Solar panel theft is on the rise. As solar panel costs continue to fall, the price of re-installation falls faster than installation costs, solar is becoming more and more popular with homeowners – but it’s also beginning to attract an unscrupulous element.
The motives for stealing the panels can be diverse – from a crime of opportunity where the thieves are simply opportunistically trying to steal something, such as with the recent spate of panel thefts where criminals have literally broken into homes through open windows to take them.
Solar panels are very expensive and we need to make sure that as owners we secure them properly, because of the high resale value, solar panels are being stolen and resold every day so let’s take a look at some ways to prevent that from happening.
11 Ways To Prevent Solar Panel Theft
- Place sensor lights on your rooftop.
- Replace all screws with security fastener screws.
- Caging your solar panels in a welded steel frame.
- Securing the panel down with cables and padlocks.
- Make sure there’s no easy access to the panels.
- Install cameras to monitor the panels.
- Permanently mark your panels. (engrave)
- Pay a security company to protect your property.
- Use window or door sensors.
- Add your solar panels to your insurance cover.
- Hide a tracking device on your solar panels.
Placing Sensor Lights On The Rooftop
Sensor lights are a very effective way to detect and scare off burglars as it puts them in an instant spotlight as they pass in front of it, so why not place them on the roof of your house to safeguard your solar panels?
It’s perfect, as no burglar would expect you to have any sensors whatsoever on the roof and they will be caught completely off guard with no idea of what is to come.
When it comes to bigger facilities such as solar farms, using sensor lights will also be beneficial. The only thing, in this case, that I would definitely recommend is that you place it as high as possible.
This way you should be able to cover a larger area of our property and keep them out of reach from being seen or damaged before they get to do their job.
Keep in mind that if you’re covering larger areas, you’ll need stronger sensors in order to do their job effectively.
Replacing All Screws With Security Fastener Screws
Security fastener screws are uniquely designed to only work with one special type of key/bit, these screws replace all original screws.
Once these screws are in place, a burglar without the special tool is literally screwed. They come in all kinds of different designs, so you could even do a mix of different screws to really confuse the thief.
Just make sure to keep your special key/bit in a place where you can find them.
There are a few I found on Amazon that look great and will be able to do the job perfectly.
(Make sure to keep the original screws for warranty purposes)
Caging Your Solar Panels In A Welded Steel Frame
This is one of the most secure ways of protecting your solar panels as nobody without noisy power tools will be able to steal them.
If you don’t have any experience working with steel(welding, grinding, etc) you could always pay for someone to come over and get the job for you.
The idea of the metal frame is to cage the solar panel around the sides just enough so that it can’t be removed. You then attach the frame to a bracket on the roof to secure it.
Securing The Panel Down With Cables And Padlocks
You can use cables and padlocks to secure the panels to the mounting bracket. Holes can be drilled into specific parts of the frame to put the cables through.
After running the cable through the solar panel frame and mounting bracket you must lock it with a strong padlock.
Unless the thief has a really big bolt cutter with them on your roof they will have a very hard time trying to steal your solar panels.
Make Sure There’s No Easy Access To The Panels
Besides making sure that there aren’t any ladders in the yard. Try to make sure there aren’t any trees or other things that burglars might climb on to access your roof.
If you have walls next to your house close enough for people to step on and get to your rooftop, install spikes on those walls to deter thieves.
Install Cameras To Monitor The Panels
If you install a camera facing your solar panels, you can receive alerts on your phone whenever there is any activity around them.
Permanently Mark Your Panels (Engrave)
Engrave your solar panels on the frame with your address and the words “NOT FOR SALE” as this will cause problems for the thief for it.
It may even deter some thieves when they think about the hassle they’ll have selling it.
For the most part, marking your solar panels will help you in retrieving them later if they are stolen. It makes it easier for the police to track the panels down and identify them as yours.
Sometimes this can affect your warranty so proceed at your own discretion.
Pay A Security Company To Protect Your Property
Private security companies help a lot in reducing theft of your property.
These security companies have guards that patrol the neighborhoods looking for suspicious activity. They pay special attention to the houses that pay the company for their services.
If you see anything suspicious on your camera, you can request for the security company to go and investigate.
Use Window Or Door Sensors
If you have a home alarm system, you can use an extra window or door sensor for your solar panel. If you don’t have an extra sensor you can easily buy one to add to your system.
Place one half of the sensor on the panel and one half on the roof bracket so that if the panel is removed the sensor will lose the connection with the other half on the roof bracket and sound of your alarm.
Hide A Tracking Device On Your Solar Panels
The reason why a tracking device makes it onto the list is that it’s very useful for retrieving your stolen solar panels if they are stolen.
This can prevent thieves from stealing your panels because you might be able to track them down with the police’s assistance before they’re able to get away.
You’ll need a waterproof, battery-operated tracker like this one on Amazon as it will be out in the weather 24/7.
If you want to, you can superglue this tracker to your panel but make sure not to superglue the access to the battery as you’ll need to replace the battery from time to time. (approximately 6-months of battery life)
Add Your Solar Panels To Your Insurance Cover
This suggestion is last on the list only because it doesn’t prevent the theft of your solar panel.
However, you’ll be glad you had insurance if burglars do manage to escape with your panels and you could also ask about other covers like for storm and accidental damage.
Conclusion: Preventing Solar Panel Theft
Solar panel theft is a huge problem. Because of the allure that these panels carry, they are one of the most commonly stolen items. This theft results in damage to property and a huge financial loss to both the homeowner and the government.
To try and combat this problem, many states have passed legislation that requires homeowners to take precautions against solar panel theft. By placing additional measures on your home, you can keep your panels safe from theft.
Without any doubt, physically securing the solar panel to your roof in a cage with special security screws is the best way of securing the panels. However, having a camera on them constantly alerting you if there’s any motion around them will also go a long way.
Marking the panels by engraving your address on them will deter thieves slightly but improve your chance of getting them back if they are stolen. Make sure to also take photos of the serial number and keep any proof of purchase as well.
If you decide to pay a security company to monitor your property, make sure to tell them that they must alert you if anyone is on your roof busy with the solar panels.
Using your home alarm system, the window sensors on your solar panel will set off the alarm system and cause the security company to come out and check the situation.
Just like when securing anything, there’s no guarantee that robbers won’t still get away with your property and that’s when the GPS tracking device can really help in getting your asset back.