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What are Bifacial Solar Panels: Can It Be Used On Roofs?

Bifacial Solar Panels
Photo credit: Werner Slocum/NREL

When it comes to setting up solar panels, the main goal is always to make as much electricity from sunlight as possible. Solar panel technology has really improved over time. One of the coolest new kinds is bifacial solar panels. These have been around since the 1960s, but they've recently become a big deal in the solar world because of a smart update called PERC technology. So, what are these bifacial solar panels, and why should you think about using them?

Bifacial solar panels are special because they can catch sunlight from both the front and the back. This means they can make more electricity than regular panels. They offer a new and better way to set up solar power for your home or business. Keep reading to find out how they work and why they are the top choice for some solar enthusiasts.


Key Highlights

  • Bifacial solar panels harness sunlight from both sides, potentially generating up to 30% more energy than traditional panels.

  • They're versatile, suitable for large projects, and, with the right conditions, residential roofs too.

  • Installation requires careful consideration of framing, angle, and potential shading to maximize efficiency.

  • The location, angle, surrounding albedo, and environmental conditions significantly impact their energy generation.

  • While they may cost more initially, their increased energy output and potential durability can offer long-term savings and benefits.


What Are Bifacial Solar Panels?

Bifacial solar panels are like the usual solar panels but with a twist—they harness sunlight from both sides. Traditionally, solar panels, whether made of monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells, have an opaque backsheet. Bifacial panels, often made from the more efficient monocrystalline cells, ditch this for a transparent or reflective back, allowing them to catch the sun's rays from the back as well as the front. This design isn't just about looks; it's about boosting power. By capturing light on both sides, they significantly increase energy generation. And let's not forget, their sleek, frameless design isn't just strong; it's also quite the looker on any roof!

How Do Bifacial Solar Panels Work?

Here's the scoop: like regular panels, they absorb direct sunlight. But, they also catch the light that bounces around inside the glass and the light that reflects off the ground or nearby surfaces. This means even the light that usually escapes is now part of your energy-making team. It's like having a solar panel that's always looking for an extra way to soak up the sun. So, while they might look like your standard panel, they're working double-time to keep your lights on and your bills down. 

Can Bifacial Solar Panels Be Installed on Roofs?

Bifacial Solar Panels
photo credit: deege solar

Bifacial solar panels are pretty cool because they can catch sunlight from the front and the back, making more power. But they're not perfect for every house. They usually cost more and work best in big projects where there's lots of space for light to bounce back to them.

These panels are great for big buildings or big solar projects. But, some houses can use them too. If you have a special spot like a pergola or an awning, these panels can work well and even give you some shade. If you're thinking about putting your solar panels on the ground instead of your roof, these panels might be a good choice because they can get light from all around.

Installation Process and Best Practices

When it's time to put them up, the ones with frames are easier because they fit right into most systems that hold solar panels. But if they don't have frames, you need to be extra careful not to break them when you're installing them.

The angle you put them at really matters too. If you tilt them just right, they can make a lot more power. But you have to watch out for shadows from the frame or other parts that can block the light. There are special ways to set them up that help avoid these shadows and let the panels catch as much light as possible. So, while bifacial panels aren't for every home, with the right setup, they can be a great way to make more power and save money in the long run.

How Much More Energy Can Bifacial Solar Panels Generate?

Wondering how much extra energy bifacial solar panels can make? Well, they can create up to 30% more power than regular panels. That's because they catch sunlight from both sides, not just the front. If you put them in the right place, like near shiny surfaces that reflect lots of light, they can really churn out the power. But the amount of extra energy you get also depends on where you install them and the surroundings. So, choosing the right spot is key to getting the most out of these two-sided energy champs.

What Factors Could Affect Their Energy Generation?

  • Location: The placement of bifacial solar panels is crucial. They perform best in areas where they can capture reflected sunlight, such as near reflective surfaces or open spaces.

  • Angle of Installation: The tilt or angle at which the panels are installed can significantly impact their efficiency. Optimal angling ensures maximum exposure to direct and reflected sunlight.

  • Albedo Effect: This refers to the reflectivity of the surrounding surface. Surfaces with high albedo, like snow, sand, or certain types of concrete, can enhance the performance of bifacial panels by reflecting more sunlight onto their rear side.

  • Environmental Conditions: Surrounding factors like the presence of snow, sand, or water bodies can affect the amount of light reflected and, consequently, the energy generated.

  • Shading: Avoidance of shading from nearby objects is essential, as shadows can significantly reduce the efficiency of bifacial panels.

  • Panel Design: The specific design and technology of the bifacial panel also play a role in how much energy it can generate.

  • Durability and Maintenance: Durable materials and proper maintenance can prolong the effective energy generation lifespan of the panels.

Each of these factors contributes to the overall performance of bifacial solar panels, making them a versatile and efficient choice for diverse installation environments.

Thinking about going bifacial? It's a smart move, but let's make sure it's the right one for you. Consider your location — do you have ample sunlight and a good spot for reflection? What about your roof's layout? These factors are key in reaping the full benefits of bifacial panels. 

Most importantly, get a professional to check out your property. They can tell you how well bifacial panels would work for you. Then, explore your options and crunch some numbers.


Are bifacial solar panels better?

Bifacial solar panels can be better as they generate more power by capturing sunlight from both sides. However, their effectiveness depends on installation location and conditions.

Can you use bifacial solar panels on a roof?

Which is better, bifacial vs. monofacial?

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