Ground Rod Installation
The grounding circuit is a critical component of your electric fence and is essential to its proper functioning. The fence charger, or energizer, is designed to alter the electric charge into a power that is safe for animals and people.
When an animal touches the electrically charged fence wire, the animal feels the electric current as the charge passes through its body. The charge then continues the circuit through the earth to the ground rod and then up the ground wire to the ground terminal of the charger.
How to Install Ground Rods for your Electric Fence
If the animal and the ground terminal of the charger are not sufficiently grounded, the path of electric current cannot be completed and the animal will not feel the shock. Since earth provides half of the electric field circuit, it is crucial to have a properly installed ground circuit.
Birds landing on the wire will not be harmed -- since they are not in contact with the ground as they sit upon the wire, they are not completing the circuit, and therefore they will not receive a shock.
90% of electric fence problems can be traced back to the fence being improperly grounded.
Follow the instructions for grounding in the fence charger owner's manual; they will guide you through the process. One terminal of the charger will connect to the fence while the other terminal will connect to earth ground wire.
Sandy, dry, and rocky soils may require a "one-wire" ground-wire return system or, in some cases, a "two-wire system." More is explained about the differences between these two systems in the next section.
Make sure you have connected the grounding rod properly. It must go to the ground terminal on the charger. Do not make the mistake of connecting it to the fence wire or fence terminal
Longer fences or areas where the soil is dry, rocky, or sandy may require more grounding rods. Multiple rods should be placed at least 10 feet apart and at least 50 feet from any other grounding system. Each rod will then need to be connected using insulated wire.
Grounding rods may be copper or galvanized. The benefit of copper is that it transports the electrical charge more efficiently than the galvanized rod; however, it is more expensive than a galvanized rod.
For ease of installation, pour water into the entry point when pounding in your ground rods.
One Wire System
When only charged wires run the perimeter of the fence, this is called a one wire system. If you have a small area, with one or two strands of wire, a one wire system is what you should use.
One wire systems can also be used when adding on to an existing fence. Running a charged strand of wire on the top of a non-electrified fence will keep your livestock from reaching over the fence and damaging it. This method can be used on barbed or woven wire fence as well.
Two Wire System
A two wire ground system should be used if there are more than three strands of wire on the fence. The two strand system allows the animal to complete the circuit by touching a charged wire and a ground wire at the same time. The strands on the fence must alternate between a ground wire and a charged wire: one charged, one ground, and then charged, etc.
If you have a large area that needs to be fenced in, this system is ideal. It is also great to contain animals with long hair, or wool, and areas with sandy or rocky soil. Grounding this system is simple. The wire from the ground terminal will connect directly to the ground rods and then connect to the ground wires on the fence line. The charged wires are connected to the terminal on the charger.