GreenLogic has been in the solar industry for nearly 15 years and has seen almost everything when it comes to wildlife interacting with solar systems. Unfortunately, most of it is not good, but it is preventable.
Let’s start with Mr. Squirrel and his insatiable appetite for wires that connect panel to panel. Many solar wires, similar to cars, are made of a soft-coated product that rodents find tasty! The space between the panel and the roof is also an ideal location for their leafy homes, keeping them dry and safe from predators. These infestations are often happening in the fall and winter when we are drinking Irish coffee by the fire and not watching our back yard roofs. When we finally realize what is going on the dreaded “Ground FAULT” code is blinking on our inverters. Damage to solar systems can quickly add up to thousands of dollars for repaired or replacement of panels.
How do we stop Squirrels from damaging our systems?
First, don’t let them get on the roof in the first place! Trim all over hanging branches, watch for squirrel traffic on the overhead wires from street to the house and look for them scurrying up siding.
Call an exterminator to have all rouge squirrels removed with traps. Hint, hint: Have a Heart Live Traps are sold at Agway for about $60 and peanut butter is sold in Shop Right for $2.99. Relocation of more than 2 miles is recommended. Five-ten miles for re-offenders.
Critter Guard: as an industry standard many solar companies are installing Critter Guard around the solar arrays. This is a wire mesh that closes off the gap between the panel and the roof. Now the reason it is called Critter Guard and not Squirrel Guard is because of the break-in ability of our common tree rats. The reports of Critter Guard failing is true although not common.
Seagulls are beautiful soaring above Long Island beaches and make for a great portrait sitting atop a wooden boat piling. So how do they make the list of solar damaging critters?
Seagulls use asphalt road surfaces to break clams, oysters and other shelled marine life by dropping them from great heights then flying down to shattered shells and soft morsels. Unfortunately, solar panels on flat roof houses, along beach front properties, look like asphalt. These crafty birds try their best to use some roofs as breaking platforms for clams. Fortunately, these panels (Sunpower) are rated for impact of 1” hail at 51-mph and damage is not common but is possible. In the past 15 years GreenLogic has installed thousands of panels on hundreds of flat roof locations and have had only three occasions where Seagulls broke glass solar panels.
How do we stop Seagulls from damaging our systems?
First, don’t let them get on the roof in the first place. Use owl decoys to deter them and scare them away when you can. Don’t leave easy perches for them. In other words, make your neighbor’s house a nicer place to land.
Use stainless steel bird spikes, bird be gone rotator, nylon-coated bird wire and other deterrents that stop them from landing.
Clean shells up immediately! This helps to eliminate another ME TOO moment.
In extreme cases netting has been used however, shade from netting decreases output of the solar system.
These cooing birds come quietly and leave a tremendous mess with nests and droppings. People have gotten sick from airborne fungal infection associated with Pigeon droppings (the disease in question is caused by a strain of the Cryptococcus fungus, commonly found in both bird and bat droppings). If you see one Pigeon there are 20 more behind it! The real damage here is to your wallet when the panels have to be removed to get nests out and power wash your roof.
How do we stop Pigeons from damaging our systems?
Don’t let them get on the roof in the first place! Critter Guard works well here along with stainless steel bird spikes to prevent them from landing. Don’t let these birds get a foot hold under your system.
No, these are not Lions, Tigers and Bears but the above three creatures do cause havoc on Long Island solar systems. The best defense is to keep them away and to call your solar provider to discuss options for protection.