When you have made a significant investment in solar panels, the last thing you need is some unwelcome visitors coming and taking up residence and damaging them or affecting their performance levels. That is why anyone who has solar panels should consider taking preventative action to protect them from pigeons, birds and other animals, and keep the panels in good working order for the long term.
Why pigeon-proof your solar panels?
While it is true that solar panels usually have minimal maintenance requirements, it is still important to ensure that they are kept clear of any issues that can impact on their ability to produce solar power effectively. Dust, dirt, debris, leaves are just some of the issues that can affect the efficiency of solar panels and may mean that you need to have regular maintenance cleaning done, but another often overlooked issue is that caused by bird droppings or birds nesting under your solar panels.
Birds, most often pigeons, are only too keen to nest under solar panels as they provide them with excellent protection from predators and the weather. With solar panels increasingly being adopted by households as they seek to reduce their energy costs and be more environmentally conscious, this has provided more opportunity for birds to make them good comfortable nesting spots!
Pigeons and other birds can cause damage to solar panels. Bird droppings are highly acidic and this can corrode solar panels. The birds can also cause structural damage to solar PV panels and may even loosen wires. Both will impact on the efficiency level of solar panels, and this is why it is important to carry out pigeon-proofing of solar panels to protect them.
Additionally, you’ll often be aware of the presence of pigeons under your solar panels because you will hear them calling and scratching. Aside from the risks of them being there, it can also cause nuisance which may cause you sleepless nights.
How can solar panels be protected from pigeons and other birds?
The proverb ‘prevention is better than the cure’ is never truer than with the pigeon-proofing of solar panels – clearly far better to prevent them from roosting there in the first place. So what are some of the best ways of bird-proofing solar panels?
A highly effective way to protect your solar panels from birds. The steel netting is placed around the perimeter of the solar panels to prevent access to underneath the panels.
A mesh alternative that works in a similar way to netting and prevents bird nesting under the solar panels. It does not interfere with the operation of your solar panels in any way.
Available in most garden centres and DIY stores, these deterrents are fitted to locations on a solar panel where a bird is likely to nest or sit. Anti-roosting spikes are a straightforward and cost-effective method of pigeon-proofing solar panels.
Solar skirts or edging
This is placed around solar panels to hide any gaps and prevent access for birds. They are non-intrusive and very much look part of the solar panels themselves.
It is possible to install some of these measures yourself, but as the task will usually involve working at substantial height, it may be best left to a solar panel-proofing professional. If you want to be certain that your solar panels are properly protected for the long-term, an expert company should provide you with that confidence.
One thing to bear in mind is that all these measures are deterrents and not designed to injure animals, but instead discourage them from landing or nesting in the vicinity of your solar panels.
How can pigeons that have already nested be removed from solar panels?
If you have not taken preventative measures, or they have been ineffective, it is possible that birds may have gained entry under your solar panels. In this instance, it is probably best to contact a pest management company that has the expertise in handling bird removal from solar panels.
A typical bird removal service is likely to include the following:
- Removal of any existing nests
- Removal of any dead birds or other debris
- Cleaning of the solar panels using specially chosen chemical solutions to remove bird droppings and other contaminants
- Installing steel mesh or anti-roosting spikes.
Note that bird’s nests and any eggs are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Only licensed professionals are permitted to move nests, and then under strict conditions. That is why you should look to prevent the birds taking up residence in the first place, as it avoids the type of headache that can result from nesting birds.
You should choose a bird removal service that holds a BPCA badge and is a British Pest Control Association member.
How much does pigeon-proofing solar panels cost?
Pigeon-proofing solar panels does not have one fixed cost as much depends on how accessible your solar panels are. If your solar panels are easily accessible with a ladder then this will reduce the costs compared to solar panels that require scaffolding to access them. Additionally, the number of solar panels and the overall size of your solar array will affect the cost.
If pigeons have already nested under your panels, then your costs will be increased as they will have to be removed first, and any clean up and remedial work will need to be carried out.
At a most basic level, an easy access property could have its solar panels pigeon-proofed for around £300-£400. Cost could be less if the most basic measures such as bird spikes are used. For a more comprehensive service, you should probably expect to pay £750+, especially if pigeons have already caused you issues with your solar panels.
To get a good idea of how much pigeon-proofing might cost, it is often a good idea to send some images of your property and solar array to the service provider to assist them in giving you an accurate quote for protecting your solar panels.
Is pigeon-proofing solar panels worthwhile?
Professionally installed bird-proofing should provide many years of protection for your solar panels and will therefore be a wise investment. As we have seen, the costs increase once you already have birds nesting under your solar panels, so prevention is the wise choice.
If birds are unable to find somewhere to settle, they will move on and settle elsewhere, quite possibly on a nearby property that doesn;t have any pigeon-proofing.
Are there any other steps you can take to prevent pigeons from nesting on solar panels?
Pigeons will settle in areas where they can not only find somewhere to safely nest, but also where there is plentiful supply of food and nesting material. By limiting access to this can encourage them to move elsewhere.
Some of the steps you can take include:
- Avoid leaving material in your garden, such as twigs or leaves, that could be used by birds as nesting material.
- Keep your bins secure to avoid scavenging for food by birds.
- Avoid leaving pet food outside which could attract birds as well as other pests.
- Consider using deterrent devices like imitation birds of prey to scare pigeons away
How important is solar panel maintenance?
Solar panels should last you 20+ years when they have been properly maintained. Staying on top of your maintenance will ensure that critical issues, such as birds, pests, cracks or other damage can be spotted early.
Not only will these keep your solar PV system operating at optimum levels of efficiency, but it will also help you avoid larger costs later on. Regular cleaning as a bare minimum will help make your solar panels less vulnerable to bird nests and droppings.
Solar panel bird-proofing summary
If you’ve invested in solar panels then you will want to get the maximum out of them for the longest possible time. One of the main threats to solar panels is nesting birds that are only too keen to use your investment as their new home.
Pigeons can do a lot of damage to your solar panels if you allow them to take up residence and don’t deal with the problem promptly. Nesting birds with eggs can become more problematic when it comes to removal, and that’s why you need to deal with the problem before it becomes a lot worse.
Months of bird dropping can build up and corrode your panels, leaving you with a bill to foot if you want to return your solar panels to their full functionality.
If you are keen to get your solar panels pigeon-proofed, you are always best speaking to a specialist who can advise you on the best preventative action to take when you want to ensure that your solar panels remain pigeon-free for years to come.