Bifacial Solar Panels: Disadvantages and Advantages

Bifacial Solar Panels: Disadvantages and Advantages

By Renogy marketing team
Renogy marketing team
renogys blog Apr 6th 2023

This article takes a look at all you need to know about bifacial solar panels, such as their efficiency, cell structure, and cost.  

Table of contents:

What is a bifacial solar panel?

A bifacial solar panel is quite different and more efficient than a traditional monofacial solar panel, as it produces renewable energy from both surfaces. 

Monofacial panels, typically installed on rooftops, have only one working side that faces the sun, with the other side facing the roof of the building, away from direct sunlight. 

In contrast, bifacial modules can receive sunlight on both sides to generate electricity. How? While the front of the panel is exposed to direct sunlight, the back of the panel generates electricity using the light that’s reflected off the ground or the panel’s surroundings.

That’s how bifacial panels generate more renewable energy than their monofacial counterparts. 

You can use bifacial solar panels in settings requiring greater energy. These are primarily large-scale projects like solar farms. You can also use bifacial panels for residential and commercial use as they can be installed on the ground.  

That being said, bifacial panels generate more energy when installed above a highly reflective surface, such as a stony, sandy, or snowy environment. They don’t work as well on rooftops due to the little clearance left for reflected light.

Bifacial panels are perfect for swimming pool glass installations, or roofing pavilions, pergolas, and gazebos. 


However, it is worth noting that even though both surfaces of bifacial panels can absorb sunlight and heat for energy production, the front side absorbs more sunlight than the backside. With bifacial solar panels, you can increase your energy generation by as much as 30%. Interesting!

Types of Bifacial Solar Panels

Bifacial panels come in three different forms:

1.Glass/glass: Bifacial panels with double-sided glass surfaces are structurally stronger and can resist heavier loads than other bifacial or monofacial solar panels. 

2.Glass/transparent backsheet: Has a front side encased with glass while the rear is protected by a transparent backsheet. Typically, more affordable than glass/glass panel.

3.Glass/backsheet: Similar to its bifacial counterparts , it has a glass front-side and a non-transparent backsheet on the back.

Bifacial panels can also be either monocrystalline or polycrystalline. However, they are commonly found as monocrystalline that's more efficient. A bifacial polycrystalline panel is a rare find because the reduced efficiency of polycrystalline panels defeats the purpose of making panels bifacial.

Bifacial Solar Panels Advantages and Disadvantages

You stand to enjoy several advantages when you install bifacial solar panels. As with every good thing, there are a few shortcomings. 


1. As its name implies, these panels are bifacial, generating energy on both surfaces. That's quite advantageous to your home or business because you will generate more energy than monofacial panels in the same amount of space.

2. Bifacial solar panels give out more power than conventional solar panels because their entire surface works to produce electricity for your facility.

3. Bifacial solar panels are an excellent choice if you cannot install panels on your roof. You can mount them on the ground and get your desired power generation.  

4. Double-sided solar panels with glass surfacing on both sides are more durable than regular solar panels with glass on only one side. They are less likely to get damaged by extreme weather.

5. Bifacial panels can boost the aesthetic appeal of your facility when installed tastefully. Just remember to take appropriate measures before replacing traditional roofing with bifacial panels on indoor spaces as can create a mini-greenhouse.

6. Installing bifacial the value of your property. If you decide to sell your property in the future, you will get better quotes and offers from realtors and buyers.

7. Studies have shown that bifacial solar panels utilized for tracking systems can reduce costs by as much as 16%. BOS (balance of system) equipment and other related expenses are reduced because bifacial modules generate more energy within a smaller range of installations.

8. Rodents cannot live or hide under double-sided solar panels because they don't have one side resting on surfaces like regular solar panels.  

9. Depending on where you want to use them, the peculiar design of bifacial panels makes them suitable for different purposes like pergolas, gazebos, awnings, and barriers.

10. Bifacial solar panels can work at different angles or orientations as long as they are facing towards the equator. They can even be installed vertically at 90 degrees and still work well enough.

11. Like other solar systems, bifacial solar panels produce clean and renewable energy that is healthy for you and the environment. It is devoid of harmful gasses from fossil fuels used for traditional energy generation.

12. It takes fewer bifacial panels to generate the same amount of energy as monofacial panels. So you can satisfy your energy requirements using fewer panels.


1. One of the disadvantages of bifacial solar panels is their price. They are more expensive than regular one-sided panels, though a good reason is that they require more materials to manufacture. 

2. Bifacial solar panels are unsuitable for use in areas with lots of shade or obstructing buildings. They are also not suitable to be installed above dark-colored, non-reflective surfaces such as dirt or grass.

3. The installation of bifacial ( double-sided) solar panels sometimes requires more time and effort than single-sided panel installation.  

4. Bifacial panels with double-sided glass surfaces are heavier than conventional solar panels. Their weight makes it difficult to maneuver or adjust them.

The advantages of bifacial solar panels significantly outweigh any of their shortcomings. Especially after considering their increased efficiency and the possibility of getting faster returns on your investment. 

Bifacial Solar Cell Efficiency 

Bifacial solar cells have between 22 – 23% efficiency, though this depends on the type and condition of the cells used. They are far more efficient in capturing sunlight than monofacial panels. And they are especially useful in applications, such as sun tracking systems. 


For reference to the efficiency of solar panels of other sort, have a look at this article - How Efficient Are Solar Panels?

With bifacial solar panels, you don't have to worry about the problems of high temperatures. These solar panels can reduce working temperatures via their glass composition channels. 

Bifacial Solar Cell Structure

The bifacial solar panel has a photovoltaic cell structure, capturing sunlight from both sides of the cell. This structure allows for increased power generation and efficiency. A bifacial solar cell comprises a double semiconductor material such as silicon. 

The system also has a layer of transparent conductive oxide (TCO) between the cells. The front surface of the cell typically has a light-absorbing anti-reflective coating material covering it. The back surface is covered with a reflective material like aluminum.   

All these allow the cell to capture sunlight from both surfaces, leading to increased power generation and efficiency. 

Bifacial modules are made with different types of panels. Some panels are frameless, while others are double glass modules that bare the cells' back area. Bifacial panels also comprise bus bars on both sides of the cells.   

Bifacial Solar Panels Cost

The average cost of installing bifacial solar panels in the United States is between $6,000 and $12,000. Most owners spend an average of $8,000 to purchase ten bifacial solar panels installed in a porch cover pattern.  

The cost per watt for bifacial modules will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. But taking an average of the available offerings, the cost per watt is approximately $1.2 per watt. So a 300 watt bifacial panel will sell for $360 thereabouts.

Are Bifacial Solar Panels Better?

Bifacial solar panels are better when compared with other solar panel systems. Their most significant attribute is being able to generate energy from both sides of the panel.

Other benefits include increased efficiency, enhanced strength and durability, and much more.

Bifacial Solar Panel vs. Monofacial Solar Panel

1. Design

Bifacial solar panels are designed to capture sunlight from both their front and back surfaces, while monofacial solar panels can only absorb light from the front side. 

2. Snowy Weather

Bifacial solar panels are efficient during heavy snowfalls. During the winter, monofacial solar panels are usually covered in heavy snow, drastically reducing the power generation available to homeowners. 

They must patiently wait for the snow to clear off the panels before they can enjoy the solar system again. 

However, with bifacial solar panels, even if the front sides are covered in snow, they can still generate electricity for the owners because they can capture sunlight from their back surfaces.

3. Efficiency

Bifacial solar panels are more efficient and generate more energy than monofacial solar panels because they can absorb more sunlight.

4. Wider Functional Area

Bifacial solar panels have more functional surface area than monofacial panels, generating more renewable energy.

5. Installation Angle

Due to their double sided nature, bifacial solar panels can work at more angles (facing south towards the equator) than monofacial panels. Bifacial panels can even work well at a 90 degree angle. In comparison, monofacial panels need to be installed at between 30 and 45 degrees facing south towards the equator.

6. Complexity

Double glass sided bifacial solar panels have a more complex installation process than monofacial panels, which are pretty easy to install.  

7. Material

The manufacture of bifacial solar panels consumes more raw materials than conventional solar panels.

8. Cost

Bifacial solar panels cost more than monofacial solar panels. However, because of the efficiency of bifacial solar panels, you are likely to get faster returns on your investment.

Are Bifacial Solar Panels Worth It?

Although monofacial solar panels are good, you cannot close your eyes to other possibilities.


Bifacial solar panels are worth it due to the host of benefits they provide. 

For example, bifacial panels can generate 5% to 30% more power than their "mono" counterparts. So if you enjoy having more electricity, bifacial solar panels are worth having. 

Also, you can mount them on the ground, leaving your roof free for other creative projects, such as rooftop farming.

How to Install Bifacial Solar Panels: Bifacial Solar Panel Installation

1. The first step to installing bifacial solar panels is to find a suitable location for the installation. You should decide on an area with good sunlight for much of the day. No obstructions like buildings or trees should block sunlight from reaching your location. Your location can be at the top of your building or use the ground-mount option.

2. Next, prepare the desired location by clearing off all debris. Also, ensure that the surface is even.

3. After preparing the area, the mounting system for the bifacial solar panels will be installed using a roof mount or a pole mount.  

4. Next, the solar panels are connected to the mounting system.

5. The bifacial solar panels are connected to the inverter.

6. The inverter is then connected to the electric grid.

7. The installed bifacial solar system is then observed for a while, and adjustments are made where necessary.

Things to Remember While Installing a Bifacial Solar System

1. Don't Block the Back Sides of the Panels

As discussed above, bifacial solar panels can capture additional sunlight from their back surface, enabling the system to generate more energy per panel. 

If anything should form a barrier on the back side of the panel, the energy generation will reduce, thereby reducing efficiency. You should therefore ensure that other bifacial modules like inverters or racking do not block the cells. 

However, if you must include rack support in the system, you must allow space between the panel's surface and the support to ensure sunlight reaches the solar panel cells.

2. Allow Some Space between Panel Rows

Consider allowing about 3-5 inches of space between each row of panels during installation. That will be very useful during the winter. 

This space will allow free passage to the ground for snow that falls from the upper row, preventing a pile-up of snow at the ridge between both rows. When the snow falls freely to the ground through the space, it contributes to producing heat for the back of the panels as it melts.

3. Allow 42.5 Inches between the Ground and the Bottom Edge of the Array

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 2010 recommended in a paper titled "PV Module Power Gain Due To Bifacial Design. Preliminary Experimental And Simulation Data" that there should be an optimal height of 42.5 inches from the ground for bifacial solar panel arrays. 

The importance of this space is to give enough room for snow to pile up on the ground during the winter. Another significant need for that space is to prevent the panels from shading themselves.   

4. Avoid Using Non-Reflective and Dark-Colored Materials under the Panels

Bifacial solar panels will increase power output by nearly 30% when you use reflective, light-colored materials underneath the installation. 

That means you should avoid installing your panels above a dark-colored and absorbent surface.

If you must install bifacial panels on your rooftop, cover your roof with a white-colored EPDM material.

Bifacial solar panels for RV, boat and sunroom

For small off-grid scenarios like motorhomes where installing area is limited, bifacial solar panels are still a rare option on the market due to their pricey cost, heaviness, and higher installation requirements. However, we can’t deny that double-sided solar panels will be the next leading orientation towards satisfying the increasing power demands of modern RV owners and for off-grid living lifestyle.

Whether you believe it or not, Renogy has made the use of bifacial solar panels fully available from now on!

Here is how it looks like:

Renogy Bifacial 220 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Panel

What to look for from the Renogy bifacial solar panels?

First, bifacial design means they generate more power than traditional mono-facial solar panels. The Renogy bifacial solar module can produce 220 Watt under standard test conditions, but surprisingly, its actual output can reach 285 Watt at maximum.

Second, solar cells are soldered with ten bus bars (tabbing ribbons). The manufacturing cost will thus increase but Renogy insist doing so only for the reason that the solar panels will still perform excellently even when partially shaded.

Third, PERC monocrystalline solar cells are used to help increase the voltage, which also means additional currents. The PERC solar cells also help reduce the occurrence of heat during exposure to high temperature. In most cases, excess heat can raise electrical resistance and thus decrease the energy output of solar panels.

Compared to our monofacial 200 Watt solar panel, there is only a difference of four pounds in weight, and a gap of about fifty dollars in terms of cost.

There are still many strengths about the Renogy bifacial modules such as the rigorous encapsulation rating, guaranteed efficiency over 25 years, and so forth. We’ll let you to explore it by yourself, please visit or contact us for more information. Buy the best portable solar panel for camping from Renogy.

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