Electric Fence: circuit breaker trips when ground is connected

hypertApril 26, 2008

We're having a problem with our electric fence. The charger is connected to about 1200 feet of "single line" fence (it goes out 600' from the barn & charger, near the top of the wooden fence, and then returns to the barn lower down the fence).

We have a couple small (1-foot?) ground rods grounded about 20' away from the charger. This setup worked well for a long time, but then we changed several things. First, we re-strung the fence to travel along a new piece of the wooden fence - total length and layout was the same. Then, we noticed that the electric fence wasn't working - it could have been like that for a while, as we don't check the charge often (yeah, I know...). So, we replaced the Premiere IntelliShock 53 charger w/ a ProShock L-1500 unit, but it still wasn't working. We finally noticed that every time we plugged it in, the circuit breaker tripped!

So, first off, what could make the breaker trip when we plug in the charger?

At first, we thought it was another bad charger, but then we noticed that the breaker does NOT trip if the ground is NOT connected to the charger. Stranger than that, though, is the fact that the charger appears to be working WITHOUT the ground (the light on the charge blinks, it makes the regular clicking/buzzing noise it should, and our hand-held meter shows 4000-6000 volts (I assume "volts" is the unit of measurement on the meter).

So, given that the circuit trips when the grounded charger is plugged in, I'm still pondering how the ground can be the cause of this. Additionally, how dangerous is it to run our charger like this (not grounded)?

Many, many thanks for any help anyone can offer!

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Is your fence insulated? If you don't ground the charger, nothing will get shocked. Sounds like your fence is shorting out somewhere. Don't understand why it throws the breaker though. First, make sure your fence s not grounded and try again. If it still trips, I'd say it's a bad charger.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 5:16PM
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The fence is not insulated. I think it's the "IntelliRope" from Premiere (http://www.premier1supplies.com/detail.php?prod_id=606&cat_id=41).

Why does the charger need to be grounded to give a shock? I'm reading strong signals on the meter, which means voltage is being sent down the line, right? Doesn't the horse touching the fence provide the ground needed to close the loop?

I do agree that there must be a short (possibly in the charger) that's causing the breaker to trip. Haven't been able to find it, though. :-(

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 9:34PM
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Your fence has to be insulated. It is not to make contact with a ground (earth) through any means except the animal touching it. The animal touching it will not have a circuit to complete (to get a shock) unless the charger is grounded. Of the two terminals on your charger, one connects to an insulated (at the posts) fence, and the other to a ground rod at least 6ft deep (you can adjust depth IAW the soil type in your area). The short is your uninsulated fence wire. Disconnect it and you'll see.

Good Luck,


    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 7:27AM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

You need ground rods at least 8ft in length, to properly ground the fencer. You may need more than one, to do the job. Do you still have the installation directions? They show the proper layout needed for grounding the fencer. A one foot ground rod is pretty useless.

If it quits working, check the ground rod clamp, which seems to often corrode and then prevents grounding.

I agree, no properly installed ground rod is going to prevent fence from working correctly.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 10:15PM
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The 1' rods are from the original Premiere Fence. I do see the longer rods in the manual for the new charger, but I didn't understand why the requirements are so different.

Do the ground rods have to be inserted vertically, or can they be placed horizontally in the ground? There is absolutely no way I could drill or shove an 8' rod straight down w/ all the rocks we have.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 9:40PM
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Plenty of if's, and's, and but's, but you can be creative on your grounding, but I wouldn't try it with an AC charger. If lightning strikes your fence and the charger isn't grounded, your house wiring will take the hit. I use solar and battery operated chargers with the 1 ft ground stake but my fences are no more than 600 meters long and the ground is moist. Lightning strikes ruin only the charger (if the lightning kits don't work). For me, AC chargers aren't worth the hassel of installing them to a standard that will keep your insurance rates reasonable and damages fixed by the insurance company if something happens.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 7:22AM
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