• Electric Fencing Advice
  • Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Troubleshoot your electric fence

Remember that fault finding is simply a process of elimination. You will need a Digital Voltmeter or a Fault Finder. This will tell you the level of power on your electric fence, and where there might be a problem.


Test 1: Measure the voltage

Use your tester to take a reading on your fence line. Large energisers may be capped to operate at a maximum of 7500 volts; smaller energisers may run at up to 9000 volts. These figures will drop rapidly with any kind of load or shorting on the fence.

  • If there is a significant drop on voltage then move to test 2


Test 2: Check your energiser

Disconnect the earth and fence cables from the output terminals, check the voltage by connecting the tester directly onto the output and earth terminals.

  • If your voltage is over 5000 volts, go on to test 3
  • If the voltage is below 5000 volts, call your service agent. There could be a fault with the fence energiser itself
  • If there is no voltage, check the power supply
  • For battery energisers, check that the battery is fully charged. You can check that it is not a battery problem by running the energiser using the mains adapter if you have one
  • Do not attempt to open any energiser case


Test 3: Checking your earth

Poor earth installations are often the cause of low voltage on your electric fence.

  • To check your earth short your fence by laying a metal bar against it at least 20m from the power input. Then place the tester on the last earth stake. A reading of more than 500 volts means there is insufficient earthing for your energiser. Increase the number of earth stakes.


Test 4: Check the connection

Check the cable linking the power from the energiser to the fence. Disconnect the cables where they join the fence, then check the volt reading on the ends of the cables.

  • If your volt reading matches the reading you took earlier on your energiser, then the fault is on the fence line. Move on to test 5 or 6
  • If the reading is substantially lower than the energiser, then there is either a break in the cables or they are not large enough to convey the power


Test 5: Using the Fault Finder

A short in your electric fence occurs when the power escapes to the ground.

  • Place the Fault Finder on any section of fence wire, moving it laterally to get a good contact. If there are no shorts the amp reading will be zero, as nothing is flowing out of the system. In practice, if the amp reading is a low figure and the voltage is a high figure (above 5000 volts) then you have a small fault that may be acceptable
  • The voltage should read around 6000 volts. The more severe the fault, the higher the amp reading. You will also see an arrow pointing in the direction of the fault
  • Follow the arrow until the reading drops or disappears – this indicates that you have moved just beyond the fault. In multi-wire electric fences you will need to test each wire in turn
  • Pay particular attention to gateways and underground cable joints


Test 6: Using the Digital Voltmeter or Neon Fence Tester

A short in your electric fence occurs when the power escapes to the ground.

  • Attach it to the fence line, moving it laterally to get a good contact, and place the probe in the ground. You will see a reading on the screen – on a good electric fence line this should be in excess of 5,000 volts
  • If the voltage is just slightly below normal – then you probably have a small fault caused by light vegetation. However, if the reading is substantially lower, then a major fault exists
  • To find this fault, disconnect the lines and check individually, working methodically down the fence until the fault is found