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Twice as nice

Bifacial panels capable of capturing light reflected off the roof/ ground are proving to be a
game changer.

The buzz in the PV industry is circling around bifacial solar panels as more and more
manufacturers begin to introduce them into their product lineup. And why not, when they have
the potential to produce up to 30% more solar energy. Let’s take a closer look at what makes
them a hot choice.

What are bifacial solar panels?
Traditional solar panels come with an opaque backsheet. Bifacial solar panels, on the other
hand, expose both the front and back of the solar cells, allowing them to generate solar energy
from both sides. They are usually made with monocrystalline cells, however some designs do
use polycrystalline solar cells as well.
There are two distinct styles of bifacial solar panels, one that uses glass on both sides and
another that uses a transparent polymer backsheet. They also come with or without frames.
Most manufacturers prefer the glass-on-glass approach as it has proven to be more durable and
resistant to the elements.

It’s all in the tilt
The higher a bifacial module is tilted, the more power it produces as it allows sunlight reflecting
off the roof to hit the back of the module, thus producing energy from both sides. And when
placed over a highly reflective surface, the energy production increases. If it is too close to the
roof or ground, chances of reflective light reaching the module significantly drop.
The way a module is mounted however, depends on whether it has a frame or not. Framed
modules tend to be easier to install but only because mounting systems are usually designed for
framed modules. However, most manufacturers provide solutions to simplify installation of
frameless panels.

Let’s face the facts
Bifacial solar panels offer some advantages over conventional or monofacial panels.
> 11-12% more efficient so fewer panels are required to produce the same amount of power
> Lower Balance of System (BoS) costs
> Smaller array footprint
> More durable – in most cases – as both sides are UV resistant and PID risks are reduced
That doesn’t mean they don’t have a few downsides. Bifacial solar panels are considerably
heavier than their counterparts. They are also more expensive. However, most experts believe
that the additional energy produced and the overall benefits balance out the costs. And lastly, if
they aren’t mounted correctly, or the surface over which they are mounted doesn’t reflect
enough light the advantages that they offer are lost.

For home or not for home
Some manufacturers believe that bifacial solar panels are the future of the PV industry. And
while they usually find themselves at home in large-scale commercial or utility applications, they
are also finding their way into the residential sector. However, before deciding if they are right
for you it is important to consult an experienced solar installer and understand if all the factors
are aligned.

High efficiency bifacial solar panels seem to have the potential to take solar energy production
to the next level. What do you think?

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