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Why squirrels are nuts about solar panels

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Mark Moran/The Citizens' Voice/AP/File

(Read caption) SUN BITE: A grey squirrel eats a piece of pizza crust in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. It seems the critters have a taste for clean energy as well.

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Christof Demont-Heinrich wrote a recent article on, about his home solar system, and the threat that squirrels pose to unprotected systems.

In 2010 REC Solar installed a 5.59 kilowatt photovoltaic solar array at Christof’s home. He reports that the system has been working great, but complains about the amount of effort it takes for him to keep his solar panels safe from squirrel attack.

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His paranoia began when a neighbour had a similar PV system installed in 2011 (under a lease with Sungevity, whereas Christof bought his panels outright), and he noticed that the installers, Namaste Solar, put in place a squirrel guard (a.k.a chicken wire) around the whole system.

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He then noticed that REC Solar were installing another PV system (on a lease) in Denver in 2012, and unlike his Solar panels, REC were using a squirrel guard. He wonders whether solar companies don’t bother warning customers who buy, about the damage that squirrels may cause to solar arrays, even though they are fully aware of the threat and put up protection when only leasing the panels. (Related article: Solar Power Offers Saudi Arabia a Win-Win Energy Solution

A 2012 article on notes that squirrels love to chew through PV wires, and can build their nests in the space under PV panels, causing huge amounts of damage; and the worst thing is that squirrel damage is not covered by warranties.

Owners of PV systems must be aware that squirrels can cause damage, but prevention is easy; just a piece of chicken wire around the base of the panels blocks the squirrels access and stops them from reaching the precious wires. (Related article: A U.S.-China War over Solar Power)

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