How Do You Complete the Circuit on an Electric Fence?


Electric fences require a complete circuit for proper operation, successfully containing livestock within the fenced area. The high voltage must flow from the fence charger or energizer to the earth. The animal coming into contact with the fence completes the electrical circuit and receives a shock. You must provide a means for the circuit to be completed from the fence charger.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric fence charger
  • 2 ground rods, 8 feet long
  • Hammer
  • 2 Ground rod clamps
  • Screwdriver
  • Electric fence wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Install the two 8-foot ground rods 10 feet apart near the fence charger. Pound the ground rods into the earth with the hammer, leaving the top 3 inches exposed above the soil line.

  • Attach the ground rod clamps to the top of the ground rods. Tighten the clamps to the ground rod, one each, with the screwdriver.

  • Run a single piece of the electric fence wire from the first ground rod to the fence charger connection, identified as either "ground" or "earth." Cut the wire to length using the wire cutters.

  • Attach a separate wire from the second ground rod to the same "ground" or "earth" terminal on the fence charger. This will ensure a good conductive path to complete the high-voltage charge through the earth.

  • Follow the manufacture's instructions for the attachment of the hot wire to the fence posts. Various fence chargers or energizers may require specific fence-wire insulators for the hot wire. Failure to install the correct hot-wire insulators will cause the high-voltage charge to prematurely go to the earth ground. This will minimize the effectiveness of the shock from the electric fence.

Tips & Warnings

  • In areas with very dry climates, a secondary ground wire may have to be attached to the fence posts 6 to 8 inches above and below the hot wire. This allows the livestock being contained in the area to make contact with both the hot wire and the earth ground.

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