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Bifacial Solar Modules: What Are They? Are They Better Than Mono Perc Solar Panels?

16 min read | By admin

Solar is a great alternative energy resource as it’s available in abundance. Plus, the solar panels work tirelessly every day to capture maximum sunshine to generate electricity for your home. 

Bifacial solar panels are the most advanced option that captures the incident light on the panels and the reflected light in the atmosphere. Undoubtedly, the more sunshine they capture, the higher the energy produced to keep your home powered. What are bifacial solar panels? – you ask. Here we uncover everything you need to know about its working and irresistible advantages of using bifacial solar modules to make an informed choice.

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    What Are Bifacial Solar Panels?

    A bifacial solar panel is capable of producing electricity from both sides of the panels. They differ from mono-facial solar panels, which absorb the incident sun rays from only one side. Unlike the monofacial solar cells, both, the top and rear sides of a bifacial solar panel have solar cells. Often monocrystalline cells are used. However, polycrystalline cells can also be used.

    The slim structure of bifacial solar panels makes them look similar to thin-film panels and are usually frameless. The solar-equipped side of the solar module has a layer of protective glass, while the flip side may have a glass covering or a clear back sheet. Conventional solar panels, however, are covered in opaque backings.

    What does bifacial mean in solar modules? A bifacial solar array is mounted using unique hardware that ensures minimal shading. Hence, very narrow support rails and vertical supports are on the corners. Also, the junction box on the back side, the electronic guts, and the system’s brain are smaller than in traditional arrays. As a result, a bifacial solar array system requires less space and gets less shade on the solar cells on the rear side. 

    How Do Bifacial Solar Panels Work?

    The top sun-facing side of a bifacial solar panel has a series of solar cells that directly capture incident sun rays, similar to how the solar cells on standard solar panels work. The bottom solar cells catch the light reflected off the nearby objects and the ground. This phenomenon is called the albedo effect, which is characteristic of the working of bifacial solar panels.

    It’s a known fact that light-coloured surfaces are more conducive to albedo light than dark colours. Painting the surface of the roof or driveway under the panels in white or silver gives the same effect. Studies show that white areas can reflect over 80% of albedo light.

    Monocrystalline cells composed of superior silicon are a better choice for the optimised working of underside solar cells in bifacial solar panels. However, there is a key difference between mono facial (mono perc) and bifacial solar modules in their arrangement. The former is that they are set up parallel to rooftop or ground surfaces, whereas bifacial solar panels work more efficiently when angled off a surface at suitable degrees.

    Tilted installation of bifacial solar panels allows solar cells to get the maximum amount of albedo light. This is because sunlight gets reflected off all surfaces at different angles, and bifacial solar panels are built to catch most of the albedo light. This makes bifacial solar panels highly productive even on cloudy days when their monofacial counterparts are at a disadvantage.

    In terms of durability, bifacial solar panels perform better thanks to protective glass layers covering both sides. As a result, you will likely get a higher warranty of 30+ years versus 20–25 years for mono facial solar panel systems.

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      Are Bifacial Solar Panels Better? – Discussing the Advantages

      Using bifacial solar modules has its advantages. Compared to its conventional single-sided panels, bifacial solar panels are a great option when you can’t spare much space for installation. Solar electricity output is higher for each solar panel of the same size, though for a slightly higher installation cost.

      The bifacial solar panels are raised above the ground so that ample sunlight reaches both sides, facilitating airflow for cooling. In addition, bifacial solar panels often last longer due to the glass covering resisting UV damage.

      A great advantage of frameless bifacial solar modules is multiple configuration options. For example, you can put them using raised roof mounts, raised ground mounts, or have them tilted at varying angles for maximum exposure of solar cells to sunshine. This advantage of using bifacial solar modules makes them suitable for both residential and commercial installations.

      Moreover, the transparent and slim bifacial structure of bifacial solar panels can be integrated into aesthetic and architectural elements like pergolas, canopies, and sun breakers.

      The Efficiency of Bifacial Solar Modules in Comparison to Monofacial Counterparts

      By definition, efficiency represents the measure of the solar cell performance in converting the total amount of incident sunlight into electrical energy. You may assume that bifacial solar cells are twice more efficient than monofacial solar cells as the solar cell surface area is doubled in bifacial solar cells – but this is yet to be true.

      A 2018 study by LONGi Solar shows that the efficiency of bifacial solar modules increases only by 11% over that of conventional solar modules.

      However, the efficiency of bifacial solar cells can be optimised by integrating a solar tracking system in the solar panel mount structure. This system tracks the sun’s trajectory across the sky and continuously tilts the solar panels to maintain a perpendicular orientation for maximum exposure. Through this step, the efficiency may increase up to 27%. 

      Thanks to higher efficiency, only a few solar panels are needed to give you the same amount of solar power you obtain with a standard mono facial solar panel system. Considering the increasingly competitive bifacial solar panel price against mono facial solar panel prices, consumers with space constraints can go for bifacial solar panels that allow them to achieve maximum efficiency and energy with fewer panels.

      The below table represents a summary of different solar cell efficiencies among the many solar panel options available in the market.

      Type of Solar Panel Total Solar Cell Efficiency
      Monofacial Thin-Film 11–15%
      Monofacial Polycrystalline 15–17%
      Monofacial Monocrystalline 18% +
      Bifacial Monocrystalline 20% +

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        Disadvantages of Using Bifacial Solar Modules

        • Initial Costs 

        The complex manufacturing process adds to the market price of bifacial solar panels, making them expensive by nearly 10% of their monofacial counterparts.

        • Installation Costs

        Thanks to the angle and tilt specifications and double-glazing, bifacial solar modules are heavier and require specialised mounting structures and equipment. This increases the labour and material cost.

        • Less Flexible

        To facilitate the working of double-sided solar cells, bifacial solar panels require to be set up at least 4 metres from the surface. In the case of roof mounts, a raised platform is important to allow the rear solar cells to collect reflected sunlight. 

        “Can we use bifacial solar modules?” you might wonder as this type of installation is not suitable in several residential settings. Hence, bifacial solar panels are often a more convenient option for solar farms or off-grid systems. Fortunately, all hope isn’t lost as residential properties can still use bifacial solar panels by integrating them in an awning or lean-to roof. 

        Solar Energy Companies Installing Bifacial Solar Modules

        Do you need a different solar panel location for installing a bifacial solar module? Consider building a beautiful, functional shade structure integrated with a solar energy system. This can be a solar pergola (also known as a solar patio cover or solar canopy).

        Homescape is among the reputed solar energy companies installing bifacial solar modules across India. Our flagship solar pergola, Atrium, is a stylish, functional, and highly durable solar ceiling to create a powerful outdoor living space for you. The key features that make Atrium an attractive and rewarding investment for homeowners include:

        • Bifacial, dual-glass panels that can provide 25% higher output than traditional solar panels.
        • 30 years of performance warranty
        • Ability to generate electricity in all seasons, including monsoons and winters
        • A durable, sturdy structure that can stand with you forever and is backed by 5 years warranty

        Learn all about the advantages and key features of Atrium here.

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          FAQs

          Can I use bifacial solar panels for my home?

          Bifacial solar panels are already a popular choice for commercial applications. Yet residential rooftops are often not designed to have a bifacial solar module system. However, this is fast changing as solar energy companies are installing bifacial solar modules more innovatively.

          Are bifacial solar panels expensive?

          Because of the unique working of bifacial solar panels and the complex installation, they cost more than standard solar panels. However, higher efficiency and other advantages of using bifacial solar modules make it a smart investment for residential applications despite the cost.

          What is the one major difference between bifacial and monofacial solar panels?

          Both sides of a bifacial solar panel have solar cells to absorb sunshine and produce more electricity. On the other hand, only one side of monofacial solar panels can produce solar electricity.

          How do I get my solar installation project started?

          If you are planning to purchase a home solar system, many factors will determine the right choice for your home. For example, your budget, electricity requirements, location, and weather conditions must be considered. Hence, it’s best to get professional help from an award-winning solar company like Homescape in India.

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