Electric Fence ?????

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by CoyoteMagic, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    Can someone give me pointers on how to install an electric fence?

    Hubby and I are working opposite shifts. I don't get home until after the sun goes down. He leaves mid-day. We don't want the girls to be locked up in the small run most of the day especially beings we plan on gettin a "few" more. I have an attached run that is huge. Not sure exactly how big it is but really big. I want to run a hot wire around the perimeter to keep critters out until I get home to close up the door.

    I have the "stuff" that came off the run when I got it from someone else. I just don't know how to set it up.

  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:If it is a plug-in charger, the charger needs to be located indoors. But put it somewhere that it will not matter so much if it starts a fire (no, seriously), like a disused but electric-serviced outbuilding. I would really really really not put it in the coop. In principle you can put a lightning choke between fence and charger, but not on such a small setup as you're describing, and a lightning choke is not 100% protection against fire anyhow. If you have no indoors fire-tolerant location for it, then it would be good, at least eventually, to run a buried electric conduit out to somewhere you can build a small 'hut' for the charger, like outhouse or doghouse-sized. If it's a solar or battery-op charger, follow manufacturer instructions for placement.

    So, put the charger there. Turn the charger switch to OFF, and leave it that way. Really truly, trust me on this. Ask me how I know [​IMG]

    Now you need ground rods. Unless this is a teensy tiny wee fence, start by putting in one or two 6' lengths of 1" galvanized water pipe, pounded vertically into the ground until only about 6" sticks out. Wear goggles, bits can flake off. If the ground is frozen where you are, you can skip this (just pound a piece of rebar in as far as you can, you might pre-drill with a long 1/2" drill bit and/or use various sorts of heat to try to soften the ground, but you're likely not to get real far if you're in the North) BUT be aware that until you establish a good set of ground rods, you may have poor fence performance. (edited to add: on rereading I see this is a tiny fence. You *may* be able to get away with just a 3' piece of rebar pounded in, or if you have a tiny charger it may have a spike on its butt to drive into the ground. However a charger like that may or may not be sufficient to deter predators, and if you have charge problems, the first thing to do would be to try more or deeper ground rods...)

    Put the ground rods in at least 50' from any buried metal water pipes or buried electric lines or utility-pole ground rods. This is important. If you do not observe these setbacks, you may screw up radio reception and/or risk a lethally-high charge on the fence if something goes wrong, realio trulio. If you are using more than 1 ground rod, put them six or ten feet apart. Put them somewhere they won't be a hazard to lawnmowers, pedestrians or livestock.

    Now you need an insulated cable to connect from the ground rods to the charger, and from the charger to the actual fence. (I believe you can use uninsulated wire from charger to ground rods, do not quote me though). Use only insulated wire sold and labelled for electric fence use -- regular household insulated wire is not nearly insulated enough for the voltages involved (like 10,000+ V).

    To connect the ground rods to the charger, put the ground rod clamp on the top of the now-mostly-buried ground rod, peel back the insulation from an inch of the wire, and attach that to the clamp. Get the connection good and TIGHT. Run the wire to the charger, cut it off at the appropriate length or slightly longer, then bare an inch at that end and stick it into the appropriate hole on the "GROUND" terminal of the charger and screw the terminal knob in TIGHTLY.

    To connect the charger to the fence, attach the insulated wire to the "FENCE" terminal of the charger as described above, fastening it good 'n' tight. Then run the insulated wire out to the nearest part of your fence. Cut it to length, preferably a bit too long. Bare the end. It can now be attached to the fence wire (see below) by means of an underwriter's loop knot (google for it) or a store-boughten attachment gizmo of which there are various kinds for various fence materials.

    Have you run your fence wire (or tape or net or whatever) yet? If not, do [​IMG] I can't give specific instructions without knowing what kind of electric fence (wire, tape, net, what?) but suffice to say that the insulators must stand the electrified part far enough away from other fence materials, especially wire mesh or metal t-posts, that the electrified wire will always be at least 2" away from wood or 3"+ away from metal. Even if it sags or sways in the wind. The electrified wire must also not contact, or get real close to, any nails used in the insulators. Do not run the electric fence in a loop, run it as a single or branched line (in a square field it can circle back towards itself but don't attach it in a complete loop, you know?)

    Is the charger switch still turned OFF? Good.

    Now attach the fence to the charger as described above. Use a good tight underwriter's loop knot or something like that, not loose wiggly wraps.

    Stand clear. Turn the charger ON. After a short delay while you wonder if it will work [​IMG], it should start making tick - tick - tick noises, and most have a light that will flash with each tick. That means it is working.

    You are not done. Test the fence. Do you have a fence tester? The cheapo ones with five neon lights will do in a pinch but be aware they're notoriously inaccurate for actual fence charge -- the more expensive digital ones will tell you much better whtehr your fence is 'hot' enough for your specific kind of livestock. Read the instructions that came with the tester.

    Test the fence first at the point where the insulated wire from the charger meets the fence. It should give you at least 2500, uh, whatever the units are (I feel so stupid but too lazy to look it up [​IMG]) for pretty much ANY kind of livestock, and to keep in some kinds of critters, or repel predators, you will need higher than that. For good predator-repelling you really prolly ought to be getting more like 3500+. If you are not getting sufficient charge at this point in the fence, most likely either you've got crappy electrical connections (turn charger off and redo them) or you do not have a good ground. This time of year, a ground problem could be too few ground rods OR just the fact that the ground is froze solid (which I realize you might not be able to do anything about, but just be aware that it could be a problem right now).

    Then test the fence at its furthest point from the charger (at the end of the longest possible run of wire). Do you still have sufficient charge on the fence tester? If so, cool. If not, either you have crappy electrical connections, your fencewire is shorting out to nearby nails/wires/posts/trees/weeds/etc, you don't have a good ground (see above), or your charger is just not big enough for the fence. (DO NOT BELIEVE the stuff on the box about charges X miles of fence, it is bullsh*t and has nothing to do with real-world fences).

    Hopefully though everything will work fine and you will be in business.

    Whew. Tired fingers [​IMG] Hope that helps,

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2008

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