Installation of Electric Fence Grounding and Energizers

How does an electric fence work?
Tips for proper installation of a livestock electric fence
Tools & Accessories Needed to Install Your New Energizer
Accessories Needed
Step 1. Complete Ground System Installation
Step 2. Installing the Fence Energizer and Lightning Protection
Step 3. Verify that your Ground System is Working
Safety Considerations
Supplemental Instructions for Battery Powered Energizers
Supplemental Instructions for Solar Charged Energizers
Solar Energizer Maintenance


How does an electric fence work?
An electric fence is just a large open circuit waiting to be closed. The energizer or solar electric fence charger sends a high voltage pulse of electric energy through the wire, electric fence tape or rope at short intervals, usually between one and two seconds. The circuit is closed when an animal, which is standing on the ground, touches the fence. The electric energy in the electric fence wire flows from the fence, through the animal's body and to the ground causing the animal to be shocked. The animal will only respect the shock if both the voltage and energy are at proper levels. Environmental, fence and ground conditions influence the level of shock received. It takes a minimum of 700 volts to effectively control short haired breeds of cattle, pigs and horses while it takes about 2,000 volts for long haired cattle, sheep and goats. Depending on the type and breed of animal, it may take multiple shocks before they are fully trained to have respect for the electric pet fence.

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Tips for proper installation of a livestock electric fence
  1. It is important to select and purchase the correct size electric fence energizer for your application. It should have sufficient power to charge the entire electric fence system under the worst conditions. Poor electric fence conditions usually take place in warm weather when plant growth is the greatest.
  2. Ensure that the grounding system is complete as many fence failures are caused by faulty grounds on the electric fence installation or improper maintenance.
  3. Another area that often results in fence problems are incorrectly connected lead, ground and fence connections/splices. Make sure to use the correct grounding rod clamps (Part # 900500), crimps (Part # 200143, 200144) and connectors to ensure proper contact of metal surfaces.
  4. When wire must travel underground in cases of gates or lead out wires, make sure that you use properly rated (at least 20,000 volts) underground wire (Part # 664102). Do not make the mistake of using standard extension cord wire which is rated significantly lower (about 600-700 volts).
  5. Proper maintenance of your electric fence or solar electric fence is critical. Periodically check your electric fence gates and other parts of the fence for limbs and branches . Also, check your fence with a electric fence tester to see how effectively the fence is working.
  6. Training of your animals to an electric fence is especially important if this is the animal's first experience with such a fence. Do not leave animals unsupervised until they are aware of the fence and have respect for it.
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Tools & Accessories Needed to Install Your New Energizer
  1. Screw Driver - For Mounting Energizer and Cut-Off Switch
  2. Wire Cutters (Part #200141) - To Cut and Strip Electric Fence Insulator and Insulation
  3. Post Driver - To Install Ground Rods
  4. Digital Volt Meter (Part #660055) - For Electric Fence Testing & Troubleshooting
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Accessories Needed
  1. At least Three Galvanized Ground Rods - Minimum 6 feet by 1/2" Diameter (Part #900506)
  2. Three Ground Rod Clamps (Part #900500)
  3. Insulated Underground Hook-Up Wire - 50 feet (20,000V Rating)
  4. Locate an area of soil for placing ground rods that contains good conductive earth (not sandy or rocky). Soil that is moist throughout the year is best. The ground system should be located within 75 feet of your fence energizer and at least 25 feet from buildings.
  5. Locate Ground System a minimum of 75 feet away from:
    1. Utility Company (Electric, Gas, Water) Ground System.
    2. Underground Water Pipe
    3. Metal Water Tanks
    4. Metal Siding on Building
  6. Drive three 6 foot by 1/2" galvanized ground rods 10 feet apart in a straight line or a triangle pattern in the selected ground area. Leave 6 inches above the ground for securing ground clamps. Mark the area as a hazard.
  7. Connect the ground rods, in series, with one piece of continuous 10 to 14 gauge galvanized wire. The ground hook-up wire should be equal to or larger than the diameter of the fence line wire.
electric fence garden
Figure 1. Ground System Installation
  1. 12-14 Gauge Galvanized Fence Wire.
  2. Ground Rods - 6 feet long by 1/2" (or more) in diameter, Galvanized Steel Rods.

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Step 2. Installing the Fence Energizer and Lightning Protector
  1. Locate the energizer within 75 feet of your ground system. Use only polarized extension cords. Mount the Fence Energizer:
    1. At eye level and out of the reach of small children and livestock.
    2. Protected from weather and moisture.
    3. Away from all flammable materials & gasses in a well ventilated area.
  2. Before connecting the "Fence" and "Ground" energizer terminals, plug in or "power on" the Energizer and check the output voltage at the terminals with an Electric Fence Volt Meter (Use only voltmeters designed for this purpose. Part #660302). Record the voltage as a benchmark for future reference. You should see the indicator light flashing and hear a "click" at 1 to 2 second intervals.
  3. UN-PLUG OR TURN OFF THE FENCE ENERGIZER and then connect the "GROUND" terminal to a 10 to 14 gauge insulated lead out wire (rated at 20,000V). The lead out wire (Part #900121) is also known as a "hook up" or "underground electric fence wire". Connect the opposite end of the wire to the closest ground rod using a ground clamp and shiny bare metal contact surfaces. Then, connect the "FENCE" terminal to a 10 to 14 gauge insulated lead out wire (rated at 20,000V) and connect the opposite end to a fence "Cut-Out" switch located on the first fence post.
  4. Plug-In the fence energizer and measure the voltage at the "Cut-Out" switch before and after activating the fence. Record these voltage measurements for future use as a reference when checking the fence connection.
electric fence solar
Figure 2. Electric Fence Energizer Installation
  1. Insulated Hook-Up Wire (20,000V).
  2. Galvanized Fence Wire.
  3. 6 feet Galvanized Ground Rod 1/2" Diameter.
  4. Ground Clamps.
  5. Power Supply - Use Power Supply specified by label on energizer only.
  6. Ground Rods MUST by 25 feet min. from building foundation.


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Step 3. Verify that your Ground System is Working

The quality of the ground system is vital to maximizing the performance of your fence energizer. During dry seasons or during seasons when there is excessive growth or vegetation on the fence line, it may be necessary to upgrade your ground system with extra ground rods.

To Test the quality of your ground system: function:
  1. Un-plug your fence energizer.
  2. Place the fence under heavy load by "shorting" the fence as follows. At a location on the fence at least 100 yards from the energizer, lean 3 or 4 steel stakes or T-Posts against the "hot" wire of the fence. Alternatively you may push several pieces of fence wire into the earth and wrap the opposite ends around the hot wire.
  3. Plug in the energizer and check the fence line voltage with a Digital Volt Meter. You want to see that the voltage has dropped below 2,000V due to shorting the fence. Continue to short the fence by leaning steel posts or by making wire connections to ground at 100 yards distance or more from energizer until the fence line voltage drops below 2,000V.
  4. You are now ready to test the energizer ground system. Connect one lead of the digital volt meter to a 12 inch metal stake driven into the ground 3 feet away from the last fence energizer ground rod. Connect the second lead to the ground rod furthest from the energizer. The voltage reading should ideally be Zero or no more than 200V. If you do not have a Digital Volt Meter, you may test by putting one hand on the ground (dirt) and one hand on the last ground rod (See Diagram #3, points A and B). Warning, this may be uncomfortable. You may want to start by placing one hand on the ground (Point A) and then with a blade of grass in the other hand, touch the end of blade of grass to the ground rod. If you feel any tingling, the voltage is over 200V. If the voltage is under 200V you will not feel a significant shock.
  5. If the Digital Volt Meter reading is under 200V, your ground system is adequate and you will get near maximum performance from your electric fence energizer.
  6. If the reading is above 200V then your ground system needs improvement. You must:
    1. Add more ground rods connected in series 3 feet apart, and/or
    2. Move your ground system to moist soil until the ground system voltage is below 200V.
  7. Check your ground system condition with a Volt Meter once during the driest period and once during the wet season each year to insure adequate grounding of your electric fence.
battery electric fence
Figure 3. Testing the Ground System

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  2. CAUTION: RISK OF ELECTRIC SHOCK. Do not proceed with an electric fence installation where small children, the elderly or unhealthy persons may come in contact with the live portions of electric fencing. Use Electric Fence Warning Signs wherever humans may come in contact with the fence.
  3. NEVER electrify barbed wire or loose fencing materials that risk entanglement of a human or animal. Exposure to continuous or multiple shocks is very dangerous.
  4. STAY AWAY from the fence energizer and from the fence line just before and during lightning storms. In lightning prone areas, disconnect the energizer from the fence and from the power supply in advance of storms to prevent damage to the energizer.
  5. FOLLOW all National, State and Local regulations that may apply to installation of electric fence in your area.
  6. REFER TO AUTHORIZED REPAIR CENTER FOR SERVICE. There are no user serviceable parts. Never alter the design of the energizer. Doing so is hazardous and will void the warranty.
  7. ALWAYS unplug the energizer before handling any part of the energizer.
  8. NEVER put more than one energizer on a fence. Doing so is dangerous because it may reduce time off between pulses, may damage the energizer and will invalidate the warranty.
  9. DO NOT run fence wire above ground near high voltage power lines. If too close, the electric fence may pick up dangerous levels of power from high voltage lines. Never cross under a high voltage line with electric fence.
  10. ALWAYS maintain an adequate ground system securely attached to the energizer.
  11. DO NOT alter the polarity of the energizer plug on 110V operated energizers. For Battery Operated Fence Energizers, connect the Red Battery Clamp to the positive battery terminal and the Black Battery Clamp to the negative battery terminal only.
  12. NEVER charge a battery that is connected to a fence energizer. Always disconnect the battery from the energizer first.
  13. WARNING! Electric fences are very effective psychological barriers when properly installed and when animals are trained to the fence. Electric fences are NOT complete physical barriers. Erratic animal behavior cannot be predicted and occasional fence penetration can occur. Therefore, Power Wizard assumes no liability for animal containment, injury or the consequences for the misuse of the equipment.
  14. WARNING! Never touch the live fence with the head or mouth.
  15. DANGER, SERVICE DOUBLE INSULATED APPLIANCES WITH IDENTICAL PARTS ONLY. Double insulated energizers include two systems for insulation instead of grounding.
  16. WARNING! Sparks may occur in electric fence systems. Therefore, during periods of high fire risk, electric fence energizers should be turned off.
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Supplemental Instructions for Battery Powered Energizers
  1. Use a Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery rated at 60 Amp Hour or greater. Marine batteries are recommended.
  2. Avoid placing battery directly under energizer so that corrosive gases will not damage the energizer. Locate the battery in a cool and dry area for best performance.
  3. Place the battery away from sparks and in a well-ventilated area for safety.
  4. Check battery voltage and energizer performance regularly to ensure continuous operation.
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Supplemental Instructions for Solar Charged Energizers
  1. Remove all labels from front of solar panel and clean panel with a damp cloth.
  2. Install the fuse in external fuse holder on bottom right panel of energizer. IMPORTANT: Energizer will not operate from the internal battery and internal battery will not charge unless this fuse is in place.
  3. Make sure that the lead wire running from the solar panel is connected at the lower right corner of fence energizer.
  4. Put toggle switch in the "CHARGE" position.
  5. IMPORTANT: BEFORE INSTALLING ENERGIZER ON THE FENCE LINE, mount energizer upright in a location outdoors that will receive the maximum available direct sunlight for a minimum of 4 days. Face the energizer due South, into the sunlight. Energizer should be in a location where trees, vegetation, buildings and roof overhangs will not block sunlight from the panel.
    1. A fully charged battery will operate the energizer for up to 18 days in darkness before the energizer will stop. At this point the battery is almost completely discharged.
    2. A fully discharged battery will require 20-25 hours of recharging with the solar panel in strong sunlight before operating the energizer. On average, 6-8 days of charging in sunlight will restore a fully discharged battery. Recharge battery with the toggle switch in the "CHARGE" position.
  6. Upon completion of battery charging, the energizer is ready to be installed on the fence. Locate energizer so that solar panel is facing due South into the sun at its highest point at 12:00 noon. Select a location where solar panel will never be shaded from the sun. Locate the energizer out of reach of animals and children. Secure the energizer so that solar panel will not move away from the sun.
  7. Connect Fence and Ground wire to labeled terminals and move toggle switch to "ON" position. Red light will flash when energizer is operating.
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Solar Energizer Maintenance
  • Check the energizer regularly to insure operation is normal.
  • Clean the surface of solar panel regularly. Use a soft damp cloth. Do not use abrasive materials that could scratch the panel.
  • Set the toggle switch in the "OFF" position when not using the energizer for more than 5 days. This prevents overcharging of the battery.
  • DO NOT use any means for charging the internal battery except for the solar panel or a constant potential current limited 12VDC battery electric fence charger rated at 500 milliamps maximum.
  • When storing the energizer, place the energizer in strong direct sunlight for 2 days every 3 months with the switch in the "CHARGE" position. Put switch back into the "OFF" position for storage.
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