How to Install an Electric Fence

Electric fences are easy and economical to install. This article gives an easy to follow procedure for purchasing and installing this type of fencing.

Farmers who raise livestock have used electric fences for decades to keep their animals from straying away. There are few fences that work as well as electric to stop an animal bent on roaming. From dogs to hogs to cows to horses, electric fences will keep them all at home. No matter how many times an animal touches an electric fence, it will never get used to the high voltage and low amp shock it receives. Some fences are more powerful than others to allow for more land to be enclosed. Installing an electric fence is a relatively easy task. However, if you intend to use it around a large parcel of ground, you may find it will still be a lot of work.

You will begin the job by making a rough measurement of the perimeter of the ground you want to place the electric fence around. Because the electric wire comes in fairly large rolls and most electric fence chargers can handle a pretty big area, just a near miss will do on the length of the perimeter. With this measurement in hand, you are ready to go to the hardware or farm supply store and buy the items necessary to install your fence.

You will need 4 or 5 items to install this fence. Buy a charger large enough to handle the load you intend to use. Next, you will need to get enough wire to go all of the way around the parcel of land. I recommend that you buy about 50% more because wire is cheap, and you may decide to make some small enclosures plus the main fence. You will also need extra wire from time to time to make repairs when it gets broken. Get enough insulators to allow for one about every 10 or 15 feet. For hogs, you may want to put the closer at first.

If you do not already have some other type of fence in place, you will need to buy some posts to attach the insulators to for stretching the wire. If your charger will be installed in an area away from a major electrical connection, you will need to get a ground rod. This is a piece of steel about 5 or 6 feet long that you will sink at least 2 or 3 feet into the soil to attach your ground to from your charger. If you are near an electric pole or the meter box, there will already be an excellent ground rod in place that you can just attach to.

About the only tools you will need are a hammer to sink any of the rods/posts needed for grounding or attaching insulators. A decent pair of wire cutters will save some wear and tear on your hands. I recommend work gloves unless you are really tough. These will just protect your hands from cuts and stab wounds from the wire. After this, just dress for the terrain and weather.

Do not plug the charger to electricity until the last step. Attach the first wire to the hot side of the charger. Read the instructions to make sure which terminal is considered the hot side and which is the ground side. Make a note of the maximum distance that the charger will push the current and still be effective. Sometimes you have to run two wires in order to enclose an area. Basically, you just take one to the right and one to the left and stop when they are within about 2 inches of each other. You can hook both to the hot terminal or wire them together a few feet from the box depending on what will work best for your situation. You can run the wire and insulators simultaneously, or you can install the insulators first and then string the wire.

If you do not have a fence already in place, place stakes along the route to keep you on track. You will need to install the posts to hook the insulators to first. If you have a fence, more than likely, you can just attach the insulators to the fence or fence posts. Depending on what type of animal you want to contain, you may have to adjust the height of the electric fence. For horses and cows, you will want the fence two or more feet off of the ground. For dogs, you will want to set the fence at a height that will prevent the dog from going beneath it. For most dogs, set the fence at 8 or 10 inches off of the ground. Some people and communities have regulations about using electric on dogs. Check this out before installing the fence if dogs are what you intend to control.

For hogs, I have found that setting the fence about 8 to 12 inches from the ground works best. The idea here is that you want to set the fence high enough to stay out of most of the plants that may grow under it but low enough to brush the hog’s ears when it is using its snout to look for food on the ground. If the hog can get its head under the fence, it will usually run forward to escape and not back up. This will mean that you will be rounding up hogs a lot if your fence is too high. If it touches the ears, the hog will always go backward and stay contained. If you are using it for hog pens, you can set it high enough to let the young pigs move in and out of the pen. This is handy for feeding young pigs with starter food and keeping the sow from having it. The young pigs will not stray more than a few feet from their momma. So, this works very well.

Once the insulators are in place, install the wire everywhere it needs to run. Just be sure not to leave any gaps because the wire must be a continuous run to work. It just cannot be a loop back to the charger. Hook up the ground wire to the ground rod. Electric fences work by running the electric through the hot wire going away from the charger and through the earth to the ground wire to return. This means that anything standing on the ground and touching the wire will get a jolt.

Once all of the wire is in place, make sure that the charger is secure and weather proof, plug it into the electrical source. It needs to at least be a place where it will stay dry. Some people recommend hanging some colored cloth here and there along the wire so that it is more visible until the animals get used to its presence. This is not usually necessary because most animals figure out the hate it within about 5 minutes or so. You can test the wire by introducing the animals to the enclosure. If you are a brave soul, you can touch it with the back of your hand. I do not personally recommend this second method, but I know several people who use it. Do not touch the fence with your palm. This will cause your hand to shut and grip the fence. This is a bad thing. You can take a piece of insulated wire and touch the electrified wire with one end and a piece of metal laying on the ground with the other. You will see a spark or hear a sound if the fence is alive. Take your pick, but you need to test the fence someway before just abandoning it to do its silent work.

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Published in: Do-It-Yourself

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