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What is an electric fence and how do they work?

What is an electric fence?

By definition of AS/NZS 3014:2003 Australian New Zealand Standard for Electrical installations โ€“ Electric fences – Document: AS/NZS 3014:2003
An Electric fence is โ€“ A barrier used to contain animals within or exclude animals from a particular area that includes one or more electric conductors, insulated from earth, to which regular electric pulses are applied by an energizer

What is an electric fence and how does it work?
Diagram showing a 3 strand live wire electric fence. Arrows represent current flow when an animal touches it

How does an electric fence work?

An electric fence works by using a controlled pulse sent out along a single or numerous live wires that are insulated from earth. The insulation of the live wires prevents the electrical current from completing is circuit to ground. Once the conductive body of an animal touches the live wire, the current running through it will have a path back to earth, usually through the body of the animal and into the ground. As the current is passing through the body of the animal in contact, it will pass over the muscles causing a sharp and considerable contraction. This is the boot or kick feeling you get if you have ever been unfortunate enough to touch an electric fence live wire. While startling and inconvenient a farm or pet electric fence shock does not cause any notable damage or injury to animals if used in accordance of the manufacturers instructions and general electrical safety principles.


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