.
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