solar panel critter guards squirrels birds

Critter guards/bird netting for solar panels: protect your system from squirrels & birds

A surprising threat to your solar panels may be the animals that live in the area surrounding your home. Birds and squirrels can damage your solar setup in several ways, leading to unwanted repair costs and headache. One solution to solar’s animal problem is to install “critter guards,” a physical barrier between your panels and the local fauna.

Why do you need a solar panel critter guard?

Home solar panels are typically installed on your roof, leaving them exposed not just to weather but also to local wildlife. In particular, birds and squirrels are known to cause damage to rooftop solar installations. Squirrels will sometimes nest under rooftop panels, and can chew through exposed or hanging wires. They can cut power lines from solar panels if they chew the right wire, leading to expensive repairs and power loss. Birds (such as pigeons) will also often nest under and around panels, causing a buildup of dirt and feces that can lower panel efficiency significantly.

Aside from local animals disturbing your solar system, environmental debris can also lead to panel damage. Dry leaves and twigs can build up under your panels, acting as a dangerous fire hazard near the electrical wires moving power from your panels to your home.

solar panel critter guard closeup

To combat damage from animals and the buildup of flammable materials, solar providers commonly offer “critter guards,” which are strips of metal screening resembling high-quality chicken wire that can be attached along the sides of rooftop panels. These are also sometimes referred to as “solar bird netting”. Because solar panels are installed with a gap between them and the roof for ventilation purposes, critter guards and bird netting can be installed to block squirrels and birds from getting under and between your panels and causing costly damage. They also block leaves, twigs, and other flammable debris from collecting under your panels and near the wiring, preventing a potential fire hazard.

How to get critter guards and bird netting for your solar panels

Many solar installers will offer to install critter guards with your new rooftop panel setup. If critter guards are something you might want to have installed with your panels, make sure to confirm with your solar installer that they can install them. If you decide you want to install guards post-installation, there are many places to find yourself a product. Companies like Snapnrack and SolaTrim manufacture different styles of critter guards, which are then sold to solar installers and resellers around the country.

When looking into critter guards, it is important to find a company that will install the guards for you, especially if you are looking to add them to an existing PV system. Attempting to install critter guards yourself can be physically dangerous, as well as dangerous to your existing system – rooftop solar setups can be complicated, and pulling a wire or shifting a panel by accident can compromise your entire system. It’s always best to let professional installers add critter guards for you.

Find the right solar solution for your home, critter guards and all

Critter guards can be a worthwhile investment for your solar setup, as they prevent potentially large damages to your panels while maintaining a clean aesthetic for your roof. The availability of critter guards allows for solar installations anywhere there’s sun. Even in areas with high squirrel and bird populations, installing critter guards will protect your PV system from environmental damages.

Solar installers on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace can design the ideal system for your home, including critter guards if your home needs them. When you join the Marketplace, you can find the solar installer that’s right for your home or business by comparing offers side-by-side to find the best deal. You can indicate your interest in installing critter guards by simply making a note in your preferences when you join.

This entry was posted in Solar 101 on by .

About Jacob Marsh

Jacob is a researcher and content writer at EnergySage, where he's an expert on current issues–and new technology!–in the solar industry. With a background in environmental and geological science, Jacob brings an analytical perspective and passion for conservation to help solar shoppers make the right energy choices for their wallet and the environment. Outside of EnergySage, you can find him playing Ultimate Frisbee or learning a new, obscure board game.

24 thoughts on “Critter guards/bird netting for solar panels: protect your system from squirrels & birds

  1. Susan

    I had 30 solar panels installed in 2015. I live in Long Island, NY. Have gotten squirrels/nests 2 times in the last few months. Now comparing quotes on squirrel guards. I’ve gotten a very expensive quote from the company who did my installation using SolaTrim (pvc coated aluminum bonded to solar panel edge), & less expensive quote from other installers for “critter guard” (basically pvc coated wire mesh attached to solar panels with j-hooks). I was concerned about putting nails into my roof & then having a leaking issue, but was told both systems use no nails. Also, I notice neighbors who have “critter guard” system, have a ton of leaves stuck behind wire mesh & it would be near impossible for us to get up on our roof to remove the critter guard to clean out leaves. Would you know which system is better, SolaTrim vs. “Critter Guard”, & is SolaTrim worth the extra money or I’ll have the same leaf issues, etc? Also, I notice that “Critter Guard” is sometimes installed with wire mesh tucked under solar panel, & other times it is bent outward away from solar panel flush with roof. One installer said he installs critter guard outward because squirrels can sometimes push the mesh when it’s installed inward or under the panel & still get under the panel. (outward looks ugly though) thanks!


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