Electric Fence Post Installation

IMPORTANT: Check with your gas company and other utilities before you dig! Buried gas lines, electrical lines and water lines can result in serious injury or death if you puncture them or come in contact with live wires.

Your fence post selection will depend on the animal being controlled, topography, price, fence type (portable, temporary, or permanent), and the expected lifetime of the fence.

Recommended Post Spacing

Fencing parameters

Spacing (feet)

Woven Wire


Barbed Wire




High-tensile, level terrain


High-tensile, difficult animals, rolling terrain


Poly tape and poly wire






Fence post spacing

Use wood posts at corners and ends due to the extra strain at these locations. Whether your fence is designed to contain livestock or to repel predators, these wood posts should have at least a 6 inch diameter. One end of the wood posts should be placed 3 to 4 feet into the ground.

The corner posts take tremendous tension loads and are the key to a solidly constructed electric fence. Long runs of multiple-wired fences also need brace posts along the fence line. Line posts need only support the wire between the corner posts.

Don’t worry about spacing posts evenly other than for appearance. On level terrain they can be further apart; on uneven terrain, posts need to be spaced wherever there is a high or low spot.

On hillsides, posts should be installed perpendicular to the slope. This keeps the wire at the proper height and spacing and prevents it from binding on insulators or clips.

If using wood or steel fence posts, make sure the fence wires cannot touch the posts.

Place brace posts along the fence line when you have multiple wires running a long distance. Bracing the corners and fence line will help dramatically increase the strength of your fence.

Step 1: Choosing the fence line

Before installing your posts, you will want to choose your fence lines. Most of this will already have been completed in the planning and designing phases, however, here are a few tips to help make choosing your fence line easier.

  • Check your property lines and arrange cross-fences to take maximum advantage of the area you are fencing.
  • Avoid fencing in rough, stony, broken, or steep areas if possible.
  • If putting in high tensile fencing, consider zig-zagging the fence line slightly rather than going straight over areas that need leveling, more posts, etc.
  • If necessary, level uneven areas before setting posts. Where you level ground, re-plant grass to prevent erosion and weed growth.

Step 2:Setting corner, end, and line brace assemblies

Corner and end posts, along with line brace assemblies, are the backbone of your fencing system. Fences such as high-tensile put an enormous amount of tension on these assemblies, and therefore need to be strong enough to handle the force. To do this, it is imperative you do things right the first time and set posts deep.

Step-in, pigtail, rebar, and fiberglass posts, along with t-posts are not recommended for corner posts. Although they are cheaper than wood posts, they cannot hold up to the strain and tension like a wood post. Wood posts should be used at corners, gates and termination points of a fence. Rebar and fiberglass posts can be used along the fence line.

Important things to remember when setting corner, end, and line brace assemblies:

  • Corner posts require a brace assembly for each fence leading to it.
  • With fences more than 200+ feet, it is best to use a double span assembly.
  • Set corner posts leaning back from the direction of the fence approximately five degrees.
  • Brace wire should pull in the opposite direction than the fence is pulling.
  • When spans between posts exceed 650 feet use braced line post assemblies every 650 feet of the fence line. (Note: Brace line assembly is the same as a single span braced corner, but uses a second diagonal brace wire to pull the fence in the opposite direction.)
  • If adequate post bracing cannot be achieved, additional bracing will be required to maintain tension.

Step 3: Setting fence posts

How you set your fence posts will depend on the type of posts you have chosen. Step-in and pigtail posts are easily set by stepping-in or pushing the base of the post into the ground. Rebar / fiberglass must be driven into the ground with a hammer.

T-posts are most effectively set by using special tool known as a t-post pounder. Some people use a large hammer, but this is challenging and not recommended. You can purchase a "post pounder" from the same source where you buy your electric fence supplies. A heavy pipe with a closed end can also work.

Wooden posts, which will make up end, corner, and brace posts, can be driven into the ground with a post pounder or tamped into place.

To set wooden fence posts, mark your digging tool to the desired depth fence posts will be set. This will ensure uniform depth. Drive the post into the ground manually or with a tractor-mounted driver.

In sandy or rocky soil the fence posts need to be set deeper than in clay or dirt. Also, the amount of tension on the wire at the corner will determine the depth as well. Another factor is if the corner posts have brace posts to support them. A depth of 3-4 feet will usually work.

An additional method to set wooden posts is to dig a hole larger than the post diameter. Place the post in the hole and then repack the soil around it. You want to make sure you center the post before tamping. This will make tamping easier and allows soil to pack tighter around the post. Continue to replace small amounts of soil and tamp. Be sure to plumb the post to make sure it is level.

The distance between line posts will depend on the terrain of the area being fenced. On very flat land, line posts are commonly spaced 10 to 16 feet apart (if not electrified). If electrified, spacing can be as far as 150 feet apart for line posts. Wire spacers are used in all dips and at least every 30 feet apart for five wire strands and 50 feet for two to three strands. You will want to move line posts closer together as the terrain becomes hillier.