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Birds and Solar Panels

Birds and Solar Panels

Birds poop; it’s a proven fact. And they are not too picky about where they do it either. In fact, this is how Gary Larson thinks birds see the world:

How Birds See the World

Cynical, yes – but how else to explain those strategically-placed bird droppings on your freshly-washed car?

Here in the solar world, we tend to think that this is how birds see solar panels too. Either that, or with a “Space for Rent” sign since they also like to build nests under the panels.

Solar panels create a nice, cool spot that is perfect for helping to keeping your house cooler during the summer. It’s also the perfect place for birds to build their nests. This in itself is generally fine, but with nests come lots of poop. And most people don’t like the idea of mounds and mounds of bird droppings piling up on their roof (and definitely not on top of their panels).

What to do? Fortunately, there are a variety of solutions to the problem. From practical to wicked awesome, here are a few items that can help protect your panels:

Birds and Solar Panels1. Bird mesh: To seal up the area under the panels, you can install a wire mesh that clips directly to the solar panels and goes completely around the entire array. Or for a less expensive version, plastic bird netting will pretty much do the same thing but may not weather the elements as well.

2. Spikes: they may look medieval, but spikes along the edges of your panels make things uncomfortable and will help keep the birds from hanging out long enough to make a mess.

3. Plastic birds of prey: The old fake owl trick still works, believe it or not. Especially if its head swivels around in the breeze. Or if you want to go really high-tech, take a looksy at Brian the Brian the Robotic FalconRobotic Peregrine Falcon who guards the solar panels at a science center in the UK (he even has his own Twitter feed).

And sometime it’s not the birds you need to look out for. Bees and wasps look for cool spots to build their nests and hives too. But they tend to get their creations tangled up in all of the wires (as pictured below). Wasps are a lot more aggressive than birds when you disturb their home so be careful when examining them. It’s a lot harder to try and keep them away but if they do become a nuisance, best to call a professional for hive removal. Remember, safety first!

Solar Powered Wasps

Whether you decide to live in mutual harmony with your panel-dwelling friends or take steps to keep things animal/pest free, choosing the most humane way to do so is always the most eco-friendly way to proceed.

 

 

Additional sources and photo credits:

Bird Barrier

Spiffy Solar

Solar Powered Wasps

Sustainable Camping



  • Guest

    Spikes don’t

    • http://www.facebook.com/mark.danenhower Mark Danenhower

      Thanks for your comment. While it’s true that the spikes may not keep
      birds from going underneath the panels, they can help prevent them from
      landing on or sitting on the edges of the panels, as this bird is doing: http://tinyurl.com/d7wz6pz

      • http://www.facebook.com/sonny.martin.3344 Sonny Martin

        Yes, spikes are for ledges and peaks only. If they (primarily pigeons) can walk around, they can wiggle through. We’ve seen a lot of poor attempts at keeping the birds, squirrels, rats and even raccoons out. You’ve got to do it right or don’t bother. We’re collecting pictures for a Pintrest site. We’ll be coming back to share the wasp nest photo—that’s a new on for us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sonny.martin.3344 Sonny Martin

    Interesting photos. Our experience, as specialists in this area, shows that bird spikes only work to prevent landing, they will not keep birds out from beneath the system. If they have sure footing, they simply crawl between the spikes. Additionally, we’ve never seen a good way of adhering plastic netting, but would love to see it, if you have an example. Metal is best, not only for durability, but because it stays in place.

    See the system we developed specifically for this problem—designed to avoid the biggest issue involved, voiding the module warranty. If you drill into the modules/panels, that’s what you’ll do.

    Learn more at http://www.spiffysolar.com and see more fun pictures on our Facebook page—including an electrocuted and mummified squirrel that chewed on the wires.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mark.danenhower Mark Danenhower

      Thanks – mind if we list Spiffy Solar as a resource on this page?

      • http://www.spiffysolar.com/ www.spiffysolar.com

        Sorry for the late response, somehow I missed this post. Of course you may list us as a resource. As an update, our product is now being recommended in SunPower trainings as a solution to the problem. Fortunately, the problem is rare in California, compared to say, New England.

  • http://www.spiffysolar.com/ www.spiffysolar.com

    I just notice that you add our link to the page. Thanks, we appreciate it a lot.

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