Are you looking for a better energy solution? Or thinking of installing bifacial solar panels to upgrade from traditional solar panels? In this article, we’ll talk more about bifacial solar panels, how they work, what they are, and much more.
Lately, bifacial solar panels have drawn attention for their ability to absorb light on both sides. The advantage is, they generate higher energy, are weather-resistant, durable and worth the investment you put.
So without further ado, let’s get on with it!
- 1 What Is A Bifacial Solar Panel?
- 2 Differences Between Bifacial And Typical Solar Panels?
- 3 Bifacial PV Modules Test Standards and Certifications
- 4 Bifacial Solar Cells Overview
- 5 How Does A Bifacial Solar Module Work?
- 6 How Much Does It Cost?
- 7 When Should I Use Bifacial Solar Panels?
- 8 List of Bifacial Solar Panel Models
- 9 Pros and Cons
- 10 Are Bifacial Solar Panels Worth It?
- 11 Conclusion
- 12 References
What Is A Bifacial Solar Panel?
As the name suggests, a bifacial solar panel is double-sided and can generate power on both sides. They are highly efficient as compared to monofacial solar panels. Hence, in whichever direction the sun shines, it can capture energy with increased power production.
These transparent and slim solar panels are generally made of glass, and they can either be framed or frameless.
Besides generating energy, they also require less space and are more effective on reflective surfaces like roofs, swimming pools etc.
Thus, it captures every light that gets reflected from the ground, also known as albedo light or any scattered light mirrored back at the solar cells.
Differences Between Bifacial And Typical Solar Panels?
As previously mentioned, bifacial solar panels can absorb and generate power from the front and rear sides. While on the other hand, typical solar panels are monofacial with a conventional cell structure that traps energy only from the front side.
Bifacial panels have either dual glass or clear backsheets, whereas typical solar panels have opaque backsheets. In addition, bifacial solar panels are also more expensive than monofacial solar. However, bifacial panels are currently popular among households or offices for their durability and UV resistance.
Bifacial PV Modules Test Standards and Certifications
Experts from the IEC-appointed working groups are currently reviewing existing standards and determining whether new standards are required to address bifacial PV technologies. They are specifically in charge of PV modules and technical aspects of PV systems. Photovoltaic modules are covered by four sets of IEC standards.
IEC TS 60904-1-2:2019 states that it “describes procedures for the measurement of the current-voltage (I-V) characteristics of bifacial photovoltaic devices in natural or simulated sunlight. It is applicable to single PV cells, sub-assemblies of such cells or entire PV modules.”
For end customers, the lack of a precise description of the nominal power for bifacial PV modules is a disadvantage. The power rating is usually based on the frequently used STC output power of the front side, with some manufacturers including an anticipated contribution from the back.
Right now, there are no standards yet on how to incorporate the bifacial elements on the PV module’s nameplate or in the manufacturer’s datasheet, and there are no clearly defined reference conditions for the rated output power of bifacial photovoltaic modules.
Bifacial Solar Cells Overview
The majority of crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells were made of p-type silicon with a light-opaque aluminum back contact until recently. These monofacial cells, known as aluminum back-surface field cells (Al-BSF), can only accept light from the front.
So, advanced cell designs that use a localized back contact that only requires metallization of a portion of the cell’s rear side include passivated emitter and rear cell (PERC), passivated emitter rear totally diffused (PERT), passivated emitter rear locally diffused (PERL), and silicon heterojunction with 15 thin layer (HIT).
In terms of market share, bifacial photovoltaic cells, modules, and systems are rapidly eclipsing monofacial PV technologies. This is because new cell designs have replaced opaque, monolithic back surface foil contacts with isolated contacts, which allows light to enter the cell from the back side.
Minor modifications to cell processing steps have resulted in bifacial solar cells with rear side efficiencies ranging from more than 60% to more than 90% of the front side.
How Does A Bifacial Solar Module Work?
Bifacial solar panels, as already stated, are two-sided and have solar cells on each side. These cells are usually comprised of monocrystalline solar cells, but polycrystalline cells are also used as well.
A bifacial solar panel produces more energy while also consuming less space making it more efficient. They’re constructed differently, and instead of metal frames, glass is used on both sides with an anti-reflective coating for durability and is also highly weather resistant.
Though both sides absorb light efficiently, the front and back of the bifacial solar panel work slightly differently. The front solar cells directly face the sun and absorb the rays but only to specific wavelengths. In contrast, the back solar cells are designed to collect the light reflected from the ground.
The best way to allow the bifacial solar panels to work more effectively is to place them on a reflective surface such as bright-colored roofs or white tiles.
And since bright colors offer better refection than darker colors, painting the roof either white or silver is more suitable. The reason is that white or light-colored surface bounces the incoming light up to 80%, whereas the light reflected by grass is only 23%.
In addition, bifacial panels should be slanted appropriately on the ground or roof to produce maximum energy.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of a bifacial solar panel is higher compared to typical solar panels. On average, it can cost $0.42 to $1.50 per watt, but the calculated cost of manufacturing a single bifacial module starts at $0.37 as shown on the graph above from NREL.
Moreover, to purchase and install a bifacial solar panel system can also cost around $2.67 and $3.43 per watt. However, the average cost estimation largely varies on the size of the location and the amount of energy required.
You may want to look at the detailed costing of an average 10kW solar power system installation to get a feel of the expenses.
When Should I Use Bifacial Solar Panels?
Lately, the bifacial solar panel has been increasing in popularity due to its efficiency and is forecasted to gain 60% of the global market in the next ten years. By saying this, more businesses and households are opting to install bifacial modules to increase energy generation.
The bifacial solar panel has a better advantage in generating energy even during harsh weather conditionswhile also slashing your electricity bill. Bifacial solar can produce 50% more energy than the typical solar panels, making it suitable for households or commercial purposes.
Also, bifacial panels work best when installed on high ground with high albedos and are more advantageous when the roof is flat or highly reflective. For example, metal roofs reflect more solar radiation.
They can also be set up over a pool, transparent roof, or canopies. If you’re considering bifacial panels for residential purposes, most homeowners use their backyard pergola to generate more energy, and frameless modules are also popular in limited spaces. You can also use them on agricultural farms, and vertically mounted bifacial panels can also serve as windbreaks.
List of Bifacial Solar Panel Models
The solar panels listed below are the commercially available bifacial PV modules coming from the top solar module manufacturers. I have gathered the list along with their details and posted it in here.
Please note that these modules are not arranged in any particular order aside from them being sorted alphabetically.
Disclaimer: Solar Powered Blog has no affiliation to any of these companies. This is just for the information of the readers.
|Brand – Model||Power (Wp)||Weight (kg)||Efficiency|
|AE Solar AE450HM6L-72||450||27.5||20.7|
|AE Solar AE595HM6L-78||595||37.9||21.23|
|Canadian Solar BiHiKu5_CS3Y-PB-AG||545||32.2||21.2|
|Canadian Solar BiHiKu7_C7L-MB-AG||600||34.6||21.2|
|Canadian Solar BiHiKu7_CS7N-MB-AG||660||37.9||21.2|
|LG Electronics LG340N1T – V5||340||17.1||19.85|
|LG Electronics LG405N2T-J5||405||20.3||19.54|
|Phono Solar PS370M5GHFH-20/UYH||370||19.6||20.3|
|Phono Solar PS460M5GHFH-24/TH||460||27.5||21.16|
|Risen RSM150-8-510BMDG G5.3||510||31.5||20.7|
|Trina Solar DEG5C.07(II)_V3||370||28||18.9|
|Trina Solar TallmaxM_DEG15VC.20(II)||485||30||20.6|
|Trina Solar Vertex_DEG19C.20||550||32.6||21|
|Trina Solar Vertex_DEG21C.20||670||38.7||21.6|
|URE Solar D2L410O8A||410||27.7||20.18|
|VSUN VSUN450-144BMH-D G||450||27.8||20.24|
Pros and Cons
How does solar energy get to the solar panel’s underside? It happens because light reflects off the earth’s surface. Depending on the color and material of the surface beneath the solar panels, you can capture a lot of reflected sunlight this way.
Bifacial panels, on the other hand, aren’t always successful. Use this list of bifacial solar panels’ advantages and disadvantages to determine if they’re right for your home or business.
Advantages of Bifacial PV Modules
Bifacial PV modules have been around for a few years, but they are just now starting to gain traction. In the world of solar power, bifacial PV panels are an answer to many industry challenges. They offer a variety of advantages over traditional monofacial designs.
- More energy produced by the same number of panels.
- More aesthetically appealing.
- Requires lesser space or area.
- Longer warranties.
- Panels with two sides are more durable than single-sided panels.
- Lesser reliance to trackers.
- Increases the benefits of using trackers.
- Ideally suited for ground-mounted arrays.
Disadvantages of Bifacial PV Modules
Not all things are perfect. The same principle applies to these solar panels.
Here, are some advantages of bifacial PV modules that you should know about.
- It is more difficult to use on a roof.
- It’s too heavy for a single person to lift.
- Most of the time, it is more expensive.
- It works best when there is a reflective surface beneath.
- Standards and certifications are still to be clearly defined.
Are Bifacial Solar Panels Worth It?
Yes. Bifacial solar energy is worth the investment. It’s one of the latest innovations that is projected to overgrow in the next few years. Although slightly expensive than traditional solar panels, it enhances energy production as you can use them on both sides. Regardless of the weather condition, whether it’s snowy, stormy, or cloudy, it still absorbs and produces energy.
Additionally, one main benefit of bifacial panels is that they can generate energy 30% more than the typical solar panels. Hence, making them suitable for homeowners to install panels even in limited spaces to produce more electricity.
Also, when compared to conventional solar panels with solar cells only on the front side to capture energy, bifacial panels work on both sides. The front directly absorbs the sunlight, while the back absorbs the light reflected from the ground.
And even when the front side fails to produce energy in harsh weather conditions, the back continues to generate power by working on the albedo light. Thus, increasing its efficiency. In comparison, typical solar panels are always affected in poor weather conditions.
Bifacial panels are also more durable as both sides are usually covered with highly durable tempered glass resistant to weather, strong winds, UV rays, and other harsh elements. They are definitely worth of the investment especially when used and optimized properly. Given their durability, bifacial panels also have longer lifespans, and they come with more extended warranties.
Although these solar panels with two sides are now considered a luxury item, the investment is well worth it. Bifacial modules have twice the surface area of monofacial modules and can collect reflected light that single-sided panels cannot, providing a module efficiency advantage. In high latitudes and cold climates, double-sided panels are useful for gathering reflected sunlight. They can also perform well in overcast conditions. Because of the all-glass frame, you won’t have to worry about PID and UV radiation efficiency losses, and they won’t need to be grounded. Aesthetics play an important role in marketing.
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- Jaeger, K.; Hezel, R. (1987). “Bifacial MIS inversion layer solar cells based on low temperature silicon surface passivation”. Proceedings of the 19th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, New Orleans: 388–391. Bibcode:1987pvsp.conf..388J.
- K. Masuko, M. Shigematsu, and T. Hashiguchi, “Achievement of more than 25% conversion efficiency with crystalline silicon heterojunction solar cell,” IEEE J Photovoltaics, vol. 4(6), pp. 1433–1435, 2014
- Patel, M. Tahir, et al. “Temperature-Dependent Energy Gain of Bifacial PV Farms.” Applied Energy, vol. 276, 2020, pp. 115405., doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2020.115405