Introducing Bifacial Solar Panels
One of the most exciting aspects of working in the solar industry is the rapid rate at which technology develops, improving the utility of solar panels and reducing their cost. One of the most interesting newer technologies on the market is bifacial solar panels. Let’s take a look at this type of solar panel and how they can help Alamo Ranch and other local areas.
What is a Bifacial Solar Panel?
If you’ve broken down the name, you may already have a good idea of the big feature of these panels. Most panels are monofacial – meaning that they only have one face to trap sunlight. In other words, they have a front (which has the photovoltaic cells) and a back.
However, bifacial solar panels are designed to have two sides that absorb the light from the sun. Whether sunlight hits the front or back of the panel, it will be absorbed. These panels typically have cells that can absorb light from both sides which are covered on both the front and back by thin, tough glass panels.
This type of solar panel also features a smaller junction box on the backside. The junction box houses the electronics for a solar panel. Because this is smaller on bifacial solar panels, it provides more space for absorption on the rear side by casting less of a shadow.
How Do Bifacial Solar Panels Work?
When looking at a bifacial solar panel, the front side of the panel works basically the same as a traditional solar panel. When it is exposed to sunlight, it absorbs it and converts it into energy, generating power for you.
The difference lies in the back of the bifacial solar panel and involves harnessing the nature of light. As you likely know, light has reflective properties, allowing it to bounce off of surfaces that are highly reflective and even those that aren’t very reflective at all.
In fact, when you see an object, you are not actually “seeing” that object. Instead, you are simply seeing the light that it reflects. Thus, light is virtually anywhere that isn’t dark, including the back of solar panels. It is this type of reflected light, often referred to as aldebo light, that the back of a bifacial solar panel targets.
Of course, this light is not as powerful as that which has not yet been reflected. However, it does add to the overall efficiency of the solar panel. Homes and businesses in Alamo Ranch and other local communities can benefit from the enhanced performance of these panels.
How Much More Efficient are Bifacial Solar Panels?
When it comes to efficiency, studies have been conducted to examine how bifacial solar panels perform when compared to traditional models. For example, a study in China found that using bifacial solar panels in a tilted, ground-mounted installation generated 11% more energy with other methods generating up to 27%.
While that may not seem like a large increase, it is important to realize that more can be done to prepare a site to improve the effectiveness of bifacial solar panels. For example, you could prepare your Alamo Ranch bifacial solar panel site to have light colored material underneath, which will increase the amount of light that reflects, adding up to 20% of gain. You can also place the array elevated at three to four feet off of the ground or install small gaps between rows.
In many areas like Alamo Ranch, placing bifacial solar panels vertically is also feasible. Planting east-west facing bifacial solar panels allows both sides to take advantage of direct sunlight throughout the day, particularly in the mornings and afternoons.
Disadvantages to Bifacial Solar Panels
While there are many advantages to bifacial solar panels, there are some disadvantages as well. One of these is the cost of the panels. They are typically more expensive than traditional solar panels. However, they are also newer to the market and history shows that costs tend to decline over time as production technology improves.
Another disadvantage is that they typically have a higher installation cost as they require specialized site preparation and equipment to take full benefit of their increased efficiency. Of course, better installation means better efficiency throughout their lifetime. However, it still represents a larger upfront cost.
Are Bifacial Solar Panels Right for Me?
If you are a resident of Alamo Ranch or elsewhere in the San Antonio area and are wondering if you should consider bifacial solar panels, it really depends on your specific site. Since these solar panels are not the best for rooftop installation, they may not be the best for some residential settings. However, they are often a good choice for larger properties and for commercial usage.
In other words, like most solar panel types, their feasibility depends on your specific situation. Thus, feel free to contact us in order to help determine what you might expect from bifacial or other types of solar panels!