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Testing for Stray Voltage

Testing for stray voltage is easy and is an un-ambiguous way of determining if the problem exists. You can determine if you have stray voltage with an inexpensive AC Voltmeter. If you do not measure a voltage using the following procedure, then you do not have a stray voltage problem. If you find that you do have a stray voltage problem, then you need to call in an engineer that to determine the cause and implement corrective action.

Use the following test procedure to verify that you have a stray voltage problem. You will need an AC Voltmeter, 2 eh 1000 ohm resistors of any wattage, a 2 prong banana jack, a long piece of insulated wire to extend the meter leads and a metal rod.. The best time to test is between 17:00 and 19:00 hours in the evening. The tests should be made with as much equipment as possible turned on to cause the maximum load on the farms electrical system.

  1. Select a spot at least 10 feet outside the barn and away from all electrical wiring and drive the rod at least 1 foot into the ground. This is your reference ground.
  2. Strip 1 inch of the insulation from one end of the long wire and connect it to the Reference ground rod with a small hose clamp.
  3. Connect the 2 1000 ohm resistors in parallel to form a 500 ohm resistor. Connect the resistors to the banana jack.
  4. Insert banana jack in between the two meter test leads. This is imperative to load the meter to prevent extraneous readings from radio frequency signals. The value of 500 ohms is used because many people it simulate the cows body resistance.
  5. Connect the loose end of long reference ground wire to the black terminal on the meter.
  6. Connect the red test probe to the red meter terminal.
  7. Turn the voltmeter on.
  8. Switch the meter to measure AC Volts.
  9. Select the scale to be 1 Volt full scale.
  10. Walk through the barn holding the meter and measure the voltage on all metal surfaces.

Very low or readings less than 0.1 volt indicate that there is not a stray voltage problem. Readings between 0.1 and 0.5 may indicate a problem and need to be investigated further. Readings above 0.5 volt indicate that you definitely have a problem. 

If you find that you have a Stray Voltage problem you will need a professional to perform further tests and to make a detailed evaluation of your electrical system. Call us at 952/544-6079 if you have any questions or if you would like us to assist you.

Visit the following pages for a more detailed study of stray voltage.


What is Stray Voltage?

How Can Stray Voltage be Caused by Farm Wiring?

How Can Stray Voltage be Caused by The Utility?

How Do I Protect Myself from Bogus Stray Voltage Testing?

For Help or more information, call John Bass at


Email: help@BassEngineering.com

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Bass Associates Inc.
13533 Larkin Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55305
Phone: 952/544-

Copyright 1998 Bass Associates Inc. Last modified: July 28, 2015