Catalog: Ground Rods FOR ELECTRIC FENCES
Ground rods are an essential part of electric fences. In order to administer a shock, the charge produced by the charger, sent out to the fence, and passed through a target animal into the ground, needs to travel through moist ground to a ground rod, UP the ground rod, and along a wire connecting the ground rod to the charger's GROUND (negative) terminal, thereby completing the circuit.
Within this context, the electric fence will fail if the ground rod is not in reasonably good contact with at least marginally moist soil, and indeed this is a leading cause of fence failure. Therefore, while a 2-foot ground rod can be perfectly adequate for a fence protecting regularly watered ground around a garden, deer fences operating in somewhat drier soil or extending well out (over 200 feet) beyond the ground rod should be served by a longer (typically 6-foot) rod. For really large systems it is advisable to place one 6-foot ground rod every quarter-mile along the fence line, and to connect all these ground rods to each other with a 14 or 12.5-gauge metal wire attached low down on the fence.
If your soil is bone dry or frozen at times when your fence needs to be working, the ground may not be able to carry a charge at all. In such a case, you can create a grounding system that is not dependent on moisture in the soil. The best way to do this is by running second wires parallel to each charged wire on your fence. Keep this second wire or wires carefully out of contact with the charged wire or wires and connect all these second wires to the ground terminal on your charger. Now the target animal will get a shock when it touches a charged wire and grounded wire at the same time, with the charge going through the animal, along the grounded wire, and over to the charger's ground terminal, thereby completing the circuit.
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