Solar panels are the main components of a solar energy system. But did you know that they come in different types? One of these is called the bifacial solar panel, a type designed to harness the power of the sun on both sides. While it may sound nifty, bifacial solar panels may not be suitable for all properties.
In this post, we will help you understand whether this type of solar panel is a good choice for your home or business. We will also give you additional tips on how to choose the right panels and more. Read on to learn more about this solar panel technology!
How Do Bifacial Solar Panels Work?
Bifacial solar panels are designed to collect sunlight from both sides. This is unlike traditional solar panels that only utilize the front side angled directly to the sun.
This technology uses transparent backsheets, which allow sunlight to pass through and reach the backside. The backside cells then capture the sunlight reflected from the ground or surrounding surfaces. With this, your solar energy production will be more efficient.
However, proper installation is crucial to make bifacial solar panels work for you. The panels need to be mounted at an angle that allows maximum exposure to sunlight from both sides.
Also, you need to consider the reflection potential of the surrounding environment. Otherwise, bifacial panels may not be a good fit for your property.
Pros and cons of Bifacial Solar Panels
As with any type of solar panel, bifacial panels are not perfect. It comes with a few downsides, too, which will affect its compatibility with your property. Below are some pros and cons that our team wants you to know:
Pros of Bifacial Solar Panels
There’s no doubt that solar systems are beneficial in many ways. And if you’re new to bifacial panels, here’s what sets it apart from other options:
Increased Energy Output. One of the major advantages of bifacial solar panels is its higher energy production. Since you’re using both sides of the panels, the system can generate more electricity. This means you can store more electricity that you can use during outages. It’s also handy during peak hours when time-of-use rates apply in some areas.
Enhanced Performance. Bifacial solar panels can outperform traditional panels in specific conditions. For example, environments with snow-covered grounds or highly reflective surfaces make bifacial solar panels extremely effective.
Potential for Improved Aesthetics. In addition to their functional advantages, bifacial solar panels also offer potential aesthetic benefits. These panels have a sleek design and transparency, which may enhance the curb appeal of your home or commercial space.
Increased Durability. Bifacial solar panels are often built with durable materials that can withstand harsh outdoor elements. This increased durability could mean a longer lifespan for the panels and reduced replacement costs for you.
Environmental Benefits. By harnessing the power of the sun, you’ll produce clean and renewable energy. This reduces your carbon footprint associated with traditional power sources. You may even encourage your neighbors to go solar when you install bifacial solar panels.
Cons of Bifacial Solar Panels
While bifacial solar panels offer numerous advantages, it’s not a good choice for everyone. Here are some concerns we always discuss with our clients:
Higher Initial Cost. Due to the additional materials and technology, bifacial panels tend to be more expensive. Still, its long-term benefits and potential returns make it a good choice for most cases. Besides, we also offer financing options to cushion the cost.
Limited Compatibility. Bifacial panels may not be suitable for all properties. For example, we don’t recommend this panel if you have limited roof space. The same goes if your roof has shading or there’s not enough sunlight in your place. It’s always on a case-to-case basis, which is determined through our specialist’s onsite visit.
Higher Maintenance Requirements. The backside of the panels can accumulate dirt, dust, and debris, which can affect their performance. This is why regular cleaning is necessary to ensure that gunk isn’t blocking the sunlight.
Types of bifacial solar panels
Bifacial solar panels come in different types. Each one is made of different materials and suits specific installation requirements. Here are some that we offer here at Local Solar Service:
1. Glass-Glass Bifacial Panels
Glass-glass bifacial panels are considered the gold standard in bifacial solar technology. These panels consist of two layers of glass with solar cells sandwiched between them.
Also, the front surface of this panel is made of highly transparent glass. This allows maximum sunlight absorption and energy production. Meanwhile, the rear surface is also made of glass, which enhances light capture from the reflected rays even more.
This design offers exceptional durability because glass is resistant to harsh outdoor elements. Also, it protects the solar cells from moisture and physical damage.
Aside from that, the transparent rear surface enables light to pass through. This allows the rear side to capture even more sunlight. As a result, glass-glass bifacial panels often have higher efficiency and energy yield compared to other types.
2. Glass-Backsheet Bifacial Panels
Glass-backsheet bifacial panels combine the benefits of glass and a specialized backsheet material. Similar to glass-glass panels, it has a transparent glass front surface that ensures optimal light absorption.
However, instead of a glass rear surface, it uses a backsheet. This material provides electrical insulation and protection to the solar cells. Also, we choose the backsheet material carefully to maintain high power output while reducing costs.
Overall, this bifacial panel type strikes a balance between efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and durability. This is why it’s a popular choice for most of our residential and commercial clients.
3. Frameless Bifacial Panels
Frameless bifacial panels are known for their sleek and modern design. Also, these panels don’t have the usual aluminum frame, which makes them lighter and more aesthetic in appearance.
Instead, the panels have specialized mounting solutions. We often use transparent glass-glass encapsulation or interlayer adhesive films for structural support.
Unlike other bifacial panel types, frameless panels are popular for architectural projects where visual aesthetics play a crucial role. This includes building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) or solar canopies.
The only downside we see here is that frameless panels have a slightly lower energy yield compared to glass-glass panels. Still, their unique design offers flexibility in installation and enhances the overall visual appeal.
4. Dual-Glass Bifacial Panels
Dual-glass bifacial panels are a variation of glass-glass panels. It uses two layers of glass not only for the front and rear surfaces but also as a cover for the solar cells.
This design provides additional protection against outdoor elements, which makes the panels more durable. Also, the dual-glass configuration enhances the curb appeal of the panels. This means it’s an excellent choice if you consider both functionality and visual appearance important.
5. Hybrid Bifacial Panels
Hybrid bifacial panels combine the technology of traditional monofacial solar panels with a bifacial design.
These panels feature solar cells on the front surface similar to monofacial panels. Meanwhile, the rear side is designed to capture reflected and scattered light.
Overall, this hybrid panel can be suitable for you if you’re planning to upgrade your existing monofacial system. This way, you can increase energy production without the need to overhaul the entire system.
The Efficiency of Bifacial Solar Panels
When it comes to efficiency, bifacial solar panels can outperform other options in some situations. Just note that its efficiency is heavily influenced by factors like tilt angle, albedo (surface reflectivity), and weather conditions.
First, optimizing the tilt angle of the panels can significantly improve their efficiency. At Local Solar Service, we install the panels strategically for maximum sunlight exposure from both sides. We also factor in the surroundings to make sure that you’re generating as much solar power as possible.
On the other hand, we also consider the weather conditions in your area. For the most part of the year, Florida receives a lot of sunlight, which makes bifacial solar panels really efficient.
Cost-effectiveness of Bifacial Solar Panels
When it comes to the cost-effectiveness of bifacial panels, we have to consider a few factors. The good news is that although the overall cost of this installation is high, the returns are reasonable.
First, the increased energy production can result in a shorter payback period. This means you get to recoup the cost and enjoy long-term savings from then on. Also, it translates to a higher return on investment. On top of that, you’ll also enjoy various incentives and government programs that apply to most solar installations.
Overall, we always recommend seeking professional help if you want to assess the performance of your potential solar system. Feel free to call us anytime and we will evaluate your energy needs, location, incentives, and more.
Considerations for Installation and Maintenance
Before getting this system, it’s important that you’re aware of installation considerations for bifacial panels. This way, you’ll know what to expect once our installers are already onsite and ready to put up your system.
1. Ideal Installation Conditions
Ideally, we look for ideal conditions like open spaces with minimal shading, such as ground-mounted systems. Also, we mount the panels at an optimal angle after surveying the area and assessing the direction of the sun in your place.
Take note that not all properties can be good candidates for bifacial solar panel installation. Our technicians will advise you whether this system will work well or not for your location. Don’t worry, we’ll help you find the best alternative in case the bifacial type is not a perfect fit for your property.
2. Tilt Angle
The tilt angle of the bifacial panels plays a crucial role in their efficiency. Our team determines the best tilt angle based on your geographical location and seasonal variations. Also, we set the tilt angle to maximize sunlight exposure on both the front and back sides of the panels.
3. Proper Orientation
While bifacial panels can absorb sunlight on both sides, we still need to consider their proper orientation. This means we align the panels towards the northern hemisphere or southern hemisphere, depending on your location. We do this to ensure that the panels will be exposed to as much sunlight as possible.
Overall, this correct orientation helps maximize energy production and overall system efficiency. It’s also the reason why you should work with a professional installer for this type of solar panel. Otherwise, your system may not yield its full potential.
4. Regular Cleaning
Expect that your bifacial solar panels will require regular maintenance, even more so than traditional types. It’s because both the front and back sides of the panels can accumulate dirt, dust, and debris over time. If not cleaned, the dirt can hinder sunlight absorption and reduce your energy production.
If you don’t want to deal with this hassle, you can call our team to do it for you. We offer professional solar panel cleaning to ensure that your system gets as much sunlight as possible. Also, this is to avoid possible damage from poor handling and harsh cleaning chemicals.
5. Inspections and Maintenance Checks
In addition to cleaning, regular inspections are also essential to identify any signs of wear or damage. The backsheets of bifacial panels must be checked for cracks, scratches, or any other issues that may affect their functionality.
We also recommended maintenance checks at least once a year or as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you see any damage or problems, don’t hesitate to contact our team and we will fix it for you immediately.
6. Professional Installation
Bifacial solar panels require precise installation to ensure optimal performance. While some try to do a DIY project, we always recommend a professional approach. It costs a fee, but you’re assured that the system works well. After all, you wouldn’t want to damage a system as costly as bifacial solar panels.
If you’re still weighing your options, call us, and we will give you a free quote. If you already have a quote from another provider, show it to us, and will offer you a better one!
7. Monitoring and Performance Analysis
We also implement a monitoring system to track the performance of your bifacial solar panels. This can help you identify any issues before it negatively affects your electricity supply.
Also, monitoring data will allow you to optimize energy generation and identify potential maintenance needs.
Additional reminders when installing bifacial solar panels
Compared to traditional solar panels, the bifacial type often requires a unique approach. Whether you’re an installer or a property owner who wants to get this system, it’s important to understand some dos and don’ts.
Below are the best practices our team observes whenever we’re installing this type of panel:
1. Keep the back side open
With most solar panels, the back side is often installed away from the sunlight. This shouldn’t be the case with bifacial panels.
It’s important to remove any barrier that will block reflected rays from reaching the back side of the panels. Also, make sure that the racking or inverters are not blocking the backside.
2. Observe some space
Our rule of thumb is to allow at least 3 to 5 inches of space between each row of bifacial solar panels. Why, you ask? It’s a hack that will save you thousands of dollars during winter.
The small space between panel rows will allow snow to fall off properly. This way, it doesn’t pile up at the ridge and block the panels from capturing sunlight. Besides, who wants a pile of snow on their roof?
3. Avoid dark-colored materials
Since bifacial solar panels rely on reflective rays to reach the backside, we always avoid using dark-colored materials underneath. This way, all the light will be absorbed into the panels and converted into electricity.
But what if your roof is dark-colored? Don’t worry, you don’t have to do an entire repainting. Most of the time, we use a light-colored EPDM material to line your roof. This way, sunlight will be reflected into the solar panel’s backside.
The only downside of this method is that it requires additional prep time. Also, it will be an additional cost, but it’s still cheaper than getting a new paint job for your roof.
Are bifacial solar panels worth it?
In conclusion, bifacial solar panels offer numerous advantages, but they also come with some disadvantages. To determine if bifacial solar panels are right for you, call us and our team will assess your energy needs. We also provide free onsite surveys to see what system suits your location.
Overall, bifacial solar panels are a great investment if you want maximum energy production. While it has a higher cost and maintenance needs, the benefits always outweigh the cons.
If you already have a solar system, upgrading to bifacial panels would be a wise choice. It will increase your energy production and even your home’s market value. And for commercial use, the extra energy would help reduce your reliance on the grid even more.
If you’re ready to switch to solar and get bifacial solar panels, don’t hesitate to contact us at Local Solar Service. Our in-house team will handle everything from beginning to end.