17 Mistakes to Avoid With Electric Fencing

With 30 years of experience building hundreds of miles of smooth-wire electric fence, I've seen just about every fencing mistake possible. And I continue to see folks make many of the same common mistakes. I still make mistakes myself, because I'm constantly challenging myself to make fencing easier, faster, stronger, and safer. High-tensile, smooth wire, electric fencing is the fastest and most affordable fence that I know about, and its technology has drastically improved over the past 10 years. But many folks are hesitant to use it because they remember old failures -- wires breaking, chargers starting fires, wet vegetation shorting out the fence and other troubles. With a little commitment and a modest investment in time to learn how to use this new technology, you can save thousands of dollars and hours of maintenance time by making electric fencing work for you. So you won't have to learn the hard way, here are 17 common mistakes that you should avoid: 1. Poor earth grounding Lots of folks (including me) still think you can skimp when it comes to adequate earth grounding. What we must all learn to do, is install several ground rods -- at least three that are 6 to 8 feet long, galvanized, and attached with good ground clamps. The electricity must complete a full circle back to the charger through the ground. Poor grounding gives weak shocks. 2. Using different types of metals. Don't do it. When you hook up steel wire to copper something call electrolys

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7 thoughts on “17 Mistakes to Avoid With Electric Fencing

  1. Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for answering questions here. And confirming my thought that the fence itself makes a good grounding system.

    My question is about having the ground for 2 different systems close together. We have frequent falling trees and teenage bulls pushing other bulls into fences causing shorts. (Most hotwires are on extended insulators on regular field fencing to protect fencing.) Where I have a Parmak rangemaster, which has plenty of power unless a problem occurs, I am thinking of dividing the system. There is only one set of electricial outlets in the area.

    If I use a second system plugged into the same pumphouse, I have a Parmak Mark 5 bought, do I need to have a big seperation between the ground rods? I think there is already a PG&E transformer ground there.

    What about putting a ground rod in a little creek?

    1. This is my two cents on your question, by the way I’m a different Wayne, but I enjoy being where I can.

      In most books and diagrams about electric fence it will talk about locations of ground systems. On any electric fence ground system you should install it about 30 – 40 feet from any other ground system, be it another fence chargers ground or the electric company.

      If you install a new ground system too close to the existing chargers ground, say 10′ away or less, here’s the biggest thing I hear happens: The chargers will start to compete over the ground systems, and the most important thing to the whole system is your ground. If your ground isn’t adequate, then the shock on the fence won’t be as strong to the animals.

      If your electric company’s ground is close by, you’ll want to make sure your charger’s ground is also 30 – 40 feet away. What sometimes happens is there’s a signal or magnetic field coming from the charger’s ground, same with the electric company’s ground. If the charger’s ground signal bleeds over into the electric company’s ground, you can get the ticking sounds to feedback and start hearing in your home where you don’t want to or your neighbors will hear it. It could come through your phone speakers, tv speakers, computer speakers, mess with your modem internet signal. I’ve seen and heard a few horror stories of aggravation.

      Also if you get a lightning strike or a static surge from a storm traveling down the fence, it’s got to go to ground eventually. If it goes to your charger’s ground, it could possibly jump into the electric company’s ground and cause trouble there.

      So it’s best to just put the ground systems about 30 – 40 feet away or more from any other ground system so you don’t start pulling out your hair with frustration. These things may never happen, but they can and have plenty of times.

      Hopefully this helps you out some from the bit I know. I’m a repair guy on fence charger units, but been around and heard enough of these issues from people, so I’m trying to pass it along.

      Wayne Fencer Fixer

  2. For grounding can you bury a long length of galvanized wire (1×7, 7/16 diameter)? I prefer having something flexible coming out of the ground. Plus I seem to have accumulated a bunch of galvanized guy wire and I would like to use it.

    1. Hello Becky,

      Should work, however, the galvanized wire will ruts in a few years.
      I would use all kinds of grounding, like ground rods spaced 10 feet apart in wet soil and also hook the same wire to existing steel post fencing as each post becomes a ground rod. More the better.
      Wayne the compost guy

  3. When installing ground rods, should the be installed in a row, tied together, near the charger or at different locations around the fence.


    1. Hi Gene,

      I install like three ground rods in a row spaced 10 feet apart and pick a low damp place if handy. Also hook the same ground wire to an standard barbed wire fence with steel post as each post becomes a ground rod. Again if handy.
      Wayne the compost guy

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