Flexible Solar Panels (Best Solutions)

Everyone in the solar panel industry is familiar with rigid panels, which have been around for ages. Nevertheless, technological advancement and creativity merged to generate flexible solar panels. 

These models offer a different experience for users, with their flexibility making them compatible with curved surfaces. They deliver similar performance to their rigid counterparts while weighing lighter.

In this article we’ll cover the following topics:

  • What are flexible solar panels
  • What are flexible solar panels’ flaws
  • Benefits of flexible solar panels
  • Overheating in flexible solar panels
  • Efficiency in flexible solar panels
  • And more

The best thing about renewable energy is that it not only helps yourself and the environment, it also looks hip, and flexible solar panels are at the top of the list. These beauties will make your place look better while providing a more adaptable feature to your energy.

This piece looks at various aspects of flexible solar panels, helping you better understand these alternatives to the rigid models.

Flexible solar panel cells

Are Flexible Solar Panels Any Good?

Flexible solar panels offer a convenient solution for users frequently on the move. Their lightweight construction makes them portable and easy to install. The flexibility also lets you glue the panels to unique surfaces, such as curves.

These panels also come in a sturdy construction to facilitate stability and durability. The sturdy construction means the flexible solar panels can withstand high winds and snow loads. Their monocrystalline properties ensure you can generate ample power for batteries and small appliances, even in low lighting.

Flexible Solar Panels Kit

A flexible solar panel kit features quality accessories, helping you undertake the do-it-yourself installation. Most packages include solar panels, cables, and a charge controller. The cables let you interconnect your panels for optimal performance.

You can install the charge controller to guard your battery against overcharging. It regulates current and voltage from the panels to your cell.

Why Do Flexible Solar Panels Fail?

It is vital to remember that their flexibility has a limit. Manufacturers design these devices to bend to a specific, reasonable degree. If you go beyond this limit and fold up the panels, it results in breaking and damage.

Excessively bending the panels compromises the internal cells and electrical structure, leading to a system failure. You want to verify the limits recommended by the manufacturer to ensure you do not inadvertently ruin your investment.

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Solar Panel FAQ Video

Best Flexible Solar Panels

You want to look at three aspects when considering purchasing flexible solar panels. First, examine its durability. Longevity means you can rely on them to meet your needs for years without random malfunctions. You also reduce additional costs from recurring repairs or premature replacements.

Second, you want panels with a high degree of flexibility. The more flexible the device is, the easier it is to install. You also can enjoy more application since you can glue it to unusual surfaces.

Lastly, it is better to consider low-light conversion. Panels with this quality ensure they require little light to generate some energy. They can function in shaded locations or on cloudy days to enhance your convenience.  

What Are the Most Efficient Flexible Solar Panels?

You can find different efficient options among flexible solar panels. They offer other advantages, such as convenient kits and a warranty. In addition, others have high conversion efficiency at a pocket-friendly price tag.

The following are four of the best and most efficient flexible solar panels and their accompanying benefit:

Renogy Flexible Solar Panel 50 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Semi-Flexible Bendable Mono Off-Grid Charger for Marine RV Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces
903 Reviews
Renogy Flexible Solar Panel 50 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Semi-Flexible Bendable Mono Off-Grid Charger for Marine RV Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces
  • [Extremely Flexible] This flexible panel is capable of meeting a wide range of applications where standard panels can be inconvenient to mount, such as on the curved roof of an airstream
  • [Ultra Lightweigh] Thanks to advanced polymer materials, this product weighs 70% less than conventional solar panels, making transportation and installation a breeze
  • [Super Thin Lamination] Hardly noticeable, the Renogy 50W Lightweight Panel laid flat is only a tenth of an inch tall! Approximately 95% thinner than its rigid counterpart, this panel is ideal for a stealthy solar setup
  • SunPower Flexible Solar Panel – Excellent warranty
  • Renogy 350W Solar Flexible Kit – Best complete kit
  • Topsolar 100W Flexible Panel – Best budget
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Do Flexible Solar Panels Need an Air Gap?

It is wise to incorporate an air gap when frequently using flexible solar panels. The gap helps the device and contact surface remain cool and prevent overheating.

Typically, people glue the panels to flat surfaces that leave no ventilation room underneath.

The flexibility means you can easily bend the panels to create a gap without compromising performance. It is essential to ensure you get a convenient kit to install the panels with the proper air gap.

For instance, you can get a kit with ergonomic spacers to help create the space gap.

Can Flexible Solar Panels Overheat?

Flexible solar panels can overheat when operated in areas with high heat. It is obvious to think that the more sunshine you have, the better your panel performance. However, as with all else, too much of anything is not good.

Excessive heat from the sun causes the solar panels to get too hot. They overheat, causing the efficiency to drop drastically. Hence, you lose plenty of energy that the device would otherwise store from the sun.

Additionally, if the temperature is too high, it can burn the plastic laminate and ruin the flexible solar panels.  

Can Flexible Solar Panels Be Cut?

You can cut flexible solar panels using a knife, scissors, or a laser. Although it is possible to trim them, it is best to avoid cutting unless necessary. The panel typically integrates a light-absorbing, one-micron thick layer that can impair the overall function when damaged during a cut.

You want to look for manufacturers that provide custom cut sizes rather than risk partial or complete damage. Nonetheless, if your only option is cutting, getting a clean trim in a single line is advisable.

Ensure you have very sharp scissors or knives, although a laser cutter would be the best option if available.

Narrow Flexible Solar Panels

As mentioned above, sometimes, you may need smaller panels for your project. You can get some manufacturers offering custom cut sizes to solve your problem or cut your panels at home. Besides trimming the panels yourself, you can find some narrow flexible solar panels to address your needs.

The 80W Monocrystalline Semi-Flexible Solar Panel is an example of a narrow model.

It has a sturdy encapsulation, delivering resilience to wind and saltwater. This durability makes it suitable for yachts, boats, caravans, and motorhomes.

Flexible Solar Panels for Roof

Flexible solar panels like SunPower and Renogy have a peel-and-stick design suitable for roofs. This construction means you can directly install the panels on your rooftop without concern about ballast, racking, or anchors.

Their flexibility allows you to attach the panels to various roof shapes, including curves. You can place them on top of vans to ensure you have power even when on the road.

Some models feature an ergonomic bifacial design, generating power from direct sunlight and reflected light. The double-sided construction means you get energy from the sun-facing side and the section facing your roof.

Are Flexible Solar Panels More Expensive?

Flexible solar panels are more expensive than the rigid types, almost costing twice the price. They feature monocrystalline properties, involving flexibility and relatively pure crystal. 

Moreover, manufacturers need considerable investment in technology and equipment to produce the mono modules.

Besides, flexible solar panels have a shorter lifespan than rigid models, meaning they are more costly in the long term. Notably, they are easier to install, making them more affordable in labor costs.

Are Chinese Flexible Solar Panels Any Good?

China has several manufacturers generating flexible solar panels. Most products receive mixed reviews from users. Besides this, many solar panel grades incorporate good and bad solar cells. They also feature excellent and poor encapsulation methods.

You can find many cheaper, flexible solar panels offered in China, but cheap can be expensive. 

A limited number of Chinese manufacturers focus on quality, using the latest production processes and technology. Thus, you want to inquire appropriately to ensure you get a good product when seeking Chinese flexible solar panels.  

Are Flexible Solar Panels Less Efficient?

Flexible solar panels are less efficient than standard rigid types. They can generally convert 15% to 20% of solar energy. In contrast, rigid panels can convert 20% to 22% of the sun’s energy.

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Nevertheless, higher-end flexible panels can deliver similar efficiency to the standard options. 

They integrate multiple layers of solar cells that absorb a wider array of colors on the light spectrum. The panels’ curvature and monocrystalline construction let the device absorb more available light.

Besides these, flexible solar panels perform well in lower light conditions. Unlike the standard rigid options, they do not depend on direct and unobstructed sunlight to operate.

400w Flexible Solar Panels

Aside from efficiency, weighing the power and performance of flexible solar panels is necessary. Some models have a 400-W rating to help you charge various appliances. 

Giosolar has a selection ranging from 100w to 600w, enabling you to get the 400w conveniently. The Sunman eArc 430w offers another option if your needs fall around the 400-w level.  

300w Flexible Solar Panels

You can purchase 300w flexible solar panels when powering smaller appliances like a dehumidifier or rice cooker. As mentioned previously, you can get one from the Giosolar range.

You can also look at options from SunPower and Sunman when you want to fall between the 375w and 395w range.

Flexible Solar Panels 100w

The 100-w flexible solar panels are the most popular in the market. They let users meet their power demands without experiencing energy wastage from under usage. 

The Renogy 100w Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel is the best selection in this range. It has dependable performance and adaptability, bending up to 248 degrees.

Other 100w products include the Giaride Flexible Solar Panel and the ALLPOWERS Flexible Solar Panel. The former bends to 30 degrees, and the latter has high-efficiency solar cells.

Flexible Solar Panels 12v

You can get several flexible solar panels to attach to your vehicle or home and charge 12v batteries. 

Examples include the Rich Solar 100w 12v Flexible Solar Panel with a non-stick surface, maintaining cleanliness. Renogy 175w 12v Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel is another option with super flexibility.

Problems With Flexible Solar Panels

One of the issues you can face with flexible solar panels is overheating. Their installation requires you to glue the panels to a surface, leaving no air gap beneath them.

Overheating causes capacity loss as the devices release energy to cool. They can also transfer heat to the contact surface, such as a roof. Consequently, it makes your room or vehicle warmer and uncomfortable during the summer months.

Another common problem with these solar panels is a shorter life expectancy. They have a polymer surface rather than glass, with the material having more potential to cloud up and degrade.

The price tag can be a limiting factor when looking at flexible solar panels. They come at nearly twice the price of rigid panels.

Despite their sturdy construction, the flexible solar panels are also delicate. You cannot easily trim a panel to your desired size since inaccurate cuts damage the internal silicon layers. Most manufacturers also advise against walking on the solar panels to avoid damaging the internal components.

Flexible Solar Panels vs Rigid

Flexible solar panels offer several benefits to compare well against the rigid models. First, the flexible solar panels support a stick-on installation. This method eliminates the need for screws and drilling holes on your roof as you would with the rigid types.

Second, the panels’ flexibility lets you bend them on unusual surfaces, such as curved roofs. The rigid kinds only function on flat and stable surfaces, limiting your application locations.

Third, the flexible solar panels have a lighter construction to make handling and installation easier and faster. The rigid models come in a bulky and heavy design that takes time and effort to set up.

Finally, the flexible models incorporate an ergonomic structure that delivers better conversion rates in low lighting. Rigid solar panels often require direct sunlight for optimal performance.

Nonetheless, the rigid types have a higher capacity, better efficiency, and longer life span than the flexible options.

Flexible Solar panel FAQs

Is There a Flexible Solar Panel?

Yes, there is. People are often more familiar with rigid models, but manufacturers also produce flexible solar panels. Their portable and flexible design are perfect for use on curved surfaces and when traveling.

How Long Do Flexi Solar Panels Last?

Flexible solar panels last between 15 and 25 years. They have a shorter service life than the rigid alternatives. On the contrary, the rigid panels can serve your needs anywhere from 25 to 40 years.

Can You Walk on Semi-Flexible Solar Panels?

You can walk on semi-flexible solar panels. Even though they are less flexible, they incorporate some rigidity to make them sturdier.

What Is the Lightest Solar Panel?

The lightest flexible solar panel weighs around 4lbs, whereas the rigid ones weigh about 40lbs. In addition, the thinnest panel is the Renogy Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel. It has a 0.08-inch thickness.

Can You Walk on Renogy Flexible Solar Panels?

Manufacturers do not recommend walking on Renogy flexible solar panels. Even though they can withstand snow loads up to 5,400 Pa and 2,400-Pa winds, walking can damage the internal components.

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