Troubleshooting & FAQ

 

Troubleshooting

It can appear to be a daunting task, to locate and fix a fault on your electric fence. Although there are several things that can go wrong with any electric fence, going through them methodically will allow you to find and repair any problems. Starting with the fence energiser the steps below will guide you on how to test your fence set-up.

What you will need

An essential piece of equipment for dealing with a fault on any fence is a Digital Voltmeter/Fence Tester. This will allow you to test the power levels on the fence, and aid in locating areas where there may be problems. Finding a problem on any fence is done by a process of elimination. Working through from the energiser to the earthing, then the cables, and finally the connections and fence line.

Using the voltmeterDigital Electric Fence Tester

  1. The first step to testing any electric fence is for you to use your Voltmeter to take a reading of the fence line. To do this attach it to the fence line, moving it for laterally to make sure you have good contact, then place the probe into the ground.
  2. If the fence has a power drop of between 10 – 20% then it is most probably a problem on the fence line and you should check for vegetation touching the line. If it’s a larger drop that would suggest there is a problem with the energiser.
  3. To locate the fault you should move along the fence taking readings at 100 metre intervals. You will know you are heading in the correct direction of the fault as the voltage will drop by approx 100 volts every 100 metres as you get closer.

Energiser

To check the energiser the first step to take is to disconnect the earth and fence cables from the terminals, then use a voltmeter in these terminals. A standard reading should be well over 5000 volts, although this can vary so you should consult the instruction booklet for your energiser.
If the reading is under 5000 volts the the fault is with the energiser and this may need replaced.
If there is no voltage you need to check the supply of power to the energiser. On a battery powered energiser you should check the battery is fully charged. On mains powered you should check the fuse and make sure the power supply from the mains is working. If the voltmeter reading is over 5000 volts then the next step is to check the earthing.

Earthing

The earthing installation being poorly installed is a common cause of low voltage on your electric fence. With up to 80% of all faults being caused by earthing. Ensure that your energisers earth stake is placed where it isn’t overly dry. In the summer months it may be necessary to water the area.

Connection cables

The next step of checking your electric fence is to test the connection cables. To do this you need to disconnect the cables form the fence line. Then use the voltmeter to take a reading. You are looking for the reading here to match the earlier reading from the energiser.


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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What’s the best energiser type for me – battery, mains or solar powered?

Mains powered is the most suitable for a permanent fence that has a mains supply nearby, it can also be housed indoors and a cable can be used to run to the fence. Battery powered is great for temporary fences or where no mains power is available, as they can be kept outdoors. Solar powered is versatile and can be used all locations as long as there is access to enough sunlight. It is a more environmentally friendly way to power your electric fence and is lower maintenance than a standard battery energiser.
 

2. How many posts will I need to use on my fence?

The recommended amount would be an average of one every ten metres. One of the great advantages of an electric fence is that there is much less material required than for a traditional fence, so it’s easy to erect and take down. Insulators are also needed for the wood posts. More information depending on your requirements in Electric Fence Maintenance & Post Spacing.

 

3. Is it better that I have a more powerful energiser than I need?

The bigger the output from your energiser, will increase the amount of power needed to run it. This will increase the cost. Although giving yourself some power over what you need, which will be useful if the need arises to increase the length of the fence.
As sunshine is free, the solar may not be impacted by any increase in cost.

 

4. There doesn’t seem to be much of a kick off my electric fence?

Any fence should have a minimum of 3000 volts running at any point in the line. Bear in mind that with the animal having possibly a wet nose, bare feet, and standing on wet ground its experience of touching the fence will be different from yours.

 

5. If I don’t put the fence line in a loop will it still work?

No there is no need to loop the fence line back to itself, the fence line can be run out and terminated at the end. When the animal standing on the earthed ground makes contact with the fence line completes the circuit and received a shock, therefore the power runs along the fence line into the animal down to ground back to the energiser through the earth stake.

 

6. Is it a problem if grass/vegetation is making contact with my electric fence?

Yes this will definitely cause problems with your electric fence as anything touching the fence will cause it to ‘leak’ power causing the fence to be less efficient. This includes but is not limited to weeds, wooden posts, barbed wire, branches of bushes, and grass.

 

7. Why does my electric fence seem to not work as well when the weather is dry?

When the weather has been dry for a while this inevitability causes the soil to dry out. This makes the soil less conductive and reduces its effectiveness. You can combat this by increasing the number of earth stakes and wetting the ground around the earth stakes.

 

8. Will the electric fence hurt my animals?

No, the energy through the fence is sent in pulses which allows the animal to move away. What the animal experiences is similar to cramp and after touching the fence a few times most animals will learn to avoid the fence.

 

9. How do I prevent “cribbing”?

An electrified wire can easily be added wire to an existing fence. This option can prevent “cribbing” or chewing the tops of wood fences, as well as keep horses from jumping, or prevent animal pressure on the fence. A range of insulators is available to allow an electrified wire to be erected on the top or interior of the fence. Offset type insulators will put the fence wire 150mm out from the existing fence, preventing animals from pressing against it.

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