Squirrels on the Array

Vic99Vic99 Registered Users Posts: 16
At least one squirrel has built a nest of leaves and sticks under my panels in the space that the racking provides between the roof and the panel underside. I estimate it is partially under each of 4 panels and is 5 ft x 5 ft. The six panels are located on top of a dormer.

One of the installer company reps says he's going to ask around to see if I should be concerned. He says that their standard practice is to pull the wires quite tight to the panels and of course at some point they go into a metal tube.

The nest would not be easy for me to get to.

Fortunately I have microinverters so I can see if a panel is negatively affected. It/They has been there a week and so far no noticeable performance difference.

I live in New England. Should I be concerned about temperature affects, fire, other? Thanks.

Comments

  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array
    Vic99 wrote: »
    At least one squirrel has built a nest of leaves and sticks under my panels in the space that the racking provides between the roof and the panel underside. I estimate it is partially under each of 4 panels and is 5 ft x 5 ft. The six panels are located on top of a dormer.

    One of the installer company reps says he's going to ask around to see if I should be concerned. He says that their standard practice is to pull the wires quite tight to the panels and of course at some point they go into a metal tube.

    The nest would not be easy for me to get to.

    Fortunately I have microinverters so I can see if a panel is negatively affected. It/They has been there a week and so far no noticeable performance difference.

    I live in New England. Should I be concerned about temperature affects, fire, other? Thanks.

    Some wire insulation is mysteriously attractive to squirrels, either from the taste or from the tooth exercise.

    The effect of insulating the bottom of the panels and cutting off air flow may decrease your production slightly but it not the primary concern.
    The panels will not be damaged by the heat, but the microinverters might be a different story if their airflow is cut off. They are not likely to be damaged either, but they may shut down their output if they get too hot.

    IMHO the only fire risk would be from an electrical short if the roof rats expose the wires at a point where they are not protected by a fuse.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,433 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    Try driving the nest out using high pressure water?

    Tony
  • SurfpathSurfpath Solar Expert Posts: 417 ✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    Hi Vic99,
    With more panels on roofs, this seems to be an increasingly frequent issue.

    This CNET article : "In battle with squirrels, solar panels finally claim victory" describes how one person used a high strength screen to stop squirrels damaging his wiring. Funnily enough, it also talks about the benefits, in this instance, of having micro inverters.
    -SP
    Outback Flexpower 1 (FM80, VFX3048E-230v, Mate, FlexNetDC) 2,730watts of "Grid-type" PV, 370 AmpHrs Trojan RE-B's, Honda 2000 watt genny, 100% off grid.
  • mtdocmtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    Attachment not found.

    Yes, I have kids...
  • SolaRevolutionSolaRevolution Solar Expert Posts: 407 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    I recently heard Doug Livingston and Jeff Oldham on the radio during the "Renewable Energy Hour" (every other Monday @ 9:am on KZYX) talking about how dryer sheets like "Bounce" will repell rodents for weeks just from the smell.

    Jeff said that mice and rats won't go anywhere near them. He was talking about driving out nests and keeping them out of wiring enclosures, generators, power rooms, cars, etc. I bet they wouldn't last as long outdoors but there may be something similarly offensive that could be used instead.

    -Alex
  • SkippySkippy Solar Expert Posts: 308 ✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array
    inetdog wrote: »
    Some wire insulation is mysteriously attractive to squirrels, either from the taste or from the tooth exercise.

    IMHO the only fire risk would be from an electrical short if the roof rats expose the wires at a point where they are not protected by a fuse.

    Not to mention that in the warmer weather, that nice big nest will act as kindling for any sparks that may fly. . . I know that if my roof collapses from a over load of snow, the insurance company won't cover it. . . since it is a "preventable incident". . have too wonder about roasted squirrels :p

    I have used moth balls as a deterent, they don't like the smell of those either. .
    2 - 255W + 4 - 285W PV - Tristar 45 MPPT CC / 3 - 110W PV -wired for 36V- 24V Sunsaver MPPT CC / midnite bat. monitor.
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  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    Volkswagen cars (Jetta & Passat)have been found to 'really attract' those varmints, especially into the space where the fresh air enters the A/C system. maybe park a VW close by the array...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
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    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,765 admin
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    My installer makes good money on old varmint infested systems rewiring them.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • solarixsolarix Solar Expert Posts: 713 ✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    Once you get them out, use strips of 1/4" hardware cloth around the perimeter to screen them out. I use the same S.S. wire clips (Wiley or otherwise) to attach the screen to the module frames with baling wire wherever needed to keep it secured.
  • MangasMangas Solar Expert Posts: 547 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    Our rock squirrels get cleaned out every month by our grey foxes and the mice daily by our resident ringtail.

    We ranchers recycle. . .
    Ranch Off Grid System & Custom Home: 2 x pair stacked Schneider XW 5548+ Plus inverters (4), 2 x Schneider MPPT 80-600 Charge Controllers, 2 Xanbus AGS Generator Start and Air Extraction System Controllers, 64 Trojan L16 REB 6v 375 AH Flooded Cel Batteries w/Water Miser Caps, 44 x 185 Sharp Solar Panels, Cummins Onan RS20 KW Propane Water Cooled Genset, ICF Custom House Construction, all appliances, Central A/C, 2 x High Efficiency Variable Speed three ton Central A/C 220v compressors, 2 x Propane furnaces, 2 x Variable Speed Air Handlers, 2 x HD WiFi HVAC Zoned System Controllers
  • peakbaggerpeakbagger Solar Expert Posts: 341 ✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    While hiking in New Zealand a few years back, one of the back country huts was advertising a Kea proof installation. A Kea is a very large alpine parrot that loves to tear things apart with their beaks. The installers ran everything they could in conduit and screened anything they couldnt.

    I like the high pressure water concept although would suggest its best applied at night as there are some pretty high voltages under the panels.
  • GreenPowerManiacGreenPowerManiac Solar Expert Posts: 453 ✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    This is too funny and familiar. A month ago I got pulled over for a headlight and matching tail light out driving home from work. Turns out, $340 later, mice got into my car under the fuse box and collected 2 pounds of dog food and burrowed under my seat to chew a wire to the headlights, shorting them out. Had to rip the seat out of my VW Passat to get to it.

    Squirrels on the other hand get along great with red tailed hawks, which I have plenty here.
    I'd remove the nest ASAP before the wrong wire gets chewed sparking a nasty fire in a dry nest full of leaves and brush. As suggested earlier, a barrier needs to be put in place to keep them out as they are territorial. Either that or go Simmity Sam on it.
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  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    Squirrel sauce piquant. Yum.

    http://www.cajun-recipes.com/html/meat/41255.htm
  • VicVic Solar Expert Posts: 3,087 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    If at all possible you do NOT want any Rodents on your roof.

    All rodents seem to want to eat wiring. And yes, this could easily be a large fire hazard.

    Squirrls do jump from tree branches, but if you can eleminate the route for access to the roof, all the better. And Rats will climb trees, but are not very good jumpers.

    Rat and many squirrl nests look similar, although, am sure that you have seen the pests that are building these nests.

    Anything that you can do to keep these pests off the roof will be the best, if it is possible, IMHO. Good Luck, Vic
    Off Grid - Two systems -- 4 SW+ 5548 Inverters, Surrette 4KS25 1280 AH [email protected], 11.1 KW STC PV, 4X MidNite Classic 150 w/ WBjrs, Beta KID on S-530s, MX-60s, MN Bkrs/Boxes.  25 KVA Polyphase Kubota diesel,  Honda Eu6500isa,  Eu3000is-es, Eu2000,  Eu1000 gensets.  Thanks Wind-Sun for this great Forum.
  • SpiffySolar.comSpiffySolar.com Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    As the industry continues to grow, this is becoming a bigger problem. I wouldn't simply rely on your micro-inverts to tell you if a wiring problem crops up. What if they chew the wires in the middle of your array? You'll have a lot of work to do, even if it is just one panel. When nature calls and they start wanting something to chew, it will happen quickly. If they chew right up to the edge of the connectors, it can be very difficult to repair. Prevention is the best medicine. Get the nests out of there and install some screen. If need be, you can purchase it from www.spiffysolar.com
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array
    AGet the nests out of there and install some screen. If need be, you can purchase it from www.spiffysolar.com

    Interesting product. How does it behave with frozen precipitation on a metal roof where the snow/slush/ice wants to slide down the roof through the screen?

    --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    A new type of snow - stop?
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • CDN_VTCDN_VT Solar Expert Posts: 492 ✭✭✭
    Re: Squirrels on the Array

    Good to see that it is Black, PVC Coated, Galvanized Steel Screen . Im sure some might just use Galvanized Steel Screen against aluminum & cause more of a problem.
    Living in the bush , we have field rats , rabbits ,otters,Raccoon, vole ,deer , mice , elk ,bear & wolf , then the birds , Humming to Grey Heron ,Hawks Eagles ,falcons but the worst are the Ravens.

    Each critter I have had to deal with are intelligent and will test you.
    They like convenience,are learn't / taught / remember by the ease and least resistance for what they came for. Food (1) , Shelter (2) ,Heat (3) .

    Never store dog/bird/cat/chicken food outside for easy stealing , if you must , put the bags of food / meal in a galvanized garbage pail/can with a rubber tie down or great resistance to the critters to open them.
    Washing the nest away , make sure you look to see where the material & food came from . Neighbours who feed there dogs with an open bag of food (in the city ) 10 houses away can have 100's of critters on the owners food tab. Follow the path to see where/who has the feed.

    Around here , you might see the odd deer with paint ball splatters. They get to have a few markings , but all ranch-men around here know the colours.
    I would rather deter any critter (since we live together , in the same forest), but some get shot with 22 bird/rat single for critters.

    If you just wash it away without knowing the bigger picture , there kin will be next at tiring to break something to get in.
    Everything talks to its own species , the kin know your joint with free rent.

    Our bats,chipmunks,squirrel plus many more live in the forest around , the house , shops , buildings & lean-to have been checked every year for nests or any sign of a free loader. Swallows & robins build nests in a day. I have pulled 3 out of my tractor upper console that's an open covered top tractor. For that third time , I have used Mothballs or small balls of chemical pesticide and deodorant .
    Same as my territorial area , I mark it with marker balls ,pee , hair , my dog helps. Outside of that , the critters can roam on the land , they still get the majority area.

    Agreed with all of whats been posted in this thread.
    VT
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