How to Check an Electric Fence Energizer With a Voltmeter

Written by regan hennessy
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Checking an electric fence energizer is a necessary part of using electric fences to control or exclude animals on a regular basis. Voltmeters show you the energizer's voltage output, giving you a clear idea whether or not it is working properly. As a rule, stick with a digital voltmeter. Although they're slightly more expensive than indicator-light fence voltmeters they give you an exact readout of the energizer's peak voltage, which aids in troubleshooting fence problems.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Installed electric fence with energizer
  • Digital voltmeter

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  1. 1

    Turn off and unplug the electric fence energizer. Disconnect the fence wire from the positively charged fence terminal. Disconnect the ground wire from the negatively charged ground terminal.

  2. 2

    Plug the energizer back in and turn it on. Check the energizer's output display box to verify that the energizer is operating, indicated by a blinking light. You should also hear a slight ticking sound which typically accompanies the high-voltage pulses of electricity as they exit the charger.

  3. 3

    Identify the voltmeter's ground probe, which typically connects to the voltmeter with a black insulated cable and is often has a minus sign. Grasp your fingers around the insulated base of the ground probe, being careful not to touch the metal portion of the probe. Touch the metal tip of the ground probe against the metal portion of the energizer's negatively charged ground terminal.

  4. 4

    Touch the voltmeter's positively charged metal fence clip to the metal portion of the positively charged fence terminal on the energizer, being careful not to touch the metal part of the clip. If the voltmeter's fence clip connects to a cable that ends in an alligator clip, simply open the jaws of the alligator clip and clamp them to the metal portion of the energizer's fence terminal.

  5. 5

    Check the digital display on the front of the voltmeter to determine the energizer's exact peak voltage. The reading displays as kilovolts, or kV, so you'll need to convert it to determine the energizer's output in voltage; a reading of 5 kV translates to 5000 volts. Depending upon strength and power source, most fence energizers deliver a peak voltage of 5,000 to 10,000 volts.

Tips and warnings

  • Check the peak voltage on a new fence energizer before connecting it to your electric fence. Record the voltage on the energizer instruction manual and keep it handy for reference so you know the controller's normal peak voltage reading. Obtaining a lower-than-normal energizer voltage reading could indicate several problems with your charger and typically warrants a service call to your energizer dealer.
  • If you experience problems with your electric fence, always check the voltage on the energizer first to rule out potential problems with your power source. Once you've determined that the energizer produces adequate voltage, you can then check other parts of your electric fence system for problems.
  • Always use a voltmeter designed for use with electric fences, which are manufactured to withstand the high-voltage charges of electricity produced by the energizer.

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