Technology is exponential. And just like any other science, the solar energy industry is taking huge leaps in the development of its technologies. There is no better example than the newest innovation, the bifacial solar panel.
Converting your home or business to solar energy can be a great way to save money while helping the environment. Like any technology, advancements in science bring changes that make it faster and better.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the latest in solar technology:
- What are bifacial solar panels?
- How efficient are they?
- What are their advantages and disadvantages?
- Who manufactures bifacial panels?
- What are transparent solar panels?
Let’s take a look if bifacial solar panels are more efficient, their advantages, and their disadvantages.
What Is the Latest Technology in Solar Panels?
Bifacial solar panels are the latest innovation from what was already advanced technology. When you look at a solar panel, you see the black glass that collects energy from the sun and converts it to energy.
With Bifacial panels, you get the added benefit of light absorption on both sides. The front side of the array gathers direct sunlight just as it always has.
The backside gathers reflected light, which until now had not been something we were able to harness.
What Are Bifacial Solar Panels?
Bifacial panels can absorb sunlight with solar cells on both sides. That means that they can harvest just as much energy as you have right now, but they can also absorb light that reflects off the ground or other objects behind it.
The solar panels you have now or have seen in the past were mono facial. Those are the traditional kind that captures sunlight on one side so that your system can convert it into usable energy.
Doing this can give you an increase in production. Mounting your panels in an area where a lot of light bounces off the ground could also increase your efficiency. You could mount them next to a white driveway or another reflective surface.
What Is the Difference Between Monofacial And Bifacial Solar Panels?
Bifacial panels have cells on both sides while mono facial have only one side with cells. But how they collect energy is more about their installation.
Monofacial panels are installed facing the southern sky, tilted upward to collect as much sunlight as possible.
Bifacial solar panels are vertical. In that position, they get exposure to the sun at two points during the day, sunrise and sunset. Each side collects the same energy that one side would have before.
But the side not facing the sun also benefits by absorbing any light that reflects onto it from other surfaces, increasing your energy absorption even more.
Installing them on a motorized mount so that they turn with the sun and collect more light is also a possibility.
What Is Bifacial Gain?
A field of bifacial solar panels will generate more energy than one made up of a conventional array. The amount that increases by using bifacial panels is known as the gain. And in many cases, it can be as much as 30%.
The amount of energy yielded from a bifacial array, as opposed to a mono facial one, depends on many factors. The tilt of the panel, the ground cover, wind, and temperature can all play a role in how much of an increase the bifacial panels can produce.
Understanding all of these things at installation is crucial to getting the maximum amount of output possible.
How Are Bifacial Panels Rated?
The rating of a bifacial panel depends on what the front-side cells do. The back panels have a variable output affected by many things like weather and even the manufacturer.
A solar panel could be capable of achieving a gain of 30%. However, a cloudy day could drop that down to as low as 5%.
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How Efficient Are Bifacial Panels?
There is no question that bifacial panels are more efficient than classic mono facial ones. They collect solar energy on both sides of the array. If you only get an increase of 5%, that is still more than before. The effectiveness can only be measured if used correctly.
If you install bifacial panels in the same manner as the standard ones, they will not have an opportunity to collect very much sunlight on the backside. Those panels would be facing the ground most of the day.
However, if installed vertically, either the front or back would be in full sun for the majority of the daylight hours. You could even install a system that can rotate to follow the sun throughout the day will make it even more productive.
How Much Do Bifacial Solar Panels Cost?
To mount ten bifacial solar panels around one building would cost between $5,000 to $14,000. On the low end, the panels would be stationary. The higher cost would have them mounted so that they would rotate to follow the sun throughout the day.
The best part about bifacial solar panels is that you don’t have to have as many of them if you want the same energy output. However, you probably can’t cut your panel count in half since the difference in gain is not exactly 50%.
If you are satisfied with the energy you are getting from ten panels, you can probably get by with eight. That will reduce your cost anyway you look at it. Fewer panels at installation or more energy produced.
However, if you want to take full advantage of the bifacial technology and save as much as possible, you could keep the same number of panels which could cause you to have an increase in the energy output of up to 30%.
What Are the Advantages And Disadvantages of Bifacial Solar Panels?
There are benefits and liabilities with bifacial solar panels. Many people who have transferred from traditional panel arrays say they would never return. Others have found that the new version is not for them.
- More Clean Energy – Like traditional panels, bifacial panels produce clean energy and help us to be less reliant on fossil fuels. This is good for the environment. And with panels that absorb sunlight on both sides, we can now harness more of it faster.
- More Savings – If you live in a state that gives you credit for adding more energy to the grid than you consume, bifacial panels will increase the amount of money that you take in every year. The extra costs incurred in your transition will come back quickly.
- Creating More Jobs – You could be impacting the economy as well. By helping to expand the market for bifacial solar panels, you are helping to create jobs. Companies that build them will need installers, truck drivers, and salespeople.
- Cost – Bifacial solar panels a more expensive than traditional mono facial ones. Any newer technology is going to cost more in the beginning. That price will gradually decrease as they become more popular and science advances.
However, because the panels absorb sunlight on both sides, that means one of two things. They will produce more energy which will save more money. Or there will not be a need for as many panels, which will make the initial cost much lower.
- Heavier – These panels are constructed differently than traditional ones. As a result, they’re a bit heavier. That can make it harder to install. But that is why hiring professionals can be so important.
- Installation Limitations – Bifacial solar panels cannot go everywhere that traditional panels can. They are double-sided, so they will not work if mounted flat against a roof. They need an open area where light can get to both sides of the panels if they are to be optimized.
That means that they are not a good fit for everyone. But if you do not have an open area, call for a consultation anyway. Awnings and porch coverings can be constructed with bifacial panels. This could open up enough options to make it feasible.
Are Bifacial Solar Panels the Most Efficient?
For commercial purposes, an array of bifacial solar panels are the most efficient. Most importantly, they save money. You can produce more energy or the same amount of energy with fewer panels.
They also serve a double purpose. Since they need to be high enough from the ground to get light on both sides, they can be mounted as a porch covering or an awning. They do not have to be a large part of the property that becomes an eyesore.
Are Bifacial Solar Panels Worth It?
If you are replacing traditional solar panels around your home, the cost-effectiveness of bifacial solar panels depends on their location. If the only place that you can mount them is on your roof, then bifacial solar panels will not be your best choice.
If you currently have your panels mounted very near the ground, you will have to decide if you are willing to have them raised higher or mounted vertically. If there is no light bouncing off the ground into the panel, you are wasting your money.
Businesses with a good amount of property or a flat roof that can have the panels mounted vertically are the optimal choice for bifacial solar panels.
The good thing is that traditional solar panels are not going anywhere. Both will be available for a long time.
Bifacial Solar Panel Manufacturers
There are many manufacturers of bifacial solar panels. Some of them are major players in the solar technology market. The most popular among them is LG with their NeON H BiFacial Solar Panel that gets 18.5% efficiency. Here are a few of the others.
- Q CELLS
- Canadian Solar
- Jinko Solar
- Trina Solar
- LONGi Solar
- Yingli Solar
- JA Solar
What Are Transparent Solar Panels?
Another new trend in the solar panel market is the development of transparent panels. These make it easy to get the benefits of solar panels with the ability to help them conform to your aesthetic.
No more having to deal with unsightly black panels attached to your home.
Transparent panels can give you the benefit of energy savings while making it easy to help them blend into your life. If you want to increase the energy output from your solar panels, upgrading them to bifacial panels could help you get a substantial bump.
Bifacial solar panels are the biggest innovation currently on the mainstream consumer market. The next one that is developing right now is transparent solar panels. These are solar panels that are not dark or opaque glass. They are up to 86% clear.
The revolutionary thing about transparent solar panels is that they will not need to be installed in a way that they take up a lot of space on your land. They can be part of the building. Your business can have a front window made from them. Cars will have solar panel windshields.
The biggest disadvantage is that there will have to be a lot more of them. They only collect invisible light and they let the rest through. Because of that, they do not collect enough sunlight to produce as much energy as traditional solar panels.
What Is the Cost of Transparent Solar Panels?
Right now the cost of transparent solar panels is prohibitive. Most of the panels produced are in corporate buildings and experimental houses. The cost of replacing all of your existing panels with transparent ones would be about four times the price.
But the efficiency of transparent panels is nowhere near traditional ones yet. The more transparent the manufacturer makes it, the less effective it becomes.
It is a science that is still in development. But eventually, experts say that they will be half the cost of traditional panels.
Bifacial Solar Panels FAQ
Here are some of the most common questions regarding bifacial solar panels.
How do I get the most out of my bifacial solar panels?
Using light-colored material under the array will boost your output of energy a great deal. A concrete surface will reflect more light into the backside of the panels than grass.
Where are bifacial modules used?
If you mount a bifacial solar module to a roof, there will be no reflected light being absorbed on the back of the panels. That negates the purpose of bifacial technology.
These modules are at their most optimal performance on commercial rooftops or ground-mounted vertically.