Properly grounding an electric fence is essential in keeping the fence in good working order. When a fence isn't working properly, it may be difficult to keep cattle or other livestock contained; it will also be difficult to keep predators away. An improperly grounded fence likely will not shock an animal when the animal bumps up against part of the fence.
How Does Electric Fencing Work?
The grounding circuit is a very important part of an electrical fence; the grounding circuit essentially keeps the fence functioning properly. The fence charger, sometimes called the energizer, alters the electrical charge that is present in the fence. This alteration of the electrical charge makes it safe for both animals and people to be around the electric fence. Significant amounts of rain or snow can all affect the ability of the fence to work properly.
In a properly working fence, an animal will feel a bit of an electric current as the charge passes through the animal's body. The charge continues through the earth and to the grounding rod. Then, it goes up the ground wire and travels to the grounding terminal of the charger. If the fence is not working properly, the animal will not be able to feel a shock.
There are a number of things that can be done to ensure that electrical fences work properly. Keep in mind that in 9 out of 10 cases, problems with an electrical fence can be traced back to problems with improper grounding. In most of these cases, the grounding is affected by either very dry or very wet weather. Because of this, it is very important to check the ground system as well as the voltage of the electrical fence during extremely wet weather and extremely dry weather. Doing so will ensure that the system is properly grounded despite the appearance of the soil around the fence. In order to properly test the voltage of the fence, use an voltmeter designed for electric fences.
It's also very important to use the proper type of wire when making the fence (Check out our wires, tapes, and braids, here). For the best results (if using solid wire), use 10 - ga. to 14 ga. insulated wire which is rated for 20,000 volts. Never use household cables or industrial cables as these are only made for 400 volts. This is not enough to properly support the electric fence.
Proper Grounding Rod
Use the proper type of grounding rod. In most cases, pipe or rebar can be used. The grounding rod needs to be made of galvanized steel and also needs to be at least four feet in length for best results. Using copper rods will diminish the overall effectiveness of the electrical fence system.
In some cases, it may be necessary to add several grounding rods to the grounding system. In fact, the majority of electrical fence systems will actually require at least three grounding rods. These rods should be about 10 feet apart and should be placed at the start of the fence.
Grounding rods can actually interfere with phone service as well as electrical lines that may be located on the property. For this reason, it's important to place grounding rods as far away as possible from utilities. This is especially true in relation to phone lines!
I encourage you you to watch our Grounding Video to explain in more detail how to ground your electrical fence.