If you are reading this, you probably know what a solar panel is. You know that solar panels are primarily flat, rigid, and heavy panels affixed to rooftops, so you may be wondering how those panels are made flexible. Now is a great time to learn about flexible solar panels. Flexible solar panels are light and bendable solar panels protected by thin-film cells, making them easier to transport. This review aims to inform you about flexible solar panels and help you choose the best flexible solar panel that would suit your needs.
What Are Flexible Solar Panels?
Flexible solar panels are similar to conventional solar panels to generate solar power from direct sunlight. Flexible solar panels are made up of ultra-thin silicon wafers, allowing them flexibility while ensuring that they remain functional. Despite the “flexible” tag, flexible solar panels do not have infinite flexibility, nor can they curve to all degrees. These flexible panels will fail if bent beyond the recommended radius; their internal solar cells and electrical structure will not survive improper usage. Flexible solar panels are better suited for RVs, boats, camping, and even on-the-go use. You can read more about different solar panels.
Flexible Solar Panels Buying Guide
There are various factors to consider when purchasing a flexible solar panel. Flexible solar panels do not last as long as their conventional (flat) counterparts, so you want to make the most of all the features that make them appealing to you.
- Power Output. Flexible solar panels are not made to be mounted on rooftops to power entire houses; they do not have the power and efficiency that rigid solar panels have. A 100-watt flexible panel cannot power as much electronics as a 200-watt panel. But keep in mind that the wattage will influence the price of the flexible solar panel.
- Efficiency. Flexible solar panels are generally less efficient than rigid solar panels. This means that flexible panels cannot convert sunlight into usable energy at the high rate that flat panels can. Flexible solar panels have an efficiency rate of 15% to 20%, while rigid solar panels convert 20% to 22% of absorbed sunlight.
- Installation. In terms of installation, flexible panels are often more cost-effective than rigid solar panels. Unlike flat panels, which require mounting racks and professionals to install, flexible solar panels can be glued or taped to the roof of an RV or other surface. Many flexible solar panels are installed on a do-it-yourself basis.
- Durability. The quality of the materials and the actual material(s) used will determine the durability of the flexible solar panel. Conventional, rigid solar panels are built to last and are often guaranteed to last for 20 to 25 years. On the other hand, flexible solar panels have warranties ranging from 1 to 5 years. Flexible panels are coated with plastic, and cheaper plastic translates to faster wear. Water can destroy the electrical circuits, but water-resistant, flexible solar panels.
Top Solar Flexible Solar Panel 100W 24V/12V Monocrystalline
This flexible solar panel is only 0.1 inches tall and weighs less than 4lb, making it easy to transport, install and remove. The Top Solar flexible panel is equipped with highly efficient solar cells, and its back-contact technology removes electrodes that block direct sunlight. This significantly increases its conversion efficiency up to 50%. Top Solar flexible solar panel is made of ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), a fluorine-based plastic with high-temperature resistance. ETFE is waterproof, thus protecting this flexible solar panel from water damage. This Top Solar flexible solar panel is somewhat affordable.
Renogy Flexible Solar Panel 50 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline
This 50-watt Renogy flexible panel is highly durable and tested against extreme winds and substantial snow loads. This solar panel can flex up to 248 degrees, making it super flexible. Its flexibility makes it an excellent option to install on curved and irregular surfaces. At 2.87lb, this Renogy flexible solar panel weighs at least 70% less than many conventional solar panels in the market. Its lightweight makes transportation and installation easy and stealthy. This solar panel is waterproof and can be used around water. Although expensive, the Renogy flexible solar panel more than delivers its features.
Newpowa 100 Watts Flexible Solar Panel
SunPower 50 Watt Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
This Newpowa flexible solar panel allows easy installation; pre-attached cables and six metal reinforced mounting holes simplify the mounting process. This panel is bendable up to 248°, allowing it to be fit on uneven surfaces. Weighing in at 4.2lbs, this flexible panel is lightweight, therefore fulfilling a significant selling point for flexible solar panels. The Newpowa 100 watts’ panel is outfitted with an IP68 junction box, making it waterproof and highly resistant to volatile chemicals and the weather. It is somewhat expensive.
This flexible solar panel was designed with high-efficiency solar cells to convert and optimize sunlight. It weighs a total of 2.4lb, making it light and easily portable – an ideal feature for people who want to use it on the go. SunPower’s flexible solar panel comes with a micro junction box protected by IP67, making it waterproof for a limited time. The panel is resistant to high winds and intense snowfall, making it a good fit for the outdoors.