Preventing Animals From Damaging Your Solar Panel System
Solar panels are designed to withstand a slew of environmental elements they may be subjected to while sitting on the roof of a home or business. That doesn't mean that they're not invulnerable. A common problem that plagues solar panel setups are animals. Here's how pests can hurt your system and what you can do to solve the issue if you're affected.
Damage Caused By Squirrels and Birds
Contrary to how it may appear, solar panels do not sit flush against the roof. Instead, the panels sit on a rack that's attached to the roof's surface. This allows air to circulate around the equipment to help keep it cool, prevent water and snow dams from forming, and minimize invasive construction on the roof.
Unfortunately, though, certain animals are drawn to the space underneath the panels, using it to build nests for themselves and their young. The two biggest offenders are squirrels and birds, and these animals can cause problems in different ways.
Squirrels are the most problematic because they like to chew through the cables connecting the solar panel system to the battery backup and inverter as well as some of the other hard plastic pieces on the setup. This is because their teeth continue growing throughout their lifetime, so they chew on hard substances to file them down. Regardless of the motivation, the damage they do can lead to reduced energy production and damage to the solar panels themselves.
However, birds can also cause problems. They don't bother the solar panel system itself. Instead, they build nests underneath it. This can lead to issues with your roof, because the nests can retain water and cause the area where it sits to rot. Even if the birds eventually leave, the nest they leave behind may continue causing long-lasting damage.
Keeping Animals Out
There are a couple of things you can do to keep squirrels and birds from accessing the space under your solar panels. The easiest option is to install a cage or fence around the perimeter of the system. This will block access while still allowing air to circulate around the panels.
You can get these cages in plastic and metal. Metal tends to be more durable. However, it is also prone to rusting. Therefore, you will need to check it on a regular basis and replace as necessary. Plastic doesn't have this problem, but tends to deteriorate faster when constantly exposed to sunlight.
The other thing you can do is trim back or remove any trees that hang near your roof. While it won't prevent birds from flying onto the surface, it will stop squirrels from gaining access. If squirrels are a particularly bothersome pest in your area, it may be a good idea to talk to a pest control company about measures you can take to keep these rodents off your property. For instance, there are devices that emit high-pitched noises designed to deter animals like squirrels from coming near your home. Trimming trees will also help ensure leaves, branches, and other plant debris doesn't make it onto the panels, potentially damaging them.
Regular Inspection is the Best Offense
Even if you install a cage around your solar panel system, it's important to regularly inspect your roof. As noted previously, squirrels love to chew on hard things. If you install a plastic cage, there's a chance this pest may gnaw a hole in it with enough time. Therefore, you need to look at your system to ensure nothing is damaged and you don't have birds and squirrels secretly living inside the cage. If needed, call in a professional to inspect the condition of your solar panel system. They'll be able to recommend whether you need further protections or to contact a pest control company.
It can cost up to $2,400 to fix a broken solar panel system. Talk to a solar panel contractor about other things you can do to prevent animals from damaging yours. For more information about this issue, contact a contractor in your area.
Visit a site like https://solarsource.net/ to learn more about solar panel installation processes.