Keep Critters & Wildlife Out of Your Solar Panels
Last Updated on
In residential solar, there are typically only a few inches between the panels and the roof. While this gap allows the solar panels to cool off so the array won’t overheat, it can cause issues if the area draws pesky critters.
Do You Need a Critter Guard?
While solar homes don’t need critter guards to function, they have proven helpful in protecting homeowners’ solar investments. As solar panels become more popular, the solar industry has seen a growing need for solar panel protection from local animals.
It’s best to consider a critter guard if the home has a history of birds or squirrels. Homes with nearby trees will likely attract wildlife looking for protection from the elements.
Checking the production of the system and checking for animals and critters near the installation site prior to your solar installation is advisable, and may help you determine whether you need a critter guard. If the area has wildlife and the array has a production problem, wildlife may be to blame.
3 Reasons to Install a Critter Guard
Most homeowners don’t have an issue with animals using their solar panels as their home. But there are still three main reasons for protecting solar arrays with a critter guard. These include protecting the solar array wiring, minimizing bird droppings, and reducing debris buildup, which critters and nearby wildlife can cause.
Protect your Wires From Squirrels
Squirrels often make nests under solar panels, especially if the nearby area is forested, and they tend to chew on exposed wires. Some solar homeowners with squirrel infestations have had to replace wiring and connected equipment because of the damage these small critters have done to their systems.
Deters Birds from Nesting
Solar homes with bird issues typically have problems with pigeons nesting under the solar panels. While the birds generally leave the wiring alone, droppings can, if repeatedly occurred, obstruct the production of the solar modules themselves.
If a family of birds lives under the solar panels, they may leave droppings not just on top of the array, but beneath it as well. Bird droppings on the solar system will decrease the amount of light that reaches the solar cells, impacting their production. While cleaning the system will increase solar production, this doesn’t address the issue at its root.
Reduces Debris with Solar Panel Protection
As seasons change each year almost as frequently as the ensuing weather, so do the types of debris that can land on your solar panels. If there’s a gap under the array, it’s harder for built-up debris to wash away with a rainstorm or downpour. However, with a critter guard or solar panel skirt, these items would never get under the solar panels themselves.
Solar Panel Critter Guard Options
Individuals interested in adding a critter guard to their home have a couple of different options. These options range from metal grates to sleek skirts.
Homeowners who opt for one of the many different grated options can choose between options that stick to the solar panels, like sola trim and options that drill into the mounting gear. These critter guard options have a more rigid structure.
Others only have problems with birds and therefore don’t need a heavy-duty critter guard. Those only fencing out birds often uses a lightweight option, such as bird netting.
Those who prefer a sleeker look can also use a solar skirt around the array or on the street-visible sides. This option only covers the mounting system and wires, meaning it wouldn’t work as a critter guard. However, it would provide a better transition from the solar panel to the roof than a critter guard on its own.