Once you have made the investment to install solar panels on your Long Island home, it is important to take necessary steps to protect your solar panels from natural hazards, such as pests like squirrels and birds, that will nest under your solar array if given the opportunity. In addition to the threat of pests, a solar system also faces challenges related to leaf build-up and falling snow hazards. Greenleaf Solar Long Island’s Solar Company explains the variety of products on the market that are designed specifically to protect your solar system from the natural hazards discussed above.
Squirrels Threatening Your Solar Panels
As was mentioned above, squirrels are one of the biggest threats to the successful long-term functioning of your solar system due to their tendency to nest under solar arrays. In addition to the damage caused by squirrels nesting under your solar panels, squirrel’s teeth are constantly growing, causing them to constantly seek things to gnaw on, such as the wires under your solar array.
If a squirrel does in fact chew the wires under your solar panels, it is likely that some of the panels in your system will no longer work due to a broken electrical connection. What’s more, if a homeowner does not know a squirrel has damaged the wires under their solar panels, that home owner could potentially be losing out on a large portion of their systems energy production due to damaged wires, which could be quite costly on the homeowner. In addition to the financial risks associated with system damage incurred by squirrel chewed live wires, debris sitting under your solar panels is also a potential fire risk which should be dealt with as promptly as possible.
Bird’s Harmful Effects on Solar Panels
Yet another pest threat to your solar system’s proper functioning is birds, such as pigeons, that like to nest under solar panels. While pigeons do not pose the threat of chewed wires like squirrels, the debris from their nests can build up under solar panels causing potential roof damage and even fire hazards. In addition to the direct risks associated with bird nests under your solar modules, there is also the secondary risk of increased bird presence around your modules. This will result in bird droppings covering your solar panels, which has the potential to hurt the production of your solar system.
The Inconvenience of Leaves over your Solar Panels
While it is advisable to trim trees that surround your solar system prior to installation in order to prevent excessive shading, many times there are still trees sitting close to residential solar systems, especially in the North Eastern United States. Trees sitting close to your solar system can result in a variety of problems, such as unwanted leaf debris falling under the solar array. In addition to the risk of leaf debris, having a tree close to your solar array can also result in increased animal activity on your roof as the tree often serves as a sort of “bridge” on to your roof top for animals. The image below is a good example of a home at risk of tree-related hazards.
While the potential natural threats to a residential solar system discussed above might seem intimidating to home owners there is now a solution on the market that can safe guard your system
Solar Panel Array Edge Screen Kits
Array edge screen kits, often referred to as “pest guards” and “critter blockers”, are essentially mesh wire wraps designed specifically to keep unwanted animals and debris from collecting under your solar array. While at first glance the array edge screen kits might seem like an unnecessary expense to many homeowners, in the long run however, the protection from edge screen kits can result in saving your solar system from potentially thousands of dollars of damage.
While some solar installers have begun installing edge screen kits as soon as they install your solar system, most solar installers do not include edge screen kits as part of the initial solar installation. Luckily solar companies such as GreenLeaf Solar have begun to offer homeowners post-installation array edge screen kits for those who see the value in edge screen kits but did not receive the kit upon their initial solar installation.
Snow Accumulation and “Solar Avalanches”
Yet another natural hazard that home owners should be aware of is the risk of snow rapidly falling off their solar panels following a large snow storm. After a large snowfall, your solar modules will initially be covered by snow. However, as the storm ends and the sun comes out, the solar modules will begin to heat up faster than the roof surface. The rise in the temperature of the solar modules will cause the snow on the module to begin to melt. Once enough snow has melted, the snow will rapidly slide off the solar modules causing a potential hazard to whatever sits below the solar array. Depending where on your home your solar panels are located, the snow fall risk from your solar panels will stay.
In some cases, home owners have bushes and plants under their solar array which can be damaged by a rapidly falling sheet of snow. In more extreme cases, solar arrays will be located above garages and doorways, causing a chance for much more serious and costly damage.
Solar Snow Guards
In the face of the potential snowfall risk, the solar industry has begun to offer “snow guards”, which break up snow falling off of a solar array, resulting in greatly reduced snowfall damage. Snow Guards are a great way to ensure protection for your roof, your solar panels, your surrounding landscape, and any people who may be entering/exiting the building or passing by.
Snow Guards work by breaking up large piles of snow that have accumulated on your roof and your solar panels. By breaking up the snow, they help to prevent snow from sliding off your roof in large masses, posing a threat to anything below. They also help prevent any damage sliding snow may cause to vents and skylights. Pictured below is a roof featuring a solar snow guard.
Overall, while a brand new standardly-installed solar system is vulnerable to a variety of potently costly hazards such as pests, debris, and snow, there are now products on the market specifically designed to mitigate these risks. Unfortunately, many solar companies do not offer the option to install products such as edge screen kits and snow guards upon the initial system installation; however, thanks to solar companies such as GreenLeaf Solar, it is still possible to install edge screen kits and snow guards after you initially have your solar panels installed.