To give your solar system the best chance of functioning well over the course of its lifespan, homeowners should consider the risk factors that could affect their system. One of these factors is the animals in their neighbourhood, who may choose to live beneath a solar system.
Squirrels have been known to make their nests under solar panels. They are one of the most likely culprits to damage a solar system. Their nests can disturb the wiring, and squirrels also tend to chew on the wire, which can more significantly affect the performance of a solar system.
Birds may also attempt to build their nests among solar panels. Debris buildup can occur around the edges and underneath panels from bird droppings and nesting materials. This debris can also damage the wires over time.
Critters like birds and squirrels can affect the output of your solar system.
While some of the issues described can be corrected with frequent cleaning and rewiring, it will mean a much more hands-on approach to managing your solar system and the expenses can add up. A critter guard is an excellent solution to give your solar system a great chance of working efficiently for decades.
Without a critter guard, birds can build their nests underneath your panels. This leads to a costly situation where you must pay to remove the birds and debris and install a critter guard.
Even worse, if an animal chews through your wires, your entire system could be out of commission for days until you can get a repair.
How does a critter guard work?
Since there are a few inches of space between your solar panels and your home’s roof, animals can enter the system easily, and a spot exists for debris to collect. A critter guard works by wrapping around your panels right at the edges, thereby preventing anything from getting stuck underneath the solar system.
A critter guard will be required for all four sides of a panel installation to function effectively. Although you will want to allow some air to circulate beneath the panels, for optimal system performance, the holes in the critter guard shouldn’t be large enough to allow animals to enter the space.
Although primarily there to prevent damage from birds and animals, critter guards can also stop falling leaves from getting trapped beneath solar panels. This is another way critter guards help homeowners reduce the required maintenance for their solar systems.
The buildup of dry vegetation under your system can seriously threaten your home. The dry vegetation could ignite in combination with faulty or partially chewed wires. Electrical fires could start from faulty or broken wiring igniting dry leaves and sticks that have collected under your solar panels. Although a rare occurrence, critter guards offer homeowners peace of mind.
Will a critter guard affect the aesthetic appeal of my solar system?
Some homeowners are drawn to critter guards because they offer the aesthetic advantage of creating a smoother transition from the roof to the panel.
There are many design options available for critter guards, so there will likely be an option that suits your solar system’s aesthetic.
Some critter guards can adhere directly to your mounting gear. These heavy-duty types of critter guards tend to be made of grates or grills that still allow air to pass beneath your solar panels while making it near impossible for critters to build homes in your system.
Another option is to utilize a solar skirt. Sleek in appearance, a solar skit creates a beautiful transition from the panel to the roof. Homeowners should remember that solar skirts are not specifically designed to ward off critters; however, in most cases, they can still deter animals from easily making their homes under your panels.
Critter guards can increase the lifespan of your solar system.
Both types of critter guards significantly reduce debris buildup from accumulating on the roof, protecting homeowners from losing system efficiency due to debris. Falling leaves, pine needles and twigs can all get lodged beneath solar panels, even without creatures actively bringing the debris onto your rooftop. This is especially true if you live in a wooded area.
This is why critter guards are recommended for any rooftop solar system where animals or excess vegetation can cause damage.