Protection Around Solar Panels

Stop pest birds and rodents under panels

Australians are becoming more aware of the importance of protecting their solar panels.

According to the Australian Government, Australia has the highest uptake of solar globally, with more than 21% of homes with rooftop solar PV. As at April 30, 2020, more than 2.4 million rooftop solar power systems have been installed across Australia.

This demand has also seen an increased call for solar panel protection. Homeowners who’ve invested several thousands of dollars into solar are unsurprisingly keen to protect their investment from the potential risk of damage from pest birds.

Solar panels installed on pitched roofs provide a comfortable nesting zone for birds away from the elements especially in winter, with panels providing warmth and shelter to pigeons as well as rodents.

When birds nest under panels, both their nesting material and movement can lead to inverter electrical wiring damage which can pose an electrical or fire hazard. Birds also tend to roost around the panels during the day, covering them with droppings which in turn reduces panel efficiency significantly.

Most domestic solar systems in Australia are fitted with a central inverter system, (some newer systems are fitted with newer individual micro inverters). Conventional solar panels are connected in series before they are fed into a central inverter. This means if one panel is shaded or covered with bird droppings potentially reducing output by 40%, the output of the whole system is reduced by 40%, even if other panels are unaffected.

To protect solar systems from nesting pigeons, the principle is to simply exclude all points of entry. There are various products on the market that can achieve this, including wire mesh coated with PVC that borders the perimeter of the panel. The mesh is secured using fastening rods that clip on the L bracket of the underside frame and tightened with a fastening disc.

The difference in products comes down to three key factors:

  • Durability – mesh and fasteners need to withstand UV exposure.
  • Ease of installation – fastening rods should penetrate through the mesh to hook onto the frame.
  • Secureness of the fasteners; fastening discs should not slide as they can come loose when nesting pigeons try to push against the mesh, such is the case with metal rods/discs.

Vexo solar panel kits are made with stainless steel mesh coated with PVC, and according to Vexo, offer greater durability compared to other products. Its profiled fasteners are easy and secure to install and are made from UV resistant nylon.

Winter is the perfect opportunity for home owners and pest managers alike to put in place solar panel protection.