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"Why Don't Electric Fences Kill Us?"

An ongoing discussion beginning back in 2010 ...

March 12, 2010

Q. The question posed for publishing:
The other day I accidentally touched the wire of an electric fence and was shocked to feel the intensity of the electric shock! Someone said it is more than 15000 Volt! NOW, why am I still alive? I see on the internet that 110V (US) or 220V (elsewhere) at home is LETHAL. The thickness of the wire and the length of the fence - apparently all were secretly fighting to keep me alive. (apart from a slow reflex!) If the wire was thicker and shorter I was history, they said! How does it work?

To the editor:
I enjoyed reading answers to the "is water conductive?" question (letter 39860). I do know how things work and do applaud some of your viewer's ability to answer highly accurate though concise. The question in the previous paragraph is just aimed to increase general knowledge of your audience together with the possibility of nudging the acute humoristic remarks by some of your respected viewers, which was thought that could also compliment society.

Kind regards.

Johann Venter
A STUDENT OF LIFE - now... Johannesburg, South Africa

March 13, 2010

"Electric Fencing: How to Choose, Build, and Maintain the Best Fence"
by Ann Larkin Hansen
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

A. Well it did not kill you for three reasons.
First, electric fences are designed NOT to kill you.
Second, with that in mind electric fences are designed to deliver high voltage and low amperage and rather than explain how volts, amps and resistance works, just google it. Best analogy I can give is that voltage is what zaps you when you rub your feet on the carpet and touch someone and amperage is what welders use to burn through steel. It's true that you can't have one without the other but the percentages of both can be tailored for very specific uses.
And last, most electric fences use some sort of capacitor discharge system. A capacitor is a reservoir for electricity. It slowly bleeds power off a small battery until it reaches its discharge point. If someone comes along and touches it, it discharges its stored energy into him but then has to wait a period of time before it can store up enough power to give another shock. Much like you going to the bathroom and filling up a cup with water. Coming back, and pouring it on a friend. You have to go back to the bathroom and refill the cup. In that space of time your wise friend has already left. So you have to sit and wait until someone else comes by. I would be willing to bet anyone a case of beer that there are threads out there a million miles long describing volts, amps and resistance analogies! Topic is somewhere between chicken and the egg, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin and if Jack and Jill went up the hill how many apples are there in a bushel of grapefruits!

rod henrickson
Rod Henrickson

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


March 15, 2010

Call it coincidence if you will, Rod, but 666 angels can dance on the head of a pin and there are 666 apples in a bushel of grapefruits. Explain that if you can.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 16, 2010

I hope you just dropped that number just to see if we were paying attention Ted. If not, maybe we should be scared!

666 has long been associated with the devil and with the beast. The bible makes some reference to this in Revelation 13:17-18.

"17: And that no man should be able to buy or to sell, save he that hath the mark, even the name of the beast or the number of his name."

"18: Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six."

The number 36 is also associated with 666 in that the sum of the first 36 numbers is 666. Also the sum of a roulette wheel is 666.

36 and 666 are also both triangular numbers and square numbers if memory serves. There are literally gobs of mathematical tricks that can be played with 666.

Outside of its satanic significance the number 6 is also regarded quite highly in many cultures. I know the Greeks have had a fascination with it for years and the Chinese have long believed that the number 6 signifies good fortune. Also a high percentage of lottery players of all nationalities dot on 6 and other numbers devisable by 3.

Even the English measurement system is largely based on numbers devisable by 3 and six. One foot is 12 inches. A yard is three feet. A mile can be cleaved by 6 and a furlong? Well a furlong is exactly 220 yards and when cleaved by six gives us the number 36.6666666666667. Now that's just plain creepy!

So Ted do you have a little dark room in your basement filled with smelly dead chickens and little dolls with pins in them? Was dropping 666 purely a COINCIDENCE? Or were you just really seeing if anyone was reading? I'm going home before dark tonight! He He He

rod henrickson
Rod Henrickson

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


March 16, 2010

Businesses know March 15 as the day we feed the beast. Citizens feed the beast April 15. The beast whose name is Washington and whose number truly is Box 666, Cincinnati :-)


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 17, 2010

A properly operating electric fence will not electrocute you because it is pulsed and is off much longer than it is on. It is adjustable and can be found in many different voltages. Low amperage is another reason.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

October 3, 2018

Solar 12-Volt Electric Fence Charger

Affiliate Link
(finishing.com earns commission on what you buy after clicking)

Q. Hey, I bought a 12 V solar electric fence. I guess I can use it over long distances. I just used it to cordon off my round bales from the horses. I cannot dial the charge back. I used one ground rod. When I read the charge to the wire on the meter it said 7.4, and then hi. My question is will this kill my horses if they touch it or just give them one heck of a jolt?

Debbie Stamp
- Ab canada

October 4, 2018

A. Volts shock, Amps kill

An electric fencer is designed to be completely harmless to animals - including humans. Lots of volts and very few amps.

The simple way to check if the fence is live is to touch it with a long piece of grass and gradually slide the grass up until you are touching the fence.

The shock is not too bad if you are expecting it far from "one heck of a jolt" and horses soon learn to avoid it.

geoff smith
Geoff Smith
Hampshire, England

January 24, 2019

! My name is Gordon Tribby. I'm 60 yrs old. When I was 8 yrs old this kid dropped both my hands on an electric fence & my hands made a fist & wouldn't open. I tried with all my might but I couldn't. Luckily my sister Judy was there & helped me. Judy pried my fingers open 1 by 1 all the time getting a wallop of a shock herself. She finally sprung me loose after which seemed like at least 5 min if not more. Judy saved my life I believe. I would like to thank her for helping me out like that, she was very brave to do such a scary thing.

I saw stars, real stars, just like on the cartoons on TV. Always thought seeing stars was fake but by God you really do see stars when something like that happens to a person like that. My hands turned yellow with a dark line across the insides of both hands where the electric fence wire laid. I remember it like it was yesterday. Never want anything like that to happen to me again ever. LOL! You are the only person who responded to his electric fence question that I can find so thanks for that. My Grandpa's fence was around 3 acres long. Sincerely,

Gordon G Tribby
- Tacoma, Washington USA

January 2019

A. Hi Gordon. Sorry for that life-long trauma! That was 52 years ago, and your grandpa's fence was probably already old even then. The way such fences are designed today might not be the way they were designed way back when.

We have an old brass fan in the attic which would easily cut a child's fingers off. I remember visiting industrial plants when I first got out of college and people would urge you to step lively when walking under the unwinding reels for the steel wire feeders because a rogue kink could decapitate you -- times change, and concern for people's safety has changed :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 7, 2019

A. Think of electricity as water coming out of a pipe. You can have a large pipe with a great volume of water and it will just get you wet. But you can have a very small pipe with the water and great pressure and it can cut steel (and in fact is used for that). The voltage is the volume of the water and the amperage is the force of the water. Voltage can be low and kill you if the amperage is high enough, or voltage can be high and just make you jump if it is very low amps.

Noah Cantrel
- Port Townsend, Washington USA

August 2019

thumbs up sign  Hi Noah. Thanks! But you might want to look for a typo or transposition ... because amperage is analagous to the flow of water and voltage is analogous to its force :-)


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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