Critter Guards for Your Solar Panels
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Home solar panels typically are mounted only a few inches from the roof. While this gap allows air to circulate under the panels to prevent the array from overheating, it also can attract pesky critters.
Do You Need a Critter Guard?
Critter guards are not essential, but they have proven helpful in protecting homeowners’ solar investments. As solar panels become more popular, the solar industry has seen a parallel rise in demand for solar panel protection from animals.
It’s wise to consider a critter guard if your home has a history of attracting birds or squirrels. Homes with trees nearby are especially likely to attract wildlife looking for protection from the elements.
If you’re planning to install a solar array in an area populated by birds, squirrels or other wildlife, you may want to install a critter guard to prevent problems. If your solar array develops a production problem, wildlife may be to blame.
Three Reasons To Install a Critter Guard
Most homeowners don’t have an issue with animals using their solar panels as a home. But there are still three sound reasons for protecting solar arrays with a critter guard. These include protecting the solar array wiring, minimizing bird droppings and reducing the debris buildup wildlife can cause.
Protect Your Wires From Squirrels
Squirrels often make nests under solar panels, especially if the area nearby 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.
Deter Birds From Nesting
Other problems arise when pigeons build nests under solar panels. These birds generally leave the wiring alone, but if their droppings accumulate, they can obstruct the solar modules and reduce production.
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. These droppings can further decrease solar panels’ output. While cleaning the system will help restore production to normal levels, this doesn’t address the problem’s root cause.
Reduces Debris With Solar Panel Protection
As the seasons change and weather fluctuates, so do the types of debris that can build up on, and around, your solar panels. If there’s a gap under a solar array, animal debris is less likely to wash away in a shower or downpour. A critter guard or solar panel skirt can prevent animal residue from getting underneath solar panels in the first place.
Solar Panel Critter Guard Options
Homeowners who want a critter guard for their solar array have a couple of different options, from metal grates to sleek skirts.
Some critter guards stick to the solar panels, such as those from SolaTrim. More rigid products are drilled into the mounting gear.
Homeowners whose only problem is birds don’t need a heavy-duty critter guard. More lightweight options, such as bird netting, can work well against nesting birds.
Solar customers who want a sleeker look can install a solar skirt, either all around the array or on the sides visible from the street. This option only covers the mounting system and wires, so it will not work as a critter guard on its own. However, a solar skirt could provide a cleaner-looking transition from the solar panel to the roof than a critter guard on its own.