Determining the Proper Gauge for Electric Fence Wire Determining the Proper Gauge for Electric Fence Wire

Your electric fence wire should not only be of the proper length that will cover the intended area but it should also be of the proper gauge to function optimally. Most home owners scoff at the fact that the proper gauge of wire should be used when deciding to install an electric fence. The purpose of such an electric fence will determine the right gauge of wire to use but it should be first understood that electric fences could come in two basic forms:

  1. Electric dog fence; and
  2. Electric cattle fence.

It should be understood that an electric dog fence utilizes an insulated wire. Electric fences for agricultural use are used for cattle, pigs and goats are usually non insulated, thicker and could hold higher currents. It may seem obvious that larger animals would need wires that are capable of holding higher amounts of current to provide the right kind of electric shock to deter the animal.

Electric Fence Wire Gauge

An electric fence will usually require a 14 gauge wire and is ideally used for simple, multiple wire applications. This is best suited when trying to contain tall animals with a thin coat in the area. Horses are best contained using either 14, 15 or 16 gauge wire depending on intended application. An 18 gauge wire is common place on most electric fence applications but the system used will determine proper wire gauge. Remember that the wire gauge must correspond to the type of system used for efficient operation. Failure to use the right gauge of wire may result in either an inadequate or excess amount of shock that is intended. 

Too little shock may fail to deter the animal from straying outside the protected area. Too much shock may prove harmful or lethal. It is important to know that most electric fencing systems are designed to emit a specific amount of voltage and the proper wire gauge will ensure a more reliable and efficient operation.

18 Gauge Wire

It would be best to use an 18 gauge wire if the surrounding area is composed of rocky soil. This is also ideal if the wires are to be installed above ground or if the area has a lot of trees or vegetation present.

20 Gauge Wire

On the contrary, a 20 gauge wire is ideal for areas that have smooth, loose soil or clay surfaces. This type of wire is also ideal if the wire will lay next to a fence or if few trees or vegetation is present.

Remember that the type of electric fence used will be the determining factor on what gauge of wire to use. Consult the manufacturer or the instruction manual to determine what gauge of wire will suit best for the system. Be wary that electric dog fence systems must not be used with bare wires that are used on electric cattle fence systems. Properly ground the system to prevent electric shock on metal or wet surfaces which could prove harmful to both humans and animals. 

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