How To Protect Solar Panels From Pigeons And Why You Should

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  • If you want to protect your solar panels against pigeons, you have come to the right place. Having solar panels is one thing, but maintaining them is a whole other step that must also be taken into consideration.

    Solar panels are a great way to reduce the pressure on your energy bills. You can harness the power of the sun to generate electricity to power your home. In fact, in most cases, you can also sell excess electricity back to the grid to earn money. In the long run, you should find that the panels cover their own costs and earn you a profit.

    But it all depends on their effectiveness. Since solar panels need to let in as much sunlight as possible to work, having a clean and clear panel is very important. The mess of the pigeons is therefore a big problem. But this problem goes beyond simple light blocking, as you’ll see below.

    Photo credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Why is it important to protect solar panels against pigeons?

    Pigeons are one of the biggest solar panel problems homeowners face. Here’s why it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

    1. Your panels will generate less energy

    Let’s not beat around the bush – pigeons equal pigeon poo. And the most obvious problem with pigeon poo is that it will prevent the solar panel from getting the sunlight it needs to generate power. Less power means you are literally wasting money. You won’t have as much to sell back to the grid or cover your energy needs in your home.

    In terms of cost, according to Josh of The Eco Expert, “you can lose up to 25% of your electricity to dirty panels”. So if you take the average resale value of £125 per year, you could be losing over £31 to pigeons using your panels as toilets.

    And that’s not the only problem.

    2. Your panels could be permanently damaged

    Pigeon poop is acidic and therefore corrosive. This means that if a pigeon poop is not cleaned directly from your panels, it can bake in the sun. This causes more damage to your panels beyond just light blockage. This can leave your panels discolored and even permanently damaged.

    Then there are under the panels. Pigeons like an open, high space – your roof, with your raised panels for protective cover, is ideal. They love to nest under panels, which is a big problem.

    Nesting pigeons, being travel birds, will keep coming back and can multiply and cause more problems. You might find more pigeons in this new hotspot. They can peck at wiring and electrical under panels. And since their nests are bound with a mixture including feces, this too can corrode electrical equipment and potentially damage your solar panels. Additionally, the food and presence of birds can cause other creatures to settle there such as squirrels, rats, insects and other creatures.

    So with all of this in mind, it is very important to not only get rid of any potential pigeons, but also to make sure they don’t come back.

    Flock of pigeons on the roof of a house with solar panels

    Photo credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

    How to protect solar panels against pigeons, step by step

    There are several ways to ensure your solar panels are pigeon proofed to prevent pests from coming back and potentially damaging your panels and affecting your energy production levels.

    1. Install a solar panel trellis

    One of the most effective ways to protect your solar panels is to use wire mesh. This goes around the outside edge of your panels, dropping below them to the roof tiles and extending above them a few inches. This should be enough to stop any creature from getting under your solar panels to make a new home. This should also mean that access to the top of the panel is much more difficult as well.

    Once pigeons and other critters realize there is nowhere to settle on your roof, they will move on, leaving the space safe and secure. It also means they shouldn’t return, ensuring that the risk of pigeon poo from those flying over is also kept to a minimum.

    2. Install Spikes

    Spikes may seem like a cruel and drastic method, but in reality they are not. Modern options are not sharp, but awkwardly protrude from the roof. It’s just enough to be too uncomfortable for pigeons to land and drag, but not hard enough to cause any real damage. It also means that these can be discreet enough that you don’t notice them too much at ground level, if at all.

    By using spikes, you also keep the bottom of your panel visually accessible so you can perform an annual inspection to ensure the panels are in good working order. These also allow access to the panels themselves with your cleaning device, so keeping them clear should be as easy as without installing them.

    3. Keep a clean area

    It may seem obvious, but pigeons are attracted to food and food waste. This means that if there are potential food sources for them, your house could become an attractive place. Without the food, they won’t come to explore and are less likely to find the signs in the first place.

    Store your trash in solid bins. Make sure your pet’s food and treats haven’t found their way outside and sweep up after all outdoor entertainment. All of this can help keep pests away and protect your solar panels.

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    Image credit: TI Media Ltd

    How to Clean Solar Panels After a Pigeon Infestation

    If pigeons are already attacking your solar panels, or if you’ve had a problem in the past and want to fix it, there are cleaning methods.

    Cleaning your solar panels regularly is important. As Josh of The Eco Experts says, “There are plenty of professionals whose main skill is cleaning solar panels.

    “One of these companies will charge you £100-150 for their services. And when you see the aesthetic and financial benefits it produces, you’ll understand why it’s worth doing.

    Before that, you can try the job yourself by following these steps.

    1. Wet the area

    The first step is to make sure the mess doesn’t become solid and more sticky. This can make it harder to get down and be more damaging, not to mention blocking more light. Reach for your hose – a high pressure hose if you have that option – and aim high to get the water spray on the panel while you stay safely on the ground.

    Use the height of the falling water to add impact so that the water itself can break up the pigeon poo on impact. If you’re lucky, this step might be enough to clear up the offending mess. If not, proceed to step two.

    2. Take a break

    Although the initial water dam may not have dislodged the pigeon poop, it will have had an effect. This will help add moisture to the mess to soften it. So, after this first wetting, take a ten minute break. This will give the water time to work its way through the mess to soften it and loosen it from the panels.

    3. Come back and repeat

    After the ten minutes, come back with the hose and do the same wetting treatment. Use the high drop of water, changing the angle of impact, to work under the poo so it can break loose or break enough to slide off.

    If that doesn’t work, take another ten minute break and start again. If you have access to hot water in your garden hose, it may work even better. And if you somehow have hot soapy water, you can run through this hose, it’s ideal. If none of this works, step four may help.

    4. Be physical

    If pipe-based attempts have failed and you’re still not ready to pay a professional to come up and do the job, there is another option. Get an optical pole with a sponge at the end – which you should have anyway for the annual cleaning of the solar panels. The reason this wasn’t used in the front is that the poo had to be dropped first. Also, the mess will likely damage the sponge so it should be discarded.

    Wet the mess first then, using warm, soapy water on the sponge, work it into the offending area until the mess is gone. Make sure, however, that the sponge is not abrasive to avoid damaging the panels in the process.