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Electric Fence Woes

Posted by Lillyputin none (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 12, 11 at 21:55

My newly installed electric fence is not outputting any voltage. We fenced off about 3 acres of land by stringing new 17 gauge wire (single strand attached to wooden fence posts using plastic insulators). We've purchased a new Gallagher 110 Yardmaster electric fence controller (which is good for up to 8 acres) to connect the wire to. The ground wire is insulated and capable of handling 20,000 volts. It is attached to a 4' metal grounding post using a brass post clamp. The grounding post is pounded into the ground with about a foot sticking out. The "hot" wire is the same type of insulated wire as the ground, and it is wrapped around the fence wire. None of the wire is touching anything other than the insulators. All grass/weeds have been removed.

Everything seems to be connected correctly however there is very very little voltage output. You can grab the wire and not feel anything. I'm assuming its a grounding issue but we can not figure out where. The soil is very wet (its been raining for weeks) so should be conducting well. When we test the controller with a metre we get the proper output, when we test the ground to the leading hot wire we get about half. If we go 2 feet down the fence line we get barely anything. 50 feet down and it reads nothing.

At this point now I am ready to tear my hair out. We have switched grounding posts but it made no difference. We connected two other grounding posts to the first and that lowered the output reading even more (which makes NO sense to me)

Does anyone have any idea WHAT might be happening? The farm store and all our neighbours and friends are perplexed as well.

Desperately in need of help,

Heather


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Electric Fence Woes

As an update. We were back at it this morning. We've determined the short is coming from the leading hot wire from the controller to the fence wire. We have the lead wire spiraled around the start of the fence wire so still have no idea why its not making enough contact.

Thoughts? How has everyone else connected their insulated hot wire to the start of the fence wire?

As a side note, we determined it was this connect by disconnecting the fencing wire from the lead and testing the grounding post with the lead insulated hot wire. The metre was reading full volts.


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

If I read that right, you have full voltage from the end of the hot lead to the ground post on the box. So you know the charger is working. But with the hot lead connected to the fence, you see no voltage by meter and feel nothing when you touch the fence.

So it's probably not a short. It's an "open." Eliminate the possibility that enough of a deposit of aluminum oxide on the fence wire or on the exposed end of the lot lead is responsible. Aluminum oxide is an electrical insulator. Either wire may be aluminum. The high voltage insulated lead wire almost always is. Aluminum oxide occurs naturally wherever aluminum is exposed. It is a very tough substance. Use sandpaper to make sure it's cleaned off.

The most certain connection is a clamp specifically made for the purpose. Wrapping allows for a small gap that is not a big problem for clean wire at such high voltage, but it allows the oxide to build up in the gap. Wrapping would be absolutely inappropriate for other electric applications, because of the inherent poor connection.

The above is an easy enough thing to try, and if it works, you know what the problem was and can prevent it in the future by using a more positive connection. If it does not work, use a common volt-ohm meter. A cheap one will do. And check continuity by metering resistance across each portion of the setup. Disconnect the hot lead from the charger and see if you get nearly zero ohms between the hot lead and the fence wire. If that's zero, between the ground post and the ground rod, to see if the ground lead is good.

But with such a simple circuit, I suspect it's the oxide, and you should check that first. And to make long-lasting connections, remember that aluminum and steel in contact with each other can suffer galvanic corrosion. connections should be firmly made, and you can use a conductive paste, available at electrical supplies and Lowes, to make good connections. It's not often that many people go that far with an electric fence, because the voltage is so high that poor connections aren't all that bad, but it's possible to make it so well that it doesn't have to be messed with again for a very long time.


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

What are you using to test the voltage? Is the charger a continuous charge or pulsing? A digital meter will not respond quick enough to get a reading. The best tester, IMHO, is an LED light tester that you can get really cheap at the fence supplier.

"You can grab the wire and not feel anything"

Are you wearing shoes? Stick a wet finger in the dirt and stick another finger on the wire. Animals don't wear insulted shoes.

What kind of soil do you have? In certain soils you may need an 8' grounding rod. Sandy soil doesn't conduct very well.


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

As it turned out, it was the fencer that was the issue. After much frustration we took it back to the store and had them test it. Once they simulated hooking a wire from the leads it lots any voltage.

We replaced it with a new one and now we have full voltage all the way around.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions!

as a side note, wertach we are in very moist clay soil.

Cheers


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

"very moist clay soil." That's great for the electric fence! Don't try my finger in the dirt suggestion!


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

"Don't try my finger in the dirt suggestion"

I think nothing of touching the fence to see if it's working. If you're quick, and use the back of your hand, there's hardly any shock. I also think nothing of just stepping through the tape if I need to get into the paddock. Again, be quick, wear rubber boots, not a big deal.
One day, for some stupid reason, I decided to go under the fence. So I kinda knelt down on hands and knees to slide under!! WOW! Did that ever hurt. My shoulder had a red spot on it for days. No wonder the horses won't come anywhere near it. Four bare feet on the ground. Must hurt something awful


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

Dun, that Reminds me of my uncle many years ago. He was about 6'7" and thought he could just step over Dads electric fence. He was wearing penny loafers..... He was jumping up and down and screaming like crazy. I ran and unplugged it as fast as I could. He never tried that again!


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

My old charger died of old age. Then my new-old charger died of old age. Those were both real chargers, but our circumstances have changed. We is hobby farmers now. So I bought a 5-acre charger. Continuous type. It fried my duck. I took it back. Got a pulsing, four acre charger. My doe kids investigate it by mouthing it - they find it uninteresting, then wander off. Before I take this charger back, I thought I'd do an extra good job of checking out the system. All fence wires are off the ground. No grass touches the wire. Old, dry, dead tumbleweeds festoon the fence... but they have never been a problem before. I measured the resistance between the ground-wire at the charger and the ground at the charger: 5M Ohms (Seems like a lot). The morning after a rain, I measured the resistance between the ground and ground, my probes being about a foot apart: 1M Ohms. Resistance between ground-wire and ground-rod: dead short. Resistance between ground-rod and earth about a foot away: 1M Ohms. Replaced my hot-wire from charger-to-fence with some same material as fence - used NOALOX Anti-Oxidant Joint Compound. Used NOALOX on copper ground wire to ground-rod. ...All this, and I can't make the tester illuminate, but I can feel the fence tingle when it pulses.

So this morning I called the manufacturer of my new-old charger that I had liked so well. I asked, what is the maximum acceptable resistance to ground. The answer was "less than 400v." ....(Puzzled pause.)... Two different customer support people told me "less than 400v" at total of three times. (My brow furrows.) Does this make any sense to you?

Additionally, I was told that the illuminating testers (I'm using their's) can't measure that low. I have to get a digital tester. I agree, their little neon tester doesn't test below 500v. I also read that 500v is the MINIMUM required for short-hair animals, while 2000v is MINIMUM required for long-hair animals. The Customer Support people are telling me I can tolerate a MAXIMUM of 400v. Does this make any sense to anybody?

They won't address the resistance. The best I get is "you need three ground-rods." I ask for a number in Ohms and they say "three ground-rods." I admit I have sandy soil, but I have one eight-foot copper rod with a brass clamp and 18g copper wire, it has been raining off and on for a week, and we've been running a hose on the ground-rod for the last twenty-four hours. The resistance is the same when I stab my Multimeter's probes into a damp spot in the driveway and when I measure between the ground wire and ground... but they want me to install two more ground-rods. (Have you heard about the State - someplace in the northeast part of the country - that passed a law requiring psychiatrists testifying as expert witnesses to wear a robe and pointy hat with arcane symbols sewn to them? The Legislature wanted the Jury to be reminded of the psychiatrists' track record.) So, why does talking to Customer Support make me feel like I'm talking to a psychiatrist?

I had the store test the newest charger before I bought it; 7000v. I installed it when I got home. The does kids came to me, across the fence, stopping along the way to mouth the hot-wire. Disappointing.

The next morning, twelve-hours later, I brought the charger indoors and tested across the lugs: 3500v. Does this make any sense?

And, yes, I'm wearing rubber soled Red Wings when I feel it tickle me. So I guess I'll go try it barefoot.

Help, please.

And thanks.


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

AlphaGoat,

I have been in the electric fence industry for years. When talking about fence chargers there a few different styles of units... continual charge (outlawed in Canada), chopper style (semi/continual also outlawed in Canada), High Impedance also known as 'Solid State' usefull against pets/critters and lastly 'Low Impedance' which are commonly used for agricultural purposes. Another problem I come against all the time is that people purchase fence chargers that claim '3 miles' and think it going to keep their animals contained. In my opinion these units are nothing more than a novelty item or a raquet bug zapper. Stick with a 'low impedance' model to control livestock with a rating of 1 mile per acre. (10 acres get a 10 mile unit). Of course there are special circumstances that will break that rule.
Please let me know what fence charger you are trying to make use of.

Here is a link that might be useful: Blitz Enterprises


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

AlphaGoat,

I have been in the electric fence industry for years. When talking about fence chargers there a few different styles of units... continual charge (outlawed in Canada), chopper style (semi/continual also outlawed in Canada), High Impedance also known as 'Solid State' usefull against pets/critters and lastly 'Low Impedance' which are commonly used for agricultural purposes. Another problem I come against all the time is that people purchase fence chargers that claim '3 miles' and think it going to keep their animals contained. In my opinion these units are nothing more than a novelty item or a raquet bug zapper. Stick with a 'low impedance' model to control livestock with a rating of 1 mile per acre. (10 acres get a 10 mile unit). Of course there are special circumstances that will break that rule.
Please let me know what fence charger you are trying to make use of.

Here is a link that might be useful: Blitz Enterprises


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RE: Electric Fence Woes

I'm trying to charge about four-acres of fence; three strands.
Charger number four - the one the babies mouth without alarm - is a Gallagher Yardmaster.
I decided to put in two more ground rods, just in case that was my problem. I used 5' by 1/2" copper pipe for rods, and ran water down the pipe to make sure I had a good connection to earth. That got the tester showing 7000 volts, but I can hold it without distress. I can tell it is working, but it doesn't deter me. I've got a smaller pen at the other end of the property. I think I'll ground all but one wire in that pen and attach the Gallagher to that.
The newest charger is a Parmak Super Energizer 5 - "charges up to 50 miles of fence." The first one was inert, so I exchanged that this afternoon. This one shows 17k volts - no load - on the built-in tester. On my Zareba tester it shows 7k volts. Again, I can hold the hot wire in my hand... but I might not want to if I took off my shoes. With the shoes on, it gets my attention with an involuntary muscle twitch, but it doesn't knock me down the way my Intellishock 20B used to.
I guess I'm making progress and it looks like adding two more ground rods was the trick. My soil is a glacial blow-sand; very fine, no rocks or clay. The copper pipes drove in without complaint. At points, I didn't need a hammer. (Probably hit a gopher hole.)


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