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Electric Fencing - The Basics... Top tips for electric fencing earthing

Billy Boy - Answers all your technical questions

Billy Boy Billy Boy

Earth Stakes

Modern printed circuits are nearly fool proof and the electric fence of today is definitely more reliable than of yesteryear.  It is often the installation that causes the problem.

For example the good old earth stake (rod or spike) placed near a wall/shed or under a tree may not be working at all.  Billy Boy discusses some top tips for electric fencing earthing problems.

Why you ask?

The earth stake must be placed into the soil where there are no stones or rubble.  There
have been occasions when earth stakes have been pushed through stones and ex building works rubble (or near to foundations) and the earth stake has only touched rock, stone and rubble with only about two inches of top soil acting as the earthing conduit.  If cow earthingthe soil is dryish it will not conduct to earth making the electric fence much less effective.

An earth stake under a large tree will not work efficiently because the tree will drink whatever water there is and the soil will be dry and not conduct to earth.

A problem solved

One very unusual situation happened to me in Morayshire, North Scotland where there are many sandy fields.

Horse Earthing

One drier than normal summer animals kept getting out.  Tests showed that the soil, even with a 1m long earth stake, was not conducting to earth.  The sub soil was clay.  This mixture of sand and clay became the worst that I have ever experienced.  Deep fissures in the dry clay and dry sand.  I put my thinking cap on and did the following.  We drove 6 x 25mm x 1.5m galvanised rods into the ground.  They were 4m apart.  We connected them all together with some good quality insulated heavy duty wire and 'hey presto' all was working well.  I have never been called back.

The moral of this story is that the simplest thing can cause a failure of an electric fence.  Remember, push your earth stake well in!! and do not forget to miss the walls and trees.


  • Make sure your earth stake is pushed into the ground as far as you can get it
  • Don’t place your earth stake next to trees
  • Don’t place your earth stake in rubble or near to foundations
  • If the soil is very dry around your earth stake – water it (particularly in summer months)
  • If you think you are going to have a problem with earthing due to your soil conditions use more than one earth stake and join them with cable and use a longer earth stake with a better surface area (ie 1.5m T section earth stake)
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