Double the Sides, Double the Efficiency

Jessica PirroJuly 15, 2019 1928 0

When it comes to the solar-powered systems the industry is constantly looking at ways to improve the efficiency of solar energy. Bifacial solar panels are the latest way to improve the efficiency of a solar panel. However, Bifacial solar panels are a little more expensive than the more traditional mono and polycrystalline solar panels and most solar energy shoppers don’t know enough about bifacial solar panels to choose them for their solar-powered systems.

What are Bifacial Solar Panels?

When most people think about solar panels, they imagine slabs of metal with solar panels that are made up of mono or polycrystalline silicon solar cells attached to a roof. They are typically angled with the roof and south-facing. The whole purpose of solar panels is to absorb the energy that is radiating from the sun on the side of the solar panels with the silicon solar cells.

But when the solar companies began to think about the sunlight that was bouncing off the ground they began to think of ways that could absorb the light that was reflecting off the solar panels.

Bifacial solar panels were the solution that they came up with. These solar panels take to absorb the light that is bouncing off the ground and convert it into solar energy. They are essentially double-sided solar panels. On this solar panel installation the top side works how normal solar panels do and absorbs the sun’s light directly and the bottom side of the solar panels captures the light that is reflecting back up from the ground, which results in a higher efficiency of a solar panel because the solar-powered systems are able to convert the solar energy into usable energy.

How Do Bifacial Solar Panels Differ From Regular Solar Panels?

Bifacial solar panels and regular solar panels differ in a few different ways from regular solar panels, one way being that bifacial solar-powered systems are ideal for mass solar panel installations for commercial uses. The costs for bifacial solar-powered systems are normally higher than more traditional solar-powered systems, and the extra space inherent in large-scale solar-powered systems.

The bifacial solar panels are normally thinner than the traditional solar panels due to the framing and the need to have a few materials as possible, covering the back end of the solar panels. The junction boxes are modified into smaller units in order to prevent the shading on the back of the solar panels.

The bifacial solar panels also have a studded aluminum rear contact, which is what creates the channels for the light to pass through the front of the solar panels then straight to the back of the solar panels.  

What Makes Bifacial Solar Panels Better than Traditional Solar Panels?

The most obvious advantage of bifacial solar-powered systems is the extrasolar energy that gets generated, while still reducing your carbon footprint as well as keeping the aesthetics as regular solar-powered systems. The added solar energy production claims run a wide spectrum, from 8% increased solar energy all the way to 30% extra solar power.

The efficiency of a solar panel on bifacial solar-powered systems is considered to be more efficient than the traditional solar panels, mostly because they produce more solar energy with around the same number of parts, and have around the same footprint as the traditional solar panels.

The Downside to Bifacial Solar Panels

A bifacial solar-powered system isn’t going to be the best option for residential solar panel installation, due to the fact that the solar panels need to be angled away from the mounting surface so that the light that is underneath won’t be killed by the small space in between the solar panels and the roof. They will also perform better when they are partnered with solar axis trackers that are on the solar-powered systems, this way they will turn the panels as the sun moves across the sky.

The bifacials don’t have that much penetration in the US solar market quite yet so there aren’t as many solar companies that are doing bifacial solar panel installations or offering warranties or support for bifacial solar-powered systems. However, since these solar panels are exempt from the tariff’s that have been placed on other solar panels, that is all expected to change

When it comes to a bifacial solar panel installation, these sorts of panels are much better suited if they are ground-mounted rather than on your roof, because bifacial solar panels need to be angled away from the ground so that more light is able to reach the back of the solar panels.

Bifacial Solar Panels in the Future

Like traditional solar-powered systems have seen a price decrease, they will also drop the more popular that they become. A little known fact that is due to the increased efficiency of a solar panel provides, their price isn’t going to be too different than a traditional solar panel: in fact, it will just be an average increase of just $0.02 to $0.03 per watt.

Solar companies are also looking to figure out ways to make them more appropriate for residential solar panel installation, such as thinner solar cells and smaller frame and racking. More and more solar companies that manufacture bifacial solar panels are entering the bifacial solar panel market for residential solar-powered systems.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), considered a leader in the solar energy resources and innovation and the overall solar body in the US, is working hard to develop the first standard module rating system for bifacial solar panels.

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