General electric fence and charger questions

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annmariemz23

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I read through the previous threads about solar fences, and am still have some questions about my set-up that I haven't seen answers for. I have not used electric fence for several years, having gotten discouraged each time I tried it. I am retired now from a demanding teaching job, and because of the drought and forest fires that burned up our summer range, I am pretty desperate to get more out of our home pastures.

Grounding: I thought my previous problems were from our dry, heavy clay soil and merely grounding to an existing barbed wire fence with t-posts. So I did a trial run on a line designed to keep the hogs from pushing under our perimeter fence. I grounded it with three aluminum rods 10 feet apart and 6' deep. (We actually have an aquifer that is anywhere from 14' underground to ground level in winter in a wet year, but we are suffering a severe drought now. I would guess aquifer is at 8' at least.)

Wire: I used some of our previously used twine with 6 steel strands in it. The twine seemed to be in good shape, no stretched places and few if any splices. All splices were correctly done with the wire peeled away from the fibers and twisted together.

Battery: Old battery was toast, so we got a new one.

Success so far: Made me feel all warm and fuzzy to find that the hogs only shorted the wire at first, and now it is rarely compromised. No hog damage near the wired up part of the perimeter.

Strip grazing heifers: Built a line with pigtail posts and pencil-rod grape stakes, having 2 lines with the 6-wire twine running for 947 feet. The last piece of twine I spliced in had some rough places and bubbled up wire, but I couldn't see any breaks. Put in 3 stainless ground stakes 10' apart. Used another unit with an old battery, I don't know how old, but the gauge on the side of it showed it pegging its arrow to the top of the green area. When I turned the heifers in, I watched until they nosed the wire. It backed them off. It also bit me when I fumbled with it. They happily munched away, but the next evening we got home at dusk to find two of them out. Gotta love my cow dogs!!!!
Fixed it the next day by adding a new line of new string with 6 steel wires and 3 copper ones, and by extending the grazing area. Turned heifers back in. Happy happy girls. But the next evening, I watched them push by the strings with no reaction. I had insane panic since I didn't want a repeat of previous failures, so I opened a piece of fence into a permanently fenced field that was to be their next destination.

Charger: When turned on, its click sounds anemic to me and did even when it actually shocked the one heifer's nose. But the gauge on the side of the unit still pegged at the top of the green. My fence tester that shows lights that indicate the amount of voltage depending on how many lights are lit showed nothing. But my little blue tester that just has one light, lit up across the terminals, and from hot terminal to ground, but not from hot "wire" to ground. I adjusted the aluminum wire from the hot terminal to coil tightly around the twine for 1 inch rather than to twist loosely along the twine. Tried again from the coil to ground. The light lit up. Clicking still anemic sounding.

Questions:

1. How do I know if I still have a problem, if my problem is the old piece of twine that visibly looks ok, but...?? or if I need a new battery or panel, or if my ground is just too dry? I didn't take the battery out because of the gauge reading. Can the gauge read at the top of the green if the battery or panel are weak? I ask this especially because my brain doesn't like the sound of the click of the unit. It seems like it used to be (years ago) louder. (Also, I know if I am using 9 strand twine, I need to ultimately replace it all with 9-strand because it can only carry the amperage of the fewest number of wires which is 6 at this point. I plan to do this before stringing up the new section. I am afraid to string up a new section before I can determine that each wire has maximum voltage, or amperage, or energy, or whatever it is I am supposed to be measuring. )

2. It is extremely difficult to find ground rods, and we have some aluminum rods. Is this bad because of the different kinds of metal? Will it work for a season? When I search for aluminum ground rods they don't even seem to be a thing. Is there a problem here? Otherwise ground rods are copper and super expensive or otherwise galvanized, but hard to find in the People's Republic of California.

3. Would I be able to answer my questions by buying an electric fence fault-finder?

4. To tie into a single line of twine with a gate hook, is there any kind of metal plate available to hook on to? It seems like a pair of plates screwed together on the twine would make a good contact for a gate hook. Alternatively, instead should I replace my hog prevention wire near the ground with wire instead of twine so I can hook on to it with a gate hook mechanism?

Any suggestions to my dilemma would be welcomed!
 

SBMF 2015

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1) go to the farthest point away from the charger. Use a plastic handled screw driver to ground the wire to a steel post. If you get a good spark the fence is working. If no spark, start working your way to the fencer.
2) copper is the best, but aluminum will be fine.
3) I use a screw driver and insulated pliers. A fault finder isn't in my budget.
4) not sure about 4. I use wire not poly rope.

Good Luck.
 

1982vett

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Agree with checking the far end...if you’ve got it looped, then break it some where so it feeds from only one direction, then test the far end. When looped, the poly wire could be broken in two or more places leaving a dead area they are finding.

If you don’t have it looped, could be just some areas the soil is just to dry for them to ground out. I’ve found the less expensive low joule solar chargers have issues in dry conditions no matter the grounding rod installation.
 

Lee VanRoss

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I do not use or work for nor am I invested in the following company. I do know they have the material
and knowledge and ability to help you with any questions you may have. That woud be Powerflex Fence Co
of Seymour Mo. You can google them for more info. If you are going to use aluminum ground rod then you
should use aluminum from the fencer to ground. On the hot side use what will match the wire you are using
to hold your stock. If you have access to 110 I would suggest using that to power the energizer. I would
also encourage you to consider 8 joules or higher for power. As for a battery fencer the only place I would
ever use one is as a temporary in the event of a tree falling across the fence or something of that nature
then only for the purpose of blocking an area until I can make repairs. Forget the screwdriver and buy
a faultfinder. Yes it may cost some shekels but it will tell you how much power you are losing and the
direction from where you stand to the fault. As to ground rod if there is a building close that drains
onto an area that you can have ground rod so much the better. I use 5 copper 8' rods with a #9 copper
lead to the ground terminal. Just be sure to use the same material for ground and lead.

For energizers I like Cyclops. They are stronger than a vinegar malt once you get them set up.
I keep mine out of the weather for obvious reasons and also for security as they are not a low
dollar item. As to battery fencers, yes if you have a small area and there is no risk of stock on
a highway or someone being hurt, otherwise no. I don't think Powerflex sells Cyclops nor do I
know any who works for them. I would suggest you get a catalog from them then with good
information start designing the system which will meet your criteria. LVR
 
OP
annmariemz23

annmariemz23

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So how do I measure the joules? Does a fault-finder show joules, or amps, or volts?
I do not use or work for nor am I invested in the following company. I do know they have the material
and knowledge and ability to help you with any questions you may have. That woud be Powerflex Fence Co
of Seymour Mo. You can google them for more info. If you are going to use aluminum ground rod then you
should use aluminum from the fencer to ground. On the hot side use what will match the wire you are using
to hold your stock. If you have access to 110 I would suggest using that to power the energizer. I would
also encourage you to consider 8 joules or higher for power. As for a battery fencer the only place I would
ever use one is as a temporary in the event of a tree falling across the fence or something of that nature
then only for the purpose of blocking an area until I can make repairs. Forget the screwdriver and buy
a faultfinder. Yes it may cost some shekels but it will tell you how much power you are losing and the
direction from where you stand to the fault. As to ground rod if there is a building close that drains
onto an area that you can have ground rod so much the better. I use 5 copper 8' rods with a #9 copper
lead to the ground terminal. Just be sure to use the same material for ground and lead.

For energizers I like Cyclops. They are stronger than a vinegar malt once you get them set up.
I keep mine out of the weather for obvious reasons and also for security as they are not a low
dollar item. As to battery fencers, yes if you have a small area and there is no risk of stock on
a highway or someone being hurt, otherwise no. I don't think Powerflex sells Cyclops nor do I
know any who works for them. I would suggest you get a catalog from them then with good
information start designing the system which will meet your criteria. LVR
So, in other words, if I have three steel ground rods, but connect them with aluminum wire, that is bad? I think I actually have three aluminum ground rods and aluminum ground wire going to the unit. Then, the wire going away from the unit is steel. Is that OK? Also, Is it better not to loop the wire (twine)?

So with what can I measure that the fence is putting out 3500 volts? The clicking noise and the blinking tester are too subjective.

Agree with checking the far end...if you’ve got it looped, then break it some where so it feeds from only one direction, then test the far end. When looped, the poly wire could be broken in two or more places leaving a dead area they are finding.

If you don’t have it looped, could be just some areas the soil is just to dry for them to ground out. I’ve found the less expensive low joule solar chargers have issues in dry conditions no matter the grounding rod installation
 

Lee VanRoss

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Do not put unlike material together on an electric fence .<period
If I am using rope wire and I need to splice it or add on I will tie a knot and go on.
Is it perfect? No, Does is work? Yes. Forget volts, think joules. Grab on to 8 or more joules and you will
sing Haleluyah. (That is Praise the Lord in Hebrew) Get a screwdriver and walk to the far end if you are getting
paid for mileage, otherwise get a fault finder. Use the tools given to you to find reliable information.
If you do not have access to 110 volts and must use solar a Good Solar energizer will set you back a
few dollars. Rule of thumb for using electic fence on livestock. Never, under any circumstance walk or
attempt to walk any animal that you wish to fence with an electric wire over the wire even if it is dead and
flat on the ground. You're welcome
 

SBMF 2015

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If you don’t have it looped, could be just some areas the soil is just to dry for them to ground out. I’ve found the less expensive low joule solar chargers have issues in dry conditions no matter the grounding rod installation.
In that really dry soil could you run a 2nd wire and have it hooked to the ground rods?
It's there has only been one August that I can remember that the soil was to dry for the calves to get shocked.
 

BFE

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Wet your grounds occasionally. A 5 gallon bucket of water every week to ten days is pretty easy.

As to testing, like SBMF said, spark it on a post. Or if all else fails, put your thigh on it and see how that feels. If it makes you jump, it’ll make them jump. I recommend that above grabbing it with your hand lol.
 

1982vett

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In that really dry soil could you run a 2nd wire and have it hooked to the ground rods?
It's there has only been one August that I can remember that the soil was to dry for the calves to get shocked.
Running a second wire for grounding purposes in a mig and rotational system adds some work and materials. I don’t run a ground wire with a hot wire. I mostly use hot wires along perimeter fencing to discourage bulls from riding fences down. So you could say a ground wire is run with the hot as most of my perimeter fencing has steel post in it but without an added ground. Doesn’t take long for cattle to leave fences alone. I do have a lot of pasture cross fence with one wire. Cows and bulls tend to leave it alone whether it’s hot or not once they’ve been educated. I don’t do MIG where I’ve moving wire daily or multiple times a day. A few places where I’d rather calves not cross I do run a second hot about 2 ft off the ground. Only breed around here I’ve not been able to turn reliably is Corriente. Seems they just don’t care.

Little off topic, but I watched some I recently bought get introduced to electric fencing when I turned them out yesterday. Obviously their first encounter with one. Both cow and calves belle red and shook their heads. Doubt grazing under fencing will be their favorite pastime.
 

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