How an Electric Fence Works

Charlotte Fence Contractor can be a great alternative to more traditional fencing. They are cost-effective in the long run, don’t reduce property values, and are relatively easy to install.

There are three rules to remember when installing an electric fence:

  1. A good ground system is essential to the effectiveness of the fence.
  2. A well-insulated wire must touch the hot wire.
  3. All gates must be properly grounded as well.

An electric fence works by delivering an intense but brief electric pulse to any animal or person that touches the fence wire. This shock is enough to scare off the animal and deter it from touching again.

To create this electrical pulse, the energizer converts battery or mains power into high-voltage pulses. This pulse is delivered to the insulated fence line through the positive fence terminal and absorbed into the ground by the negative ground terminal. Energizers have pulses of up to 8,000 volts.

When an animal comes in contact with the fence wire, the pulse passes through them and to the ground. The voltage of the pulse and the length of time it remains on the skin determines how much pain or tingling is felt by the subject.

Normally, the electric shock is not deadly, but it will certainly be painful. It will cause a sharp, stinging sensation like a snapped rubber band. Suppose it is long enough and at the right level of intensity. In that case, it may cause a loss of balance or disorientation, resulting in injury or death.

For this reason, it is important to ensure that people keep a safe distance from the fence when testing or working on it. A good rule of thumb is to stay 18 meters (20 yards) away from any part of the fence that has been shocked. This is because the high voltage electricity can jump or ‘arc’ between points on the ground and people (especially if they are wet) and could result in serious injury.

To prevent this, it is advisable to use double insulated wire that is not live when running tests on the fence system and to avoid using metal objects. It is also a good idea to install multiple ground rods. These should be made of galvanized steel, be a minimum of 6 feet long, and be driven into the ground at least 5 inches.

The ground system is a little bit like a radio antenna – the larger it is, the better the reception. It collects electrons from the soil, which completes the electric circuit. It is a common misconception that the grounding system can cause fires. This is only true if the vegetation is still alive and burning; once it has been sprayed or watered, it becomes non-conductive.

The energizer takes in electrical energy from the outside world (either a plug in your house or a battery) and pushes it out through its positive fence terminal in brief, high-voltage, high-amperage pulses. The negative ground terminal absorbs excess pulse energy and returns it to the energizer. This system creates a pain barrier that keeps animals away from the fence.

If the fence is energized, the animal will receive a very brief shock when it touches the conductors outside the fence. This pain barrier is a deterrent to keep animals from going through the fence and escaping the pasture. It also helps prevent animals from crowding or rubbing against the fence and wearing it down over time.

Graziers should regularly evaluate their electric fence system to ensure the energizer and ground rods are working properly. One rule of thumb is to have 3 feet of ground rods per joule capacity of the charger/energizer. This will help ensure the full capacity of the energizer is available during dry years.

An important part of the energizer is its ability to handle the current required by the fence wires. When purchasing an energizer, look for its output in joules and be sure to add up all the wires that will need to be energized. For example, a mile perimeter with two hot strands of wire each requires 4 miles of energizer capacity.

In addition to checking the voltage levels and ground rods, graziers should also periodically inspect the fence itself. The condition of the wires, whether they have a coating or not, and the overall appearance are important considerations for any fencing system. It is a good practice to remove the wires regularly and clean them with water to minimize the buildup of grass, weeds, and other debris that can inhibit electricity flow.

Another option for preventing your dog from leaving the property is to use a wireless electronic collar—these work by connecting to a central transmitter that designates an invisible boundary around your yard. The collar will then beep or vibrate when your pet approaches the boundary, and some models will emit a very brief electrical shock if they get too close to the fence line. This option can be a great solution for those who live in areas with HOAs and cannot install a physical fence.

Electric fences need good grounding to work properly. When a pulse travels down the wire, it must contact the earth to complete its circuit and deter animals. Without a direct ground path, electricity can build up and cause a fire risk. This problem can be prevented with a ground rod installation and an energizer that provides enough joules to ground the fence system adequately.

A voltmeter will help you test your fence to see if there are any issues with the grounding system. While not a substitute for a professional fence installer, a non-contact voltmeter can be purchased at many home improvement stores and will keep your hands safe from shock while testing. Stand about 5 feet away from your fence and point the blinking tip of the voltmeter toward the hot wire. If the voltmeter begins to glow with a steady red light and beep, it has a sufficient charge. If it doesn’t, the hot wire may lack a charge and need reconnected to the grounding rod.

Most modern energizers send very brief, high-voltage electrical pulses down the conductor every 1/10,000 of a second. Because these pulses are so short, they rarely create a spark that could ignite combustible material. However, dry, sandy, or rocky soil increases resistance and decreases the intensity of the pulse. This can drain voltage and cause your fence to stop working properly.

Regular maintenance is necessary to keep your electric fence working properly. This can include trimming weeds, shrubs, and vines that grow near the fence, as well as ensuring that jumper wires that carry current from one section of the fence to another are properly connected and not damaged. If your fence needs to deliver the expected level of performance, check with your supplier for advice.

Some animals are naturally more likely to evade an electric fence and may require special training to respect it. To prevent these troublemakers from escaping and harming livestock or themselves, consider fencing that presents a physical barrier and includes multiple wires with line posts set close together. This type of fence should be constructed from fixed materials, such as wood planks, metal livestock panels, wire, or sucker rods.

A person or animal who comes in contact with an electric fence experiences a shock that can vary in intensity from mild to painful, depending on the voltage of the fence and the area of the body that makes contact. The shock also creates a temporary sensation of tingling or numbness because it disrupts nerve signals. The pain and tingling typically last only a fraction of a second and then disappear. The pain is meant to startle the animal or human into recoiling, not to cause permanent injury.

The shock is delivered through a conductor, which may be a tape, wire, or other metal conductive element attached to the energizer. The conductors run through the electric fence and connect to earth rods at both ends of the field so the voltage does not drop over a long distance. The earth rods also stop spikes or surges by blocking electricity from passing through them.

Most modern electric fence energizers use low-impedance circuitry in which a capacitor is charged by a solid-state circuit when an animal or person touches the fence. Suppose the animal or person feels a conducting element on the fence (like an electric tape or a piece of wire). In that case, the charge is released by a thyristor. This electronic component can be thought of as an automatic switch. The thyristor also controls the amount of energy delivered to the fence or person in one pulse – for instance, it can provide only enough power to startle the animal or just enough power to burn and harm it.

If the current is too high, it can cause burns or serious injuries. Still, it’s not usually powerful enough to kill a person unless they have underlying heart conditions. However, the risk of accidentally touching the electrified wire with your head can be significant, and it’s important to always keep your head away from an electric fence, even when it’s not on.

If you ever touch an electrified fence, don’t panic – the main thing is to move away as quickly as possible. It’s also important to check for any injuries – a burn, a deep cut, or anything else that might need immediate medical attention. Finally, it’s a good idea to ground yourself to discharge any remaining static electricity – this can be done by standing on a dry, grassy surface.