Protecting Your Solar Investment with a Critter Guard

Solar panels have become a popular and sustainable choice for energy production, allowing homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint, save on energy costs, and stay empowered during grid outages. However, what many solar PV system owners may not be aware of is the potential damage and dangers posed by our furry friends – squirrels, birds, rats, and raccoons.

Nesting animals can wreak havoc on solar panels, leading to a range of issues from chewed wires to fire hazards. In this blog, we’ll delve into the damages caused by these critters and emphasize the importance of installing a critter guard to protect your solar investment.

Primary Damages:

    1. Chewed Wires:
      Rodents like squirrels and rats are attracted to the insulation coating on exposed wires beneath solar arrays. Regular gnawing to sharpen their teeth can lead to exposed wires, posing risks of fire, electrocution, and lost production.
    2. Roof Rot:
      Nesting animals not only introduce organic material that retains moisture, causing roof rot, but they also scratch away roofing material, leading to water damage. This deterioration can compromise the integrity of your roof over time.
    3. Hot Spots:
      Nesting obstructs airflow under the array, creating hot spots that impact the performance of PV cells. Elevated temperatures not only reduce efficiency but also increase the risk of fire, with under-array temperatures reaching 150°F even in normally functioning systems.

Secondary Damages:

      1. Water Damage:
        Compromised roofing due to animal activity can result in water entering your home, causing damage to drywall, paint, and potentially leading to long-term mold issues.
      2. Fire Hazards:
        Though rare, PV-related fires can occur when wires or connectors are damaged, converting electrical energy to heat. Organic materials in nests can easily ignite, posing a fire risk to your home.
      3. Electrocution Hazards:
        Damaged insulation around conductors increases the risk of electrocution, especially during wet conditions. Ground-fault protection may not always function correctly, emphasizing the need for immediate attention to suspected insulation damage.
      4. Lost Production:
        Animal-related events can cause a significant impact on annual production. A 2020 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory tracking lost production specifically attributable to pests found an average 28% production loss during the year in which the animal-related event occurred. This represents a financial setback of about $350 for the average US residential PV system.

What to Do About It

The good news is that all these hazards can be virtually eliminated through the installation of a high-quality solar animal guard. Whether installed by professionals or homeowners on a budget, these guards provide an effective solution to prevent critters from causing damage to your solar PV system.

Protecting Your Investment

As a proud owner of a solar PV system, it’s crucial to be proactive in protecting your investment. Whether you already have a solar array installed on your home or you’re considering investing in one, the benefits of adding a critter guard far outweigh the costs. The damages caused by nesting animals can lead to significant financial losses, not to mention the safety risks associated with fire and electrocution. Installing a critter guard is a small investment that can pay off in the long run by ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your solar panels.

At NATiVE, our job is to make your transition to solar energy as seamless as possible. We’ll help you make an informed decision about the installation of a critter guard on your system, enabling you to take the necessary steps to safeguard your solar investment today. Contact us for more information on adding a critter guard to your existing system, whether we installed it or not, or adding one to your upcoming installation.

#TakeYourPowerBack with NATiVE Solar!