Electric fences are a popular way of controlling livestock on farms and are also used for security reasons to help secure private land from certain predators. Whilst there are many different electric fencing types and configurations, every electric fence’s basic requirements are the same, which means if things go wrong the reasons should be relatively easy to establish. If you are aiming to fix any issues yourself always remember to play safe to ensure your outcome is effective, and you may well save some hard-earned time and money.
The Main Reasons Electric Fences Cease To Work
An electric fence system will normally comprise a fence charger, fence wire, ground wire, an earthing system and a lead-out wire. Basically, if your electric fence isn’t working this will be either down to there being no power to your fence wires or the power not being strong enough to charge the fence for it to be be an effective deterrent. If either of these is the case, you will need to perform safety checks as follows and ensure that everything is checked thoroughly and safely. When checking always use insulated gloves and rubber boots to protect yourself while troubleshooting and also when attempting to fix your electric fence. If you realise you need replacement parts, always ensure you are getting the highest quality electric fencing components to ensure the on-going safety, security and efficiency of your repaired fence.
Your first step should be to check if you have any breakages along the length of your electric fencing. Walk the length of your fence to check visibly for any breakages that might have happened, for example, through falling branches. Also check that each of the connectors are wired correctly with no loose wires. Check for damaged insulators and line breaks but also check there is no debris or foillage such as trees, grass, or leaves touching the fence line as these could all cause performance issues.
Power Supply Issues
There could be a fault in your power supply (mains, battery or solar) and/or your energiser. Check your power source to see if there is power leading to it and then from the source to the energiser. An essential piece of testing kit is a voltmeter which you can use to measure the power output on your energiser.
Should your system use AC chargers, check that these are properly plugged into the primary power source and then also check the main power source for low voltage output or no power at all. If your system relies on DC or solar chargers as the main energy source, check the batteries before checking anything else to make sure they are fully charged. If the battery used as the power supply is not a sealed unit, monitor the battery cells’ electrolyte fluid level. It’s also worth checking the output and input terminals for corrosion.
If after checking all the above, there’s still no power getting to your electric fence, you should consider the following possible causes: a blown fuse, the charger or energiser not being plugged in, some sort of defect with the charger; or the energiser might be incorrect for the size of fence it is supposed to be supporting.
You will need to test each level of the wire fence for a power charge. To do this you should isolate and disconnect the other wire levels and only check one level at a time. A handy tip for checking for short circuits along fence wire is to use an AM radio. If any interference occurs with the radio signal near the wire fence, check that part of the fence for any damage.
You might have a faulty lead out wire, in which case you need to turn off the power and disconnect both the lead wire and the earthing system from the primary system. After turning the power back on, check the voltage output on the lead-out wire with a voltmeter then reconnect the earth.
Alternatively, there may be an issue with the earthing system. In which case check the voltage of the system once it has been reconnected. If the voltage is defective, check the earthing rods to see if any water has contaminated the system. Remember, if you are not experienced in dealing with electricity, it might be best to consult an electrician for assistance.
Remember Regular Maintenance
If you want to keep your electric fencing in optimum running order and avoid the hassle of breakdowns, you should consider a regular schedule of maintenance. This means regularly checking along the length of your electric fencing for any threats or defects and maintaining all parts as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Act early to trim back undergrowth to prevent it touching the lines and check for overhanging branches. If you do this, you should keep the need for repair down to a minimum.