Wire Gauge Selection for Electric Fencing

Wire Gauge Selection for Electric Fencing

Can’t figure out where to start when planning your electric fence? Looking at what wire you want to use is a great place! What does the wire do? It electrifies and travels through and over the surface of wire. There are a few different wire choices to consider, although typically the most cost effective and simplest way to go is aluminum or steel wire. With this wire, the gauge matters.

When selecting a gauge of wire for your electric fencing system, keep in mind if a wire is larger in diameter, it has more surface are over which the electricity can travel. The greater the surface area, the less resistance. Using the largest diameter of wire available will transmit the greatest amount of electricity.

Most electric fences use 14 or 17 gauge wire depending on how long the fence is and what animal is being contained or repelled. Keep in mind that the lower the gauge of wire, the thicker the wire will be. Animals that you may want a larger gauge for include some of the larger animals like cows, bulls/bison, sheep goats, and other predators. Smaller gauge tends to lend better to smaller animals like pets, poultry and nuisance animals as well.

Which Wire is best?

Each wire type has its own purpose. Your selection will depend on the type of fence you are installing, how long the fence will stay in place, and what type of animal you are containing. The different options of wire include:


  • Lasts the lifetime of the fence
  • Carry a charge over a long distance
  • Can be used with any type of charger


  • Long lasting
  • Conducts a strong electrical charge, stronger than steel
  • Very flexible and easy to work with

High Tensile

  • Great for containing livestock and keeping predators out
  • Can stand along, but is a more effective barrier when electrified
  • Commonly 12 – 12.5 gauge stainless steel wire

polytape in use

Poly fencing options are a different type of wire. Poly is formed of metal wires and polymer filaments, which produce a strong and extremely visible option for fencing. Due to its visibility, it makes training easier as the animals can see their boundary better than just a single wire. Poly products are great for both temporary and permanent fencing needs.


  • Made of thin metal wires and polymer filaments
  • More visible than aluminum
  • Easy to reuse again and again for various types of fencing needs


  • Stronger than poly wire
  • More visible than aluminum
  • Typically ¼-inch in diameter


  • Highly visible
  • Often used for horse fencing
  • Great protection from ware and tare
  • Ranging between ½-inch to 2-inches wide

We do not recommend electrifying barbed wire or chain link fence, but we do have solutions for attaching an extended wire in front of the fence!

To learn more about each type of wire, benefits, and best uses check out this helpful video.


If you want to learn more about how electric fencing works or how it is installed, visit the Zareba® Learning Center, where you can find topics like these:

Don’t forget to connect with us on our Zareba® Facebook Page!



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