Solar panels provide a clean source of free energy derived from the limitless power of the sun. This means that having solar panels installed on your roof is a great investment both for your pocket and for the future of the planet. If you care about the future and want to do your bit for ecology and the environment, this step will have far reaching consequences into the future as well as save you money along the way.
Although solar panels are easy to maintain, one common issue is that your solar panels can attract birds, especially pigeons. We might all love birds but they can become a pest when you have solar panels installed. Pigeons especially are attracted to the framework that supports your solar panels and often see your roof as a desirable place for nesting and for congregating in flocks on your panels. It is an ideal environment for them but is certainly not ideal for the homeowner.
Why solar panels need bird proofing
Pigeons always live in large noisy flocks so if one pair moves in and nests it will attract many others in the neighbourhood and cause a real problem. Names for a collective group of pigeons include a band but they are often referred to as a plague!
If left unchecked a plague of pigeons can cause the following problems;
- Their droppings can build up on the solar panels interfering with the efficiency of your electricity supply.
- Their droppings will build up on your roof, getting into your gutters and causing a health risk.
- Pigeon guano is extremely acidic and can cause damage to the solar panels and roof tiles.
- Discarded nests and droppings will block your guttering
- Bacteria and mites will flourish and can enter your home
- Pigeons will enter your home too if there is access through open windows
- Pigeons are noisy and will disturb your peace
Protecting your solar panels from an infestation of birds is not cruel. The RSPB recommend that solar panels are a good way to help the natural environment especially in domestic situations and ideally we should all be using solar powered energy for our electricity supply. The good news is that there are a variety of ways to bird proof your roof without any detriment to your local bird population.
How to bird proof your roof and solar panels yourself
The best way to keep your roof and solar panels bird free is to prevent them from gaining access to the area in the first place. Birds are attracted to the area beneath the panels so blocking this space off or making it less desirable will cause them to move on and search for other places to nest.
You can try installing reflective surfaces or models of fake predators such as owls to deter them. Many of these look surprisingly realistic with moving heads and light up eyes and in some cases this will be enough to put them off Fitting reflective surfaces can also be effective.
You can also fix spikes over the roof surface and beneath the panels so that the birds cannot find the space to build a nest or roost.
However the best option is to fit wire mesh to the solar panels that blocks the gap beneath the panels. Ideally this should be carried out as soon as possible once the solar panels are fitted. This is not an easy job to carry out by the individual because you do need to gain access to the roof and just as importantly you do not want to damage the solar panels in any way or it will invalidate any warranty.
Solar panel bird proofing
Calling in a professional service to do this for you is always the best option. A professional service has all the right safety equipment for working at height and will be able to carry out this work safely and efficiently without the need for you to rent expensive scaffolding.
Working at height is never recommended for the DIY enthusiast because although you may be competent at ground level, the likelihood of suffering a falling accident is a very strong possibility.
In addition a professional service will be able to protect your solar panels without risking any damage. Many use a clip on system that fixes stainless steel wire mesh to the panels, making it impossible for the birds to gain access and without causing any risk to the structure of the panels.
It is crucially important to only use a recommended contractor so that there is no risk of causing damage to the panels. In addition it is important that the work comes with a guarantee to ensure that this is a long term solution that you won’t have to repeat in the future.
Preparing the roof
If you have had birds on the roof already, the first step will be to clean up after them, thoroughly, removing old nests and destroying bacteria, droppings and mites.
Your roofing professional will first clear away any bird debris from the roof and the guttering and spray with a biocide treatment to ensure that the area is clean.
Nobody wants to disturb wildlife andthere are regulations on disturbing nesting birds. Any nests with eggs or young will have to be left until the nests are vacated because they are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They can be moved to an alternative location under certain circumstances; for example if your contractor is a member of the British Pest Control Association. To find out, check if the service has a BPCA logo.
The RSPB recommend that the installation of solar panels should be carried out outside the breeding season if possible in order to minimise disturbance. But in truth most birds are not a real problem to your solar panels if they just land on your roof from time to time.
The problem arises when a plague of pigeons decide to use your roof and solar panels for nesting and roosting. When this happens you do need to act fast because this will cause damage to your panels, your health, your guttering and your home!