If you are thinking about installing a solar panel for home to generate electricity, there is a pretty big chance that the first image that comes to your mind is that of a mono facial solar panel. Being one of the most popularly used solar panels around the world, it’s normal for you to think that single-sided solar panels are the only kind of solar panels available.
However, there are other types of solar panels available, called bifacial solar panels that have cells on both sides. This allows the solar panels to not just generate electricity from direct sunlight, but utilize the reflected light coming from underneath the panel as well. By using bifacial solar panels, you can increase the amount of electricity generated while using the same amount of real estate. Bifacial are started to garner more attention as well thanks to competitive pricing even though these panels were unheard of just a decade ago.
How Do Bifacial Solar Panels Work?
Traditional solar panels have a silicon cell that is sandwiched between an opaque back sheet and a protective glass coating. The silicon cell captures the photons emitted by the sun and converts them into electrical energy which we use to power our homes.
No matter how plain or rough a surface is, it reflects sunlight. Even if it is a very small quantity. In a Bifacial solar panel, this property is leveraged by replacing the opaque back panel with a clear glass sheet. This allows any light reflected from the roof, clouds, adjacent buildings or any other surface to reach the silicon cells from underneath. This contributes to the energy generated by the solar panels and leads to more electricity being produced.
Apart from the back panels, the mounting and racking system needs to be changed as well so that obstructions to the reflected light reaching the panels can be reduced as much as possible. The number of vertical support poles is reduced while the support panels become thinner.
Monofacial vs Bifacial Solar Panels
On the face of it, having a bifacial solar panel is more advantageous and beneficial than a mono facial solar panel. However, there are several other factors to consider that makes this comparison worthwhile.
Monofacial solar panels are easier to install and can be placed flat on a rooftop, on the ground, on inclined roofs, or even on the side of the building. Since there is only one side that needs to be in direct sunlight, they can be installed on surfaces with low albedo as well.
Bifacial solar panels, on the other hand, require some space between the surface and its backside to allow light to reflect and hit the solar cells from below. This kind of limits the places where you can install a bifacial solar panel. The surface beneath the solar panels should be reflective, the panels should be at an ideal tilt angle and there shouldn’t be obstructions causing darkness below the panel.
Hence, while it would be efficient to install a bifacial solar panel for home, it is not possible for every home and location. It is advised to consider every parameter, apart from just the benefits, while considering while solar panels would suit your home better.
The bifacial solar panel industry is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. If the conditions, albedo of the surface below the panels, tilt angle, and other factors line up, installing a dual-sided solar panel can be more effective than a solar panel that’s capable of generating electricity from just one side. They take up equal space as a mono facial solar panel but can generate 30% to 50% more electricity depending on the conditions.
No matter which solar panel for home you choose, in the long term, both can be a great investment. Panel manufacturers and installation companies give 10 to 25 years of warranty on the panels and can keep on generating electricity long after the warranty period as well. Things you should consider for both panels as it that weather effects on solar panels affect both kinds equally. Having two sides doesn’t mean that bifacial solar panels will generate electricity even when it’s snowing, cloudy, or dark outside. The only difference is in their construction and the ability to generate electricity from reflected sunlight as well.