Is an Underground Pet Fence Safe?

By Joey Heard | Sept 06, 2013


I recently read a well-written newsletter from a power company about the electrical dangers of underground or “invisible” pet fences.  It really got me thinking.

As a Master Electrician with over 20 years’ experience, I feel qualified to discuss the electrical concerns associated with these devices.  I could even tell you about my Setter that just didn’t get the concept, but that’s another story.

An underground pet fence consists of a copper wire buried a few inches below the surface.  This wire is connected to a control unit which is plugged into a 120V receptacle.  The control unit induces a radio signal on the wire.  That signal is received wirelessly by a special collar on the pet’s neck.  When the pet approaches the buried wire, the collar first gives an audible beeping to alert the pet that it is too close to the barrier.  If the pet ignores this and continues, a shock is administered.

So, is an underground pet fence safe?   Well, that buried copper wire is in a big loop, which is essentially a huge lightning rod.  Lightning doesn’t have to make a direct hit for damage.  This is especially the case lately here in Atlanta.  The wet summer has caused the soil to become quite conductive.  Lightning-caused surges can travel across the buried copper wire, through the control box, and into the main electrical system.  Such surges have the potential to cause widespread damage throughout your home’s electrical system and equipment, including TVs, computers, appliances, alarm systems, etc.

So, how can you help prevent this?  With two layers of surge protection:

  1. A whole-home surge protector

  2. A point-of-use surge protector (also called a “surge strip”) for the pet fence

control unit.

Here are a couple of useful links to previous blogs regarding surge protection:

  1. “How to Protect Your Home from Lightning Damage”

  2. “Surge Protection – It’s Not Just for Computers Anymore”

With proper protection, yes, an underground pet fence is safe.  However, your dog might disagree.

For further information, please call us directly at (770) 455-4556.

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