by Robert Fox
If you want to keep livestock contained, or keep wild animals away from your garden, installing an electric fence is an excellent solution.
Electric fences are an effective and humane option to build protection around a field or garden and are easy to install and maintain. Here’s how to install an electric security fence in three steps, or rather parts.
What will be the size of the enclosure or park for the purpose you intend to use? Determine the number of animals you want to keep as well as the spacing and length of wire required for your installation.
Each corner of the fence should be supported with a corner piece. A single brace will suffice corners and ends for fences with up to 6 rows of wire. Fences with at least 7 rows of wire should be supported with double brace.
You are going to need a lot of stakes, especially if your fence is going to be long. Wood stakes are an efficient and environmentally friendly solution, even if they tend to degrade over time, while metal stakes are easier to install, but also more expensive.
To keep your electric fence energized, you are going to need a charger which will constantly power your wires with electricity. Solar charges don’t require an electric outlet to operate but rather a sufficient amount of sunlight and can, therefore, be a great option if you live in a sunny area. Electric chargers need to be connected to an AC outlet.
Do not buy a charger based on the electrified length data, but rather on the energy per pulse, in joules, that it can deliver.
A greater number of joules does not mean that the discharge will be more powerful when an animal will touch the fence. Instead, it means that the electric current will be more consistent, making the purchase of a charger with high joules an excellent investment.
If your fence covers 5 acres, you will need a joule at the minimum.
Here’s the option of choosing a straight wire available in several thicknesses and electric fence tape. Tape is more visible and therefore less dangerous than wire.
Ensuring proper visibility of the fence is one of the most important points in the installation of an electric security fence. 1.5 or 2-inch poly tape, rope, or braid will be suitable in most cases, as well as the color wire which is clearly visible and easy to install. Using tape less than 2 cm wide is not recommended for any enclosing fence, such as for horses or to keep deer away.
Choose a safe place, near an electrical outlet, to install your energizer or a sunny place for your solar charger.
To protect the charger, attach it to a peg or wall. Make sure you don’t turn on the charger until the fence is installed.
To install your fence, you will need at least one ground stake of 1.8m (6 feet) at the minimum. Place the stake near the charger and use a post hole digger to set it. Leave about 5 cm of the stake above the ground. When installing your fence, it is recommended to add a second stake at a distance of 3 to 6 m from the first one.
The cable will connect the earth terminal of the charger to all ground stakes. Secure the wire to the stakes using a grounding clamp.
Mark a straight line for the fence stakes using a string. Then place them in the ground using a post hole digger. Generally, it is recommended to drive 1/3 of the stakes into the ground.
Do not use too many stakes. A common mistake is to install too many stakes, too close, thinking that the fence will be stronger. However, if you plan to install your stakes at a distance of 40 feet, make sure you install stays along the wire to keep them apart and make greater stability.
To properly install your electric fence, the stakes that receive the most mechanical stress must be reinforced with braces, a cement base or an anchor.
A majority of cow breeders use floating diagonal braces, which are solid bars attached on one side to 2/3 of the visible part of the stakes and on the other to the ground with an approximate angle of 45 degrees.
Since you are going to have to maintain the voltage in the wires and thus electrically isolate them from the stakes, insulators are necessary. The type of insulator will depend on the type of electric fence you are going to buy and fencing manufacturers typically include insulators from their manufacture with their products.
The most common are insulators that allow the rope or braided style of fencing to slide through, preventing any harmful friction.
Using the connector clamps provided with your fence, secure the wires to your stakes. Start with the farthest stake from the charger and attach the number of wires you plan to have.
Never wrap the wire around the stake as it will loosen too easily and cause corrosion. Use the isolators supplied by the manufacturer.
Pull the wires as tight as you can at the anchor end, but make sure you don’t put too much tension to prevent it from breaking and causing injury.
Test the wires using a voltmeter and make sure that the electricity circulates well. Jot down the voltage and keep them well on hand to be able to compare them every day. Depending on the power of your charger, you should read between 6,000 and 10,000 volts offline.
Use a 10 to 14-gauge jumper wire to connect the lines to each other and connect the upper line of your fence to the charger with another jumper wire. Check that all wires are properly connected before turning the power on.
After checking that everything is properly connected, check the voltage at the farthest point of the charger. You should see a slight drop in voltage, less than 2,000 volts, or it would mean that there is a short circuit or interference on your fence.
It is recommended to check it regularly to prevent any voltage drop and to correct any necessary action. Moisture and growing vegetation can cause temporary leakage of current, which will provide lower voltages. If your voltage is below normal, it is time to perform a detailed inspection of your fence and eventually repair it.
Keep weeds, shrubs and bushes away from your fence, as they can cause drops in voltage. Remove all plants that grow near the fence and replenish a glyphosate herbicide to prevent proliferation.
Conductive tapes. Make sure to inform about their strength, which needs to be at least 130 kg. In fact, the 130 kg have a very low resistance, others can go up to more than 500 kg.
– Choose a wet place, using a ground, to push a 1.5 m long copper or galvanized steel grounding plug into the ground, adjusting the ground to the power of the earth it is a good rule of thumb to bury as many earthing posts as there are joules (energy of impulse) indicated on the charger, with distances of 2.5 m between pegs. For example, a 3-J charger requires 3 earth pegs of 1.5 m length.
– Then connect the peg (s) to the earth terminal of the energizer using a 2.5 mm diameter insulated plain wire.
– Use a cable tie that is specially adapted to attach the cable to the grounding pin (s). The electrical ground of an electric fence must be completely independent of a house or other electrical system and must be at least 20 m apart.
– On a fence close to a public roadway, it is obligatory to place a warning notice “Warning electric fence” every 50 m.
– Installation of a surge arrester is recommended to improve the safety of the device. In fact, any significant impact of lightning on the fence will kill any animal touching this fence even at the opposite end of the impact.
– NB : the grounding for this surge arrester must be better than that of the fence. You can also connect a wire from the fence to the ground with a battery cable, cut off current!
About Robert Fox
Rob Fox is a former hydro worker who used to teach self defence in Miami for 10 years. He's currently enjoying his retirement, playing cribbage and golf with his buddies, locksmithing and home security in his spare time. Rob is an avid reader, and has even written a few books on the subject of self defence.