How to Test Electric Fence

An electric fence is one of the most widely used security systems that help protect your assets from animal attacks and intrusion. However, for optimal working, it must be in good condition, should be installed correctly & must be eventually tested and evaluated. You’ll face several issues daily with your electric fences, such as grounding, short circuits, the energizer’s unstable voltage, wiring problems, and vegetation.

That’s why it’s essential to test an electric fence with a reliable tool to configure and resolve a fault. You should have at least a volt meter or electric fence testers or fault-finders. In this post, we’ll discuss in detail, how to test an electric fence.

How to test electric fences?

  • As per my own experience & expert’s suggestions, you must have a dedicated fence tester designed to accurately measure the fence output power.
  • To test fences with an electric fence tester, insert the ground probe in the ground(soil) and attach the tester’s metal top to the electric fence. The tester will show voltage or the bulb will glow with the range of voltage your fence has. Similarly, a fence fault finder can help locate short circuits & measure voltage & amperage.

There are several other methods to test an electric fence that we’ll discuss in detail below:

First, test if the fence energizer is outputting power:

Before testing the whole electric fence circuit, it’s better to start from the energizer. To just check if the energizer is generating power at all, we can check it using a non-contact voltage tester, a basic electric tester, or a screwdriver.

Remove all wires from the energizer and turn it on. Take two screwdrivers, and connect them to both output terminals. Take the tips of both screwdrivers closer. If the energizer is outputting power(pulses) you can see a spark between the screwdriver’s ends (metal tips) every time the energizer clicks.

To test the exact output power of the electric fence energizer you’ll need a fence voltmeter or a fault finder. Simply attach the black probe to the ground terminal of the energizer & the red(live) probe to the live terminal of the energizer. The energizer’s ideal voltage range is 6K, it should have 5-6K volts.

Check if the fence is working, without a voltmeter

There are a few simple DIY hacks & tools to just check if there is power in the fence without any costly tool. For this purpose, we can use a non-contact voltage tester, an electric tester, a screwdriver, tube lights, or a compass.

1. Check your Electric Fence with Grass

The easiest DIY trick to tell if an electric fence is working is by just using a piece of glass. Take a piece of grass 6-7 inches long. Hold the grass from one end and touch the other end of the grass with the electric fence. You will feel a very light pulse of current(voltage) in your fingers, which means the fence is charged.

Now take your hand a little closer to the fence and you’ll observe more current is felt by your fingers. Grass usually has moisture and water inside it, which makes a little current reach from the electric fence to your hand.

2. Test the Electric Fence with a Screwdriver

Take a screwdriver and attach its metal end to the electric fence wire, holding through the rubber insulation. The metal will spark(arc) when touched by the electric fence. If there is no spark, then the electric fence has no current(power) passing through it.

3: Test Electric Fences with an Electric Tester or Non-Contact Voltage Tester

An electric tester is commonly used to check power in electric circuits & live wires. Simply touch it to the live fence wire & touch your thumb/finger to the brass head at the top of the tester. The bulb inside the tester will blink with each pulse indicating power in the fence.

A non-contact voltage tester is also used to check if a circuit or wire has a current(live). It detects voltage without getting in contact with the component to be tested. If there is voltage in the wire or circuit, the bulb inside the tester will blink, indicating power in the wires.

3. Test an Electric Fence using Compass

You can use a compass to test an electric fence. Take your compass near the electric fence, and the knob(needle) will move irregularly due to the magnetic field of current in the fence wire.

4: Test Electric Fences using an Indicator Light or Bulb

You can use an electric fence indicator light to know if your fence is on or off. The indicator light gets power from the fence wires and glows to show if the fence is live. It’s easy to see from far away, so you can check if your fence is working without getting close.

There are different types of testers, some with wires or probes and others wireless. Wired ones are connected to the live fence wire and a ground wire or rod. Wireless ones just connect to the live fence wire. To install the indicator light, you need to turn off the electric fence first.

You can also use a bulb plugged into a socket. Connect the socket’s live wire to the live fence wire and the ground wire to the fence’s ground wire or rod. The bulb will light up with each pulse of voltage, showing that the fence is working and has power.

A fluorescent tube can help you identify whether there is voltage/power in the fence or not. Touch both pins from one end of the fluorescent tube to the ground (soil) and the other end(pins) to the electric fence. Your fluorescent tube will blink due to the voltage pulse in the electric fence wire.

Test Electric Fence with Electric Fence Tester

An electric fence tester is a voltmeter that detects voltage in the fence wires. It displays it on the screen, or light glows on different voltage ranges.

Connect the long needle of the tester’s black probe to the ground wire of the fence or pinch it into the soil If you don’t know which wire is ground or if you have installed an electric fence without ground wires. Now attach the top metal part to the electric fence.

Depending on the functions, an electric fence tester will show you the voltage reading or glow bulbs corresponding to that specific range. Compare that results with the ideal voltage range of your fence energizer. If the voltage is significantly lower than the ideal power output range, it indicates there could be a short circuit.

  • Test an electric fence with a multimeter

Thinking about testing an electric fence with a multimeter? Think again. Regular ones aren’t made for high-voltage jobs. Electric fences can go up to 10,000 volts, way more than a regular multimeter can handle.

If you still want to test your electric fence with a multimeter, take your black probe and insert it into the multimeter’s COM port. Insert the red probe into the VmAΩ labeled port.

Set your multimeter to DC volts (V⎓)or amps(A⎓).

Touch the black probe’s metal pin to a ground wire, a ground rod or simply pinch in the ground. Then, touch the red probe to each live wire in an electric fence.

If there is power in the fence, your multimeter will show voltage & amperage on the screen.

  • Electric fence fault finder

An electric fence fault finder is a tool similar to an indicator light. Please turn on the fault finder and connect it to the live wire.

With a fault finder, you can check the voltage and amperage of the pulse passing in the current. Touch the metal piece at the top of the fault finder and see the values.

  • Using a Non-contact voltage tester

to test the electric fence without a tester. A non-contact voltage tester is another helpful tool for testing an electric fence. A non-contact voltage detects a voltage (current) in wires and notifies with a red light.

To know if your electric fence is working, turn on the voltage tester and pass it through the electric fence. The voltage tester will blink until no voltage is detected in fence wires.

When the voltage tester detects the voltage in an electric fence, the bulb inside beeps and glows continuously(static).

Frequently Asked Questions

How to find a short in the electric fence?

An electrical fence fault finder (e.g. Fence Doctor) is an excellent tool for finding shorts in your electric fence.

Please turn on the electric fence tester and connect it to all wires in your electric fence.

The tester will show you the voltage if it’s less than your adjusted voltage limit. For Example, if the voltage decreases from 5K to 8K, the electric fence is short-circuited.

The left or right light on the top of the tester will blink.

Follow the right or left direction according to the indicator light and test the electric fence wires again after some distance.

This electric fence tester(fault finder) will help you locate the short circuit’s point.

How to test a solar-powered electric fence?

We can test the battery of the solar-powered fence to check if it’s functioning correctly. Take the battery out of the energizer without disconnecting the wires. Take a multimeter, set it to the DC voltage symbol (VDC or V⎓), and attach the red probe to the positive terminal(red wire). Connect the black probe to the negative battery terminal(black wire). Check the voltage reading and compare with the battery’s optimal voltage range specified by the manufacturer/labeled on the covering.

Can you test an electric fence with a multimeter?

While a multimeter can measure voltage and current, it may not accurately test electric fences due to the high voltage pulsating current. Multimeters are designed for constant current, not voltage spikes common in electric fences. For accurate testing, use a voltmeter designed for fences. To test with a multimeter, set it to DC voltage mode (V⎓), connect the black probe to the ground wire, and touch the red probe to the live wire. This displays the voltage. For current, switch to DC Amps mode (A⎓).


Testing an electric is necessary as its role is significant in protecting your property, fields, and farms. Ideally, an electric fence should have around 6-10KV.

If the voltage in your fence is insufficient, then its functioning will be affected. Voltage in the electric fence could be affected due to short circuits, poor ground connection, or excessive vegetation around the fence. So it’s beneficial to use an electric fence tester, multimeter, or fault finder.

Leave a Comment