Earth Grounding System
Did you know 80% of all electric fence problems are caused by poor grounding systems?
Setting up a good grounding system is often overlooked but it's critical. It's how the power flows from the Energizer, to the fence, through the animal and back through the ground to the Energizer. Without good clean ground rods in sufficient size and number, the ground connection doesn't work, and the shock will not complete as a shock will only be received if the earth grounding system is capable of instantly replacing all the electrons that escape to the soil from the electric fence wire. If the earth ground system is incapable of instantly collecting a huge number of electrons from the soil, the full charge on the fence will not be released when the wire is touched. So, creating an effective earth grounding system is about building an effective electron collection system.
- A general rule is to install a minimum of 3 feet of ground rod per joule of energizer output capacity. So, a 15 joule fence energizer will require a minimum of 45 feet of ground rod. These should be installed at least 10 feet apart from each other. In poor earthing soils additional ground rods maybe required
- Each permanent ground rod should be at least 6 feet long. 3ft T style ground rods can be used for portable solar energizer systems less than 1 joule output.
- Only use galvanized steel ground rods. Copper ground rods will react with your galvanized steel wire, causing electrolysis, which will corrode the contact between the wire and the ground rods. Non galvanized steel rods like re-bar will rust. Rust is a very poor electrical conductor, this preventing your ground rods from being able to make a good connection with the soil.
- Ground rods should be spaced at least 10 feet apart from each other
- Ground rods need good contact with the soil to work effectively. If the moisture level in the soil is too low say during a dry year or in extremely sandy gravel soils, your ground rods will begin losing their ability to pull electrons up from the soil. Ensure that your ground rods are placed in a moist area, or water the area around your ground rods during dry weather. If you have very dry sandy soils, drill large holes in the soil that you can fill with packed clay, then embed your ground rods in the clay.
- use Heavy Duty Leadout cable (energizers under 8 joules) or High Conductive Cable (energizers over 8 joules) and ground clamps to connect ground rods to the electric fence energizer. KIWITAH ground stake system provides a greater contact surface area for superior earth ground conductivity.
- Grounding rods can interfere with phone service as well as electrical lines that may be located on the property. For this reason, it's important to place grounding rods as far away as possible from utilities. This is especially true in relation to phone lines, water systems, milking sheds, or other areas that might be sensitive to inducing electrical charge.
- Some systems may require a fence to contain grounded wires as our Canadian winter climate can affect the design of your electric fences. If the earth is frozen or snow-covered, it can be difficult to achieve electrical contact; snow contains a lot of air, and ice holds onto electrons more tightly than liquid water. Often an animal touching a hot wire will not complete the circuit. This has led to many fences being built with alternating hot (positive) and ground (negative) wires, called a ground return system. Hot wires are connected to the positive output of the energizer, while ground wires are connected to the ground rods. If an animal touches both the hot and ground wire at the same time, they close the circuit and receive a shock. This design keeps electric fences working throughout the year. With a ground-return design, it is common for ground rods to be installed along the fence every 400 m (1320') to improve the grounding system. For a true full positive/negative fence both the positive and negative wires will be connected back the energizer which requires burring Insulated lead out cables for both under your gates.
- Testing your ground rod system
- Using a Digital Voltmeter touch the ground rods, this should read less than 400 V. If the reading is greater than 1000 V, additional ground rod(s) should be added to the system.
- Another sign that the fence is not grounded properly is stray voltage. Stray voltage is a difference in electric potential between two places that should not be different. With improperly grounded electric fences, it is most common to hear a ticking sound over a landline telephone, have problems maintaining an internet connection when the energizer is on, or interference with radio or television reception. Occasionally, poor grounding may send current through other metal items or water lines; if cattle are refusing to drink, check that their trough hasn't been accidentally electrified.
- Most problems are caused by not having enough ground rods, installing ground rods in bad locations, or having loose or corroded ground rod clamps.