How to Install an Electrified Fence

polytape fencing


Electric fences are a suitable way to keep horses, cattle and other livestock from leaving their pasture and getting into trouble. Polytape as opposed to wire is safer for animals and humans to be around due to its visibility and an all-around nicer looking fence. This is how to install an electrified fence with polytape whether it is for a small animal paddock or long field barrier.

Step 1

Determine how much conductor or polytape you will need by measuring the perimeter or length of the electric fence you wish to install. If you are setting up an enclosure for livestock that has a perimeter of 250 feet, you will need at least 750 feet of tape because there will be three levels of tape running along the fence.

Step 2

Calculate how many posts you will need. If building a smaller enclosure the posts can be about 8 to 10 feet apart. If building a perimeter fence that is miles long, placing the posts 40 feet apart is fine and will make the fence more flexible and less likely to have posts ripped out if a branch or other object were to fall on it. If building the small example enclosure of 250 feet, you will need about 25 to 30 posts.

Step 3

Calculate how many insulator clips you will need. These hook onto the fence and hold the tape slightly away from the post in a secure position. If you are using 30 posts for your fence you will need 90 clips as the polytape will run in three rows, or three clips per post.

Step 4

Dig a hole for the first post at least 2 feet into the ground. This will give you a sturdy 4-foot high fence. Securely dig and place all the posts along the area for your fence. It is easier to place the posts first so that you can easily string up the tape all at once.

Step 5

Fasten three insulator clips to each post, each about 16 inches apart. This will give you a 4-foot fence. If you are working with smaller livestock such as sheep or goats and wish to have a slightly shorter fence that with smaller gaps then place the clips about 14 inches apart, leaving the extra 6 inches at the top.

Step 6

Affix the polytape along the fence using the insulator clips. Make sure each length of tape is taut between clips but not so tight that it is pulling the two posts together, it should be able to give slightly were something to put weight onto it. Two-inch polytape with 18 tinned copper wires at 0.3 millimeters thick has a 1,045-pound breaking strength and can be bought in spools of 656 feet. You may need a few splicers or joiners to connect lengths of tape. These only cost around $3 apiece.

Step 7

Measure how much hookup wire you will need to run from the fence to the AC charger. The AC charger should be installed within a few feet of your AC outlet. If you are not installing the charger in your barn, consider building a shelter for it because even though it is well encased all precautions should be taken to keep moisture from getting inside the box. The hookup wire which is specially made to withstand at least 20,000 volts need only be run along the ground or an inch below but should be protected and out of the way of passing machinery.

Step 8

Pick a safe place for your ground rod or rods which are needed to complete the electric current sent from the fence through the animal and into the ground. If installing a permanent fence for horses or the like, then a rod of at least 6 feet is preferable as it needs to reach moist soil to remain effective. If installing a fence of many miles several ground rods should be used approximately every quarter mile.

Step 9

Connect the ground terminal on the charger box to the ground rods to complete the electrical circuit using the hookup wire, which can also be buried underground. About 50 feet of hookup wire can be purchased for about $12.

Step 10

If you wish to build gates into your length of electric fence, you will need to attach the stands of tape to spring gate handles, which can be bought in a kit. This enables your gate to remain hot and you can unhook one strand at a time.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use extreme caution and always read directions when installing electrical parts. Keep metal ladders and other objects away from the fence once turned on.

Things You'll Need

  • 1½-inch wide white or striped polytape
  • "Low impedance" AC fence charger with 1.5 to 6 stored joules
  • Insulated hookup wire
  • 6-foot-high fiberglass posts or metal T-posts and insulator clips
  • 2- to 6-foot ground rod
  • Wire shears

Who Can Help

  • Farm Supply
  • How an Electric Fence Works
  • Spring Gate Kits
Keywords: electric, fence, polytape, install, wire

About this Author

Naomi Judd, CIG, has been a writer for six years and been published in Tidal Echoes, Centripetal, The Capital City Weekly and She has a self-designed Bachelor of Arts degree in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is currently earning an Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from University of Southern Maine.

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