Stray Voltage and Electric Fencing

Stray voltage: the invisible and “hard to explain” situation that can occur on and around electric fences. I don’t know how many questions, phone calls and emails I have received over the years that have ultimately been a result of stray voltage – but there have been a lot of them.

Electric fences are typically charged with very short low current and high voltage pulses. These pulses (on low impedance chargers) are generally less than 3/1000’s of a second in duration. This is much different that the continuous current that is flowing through the wires in your home, which are high current and low voltage.

A majority of problems that people have with electric fences are because they forget about or don’t understand the basic principles of electricity. When electricity is sent out on an electric fence by an energizer it doesn’t just mysteriously disappear into thin air. What goes out ultimately must come back. And, it seems to be continually seeking a ground to complete its circuit.

Normal house type wiring, which has an insulation rating of 600 volts, should not be used for electric fencing. The voltage on a fence wire is typically around 6000 volts and capable of 10,000 volts. The high voltage on the wire can easily find its way to ground through the insulation of normal house type wiring.

But unlike electric wires, in your home or barn that is kept in nice clean insulated wires, the electricity that is cycling down your fence wire and through the environment can end up going places it was never intended or meant to go. Some thought needs to be put into setting up both a well insulated conducting system, and an adequate earth return system.

Since your fence wire is the conductor, it is bare wire and is not wrapped up with insulation like a strand of house wiring. It must be bare to transfer a shock to an animal that touches it. The electric pulse that flows down the wire is actually flowing down and around the perimeter of the wire. This creates somewhat of a field of electricity – in my layman’s terms. Have you ever seen an animal approach an electric fence and walk up to it with its nose still a foot away and then back off?  I “think” that’s because of the sensitivity of the animal’s nose along with long hair follicles, that they feel a little tickle, before they actually touch it.  Goats in particular, are very acute to sensing if there is electricity flowing down that wire, before they ever touch it.

This also happens in a lot of unlikely places, such as around a metal gate. Have you ever got a shock from a metal gate (within an electric fence system) that had no actual power attached to it?  I have, and it’s not a very desired or pleasant experience.

Sometimes and often, on multi-wire fences where you have alternating hot wires and ground wires – you will read voltage on the non-electrified wires.  This is generally stray voltage that has “strayed” off of the hot wire.  Is that a bad thing? I guess the answer is it depends. During normal conditions, it probably isn’t all that bad of a thing, but during wet damp weather, this condition will suck a lot of power out of your system.

In either of these scenarios an option to capture that stray voltage and get rid of it, is to install a ground rod and direct the stray voltage to ground.

Many times (and usually) stray voltage problems with electric fencing can be traced to either a lack of adequate grounding or poor selection of the grounding site, or a combination of both. Loose or corroded ground rod connections can also attribute to many problems with stray voltage. Let’s talk about these separately.

  • Lack of adequate grounding.  How many ground rods do you need? Hopefully the energizer manufacturer will have a recommendation in the packaging, but this is not always the case. My personal recommendation (for a minimum) is that you will need 3 feet of rod in the ground, per each output joule of power. Example: you have a 15 output joule charger. You will need 15 x 3 = 45 feet of ground rods in the ground. This will equate to 8 each 6 foot rods or 6 each 8 foot rods. Again, this is minimum and considered to be in good solid moist soil. If it is very dry or gravely, then you will need more.  The effective field of a ground rod is a 5 foot radius, so your rods should be spaced at least 10 feet apart. If you put two rods at 3 or 4 feet apart, they will perform as one ground rod.

Testing of the grounding can be done with a regular electric fence digital voltmeter. The ones with a ground probe and a lead with a clip works the best for this. Now, go at least a hundred feet down your fence line away from your energizer and ground rods.  Put a load on the fence (create a short) and try to get the fence voltage down to 1000 volts or less (a digital meter reading of 1.0 KV). Now go back to your ground rods and take a reading on the last ground rod. Your goal would be to read “0” volts, however a reading of up to 300 volts would be acceptable (this would read 0.3KV on a digital meter). If you read more than 300 volts, then this is telling you to add more ground rods. In essence you should keep adding rods until you get it below 300 volts.

  • Selection of the grounding site: should be a very important consideration, but many times it is chosen by convenience.  Firstly, the ground field for your fencing system MUST be located at least 50 feet away from any other utility grounding.  This includes power poles, well houses, etc. It should be at least 50 feet away from buried waterlines and various other underground utilities.

The site should be located in a place of permanent moisture.  For this reason, the drip line of a building is often used.

Generally most people install their grounding so that it is convenient to the fence charger, but this is not necessary. In fact I know many people that install their ground rods out in the middle of their farm. For example, a fenced off pond that has some seepage may be an ideal place. The downside is the added cost of running a wire back to the energizer, but this can be done rather easily.

  • Loose or corroded ground rod connections: should be a no-brainer, but it’s a simple little inspection that we often overlook. I think that it should be on the annual housekeeping list. Ground rod clamps do occasionally break, become loose or get corroded. They need to be checked periodically.

Once a customer called me saying that sometimes when he climbed his ladder on his feed bin, he would get shocked. I went out to the farm on that one, and it turned out that his feed bin was grounded within 6 feet of the ground rods for his fence charger.  On wet dewy mornings when he had a heavy fence load he would get stray voltage feeding back thru the separate grounds, basically because they were too close together.

I received an email just the other day regarding what appears to be stray voltage getting into a metal water tank. This was over 1400 miles away, but I did call the waterer manufacturer and they suggested that he turn all power off to the waterer and call a licensed electrician to determine where it was coming from. I’m still waiting to hear about how that one turned out. There was some electric fence nearby as well as a buried waterline.

Another instance was when a fence contractor called me one day, stating that his guys were installing a new high tensile fence and were getting shocked. They had not installed the energizer yet. There was no power on the fence yet. I asked him if there was an overhead power line above the fence – and he said, yes there was.  We couldn’t come up with any other possibilities as this was a pretty remote area. Obviously there was stay voltage from the overhead power line getting into the fence. I doubt that the local rural electric would admit to that, but this happens a lot around dairy farms. Or, so I hear, so it may be hearsay…….

Well, here I am up to 1500+ words and still have only scratched the surface of this subject. Research shows that Stray Voltage on Farms has been a problem for the past 50 years and continues to be so. Here is an excerpt from the Midwest Rural Energy Council (see that says:

Can we get rid of stray voltage? The laws of physics and the electrical code safety requirements make complete elimination of stray voltage impossible. Stray voltage will always be present at some level. However, properly installed and maintained electrical systems can keep this voltage at a low level that science has shown does not have a negative impact on cattle.

In summary, the major key points for reducing stray voltage on electric fences are:

  • The safe use of electricity is dependent on our electrical systems being properly and adequately grounded.
  • Placement of grounding must be located at safe distances away from other utility grounds.
  • The conductor wire must be installed and maintained with quality non-conductive insulation devices.

And, last but not least – the use of insulated and non-conductive line posts will drastically cut down on possible failures, such as failed or broken insulators and wire attachment devices.


About Gary Duncan

Gary has been active in the fence business for over 15 years. He also raises Highland cattle in a management intensive grazing system and was the first person to market the PasturePro post back in 2005. He enjoys discussing all things grazing and is the main contributor to the blog.
This entry was posted in Fencing Tips, Installation. Bookmark the permalink.

119 Responses to Stray Voltage and Electric Fencing

  1. avatar jeff zimmerman says:

    does positioning ground rods around the fence[approx every 1/4 mile] away from and besides having the required number for the energizer decrease the possibility of stray voltage ?

    • avatar Gary Duncan says:

      Hi Jeff and thanks for your comment.
      I guess my answer will be, it depends. If you have a hot /ground system, then definately, yes it does. Example, if you have a 5 strand fence and 3 wires are hot and 2 are ground wires, then installing ground rods thru out you system will definately help. If the ground wires aren’t grounded you will often get stray voltage on the non electrified wires.
      I’ve had this situation on one of my fences. It doesnt bother me, the down side is that when it is extremely wet or grass loaded, it will zap more power out of the system.
      If you want to give me some more information on your system and how you have it hooked up – I might be able to envision it better.
      Hope this helps.

      • avatar jeff zimmerman says:

        6 strand , alternate hot/ground, with ground on bottom. the ground from the energizer goes to a pipe thrown in an abandoned well [ I just bought the place] 2 joule energizer on 12 miles total fencing with 3600v [tested] we have noticed occ shocks on metal gates. ?#2] I am fencing another 25 ac, fairly flat and ordered the PP1.25×6 posts for a 1700 ft run [ 7 corner posts in this] and I see from your previous article that the 1.5 is recommended for 6-7 strand [goats&sheep] , should I return the posts or will they be adequate ?

  2. avatar Gary Duncan says:

    Hi Jeff…..thanks for the follow up.
    Your voltage seems a little low. The stray voltage could be partly responsible. However my “rule of thumb” for power (energizer) requirements is 3 miles per joule. So with 12 miles of fence (and adding more) 12 divided bhy 3= 4 joules. As you are adding more fence, i would suggest an energizer in the 6 output joule range or larger, especially for goats/sheep.
    **To get rid of the shocks in the metal gates, I would suggest a ground rod at the gate posts, attaching all the ground wires to it.
    **The 1-1/4″ post should be fine. Just build a strait fence and do not overtension the wire. And adding a few wood line boss posts would be beneficial with a 6 strand fence. Anywhere there is extra downward pull (such as ridges or top of slope) is a good place for a wood line boss.
    Hope this helps ~ keep in touch.

  3. avatar Stacia Townson says:

    Hello Gary,
    I have a Southern States Solartrol 6 volt low impedance solar powered fence I am having problems with. The fence does not pop hard enough it is like a tickle on your hand. My horse sticks here neck through it or over it and sometimes goes through it. I have been reading some off your blogs and I think it might be the ground rods. Can you tell me how to move the rods to a better place without moving the box? And is there any certain order that the wires,box and ground rods need to be in? The way I have it run is the hot wire is coming from the box and going around the pasture.Then back to itself the two ground rods are near the box but the ground is rocky. The ground wire is run from the box to the rod. Does that sound okay to you?
    Thanks for any help,

    • avatar Gary Duncan says:

      Hi Stacia,
      I will try to answer your questions and will ask you a few as well.
      Do you have a voltmeter so that you can know for sure how much voltage you have on the fence ? if not, i would recommend that you get one or at least borrow one. You should have about 3,000 volts on the fence as a minimum for the horse. that would read 3.0 on a digital voltmeter in Kilovolts.
      I am not familiar with this brand of charger, however if it is a 6 volt solar, then it is probably pretty light duty.
      You can either loop the hot wire back into itsself or dead end it, shouldn’t matter too much on the voltage.
      I would suspect that if youre just feeling a tickle on your hand that your voltage is down at 500 volts or less, (reading 0.5 on digital voltmeter.)
      On the ground rods……2 each 6′ ground rods should be more than adequate for this size charger. But recommend that you get them 6′ deep in the ground. I suggest you check the connections and make sure they are tight and not corroded. You should use simular type wire from rod to charger. ie: if using a galvanized rod, use galvanize wire. If using copper rod, use copper wire.
      Also, these rods should be a minimum of 10 feet apart., joined in series back to the ground terminal on the charger.
      The ground rods may be located anywhere around the fence, but you will have the expense of running the ground rod wire back to the charger. The wettest and dampest area is best.
      If it is extremely rocky and dry, it may help to water the ground rods with either a hose or by bucket.
      There is also a remote chance that the battery is low in the charger if it has been overcast or no sun lately.
      Hope this helps and keep in touch…………I’d like to know what you find out and what the voltage reading acually is. How long is this fence and how many strands of wire ?

    • avatar Whisperingsage says:

      I have been having this same issue with my goat/sheep fence. We have 4 ground rods at 3-4 feet depth each, but the main problem is our ground is VERY dry. Premier recommended a “wide impedence” controller and I am running a 6 volt Parmak, which in less than one joule. I got to talk to a rancher friend who runs sheep with a Gallegher system and he told me all he learned from experience- we needed more joules. If you aren’t in a very moist soil all year round, you need more joules. Luke recommended 2 the first mile and 1 per mile after that. So 2 minimum. And the Parmak Max 12 volt barely makes that. Luke advised more joules for just the stray voltage effect as outlined by the great article above. Only it is for the animal to feel it and not for your gates and troughs. I am ruminating over the B280 Gallegher, the 12 volt max solar Parmak and the maximum Premier, but not their “wide impedence” recommendation as the joules are below 1, way too low.
      We know after an inch of rain, the fence works great, (as it is then making a complete circuit all over the surface of the ground, as an animal touches it). but it dries quickly and is of no use then. That is why we need more joules.

      • avatar Gary Duncan says:

        Hello Whisperingsage,
        Thank you for the comments — good dialog !
        First – about the ground rods. I generally recommend either 6 ft or 8 ft ground rods. The soil moisture will likely be better deeper down at 6 ft compared to 3 ft, especially under drought conditions. That would be an economical place to start. Pouring some water around you ground rods can help also, when its extremely dry.
        As for the energizer, I would happen to agree with your friend Luke. Sounds like you could use more joules. My personal opinion is that Joules is the power that pushes that electric pulse down the fence wire.
        I would caution you to try to compare apples to apples when you are comparing brands. Some manufacturers rate there chargers with Output Joules and some with Stored Joules. For example, Gallagher usually gives you stored joules. The Model B280 you mention is rated at approx 2.8 stored joules. That would equate to approx 1.96 output joules. (output energy is usually about 70% of the stored energy) The output joules is the energy thats actually applied to the fence.
        In that size range I might also suggest either Stafix or Speedrite. They make a 3 output joule charger that will run off 12 volt battery and/or, solar, or 110V plug in. Stafix model is the SX3 or Speedrite 3000. If you want to run solar, you can add a solar panel. You will need approximately 10 watts of solar panel for each output joule…..or for a 3 output joule charger you’ll need a 30 watt solar panel to keep your battery charged.
        Hope this helps !! If you need more information or some contacts of where to buy energizers, just let me know.
        Thank You,

  4. avatar sonata says:

    We have recently had an electric fence put up – now we have the remote controlled gate opening on “its own accord”. We sometimes just find the gate open but at other times have witnessed a spark on the electric fence some distance away from the gate – and at the same time the gate opening. One problem was an earth wire which had been attached to the metal gate and ended up shocking us and the dogs. Any ideas or suggestions would be much appreciated.

    • avatar Gary Duncan says:

      Hi Sonata,
      Humm, interesting scenario. This could be coming from several different sources. If you have shorts on the fence I would recommend locating them and fixing that problem first.
      Would like to know if your gate post is wood or steel and I am assuming that your gate is a metal gate. Would also like to know how many fence wires you have on the adjacent fence and if they are all hot or if some are ground wires.
      Once solution may be to install a 6′ ground rod near the gate post and ground off any ground wires and also the gate. If there is some stray voltage in this area, this should take it to ground rather than shocking you.
      Im not too familiar with remote gate operators and there are several different brands. If the gate controller is grounded, it may be too close to the fence ground. That could be a problem. Usually the fence grounding should be at least 35 feet away from other utility grounds, including powerline poles, etc.
      Hope this helps. As far as the gate opening on its own accord, you might check with the manufacturer or agent of that company.

  5. avatar mindy says:

    I have just moved my horses to a new stable. The previous owner removed his electric fence box and took it with him a few days ago. There is a large electric tower in the middle of one of the fields. While there was no box attached to the fence it was still producing a strong shock(in the feild with the electric tower). I have looked for a solar box or a bad wiring job and haven’t found a thing. I have followed the wires on the fence and they don’t seem to be attached to anything. Any reason the fence is still hot?

    • avatar Gary Duncan says:

      Hi Mindy,
      Interesting scenario and frusturating, I imagine, for you as well.
      I am trying to visualize the electric tower you mention in your comment. If this is a high voltage transmission line, you ‘could’ be getting stray voltage from those overhead electric lines – into your fence wires. As your fence wires are insulated from ground via plastic insulators, any stray voltage that gets into the fence wires has no where to go.
      One of my fence contractor friends called me one day asking a simular question……they were building a new electric fence, but had not installed the charger yet – his guys were getting shocked by the fence. I asked if there was an overhead power line where they were working. He said yes and we deducted that was where it was coming from, as there was no other electricity in that pasture.
      I would suggest that you could contact the utility company that owns that line and see if they have any suggestions and or could measure for stray voltage.
      If you get no satisfaction there, I would suggest calling a liscensed electrician.
      Another possibility could be other utility grounds in close proximity of the electric fence such as grounding for a water pump / well house, building grounds, etc. It is recommended that your fence grounding be located at lease 35 feet away from other utility grounds.
      I would also suggest that you get a voltmeter for electric fencing so you could take a reading on the fence wires to determine the actual voltage. Note that electric fence chargers put out a timed pulse rather than a continious current. Fence chargers put out a short duration pulse that is high voltage and low amps. Whereas, household current is just the opposite.
      Again, I would recommend calling the utility company and / or a liscensed electician to determine the sourse of the voltage in your fence.
      Hope this helps.

  6. avatar Al Currano says:

    Hi Gary,

    Very good article. I have one question, though. I am installing an electric fence to keep varmints out of my 2 acre small fruit plot. The charger manufacturer, Zareba, says that the first ground rod *must* be installed within 20 feet of the charger. But this would place it (in my desired installation location) within 50 feet of the ground rod system for my out-building, which has it’s own electrical service and 3 ground rods installed next to the building for that service.

    Your article states the following: “Generally most people install their grounding so that it is convenient to the fence charger, but this is not necessary. In fact I know many people that install their ground rods out in the middle of their farm. For example, a fenced off pond that has some seepage may be an ideal place…” That seems to contradict the Zareba installation instructions. But, being an electrical engineer by education myself, I don’t understand why it would be necessary to have the ground rod close to the charger as long as you have a good, reliable, wired connection from the first ground rod back to the charger gound terminal. Can you tell me why they tell you it has to be within 20 feet of the charger, and why you seem to disagree with what they say in your own recommendations.


    • avatar Gary Duncan says:

      Hi Al,
      Firstly, thank you for your comment. It has made me think and do a little research !!
      I called two professional energizer repairmen whom I have a lot of confidence in their knowledge. Both work on many different brands of fence chargers and have extensive electrical backgrounds. Neither could give me a definative answer as to why the grounds would need to be installed within 20 feet of the charger.
      So, to find an answer I decided to call Zareba directly. I posed your particular situation to them and the answer that I got was: It is more important to maintain the minimum distance of 50 feet from other utility grounds than it would be to locate your (fence charger) ground rods within 20 feet of the charger. So, the answer would be that you could install your ground rods beyond the 20′ distance that they mention in the installation manual.
      The Zareba personnel I talked to were very helpful and straight forward. A phone number there is 855-592-7322, and I spoke with Susan.
      I hope this helps.

      • avatar Al Currano says:


        Thank you so much for your very prompt reply, and for calling Zareba to ask them about this.

        I’m glad I checked with you first before beginning the work, because I was planning to compromise with a shorter distance from the utility ground rods in order to get the fence ground rods a little close to the charger. But based on your input I will definitely not do that. I may also give Zareba a call to see what is the absolute maximum distance they recommend for the charger rods, and what specific issues or problems might arise as those rods get further from the charger. But in reality, in my case I can probably keep them within 30 or 40 feet of the charger and still have them located more than 50 feet from the utility grounds.

        Thanks again.


  7. avatar Ben Hartwell says:

    I have a customer getting stray voltage in their Nelson waterer, especially when it’s very wet out. I forgot exactly how many rods I installed, it was a lot. I’m providing a link to a map that should explain it. I ran a wire from the new grounding system (NW) under the barn to the old rods (SE) to drop the ground system voltage down. Those ones may be too close to the waterer. I think I can disconnect those and branch off the first ground rod nearest charger, run an insulated cable underground to the building to the West and put more under that drip edge. Hopefully that will do the trick and I don’t have to totally re-locate it. This is very sandy/gravel/rocky soil on their farm and it’s a Gallagher MBX 2500 on not a very big farm. That’s 25 stored joules. However, it’s a “smart” charger and only outputs the joules it needs. I guess what I need to know is if I should plan on moving the charger which may require hiring trenching for conduit and hiring an electrician to put an outlet closer to the fence in another location.

    • avatar Gary Duncan says:

      Hi Ben,
      After reading your comment I decided to call you and I think we talked over several options on the phone.
      Ben was going to check the distance of the energizer grounds from other grounds and make sure that he had the 50′ minimum distance.
      The fence system is alternating hot and ground wires. We discussed relocating the energizer grounds farther away and using one of the ground wires to run back to the charger ground terminal. I did mention that if he did this to install lightning protection on this line, in case lightning got into the fence.
      I also thought it a good idea to have an electrician look at the hook ups and grounding on the Nelson Waterers….and the landowner was going to take care of that.
      Hope this helps !
      Good talking to you on the phone.

  8. avatar ingrid says:

    I think I might have figured out the problem, but I’d like to hear your analysis of what is happening. We live in the Pacific Northwest and it is often damp and stuff grows fast so I get a high load on my fence in a hurry. I try to keep it as clear as possible. Now, here’s my problem…

    Charger is “Parmak Super Energizer 4 (SE-4) Low Impedance Electric Fence Charger, UL Listed, 2 Joules
    Well-suited to shocking bears, the SE-4 (product 01-11A) can power a long expanse of electric fence and can cope with a variety of adverse weather and electric fence conditions. Voltage and joule data: Parmak reports that the SE-4 puts out 11,000 volts on an open circuit, 6,300 volts with a 500-ohm weed burden, and 4,300 volts (plenty to shock bears) with a significant 100-ohm weed burden. The SE-4 is rated at about 2 joules. ”

    Purchased to keep out bear like creatures (read my obnoxious Fjord gelding that thinks the grass is greener….) and predators from the sheep pasture. Is used to power single or double perimeter wire around 13 acres and cross fencing (some of which is electric netting)
    Worked great for a while, then we started having issues this last year. First problem was perimeter fence tape was getting old causing shorts along the way and loss of power… solved that with replacing wire with new aluminum wire. Still not getting full charge to fence, reading on box only about 6-7 kv when it used to be 12 kv. One day I noticed a clicking noise coming from the ground where the wire runs from the house to the back fence . This is an insulated wire meant for underground electric fence. My husband had been doing some digging in the area so thought he might have nicked the wire, so dug it up sealed and replaced. After that fence was hotter than ever, even exceeding specs (read 16K at the box and pegged the voltmeter anywhere along fence line even with grass). Then same thing happened again, so we dug it up, resealed and this time left it in a hole without dirt, but covered hole to protect it. This seemed to work fine again… now, over time, reading on the unit goes down, but is still acceptable. I attribute this to increased weed growth with summer and when I mow and move the mesh it improves as expected (bit not to previous level). Again, starts going slowly down, but not too concerned yet… Fast forward to this week, I’m working on the hoses and get shocked when I touch some unattached netting and the faucet…. Netting is touching ground pole, so hubby things current must be coming from the house (which has aluminum siding). So we think some kind of short from wire exiting the house…. So I tell him to do what he should have done in the first place and run the wire out of the house through conduit. So he does this and everything seems OK again, but reading only goes up to 9 kv. I figure it’s raining and weedy, so this is OK. Getting good power out to the peripheral fences at this time… So then today (2 days later, I’m out there and fence seems to be working, but as I’m walking the dogs over the buried (in conduit) line, they freak. They are getting shocked from the wire….. I check in the house and the charger is now reading 2….. huge short again and it is through the ground over the wire…. Can’t figure out for the life of me how this is happening with the wire running in the conduit…. With nothing in there but air…..

  9. avatar Steve Freeman says:

    Hi Ingrid,

    This is an interesting challenge! I’m going to consult with Gary but before I do I have a couple of questions.

    Did you replace the old insulated lead wire before placing it in the conduit?

    What kind of pipe did you use for conduit and if it was PVC did you glue the sections together or dry fit them?

    How did you finish off the above ground conduit ends where the wire enters the conduit? Is it possible for water to enter the pipe?

    After repairing one section of the insulated wire your needing to dig it up again and make another repair makes me suspicious of your lead wire. We have used lead wire that began to get small cracks in the insulation after a few years of use. Hard to see but easy for current to escape. We use conduit for our buried lines but we have also switched to the more expensive double insulated lead out wire. Digging up buried lines is not fun as I’m sure your husband can attest.

    Getting shocked when the netting touched the ground rod is related to the short in your fence but is a different matter. How many ground rods are you using for the S-4 and how deep are they driven?

  10. avatar Fat Pheasant Farms says:

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for all the informative replies on this site.

    I wanted to clear one thing up which may prevent someone getting zapped as I did. It seem I’ve always been taught that the current in a DC system (fence charger) flows from positive to negative (red to black) – As such, the other day I was mucking about with my fence charger, unhooked the black wire to ground and inadvertantly touched the black terminal. Dang. About had a heart attack when I got zapped and I’m pretty sure the neighbors heard me yell.

    Reason I mention it, is it’s always been my thinking that the electricity flowed “out” of the red terminal and wanted to “return to ground”.

    Here’s what I was reading:

    Is this true with fence chargers as well or was I experiencing something different?


  11. avatar Cherokee Farms says:

    That link has it right — current actually flows from the more positively charged area to the area of lower charge. By convention we call the more negatively charged area the “positive” terminal, for it is in fact the source of negative electrons. Sounds crazy, but that’s the way it is. That’s the idea behind Henry Ford wiring his automobiles with a positive ground system — just backwards from what we have today. It was his thinking, and perhaps rightfully so, that the system had a bit more oomph to spin the starter, when it was wired in that configuration. In practice I’m not sure it really makes a whole lot of difference, but more of an academic point.

    So, for this discussion, the source of the high number of negativly charged electrons is the “positive” terminal on your fence charger. The “ground” (all the dirt out there on your farm) is a dispersal plate which returns a percentage of the electrons to the charger completing the circuit which potentially results in providing the desired attitude adjustment in the critters being restrained within (or without, as the case may be) the fence as they touch the “positive electrode” (the fence wire charged with negative electrons) and become a part of that same circuit.

    Due to the nature of the ground system there are many electrical losses involved, therefore only a very small percentage of the charger output is actually returned to the charger, but without a good solid ground (as has been previously described with at least three 8′ ground rods spaced at least 10′ apart) that small percentage of current does not return to the charger and effective charger output is reduced. The charger is still producing 6000 volts of output, but it can’t complete the circuit so effectively there may only appear to be 500(?) volts being applied to the fence. The importance of a good, solid ground connection can never be over-emphasized.

    As I’ve read these posts I am reminded that in stringing all that wire over miles and miles we’re also constructing a great RF (radio frequency) antenna. We are constantly being bombarded with RF energy generated by cell phones, radio and TV broadcasts, as well as stray electrical losses from power lines, and lightening. These “antennas” (called fences) we build are electrically energized by induction from these various sources. The current induced is usually at very low levels so you don’t notice it as a “shock,” but a nearby (not direct hit) lightening stroke can induce enough current in the line to damage your fence charger — hence, lightening protectors. Things like overhead power lines can also induce enough current in the “antenna” to create a bit of a shock.

    Electricity is crazy stuff — be careful!

  12. avatar Steve Freeman says:

    Hey Cherokee Farms,

    Thanks for all the info. You’re right about it being crazy stuff, at least it seems that way to me sometimes. We have had customers with fences running along and under high power lines actually get shocked and show voltage—with the fence charger turned off.
    Also, since many of us have started using much more accurate digital fence testers we can see voltage readings even when the tester is inches from touching the wire. I’ve been able to get readings on corner insulators and the wire on the “dead” side of insulators. It shows how there is an electrical field around the wire when you’re fence is running high voltage.

  13. avatar Austin Funk says:

    We have recently noticed that we can touch our hot wire and not feel a thing unless we stick a finger to the dirt, then it works real well. In the past we got a strong shock just touching it, even when wearing tennis shoes. Running just a single hot wire, currently with a 2 joule Zareba. Got three 8′ ground rounds about ten feet apart with the first one about 18 foot from the fencer. I added another ground rod, 8 foot long 150′ down the hill where when it does rain, the water drains off the hills. Our land is a clay/sandy loam. I am wondering if because of this drought I’m not getting the usual results? Hate to hafta run two wires one hot and one ground. Seems like the cows are still respecting the single wire so I expect their making good contact. Anyone else having this kind of issue with the drought? We ended last year about 8″ behind on moisture and are currently about 12″ behind this year.

    My 100 mile Zareba with 6 Joule out put went bad and I am currently sending it in. It is with in warranty, the gal on the phone suggested that I do not have adequate ground and that was what caused it to fail. Why would that cause it to fail?

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Austin,

      Yes, many producers are finding that it’s more difficult to get a good ground with the dry weather much of the country is having. You are a brave man, I don’t think I could bring myself to hold onto the fence while digging my finger in the dirt to see if I get shocked! But knowing that this does ground you probably explains why the cattle are still respecting the fence; with their added weight and narrow hooves they probably are grounded enough to get shocked.

      For the charger you have I think you have plenty of ground rods. How are they attached? Are you using ground wire clamps?

      If we continue to get such dry weather over the midwest we may have to start building our hot wire fences more like it’s done out west; hot/cold wires to ensure livestock always are grounded when they touch the fence.

  14. avatar Steve says:

    Hi Guys, I have installed an electric fence in Jao Concession in the Okavango Delta, it runs thru very swammpy and very dry sandy areas. Iam gettind a major voltage drop on my return live wire. Earth spikes installed approx every 100 meters. Energiser is Nemtek Druid 114. Out going voltage 9000v, return-3000v, any suggestions.

  15. avatar hassan says:

    hi gary,
    i have recently installed an electric fence. its has a merlin 4 energizer. Problem is that whenever it rains the (combo tensioner standard) starts to spark and the fence goes into an alram. i have to clean them every time after the rain and when it drys up then its fine. Any suggestions.

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Hassan,

      Have you checked the wire attached to your combo tensioner standard back to the corner post? It sound as though you have leakage and using a voltage/amp tester would confirm it. My only other suggestion would be to check for a loose end on the tensioner. Sometimes I’ve noticed sparking on a very hot fence if there are loose wires or a wire end that’s not very tidy on the tensioner.

  16. avatar Ruth Collins says:

    Hi, wonderful post with a great conversation. I like it. Thank you for sharing.

  17. avatar Carrie says:

    I do not have a problem with stray voltage, but with our grounding rod. W have had an electric fence up for our horses’ 1/4 acre paddock for about 2 years. We recently got a pony that kept getting out. We started testing our fence and found out it is not working properly. We switched to a different fence charger, and it was the same problem. We believe it is the ground rod. When you touch the fence (or put a tester on it) it is very weak. However if you grab the fence and a t post it will “light you up.” We have walked the fence MULTIPLE times, and there is nothing on the fence, or any places that are grounding out. We went and got a new (real)grounding rod (the one we were using was rebar), and it did nothing. We have been reading about earth shorts and were wondering if those can just “appear.” Or if you have any suggestions. Thank you SO much for any suggestions, this has been VERY frustrating….

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Carrie,

      Sounds frustrating. My first thought is your ground rod is not finding any moisture to ensure a good ground. Easiest way to check is pour a bucket of water over the ground rod and then test again. So many of our fencing problems do come from lack of good ground. I would also suggest looking at your ground rod connections. Let’s try the water and see what happens. If it doesn’t work then there is a fairly simple way to test your ground.


  18. avatar Carlin says:

    We used a solar 3-mile .05 Joule fence charger for approx one year but when the land and fenceline flooded, it seemed to have ruined it. Ranchers told us these chargers didn’t have longevity so we’d do better with a bigger 10 mile system. We then graduated to a 30 mile 5 Joule solar charger which seemed great upon installation but failed 3 days later. Fearing a lemon, discouraged with solar, we switched to an AC 20 mile 5 Joule charger. Difficult to achieve specifications of grounding distances from the charger and ultility and water, the charger seemed to need to be placed near our house. Now it’s putting out 7000 volts on the line approx 150 ft long yet doesn’t work at all each time we try to add more line. Even a quarter mile stretch it won’t work with. This stretch runs approx 40 ft parallel to a powerline, then crosses under it and at the crossing point, the utility switches to underground. Could this be messing up the ground system and if so, could additional grounding fix the problem? Can we ever expect a ground system to draw past an underground utility line? We have fence on both sides of the line but really want a 10 acre plot beyond the utility line to be charged by our electric fence charger. With AC, the charger is on the opposite side, unless we run underground electric to that otherside in order to service the charger. This land floods so we hope not to try that.

  19. avatar Greener pastures dairy farm says:

    Hello there, I have what I find to be an interesting and unusuall problem. The other day we were dehorning calves with an electric dehorner plugged in to the same outlet my Zareba A100LI ( 6 joule out put ) charger is plugged into. Every time the fence would click and send the charge out to the fence the calf would jump like it was beging shocked threw the dehorner, with dehorner off calfs head it did not move ( no shock ). About a year ago or so I sorta recall an experience where I was turning off the light switch in a metal box and felt a shock for some reason I didn’t investigate it at that time but latter found no issue? Any help is greatly appreciated oh yea after readying this article I know my ground rods are to close together and also to close to the utility ground for the building. I’m gonna work on that today. Thankyou so very very much for this excellent article and all the advice you may have for me and the others you were able to help. Jason Muller

    • avatar Ben Hartwell says:

      Put the fence tester on the ground rods, if it’s not 0.2-0.3 or less, you probably need more rods. Your grounding system is like an antenna, putting them close together increases contact and surface area, but it doesn’t help with the “antenna” properties. Your rods should be more then 50′ from your utility ground. I suspect the voltage in the grounding system is too high and backfeeding into your utilities.

  20. avatar David Scudder says:


    This is a very helpful site. I have two questions:

    1. I recently installed a new Zereba , low impedence, 10 mile charger. The old one, three years old was only putting out 1.3KV. The system worked fine, 6-8KV volts everywhere on the fence until we had a hard rain. Then there was almost nothing, about 1.3KV In a few places I could get a reading of .5 – 1.3KV just from sticking the ground of the tester into the soil next to the fence. The other end of the tester was not attached anything. As everything dries out after the rain, the system is returning to normal. What does this mean?

    My thinking was that one of the following two things caused the problem.
    a) The rain made the posts wet and turned them into conductors, so that the few old insulators bled current into the posts, or
    b) Water got into the trench where the connector wires go under gates and grounded the system.

    But I disconected everything but 20′ of hotwire from the charger. It worked fine. Then I attached a 100 yard section with some older tube insulators. It worked fine there too. Next I connected one gate with wire under it and another 100 yards of fence. It still worked fine. Was it just drying out as I worked?

    2. I had a utility box installed at my barn a couple of years ago. They installed a huge ground rod. I asked the elctricians from the power company if I could use that ground for my fence charger. They said I definitely could. I have used that for two years. I have never been shocked around the barn. I do not use much electricity in the barn. No lights or equipment run during the day (only nightlights at night) unless I am using some electric tool. Why did the power company electricians say it was OK to use their ground for the fence changer, while everyone else says not to do so.

  21. avatar Steve Freeman says:

    Hi David,

    Finding shorts is often an adventure and using a voltmeter without an amp reader can really make it a bit of a mystery. Your two thoughts on where your current is going is where I would be first looking as well. And just like you are experiencing–the shorts can disappear as the the system dries out. Every cracked insulator is potential short that may only show up during wet weather. Sometimes you can turn the truck radio to the am band and slowly drive down the fence line and you’ll hear the “pop pop” on the radio when you get close to the short.
    After digging up and replacing undergrounds wire I was sure were the culprits and then found they weren’t- I now look for every other possible answer first. We also are careful to thread underground wire through conduit- as much to easily replace the wires as to protect them.

    I don’t know the answer to your 2nd question but I will ask around and see what I can find.

    thanks for the question and input. If anyone else has ideas for David please weigh in.

    • avatar David Scudder says:

      Thanks for your reponse. So what causes the volvmeter to register 1.2 KV when the ground is stuck in the dirt but the probe is up in the air?

      The instructions for the connector wire I used under the gates said specifically that no conduit was required.

      I have found some places where the fencing staples pinched the connector wire enough to cause a short. Usually you can hear that pop 30′ away but not always.

      • avatar Steve Freeman says:

        Hey David,

        I don’t have an explanation for the 1.2kv. I also have phantoms readings and can also get readings from posts, gates etc. when the fence is showing high voltage.

        The double coated underground wire that is manufactured by several companies is good stuff and most of the time conduit is probably unnecessary. However, we’ve found that it’s not a 100% certainty of never developing cracks or breaks [we have very rocky ground] and we’ve decided spending the extra $10 or to run it through conduit sure saves time and hassle if it does need replacing.

        • avatar David Scudder says:

          Greetings Steve:

          Here is what I have learned. It is not all of the story but it is part of it.

          My fencing is horse-wire fence with a single strand of hotwire on the top. There is 1 mile of actual fence on my 10 acres, which is fenced and cross-fenced into 6 pastures, ranging from .55 to 2.7 acres. There are 3 small training corrals and a garden plot.

          I installed the double coated underground wire you spoke of under many gates a couple of years ago. When I saw that no conduit was required I realized the job of installing wire under 8 or 10 gates was doable for me. I have three gates still using conduit and another type of wire. I have so many gates I cannot remember how many there are.

          I do not believe the problem is the lack of conduit. I believe it is the fencing staples, which hold the gate wire to the gate posts. I was careful not to drive in the staples so far that they pinched or cut the underground gate wire as it ran from the dirt back up to connect with the hotwire on top of the fencing.

          In a few instances, however, I drove in the staples in such a way that they crossed over the horsewire fencing as well as the underground gate wire. In at least one of these intances the electricity arced from the gate wire to the fence staple and then to the horsewire fencing itself. Even though the fence staple was not tight, it burned a hole in the gate wire. I could hear it popping 30 feet away, especially when the ground was wet. I belive that this was just because of the very close proximity of the gate wire and the fencing wire. That charged the horsewire fencing which contacts the ground.

          Therefore, I believe that current was passing through the horsewire fence into the ground giving me a reading of 1.2 KV when I just stuck the ground-pin of the voltmeter in the dirt close by without attaching the lead to anything. I will need to wait until another good rain to test this with certainty. I could hear the popping of that staple at the spot where I inserted the ground-pin in the dirt originally and got the 1.2 KV reading, so I was about 30 feet away. When the earth is relatively dry I get no reading. When everything is very dry there is no popping. But after a rain, when the soil is saturated and the fence posts too, that is when the reading appears.

          It is so dry, so much of the time here in this part of GA, that it is not very often that this sort of problem can be detected.

          I have had hotwire fences for about 25 years. I am fairly certain that I can look at at a tube insulator and determine whether it is adequate. So I am reasonably confident at this time that the problems I experienced (Substantial drop in voltage after a hard rain) are not due to bad tube insulators on the tops of the fence posts.

          But I will keep checking this because as Cole Younger (David Caradine) said in the film Long Riders, “Sometimes I am wrong.”

          Note: A) when it is very dry I run water from a hose over the ground rod to ensure that area stays moist.

          B) I have used the ground rod from the barn utilities installation for over 2 years now with no problem. What do you make of that?

          • avatar Steve Freeman says:

            Hey David–Glad you solved the problem. Over the years my attitude on voltage drops has changed. Where I used to get pretty grumpy when there were shorts, now I think of it as a mystery that is waiting for me to solve! I think you have this attitude and it can sure be satisfying when the source of the trouble is found. {the following is a plug!] Of course since I switched to PasturePro posts 8 years ago my mysteries are few and far between and I almost always know the shorts are on wire offsets we have on the barbed wire perimeter of the farm.

            As far as using the barn utility grounding I’m sure you are not the first or last to use this method. I’ve even used utilities grounds on rented farms and nothing happened. Every fence charger company and technician recommends not to connect your charger to water pipe or utilities grounding system–but my knowledge isn’t great enough to tell you what could happen other than the possibility of stray voltage.

            Thanks for the update and information.


  22. avatar Karen says:

    Can you help me? I have a parmak magnum solar 12 energizer. I have horseguard polytape 2 strands around 3 acres. I have four 6′ ground rods spaced 10 ft apart. I get a reading of 5.1 kv all around. However, when I touch the fence, (I had to test the tester) it’s a very weak shock. I can grab the tape and hold it. Don’t think I should be able to do that. If I touch the T-post and the tape at the same time it makes me cry. All would be fine if I could teach the horse to touch the fence and T-post at the same time. What have I done wrong?

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Karen,
      You’ve done nothing wrong, in fact the description of your fence sounds like you have done a good job building the fence and used plenty of ground rods. Is the ground moist where you are testing the fence and what kind of shoes are you wearing while holding the wire? Touching the t-post and the tape at the same time ensures you have completed the circuit and shows the energizer is working. I would suspect your ground is very dry or you have insulated soles on your shoes, or both. Some boots and shoes have enough rubber on the soles that you are insulated from the ground and therefore unable to complete the circuit. An all hot fence needs the livestock to complete the circuit through the ground. Livestock usually do this better than people because they are barefoot [or shod] and with the added weight push down in the ground enough to complete the circuit.

      Is your horse testing the fence? If that’s the case and the ground is very dry you may wish to try a hot/ground system. Instead of connecting your bottom wire to the energizers positive side, connect it to the ground connection. Make sure it isn’t connected or touching the hot wire anywhere on the fence. When the horse tests the fence then he will touch both wires and complete the circuit and be shocked.

      I guess if you don’t trust the voltmeter–you could touch the wire while at the same time touching the ground with your other hand to see if there is enough ground to complete the circuit. You sound much braver than me, I would trust the voltmeter as I can’t stand to be shocked! Or perhaps using a leaf of green grass to slowly get closer and closer to the wire until the “tingle” gets too much.

  23. avatar Eric Basore says:

    How is it possible to have an electric fence that shocks people but not animals? When I touch it, I get zapped. But the cats are using it as a back scratcher and the puppies don’t seem to notice it at all. Any ideas?

  24. avatar Julie says:

    We have a Parmac 100 mile fence charger. We have ground rods every 1/4 mile. We also use the rubber insulators that slide onto the smooth fence. Our charger is reading 17.2 most of the time. Never drops below 17.o . We bought a volt meter to use while back on the hills. When we put the volt meter on the fence it is bouncing from 10.0 to 13.2. Which makes no sense to me when our digital meter om the charger reads 17.2. Have u ever encountered this? If so do u have any ideas on why it doesnt read atleast close to what the charger reads. Could it be the ruuber insulators??

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Julie,

      I have not used energizers with built in volt meters so I’m going to give you my best guess. The reading at the charger is much too high at 17.0v. We use some of the most powerful chargers made and without a load do not get over 14v. The reading you are getting from the hand held volt meter is a real world reading and the variance between 10.0v to 13.2v quite normal. This is still a very high reading and would probably turn elephants if the soil is moist.

  25. avatar Greg Martz says:

    great article and great thread. A question if I may. I am going to be putting up some temporary net fencing for our goats around our 5 acres. This circle of fencing will be 2 165 foot nets. I am going to be buying a stafix X3 (or a speedrite 3000… is there a difference?) The question is about the ground. If I decide to mains the energizer, and just run a double insulated wire to the fencing (could be up to 400 feet from the energizer) where would I put the ground rods? The other option would be to go battery power, and move the energizer when we moved the fence. The goats would only be fenced during the daytime. Would I move the ground rods every time I moved the fence? I can’t see putting 2 6 foot rods then trying to get them out and move them twice a week! I also don’t really want wires all over the ground. Suggestions?



    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Greg,

      If you decide to run the X3 off 110 main power then place the ground rods near the energizer. If you want to use it with battery power then I suggest you use one ground rod and don’t drive it in so deep it’s difficult to remove. If the soil is dry simply pour a bucket of water around the ground rod to ensure proper grounding. With the amount of netting you are using the X3 is going to easily power the fence. There are also handy products to make moving your portable charger and properly grounding it much easier. Here is a link to an example of these products.

  26. avatar Bill says:

    I was wondering why I see 7000 volts lit up but these goats aren’t phased much when they touch it. The baby even nibbled on it, took a little hit and moved off. Thanks for any reply you may offer.

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Bill,

      I apologize for not answering sooner–somehow missed your question. I’m guessing your 7000 volts shows up on your charger, not on a tester. It would have to be very dry for a goat to nibble on the fence and not receive a shock-or a minor shock as you described if it was testing 7000 volts in the paddock where the goats were browsing. If it’s on the charger as I’m guessing then I would suggest you get a voltmeter to test the voltage along the fence as sometimes chargers will show a high voltage at the source but you lose quite a bit down the line. If I’m wrong and the voltmeter/fence tester is reading 7000 volts then we need to talk more to try to figure out the problem.

  27. avatar Charlie says:

    Hi Gary,

    Very interesting article and the comments and answers are very informative. I have a zareba fence charger rated for “10 miles” of fence. Its a 6 volt solar. The problem I have now and this just started a few days ago, is that I’m getting electricity coming back to my ground rods. It actually shocked one of the dogs. I have 2 6 foot galvanized rods and heavy galvanized wire connecting them at 10 feet apart. Normally I was getting 6000 volts all the way back around to the other side of my gate. Now with the poly wire (6 strands of stainless steel) hooked up to the charger I only get 1000 volts less than a foot from the charger. I took the hot wire off and tested the positive terminal and my ground rods and it kicked out 7000 volts. After that I took the ground wire off and hooked the hot wire back up and tested it and it shocked the crap out of me through the insulated test probe. I don’t really know that much about electricity and the only electric fencing I have messed with is this one. I have about 5500 feet of wire and its going around a 3 acre fenced in area with dog pens in it. Its puzzling me because it was working fine and then it just started acting up out of the blue. I have walked the fence and took care of and small weeds growing and the wire isn’t touching the fence anywhere. It is completely free of anything touching it. Do you think it’s my charger because the juice it kicking back through the ground terminal? Do I need to do something else with my grounds? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Charlie

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Charlie,

      I can’t tell you how many times I was certain there was nothing touching the fence and I eventually found a source of the short that I had overlooked. If your ground rods are connected correctly you should have plenty of ground rod for this size charger. Usually when the voltage drops so low and the ground wire develops voltage enough to shock you it means two things. You have a “dead” short on the fence and you could use more grounding. I would check the fence again-it won’t be a few weeds or grass causing this much of a short but a wire, rod, bad insulator to a metal post etc. that you need to be looking for. If you do find a cause for the short your fence will be fine but you might want to check the connections of the ground wire to ground rods or even add another ground rod.

      The only ringer in this is getting shocked through your insulated probe.. I have no answer for that so I’ll act like I didn’t read that part and wait to hear back about your search for something causing your dead short before we go there.

      Hope this helps,
      Steve Freeman

  28. avatar jbkdwill says:

    I have a 10 mile Zareba solar fence charger. I use it to cross fence my pasture for cattle. I let it sit 1 yr in my shop. (no livestock last yr due to drought here in OK) I charged the battery to full charge before reusing. It is only a 1/4 mile across and I am running two wire strands on tposts with insulators. The charger is approximately in the middle of the run “dead ending” in both directions. I have 3 – 6′-8′ (had to cut a few 8′ off short due to rocky soil) ground rods spaced over 10′ apart using galvanized insulated ground wire, rods, and clamps.(all bought at Tractor Supply at same time) When I test my fence it lights up my tester to the max 5000 volts.(cheap tester with 5 bulbs and ground wire) In my curiousity or stupidity I touched the wire. Figured I wanted to know just what my cows would feel. Well, it only shocked me like a static shock. With my work gloves on I could barely feel it. I checked the entire fence. No brush or grass making contact or wires touching metal, etc, etc. Tightened up my ground connections. In my frustration, I leaned one hand on a t-post and touched the wire again. Holy [email protected]#t did that hurt! I think I recharged my heart for another 50 yrs. That is what I expected when just touching the wire the first time. Any ideas on this? Is it possible my rubber soled boots were insulating me until I touched the fence? Will my cattle feel the shock I did when I was holding on to the t-post without them touching it? Or do I have a ground problem somewhere? Any help would be appreciated. (Obviously I don’t know electricity too well!)

    • avatar jbkdwill says:

      I forgot to mention. I do not want to take me boots off and touch the fence again to test the theory!

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      You may know electricity better than you think. Your rubber soled boots were the most likely reason you didn’t receive a good shock when touching the wire. With all hot wired electric fence the grounding has to come through the earth and if you have rubber soled boots on it keeps you from getting a real good ground. Livestock have smaller feet in proportion to body weight, don’t wear rubber soled boots [at least not often] and so they are often deeper into the soil helping to ensure a good ground and therefore receive a memorable shock.

      I have a friend who when crossing his 1 wire fences just steps on the wire as he crosses. I tried imitating him and found it not such a good idea if you don’t wear rubber soled boots plus your shoes have steel arch supports. I think I could have high jumped 10 feet with the help of the shock I received.

      From your description your fence charger sounds adequately grounded and registering 5000volts should be hot enough to turn livestock.

      • avatar jbkdwill says:

        That was my suspicion. I think I’ll just trust the meter and not take my boots off to prove the suspicion! Thanks for the feedback.

  29. avatar gayle says:

    My question is we have a horse farm and the electic fence is not working. I can touch the ground post and get shocked from that..But touching the fence I get nothing. I dont understand and am baffled by this. What do u think it is? Is it because the ground rod is not deep enough? But why would I get shocked touching the ground post and not the fence??

  30. avatar Marleen says:

    Hey there, I’m having a lot of problems with my electric fence. I have checked the fence many times all insulators are good no grass wires are all connected with crimps. I do not know where the problem is. We have a transform station on our property that’s connected to almost 200 windmills. There’s a line that goes through the field where I have my fence that is 35000 volts there is stray voltage on the property you can hold a fluorescent light bulb up and it will light up. I’m getting up to 2.8 amps on the fence tester but sheep are just going straight through the fence but as you go all the way around there’s only 0.4 amps. There’s 5 ground rods connected. And also used my dads fencer listed up for 240 acres and I’m only pasturing around 5 acres. Is stray voltage my problem? I’m so sick of this fence not working!!!

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Marleen,

      Wow–that’s a lot of voltage floating around on your farm. I don’t think or should say don’t know that the power lines for this high a voltage will cause you problems so let’s first assume they aren’t and work on the voltage drop you have. Trying to find a short and having livestock getting out at the same time is pretty frustrating. But the problem is solvable and just takes some detective work.

      Your voltage meter is showing a high of 2.8kv [Marleen meant volts not amps], which is not high enough to stop sheep, down to a low of 0.4kv which is essentially no charge. Does your meter have an amp meter as well? Here are some other questions I need answers for in order to help.

      What kind and how many wires are you using?

      Is this a battery or a 110v powered charger?

      Is there a large amount of brush/grass touching the fence?

      What kind of posts/insulators are you using?

      The first thing you can do is test your grounding system. Since you are showing such low voltage on the fence let’s assume you have a pretty good short or load on the wire. Take your voltage meter and get a reading on the ground wire. If it’s over a few hundred volts then you know you have a short or too heavy a load on the fence and probably a close to dead short somewhere on the fence. A reading of a thousand or more volts means you also need to increase your ground field.

  31. avatar Marleen says:

    Sorry I meant kv not amps

  32. Hi. I have an Intellishkck 20B Dc battery energizer from premier hooked to electric pig netting, also from Premier. I’ve been moving 5 pigs in the woods for about a month and everything went fine up until July 1, when they started getting out. Yesterday I watched the littlest gilt lift the fence with her nose, get shocked, and still come under the fence. Then all the other pigs followed, either going under or THROUGH the fence.

    We followed them around the farm and managed to corral them in fencing at least four more times. Each time they’d get out.

    We talked with Premier on the phone 6 times. They said we had to be doing something wrong in setting up the fencing, as the most we can get is 3 k volts on any part of the fence from the volt meter.

    We’ve tested the energizer disconnected from the fence and leads: 8 k volts. We tested the fencing rolled up and stuck in a plastic 5 gallon bucket: 6 k volts.

    But try as we might, we can’t get any more than 3k when the energizer is hooked to the fence. I have moved the energizer ground rod around, I have installed two extra ground rods 10 feet apart. Same result, 3k volts and pigs not respecting the fence.

    This fence is only 100 feet long. It’s not touching vegetation (thought it is MADE to go through vegetation). The fence isn’t touching wet dirt or rock.

    We do however have a very high bedrock shelf under our farm and I’m staring to believe I just can’t get a good ground because of it.

    What are we doing wrong? We’re at our wits’ end.

    Thank you,

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi David,

      I feel your frustration. Pigs are easy and hard to keep in with electric fence. A hot wire at the proper height always charged works great, but once they begin getting out they are able to overcome their fear of the wire and charge through. I’ve seen hogs back up and start squealing with pain, before, they make the charge through the fence. Real smart and can be a real challenge.

      Your idea of testing the netting in the bucket was ingenious. I’m surprised you had any voltage drop–the charger must be right on the edge of enough voltage.

      Is it possible you have a line of the netting wrapped around one of the foots of the step-in posts? This occasionally happened to us when we were using netting. Perhaps a broken filament/wire that could be touching the steel foot?

      Do you have access to a larger charger to try on the netting. You need to make sure it’s not an old weedburner type–they can melt the plastic in the netting. But trying a more powerful charger would give you an answer pretty quick on whether the problem is the charger or the netting.

      I don’t have any other ideas, your ground sounds more than adequate, though you could always dump a bucket of water around one of the ground rods to ensure a good ground.

      Please keep in touch and best of luck,


  33. avatar David Draminski says:

    I have a 60″ permanent dog fence that is newly constructed for a kennel. I was told the height was adequate by the breeder. The dogs hop over this like it is their job. I wanted to supplement with a couple strands of hot wire above the fence to keep the dogs in. Am I asking for trouble by doing this? If the dog is in the air when contact is made with the hot wire, essentially he will not be grounded. Am I thinking about this correctly? Thank you!!!! Any way round this?

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi David,

      Do the dogs climb out of the pen or do they jump it clear? If they jump it do they touch the top of the fence?

      Our experience with our small border collie kennel makes me lean towards climbing out. If that’s the case then making it higher doesn’t work and you could add a hot wire [use a low voltage charger] to the side of the kennel fence with offset insulators. Wouldn’t have to be at the top to be effective–just high enough that they wouldn’t receive a shock unless they were climbing the fence.

      If they are scaling the fence by jumping then I would be inclined to adding non-electrified wires at the top of the fence. If the posts are standard pipe posts there are attachments you can add to the posts that will give you more height. Then stretch some high tensile wire or better yet some netting that would thwart their attempts at jumping over without the worry of the dog being caught in electrified wire if they didn’t clear the fence.

  34. avatar Ryan says:

    I have a southern states (parmak) 6 volt fence charger and I am having a Ron of problems. The fence compass I have was showing the fence grounded but I couldn’t find anything on the fence. Then I found that there is a current coming through the wrap around insulators on the end posts. In some situations there was even a current coming through the staples holding the insulators on. When I removed the staples holding them on then there was no current coming through the insulators any longer. I’m just baffled as to why this is happening and how to correct the problem. Any help you offer will be greatly appreciated.

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Ryan,

      More than likely the staples pinched the wrap-arounds and allowed the current to reach the staples and conduct current into the post. However, unless there is a large load on the fence or you have an underpowered charger the drop in voltage shouldn’t be huge shorting out to a wood corner post. If the fence is completely shorted out [less than 1,000v] then I would continue to look for a dead short. With a dead short you will usually find a wire touching a barbed wire fence, a faulty insulator on a t-post, an old half buried barbed wire touching your electric fence, etc.

      What is the amp reading on the fence compass?
      Did the voltage go up quite a bit when you removed the staples?
      How many feet or miles are you charging?
      What kind of load do you have on the fence?

      Your charger is a smaller type charger and even though it may say 25 miles on the package it’s really shouldn’t be used for anything over a mile in real world situations. I’ve used the 6-volt Parmaks on rented ground and they have been very reliable and do a good job as long as you don’t ask them to handle more than they can handle.

      And since we’re talking about wrap-around corner insulators I might as well put my two cents in about their use. I really don’t like them. If used on pipe or smaller wood corner posts they will begin to crack and short out in a few years and are a royal pain to remove and change. On a larger diameter wood post they work okay, but in changing quite a few of these failed insulators I’ve often found the wire inside the wrap-around to be in poor condition showing signs of rust much earlier than the rest of the wire.

  35. avatar Marilyn says:

    Hi, and thank-you,I’ve learned so much about our fence from your blog.
    I’m leaking voltage some where and I wondered if you have any suggestions. I have a 10 joule energizer and it is reading between 7.8 and 8.2kv. When I test the fence it reads 3.9- 4.0 kv at the beginning and the end of the fence. We have 8 ground rods that are at least 6 feet in the ground ( 2 of them I could only get in about 5 feet.) I added a bucket of water to each of them and didn’t notice a difference.

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Marilyn–thank you for your comments and we’re glad we’ve been of some help. Your fence problem is not lack of grounding! Do you have a voltage tester that also shows amps? If so, then that’s where we start in finding why your voltage isn’t as high as you wish. Here is a link to a blog we wrote on using an amp tester.

      How many miles of fence are you charging and what kind of load is on it? Lots of the country has had large amounts of rain and this grows plenty of wet lush forage in the fenceline that will add a pretty good load to the fence. For cattle the voltage reading is high enough-especially if the ground is moist.

      If you don’t have a tester with amp readings then the next step would be to go down the line and either use switches to shut off sections of the fence, or if not switches, begin disconnecting sections by loosening split bolt connections or cutting lead/jumper wires in an effort to isolate the voltage drop and find the source of the short.

      Hope this helps and please keep in touch.

      Steve Freeman

      • avatar Marilyn says:

        I just wanted to let you know that once I cut the lush forage (along one hard to get at area that I was ignoring) my kv jumped up to 6.1. Thanks. I’m happy with that.

        • avatar Steve Freeman says:

          That’s good to hear and thanks for writing back. The chargers we now use are pretty amazing tools that can keep the fence powered through a lot more grass and brush than the old days -when every bit of greenery sapped the charger of it’s power–but they do have their limits.

  36. avatar Danielle says:

    I purchased the Zareba 5 mile .1 Joules output solar charger to use in my 1.5 acre horse pasture. I also have a small paddock I would like to use occasionally and was wondering if it was ok to move the charger between the two enclosures? I would prefer to only deal with one charger, as the paddock would not be used very often. The pastures are not currently in use, so I am just learning about these systems. I do understand that I would need to have grounding rods for each pasture. Thank you.

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Danielle,

      Sure you can move the charger and as you said just have a ground rod to connect it to in the smaller paddock. Some of our dealers sell a stand that holds the charger, battery and solar panel [if separate] and can be all picked up and moved in one piece. I think your charger has the battery, charger and solar panel all together as a unit which makes it easy to move. Many of the smaller solar battery charged units are used for temporary fences to protect hay bales, gardens trees etc. and are meant to be portable.

      Thank you for your question.


  37. avatar Jennifer T says:

    I have several questions.

    I want to keep a 17 lbs. long legged bengal cat inside our fence. I want to attach an electric fence a couple inches from the top of the 6′ wooden fence and put a ground wire stapled along the top of the fence also. We are looking at a perimeter of about 200 feet.

    1. I am looking at electric chargers, but not sure which to get. The cat is quick and I have witnessed on a farm animals getting almost all the way out then the shock nips then and sends them the rest of the way through the fence. So, should I be thinking about a continuous feed charger?

    2. I am trying to find a small electric charger since we have such a small area. Can I connect it using an extension cord? I have no way of plugging it into an outlet. I really didn’t want to invest in a solar paneled one as we have a lot of trees.

    3. As stated above, the wooden fence may provide insulation, a video encouraged stapling a grounding wire running along the top of the fence. Would this help to take care of the stray voltage? If not, how many grounding rods would I need?

    4. I am looking at a 2 mile/ acre type charger. .05 to .07 I also read reviews that some chargers kill birds/ small kittens. I want to avoid this so what size should I be looking at to hold in a large cat, but not kill anything?

    Any and all advice is welcomed!

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for the question. I will answer some of your questions but I don’t think electric fence is the answer to containing your pet.

      1. I don’t know of any continuous chargers but would highly recommend against them. It’s the break in the charge that allows animals/humans to let go of the wire. continuous would be dangerous.

      2. Yes, you can use an extension cord. If it’s not a battery model make sure you protect it from the elements.

      3. You would still need a ground rod for your charger–one would probably do it since you would use a small charger.

      4. One of the smaller chargers would work–you want a modern charger [high voltage, low impedance] and avoid the old “weed burner” types that could cause death among smaller animals.

      If it was my pet cat I think building an offset wire net at the top of the fence would be a safer method for containment rather than electric fence. There are offsets made for chainlink fence and I believe there are some made for screwing/bolting in to a wood post. They will 12″-18″ long and angle upwards. You could then use a soft short plastic snow fence type material or something similar to make a barrier. I’m not positive this would work but it would make leaping the fence much more difficult.


  38. avatar Jeremiah says:

    Hi, I am new at the electric fence thing, and am looking at a mile of barbed wire fence with three gates in it. One of the gates is completely insulated from the t post, but on the other two the wires on the gate are actually wrapped around the t post. What’s up with this? Shouldn’t the wires be insulated? Thanks.

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Jeremiah,

      If the gates are suppose to be hot then you are right–they should be insulated. Is the barbed wire fence hot?

  39. avatar Jeremiah says:

    Yes it is.

  40. avatar CLAY says:

    I am having a problem with a new solar fence charger. The actual outdide of the charger housing is hot but my fence is not. Is this a charger issue or possibly grounding ? I have 3 rebar posts about 3.5 feet in ground for grounding. Thanks for the help

  41. avatar Muhammad Amaduddin says:

    We have 11kv over head distribution lines , some portions of which are running directly under 132-220kv transmission lines. In some areas if the 11kv feeder is off from substation, the over head lines are still energized( tester shows induced voltages) which is probably due to the flux linkage from 132kv lines.

    Kindly help me with this situation. Few things which already crossed my mind are as follows.

    Burrying the 11kv over head to underground and or shifing the 11kv over head from their location far from 132kv lines.

    Kindly advice.

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Muhammad,

      This question is outside my knowledge base so I think it best to find an electrician to give you definite answers on the two ideas you presented.


  42. avatar bp says:

    can i disconnect one if the circuit boards inside the box? i have a 200 mile fencer and i dont need i only need about half the power.

  43. avatar john says:

    Hello. We have a Patriot P20. One hot wire running around the top inside of horse pastures. Our fencing is smooth steel wire with wood posts. Hot wire is getting 9k but our other smooth wires which should not be energized are reading about .3 to 1.7 each, which also translates into our metal gate and latches zapping us a bit.

    For troubleshooting purposes I disconnected everything except a 50 foot section of hot wire and made sure nothing was touching it. Did the same thing.

    Moved the unit to a new location and drove a new ground rod in. Retested and it is still doing the same thing. Tried a different charger from zareba – still doing the same thing.

    Could it be stray voltage coming up from the ground rod(s) through the wood posts and earth into the other wires?

    How far away from the fence itself should we begin to put ground rods? How many rods? In both of our current problematic scenarios our ground rods are right next to the fence.

    Because we are in Colorado Springs at 7500 ft elevation in winter, I am trying to troubleshoot this using 4 foot galvanized ground rods – ground is usually frozen or hard. Before I go pounding more rods in farther away from the fence to see if that works, can you tell me how to “pre test” this first to see if it will work? I really don’t want ground rods poking up all over the place as this would make for dangerous mowing come Spring.

    Thanks so much for any help and feedback!

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi John,

      Sometimes I think there is an electrical phantom running around making our fence diagnosis difficult. In this case I think I know the problem as it’s one I’ve experienced as well. Your fence voltage is very high, which is good, but with this high voltage you will get some voltage on the cold wires and sometimes even the gates. I’ve come to think of the voltage on very hot wires as more a field surrounding the hot wire which explains how small amounts of voltage is found on the other wires. I’ve even been able to measure low voltage on posts, insulators and wire on the other side of an end insulator when the fence voltage is high. This is usually not a problem but can be for gates or other items you need to touch.. For gates I’ve found a short ground rod on the hinge side of the gate with a wire attached to both the gate and the ground rod takes care of the low voltage in the gate. You need to attach the wire with some slack to allow for the movement on the gate.

      The higher the voltage the larger the field surrounding the wire. In the spring when there is more of a load on the fence and the voltage drops I think you will see this problem disappear.

      Hope this helps and please get back with me if it doesn’t and we’ll find someone who can delve deeper into the question.

      Thank you,

  44. avatar john says:

    Thanks for your quick response! I tried that and it did help. The gate is no longer charged, but the gate latch still has a reading of .3 – which I guess we can live with. 11KV on the main hot line. I will start reconnecting the rest of the fence tomorrow.

  45. avatar David highley says:

    Whilst walking in the Midlands of England we got off the path but could see it on the other side of a metal fence. I decided to climb over it but putting my hand on the metal fence I got an electric shock sufficient to throw me backwards 3 to 4 feet to the floor. Although ‘shocked’ I was unhurt. On inspecting the fence I noticed an electric wire a foot off the ground for keeping sheep in. I can only assume I touched this with my leg and the current grounded through me to the metal fence. I was surprised at the severity of the shock. Is this normal?

  46. avatar Joe says:

    I have a 6 acre pasture with 3 hot wires and 1 ground wire. I have two sides on one charger and the other two sides on the other charger. There is a clear separation between the two circuits. If I have both chargers turned on there is fluctuations on both lines. If I turn one charger off then the voltage is stable. Each system has 3 8 foot grounding rods 10 to 15 feet apart. The chargers are approximately 100 feet apart. Why is there fluctuations?

  47. avatar Jared bruning says:

    Hi there
    I have upgraded my stafix solar sxj to a stafix M1.2
    I now find my self with more hot wires than I would like
    It is a 6 wire fence. From bottom up its normal, normal, hot, normal, hot, normal
    There is power getting to all wires except the bottom two. I guess this has allways been the case, just that the solar unit was only putting out .2 joules so it did not register a reading on the not electrified wires. I have checked the entire fence and cannot find anywhere the hot and not wires are touching. I am not reading any voltage between my end strain insulators and the strainer posts. I have driven a 7ft galvanised pipe into the clayish ground with a stainless clamp connecting to the earth wire leading back to energiser. Located in New Zealand and it’s autumn so ground is pretty damp. Any thoughts would be appreciated

    • avatar Steve Freeman says:

      Hi Jared,

      There are a few questions and answers that may help pinpoint your findings on the fence but I’ll take a guess before asking. I’m guessing that you are not using a digital volt meter or you would have given me the voltage readings-so your meter reads hot or cold [normal]. What sometimes happens with an increase in power like you have experienced with the upgrade to a 1.2j Stafix is the voltage on a clean short fence tends to stray to wires, gates etc. that are close to the powered wire but still not touching. I visualize it more as a power field around the wire. Often a good voltage meter will start picking up voltage several inches away from the wire itself.

      If you have a digital volt meter what is the KV reading on the hot wires and the cold wires?

      Do you have any vegetation growing in the fence?

      Usually this problem goes away as the load on the fence becomes higher. Winter, with no green vegetation creating a load and voltage is quite high [7-11kv] I find readings on non-powered wires. Sometimes we’ve even had to ground our metal gates to avoid shocks during this time of year.

      Thanks for the question and hope I’m somewhere in the ballpark on the answer..


      • avatar Jared Bruning says:

        Hi Steve

        Thanks for the reply. I forgot to say I was using a cheep led meter. Getting 5-6000 volts off the hot wires and 2-3000 off cold ones. No readings off the bottom 2cold wires tho. Does stray voltage float upwards? Also this issue is absent on section of fence that is 250m long between wooden strainers. The intermediate posts are the y steel type we call warratah’s. There is no voltage reading on any of my gates either. Whilst I enjoy a good farmy challenge this is more annoying than anything. I might try more ground rods or earthing the non hot wires. Thanks again. Jared

  48. avatar Vernon Barton says:

    Hi Steve,
    I have a Parmak Mark 7 fence charger that I have used without difficulty for the past 4-5 years, but on starting it just yesterday, after no use since last fall, I find a lot of fluctuation in performance. The readout of the Kilovolts varies from 7.0 to 11.7 and then it will suddenly stop clicking and the readout turns off, then shows only the “period” lighted up with no numbers and a very quiet cycling that is barely audible in the device. Disconnecting it from the 110v plugin for a couple minutes or longer will restore function, but for just a few minutes up to 30 minutes and then it goes off and stops the loud clicking again.
    Is it time to buy another unit or is there another problem that makes this happen. I have just changed the connecting wire to the ground rods today because the old one was showing wires breaking at the connection, but that didn’t correct the loss of function when I went back to check on it again. 30 minutes later it was just showing the ‘period’ light again. I have walked the wire around the pasture several times and found nothing to short out the wire other than some tall grass, but I have cut almost all of that down now.
    We only keep some calves over the summer to ‘mow’ the 1.5 acre pasture and this summer due to travel, we just got them 2 days ago and this morning found that 2 of them had gotten out due to no power on the fence. I had thought I had a good charger up to this point, and don’t want to buy a new one if there is another problem that is causing this behavior. I have read most of the entries above and didn’t find anything quite like this problem, so hope that you can help, and soon, due to our escapee problem.
    I don’t have a voltmeter that measures the high voltages (Kilovolts), I don’t think. The one I have recently gotten is a “Clamp meter/Auto Ranging AC/DC True RMS 400A Clamp Meter”, but I don’t know how to use it for the fence charger and am concerned I might damage it with the high voltage and not sure how to do it.
    I would appreciate any help that you can give to a novice.
    Thanks in advance,

    • avatar Kencove says:

      Based on your explanation I would suspect an internal electronic problem with the fence charger. Occasionally after extended use a solder connection cracks. When the unit is not in service the crack is frequently undetectable, but while in use the heat generated causes the connection to pull apart and fail. Or, it could also be a circuit board malfunction. So, I would suggest that you consider sending it into Kencove’s energizer repair station for testing and repair. Here is a link regarding procedure for Kencove energizer repair service: . The Parmak Mark 7 sells for $105, (Item # EM4) so if the repair costs were half the price or less I would recommend having it repaired. If not, then it’s probably time to replace. The diagnostic charge would be waived if you purchase the new energizer from Kencove. Another suggestion would be to purchase a digital voltmeter or fault finder. (I feel strongly that anyone with electric fence should have a voltmeter) This will allow you to know what the actual voltage is on the wire at different points around the fence line. The Item VSXK is an economical and accurate digital voltmeter and VPA fault finder will measure voltage as well as, assisting in find any shorts on the fence.

  49. avatar Matt Aresco says:

    Hi Steve,

    We have installed a 9 strand electric fence (alternates hot-ground) around a 25-acre enclosure that we are using for gopher tortoise relocation. The goal is to keep coyotes out of the enclosure. The total fence length is about 7 miles (4100 ft. fence perimeter). The site is in northwest Florida and has deep, well-drained sands (but there is good moisture in the sands at about 6 feet down). We installed a Gallagher B100 solar-powered energizer (0.8 stored joules). We installed (7) 8 ft. ground rods located 10 ft. apart at the energizer and then another single 8 ft. ground rod every 1400 ft. around the fence. We tested the voltage on the output of the energizer at 5500 volts. We tested the fence voltage and get a consistent reading of 3300 volts all the way around the fence ( except directly at ground rods where it is about 3700 volts). When I test the fence touching the ground rod directly with the tester’s ground lead, the fence voltage shows 4400 volts. I tested the leakage of voltage at the ground as Gallagher recommended and it showed about 800 volts at the ground rod with the hot wires on fence grounded out. They said it should only be in the range of 0 – 220 volts. We would like the fence to be in the range of 4500-5000 volts to work effectively on coyotes. Do you think this is a grounding issue because of the deep sands or do we need a more powerful energizer?

    Thank you very much for your advice,

    • avatar Kencove says:

      This is an interesting project, not our typical farm fence!!
      Your energizer is very undersized…I am impressed that you are getting the voltage reading at 3300 volts. We generally recommend one joule of output per mile of fence. In your particular case, you should be using at least a 6-8 joule output energizer. Grounding in sand could be causing a small decline in voltage, but this energizer B100 is very small. A B100 unit is good for about 3/4 mile of fence line.
      In poor grounding conditions, you may still want to add a few more ground rods. Kencove Farm Fence offers a great line up of energizer that may suit your needs.

  50. avatar Scott Oosterhof says:

    Hello Gary,
    Thanks for all your advise and help I could not have done it with out you and pasture pro over the last two years.
    I have a six strand fence the bottom wire is neg + – + – +. So far it is made up of 3 pasture approx 8 acres each. I want to continue making pastures like this untill the entire 100 acres is completely fenced.
    I was thinking about hooking up the bottom hot wire to a separate charger from the top two hot wires. The purpose would be to take the load away from the top two. If I did this could I still use the same ground wires for both chargers. Or would I have to use the top two ground wires for the top two hot wires and the bottom ground for the bottom hot wire.
    I know I read some were that “they” don’t recommend using two charges on one fence but I don’t know why.

    • avatar Lacy Weimer says:

      Yes, you are correct in not using two separate chargers on the same fence. Reasoning is you can get feedback from the fence back into the chargers and damage one or both of them.
      Even though in your case (if I understand you correctly) you want to energize the bottom wire only, with a separate energizer? So, in essence that bottom wire would technically be a separate system. But the problem I see is possibly with stray voltage. It is common for voltage to stray from one wire to another especially if they are spaced fairly close together.
      There is a device called an “Energy Limiter / Flood Gate Controller, Item # MEL. It would be installed as a jumper that energizes the bottom hot wire. The limiter measures fence load and will turn itself off during heavy load, such as heavy wet dew or being underwater. That way it doesn’t suck the power out of your upper hot wires.
      Overall, I would probably suggest just going with a larger charger to power the entire system as you grow into it. Or, split the system into two separate fences and run a charger on each one, so long as they were not connected.

  51. avatar James Marrinan says:

    Hi I have a force field mx 18 it was sending full power till recently now it just sends very little power just reads to 2 on my Gallagher tester I have walked around and nothing major touching off it. The fence still lights up to the end. I have 3 earth bars which were checked by a electrician. We can’t seem to find the problem

    • avatar Lacy Weimer says:

      Is your Gallagher tester reading 2KV directly off the charger terminal with fence disconnected?? You may want to check the voltage directly at the charger. If the voltage at the charger is low, you may need to send your charger in for repair. Check out Kencove Farm Fence’s energizer repair station.

  52. avatar Evre Veress says:

    Great thread! I’ve learned quite a bit just reading the other posts.

    However, as I suspected, I didn’t see anything quite along the lines of my current predicament. I am currently in the midst of a full out war with a nasty family of raccoons. A couple of months ago I installed a large wooden bird feeder from our second story deck so that we could watch the birds from the kitchen window. Using 4 x 4′s and some hardware I connected it to the exterior under carriage of the deck so that the bird feeder protruded a few feet from the deck and sat up above the railing. Thus, solving the mess of all the excess seed and droppings that would typically end up on the deck.

    Anyhow, all that I succeeded in doing was creating the world’s greatest raccoon feeder! I’ve tried several different methods of negative reinforcement and now we’ve decided to try and electrify the two possible routes to the feeder. However, after getting a basic pulsating wire energizer and doing some research into the set up, I began to realize that there may be an issue with the grounding of both the system and the target raccoon.

    They either come up under the deck using a wood support beam that has a metal gutter affixed to it, which sits on the concrete pad below or they take the stairs, jump on the composite railing and reach over to the feeder.

    First question is would the raccoon even get a shock if I energized a wire around the 4 x 4 extension, the support beam or the railing? Would the deck act as a path to ground? I’m thinking no as everything on the deck is a poor conductor.

    Secondly, as a way around that fact, could I put the ground wire on one side of the pole and the hot wire on the other, so that when they are shimmying up they’d complete the circuit and get a shock? Could I use the metal gutter that’s attached to that support beam as part of the ground?

    I appreciate any insight you might have before I spend 10 hours pulling my hair out only to check the video and see them munching away all night!

    Thank you!

    • avatar Lacy Weimer says:

      You can create a posi/neg system, which is what you are describing near the end of your blog post. I would not ground to any part of your home. Run the ground from the energizer and the neutral wire directly to the ground via and underground cable. GU50 . By grounding the neutral wire the raccoon will complete the circuit and get shocked!

  53. avatar Nick says:

    just curious if anyone could give me some advise, I have a 10 mile Zareba solar fence charger with one 6 wire continuous aluminum wire run around a small 60 x 120 lot with 3-8′ copper grounds approx 10′ apart in a well moisturized area. The ground under fence is all dirt no weeds or anything touching the fence. The fence is on metal t post’s with yellow insulators. The problem i am having is that, the box is putting out charge until i hook the fence to the box. Then I instantly have nothing, box still shows it is sending the charge but there is no charge going into the fence. Can anyone give me an explanation for my problem. Or a possible fix.


    • avatar Kencove says:

      Start by checking all connections, jumpers, or under ground wires for leaks or direct shorts. It sounds as though you might have a direct short on the fence line. Double check that the fence in not contact with a t-post anywhere on the line. What is the direct voltage from the energizer?

      • avatar Nick says:

        All the lights on my cheep tester light up. Then nothing when I touch the fence to the terminal.

      • avatar Nick says:

        Went though insulators till found one with a void on the center which was allowing the fence to ground to a T post.

        Thanks for you help.


  54. avatar Linda says:

    I have a zareba 10 mile DC fence charger it is reading7,700v at the charger, but the fence is reading 3.3 down to 2.2 it varies. Do you think I need a bigger charger? I have about 12 gates, double charged wire high tensile. I have checked and fixed problems along the lines, but do have heavy weeds.

    • avatar Linda says:

      Sorry not double charged, I have 2 hot wires

    • avatar Lacy Weimer says:

      That Zareba energizer is very small. We recommend 1 Joule of output per mile of fence line, with medium weed load.
      You have mentioned that you do have heavy weeds, so your energizer is very undersized. You will also loose some voltage do to resistance at your connections, such as at the 12 gates. Do you have energized gate or use under-gate wire?

  55. avatar Ron says:

    I have a single wire electric fence with insulators attached to tee post. Due to dry conditions I plan to add another wire below existing wire to make it a hot and ground wire fence. Is there a need to use insulators on the ground wire?

    • avatar Lacy Weimer says:

      No need for insulators on the non-hot wire…will create a larger ground field. Be sure to run back this wire back to the original ground field and into the negative terminal of the energizer.

  56. avatar garry cook says:

    i will like to purchase electric fence wire from your company.Can i have a link that will take me directly to the types of electric fence wire that you carry with the prices attached to it.What types of payment do you accept?

    Have a nice day !

  57. avatar Barry Schönfeldt says:


    I have a 360 meter fence with 14 live wires. total live length = 5040 meters. I have a 7.6 joule charger measuring 9900 Volt on the output. It seems that with every lap of the fence I have a 500 V drop. This means that on the 14th wire at the return I am left with 2000 V. Is this normal and what kind of Voltage drop/Meter can be expected on average?

    • avatar Lacy Weimer says:

      You will experience voltage drops with each additional line wire, however there are a few ways to minimize the loss. If you go out and then jump down and come back and then jump down and so on you will loose the most voltage. Jumping all wires at beginning of the fence line is the best way to minimize the voltage drop. You can also jump wires at both ends of the fence, but this will make fault finding difficult.

      I would try jumping all wires at the beginning, testing the fence and if there are no shorts you may want to go to a larger energizer. Maintain between 3500-5000 volts for best results.

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    War film is a film genre concerned with warfare, typically about naval, air, or land battles, with combat scenes central to the drama. It has been strongly associated with the 20th century. The fateful nature of battle scenes means that war films often end with them. Themes explored include combat, survival and escape, camaraderie between soldiers, sacrifice, the futility and inhumanity of …

  60. avatar Bob says:

    A whip antenna is an antenna consisting of a straight flexible wire or rod. The bottom end of the whip is connected to the radio receiver or transmitter.The antenna is designed to be flexible so that it does not break easily, and the name is derived from the whip-like motion that it exhibits when disturbed.Whip antennas for portable radios are often made of a series of interlocking telescoping …

  61. avatar Bob says:

    THE GOOD CRIMPING GUIDE … C. Properly prepared wire D. A properly trained operator 18-14 TYPE-F … B. Requires a more relaxed crimp that wire barrel crimp

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