electric fence grounding woes

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Liz2, Jun 11, 2005.

  1. Liz2

    Liz2 Guest

    I'm putting up an electric fence for the goats, and all has gone well until time to see about grounding it. My husband is opposed to buying anything for grounding, i.e. "proper" 6' galvanized poles. I do have one 8' galvanized pole, which he says to cut in half. He says that if the soil is bone dry 4' down it won't do any good to have a deeper ground rod, as the fence won't shock well in soil that dry anyway.
    I also have one 5' rusty iron rod. What is the best system with what I have? Drive galvanized in 6-7' and use rusty iron rod with it as a second ground rod? Or cut the galvanized in half for two 4' rods?
    I do not know what to do; I'm doing all the work by myself. I am good at following instructions, and it throws me off to not be able to follow them, since I have no knowledge of electric fencing.
    I greatly appreciate any ideas and advice!
    Thanks,
    Liz
     
  2. BobK

    BobK Well-Known Member

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    A proper ground rod can be had for less than $20...otherwise use the galvanized rod in one piece and drive it as deep as you can. You do need to get the rod into some ground that has some moisture for conductivity.....one deeper rod is better than two shallow ones. The iron rod that is rusty will perform very poorly...the rust will not conduct electricity to ground and is a waste of time and effort in trying to use it. If you get a goo dground you should have no problem. One other thing you can do if there is some wire mesh fence along with the hot wire attach the mesh fence to the ground that way you are not soley dependent on dry-earth to hot wire contact...any contact with thet mesh fence and the hot wire will shock the goats and keep them off of the fence.
     

  3. BobK

    BobK Well-Known Member

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    You can also run a wire attached to the gound rod in with the hot wires.
     
  4. horselogger

    horselogger Well-Known Member

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    water the grounding site,although it won't really help as the ground will be to dry for the animals feet tp complete the circut
     
  5. YuccaFlatsRanch

    YuccaFlatsRanch Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I run a second wire connected to ground about 2 inches or less above or below the hot wire most likely to be contacted by the animals. That way there is instant ground when the goat or sheep or dog touches those wires. Once or twice and the animal learns a real good lesson. I have dogs that won't go within 3 feet of the fence with the wire - energized or not. Getting shocked through a moist nose is a real tough and lasting lesson.

    I find that aluminum wire works better than steel wire. I use the yellow braided for the hot and aluminum for the ground wire. I find Ican put the yellow wire up almost anywhere and the animals respect it.
     
  6. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .....................The farther (the longer) away from the transformer the greater potential loss(drop) in voltage hence less shock to the animal making contact with the Hot Wire . The best way to ground is to BOND the Whole Fence with the ground rods . Cut the 8 footers in half and drive them in the ground and leave about 6 inches sticking out to attach a compression clamp too . ###Hint....slide the compression clamp over the top of the ground rod about 3 inches down from the top....BEFORE...you start pounding the rod with a Hammer. The top of the rod will flatten OUT and may become TOO large for the clamp to fit over . Try to insert a rod every 100 feet or so if Feasible and I would TRY to drive an 8 footer at the start of the fence and at the END of the fence with all others being 4 footers . Really isn't that complicated just a bit of work and common sense ...fordy.. :)
     
  7. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    It is not good to skimp on the most critical part of the electric fence. Without good grounding, there is not really a point in putting one in. And if you have really dry soil, you need more grounding rods, not less. 3 6' galvinized rods is really the minimum for good soil, in 10' spacing near the charger. You did not say how big the area is, so I would add at least one more to the fence on the opposite side from the charger if you have a closed loop, near the end if you have a straight line. If you test the fence and are not getting a good zap all the way around, add more grounding rods. TSC has then for around $13. It's really the key to the whole system and must be done properly. Dry soil or not, it will work if you put enough in and go deep - 6-8', not 4.
     
  8. SherrieC

    SherrieC Well-Known Member

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    Along the same line as this Question ,,, How many grounding rods should I have in place? 40 square acres fenced in. I have 3 right by the box and one on each side like every 1200 ft'. Attached to the ground wires. I 'be been thinking of adding more, It is to keep in goats and Out predators. We're in humid Indiana.
     
  9. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ..............Sherry , pickup one of those testers and check your "hot wire" at the most distant point from your power source . Record the result , if possible . The tester may just have one of those little red LED's so you'll just have to judge at the "brightness" . Working backwards , continue checking the voltage every 100 feet or so as you work your way back to the power unit . The light should get gradually brighter as you get closer to the start of the hot wire . If , the hot wire Keeps the animals OFF of the Fence , then it is sufficiently "hot enough" to function properly , Without adding any more grounds . If , you experience a fairly long period of Dry weather the initial number of grounds maybe insufficient . Run another check with the voltage tester per the above method and the results will tell you immediately IF you need to add additional ground rods in Dry weather . fordy... :)
     
  10. Alan

    Alan New Member

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    It seems I remember that a lot of transmitting stations use a ground-grid for thier generators; they lay a grid of copper wire under the ground instead of using ground rods. I wonder if you could bury a section of field fence and use it as your ground? Anyone tried this?
     
  11. Snakeoil

    Snakeoil Well-Known Member

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    Should use a copper ground rod between 6 & 8 feet long. Any good farm supply will have them.
     
  12. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ..................Alan , the main purpose for the copper wire matrix on\in the ground was to facilitate\enhance their transmitted signal in either a preferred direction or in an Omni(360 degrees)directional pattern . It could also aid them in absorbing Direct hits from Lighting strikes as Most tall towers will receive multiple strikes during thunderstorm activity . fordy.. :)
     
  13. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    You want galvanized fence grounded to galvanize ground rods. Otherwise you will get corrosion due to the dissimilar materials. Lowes sells a galvanized rod in their elctrical parts department that is rather cheap. You need a galvanized clamp also. On the other hand, to keep peace, look around for a galvanized post surplused from a chain link fence teardown. Anything galvanized will work. Install your one galvanized pole intact and back it up with whatever galvanized item you can find. Have you ever driven an 8 ft rod into the ground? It is difficult. You can cheat but it will initially compromise the quality of the ground by getting a nut that is slightly larger in diameter than the rod you have. Grind the end of the rod to where it will start into the nut. Stand this rig up and start driving.
     
  14. Liz2

    Liz2 Guest

    Thanks for all the advice. I have already cut the galvanized rod into two 4' sections... I set everything up yesterday and tested it on one goat. She walked right out, the wire not fazing her at all! I don't know if it was the ground or if I've made some other mistake. I don't have an electric fence tester but I'm buying one tomorrow.
    This fence is only a very short one, enclosing at the most 1/2 acre. I am hoping to move it around every week or so, so my four little goats can eat poison ivy, if I can ever get it to work.
    I know it's silly of my husband to not want to spend the money on a couple of ground rods. After all, we bought the charger; we bought the wire; we bought the insulators. He just thinks that we can make it work with something that's already laying around the place so as to not spend any more money. I could go out and buy them but he will be upset. So now I need to convince him they are needed. The trouble is that a few years ago I ran an electric fence wire around the bottom of a dog pen, and used a couple of 5' rusty old rods. I didn't even have ground rod clamps; I just wound the wire around the rods a bit... It worked great, but then the ground rods were in a low wet spot. Now I'm working under very dry conditions on top of a sandy hill.
    Thanks again for all your responses!
    Liz
     
  15. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    The vast majority of electric fence problems are improper grounding. Most chargers I have seen call for at least three 8' rods spaced 10' apart in a line. Can you ground it to a water pipe? Standard practice in a home electrical system. As noted, run multiple strands and alternate between hot and cold. If you use metal T-posts, tie the cold wire directly to the post so they add additional grounds.

    Also, the ground does not need to be directly at the box. Can you put it elsewhere and run a long wire to the box?
     
  16. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    We've had good luck with sandy soil and 3 8' grounding rods (we're about to add rod #4) tied together with bare copper wire, also buried.

    The pounding in of those grounding rods is a job and a half though.

    However, we now have a good shock coming off that fence. Prior to properly grounding it we were thinking we needed a much larger charger. No, we needed to properly ground the one we have!
     
  17. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    "I set everything up yesterday and tested it on one goat. She walked right out, the wire not fazing her at all! I don't know if it was the ground or if I've made some other mistake. I don't have an electric fence tester but I'm buying one tomorrow."

    --Based on your ealier comments, this is almost definately a grounding problem. Without enough ground, the circuit does not close and they get no shock. With the dry soil, you really need 6 or 8' rods. Since you are getting no shock at all with what you have, you probably need 3 more 8 footers. A small price compared to the charger.
     
  18. retire2$

    retire2$ Well-Known Member

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    Liz2

    Maybe the posion ivy or something else is touching the electric fence and shorting it out. From my experience the lightweight aluminum or steel wire hooked to an inexpensive charger will short out and the animals will get out of the enclosure. If this is the set up you are using I would suggest that you clear away (weed wack or weed killer) the vegetation close to the fence and see if this corrects the problem. If you are using the system mentioned above, an alternative (although more costly in the beginning) would be high tensile wire and the higher output chargers. You can use T post, re-bar, or plastice post with the high tensile wire for ease of movement from one area to another.