Do I Need Critter Guards For My Solar Panel System?

A solar panel system can be quite an investment in your home, but it pays huge dividends by allowing you to minimize your carbon footprint. Because it’s such a hefty initial investment, many people wonder what they can do to protect their solar panel system from damage. One of the ideas that come up most often is critter guards. Is it necessary to shield your solar system from pesky critters? 


If you’re on the fence about investing in critter guards for your solar panel system, this short guide will give you all of the details you need before you invest in these precautions: 

Why Would You Need a Critter Guard? 


When installing solar panels on the roof of your home, we’ll always leave a few inches between the panels and the roof itself. This allows air to circulate beneath the panels, which can prevent issues with overheating. Unfortunately, this small space can be attractive to critters who are looking for a cozy place to call home. 


Animals that make their home in your solar panels may not affect the quality of your solar power right away. However, these same critters can impact the efficiency of your panels over time if you don’t take the right precautions. Squirrels who make their nests under your solar panels are one of the largest culprits for damaging a solar system. Not only does their presence disturb the wiring, but they also have a tendency to chew on it. 


Other issues that can stem from a critter invasion include a buildup of debris under the panels or around the edges, bird droppings on the panels, and other types of damage to the wiring. Just as squirrels often like to call these systems their home, birds will also build nests in and among your solar panels. 


The truth is that critters can play a big role in the output of your solar panels. While some of these issues can be corrected with cleaning or rewiring, it can be a real hassle and cost you more than just your initial investment into the system. You want your solar panel system to last you for the decades ahead, so a critter guard can be a great way to ensure that it does. 

What Is a Critter Guard? 


Now that you’re convinced that you need a critter guard, you may be wondering what exactly they are and how they work. Because there are a few inches between your solar panels and the roof, a critter guard wraps around your panels at the edges and prevents things from becoming stuck beneath the panels. 


You will want a critter guard on all four sides of your panel installation to keep out those small animals who are eager to make their home under there. For the most part, this applies mostly to birds and squirrels, though any small animal may take advantage of this area. 


Because you will need to protect your roof and solar panels from a variety of creatures, you might want to consider how much can actually pass through the barrier. While you do want to allow some air to circulate beneath the panels, you want to keep the holes small enough that critters can’t get through. 


As a bonus, critter guards also prevent things like fallen leaves from becoming trapped under the solar panels. This can lead to less required maintenance on your panels.


Some homeowners also love to install critter guards because it gives them a smoother transition from the roof to the panels. Think about what you want to accomplish aesthetically with your panels and determine if a critter guard is right for you. Some can be quite sleek, serving the dual purpose of both protecting your system and looking beautiful.  

What Kind of Critter Guard Do I Need? 


If you decide that you live in an area with a lot of wildlife and are in need of a critter guard, then you might wonder which type is right for you. There are several different types of critter guards on the market. Which one is the right fit for you? 


When aesthetics matter to you, then you may want to get a critter guard that adheres directly to your mounting gear. These are often made of grates or grills that still allow the air to pass underneath your solar panels but make it impossible for any type of critter to build their nest beneath the panels. These tend to be heavy-duty guards that are suitable for many small animal invasions, such as squirrels. 


A solar skirt can also be an option to give you a sleek appearance as your panels’ transition to your roof. While these aren’t technically designed to be critter-proof, they can be quite helpful at deterring small creatures from making an easy home on your roof. 


The other benefit to these two types of critter guards is that they don’t allow for debris buildup on the roof. Falling pine needles, leaves, and twigs can all get lodged beneath your solar panels if you live in a heavily wooded area. This is true even if you do not have creatures who are bringing debris to your rooftop. A good critter guard also protects you from lost efficiency due to debris. 


On the other hand, you may only struggle with birds who want to make their nests among your solar panels. When this is the case, bird netting is a sufficient option. It is lightweight yet strong enough to keep persistent birds out from underneath your panels. 


Keep in mind that this type of bird netting may not restrict as much debris from accumulating under the solar panels. You may still find small leaves and pine needles under your panels that will need to be removed a few times each year. Alternatively, you can look for bird netting with smaller grids to restrict access to the underside of the panels. 

Are Critter Guards Right for You?


For most homeowners, critter guards are going to be a necessary component to the solar system that they recently had mounted on their roof. They will prevent damage and debris buildup from small animals who nestle in and make their home here. Not to mention, some critter guards can also give you a sleek transition from the roof up to your panels. 


If you are interested in solar panel systems or critter guards, be sure to contact Powertec Solar. We have the experience you need to take care of your home to the best of your ability. Give us a call today to see how we can help you!