getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

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Chris H
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getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby Chris H » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:38 am

I have a Gallagher SmartFix fence tester. I have a lot about 200' x 200', one run on the top is not connected to the other sides but when I test it, the tester flashes crazily. It should show nothing, it shouldn't react at all on a dead wire. Today I thought I'd get to the bottom of the problem. Here is my setup:
I have lots of fence divided into 2 zones with 1 charger in each zone. In case I lose a charger I can run a jump wire to connect the two zones to keep the main lines charged. Otherwise, each zone is kept separate.
I unplugged the charger in the zone with the strange wire(zone 1). All wires showed no power, except the strange wire was still making the tester flash.
I unplugged the charger in the 2nd zone, leaving zone 1 unplugged, too. Those wires showed no power. Strange wire in zone 1 still caused the tester to flash.
So, I had no power on and this wire still made the tester go crazy. No neighbors have electric close to mine. Crazy wire is on top with 3 wires on the posts below it. Those 3 wires react as expected. All the wires have insulated rubber at the ends, and wrapped around the corner posts. A single wire connects each side at the corners, and wires feed the other strands on each side. All except crazy wire, it is NOT connected to the other wires. I tested the nails and wires on 6 wood line fences and 2 wood corner posts. None of those things showed any power either with the charger on or off.

Where is the crazy wire getting power to make the tester go crazy?
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby JW IN VA » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:18 pm

Not an electrician, but I suspect your picking some stray voltage from a power line somewhere.Are there any overhead wires or buried cable in the area? Sounds like it could also be making contact with a conductor that's bringing in voltage from somewhere else.
Might try separating it from the other wires' feed and grounding it out.Check voltage then.If it's still there,I'd guess you've got a feed coming through the ground from somewhere.Turn others on and check your problem wire while grounded,providing you didn't have a problem in Step 1.If they work and the problem wire remains quiet,it could be overhead stray voltage.
Do you have any utility grounds near a waterline? Is the waterline near the fence? Is the fence grounded to a utility ground?Any combination of the above?
To repeat,I am not an electrician but these are things i would check for and eliminate for my personal use.As always,USE CAUTION when dealing with electricity.You may not get a second chance.
Another thought.Completely disconnect the second charger both positive and ground.Run both lots with one charger at a time and see what happens.Doubtful it changes much but it's another test to try.Also.try grounding the tester between readings.I have one and sometimes I get odd readings when I try to check different things to quickly.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby Chris H » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:49 pm

Good suggestions JW.
Zone 1 charger has both the ground and the hotwire buried within a foot of a water hydrant that is on a T, with the source going to the house, and the other outlet to an automatic waterer. The waterer has electric to it, but only when plugged in. It is not plugged in. The power to the outlet for the charger probably runs in the same trench as the waterline; both go to the house for their source. While I will check it, it seems odd that stray voltage would only show on 1 line 200' away and not connected to any other wires.
There is an overhead electric line the full length of the problem wire and another 100' to the barn. The electric company just replaced the transformer on that power line. I've been aware crazy wire has had this issue for at least 2 years. My husband replaced all the wire around this lot between 5 & 7 years ago. I've thought it odd that he didn't connect this wire to the other hotwires on this run but he's been gone 3 years so I can't ask him. It was all insulated to be made hot. Maybe he detected strange voltage and decided to just let it alone.

I think I'll unplug the chargers again and disconnect the groundwire. Maybe something will change then. I always let the tester erase all readings before using it. I've got an electrician coming out soon to rewire the connection to a fuel tank. I'll also ask him if he has any ideas on the fence wire.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby Farm Fence Solutions » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:04 pm

Any overhead power lines? High humidity?
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby callmefence » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:15 pm

Zero electric fence on any of my places now. All barbwire..so much less work.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby M-5 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:20 pm

I had one field that the electric fence was 200 yatds from a gate and when it was plugged in it would light you up like a Christmas tree. It ran under a power line . I can't explain it but that's what I attributed it too.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby True Grit Farms » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:50 pm

callmefence wrote:Zero electric fence on any of my places now. All barbwire..so much less work.

Must not have any trees.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby callmefence » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:14 pm

True Grit Farms wrote:
callmefence wrote:Zero electric fence on any of my places now. All barbwire..so much less work.

Must not have any trees.


I've got lots of trees
Im just smarter than they are.. ;-)
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby greybeard » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:09 pm

Chris H wrote:Good suggestions JW.
Zone 1 charger has both the ground and the hotwire buried within a foot of a water hydrant that is on a T, with the source going to the house, and the other outlet to an automatic waterer. The waterer has electric to it, but only when plugged in. It is not plugged in. The power to the outlet for the charger probably runs in the same trench as the waterline; both go to the house for their source. While I will check it, it seems odd that stray voltage would only show on 1 line 200' away and not connected to any other wires.
There is an overhead electric line the full length of the problem wire and another 100' to the barn. The electric company just replaced the transformer on that power line. I've been aware crazy wire has had this issue for at least 2 years. My husband replaced all the wire around this lot between 5 & 7 years ago. I've thought it odd that he didn't connect this wire to the other hotwires on this run but he's been gone 3 years so I can't ask him. It was all insulated to be made hot. Maybe he detected strange voltage and decided to just let it alone.

I think I'll unplug the chargers again and disconnect the groundwire. Maybe something will change then. I always let the tester erase all readings before using it. I've got an electrician coming out soon to rewire the connection to a fuel tank. I'll also ask him if he has any ideas on the fence wire.


You're reading something from the buried pipe(s) would be my guess. And ground rods shouldn't be placed anywhere near underground lines of any kind for just the reasons you are talking about here...induction.

Water pipes and electric cables can share the same trench but supposed to be 12" separation between the 2, with the electric line above the pipe.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby JW IN VA » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:37 pm

Two things jump out from your reply.One,the lines in proximity to each other and the overhead line.I am still thinking stray voltage or ground issue.If the electrician comes out,he should be able to find it if you haven't already.

I have heard a rumor that not all wiring on farms gets done to exact code sometimes. :hide: Probably just a rumor,though.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby Chris H » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:33 pm

JW IN VA wrote:Two things jump out from your reply.One,the lines in proximity to each other and the overhead line.I am still thinking stray voltage or ground issue.If the electrician comes out,he should be able to find it if you haven't already.

I have heard a rumor that not all wiring on farms gets done to exact code sometimes. :hide: Probably just a rumor,though.

I could shut off the breaker for the power line that goes to the charger in Zone 1, and test crazy wire. If it gives no reading, then I've found the source for the stray voltage. If it still gives a reading, I'll pass all the information to the electrician because it's over my head, and likely from the overhead line.

Code? Who needs a code when you just connect the red to the red and the black to the black? hahaha. The good part about this electrician is he's also a farmer, I'm sure he's had experience with electric fence, too.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby JW IN VA » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:37 pm

Chris H wrote:
JW IN VA wrote:Two things jump out from your reply.One,the lines in proximity to each other and the overhead line.I am still thinking stray voltage or ground issue.If the electrician comes out,he should be able to find it if you haven't already.

I have heard a rumor that not all wiring on farms gets done to exact code sometimes. :hide: Probably just a rumor,though.

I could shut off the breaker for the power line that goes to the charger in Zone 1, and test crazy wire. If it gives no reading, then I've found the source for the stray voltage. If it still gives a reading, I'll pass all the information to the electrician because it's over my head, and likely from the overhead line.

Code? Who needs a code when you just connect the red to the red and the black to the black? hahaha. The good part about this electrician is he's also a farmer, I'm sure he's had experience with electric fence, too.

Sounds like the very man for the job.
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Re: getting a reading on a fence, with charger unplugged

Postby sstterry » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:22 pm

Chris H wrote:Good suggestions JW.
Zone 1 charger has both the ground and the hotwire buried within a foot of a water hydrant that is on a T, with the source going to the house......


I am not an electrician by any means, but most homes are grounded through the water pipes. It could be stray voltage from something in the home.
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