Testing an Electric Fence
Testing an Electric Fence...Why it is so important
Without electricity an Electric Fence will not work.
An adequately designed and constructed electric fence works by the combination of a weak physical barrier (the fence) and a strong psychological imprint created in the mind of the animal (the 6000v sting). This sharp but safe sting then creates a psychological barrier that the animal associates with the fence and discourages it from touching again. An Electric Fence is designed to use the ELECTRICITY in the fence as the deterent. If there is NO electricity then the fence is useless and will not fulfill its function.
A standard electrician's voltmeter or electronic multimeter will not work with electric fences. The very short duration pulses will not register on instruments like these and will likely damage them!
When your electric fence is built, monitoring its voltage regularly on a daily basis is a basic management practice. Obviously a digital voltmeter that tells you exactly how many volts of current are on the fence is preferable but a simple LED tester that indicates a range of current is normally adequate for most situations. It is possible to guestimate the energy by using a length of green grass just as it is possible to test a fence by touching the wire. The one method is very inaccurate whilst the second hurts likes crazy (as it is meant to)
Your first check of your new fence's voltage gives you a baseline so that future checks can alert you to voltage drops that signal problems. Depending on the strength of your charger, it will emit 6000 to 10,000 volts when nothing is connected to it. After you've hooked it to your fence, check the voltage at the furthest point from the charger.
Some drop in voltage--1500 to 2000--is normal. A more than 2000-volt drop means either;-
- 1/. Your energiser is underpowered for the fence,
- 2/. Vegetation or something else is "loading" the fence (touching it, causing voltage to leak away),
- 3/. There's a short-circuit somewhere in the system--
- 4/. A combination of these.
If the base voltage on your newly built fence is 5000 or better and everything's working fine, watch on subsequent checks for an overall voltage drop of 1500 or more. (It's normal for voltage to be 500-1000 lower in the morning when there is moisture on the fence, posts, and nearby vegetation can cause temporary current leakage.) Such a significant decrease means it's time to check for problems and correct them before your horse discovers the fence no longer packs a punch.
How many volts are enough? This is actually quite complex and there are several variables to consider. As a general rule these figures may be used as a guide
Horses, 4000 to 5,000--remember, there's no way this jolt of current can hurt your horse, but it needs to be definite enough for him to remember it and want to avoid it.
Pigs, Quite easy really, 4-5000v
Sheep and Poultry. Have a natural insulation in feathers and wool - 7000volts
Dogs & Cats, 4000v
Wild Life. This really varies, Elephants 3500v to deer 7-8000v