So I’m looking at the solar panels on our roof and notice a bunch of twigs, leaves, brush clumped up under the panels. I’ve seen this before in 2013 when we first installed the panels. A squirrels had built a nest under the panels. Not sure how long the squirrels stick around, because it can get quite hot under those panels. Thinking it was a squirrel nest, I got the ladder out and climbed up on the roof to evict the little critters. After clearing the nest I saw this.
Those buggers did some recreational chewing on my wires!!! Back down the ladder to get some electrical tape and zip ties. As I taped up this chewed wire I looked at the next panel and saw some more. I taped that one and found some more.
And then I saw this just laying on the roof.
They had chewed both ends and the wire (and connector) was just laying up there. Well now I know that at least one panel is NOT working so I pull out my phone and fire up the Enphase monitoring app and check the system. Damn!!! four panels are not working. I quit for the day, check my inventory of M4 connectors and wire, and made a plan to fix everything . After 5 hours of up and down the ladder on a Sunday afternoon, removing panels and micro-inverters carrying them down to the ground, splicing on new connectors and wire, and carrying them back up to reinstall, everything is working again. Here’s the extent of squirrel damage and my repairs.
The squirrel seem to enjoy chewing the negative wire more than the positive. Maybe just a coincidence. Since they are chewing only one wire at a time and likely at night, I don’t think they got a shock. Maybe if they had a wet tail and chewed the positive on a sunny day. There was one place where they chewed the trunk line and might have gotten to taste a few electrons.
We’re back to full power and I tried to zip tie the wires closer to the rails/panels to make it harder to chew. The nest is gone and I’ve been checking everyday for any signs of them coming back. One tip that saved some money is that I cut the leads of broken/bad micro-inverters/optimizes when I replace them. That gives me a 3 foot wire with one connector. Add a new M4 to the other side and makes a nice jumper cable for panels with chewed off wires!