How to Install Your Electric Fence Charger

Your electric fence charger should be installed in a clean, sheltered location away from direct moisture and sunlight (with the exception of solar powered chargers). It should be accessible to a separate ground rod system from a home or barn.

If you're using an AC charger, the location should be as close to the power source and the electric fence as possible. Even though the charger's enclosure is basically weatherproof, it is advisable to install it indoors or in weatherproof housing.

Be sure to install porcelain tube-type insulators (or equivalent) in the walls of buildings or housings where the fence wires feed through. Frequently inspect the area where the charger is installed and maintain it as a clean and dry environment.

NOTE: Never allow the fence wires to come into contact with objects which may cause the electric "charge" to ground.

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Installation and Location

Every fence charger comes with a detailed installation manual. In addition, individual components include “how-to” instructions to assist in your fence system assembly.

Your fence charger should be:

  • Sheltered from the weather (except solar chargers). Place indoors to protect from moisture or outdoors in a protective enclosure.
  • Close to 110-volt AC power source (unless battery or solar powered).
  • Accessible to a ground rod system that is separate from building or grounding rods used by other systems or buildings.

Mount the fence charger off the ground using a screw or nail through the hanger hole in the charger case. Connect the ground wire to the ground terminal and ground rods using insulated ground wire. Connect the fence terminal to the fence wire using 20,000-volt (or higher) hook up wire.

Proper Voltage

A fence tester, also known as a voltage tester, voltage meter, or voltmeter, can help you determine if you have adequate voltage on your fence line. Voltage testers are also useful in troubleshooting bad grounds and fence shorts.

Be sure to purchase a voltage tester designed specifically for electric fence. Fence testers contain special circuitry which allows the device to withstand and respond to very high voltages which are on for only a few millionths of a second. Standard voltage meters used for household electrical purposes are not capable of this and will not work with electric fences.

In addition, it's important to note that voltage testers designed to read direct current (DC-output) pulses will not work with alternating current (AC-output) fence chargers. In general most fence testers can be used with both high and low-impedance fence systems.

Zareba® offers a variety of fence testers to help keep your fence system working properly. Some designs come with testing probes, while others have the probe built into the main body of the device. The simplest models feature a light, which when lit, indicates electrical current is flowing through the fence. However, these simple designs are not adequate for troubleshooting ground or short issues. More complex models known as "fault finders" display voltage in kilovolts (kv) and amps of current.

Troubleshooting With a Voltage Tester

If you suspect a short in your fence, a "fault finder" fence tester with a display showing voltage (kv) and current readings (amps), as well as arrows pointing in the direction of the fault, is the best tool to locate the problem.

Shorts are caused by a number of things such as broken wires touching the ground, weeds, and cracked insulators. All of these will cause the wire to short out and ground. Underground wires going under gates which were not protected properly can also cause electric fences to ground out.

Ideally, your fence should be running a high voltage (kv) and little to no amps. A reading with high amps indicates a short. The higher the amps reading the worse the short.

An example:

You have a single-wire fence that usually runs 6,000 volts or 6 kv.

One day you test the fence and the reading you get is 2000 volts or 2 kv and 20 amps.

You would start by testing the fence charger first to make sure it is not the problem. Once you rule out the fence charger, start testing near the beginning of the fence run. Continue down the fence line following the "fault arrows" on the fence tester display until the short is found.

If you come to a sport where the fault arrow begins to point in the opposite direction or you get no reading (e.g. 0 amps, barely any kv), you will need to back track between where you tested and the previous test spot.

Having a fence tester on hand will make finding shorts and other issues quick and easy, saving you time and money in the long run.

Lightning and Power Surge Protection

Lightning is often the cause of fence charger failure. When lightning strikes the fence, the sudden power surge can travel down the fence wire and damage the fence charger.

A variety of properly installed products can prevent or limit lightning damage.

  • To prolong the life of your fence charger, consider disconnecting the fence charger from the power source when storms are near.
  • Install a lightning diverter/arrestor to divert lightning to the earth before it can damage the charger. For the greatest protection, install one lightning diverter/arrestor at each corner of the fence, but no closer than 50 feet to the fence charger.
  • Use a lightning choke between the fence line and fence charger to dissipate power surges caused by lightning.
  • Use an AC surge suppressor to protect against AC power surges.

Recharging Your Energizer's Battery

A trickle charger should be used to maintain a solar fence battery when the fence controller is not in use for more than three months. The battery should be stored outside of the energizer. When the battery is removed from the fence controller, it should be charged for no longer than 18 hours, stored at a moderate temperature and placed on a wooden board keeping it off the ground.

Before the battery is reinstalled into the fencer for use, it should be recharged for an additional 18 hours to ensure it is fully charged for operation.