A Complete Guide to Bifacial Solar Panels

Switching to solar energy is becoming more and more popular today. It’s better for the environment and saves you money on electricity. It also can help your power stay on when your local grid goes down.

And bifacial solar panels are starting to become more popular as a solution. But what makes them different from standard solar panels? Are they better than standard panels?

The truth is that there are many benefits to getting bifacial solar panels. And oftentimes they are better than other solar panels.

Read on to learn more and for some bifacial solar panel tips.

How Normal Solar Panels Work

Normal solar panels use photovoltaic cells made out of two layers of silicon to generate energy.

When the sun shines, the light rays contain particles called photons. These photons hit against the photovoltaic cells. This stimulates the silicon and makes its electrons free to move around.

In effect, the silicon becomes positively charged. That creates an electric current that is then transported into a wire. The wire sends this current to an inverter.

The inverter then turns the current into AC. This is the electricity that then powers your home or charges your backup solar battery. 

This basic physics is what allows solar energy to work. It’s what lets it be efficient enough to power our homes during the day. It can even charge batteries powerful enough to provide power to your home for hours.

But even as powerful as normal solar panels are, there is still room for improvement. Bifacial solar panels simply seek to improve the design of normal solar panels. 

How Bifacial Solar Panels Are Different

A normal solar panel only has photovoltaic cells on one side of it. This is then mounted in a metal frame that points the panel towards the sunlight. 

To give it better access to sunlight and to save space, these solar panels are generally placed on top of roofs. And they don’t typically sit very high up from the roof that they’re on.

Bifacial solar panels generate energy from both sides of the panel. One side has the photovoltaic cells and the other has a transparent glass or sheet. And instead of a metal frame, they use glass to connect everything. 

They are also suspended higher up in the air to allow for light to encompass both sides of the panel. Because of this, they’re generally not installed on top of roofs. That environment could be too unstable.

They are however often installed vertically on the sides of buildings. This provides power to offices and apartments in urban areas. And while normal solar panels are generally installed at a slight angle, bifacial solar panels can be installed perfectly horizontally facing the sky.

How Does This Work?

But if one side of the panel is always facing away from the sun, then how does it produce energy from both sides? This is because the underside of the panel has a transparent surface.

When light shines onto a surface, that surface will always reflect some amount of that light. This is why we’re able to see different shapes and colors. The transparency of the bottom of the panel seeks to take advantage of that.

The light that travels between panels, for example, can reflect upwards and into the bottom of the solar panel. This allows the silicon photovoltaic cells to absorb the light that’s reflecting off of the ground. This is what makes a bifacial solar panel more efficient than a regular one.

The only question this creates is where to place them. All surfaces will reflect some amount of light, but there are some surfaces that are more reflective than others. The more light that gets reflected, the more energy the solar panel can produce.

But you can’t always place a mirror under a group of solar panels. Part of the point of solar panels is to take up as little space as possible so that just wouldn’t work. Instead, one of the best options available is to install them in the sand.

Bifacial Solar Panel Advantages

So what are all of the bifacial solar panel benefits? How much better than a regular solar panel are they? Is it worth it to install these over other solar panels?

Efficiency

The first benefit of bifacial solar panels is greater efficiency. They’re able to produce more energy, which means they can provide more energy to your home when the sun is shining. This is especially true when they’re installed above reflective surfaces.

This provides a high power output. That makes your lights brighter and your devices charge faster. It means that your electric bill can be even lower.

When tested against a normal solar panel, bifacial solar panels had as high as a thirty percent better efficiency than the normal solar panel. That’s thirty percent more electricity that isn’t being generated by fossil fuels. That means fewer greenhouse gases are being released into the atmosphere. 

This is a good thing since one of the biggest reasons to switch to solar energy is because it’s a clean power source. The fewer fossil fuels your home or business relies on for energy the better. 

The other big reason is for independence from the power grid. A more efficient solar panel can mean your solar batteries last longer too. So you won’t need to lose power if your local power grid goes down or when the sun isn’t shining.

Lower Degradation

Like most electronic devices, solar panels will start to lose their efficiency over time. This is called degradation. Maintaining your solar panels properly will slow this process, but even well-maintained solar panels will slowly succumb to it. 

The efficiency of your solar panel is at one hundred percent when it’s installed. Then it slowly loses percentage as time goes on. Most normal solar panels installed today have a degradation rate of less than one percent per year. 

When the solar panel reaches eighty percent efficiency it is considered to be at the end of its life. The good news is that this means a normal solar panel can last for twenty to thirty years before it should be replaced. And even then, these solar panels may still be producing energy long after that.

A bifacial solar panel lasts even longer than that. Its degradation rate is generally lower than a normal solar panel. This means that it can be efficiently producing energy for much longer than the standard twenty to thirty years. 

The degradation rate was found to be near-zero for bifacial solar panels. This is even less than the half-percentage rate per year that a standard solar panel has.

Quality

There are a few different types of silicon that are used to make different types of solar panels. For residential solar panels, these are generally either polycrystalline or monocrystalline. Each has its own energy efficiency associated with them.

Of these two types, monocrystalline silicon tends to be of higher quality. It produces more energy and lasts longer than polycrystalline silicon. So it’s used in higher-quality solar panels.

This is also why bifacial solar panels are made out of monocrystalline silicon. This is part of what gives it such a low degradation rate. It also helps contribute to the general efficiency of these solar panels.

The bifacial solar panel is already designed to create more energy than a standard solar panel. Then the monocrystalline silicon is also the more efficient choice for a solar panel. On top of this, the silicon will last longer, so you can feel confident that your solar panels will be in good shape for a very long time.

This means you’ll be using clean renewable energy for much longer than you would with other solar panels.

Frameless

A standard solar panel has a metal frame. Because of this, they need to be grounded during installation. Otherwise, the solar panel won’t absorb as much sunlight or last as long.

This usually involves a metal stand that tilts the solar panel towards the sunlight. Most of the time, this is attached to the roof during installation. It’s heavy and requires a lot of time and labor to complete. 

This also means that standard solar panels cost more for labor and installation.

A bifacial solar panel is frameless. Rather than being held together by metal, the entire panel is held together in a strong glass. It doesn’t need to be grounded.

They also generally aren’t installed on top of residential roofs. This makes it a lot easier to install these solar panels. That means your labor and installation costs will be lower than they would be with a standard solar panel. 

And it’s even easier to take care of because it’s frameless. All you need to do is use a garden hose to make sure that the panels stay clean. If pollen or other debris build-ups occur on top of the solar panel, then this can lower its efficiency. 

You would have to do this with a standard solar panel anyway. Now, you won’t need to take your hose up to your roof.

Durability

To be useful, solar panels have to be very durable. They generally aren’t placed where large branches can fall on them since this would block access to sunlight. This means that your biggest concern is going to be the weather.

How will your solar panels hold up during rain, wind, and hail? The good news is that even standard solar panels have been able to stand up to hurricanes.

Otherwise, they’d need replacing every time a storm blew through. This would defeat the purpose of having them in the first place.

Bifacial solar panels are even more durable than standard solar panels.

The strong tempered glass that encases the silicon protects the silicon photovoltaic cells from nearly anything. Unless you live in an area that gets large hail or tornados, your solar panels should hold up against just about anything. All you need to do is make sure they stay clean so they can keep absorbing sunlight. 

And even if something cracks the glass, the silicone inside will still be able to generate energy. In some cases, it won’t even lose any efficiency when this happens. Light glass repairs might be the only thing you really need to worry about with bifacial solar panels.

Beauty

Finally, the last benefit of bifacial solar panels is that they simply look nicer than standard solar panels.

Standard ones simply sit on a roof or on the ground. It’s not that they look bad. But it’s easy for them to stick out rather than feel like a natural part of the scenery. Bifacial solar panels are easily incorporated into a design wherever they’re installed.

They can be arranged in many different ways, so they’re often used to create canopies or pergolas. That means that they can do more than just provide clean energy to your home. They can also add beauty and function to your yard. 

On the sides of buildings, they look sleek and elegant. This adds to the feeling of professionalism that office buildings tend to provide people with. 

And there are many other ways you can arrange and install bifacial solar panels. It’s easy to find charming ways to incorporate them into any setting. And experts will work with you to find an arrangement that both works and looks good!

Get Bifacial Solar Panels Today

Bifacial solar panels are a great option for solar energy. They’re more powerful, efficient, and last much longer than other solar panels. And they can be installed virtually anywhere!

And when you’re ready to make the switch to solar, let West Bay Energy be your bifacial solar panel guide. Our experts are happy to help you design a solar energy system that both powers your home and looks good in your yard! And you’ll get our best-in-industry warranties as well! 

Contact us today to see how we can help you switch to solar energy today.

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