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Electric fencer grounding needs

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Well-known member
Sep 30, 2005
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Hi everyone. I'm going to add more ground rods to hook my fencer onto, and wondered if they have to all be 10-15 feet apart, or if they can be 1/4 mile apart. My fencer's in a shed on top of gravel and rock, and my three galvanized ground rods (each 12 feet apart) nearby just aren't cutting it.

I use the area when the grounds frozen, so my fence has ground wires on it that are grounded to ground rods in beautiful clay. When I hooked these ground wires back to my fencer it helped my situation. I need to add more ground rods, and I think I should pound them in the clay, but is there any reason they need to be close to the charger, or close to each other? Do the ground wires on the fence need to be separate from the ground rods that the fencer's attached to?

Any suggestions are welcome. I noticed Alabama had a great description of electric fences. Any thoughts here?

I'll see if I can help. I don't understand from your post exactly what your situation is . The best ground is the one with the shortest distance and/or the one which conducts the best. For example , If all your energized fence were on steel posts and you ran a ground wire along with the hot wire then the charge would have to travel from a bulls nose through his body out his feet , across the ground to the next closest post then back to the charger on wire. This is much more efficient than the charge traveling all the way back to the charger through the dirt to the rod driven there. I am not sure if this sounds clear. If you have any questions I'll try to answer them. You can pm me if needed.
The distance of your ground rods from your charger is not as important as the quality of the earth the ground rods are in. The last link in an electric fence circuit in from the bottom of the cows feet and the ground rods attached to the charger. Dry rocky/sandy earth is a poor conductor...moist clay earth is a good conductor. The distance from your ground rods back to your charger has the same problem as your hot plus to the far end of the hot wire...resistance of the wire. My point here is that the farther you have to go to get your ground rods to good earth, the better your conducting wire needs to be. The best conductor/cost compromise I've found is Tipper Tie 12.5ga. solid Aluminum. Galvanized 12.5 ga. high tensile is slightly less conductive and harder to work with without the proper equipment. The ground rods should be at least 10 feet apart...more is better, but over 20 feet probably has little benefit. If your system is of any size, I would use a minimum of 5 ground rods...again more is better, especially in marginal conditions. I also try to use the 12.5 Al as my main feeder on the hot side...the better the conductor, the more volts farther away from the charger. I think you mentioned running a ground wire alone with the hot wire...works good, but the cow has to complete the circuit between the hot wire and the ground wire. To check your ground system...drive a ground rod 15 feet away from the nearest system ground rod and using a length of wire, measure the voltage from the system ground to the lone ground rod. There is a voltage as I found out the hard way. If I've confused you, please ask more questions.
I have done it both ways. 3 rods 8' deep and at the end of only a quarter of fence you could hold it in your hand. I then hooked the ground to the steel fence and it will send a blue flame out the top of your head. Robert the link is completed if the cow touch the fence and if they are standing 6 ft from a steel post then it only has to travel 6' to get on a wire which carries it back to the energizer.
Thanks for the info! RobertMac, you said I should check the juice on the ground rods, and that's exactly why I'm adding more. I couldn't get the rods to drop below 1.9 kv. Mind you, I probably only had my tester rod 4 feet away from the ground rod (as much as my tester wire would reach). After adding 2 more rods along with my other two in clay, the heat on the ground rods dropped to 0.8 kv. This ground wire is run out on the fence (from the fencer to the newest rods) on galvanized 12 guage (or is it 12.5) hi-tensile wire. According to the Gallagher manual , the ground rods should read below 0.2.

I isolated a small section of fence and did a thorough check for wire problems, broken insulators, etc. The only thing I can come up with is what I think is called induction - perhaps the ground wires are picking up the voltage from being too close to the hot wires. Some of the fences are for keeping bulls apart, with 6 wires, each 7-8 inches apart. Is this possible? The hot wire on the fence was reading up to 9.6, and the middle ground wire (one hot above it, one hot below it) was reading 4.4. The top and bottom ground wires (only one hot wire beside them) were reading 2.2. The ground rods nearest the fencer were reading 0.8.

Mind boggling, isn't it? Any more advice would be greatly appreciated.
On my main charger I have three ground rods apx 15' apart. I have to be shown :? so I hooked it up with one ground rod. At the farthest fence I showed three lights on my tester. I then drove in and connected the second rod and got 4 lights. This is about 1 1/2 miles away and I have about 5 miles of fence with all the cross fences. I put in the third rod and got all five lights to light up. :D :D

On some rented pasture I have a solar charger and drove in one rod only got two lights. My son put up the fence and he copied from a farm in Kentucky he had delivered a bull to- - - 4 strands of high tensel - - - top wire and bottom two wires hot and the second wire from the top is attached directly to the post and brought back to the ground. We hooked this wire to our ground terminal ( still had a ground rod in) and got 4 lights. In effect we had about 50 short ground rods and anywhere you touched the fence the charge only had to travel about 40 feet or less to get back to ground.

Four lights are all I get with this charger even with no fence hooked up. The farmer where he saw this stated that it is almost impossible to get a ground rod in more than about three feet as they are under laid with rock. I doubt this is recommended any where but it works!
Hey George -thanks for the suggestions. So this person in Kentucky "connected the wire directly to the post, and back to the ground." Do you mean back to the ground rods that your fencer is on, or somehow to the ground we walk on below each post? Or do you mean each post acted kinda like a rod?

My ground wires in the fence are connected to ground rods that are along the fence in nice low spots, then the wire runs back on the fence to MORE ground rods just before it hooks into the ground rods near the fencer itself.
Is that the same as the Kentucky farm?

Do your ground rods give off any lights?
Each of the steel fence post acts as a ground rod. The wire attached to them with out insulators is connected to the ground post of the charger. Thus the electricity ( like water always follows the path of least resistance) can go thru the ground we walk on or thru the grounded wire or both. Fence post only going in a couple of feet are a pour ground on their own but if you have enough of them they will get the job done.

If you were to put a good ground rod in somewhere along the line I'm sure it would really do much more good than the post.

Just remember the best charger in the world is useless with a poor ground.
The critical part of an effective electric fence system is correctly being addressed here...the part of the circuit between the bottom of the cattle's hoofs and the ground system. The "bigger" the ground system the more effective the shock. The concern with using steel post fences as part of the ground system is that if you get between the ground fence and a better ground, the voltage heifer is measuring on the ground rods will go through you. Not likely, but something like touching a metal water trough in wet ground and the grounded fence will give you a tingle. Another thing with steel post is when they begin to rust in the ground, conduction is reduced...that's why ground rods are galvanized or copper. Adding ground rods(particularly on the far end of the system away the charger) and connecting them to all the "ground" fence wires will greatly improve this system and make it safer. Moist ground is the best place for ground rods...edge of ponds or streams...if your fence goes close to these, put a rod there. If your charger is close to these, put in several rods and run a dedicated wire to the charger ground terminal.

Heifer, lack of earth moisture may be responsible for your high readings. Dig a small bowl around your rods and soak them with water, then retest and see if your ground system voltage drops. Dry, rocky/sandy earth makes it hard to get a good ground system. The good thing about an electric fence, when the cattle are trained to it, it doesn't take much shock to keep them where you want them. A lot of times I hold and move my cattle through electric fence that isn't on without any problems. :D
Hey, I'm no expert on electric fence, even though we've got a bunch of it. When I have technical questions like this, I call my Gallagher rep in WY or MT. Morgan and Larry know everything I need to know about power fence (and then some)! :eek: These guys are the experts. They have an 800#: 1-800-777-9960. I think they also cover Idaho. They should know who covers the other states.

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