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Why is it important to ground electric fences?

In order to answer this question we must briefly look again at how electric fences work.

The energiser is the central component of the fence, generating high-voltage pulses at regular intervals. It is connected both with the earth (grounding) and with the conducting material in the fence. Voltage therefore flows between the ground and the fence material. When an animal creates a connection between the ground and the conducting material, the circuit is completed. A current then flows from the energiser, through the conducting fence material, through the animal and then finally through the ground and the grounding post and cable back to the energiser. This current feels very unpleasant (electric shock) and results in the desired deterrent effect.

The lower the resistances in the fence, the better the current flows. The animal and the ground present resistances for our fence as the current cannot flow through them as easily as the conducting material, for example. The animal's body consists of various fluids which conduct electricity relatively well and present only a low level of resistance. Under certain circumstances, however, the ground can present a very high resistance, thus reducing the flow of the current and strength of the shock.

The aim of any good grounding is therefore to reduce the ground resistance so as to provide a higher shock strength. Good conductivity in the ground is a requirement for this as well as a sufficient number of earthing posts which are carefully connected and linked back to the energiser.

What should I be aware of when grounding the electric fence?

Make sure that the energiser and grounding are set up in an area with sufficiently moist ground conditions (e.g. under a shady tree).

Moist soil conducts electricity significantly better than dry ground. For this reason, dry and sandy ground must be avoided.

If the ground conditions available to you are relatively dry, you can reduce the resistance by using additional earthing posts. These should be placed around 3 m apart.

The earthing posts should be made of a corrosion-resistant material e.g. galvanised steel. A layer of rust acts as an insulator and would significantly reduce the effectiveness of the grounding. Round earthing posts are recommended (for mobile fences) or posts with an angled profile. The minimum length needed is 1 m (shorter posts should suffice for mobile fences).

the longer the earthing post, the lower the resistance and the larger the surface area, the better the connection.

The grounding posts are connected using a grounding cable (e.g. high-voltage galvanised steel cable) and stainless steel screws. Using a earthing connection cable, connect the energiser to the earthing post.

It is not only poor ground conditions that have an effect on the grounding, so too does the energiser itself. A high-performance energiser requires better grounding than a less powerful one.

The following values can be used as a guide:

  1. Energiser with 1 joule pulse energy: min. 1 grounding post 1 m in length
  2. Energiser with 2–5 joules pulse energy: min. 2–3 earthing posts 1 m in length
  3. Energiser with 10–20 joules pulse energy: min. 3–4 grounding posts 2 m in length
  4. Energiser with 30 joules pulse energy: min. 6 grounding posts 2 m in length

To achieve the best results, lay a grounding cable along the fence about 20 cm into the ground.

when grounding your energiser you must keep to a distance of 10 m from other grounding systems (e.g. grounding systems for buildings). This safety distance ensures that the current in the fence system does not cross over into the other grounding systems. This could potentially happen in the event of a lightning strike, for example.

You should keep this distance when, for example, mounting the energiser to wall of a house, so as to avoid any risk of damage to the grounding of the house (and other related services such as water and electricity).

How do I check if an electric fence is properly grounded?

Grounding can be checked using a fence tester. A bypass must first be created. To do this, place iron stakes (or similarly conductive material) into the ground that is in direct contact with the conductive fence materials around 100 m from the energiser. The fence voltage should then drop to around 2000 volts. Now insert the metal rod of the tester into the ground around 1 m from the last grounding post of the energiser and hold the tip of the tester against the grounding post. A reading of 0–200 V indicates that the grounding is good. Voltage readings between 200 and 600 V are within the tolerance range.

If you have a value over 600 V it will be necessary to improve the grounding by installing an additional grounding stake in order to ensure sufficient voltage on the fence.

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