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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  1. Linda Mehlenbacher
    Posted August 12, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I just bought your Gallagher B60 for around my bee yard (60′ x 40′), 5 strands of turbo poly wire, T posts with insulators and my ground is a 3 foot rod. I read 7k voltage all the way around, so I must have enough grounding correct?

    • Kencove Kencove
      Posted August 22, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that is a very good voltage. You should send the bears running! We’d love to see photos of your hive, feel free to share away on our Facebook page!

  2. Matt
    Posted March 14, 2015 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    I have a 5 strand high tensile fence around the perimeter of my cattle farm. The top 4 wires are hot and the bottom wire is a continuous ground that is in direct contact with every metal T post as well as the 3 ground rods I have installed. I have always had problems with low current readings on my fence and am considering adding additional ground wires between the hot wires. Should these wires be insulated from the T posts or is it better to be in direct contact for additional grounding? I cannot determine the cause of the voltage drop…no vegetation issues are present and no obvious shorts. I do have several gates where I have underground connecting wires. The underground hot connectors are insulated. The underground “ground” connectors are just high tensile wire run underground…is that a problem??

    • Lacy Weimer Lacy Weimer
      Posted March 24, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      If you want additional ground do not insulate the wire form the t-post, just connect directly into your ground bed. Check for voltage drop at all of your connections, and leakage under the gates.
      How much fence are you energizing?? Do you have a large enough energizer?

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