Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Bifacial Solar Panel – An Overview of Everything You Need to Know

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Aizaz khan
Aizaz khan
Aizaz was the first person to get a byline on his blog on technology from his home in Bannu in 2017. Then, he went on to a career in breaking things professionally at my electric sparks which is where he eventually took over the kit as a hardware editor. Today, as the senior editor of hardware for my electric sparks, he spends time reporting about the most recent developments in the hardware industry and technology. If he's not reporting on hardware or electronics, you'll see him trying to be as remote from the world of technology as possible through camping in the wild.

Bifacial Solar panels have become quite popular in the Solar industry – and for the right reasons. As per the industry experts, they can generate 50% more Solar power than monofacial Solar panels.

In addition to that, they are economical to manufacture, slimmer in thickness and often have no frames.

If you are interested in learning more about before making an investment choice, then you are at the right place.

Here, in this article, we have compiled everything about bifacial Solar panels from what they are, how they work, pros, cons and many more. Understanding this information helps you make the right investment.

So, without any further ado, lets dive into the information.

What is a Bifacial Solar Panel?

A bifacial panel is a dual-sided energy factory that converts sunlight into electricity on its top and bottom.

These panels are different than monofacial Solar panels, which use only one side of the sun for energy production. The term bifacial is derived from the prefix “bi” (for two) and “facial”, for face.

Bifacials have Solar panels at the top and rear. Although they are monocrystalline, you can use polycrystalline. They resemble thin-film panels because they are so slim. Frameless Bifacial Solar Panels are also common.

Protective glass is used to cover the top of each module. The reverse side may have a transparent back sheet or glass. This is a different approach to conventional Solar panels with opaque backings.

Mounting a bifacial array of Solar panels requires hardware that minimizes shading. The support rails are very narrow and the vertical supports are corner-only.

The junction box, which is typically located on the backside of traditional Solar arrays, is smaller than other Solar panels. It’s the electronic guts and brain for your Solar panel system. It takes up less space, and it casts less shade onto the back Solar cells. What is the result? You get more Solar power.

How Does a Bifacial Solar Panel Work?

A bifacial panel’s top Solar cells comes in contact with the sun light to absorb sunlight directly. In this respect, it is no different from a traditional Solar panel.

However, bottom cells are specially designed to reflect reflected light. Bifacial panels are more efficient than conventional monofacial panels because they can be angled to the ground or white roof.

It is even more remarkable that bifacial panel maximize the light reflection and are even on efficient on cloudy days where the light has already diffused.

This allows you to tilt your panels so that half face east and half face west. You’ll be covered all day because the panels capture the morning and afternoon peak.

The backsides of the panels absorb the sun’s energy from the rear side, while simultaneously they do their part. Your bifacials can be placed vertically. This setup also allows you to have two different energy-peaks everyday. The upper side works at maximum steam during peak time, while the opposite side captures the reflected sunlight.

The Efficiency of Bifacial Solar Panels Over Monofacial Solar Panels

According to recent research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a division of U.S. Department of Energy, bifacial panels can produce up to 9% more electricity that monofacial ones. This means that fewer panels will need to be installed, as well as the hardware such panel mounts and inverters. This reduces both labor and hardware costs.

Bifacial panels have another advantage: Solar PV technology is less efficient when heated up. They are made from glass and do not have the heat-absorbing aluminum backing that monofacial panels have, which increases their efficiency.

Bifacial panels do not need to be grounded as they don’t have metal frames that could conduct electricity. They are also more durable than monofacial panels, which is why they come with 30 instead of 25-year warranties.

Bifacial panels are more dependent on diffuse Solar radiation and therefore more efficient than monofacial ones in cloudy conditions or where there is less direct sunlight. Bifacial panels also have a higher efficiency for longer periods of time when there is diffuse sunlight, but not direct sunlight.

Bifacial panels also benefit from Solar trackers that follow the sun through the day. One study has shown that tracking allows for the generation of electricity to be tracked throughout the day.

Benefits of Bifacial Solar Panels

1. Better Durability

One thing that makes bifacial Solar panels different is their durability. To make them stronger and resistant to harsh weather conditions, glass covers are installed on both of their sides. This glass is tempered glass, which is designed to take heavy loads without getting cracked. That’s why most manufacturers provide long-term warranties with their bifacial Solar panels because they know that this system can last for more than 25 to 30 years.

2. Generate More Energy

Bifacial Solar panels are considered more Solar efficient, which means they can convert most of the sunlight they receive into Solar energy. As compared to these conventional panels, bifacial Solar modules will produce more energy per panel as they absorb energy from the front as well as the rear side. These panels are perfect for people who have space issues. Whether you install this system east or west, it will generate more energy.

3. No Need for Trackers

As you may know, traditional Solar panels require trackers to perform the best. Trackers adjust the Solar panel’s angle, so it can evenly absorb the sunlight throughout the day and produce more energy.

Now the problem is that this type of mechanical device is more likely to receive damage after few months. And if that happens, you will have to buy a new one, which can cost a lot. Bifacial Solar panels can produce extra Solar energy without the need for any mechanical device. So, it’s purely a one-time investment that will serve you in a long run.

4. Aesthetics

Many bifacial modules can be manufactured in many different designs. Many people consider bifacial Solar panel framesless more attractive.

5. Cloud-Friendly

Bifacial Solar panels are more effective in diffuse light due to the active surface on their rear. They are more affordable than monofacial Solar modules over the long-term.

6. Lower PID

Frameless bifacial panel Solar cells are less susceptible to potential-induced degrading (PID). This is when electrical currents are diverged from their intended path, causing corrosion from the inside. Furthermore, panels without metal frames that are bifacial do not require grounding.

7. Warranty

Bifacial panels often come with extended warranties of up to thirty years.

Drawbacks of Bifacial Solar Panels

1. Expensive

The technology used in bifacial Solar panels is advanced and new, that’s why they cost more than conventional panels. So, you should assess your needs first, calculate the upfront cost with future benefits, then make a decision.

2. Not Best for Multi-Directional Roofs

Bifacial panels are great for people who have a flat roof. But if your roof is multi-directional or has a sharper angle, then it would be difficult to install the system, and it would also cost you more.

3. Less Flexible

Bifacial Solar panels can be used to take advantage of double-sided Solar cell technology. They should be at least four metres from the ground in order to maximize their potential. Roof mounts require a platform that is raised so the bottom side can collect the sun’s rays.

It might not be possible in all homes so bifacial panel are better suited for off-grid or Solar farms. You can still use them as an awning, or lean-to roofing.

4. Space

You need plenty of space to produce enough power, as with any Solar panel system. As mentioned, the surface area that sunlight hits must be sufficient. There also needs to be adequate spacing between panels. This requires lots of space. Replacing your roofing with Solar panels is a difficult task.

5. Weather

Changes in weather can have a significant impact on energy production for all Solar panel systems. A cloudy day, for example, will decrease power output but still generate some, particularly in bifacial Solar panels.

Different Types of Bifacial Solar Panels

Bifacial Solar panels are categorized into five different types based on their efficiency and architecture of BSCs. We have mentioned them below for your reference.

Variant/Type Efficiency Bifaciality Factor
PERC 9.4–21.2% front, 16.7–18.1% rear 70-80%
PERL 19.8% front, 17.6% rear 80-90%
PERT 19.5–22% front, 17–19% rear 80-90%
HIT 24.7% front, 18.4 % rear 95-100%
IBC 23.2% 70-80%

How Are Bifacial Solar Panels Installed?

Depending on the type of Solar panel, bifacial panels can be installed. Framed bifacial panels are available. It is much simpler to install Frameless Solar modules will be more appealing than a single-sided, as traditional Solar panels can already be adapted to frame single-sided Solar models.

However, many bifacial panels manufacturers provide clamps for mounting their products. So, the installation will be easy. Frameless bifacial panels are often supplied with rubber protectors for protecting the glass.

Installers must ensure that the panel is correctly installed. A bifacial panel will produce more energy if it is tilted more. You should use them on a flat roof that offer plenty of space for necessary tilting and allow the reflected sunlight to bounce off the module’s rear end.

Finally, it is important to understand that bifacial panel’s performance can be affected by the support structure. Mounts that come with support rails covered using a single facial module’s backplate can shade bottom-side cells of bifacial Solar cells. You should choose racking systems specifically designed to accommodate a bifacial installation.

Who Should Invest in Bifacial Solar Panels?

You must first consider the tilt angle and surface reflectivity of your site to determine if you are eligible for bifacial sun. White roofs and metal roofs reflect well, so if one of these is yours, you should consider bifacials.

A bifacial mount is a good option if you live in an area that has a lot snow. Snow is one of nature’s most reflective materials. The best part? Even if their top side is covered in snow, Bifacials still produce electricity.

Your bifacial panel’s verticality determines how much light can reach the backside and how much energy it can produce. If you have a flat roof, or enough space in your yard for a ground mount, bifacial panel might be the best option.

Here’s a quick quiz to help you make a quick decision. A bifacial system will be great for you if you answer at most two of these questions “yes”.

  • Are you looking for space to install a ground-mount system?
  • Are there any snowflakes on your property during the winter?
  • Is there any sandy land on your property? (Would it be possible to create a mini-desert?)
  • Do you want to make a pergola or an awning?
  • Are you considering painting or covering your roof with silver or white shingles?

How Much More Electricity Do Bifacial Panels Produce?

There is no doubt that bifacial panels produce more electricity than conventional panels, but how much more depends on various factors such as the tilting angle, the reflectivity site, etc.

If you talk about average, then studies have shown that bifacial panels can produce 10% to 20% more power than mono facial panels. Now it’s possible to increase this percentage by utilizing external factors. For example- some people use dual-axis tracking devices to increase production by 40%, but it is a costly method and not recommended for everyone.

Are Bifacial Solar Panels Expensive? How Much Do They Cost?

The cost of bifacial Solar panels is slightly higher than the traditional monofacial Solar panels. You can get the same amount of power output with less panels because they are double-sided.

Installing bifacial panels on the US market is typically between $6,000 and $12,000. You will need to spend around $5,000 for mounting 10 bifacial panel around your home’s edge.

Let us break down the cost of bifacial Solar panel installation

  • Materials: Prices range from around $2,000 to $3,000 to purchase the most basic materials, and $5,000 to $6,000.
  • Installation: The labor usually costs between $3,000 to $4,000. A simple rooftop mount can cost as little as $3,000 to install. Ground mounts are more expensive to construct, costing between $6,000 and $8,000.
  • Panel cost: The low end bifacial Solar panels are priced between $500 and $700, while the top-of-the-line models cost $ 1,400 at most

Remember that monocrystalline panels are the cheapest. frameless monocrystalline panel are the costliest option. However, they are versatile and highly efficient.

With increasing wattage, the price of bifacial panels also increases. The more power a panel produces, the lower your energy costs.

Few Words Before Wrapping Up…

If you ask the question whether bifacial Solar panels are worth the investment, then our answer is obvious yes. As the Solar panels are present on the rear side as well, you will get more Solar energy saved and continuous electric supply. In addition to that, they are useful in areas where certain amount of snowfall is common in winters.

For people who want to invest in the bifacial Solar panels may have a lot of questions. We have provided them clearly in this article. Hoping it helps you make the right decision.

If you still have any queries, write to us in the comment section below. We shall reply to doubts at our earliest convenience. Stay tuned for more such articles.

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