Getting solar panels seems the right choice for the environment and electricity bills simultaneously. However, if you live in Quebec or anywhere else in Canada, the efficiency of solar modules can be a delicate matter.
We don’t have as many sunny days here in the north as our friends in the south, like Texas or Arizona. This article will look at different photovoltaic panels and compare their benefits with extra attention to Canadian needs.
Traditional Solar Panels
Solar Panels have been around for about 70 years since they were first invented in US Bell Labs in 1954. The first generation of solar cells was created by coating a layer of calcium selenium with a layer of gold. These panels had a very low efficiency of around 2%, which is far lower than today’s standard.
In the past 60 years, solar panels have come a long way and increased that efficiency by 20 to 25%. Today's monofacial solar cells are often made of poly or monocrystalline cells that work similarly.
Monocrystalline solar cells are made of a single silicon crystal. They have black colour and have a higher performance compering to polycrystalline. However, Polycrystalline cells are a polymer of several silicon crystals with lower efficiency and dark blue colour. Other than performance
The main comparison starts after understanding how residential solar panels work!
You have definitely felt the warmth of sunlight while standing outside on a sunny day. The reason behind that is that the sunlight consists of millions of particles called photons that are full of energy, and that energy is absorbed by your skin when these particles hit you.
Solar cells are not that different from your skin in this matter, and each cell is made of a positive and negative end. When solar energy hits the cell's surface, electrons inside these negative and positive ends become excited and move around more than usual. Hence, electric current is produced by the cell and transferred outside.
A number of these cells will make a solar panel, and a few solar panels connected will build a solar array that powers up your house.
What Are MonoFacial and BiFacial Solar Panels?
In short, and as the name suggests, Monofacial solar modules are built with a none see-through rear side to only absorb sunlight from one side of the panels. All of the solar panels
On the other hand, BiFiacial solar modules are made of transparent backing material to absorb both direct sunlight and also its reflected light from all surfaces around the solar arrays.
This doesn’t change how each panel work. They still follow similar principles, but bifacial panels can increase total system efficiency and make a difference for your system, given the right conditions.
BiFacial vs MonoFacial Solar Panels
There is no absolute better or worse answer to this question. Even the Price comparison that we will go through in a bit shouldn’t be a significant deciding factor.
To determine which types of solar panels are best, you need to think about a few criteria:
1- Why do you want to get solar panels?
Is this going to be just a small system to reduce your carbon footprint, or power up a small system and a few LEDs? Or is it that you just want to participate in using renewable energy? In that case, both Mono or Bifacial cell technology can be an excellent solution for you.
2- Where do You Live?
Do you have long days and lots of sun exposure regardless of the season? If the sun is as bright as possible throughout the year where you are reading this blog, we recommend you get the Monofacial solar panels and save the extra money for other system components.
However, if you live in the northern part of North America, like Canada or the northern states of the US, you have lots of snow and more cloudy days. Then Bifacial modules can make a big difference in your system.
3- where do you want to install the Solar Array?
Bifacial Solar panels often perform better if they are in places where light reflects easily, such as concrete roofs with lighter colours or areas covered with snow throughout the year. These places will reflect the sun much better than brick roofs or Black coloured roofs.
4- How much space do you have?
If you have a large piece of land that will be used, Monofacial Modules are likely to be sufficient for all your energy needs. Considering adequate sunlight and other factors above, a Ground Mounted System with Monofaicla solar panels will be more than enough to accommodate all your needs.
Now that you have a better idea of which solar panels will be best for you, let’s get into Price, Installation, and Performance comparison.
BiFacial vs MonoFacial: Price and Installation Cost
On average Bifacial Panels are 10 to 15% more expensive than Monocrystalline mono facial panels, which are justified through their manufacturing process being more costly and the more advanced technology being used in producing these bifacial solar modules.
Installation of both types of solar panels needs its expertise. However, as Monofacial panels can be mounted on most surfaces, they are less expensive to install.
On the other hand, Bifacial solar systems need to be installed with unique solar panel mounting systems to use the reflected light. This can increase the total price of the solar panel system.
This begs the question; Are Bifacial solar panels worth the extra money?
Especially in the snowy winters of Canada, getting solar panels that take advantage of snow on the ground can be a great advantage.
Even the installation methods of BiFacial Panels will be much more efficient for you in Canada. For instance, On the pole mounting structures is one of the mose commonly used systems for Biafacial panels as it allows reflected sunlight to hit the back of the panels and facilitates snow removal after a long night of snow.
BiFacial vs MonoFacial: Performance
The front side of Monofacial and Bifacial solar panels work in a similar manner and depending on the number of solar cells on each panel.
As we discussed before the difference is in what happens in the back, Bifacial solar panels can harvest 10 to 20% more energy compared to monofacial panels in an environment with adequate sunlight.
In cloudy or snowy conditions as Monofacial solar panels face a decrease in energy yield, Bifacial panels normally overcome this challenge by using reflection from the surrounding and have a better performance in harsher conditions.
Which Solar Panel Brand should I buy from?
Well, the answer to this question is more of a budget question. However, if you are looking for solar panel efficiency and a great long term investment, we would recommend using high quality solar panel manufacturers.
It’s true that the initial investment might be more than other brands but getting solar panels from brands such as Canadian Solar (made in Canada and China), Peimar (made in Italy) or LG (made in Korea) will guarantee high harvest of energy for years to come and much less drop in solar panel efficiency after the warranty period.
You can check our collection of these brands in the linke here and compare your options for best panels in the market.
Getting Bifacial panels is going to be an amazing addition to your solar system investment in all Canadian systems which will increase your harvest in winters and also make your life much more comfortable with easier snow removal in winters.