How to wire an electric fence

Written by regan hennessy
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Wiring an electric fence may seem intimidating to those unfamiliar with electric fences, but the process is actually quite simple. Electric fences operate on basic electric principles: You create an open circuit using the fence wires, a fence energizer, and the ground. When an animal touches a "hot" wire, the animal's body closes the circuit, which means that the electricity travels a complete path from the fence energizer through the fence wires, then through the animal, causing it to receive a "shock", and back through the ground to the energizer again. Understanding this process is essential to successfully wiring your electric fence.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Wire (polywire or 12.5 gauge electrical wire)
  • Insulators
  • Insulated cable (insulated to 20,000 volts)
  • Wire cutters
  • Fence charger
  • 3 6-foot copper ground rods
  • rod clamps

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine how many wires your fence needs. Choose the number of wires for your electric fence based on the type of animal you plan to contain. For instance, cattle typically require fewer wires than goats. A good all-around electric fence uses 5 to 7 wires that are 6 to 8 inches apart.

  2. 2

    Install insulators and wires. Measure and mark your posts to show the wire locations. Your bottom wire should be about 6 inches from the ground. Install insulators on the corner and line posts. Thread the bottom wire through its insulators, being sure the wire is taut before tying it off at the last corner post. Repeat this process for each wire.

  3. 3

    Install insulated jumper wire at the corner post closest to the energizer. The jumper wire connects together all those wires that you plan to energise, keeping them from touching the grounded wires. Cut a short length of insulated cable. Strip the insulation away from the ends and wrap one end around the bottom wire; wrap the other end around the third wire. Repeat this process for every other wire, connecting the third wire to the fifth wire and the fifth wire to the seventh wire.

  4. 4

    Install the lead-out wire. The lead-out wire connects the wires you plan to energise to the fence energizer itself. Measure out a section of insulated cable that reaches from the energizer to the jumper wires. Strip the insulation away from the ends and wrap one end around the exposed end of the jumper wire on the bottom energised wire. Make sure your fence energizer is unplugged, then wrap the other end of the lead-out wire to the positive fence terminal on your energizer.

  5. 5

    Install your grounding system. The grounding system determines the success of your electric fence, so it is key that you complete this step correctly. The grounding system required for each fence energizer differs, so be sure to consult your energizer instruction manual for specific installation information to maximise the safety of your electric fencing system. Typically, you should insert 3 6-foot copper rods into the ground at 10-foot intervals. Measure out enough insulated cable to reach from the fence energizer to all three ground rods.

  6. 6

    Strip back a small section of the insulation and use a clamp to connect the cable end to the ground rod furthest from the fence energizer. Repeat this process for each ground rod, then attach the other end of the insulated cable to the negative ground terminal on your fence charger. Check all the components of your electric fence system to ensure they are installed correctly, then plug your fencing energizer in.

Tips and warnings

  • When in doubt, always follow the directions in your fence energizer instruction booklet.
  • Make sure ground rods are at least 50 feet from utility wires, telephone wires, and water pipes to avoid stray voltage.

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