Summer sun can help out with electric bills, but residents should be aware of squirrel damage to solar panels that tends to spike in the winter. According to Yaakov Fisgus, local home inspector, who recently encountered a house with such damage that almost led to a home fire, houses have indeed burned to the ground as a result of squirrels nesting beneath them and chewing the wires. “The squirrels are attracted to the heat generated by the panels,” says Chaim Yablonsky of Powerlutions. Even in the winter, there is at least some extra warmth generated by the panels which is enough to attract the creatures. Once there, they just do what squirrels do, gnaw on everything. Fisgus adds, “Panels can even generate some electricity from the light of the moon, so the risk is always there,” and people should be on top of assuring the system is functioning safely.
Tampering with solar panels or altering them in any way voids the warranty. Drilling a hole or some other mechanical modification on your own to enclose the panels could be more trouble than it is worth. However there are industry solutions, such as guards, which a licensed technician can install that will take care of the problem without voiding warranties. “People should understand though, that this may not be included in the original price which their service provider quoted them. They should check with whoever they hire to put their panels in to be sure,” says Pinny Braun, a head of the largest and most active construction trade-related trade group in Lakewood. Solar panels in the northeastern United States produce anywhere from 40%-60% less electricity in the winter than in the summer. However, there is more than enough power to create a danger.
“If one has a lot of squirrels, the best is to trap them and move them far away. Some people bring them to Garden State Parkway rest stops,” Fisgus concludes