5 Advantages of Bifacial Panels Over Traditional Ones
For farms and agricultural businesses looking to save big money on energy through solar power, you should strongly consider opting for bifacial solar panels.
Bifacial panels are not for everyone. As you’ll see in a bit, they work best in situations where space is plentiful, whether on the ground or on a mostly flat roof. When the situation is right, you can produce 10-30% more power with bifacial solar panels than you would with conventional ones.
What Are Bifacial Solar Panels?
A typical solar panel has solar cells on one side. But a bifacial solar panel can absorb solar energy from both sides because it employs solar cells on back instead of a conventional backsheet.
Why would you want solar cells on the back of your panels? Because there are actually two types of sunlight – incident light and albedo light.
Albedo light is light that reflects off the ground. Though reflected light obviously won’t produce as much power as incident light – the direct sunlight that all solar panels turn to energy – it does produce some. Bifacial panels capture that secondary source of sun energy and thus increase your per-panel solar production.
If you face half your bifacial panels to the east and half to the west, you can produce two energy peaks each day, and all your panels will be producing energy the entire day.
5 Reasons Bifacial Panels Are Ideal for Farms
1. You Have More Space
Bifacial panels are easier to install for maximum production with ground mounts instead of roof mounts. The reason is because they can be spaced farther apart than what is typically done on roof mounts. For rooftop solar, it is most common for the panels to be placed flush right next to each other to maximize the available space. But with panels right next to each other, there won’t be much reflected light on the back side, unless the array is high off the ground, such as an awning.
But farms and some rural and agricultural businesses tend to have more available land, which allows you to space out the bifacial panels and take full advantage of ground reflectivity.
Plus, you have some control over how much light gets reflected. By laying down a reflective material such as white rocks, sand, or some other silver or white surface, your panels will receive far more albedo light than they would with grass or dirt underneath.
There are also some other creative ways to do ground mounts, such as setting them up as a carport or a covering for part of your yard, or over your porch. So if you’re interested in the bifacial solar concept, be sure to explore all your possible options.
2. More Durable
Farms and agricultural businesses need to know their solar panels will last a long time. That means they retain their structural integrity and continue to produce at a high efficiency for decades.
Because bifacial solar panels have glass facing on both sides, they are more durable than one-sided solar panels with conventional backsheets. The glass is tempered glass, which is very strong and able to withstand almost anything that comes against it, even projectiles hurled from hurricane force winds.
3. Longer Warranties
As a result of the greater durability, some bifacial solar manufacturers such as Canadian Solar – our top choice for the highest quality ‘tier 1’ bifacial panels – offer a 30-year warranty, five years longer than the already stellar 25-year warranty offered by many manufacturers for one-sided panels.
So not only will your bifacial panels produce more energy per panel, they will do so for more years.
4. Better than Trackers in Every Way
Some solar companies push trackers as a way to increase per-panel solar production. Trackers are devices that adjust the angle of the solar panels as the position of the sun shifts in the sky, so you get more direct sunlight for more hours each day.
The problem is that trackers involve many more moving parts. More moving parts, as is true with any appliance or mechanism, means more ways to break down. Plus, trackers are expensive, and more complicated to install.
Bifacial panels cost less than you’ll pay to install trackers with traditional panels, but will produce comparable amounts of energy. And with no moving parts, you have little to maintain or worry about breaking down.
5. Comparable Prices to Regular Panels
In most cases, as you would expect, bifacial solar panels cost more than conventional ones. However, with Coastal Solar, because we have a strong relationship with Canadian Solar and use them exclusively for bifacial panels, we are able to get them for prices very similar to regular panels.
That means, for farms that want to maximize production with a ground mounted solar array featuring bifacial panels, if you go through Coastal Solar, you can get them for a comparable price to what you’d pay for conventional panels.
Higher production, top quality, and longer durability for a comparable price? That’s about the best thing you could ask for.
Plus, with a REAP grant and a federal tax credit, farms and rural businesses can often eliminate about half the upfront costs of going solar. Combine that with the higher production of bifacial panels, and you’ll be recovering your investment in very short order.
Any Reasons Not to Get Bifacial Panels?
Bifacial panels work best for ground mounted solar arrays because you have more room to space them out. However, if you don’t want to use your available land for a solar array or don’t have enough land to spare, then you must consider using your roof. In most cases, to make them work to their full potential, you’ll need a flat roof.
A non-flat roof can still be a good candidate for bifacial panels. But for roofs with more pitch and more sections facing different directions, they end up not being as practical as a traditional set of panels.
So in general, we recommend not using bifacial panels for rooftop solar, though there are exceptions.