Electric fences can seem like foreign territory. Using PVC to create your fence though can make it very easy. Here are the 8 basic steps for making electric fence posts with PVC.
1. Decide Fence Perimeter Length
Deciding how long your fence is may seem like a given. You might be thinking it only matters for how much wire you buy and that you should just buy extra just in case then keep the leftovers.
Though that would be prudent and often the best choice, in the case of electric fences you should practice doing this with caution. It is best to keep wires as a single strand because doing otherwise often hurts the integrity of the wire.
So buy extra, but don’t do so assuming you can just patch broken parts of the wire with ease. You’ll have to tie broken parts and that hurts the integrity of wire just like it does for rope.
The length of your fence determines how much current your wire will need to carry. If you have too much wire then it may sag, causing the wire to short somewhere, stopping the current, and rendering it useless until you go out and find the short.
Perimeter length can be determined easiest with a device that can track distance walked. Some GPS devices will do this. You attach this device to you and walk the perimeter of the property you are fencing off.
The length of your perimeter will also determine how strong the amperage of your charger needs to be. Here is a short video emphasizing the importance of this step.
2. Decide On The Type Of Wire And Charger
There are lots of wire choices to choose from. What you choose depends greatly on your needs. You have two options; You can choose wire or poly.
For long perimeters, it is best to choose either regular wire or copper poly wire. These will allow the current to flow the best. Meaning that the whole fence will be able to deliver a bigger shock to the animals you are trying to keep in or out.
The poly options are great because they offer higher visibility to livestock and humans. They are easier to manipulate with your hands and it nstalls easier.
Poly is a combination of polymers and wires that are woven together.
Unfortunately, poly options are not normally meant to be permanent. The polymers in these options are susceptible to UV radiation and deteriorate in a few years. This leaves the polymers in a state of decay. Basically, they crumble and leave just the wires.
These also need a stronger charge because the wires in them are smaller. There are three poly options: poly tape, poly rope, and poly wire.
Polytape is the biggest and most like regular wire in terms of charge requirements. Polytape is also incredibly visible. Polyrope (or braid) is smaller and therefore less visible and requires a higher charge. Polywire is just poly rope but smaller.
The wire is used for permanent fences. Here you will most likely use galvanized steel. This will be the better option for permanent fences because it has a smaller charge need and won’t deteriorate in the sun.
There are two common options. Galvanized steel and aluminum. There are differences, but they basically consist of aluminum being a better conductor than steel. This means you will need a smaller charge to electrify your fence if you use aluminum. It also means your fence will sag a little no matter what you do.
From here on we will refer to both wire and poly as wire.
3. Drill Holes In PVC
When drilling holes for your wire you will need to decide how high you want your wire. In general, it should be at about the nose height of whatever animal you are putting the wire up for.
If you are using the fence for multiple species then you will need to drill multiple holes and connect your wires in parallel. This will ensure that your fence is evenly electrified from top to bottom.
Drill your holes so you can easily thread your wire through the PVC. Since PVC is an insulator you do not need to worry about anything else. If you are worried about the rough edges of the PVC hole you just drilled you can sand down the edge that the wire will be resting on.
That won’t be a problem with wire, but it will be a problem with poly.
Make sure all your PVC pipes have holes in the same spot before you set them in the ground.
4. Set A Ground Rod
Every electrical system has to have a ground unit to work. This is a very important component because proper grounding ensures safety.
All you need to do is grab a galvanized steel pole and pound it into the ground. That’s it really. Since that’s all covered in the video above I won’t worry about restating any of it.
The ground rod should be relatively close to the fence and charger.
5. Set PVC Posts
Since the PVC posts are what will be supporting your wires they will need to be properly set. Luckily this isn’t very hard because they are just PVC. Doing this can be accomplished by simply pounding the poles into the ground. This will work well enough for temporary fences.
PVC pipe is theorized to last up to 100 years with no real wear and tear. However, keeping it in direct sunlight can cause yellowing and loss of impact strength (brittleness).
With this in mind, it is a good idea to protect your PVC posts if you are planning on keeping them up for more than two years. Proper protection would include either painting your PVC posts with an outdoor paint or with a clear UV protective coating.
Cutting the bottom of your PVC posts into a wedge will also help them go in easier.
If your plan on keeping your posts up for a long time then your posts should be set about 2 feet into the ground.
6. Thread Wire Through Holes
Threading your chosen wire can be done easiest after your posts are set. This will minimize any damage that could be done to your wire while setting your posts.
If you drilled your holes large enough then this should be pretty simple. You stick the wire in one hole and pull it out the other.
If you are rounding a corner and need to thread your wire through two holes that are at an angle you might need to gently bend your wire.
While bending your wire be careful not to cause any creasing or breaks. Creasing won’t prevent any electricity transfer, but it will hurt the integrity of your wire and may cause it to break in the future. Breaks in your wire will require one of two fixes.
You could solder the break or tie the wire.
Soldering would last a long time, but if you don’t do it correctly then it will cause the wire to corrode faster than normal. To do so correctly you need to scrub off the galvanized coat, solder, then reapply the protective coating.
Tieing the wire would require you to grab a second piece of wire and loop the two together into a knot. You would do this a few feet away from the hole to allow the wire to be properly threaded into the hole after it is fixed.
7. Tension Wire
Proper tensioning is achieved by making sure that as you go from post to post during threading, the wire stays relatively tight. There should be a little give to allow some spring in the wire. This helps protect the wire from damaging debris stirred up by the wind.
This is just a small amount of give. Just enough to allow the wire to wiggle.
Make sure the wire is connected securely to the first post, and as you reach each succeeding post make sure it is tight. That’s really all there is to it.
Then to make sure it stays that way you need to secure it properly to the last post.
The securing could be done by simply tieing or wrapping the wire securely to the posts after you pass through them. For added security, you could do this to every post.
8. Connect Wire To Charger And Ground
This is all pretty straightforward here too. The charger (sometimes called the energizer) has two terminals. The ground (usually denoted by green) and the hot wire (sometimes called the live wire, and usually denoted by red).
The charger should be relatively close to the fence and ground rod.
Attach the charger to the ground rod using a 12 gauge insulated wire. Simply hook the wire to the ground port of your charger, then hook it to your ground rod. After you hook the wire to your ground rod, use a galvanized steel clamp to secure it to your rod.
To hook it to your fence, grab a piece of 12 gauge insulated wire, hook it to the hot port of your charger, then run it out to your fence. Attaching your wire to your fence can be done in a few ways.
You wrap the live wire around the fence wire or tie the live wire to your fence. After you attach the ground and hot wires, then you can plug the charger in. Here is a video illustrating the information.
I have decided to put in one more video that includes everything covered on this page. It accurately shows all the steps we’ve talked about here and shows it using PVC pipe.
Follow it from start to finish and you will get a good overview of the process. Then refer back to this page for more information.