Should You Get a Fault Finding Fence Tester?

Wayne R. who runs FencerFixer, shared this helpful information with us in May of 2015. It’s still helpful today.

I usually say if you have over 10 or 20 acres of area fenced off, then go ahead and buy a good fault finding tester. If you have less than that, then purchasing a standard digital fence tester is fine. You can run around a 5 or less acre lot pretty quick if you test your fence and see the voltage has dropped down by a lot.

Where a fault finding tester comes in handy is on the bigger areas or smaller areas with a handful of cross fencing as well. Even people that have been doing electric fence for 10 or 20+ years without a fault finding tester wonder what they did without one after they buy one and learn how to use it.

Here’s how to use your fault finding tester.

Here's another example of a fault finder. Probably not a useful on a fence.
Here’s another example of a fault finder. Probably not as useful on a fence.

The numbers below are just an example and generic to help you understand. We’re talking about fault finding testers with arrows pointing in the direction of the fault.

There’s an easy way to understand these testers. You’re looking for HIGH Kv and LOW to NO amps. So let’s say you’ve had a pretty clean, single wire fence and usually get around 7kv on the fence and hardly ever any amps. But one day you test the fence and you are getting 3kv and 20 amps.The higher the Amp (A) number the worse and heavier the short is.You should always start first by testing the fence charger by itself to make sure it’s not the issue. Then start testing near the beginning of the fence run if the fence charger is operating well.

Twenty amps, is a pretty good short on the fence and you don’t see any vegetation on the fence. What we say to do is test every so often watching the arrow. If the arrow keeps pointing down the line and is still up pretty high, then keep testing.

Eventually you’ll come to a test spot and this is where a fault finding tester will do two things. It will either point the arrow in the other direction or you’ll get no more reading and it’ll say 0 amps and barely any kv reading. If it does either of these, you’ve gone past the fault and need to back track between where you just tested and the previous test spot.

The fault could be a number of things. It could have been a broken wire and touching ground, a handful of insulators are cracked from age and are allowing the wire to short out to ground, or there’s an underground wire going under a gate that wasn’t properly protected and it’s arcing to ground.There can be a bit more to it than that, but that’s the simple way to use them. I think they’re worth their weight in gold and they do a really good job at helping find shorts once you understand on how they’re used.

Thanks to the National Grazing Lands Coalition for making this article possible. Click on over to see the great work they do for all of us. Thank them for supporting On Pasture by liking their facebook page.

One thought on “Should You Get a Fault Finding Fence Tester?

  1. Thanks for this.

    If your time and emotional tranquility are worth anything, this is a $100 investment that is priceless.

    One of the ranches I rent is owned by a fellow who lost his mind over electric fences. His (then) spouse insisted on installing miles of smooth wire fencing with a design that led to massive problems with shot-circuiting. Without a fault-finding tool, he wore himself to a frazzle trying to keep the system working. In the end, the spouse, the livestock, and much of the internal fencing were removed from the property. He is now terribly relieved to let me graze the place. He cringes, but I use single-wire poly to control grazing all across the ranch, and I carry a fault-finder in my pocket every day.

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