Hot wire fencing issue

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Dusty Britches

Well-known member
Jun 8, 2005
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Branchville, Texas
7 years ago I put up a "temporary" hot wire that is about 1300' long, 2 strands, and I'm using a Patriot P10 (15 mile) charger. It has 3 ground rods, 10' apart. The charger has a 12V marine battery hooked up. It has worked amazingly well until recently.

Until now, the shock was quite powerful and if I may say so, painful to get careless with. Now the shock is more like a weird uncomfortable buzz. I have accidently touched it several times and the buzzer you get from restaurants is stronger. My puppy actually sits and moths it and when the pulse shock hits, he holds his head back, shakes it and grabs the wire again. My 7 year old dog won't go anywhere near it and it was quite effective at teaching him to not go under fences.

I've checked for shorts in the line and the grass and weeds are all off the fence. An electronic volt meter indicates 12.3 volts from the battery and the charger is reading NEGATIVE 3-5. I've never seen that and was wondering what that meant. Also, when I put the volt meter on the other chargers, they are pulsating at plus 3-5. I traded the chargers out and the one reading negative and barely pushing anything works fine on the other fence. The new one does the same thing - barely a charge or reads negative.

It is plausible that the ground rods are corroded? They are galvanized rods, 8' long and driven 6 feet down. It has been dry for about a month, but like I said the other fences are properly charged. When we start getting rain again, I'm going to build a permanent 4 strand barb wire fence.

Any ideas?
Check the charger with a different battery? Sound like it won't hold charge. Like you said , been dry for a bit. Pour a bucket of water on your rods. Mine went dry and had no power over the summer. Shame that necessities so much to repair/replace.
No the battery is not 7 years old. It is may a year or 2 old. It is pushing 12.3 volts and the volt meter indicates it is a good battery. My volt meter is digital and has warning lights for bad batteries. But, I know that doesn't mean much. I will trade it out for the other battery I have and see what it does.

It has been dry lately so I'll fill a 5 gallon bucket and drain the water onto the rods.
I put a new charger on the fence and it is very hot, so I guess my charger went bad. It was between 7 and 10 years old. Maybe older.

Interesting tidbit - when I put my digital voltmeter on it, it read "-48. something" on every pulse. The negative must be something with the voltmeter. My puppy touched it and got a small zap. He yelped and went to attack it but then got the full charge. (Yeah he has grit!) You would have thought it was going to kill him. He didn't want anything to do with the fence after that.
DB, You said the ground rods are galvanized. Is the ground wire from the energizer to the rod also galvnized? Rod and ground wire should match.
Also besure ground clamps are not corroded. Also check every insulator for cracks and replace any showing signs of deterioration. 7 years is good
service for an insulator. good luck
DB said "I traded the chargers out and the one reading negative and barely pushing anything works fine on the other fence. The new one does the same thing - barely a charge or reads negative."

Sounds like you have a short in your wire somewhere. Disconnect the positive side from the fence and take a reading. It should be high. If it is that indicates to me it has a short. Could be a bad insulator or more than one. I have a Ken Cove fence tester that shows the direction of the short (most of the time). Speedrite makes one , as do others.

Can you isolate the individual wires? That helps determine which wire has the short. I have a lot of electric fence, permanent for pastures and temporary as well (some over 7 years like your temporary fence). Sometimes it is just a matter of walking it with a stick poking each insulator until the bad one shows up or I find the shorted wire.

Luckily I am 3+ years without feral pigs on my property since I installed electric fence just inside my barbed wire boundary fence. I am always checking those wires and sometime walking with a stick poking each insulator or finding it snagged on the barbed wire. It is sometime pretty easy to find but I've repeatedly walked the same stretch of fence and passed it up many times. Even with the fault finder working, sometime the problem is not obvious.

Good luck.
So I found the short - sure enough a few insulators and one gate handle were cracked. When I put the new charger with the new battery on the fence - I was able to quickly find the shorts. The gate handle shocked me through a crack. Heifer hasn't gotten out since I fixed it. I still think the other charger is bad, though.

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