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Energizer Installations
Get some base readings. Plug the energizer in and record the reading between the power out and ground poles. If there is a second (auxiliary) power out pole get the reading between this one and the ground pole. Follow the same procedure when the ground system is attached. Install the leadout and get the reading at the fence end of the leadout. Finally, attach the leadout to the fence and take readings at intervals along the fence. This will establish a baseline that you can compare future readings with. Remember that everything is new at this point. All material and connections may be their best ever at this time.

Initial installation of the ground system should follow these guidelines:

1. Use compatible metals. This reduces the phenomenon of galvanic reaction.

2. Select a location that will ensure moist soil conditions for as much of the year as possible. Set up the fence as a ground return system in dry, well drained or rocky soil conditions.

3. Keep the fence ground system at least 50 feet from any other system's ground system and any metal buildings, chain link/metal posts or underground utility.

4. Space ground rods one and a half times their length apart. Try to use 8' rods. Cut them in half if you need to because of rock but follow the previous rule from the energizer out and use no less than a 4' rod. Substitute 6' rods where possible. If depth becomes a problem because of a bank or rock, don't be afraid to drive the rods at an angle but do so 90O to the ground wire.

5. Use one length of ground wire when possible. Make sure that the ground and leadout wires are rated to carry the necessary voltage.

6. Stay away from the water pipe style clamp. They have an extra point to fail and can't be buried. It is easier to drive the rods than to install the ground wire. However, if mushrooming of the top of the rod is a concern, put the acorn clamp on before driving the rod and duct tape it near the top of the rod until you are ready to use it. Use some form of corrosion resistive paste as a preventative measure at all connections and double check the connections before burying the system.

7. Test the ground system (See Below) and add ground rods if necessary. Remember if the soil is saturated, you may still need an additional rod(s) for dry conditions.

Safety considerations: Bury the ground system in a trench 6"-12" deep. After connections are made, pack some dirt level with the top of each rod and find some flat rocks that you can put over each rod before you fill in the rest of the trench. This will reduce the chance of an animal/person puncturing a foot on the rod. For personal safety, use a lockout and/or a tagout devise if you can't maintain individual control of the energy source. Disconnect the power to the energizer before connecting, disconnecting or making any repairs to the fence. Use caution when testing the fence and avoid touching any live parts. Remember that you will be finding faults and you may touch an energized staple, gate or some other conducting component in the process because your conditioning tells you that this component will not shock you in a perfect fence. If you haven't touched a low impedance energized fence, it feels like you are hit by a baseball bat during a home run swing. I don't recommend confirming my analogy.

Troubleshooting: The "Fence Compass" is a misunderstood instrument that can prove a valuable diagnostic tool when trouble shooting electrical problems on a fence. Contrary to popular opinion the arrow on the "Fence Compass" doesn't change direction when you pass a fault. The most basic explanation of how it works is 'follow the amps' but I digress.

You have some indication that the charge on the fence is not where you want it. Record the reading on the fence. To find any faults on the fence, start at the energizer. The first thing you want to do when trouble shooting electrical problems is test the ground system. Purposely short out the fence (reading at short under 2000 Volts) as far from the energizer as you can get (a minimum of 1000 feet away). Then get a reading on the ground system with either the "Fence Compass" or a traditional fence tester (put the tester's ground as far away from the fence ground as it will reach). If the reading is greater than 300V, there is a problem in the ground system. The ground system needs to be in top condition to work properly. Also, the bigger this style of charger, the more ground rods you need. So many times lately, I have troubleshot fence problems and found a big Energizer with one ground rod and 600V-1000V on the ground system when I shorted out the fence. How many ground rods is enough? Twenty years ago the rule of thumb then was a minimum of 32' of ground rod with each rod spaced one and a half their length apart. So, how many ground rods are enough? Test the ground system and keep adding rods until the ground system is below 300V.

After the ground system, check the leadout wire. Disconnect it at the fence and test at that point. Many times this is where your problem is found. It was usually buried, sometimes the wrong type of wire or insulation was originally selected or perhaps it was crushed/cut.

Now you can check the fence. So you bought the new "Fence Compass". Earlier I said follow the amps. "Fence Compassr" measures voltage and amperage. It also displays the previous amp reading. If there is a fault, amps will be high. For example, (always) start at the charger. You will find a high amp reading at the energizer and at the fence, a low amp reading. The problem in this example is in the leadout wire. If, in the next example, the fence has a high amp reading, check the direction of the arrow. The arrow indicates the direction of the flow of the current. Go to the next spot where the fence splits into different sections. Test again before the split and after the split in all directions. If the amps are low before the split, you have passed the fault. If they are high after the split, say to the right section, but low to the left section, the fault is somewhere after the right hand split. In other words, follow the (higher) amps. When you pass the fault the amps drop. You will still have to isolate the exact point of the fault but you can get within a couple of inches if you can't see any obvious problem. When you fix the fault check the amps before and after that section again. If there is more than one fault it will show up during this step. Again, follow the amps to the next fault. You always want to follow the highest amps first if there is more than one fault. You may get readings of zero amps in sections with no faults until you start to make repairs. Don't worry. Just follow the amps.

Voltage will be dropping the farther you move from the energizer. If, when you get to the very end and have made all repairs and your voltage is still below what you would like, consider a bigger energizer. Perhaps, the original energizer was undersized or, over the years, more footage was added. If this were a fence that you took base line readings for, this would be a great opportunity to repeat the procedure to compare the effects of time on the overall system (the science geek in me is showing).

Some confusing points about energizers:

1. The Ohm (W) is a unit of measure assigned to the resistance of a medium to the flow of electrons, when our other units of measurement are amps and volts.

2. Ohms Law: V=I x R Where V is voltage, I is current in Amps and R is resistance in Ohms.

3. Resistance varies with the medium. A component of the medium is measured in volume (ft3 or m3). Therefore, an arm, a leg, a nose or hair should have different intrinsic resistance values. Which, in turn, may vary again with different soil and moisture conditions when the circuit is completed.

4. Joules are a measure of energy (heat) measured as Volts x Amps x Time. One energizer has a longer on time, which may result in a measured output energy of 5 J. While another has a higher voltage that also results in a measured output energy of 5 J. This is all in the design of the transformer.

5. A graph of joules is a Sine wave. Some manufactures use the value obtained at a half Sine wave but not all so the numbers between manufacturers may not represent the same thing.

6. UL testing is a confirmation that an energizer does what the manufacturer says it will do. For about $6000.00, UL will put their mark on the energizer. If a company has 5 models, they may justify the cost of getting all of them tested. If a manufacturer has 25 models, it may be harder to justify testing all of them.

7. Testing the fence on a dry afternoon may produce results different for testing the same fence in the same place in the morning, when dew is on the grass or a rainy day.

8. A deer, a sheep, a cow, a dog and a person will have different resistance and receive different voltage but each will also have wet feet in the morning and dry feet in the afternoon and should perceive the shock the same.

9. Energizer, Charger and Power Box all mean the same thing.

So how do we compare the energizers from different manufacturers? The only definitive way is the benchmark testing of various manufacturer's models on the same fence at different times of the day and in different weather conditions, using the same point on the fence for the connection of the tester and the same grounding point for the tester. This is not practical for the retail customer and as far as I have been able to research, no individual manufacturer has published any exhaustive comparisons. At this time, we still have to rely on the manufacturer's published data and our experience as well as that of contractors and individual's customers.

Manufacturers rate their energizers differently, some in miles, others in joules both stored and output. Because of this fact a joule output rating is the most secure way of knowing the power of your energizer. When using the simple rule that you need at least 1J output of power foe every mile of fence. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, such as goats, sheep or other ainmals which are harder to train to electric, in which case i would choose an energizer with a higher joule rating.

Maintenance of the fence should also be considered when sizing an energizer. If you plan to keep the weeds off the fence then the energizer will work at its peak preformance. If you allow weeds to grow on the fence the voltage will be less and a larger energizer should be considered.