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How to Wire an Electric Fence

by Judy Knowler

Electric fences can be a great way to protect your garden, cattle pen, or other property. The fence can keep would-be trespassers out, as well as keep any animals safely enclosed inside the fenced area.

However, your electric fence will only be effective if you install it properly — and in fact, improper installation can be very dangerous for anyone that sets foot near your fence. Here’s what you need to know about wiring an electric fence.

Typical Uses of Electric Wire

Electric fencing is a popular choice in many agricultural settings. This is likely because there are two types of critters that are deterred by electric fences: large animals (like cattle, horses, sheep, and even humans) and very small animals (like raccoons, skunks, and rabbits). An electric wire fence provides just enough power to keep your animals safe and sound in their paddock, while also preventing any wild creatures from picking your garden clean or bothering your livestock.

Finding the Proper Electric Wire

If you want to have an electric wire fence on your property, you’ll need to make sure to purchase the RIGHT wires for your project. Ideally, your wire fencing should be galvanized (this helps the fence withstand rust and corrosion so it lasts longer) and made of high quality steel for conductivity, so that you can be certain it will perform as long as you need it.

Installing Electric Wire Fence

Once you find the perfect wire fencing for your electric fence, it’s time to begin the installation process. However, it’s important to keep in mind that dealing with electric fences can be dangerous; only put up the fence yourself if you have a basic understanding of electrical wiring and are using hand tools. If not, it’s best to look for a professional installer.

Plan Ahead

The first part of any building project is to make a plan. Draw a layout of your fence line. Determine how many brace corners you’ll need to accommodate your area. Then, figure out what kind of charger you’ll need, what kind of wire you plan to use, how much fencing, and how many fence posts you will need. Remember that fence posts should be 8-12 feet apart around your entire perimeter, so it’s very important to make sure you plan appropriately.

Next, make sure you have all the tools you need to complete the installation. For this project, your tool list should include:

  • Electric Fence Wire
  • Insulators
  • Electric Power Box
  • Fence posts
  • Grounding Post
  • Clamps, Plastic Hooks or rings
  • Post hole digger or shovel
  • Sledge Hammer
  • Wire Cutter
  • Gloves

Finally, the last step in your prep process is to dig the holes for your grounding posts and corner posts. Use a post hole digger to prepare your space and simplify the installation process.

Set Up the Charger

Next, locate a safe area (away from the elements) where you can install your charger. If you’re using an electric charger, you’ll need to place it near an AC outlet, while a solar charger will need a weather-resistant area with plenty of sunlight. Set up your charger according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but DO NOT turn it on until the fence is fully installed.

Installing Grounding Posts

Grounding posts are very important because they help to stabilize your electric fence. Every electric fence needs one grounding post that’s at least 6 feet long, but we suggest having at least two posts about 10 feet apart.

To place your grounding posts, set them in the pre-dug holes on your fence line. Use your sledgehammer to drive it down until only two inches are visible from the top, and then install the second post (if you plan to have one).

Attach Grounding Wire

Your grounding wire should run from your charger’s ground terminal to each grounding post. Make sure the wire is taut, and then secure it to your posts with grounding clamps. This will give your fence a safe way to discharge electricity if there’s any built-up excess.

Install Fence Posts

Once your grounding posts and wire are in place, you can start installing the fence posts themselves. Install your posts 8-12 feet apart, and make sure that at least ⅓ of the post’s length is underground. Then, install your braced corners to give the fence even more stability.

Mount the Insulators

For an electric fence, you want to make sure the electricity flows through the wires — but not the posts. This is why it’s very important to install insulators that keep the electricity contained in your wire fencing. Secure these to your posts per the manufacturer’s instructions (and make sure you get insulators that suit the type of wire fencing you’re using).

Run the Wire

It’s finally time to run your wires. Start with the fence post furthest from your charger, and then hang your wire along each post. Hang as many lines as you see fit — just make sure they are tight (but not so tight that they might break) and secured to your posts with connector clamps.

Test the Line

Your electric wire fence is now ready for testing. Simply turn on the charger and use a voltmeter to check the unconnected voltage (it should range between 6,000 and 10,000 volts).

Next, charge the line. With the charger off, use a jumper wire to connect your lines to your charger. Then turn the charger back on and check the voltage at a line furthest from the charger. You will notice a slight voltage drop, but that drop shouldn’t exceed 2,000 volts.

Testing your line is vital to the care and upkeep of your electric fence. Make sure you schedule daily checks and write down your voltage results so you can easily spot a sharp decrease (which indicates a short circuit).

With these tips, you’ll be able to install the ideal fence for your garden, cattle pen, or other fencing projects. And whatever you do, always make sure that you use high-quality wire for all your fencing projects. Check out Red Brand’s selection of electric wire fencing today!

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