In this article you will learn about solar panel skirts and if they are worth the money.
Solar panels are a pretty much maintenance free way to generate clean electricity for your home. It can take a while to have the initial installation completed. Once this happens and everything is activated you would expect them to work away without any supervision.
The design of solar panel systems brings one very common problem that you might not initially think of… Animals and debris being able to get under the equipment!
If you’re experiencing this then you’ll need to add a solar panel skirt to your array. Often this is not a cheap job costing hundreds of dollars. Of course, this raises the question: is it actually worth it and does it solve the problem?
What is a Solar Skirt?
A solar panel skirt is a cover that runs around the edge of a solar panel to block the gap between the frame and the rooftop.
When a solar panel is mounted to a roof they are slightly raised. This leaves a small gap between the panel and roof which is required for airflow and heat dispersion.
The problem with this is that animals and debris can easily get into this gap and cause problems with your home. Sometimes it is just annoying and other times it’s a real safety issue.
A solar panel skirt blocks off this gap just like the skirting board at the bottom of a wall. There are various styles of solar skirts available including fiberglass and metal sheets or birdproof netting.
Fiberglass or Metal Sheets – These are more expensive but longer-lasting and look nicer. They are stronger and easily keep everything out. The downside is that airflow is reduced so your solar panels might get hotter and slightly drop in voltage. (Usually, the voltage drop is unnoticeable).
Netting – Netting is cheaper but not as durable. It allows air to flow nicely and keeps most birds and animals out. Although, some companies use cheap netting which doesn’t last very long plus it doesn’t look so aesthetically pleasing.
5 Benefits to Solar Panel Skirts
There’s plenty of advantages to installing solar panel skits. Generally, it only adds to the lifespan of your system and helps to reduce the amount of repairs and problems.
Stops Birds Nesting
This is the number 1 reason people install skirting. Solar panels attract birds as they love to nest under them. It is an ideal place as it is warm and protected from the elements. In addition, it is safe for young chicks.
It is very common for solar panels to be infested with pigeons. This causes a number of problems including noise and scratching on the roof, damage to wiring, bird droppings on panels, and general annoyance. In the long run, this will reduce the performance of your system (or mean you need to clean more regularly).
A solar skirt keeps birds from getting under the equipment. Adding to this, you could add bird spikes to further deter them.
Stop Rodents Causing Damage
Other rodents like rats and mice will happily scrabble around under your solar panels. It’s a safe and warm place for rodents to hang out too. It might be a little less obvious than birds pottering around but it can cause even more damage.
Rodents will quickly cause issues as they start to chew through cables and wiring. You might even find squirrels making a home there and causing irreparable damage. For example, if a wire becomes exposed from rodent damage it presents a real fire risk!
Stop Debris like Leaves
It’s not just animals you have to be concerned with, other debris can build up and create problems. In particular, leaves can collect under solar panels if you live in a rural area surrounded by trees and bushes. This could have two potential problems. Firstly, water buildup during wetter months won’t be good for your roof or solar equipment. Secondly, dry debris presents a fire risk during hotter months.
We’ve already hit on some safety improvements from solar panel skirts. Giving your equipment sufficient protection will reduce the risk of fire from exposed wires, short circuits, and debris. In a nightmare scenario, you could have exposed wiring coupled with dry leaves which could quickly ignite.
Reducing damage and wear and tear on your solar array will only increase its lifetime. Remember, solar panels are built to last at least 25 years – in fact, a power output warranty should be this long. Imagine a few years of birds nesting in the system, let alone decades! It’s going to cause an awful lot of mess, noise, and damage. Adding solar panel skirts will help protect your investment over the years.
Installing Solar Panel Skirts
It is best to have a professional do the installation. It’s not the best idea to try and do it yourself with chicken wire. In fact, this will risk damage for your work. A professional will have the right equipment and experience to carry out the job efficiently a safely.
To make the installation they will clamp the skirting around the whole edge of your system with special clamps. Birdproofing is a pretty simple job but can cost a few hundred dollars depending on the size of equipment.
Here’s an example of how the job is completed:
FAQ about Solar Panel Skirting
It is not the best idea to put chicken wire around solar panels. Rodents, pigeons, and debris can still get past this mesh. You should use correct solar skirting which is more durable and suitable for the job.
The best way to stop birds nesting in solar panels is to add a skirt around the edge. This will stop anything getting in to cause mess and damage. You could also add bird spikes and scarers to keep them well away.
Yes, solar panels work best with an air gap. It enables airflow to help dissipate heat. When solar cells get too hot, performance reduces. Adding a solid skirt can eliminate this gap, so hot climates mesh skirts are used.
Yes, rats can nest under solar panels. This is because it is warm and protected from weather and predators. They will get under the gap between the panel and the roof. This leads to unwanted noise and damage to wiring.
Yes, birds like pigeons love solar panels as it is an attractive place to make a nest. Underneath solar panels it is warm and protected from weather. It is common to add bird proofing to stop birds nesting.
Yes, it is common to see solar panels damaged by possums. It is a good place for them to nest as it is warm and protected. Unfortunately, it creates a mess and noise. Plus you risk damage to wiring and fire from debris.
Yes cats can damage solar panels. You might find cats like to walk and lie on the equipment as it is warm. In addition, they might be attracted by rodents nesting underneath. Cats can scratch and damage panels plus leave unwanted mess.
Solar Panel Skirt Summary
As you can see solar panels skirts are a handy addition to your array. It helps to protect your investment keeping everything safe and secure from unwanted visitors.
Bird proofing is usually worth the extra cost in the long run. Nesting under solar panels will always cause noise, mess, and damage, so it’s best to protect against it.
Hi, I’m Michael, the editor here at Watt A Lot.
After years of experience with off-grid power like solar panels, inverters, and batteries I decided I should share my hands-on knowledge with you. In my professional and personal life, I’ve needed to find electrical solutions for remote situations from owning a food truck, to running events at the top of mountains, to my converted campervan. So whether you’re looking for the best products or fixing an electrical problem, you can rest assured my advice comes from real hands-on experience.