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7 Electric Fence FAQ

7 Electric Fence FAQ

At we love to answer your electric fence questions.  There are many and they are hugely varied and sometimes a little strange!!  Here is a selection of the 7 most commonly asked FAQ that we encounter and hopefully the answers are useful to you:

Does it hurt to touch an electric fence?

The short answer is … of course yes…ouch!!  The longer answer is Yes, but it is not dangerous.  Electric fencing for livestock has low amps and this means it will not do you harm… it will give you a shock though.  Like a heavy static shock.  Not nice, but, no long term harm and you certainly won’t want to go touching it again (which is exactly what you want your livestock or predators to think!!).

How much does it cost to run an electric fence?

This information comes from Hotline Electric Fencing and is related to their energisers – it costs around £15 a year to run a mains powered energiser.  Clearly with a battery system it is not so easy to measure what it costs - as it is the cost to recharge the battery (and cost of battery) that you need to measure.

Do you need an earth stake for an electric fence?

Yes, every electric fence needs an earth stake.  Electric fencing doesn’t need to be designed to create a circuit however it does need to have a circuit of a different kind.  It needs to have the earth stake pushed as far into the ground as possible.  The current travels along the fence from the energiser, the animal touches the electric fence and the current travels down through the animal, through the ground and back to the earth stake which completes the circuit and then gives the animal the zap.  Without a good earthing system your fencing will not work properly.  Earth stakes should be pushed as far as they can into the ground and if the ground is very dry it should be watered (weird but true!).

Should I go for mains or battery or solar?

Ah a big conundrum for some.

  • Mains: It is generally agreed that using a mains powered system is less hassle as you don’t have to constantly change and charge batteries. Make sure your mains energiser is housed inside/undercover and run your lead out cable out to your fence.  Lead out cable runs from your energiser out to your earth stake too
  • Battery: It is not always possible to connect your energiser to mains. Battery operated systems do a great job.  It is, however, a good idea to have more than one battery so you always have one on charge.
  • Solar: Solar energisers are more efficient than they were a few years ago and can power longer distances (although they are not much good for poultry netting).  Some solar energisers come with their own battery charger.  Alternatively, you can change your battery operated system into a solar system by adding a solar panel – it trickle feeds the battery.  This prolongs the life of your battery and keeps your fence ticking away for longer.


Which one is best?  The reality is it depends on each individual situation!

Can electric fencing help with pasture management?

Electric fencing if used properly can help with pasture management.  It is quick and easy to move and reposition maximising the use of the space available.  It is possible to increase the productivity of your land by dividing the land up during spring/summer periods. Therefore it is feasible to have more livestock and to be able to crop silage/hay too in rotation.

What shorts an electric fence?

An electric fence will not work efficiently if it is shorting… so what shorts an electric fence?

Grass, foliage, trees, wood, metal all short electric fencing.  They take the power out of the fence and take it to the earth.  In effect it is draining the power out of your fencing.  So electric fencing maintenance is key.   Get a tester to test your fence (I don’t recommend touching it) and check along your fencing for low power.  Do this on a regular basis to keep your livestock safe and secure.

Can you explain some of the electric fencing terminology?

We’ll not add to many in here… at the risk of sending you all to sleep…

  1. Stored and output joules – Stored – the level of energy the energiser produces. Output the level of energy that actually gets pushed out along your fence.  Hotline say: Many energisers have similar voltage levels but the higher the joule the further the voltage will be pushed and the greater the ‘load’ the energiser will effectively cope with.
  2. Voltage under load – The fence line ‘loads’ the energiser and brings the line voltage down. The level at which this occurs is influenced by the length of fence, the type of fence and the amount of problems on the fence.  Fences with greater metal content offer less resistance to the voltage per meter so represent comparably less load over distance.
  3. Ohm Value – Polywires, rope and tape all contain very thin metal filaments. The more metal in a fence line the more efficient it will be.  Steel conductors have a good balance of conductivity and tensile strength, copper (usually nickel plated) conducts extremely well but has a lower tensile strength.  Products with both steel and copper take advantage of the strength and conductivity which reduces the overall resistance of the product.  Resistance is measured in Ohms.  A lower Ohm value shows the product has less resistance and therefore will take the power further.

Key to any electric fencing set up is planning … get the planning right and you will only put up your fencing once!  We gladly offer advice and guidance on all electric fencing systems.  Got a question… just ask!


Contact us:

01620 860058 or email: or you can find us on live chat on our site.

Meriel Younger

About Meriel Younger

Farmers daughter (my mother was the farmer!) with many years experience of farming, equestrian and electric fencing. Living the 'good life' and forever trying to find the perfect work/life balance!
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