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Common mistakes to avoid while electric fencing

Whether you are setting up an electric fence or have had your electric fence set up for a while there are common mistakes and changes in conditions that can result in you saying to yourself, “Why isn’t my electric fence working?”

Poor earth or grounding connections on electric fences.

The most commonly overlooked electric fence fault and the most important factor of an electric fence circuit in some respects is the earth (negative, – symbol or ground). The electric fence earth is vital for the flow of the electrical charge that travels along the fence wire and though the animal thus creating a shock. If there are insufficient beneficial factors (discussed below) resulting in a poor earth connection, little to no shock will be felt by the animal you wish to contain or exclude from your electric fence boundary.

There are several factors that combine to give your earth part of the circuit an excellent path for electrical flow resulting in larger more effective shocks.

  • Surface area of earth stakes – More surface area means an easier path for electrons to find their way and flow through with less resistance as they travel through the ground. Think of your earth stakes as aerials for the electrical flow to find home. More is better and you can never have too many earth stakes!
  • Condition of the soil – Different soils and mediums have different electrical properties. Dry soils holding less moisture and conductive materials have a harder time allowing the flow of electrons in your electric fence setup. Consider using Bentonite Earth Stake Kits and water to increase the conductivity of your earth stake bank.
  • Distance from the energiser- If your earth stakes are too far from your energiser the power traveling through the ground becomes weaker the further it has to travel. For longer distances consider running an earth wire and connecting earth stake banks at set intervals. Intervals should be set in consideration of the soil or medium conductivity and moisture levels.

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Using an energiser that isn’t powerful enough or not right for the job

Choosing the right electric fence energiser can be a confusing task if you are unfamiliar with electric fencing and how it works. Understanding what the numbers and differences mean to your particular problem is what needs to be figured out.

What do these numbers mean?

Electric fence energisers are marketed by many factors but there are two main factors, their distance (in Kilometres and Miles) and their joule rating (Output and Stored joules). Deciding which of these two factors to consider first is important and always the same, while energiser distance is important in the end decision, the joules are the most important and initial factor that will determine the correct energiser type.

Different animals need more or less power for various reasons including their size, intelligence, stubbornness/determination, insulating factors like coats and fur. Finding out what animal needs as a minimum will require some investigation and opinions vary.

As a very general set of rules

  • There is on average 1 joule of energy per 10km of energiser rating eg: a 5km energiser will have around 0.5 of a joule and a 20km energiser will have 2 joule.
  • Average sized dogs, pets and smaller animals require no real consideration for the joule rating as most of the smaller rated energisers for both distance and joules will have enough power to control or exclude them. A little 1km or 2km energiser or 0.1 or 0.2 joule is sufficient
  • Stubborn animals like pigs goats and sheep should be contained with no less than a 10km or 1 joule energiser. Some breeds and personalities may be fine with less but this is very general as a rule.
  • larger feral animals and larger game that will not respect or remember the fence like kangaroos, deer, feral pigs and wombats require as much energy as possible within reason. Some situation may even call for a combination of standard type fence construction mixed with electric fencing as they do not resect or understand the electric fence at all and can create all sorts of mess if they end up challenging the fence.

Other specifics used to compare electric fence energisers include:

  • Voltage: You can find out more about electric fence voltage here. Most energisers put out about the same voltage. On average this is around 7500 Volts.
  • Power Supply – Electric fence energisers can be powered from the mains 240v, batteries from D cell up to 12v or a battery and solar recharged setup.
  • Pulse rate – some energisers will allow for a change in pulse rate to either conserve energy with a slower pulse or to speed it up for control of fast paced animals.

What else you should consider when choosing the correct electric fence energiser

  • Are there going to be any factors like vegetation or constant contacts that will require extra power from the energiser

For more information on energisers and their types check out our article on What is an electric fence energiser


Common mistakes to avoid while electric fencing 1
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