While real-world numbers may differ, it’s clear birds take a heavy toll on solar efficiency.
This is where protecting your solar investment from birds comes into mind.
Bird proofing solar panels isn’t just a matter of keeping our feathered friends at bay; it’s about ensuring the efficiency and longevity of your solar energy system.
Like any other efficiency-conscious solar owner, I wanted the best of all worlds: effective bird deterrence, optimal solar power generation, and peace of mind, knowing my investment was well-protected.
That’s why I embarked on a journey to discover the most comprehensive solutions for bird-proofing solar panels.
In this guide, I’ll share with you everything I’ve learned about bird proofing solar panels, including:
- Methods protecting your solar panels against birds,
- Potential pitfalls to avoid and
- How to implement these strategies effectively for your solar energy setup
- Bird Activities on Solar Panels
- 5 reasons birds are attracted to solar panels
- Most Common Birds To Solar Proof From
- Why Bird Proofing is Critical for Solar Panels
- Top 5 Methods to Bird Proof Your Solar Panels
- How to Properly Install Bird Deterrents on Solar Panels
- DIY vs. Professional Bird Proofing for Solar Panels
- FAQs About Bird Proofing Solar Panels
- Bird Proofing Solar Panels: Final Thoughts
Bird Activities on Solar Panels
The Argonne National Laboratory has identified 5 main ways birds interact with your solar panels.
And these activities can potentially affect your PV system’s performance, so the importance of bird proofing solar panels.
These activities include:
Perching on panels
Birds sitting on solar panels can block sunlight absorption with their bodies, and their weight can damage equipment or connections.
Droppings also reduce light capture and require cleaning.
Flying between panels
Birds flying through the open spaces between panel rows cast moving shadows, reducing light absorption across large solar array sections.
Flying over panels
Birds circling above solar arrays create similar transient shadows that disrupt sunlight capture for the installation below.
Landing on the ground
This is the most disruptive activity.
Bird droppings that accumulate under and around the perimeter of panels can lead to soiling of the glass surfaces, blocking sunlight from reaching the solar cells.
Colliding with panels
Bird collisions during flight can crack panel glass covers, ding aluminum frames, and scratch/dirty panel surfaces – all of which degrade performance.
This mostly happens when birds mistake solar panels for water bodies and try to dive in, which hurts the birds, too.
5 reasons birds are attracted to solar panels
Solar panels’ shade, shelter, safety, supplies, and space entice birds to roost and nest.
Shade from the Sun
Birds like pigeons and seagulls want to stay cool!
The solar panels create nice, shady spots for them to hang out under on hot, sunny days.
It’s like having a sun umbrella over their heads.
Protection from Rain
When it’s raining cats and dogs outside, solar panels give birds a place to stay dry.
The rain just slides right off the smooth panels above them. It’s like having a raincoat over their heads!
Hiding from predators such as hawks!
Predators like hawks are always looking for yummy birds to eat.
But it’s hard for hawks to spot birds hiding under solar panels.
The panels help keep little birdies safe from getting gobbled up!
Materials for Nests
Birds like collecting bits of straw, feathers, and twigs to build cozy nests.
Solar panels can trap lots of perfect nesting materials that birds can grab.
It’s like a craft store just for them!
And I noticed that no matter how often you chase those pigeons nesting under your panel away, they will always return. They are that stubborn.
No Competition for Space
Normally, birds have to compete for the best nesting spots on rooftops.
But solar panels give each bird enough room to claim their own space.
No arguing about who was there first!
Some birds come to eat insects that are attracted to the open, sunny space that solar panels provide. While these birds realize there is more food near the solar panels, they tend to frequent your solar panels.
Solar panels can create an ideal habitat for birds seeking shade, shelter, safety, supplies, and personal space.
And the resulting nests and droppings can cause issues.
Professional bird proofing solar panels help balance the needs of both birds and solar panels.
Most Common Birds To Solar Proof From
Which birds will you mostly see on your solar panels? Well, this depends on your location.
For example, pigeons and house sparrows are more likely to be found on solar panels than hawks and owls in urban areas.
My worst nightmares are of pigeons and sparrows. For you, it may be turkey vultures, crows, or sparrows.
My worst nightmares are pigeons and sparrows.
For you, it may be turkey vultures, crows, or Chickadees.
So, let’s summarize the bird species people complain most about when it comes to birds on solar panels:
- Pigeons: Pigeons are attracted to solar panels because they provide a safe and sheltered place to roost. Pigeons can also damage solar panels by nesting under them and leaving droppings.
- Swallows: Swallows and swifts are attracted to solar panels because they use them as perch to catch insects. Swallows and swifts may also build their nests under solar panels.
- Chickadees: Chickadees are often found on solar panels because they are attracted to the seeds that accumulate on the panels. Chickadees may also use solar panels as a perch to sing or to survey their surroundings.
- Nuthatches: Nuthatches are attracted to solar panels because they use them as a perch to search for insects. Nuthatches may also use solar panels as a place to store food.
- Wrens: Wrens are attracted to solar panels because they use them as a perch to sing or to build their nests. Wren nests are often made from grass and other materials found on the ground.
- Sparrows: Sparrows are attracted to solar panels because they use them as a perch to search for food. Sparrows may also use solar panels as a nesting site.
- Finches: Finches are attracted to solar panels because they use them as a perch to sing or to search for seeds. Finches may also use solar panels as a nesting site.
- Hawks: Hawks and other raptors may be found on solar panels because they use them as perch to survey their surroundings for prey. Hawks and other raptors may also use solar panels as a place to rest.
Why Bird Proofing is Critical for Solar Panels
Now, I’m sure you’ve gotten the message I am trying to pass across:
That solar panels and birds don’t mix well.
Bird droppings and nesting materials can damage equipment, reduce efficiency, and cause fires.
Let’s explain why keeping birds off panels is so essential.
Bird droppings damage solar panels.
Acidic bird poop can eat away at metals, like the aluminum frames of solar panels. This can lead to corrosion and decreased efficiency.
The white component of bird poop is a thick white paste of uric acid with very little water content — with a typical pH between 3 and 4.5, which is considered quite acidic.
Bird droppings also block sunlight, preventing solar panels from generating electricity. Imagine a flock of seagulls pooping on your solar panels in Florida! That could really add up to lost energy savings.
You can clean your solar panels regularly or install bird deterrents to protect them from bird-dropping damage.
Bird nests can cause fires.
Twigs, feathers, and nesting materials piled on electrical equipment are a recipe for disaster.
Overheated wires under debris could ignite a fire that destroys the solar array.
These measures of bird proofing solar panels can help to protect solar panel owners from costly repairs and reduce the risk of fires.
Repairing bird damage is expensive.
Imagine a flock of pigeons roosting on your roof, leaving behind droppings that corrode your panels and obstruct sunlight. Or picture a woodpecker pecking at your wiring, causing shorts and outages.
Repairing this damage can cost you thousands of dollars, depending on the severity. For example, replacing a single panel could cost upwards of $1,000.
Consider bird proofing solar panels with netting or spikes to avoid these costly repairs. This relatively inexpensive investment can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Reduced solar panel efficiency
Do you know what’s a real buzzkill for your solar panels? Those friendly neighborhood birds!
They might seem harmless, but their droppings, scratches, pecking, and even nest-building on your panels and cables can seriously mess with your solar panel efficiency.
In fact, if birds decide to make your solar array their home, you could see a whopping 40% or more reduction in your solar panel output.
So, let’s talk about how to keep those feathered friends at bay and keep your solar energy flowing smoothly.
Birds die from hitting solar panels
Birds don’t see solar panels and fly right into them. These collisions can be fatal for the birds.
Some endangered species have been killed this way. It’s a shame when green energy harms wildlife.
Bird noises disrupt neighbors.
Some bird species flock to solar sites and chatter loudly all day long.
This irritates neighbors and disrupts the peaceful environment.
Their constant squeaking and chirping are not very pleasant!
Bird droppings can cause contamination.
Bird droppings landing on solar equipment contain bacteria that can contaminate water runoff.
This wastewater from panel cleaning could spread disease to wildlife and people if it’s not properly treated.
Top 5 Methods to Bird Proof Your Solar Panels
Now that you’ve read this far —or you used the TOC to jump to this section — let’s discuss the 5 methods of bird proofing solar panels.
I use method numbers one and five. They work well for my solar power system.
1. Physical Barriers
Physical barriers are one of the most effective ways of bird proofing solar panels.
They create a physical obstacle that birds cannot easily overcome.
Three main types of physical barriers can be used:
- Screens: Screens are made of a lightweight mesh material that is difficult for birds to penetrate. They can be attached to the underside of solar panels to prevent birds from nesting or roosting.
- Netting: Netting is more durable than screens and can cover entire solar panel arrays. Choosing netting that is strong enough to withstand the weight of birds and wind is essential.
- Wire grids: Wire grids are a more permanent solution for bird proofing solar panels. They are made of sturdy wire mesh attached to the roof or mounting system.
2. Chemical Bird Repellents
Chemical bird repellents are another option for bird proofing solar panels.
These products use various ingredients to deter birds, such as capsaicin, anthraquinone, and methyl anthranilate.
Chemical repellents can be applied directly to solar panels or the surrounding area.
It is important to note that chemical bird repellents can harm birds if ingested or come into contact with their skin.
Following the product label’s directions carefully and applying the repellent safely is essential.
I don’t recommend this method of bird proofing solar panels, as it may harm them or other creatures too.
3. Audio Deterrents
Audio deterrents use sound to scare birds away from solar panels.
These devices typically emit predator bird sounds, such as the calls of hawks or owls.
Audio deterrents can be effective in deterring birds, but they may not be suitable for all locations.
For example, audio deterrents may not be effective in windy areas or areas with a lot of background noise.
I recommend using audio deterrents alongside other methods of bird-proofing solar panels.
4. Visual Repellents
Visual deterrents use sight to scare birds away from solar panels.
These devices typically include fake owls, flashing lights, or reflective tape.
No sane bird, unless those that prey on owls, will want to go near an owl. I also don’t like them.
Visual deterrents can deter birds but may not be as effective as physical barriers or chemical repellents.
Pigeons can be very stubborn and almost difficult to deter. Also, crows are not only really smart to see through the fake owl prank, but they are also stubborn birds.
I recommend using visual repellents alongside other methods of bird-proofing solar panels.
5. Habitat Modification
Habitat modification is a long-term approach to bird proofing solar panels.
It involves removing or reducing the availability of nesting and roosting sites for birds around the solar panels.
This can be done by pruning trees and shrubs, removing bird feeders, and sealing up any cracks or holes in buildings that birds could use to enter.
Which Method is Best?
The best method for bird proofing solar panels will depend on several factors, including the type of solar panel system, the location of the system, and the types of birds that are a problem.
Physical barriers are generally the most effective method for bird proofing solar panels – thus the reason I prefer them.
However, they can be expensive and time-consuming to install.
Chemical repellents can be a good option for deterring birds from solar panels, but they must be applied regularly and can harm birds.
Audio and visual deterrents can sometimes be effective but may not be as effective as physical barriers or chemical repellents.
Habitat modification is a long-term approach that can effectively reduce the number of birds attracted to solar panels.
How to Properly Install Bird Deterrents on Solar Panels
Bird proofing solar panels can help prevent damage and optimize energy production.
But it’s essential to do it properly without shading the panels or negatively impacting sunlight exposure.
When choosing deterrents, consider the species of birds in your area and their likely perching spots on the panels.
For example, larger birds like crows may require different deterrents than smaller songbirds. Tailoring the solution to the specific issue will increase effectiveness.
There are a few installation tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t cover solar cells or cast shadows. Carefully situate deterrents between panels or on frames. This maintains maximum sunlight exposure.
- Use professionally designed and tested products. When properly installed, things like bird spikes and netting are less likely to cause issues.
- Follow all manufacturer instructions closely during installation. Using the proper hardware and technique ensures deterrents stay securely in place.
- Inspect and maintain deterrents regularly. Things may loosen over time or require replacement as materials degrade. Quickly fixing any issues preserves effectiveness.
- Consider hiring a solar professional. Those experienced with bird deterrents can provide recommendations and high-quality installation for your unique needs.
With an appropriately tailored solution and careful installation focused on optimization, bird deterrents can successfully keep panels damage-free.
DIY vs. Professional Bird Proofing for Solar Panels
Regarding bird proofing solar panels, you have two main options: DIY or hiring professionals.
Each has pros and cons to consider.
DIY Bird Proofing
Doing it yourself can save on labor costs.
With some basic hardware and bird deterrent products, you may be able to install effective protection.
However, a lack of experience increases the risk of improperly installing deterrents.
DIY takes more time and effort as well. Expect to invest $50-200 on supplies.
Professional Bird Proofing
Hiring solar pros ensures proper bird-proofing installation and maximum effectiveness.
Their expertise tailors the solution specifically for your needs. You also gain peace of mind knowing the job is done right.
However, professional bird-proofing solar panels cost $300-1,000, depending on the system size and complexity.
When to DIY vs. Go Pro
Opting for a DIY approach to bird-proofing for smaller solar panel systems can be effective if you meticulously follow the instructions.
However, investing in professionals is advisable for larger or more complex setups or if you lack experience in solar panel installation. Their expertise enhances the effectiveness of bird deterrents and optimizes energy production.
Ultimately, weighing the time and costs involved against your confidence in successfully bird-proofing solar panels on your own is essential.
Personally, I enjoy handling such tasks, especially when my wife is around. However, when faced with more intricate projects, I prefer to seek the expertise of a professional—though I may not always admit it to my wife.
While professionals often deliver the best results, DIY methods can be suitable for simpler needs if executed with care.
FAQs About Bird Proofing Solar Panels
Are solar panels worth it for bird proofing?
Yes, properly installed bird deterrents protect solar panel investments against damaging pecks, scratches, and nesting materials. Avoiding repairs and optimizing sunlight can yield savings that outweigh deterrent costs.
How do you birdproof a solar panel?
Use professionally designed products like bird spikes, netting, or wire grids. Tailor the solution to likely perching spots. Carefully install between panels without shading. Follow all instructions for maximum effectiveness and durability.
What is the best bird protection for solar panels?
The optimal solution depends on your climate, bird species, and panel setup. Consult solar experts to identify the best bird-proofing method for your unique needs. Proper installation is key.
How much does it cost to birdproof solar panels?
DIY can cost $50-200 but risks mistakes. Hiring a pro typically ranges from $300-1,000, depending on system size. Long-term energy savings usually outweigh deterrent costs.
How often does it need maintenance?
Inspect birdproofing monthly and fix any issues immediately. Replace degraded materials as needed, like brittle plastic spikes. Proactive maintenance preserves effectiveness.
Bird Proofing Solar Panels: Final Thoughts
Bird droppings and nests can reduce solar panel efficiency by up to 40%.
Protecting your investment in clean energy is critical. Installing professional bird-proofing solutions like netting, gels, and perimeter barriers will help maintain peak performance.
Don’t let bird damage hamper your panels. Call your solar provider today to discuss the best bird deterrent options for your system and location.
Safeguard your solar investment while also being humane to our feathered friends.
Tips for Bird Proofing Solar Panels
- Choose the right method for your solar panel system and location.
- Apply the method consistently.
- Inspect your solar panels regularly for signs of bird activity.
- If you use chemical repellents, follow the directions on the product label carefully.
- If you are using habitat modification, be patient and persistent.
By following these tips, you can help to keep your solar panels free of birds and maximize their efficiency.
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- Shaik, S., Vigneshwaran, P., Roy, A., Kontoleon, K. J., Mazzeo, D., Cuce, E., … & Ağbulut, Ü. (2023). Experimental analysis on the impacts of soil deposition and bird droppings on the thermal performance of photovoltaic panels. Case Studies in Thermal Engineering, 48, 103128. ↩︎
- Mustafa, R. J., Gomaa, M. R., Al-Dhaifallah, M., & Rezk, H. (2020). Environmental impacts on the performance of solar photovoltaic systems. Sustainability, 12(2), 608. ↩︎