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Solar PV Knowledge Bank

Solar Panel Protection: Bird-Proofing

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Solar Panel Bird Proofing.jpeg

Introduction

Solar panels offer a ready-made shelter for nesting under combined with a high vantage point from which to survey the surroundings.

If there’s such a thing as estate agency in bird world, and in particular pigeon world, it’s easy to envisage the blurb on the sale particulars for a nest under a well-located 4kW array.

Of course the pigeon’s gain is the system owner’s loss. Nesting birds cause problems for solar panels and increase the need for general building maintenance. 

Luckily the industry has now developed well-proven solutions for solar panel protection: solar mesh and solar bird spikes. 

Why are nesting birds a problem for solar systems?

Birds nesting under or around the panels may

  • damage cables;
  • damage panels;
  • deposit droppings and other debris on the panels, thus reducing output;
  • present a fire risk if they nest under the panels;
  • block the roof’s drainage system with droppings, nest materials, food debris and feathers potentially causing roof leaks, whilst providing a nutrient rich environment from which vegetation can grow;
  • present a health hazard to any contractor working on the roof (contact with bird droppings can cause infection to humans).

From this it is clear that the maintenance cost of the system and the roof will be increased if birds start nesting under the panels.

Protecting your solar panels

If birds are an issue (or likely to be an issue in the case of new solar installations), solar panel bird proofing should be installed in the form of mesh or spikes, on all sides of the array. Note that solar panel protection is harmless - it simply encourages the birds to hang out somewhere else.

Products should be installed that are specifically designed for solar panels, firstly to ensure they are effective and secondly to ensure that the panel warranty isn’t voided. 

Our recommendations are as follows:

Solar panel mesh

 

Solar Panel Protection

The mesh is installed around the panels, preventing access beneath the panels, thus protecting the roof, wiring and equipment from damage. The non-penetrating system uses special clips to fix the mesh to the panels without the need for drilling or gluing.

The system is easily removed if necessary for maintenance.

The system is also very hard to see, even from close up.

Bird spikes

 

 Defender Bird Spike-1

 

There are many bird spikes on the market, but they tend to be designed with general deterrence in mind, rather than solar panel deterrence.

The most suitable spikes we have found are the Defender® Solar Panel Bird Spikes.  These are high quality stainless steel UV stabilised spikes, cleverly designed to mount without touching the panels (thereby eliminating any possible warranty issues), whilst still preventing birds from getting under the panels.

The system combines 33.3cm spike strips with anti-topple stabilisers which are positioned under the solar panels. There is a choice of spike/post heights: 75mm, 100mm, 125mm and 150mm.

Cost

For a standard domestic system (3 to 4kW), the installed cost of solar panel protection is typically in the region of £400-£450+VAT plus access costs. It is obviously less expensive to install protection at the outset (i.e. when installing panels), firstly to save on scaffolding / access costs, and secondly to benefit from the reduced VAT rate pertaining to domestic systems and new builds.