Bifacial Solar Panels: Working, Advantages & Disadvantages

Bifacial Solar Panels

With the advancement in solar technology, researchers around the world are continuously working on making solar panels more efficient.

One such invention is Bifacial solar panels that are claimed to have an efficiency of 27% which is 11% more than mono-facial panels.

Even if we look at overall trends, the market share of BF technology is continuously increasing since 2017. 

Bifacial Cell Technology
Image Source: ITRPV 

According to the above data from ITRPV, by 2028, bifacial solar panels will replace around 40% of mono-facial panels. 

Thus it is important for us to know what Bifacial solar panels are & how they work. 

In this article, I have covered the same along with the pros & cons of using them.

After reading this post, you will be able to decide whether you should use Bifacial solar panels or not.

Let’s dive right in!

Bifacial Solar Panels

Bifacial solar panels are those panels that produce solar power from both sides (faces). 

Instead of covering the back-side of normal PV panels, here it is made transparent so that both the faces can generate electricity.

You might be wondering how sunlight enters the cells from the back? Well, to understand it, we have to first learn how these panels are made.

Here’s how these panels are constructed:

How are Bifacial solar panels made?

The construction of Bifacial solar panels is somewhat similar to that of mono-facial panels.

The only difference that makes bifacial different from them is that instead of using a back sheet/reflective coating, here transparent glass is used.

The below image can clearly illustrate how photons enter into both types of PV modules.

Mono-facial vs Bi-facial Solar panels
Image Source: EE Publishers

Also, encapsulants like Ethyl Vinyl Acetate are used on both the side of solar cells.

Working of Bifacial Solar Panels

Unlike mono-facial solar panels, BF panels absorb direct as well as reflected light.

The front side of panels uses direct sunlight while the reflected light is absorbed from the rear side.

Let’s understand it more clearly with the help of the below diagram.

Working of Bifacial Solar Panels

As you can see the front portion of the solar panel is getting direct sunlight which causes the flow of electrons. This flow of charge leads to the generation of electricity.

The part of sunlight that is striking the floor is reflected & used by the rear part of the panel to produce electricity.

To produce energy from both sides, you have to use a sunlight tracker for proper alignment & height.

This is how Bifacial solar panels work. 

Albedo Value

With variation in reflecting surface, the reflectivity of the surface also varies & the measure of reflection is known as albedo value.

The albedo values for some of the most common surfaces are shown in the below table.

Albedo Values of various surfaces
Image Source: solaren-power.com

High albedo value represents higher reflectivity of light & thus higher efficiency.

Benefits of Using Bifacial Solar Panels

Like any other solar technology, Bifacial solar panels do also have positive & negative sides.

Here are some of the top benefits of using Bifacial solar panels:

1. High Efficiency

While compared to traditional mono-facial PV panels, BF panels are 11 to 12% more efficient.

The reason for its high efficiency includes the use of monocrystalline solar cells & bifacial nature that leads to the production of more energy with the least available resources.

2. Less Space & Panels Required

Since, both the faces are generating electricity for you. Thus,  lesser panels are required to produce a certain amount of energy.

Overall, fewer panels lead to lesser space.

3. High Durability

Compared to the mono-facial panels, Bifacial ones are more durable & can provide a better shield in case of hail storms or any other bad weather conditions.

It is so because the tempered glass used in their manufacturing is quite strong & protects them from both sides.

4. Energy Production During Bad Weather

In the case of mono-facial panels, solar energy production is very much impacted by the bad weather. 

However, it is not the case with bifacial panels. In these panels, one side gets affected by the weather while the other continues to work.

5. Angle of Installation

Unlike mono facial solar panels, BF systems can be installed at any angle. It is not necessary to install them at a certain angle for their better efficiency.

You can even install them at an angle of 90° & efficiency will not be much impacted.

Disadvantages of using Bifacial PV Panels

Everything in the world exists with both pros & cons. Bifacial solar panels do also have few cons.

Here is the complete list:

1. High Cost Associated

The cost of installation in the case of bifacial solar panels is high in comparison to mono-facial ones. It is so because BF technology is quite new & very few people are aware of it.

Also, since you are getting more energy, thus it is obvious to have a higher price. However, if we compare the overall energy cost in the case of mono & bifacial panels, then it is somewhat similar in both cases.

2. Heavy Weight

Contrary to the mono-facial panels, these are slightly heavier in weight. But it is not that much, just 15-20 pounds more than normal panels.

Because of their heavy-weight, it becomes a bit difficult for them to install. However, hiring a proper solar installation team can help.

Up to You!

Compared to mono-facial, bifacial solar technology is much advanced & efficient.

If you are planning to install solar panels or want to add to your existing system, then you can go for bifacial PV panels.

I have tried my best to explain the construction, working, pros & cons of using them. Now it’s up to you which panel you use.

You can compare prices online & choose the best one for you. Overall, what do you think about these panels?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

Harish Joshi

Harish is an environment enthusiast & a passionate blogger from Uttarakhand, India. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Applications from G.B. Pant. University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar. Along with Solar Funda, he also manages Fullonstudy (an educational blog for college students).

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