For most people, pigeons are probably among their least favorite aviary creatures. Sadly, there is little affection or appreciation for these impressively adaptable creatures. For homeowners with rooftop solar panels, however, concerns for pigeon infestation ascend to a whole new level. Let's take a close look at why, and how to evaluate the risks for both new and existing solar energy systems.
While pigeon infestations are not always assured, solar panels provide inviting shade from the sun’s intense rays, security from predators, and an easy vantage point for entry and exiting a secure and comfy perch. In short, pigeons like solar panels, and when an infestation happens, it's both damaging and challenging to remedy.
This biggest concern when it comes to pigeons is debris. Having your solar panels covered in pigeon poop can quickly impact system production. Even worse is what you can’t see. Since pigeons typically nest underneath panels, they bring with them a collection of dry, combustible material. As this material builds up, it can trap heat, reducing your system’s efficiency and even creating a fire hazard in extreme cases. In addition, the presence of large amounts of debris will prevent proper water-shedding, which can damage underlayment, resulting in leaks and premature wear of roofing materials.
Do You Have a Pigeon Problem?
Pigeons may appear somewhat random. It’s not uncommon for them to arbitrarily pick a particular roof to nest on while ignoring a nearly identical roof next door. And since pigeons are creatures of habit and homing, once they find a location they like, and particularly if they are allowed to build a nest, there is an excellent chance that they will return to the area and spread out.
When thinking about whether you should add pigeon proofing to your solar array, take a look around. If you see pigeons nesting nearby, it’s probably a wise choice to add bird proofing and avoid the potential altogether. If skies, rooftops, and trees are mostly clear, chances are much better that you will avoid the problem.
If you already have solar, keep a sharp eye for signs of pigeons congregating or nesting. If you spot a problem or hear their unmistakable cooing, take action promptly before the birds begin to develop a homing instinct. It should go without saying that this is a job for a professional. Not only is it dangerous, but if not executed correctly, pigeon removal can easily leave openings that will permit the birds to re-establish nests that will certainly cause damage over time. So, leave the ladder in your garage, and find a pigeon control specialist in your area who specializes in solar-equipped roofs. A reputable solar installer can help with a referral or two. Once the pigeons are gone, invest in a bird-blocking solution.
Different Pigeon-Proofing Options for Your Solar Array
Depending on your system and your circumstances, there are several different methods for keeping pigeons away. The most common is a “skirt” or barrier surrounding the base of your panels. These barriers can be anything from simple mesh to a purpose-designed plastic or metal shield. Depending on the size and shape of your solar array, and your aesthetic tastes, options will vary in both price and complexity. See the image below for an example. These barriers are also sometimes accompanied by a number of “spiked” arrays, strategically placed nearby to deter birds from roosting on choice locations within the direct vicinity of your solar array.
Don’t bother with fake plastic owls or other predatory "scarecrows." While these methods may be effective for a short while, pigeons are fast learners, and once they figure it out, your decoy owl will become little more than a creepy roof ornament.
Other pigeon control solutions, including cruelty-free trap and release cages, can effectively remove mating birds before they nest. And new devices have recently begun to appear on the market that emits a hypersonic tone meant to deter pigeons. Manufacturers of these devices state that they don’t impact dogs, cats, or other critters, though the technology is still relatively new.
Pigeon Proof Your Solar Array Now
If you see evidence that pigeons are beginning to take up residence under or near your solar panels, act now before they settle in. Once pigeons start to call your rooftop home, they will keep returning until you deploy a permanent deterrent.
Your solar panels are a major investment, and your system is designed to deliver many years of service. Whether we’re just installing your system, or it’s been in service for years, contact us if you’re concerned about pigeon control, and we’ll gladly make a referral to a reputable team.