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Often a query regarding a faulty fence is phoned in and a short cannot be located, the obvious place to look at will be the Earth Post and its’ contact with the ground
Most electric fence energisers will come with directions that state what earth rod is needed for that particular energiser. Some are simple. It can be as easy as running a ground wire to an existing fence post. Others may have a formula such as one metre of earth rod for every joule created by the energiser. It also varies with the amount of fencing attached to that energiser – a single 50 meter net on a 5 Joule energiser does not need 5 meters of earth rod.
The earthing system can be one of the most overlooked issues. Even the most powerful of electric fence energisers will be ineffective without the proper earth. Electricity really wants to return to its point of origin. That is why it works as a fencing technique. The animal that touches an electric fence becomes part of the circuit as the electricity passes through the animal, travels in the soil, finds the ground, and returns to the energiser. A poor earthing system can lessen (or even eliminate) the effectiveness of the circuit.
The conditions of your soil can play a major role in your fence’s ground. Sandy soil and dry soil are two conditions that are not conducive for a good earthing system. So let’s say that your energiser requires 3 metres of ground and the top 2 metres of your soil is bone dry with the next metre containing moisture. If you have driven a three metre rod into this soil have you met the requirement? No, you have only met one metre of the requirement. This is because the two metres of dry soil is not going to allow for grounding. You would need to sink three-three metre rods into this soil condition to have three metres of active ground.
It is generally recommended that you avoid using mild steel for grounding an electric fence, as it corrodes too readily when placed in soil. The Iron Oxide (Rust) that forms as a skin around the earth stake is a poor conductor of electricity so reducing the effectiveness of your earthing system. Ground rods, wires, and clamps can be made of galvanized steel, copper clad-steel, or copper. Both temperature changes and power surges will cause minor contractions and physical changes in metals. However, different metal will react differently. Therefore, when various metals are used in the same system the different properties they exhibit during these changes can promote increased corrosion and reduce the fence’s effectiveness.
Finally, a little ground maintenance is required. Annually, take a wire brush to your ground rods, clamps, and wires where the three connect together. This will remove corrosion and rust. This should help to increase the power of your fence. Additionally, you should check your fences power from time to time with a meter.