Last updated on November 4th, 2019
Bifacial solar panels are all the rage. Our overview and guide will highlight all the key aspects of this new type of solar panel.
A Complete Overview of Bifacial Solar Panels: What You Should Know
From HEP dams to windmills, there are many alternative methods or renewable sources available for power production today. One of these ways is using bifacial solar panels to produce solar energy.
Solar energy is a comparatively cheaper and more effective way to generate power.
Bifacial solar panels are becoming increasingly popular for their added benefits.
Have questions about installing or buying solar panels? Download our FREE printable PDF file that highlights the most important questions to ask about solar energy.
This free guide highlights the following:
- Questions to ask a solar panel salesman
- Items to consider when buying a home with solar installed
- Questions to ask a solar panel installer
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Read on to find out everything about bifacial solar panels.
How Solar Energy Works
Before we move on, let’s talk about how solar energy is generated using solar panels. Simply put, solar panels contain photovoltaic cells (cells that convert light energy into electricity.)
Two layers of silicon make up these PV cells. Also, the silicon is either monocrystalline or polycrystalline, depending on the type of solar panel.
Next, a metal connects these PV cells to hold them together. This metal structure is then framed and is called a PV module. After this, many such modules connect to make a PV array.
It is then either mounted up or installed on rooftops for optimum energy production.
So how does a PV array generate power? When sunlight strikes, the light energy (containing photons) hits the PV cells. In effect, this makes electrons in the silicon-free enough to move around.
Hence, they become attracted to the positively charged side of the silicon.
So, this produces a current. After transporting this current into wires, an inverter turns it into AC. Now, the current is in the form where it is useful in households.
These are some of the best inverters for solar.
This is how all the solar panels operate and create solar energy. Another form of a solar panel is a bifacial solar panel. We discuss in the following sections.
What are Bifacial Solar Panels?
Bifacial solar panels are almost the same as normal ones, except for a few but significant structural differences that make them unique and beneficial at the same time.
As you already know, sunlight strikes only one side of traditional solar panels. This is because a black or opaque sheet covers their backsides. Hence, they produce power using only the front side. This is where bifacial solar panels differ.
Bifacial solar panels have their backs covered with either a transparent sheet or a have a double glass panel. This makes reflection possible, hence, there is energy production from both sides, increasing the total power output.
Moreover, bifacial solar arrays don’t contain the metal which holds PV cells together. Instead, glass connects it all. Also, they don’t need frames to hold the structure.
All of this adds to the efficiency of bifacial solar panels. You can simply call bifacial solar panels as a more efficient variant of mainstream solar panels.
How Do Bifacial Solar Panels Work
Here is the question, how does this help generate more power? The answer is simple physics! The structure of these solar panels makes it possible for energy production from both sides instead of one. Let’s find out more about the structure of these solar panels to understand how they operate.
Since traditional solar panels have opaque or black back sheets, the light energy that enters through them is reflected away and go to waste.
Hence, power production only happens on one side of these solar panels. This is why they’re also called monofacial solar panels.
On the other hand, bifacial solar panels feature a transparent back sheet. Also, they have solar cells on the back too. So when light enters the PV cells from the front, the action between the photons and electrons generates a current.
But what happens to the light when it leaves the PV cells from the front?
Since transparent material covers the backside of these solar panels, light can pass through easily.
After this light hits the ground, it reflects the solar panel through the process of internal reflection.
The PV cells at the back make sure that the light that is reflected is absorbed and used again for producing energy.
However, this is more beneficial in reflective areas like snow or other white or highly reflective surfaces.
What Makes Bifacial Solar Panels so Efficient?
Bifacial solar panels are not only efficient because of their ability to make use of reflective light, but many other reasons also increase their effectiveness.
Some companies claim that up to thirty percent of increased efficiency is achievable.
Bifacial Solar Panels for Purchase
For example, a portable 100W Flexible Bifacial Solar Panel by Winnewsun offers up to 22% of increased efficiency.
- Bifacial Solar Panel: both sides of the bifacial solar module can generate power, this is a unique technology in solar industry
- Lightweight and Portable: The total weight for this bifacial flexible solar panel is only 4lbs, suitable for outdoor activity
- High Efficient: This kind of new solar panel uses the cells with efficiency up to 22%
- Stable Power Performance: The power loss is less than 3% in 10 years, far better than conventional solar panels' average of 10%.it is sensitive to dim light in cloudy or rainy days, so the overall power generated is better than competitors'.
- Good Bendability: because of special structure of original bifacial solar cell, this kind of cell is best suitable for the bifacial flexible solar panel.
Factors that Contribute to Bifacial Solar Production
Here are some of the primary factors:
- First off, as we mentioned earlier, bifacial solar panels can use reflected light to generate electricity, unlike monofacial solar cells that allowed this light to go to waste. Snow, white tiles, or even dirt and grass can absorb this reflected light. Thus, you can increase efficiency by up to twenty-five or thirty percent.
- Secondly, bifacial solar panels don’t need any metal to connect the PV cells together. They also don’t require frames to hold the array, though framed panels are also available in the market. Instead, they use dual glass frames to hold the PV array together.
- Because of this, potential induced degradation (PID) reduces, and there is more efficiency in energy production. Also, this adds to the durability of these solar panels. The tempered glass structure also protects the solar cells against environmental hazards.
Most manufacturers give warranties of up to thirty years of efficient power generation, which is commendable.
Another very important factor that adds to the efficiency of these solar cells is the use of monocrystalline silicon. As the name suggests, monocrystalline silicon contains a single silicon crystal.
This allows electrons to move more freely, hence, producing more power and higher efficiency.
Installing Bifacial Solar Panels
The place and method of installation considerably affect the amount of power output. Here are some factors that determine this:
- To save space, traditional solar panels are mostly installed on rooftops of houses. However, if bifacial solar panels were to be installed on rooftops, then there wouldn’t be enough room for reflection to take place, and the whole purpose of bifacial solar cells would become useless.
As you might have guessed, these solar panels are supposed to be mounted on racks, so that there is enough room for reflection of light to take place.
- The most important factor is the surface where the installation will take place. Without enough reflection, there will be barely any extra power output or ‘bifacial gain’. Hence, the ground must essentially be reflective.
What are the possible reflective surfaces? There’s snow, for one, because white reflects light the most. Hence, these solar panels are very useful in areas where it snows often.
Other surfaces like white tiles and sand are also good enough. However, black rock or dirt will greatly decrease this ability of bifacial solar panels.
- When installing these solar panels, one needs to make sure that there is nothing behind them. This way, you can make sure that the maximum amount of light rebounds and hits the rear side. Hence, there needs to be some space between rows of panels.
- Also, there should be as little shade as possible at the backside, so the maximum area is available for light to reflect. To overcome this problem, you can use thin supporting stands to ensure minimum shade present at the back.
Methods to Install Bifacial Solar Panels
You can choose between two popular methods of installing bifacial solar panels:
This means that solar panels are mounted straight and flat. This kind of installation is often suitable for houses where these solar panels can also provide partial shade against the sun.
In this method, bifacial solar cells absorb reflected light from surfaces such as sand, snow, and clouds.
In this method, solar panels are mounted vertically, so they can face both sides, east and west. Firstly, this angle makes more reflected light reach the solar cells. Here is a guide to the optimal angle for solar panels.
Secondly, the east-facing side of the panel makes sure of the optimum level of energy production in the morning, and the west side makes sure of this during the afternoon.
With this method, people can make use of the peak sunlight hours in both the morning and afternoon, and produce 20% to 30% more power at both times.
Advantages of Bifacial Solar Panels
There is a reason why bifacial solar panels are gaining popularity like wildfire. This is because of the many benefits that come with them. Here are a few to mention:
More Power Output
The first and most obvious advantage, as you might have guessed, is the increased level of power output.
Although this greatly varies between the type of bifacial solar panel, installation method, and available reflective surfaces, you can be sure that there will be a definite increase in power output.
Because of their structure, these solar panels have a minimum to zero potential induced degradation, thus, increasing efficiency.
Quality of Silicon
These solar cells contain monocrystalline silicon. Hence, there is a noticeable increase in power production, and that too, from both sides.
Frameless bifacial panels don’t need to be grounded, saving installation costs plus material.
The double glass frames of these panels don’t only enable more energy production, but also make them extra durable. As tempered glass frames these modules, this makes the structure stronger than traditional solar panels.
So, they are safe from environmental hazards. Furthermore, most manufacturers give a warranty of thirty years for these solar panels as compared to twenty-five years for the old design.
Here is a guide on the average lifespan of solar panels.
Bifacial solar panels are slim and sleek. Thus, they don’t look awkward and won’t ruin the appearance of your house. For example, you can use them like canopies as this makes them more aesthetically pleasing.
Disadvantages of Bifacial Solar Panels
As with everything, these solar panels also have cons. Here are some disadvantages of bifacial solar panels:
The biggest downside of bifacial solar panels is their cost. Since they are made up of high-quality silicone, they are more expensive than traditional solar panels. Not only this, but the tempered dual glass also adds to the increased price.
Bifacial solar panels also have increased installation costs. The double glass structure makes them very heavy. Hence, installing them requires special skills, especially in vertical mounting.
This, in turn, increases installation costs.
As with every solar panel system, you need a lot of space for enough amounts of power. The surface area where sunlight hits needs to be enough, plus, there needs to be spacing between rows of panels, as mentioned earlier.
All of this requires a lot of space. Replacing your roof with solar panels can be a tall task.
Changes in weather affect energy production in all solar panel systems significantly. For instance, a cloudy day will reduce power output, although it will still generate some, especially in bifacial panels.
Who Can Make Use of Bifacial Solar Panels?
Although these are more suitable for commercial use, residential installation is also possible. For example, you can mount them upon the roof of your house, keeping them high enough so that light can reflect.
You can also set them up in your garden, for instance. This way, you obtain the right power production, and you can also use this set up as a canopy or a pergola.
Who Produces Bifacial Solar Panels
Although they are relatively new in the market, more and more investors are investing in the bifacial solar panels market. China and Japan, in particular, are investing a lot into research and further developments of these solar panels.
Currently, several companies are manufacturing bifacial solar panels.
Here are some of the top manufacturers of bifacial solar panels:
- LONGi Solar
- Canadian Solar, Inc.
- Jinko Solar
- Yingli Solar
Conclusion on Bifacial Solar Panels
To sum up, solar energy is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to produce power. It is the only way of power generation that can happen residentially as well.
You too can install bifacial solar panels, and reap benefits like reduced electricity bills while using them. Plus, they are environmentally friendly as well, which is another advantage.
Although bifacial solar panels are costly, they offer the best value for the price. Using these will not only significantly reduce your electricity bills but also save the natural resources on earth.
Imagine what if every household had solar panels? If you’re planning on bifacial solar panel installation, check out manufacturers, and you can get quotes for installing them today!