Solar panels come in a wide range of styles and sizes geared for different applications. There are rigid, portable, flexible, and larger fixed panels to choose from.
Insulation is one aspect to consider when installing any type of solar system. If you choose flexible solar panels, there are challenges and solutions to adding insulation underneath your panels.
- 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
Flexible solar panels are a popular choice for RV enthusiasts. Due to the fact that they’re more adaptable in many ways.
Did you know that insulating under your flexible solar panels will add key benefits to your solar system setup?
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.
Depending on their use, flexible solar panels can be an excellent choice. They are light, portable, and can be useful for contoured surfaces.
Many people like flexible panels for how efficient they are when it comes to using energy. They also tend to hold up extremely well in the elements and with regular wear and tear.
Flexible panels are a great option because of their convenience factor, though they don’t offer the same amount of energy as other types.
Problems With Flexible Solar Panels and Solutions
How fragile are flexible solar panels?
The material used to make flexible solar panels is an ultra-thin silicon material. Since they are considerably thinner than rigid fixed solar cells, flexible solar panels are more fragile. Greater care should be taken in their use and maintenance.
These panels must be able to bend and be mounted into positions that just aren’t possible with rigid solar panels. Rigid panels have tempered glass over them, while flexible panels do not have any of this.
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 summer.
What is the lifespan of flexible solar panels?
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 amount of time your solar panels stay in a good working condition depends on a variety of factors.
This includes the type of panel, if you’re in an extreme climate, if there were mistakes made in the installation process (such as stepping on panels), accumulation of dirt particles, general weather issues, and damage from birds.
Panel degradation can occur at a slow rate over the years, and many panels will have an 80 percent decline in efficiency within 25 years. This is the efficiency standard and why several brands offer a 25-year warranty for their solar panels.
Even though the panels aren’t especially fragile or prone to defects, this can occur at a faster rate.
It’s important to pay attention to any issues and seek the services of a professional if it’s something you’re unable to adjust or fix on your own.
Can you stand on flexible solar panels?
Standing on flexible solar panels will damage them and decrease their effectiveness or destroy them completely. Attention to panel locations is important if they adhere to high-traffic surfaces.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s probably not a good idea to walk on any type of solar panel, but you especially wouldn’t want to stand on the flexible variety unless you absolutely need to for some reason.
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.
Do flexible solar panels need ventilation?
Any high-usage solar panel that is in the sun a lot can benefit from ventilation.
An air gap under solar panels aids in keeping panels cool.
Flexible solar panels can be adhered flat to surfaces, and many times they do not have ventilation underneath them. Because of their design, the lack of a flexible solar panel air gap underneath them does not affect their operation.
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.
Installing Flexible Solar Panels
How do you install a semi-flexible solar panel?
Semi flexible and flexible solar panels are best installed with the use of adhesive to get them to stay on the roof of your RV or wherever else you’re placing them. This is a good idea if you don’t want to drill holes into your structure.
In addition to the heavy-duty tape, it’s in your best interest to use fasteners so that you don’t have any mishaps along the way.
Some other ways in which you can install your panels include grommets, PVC honeycomb panel frames, and working with a zipper system.
Which VHB tape should you use for solar panels?
One of the top VHB tape brands on the market is 3M. AM Solar is another popular brand that many people like to use to secure their solar panels onto their vehicles or home.
This is best done by priming the surface of where you plan to place your solar panels, putting on the tape, then pressing it on.
You’ll need to use an oscillating tool in order to remove this tape.
How do you stick down a flexible solar panel?
One thing you definitely shouldn’t do is step on the panels.
You can use your hands and various mounting tools. If you’re uncomfortable with doing this precise work entirely on your own, it may be a good idea to bring in the experts.
There are sure to be several solar panel specialists in your area who can assist you with the installation process.
Flexible Solar Panel Insulation
Why should you insulate under your flexible solar panel?
Insulation under solar panels offers protection from expansion and contraction of the RV roof (or another type of roof).
Triple insulation is ideal if you can have it done since this promotes airflow and cooling between the layers of insulation, which cools the panels and roof.
Typically, it will transmit only a third of the heat energy to the interior of the caravan. It does this as a great alternative to your usual flexible solar panel air gap.
Polycarbonate insulation is an excellent way to insulate so you can further protect your solar panels as well as keep your roof from becoming damaged.
It can be a little tricky to figure out how to install this, but there are tutorials. If you are uncertain about any steps, get assistance from an expert in solar installation.
It’s well worthwhile when you consider how much money and time you’ll save by adding this to your flexible solar panel kit.
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 low-light conversion rates. Rigid solar panels often require direct sunlight for optimal performance.
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.
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, getting a clean trim in a single line is advisable if your only option is cutting.
Ensure you have very sharp scissors or knives, although a laser cutter would be the best option if available.
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.
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.
Flexible Solar Panels Kits
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.
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 Monocrystalline Solar Panel – Best performance and adaptability
- [Extremely Flexible] This flexible panel is capable of meeting a wide range of applications where standard panels can be...
- [Ultra Lightweigh] Thanks to advanced polymer materials, this product weighs 70% less than conventional solar panels, making...
- [Super Thin Lamination] Hardly noticeable, the Renogy 50W Lightweight Panel laid flat is only a tenth of an inch tall....
- SunPower Flexible Solar Panel – Excellent warranty
- Top quality: The SunPower Solar Panel is made by highest- efficiency Maxeon Monocrystalline prime solar cells, which can...
- Portable: By using the top-grade, light-weight polymer materials, this solar panel only weights 4.4lbs and can be flexible up...
- Durable: The genuine SunPower panel is built on a solid cooper foundation which is resistant to power loss via cracking and...
- Renogy 350W Solar Flexible Kit – Best complete kit
- Designed for off-grid solar panel system, caravan, RV, boat, Green house solar panel system
- Bypass diodes minimize power drop caused by shade and ensure excellent performance in low-light environments
- With a flex range of up to 248 degrees, this panel can meet a wide range of applications where standard panels can be...
- Topsolar 100W Flexible Panel – Best budget
- 【Good flexibility】The minimum radius of the arc that a solar flexible panel can reach is 40cm(15.75 in).It is allowed to...
- 【Light weight & easy to install】It is only 0.1 inches tall and weighs only 3.97lb, which is very suitable for the...
- 【High conversion efficiency】High efficient monocrystalline solar cell, adopt unique back contact technology and remove...
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 salt water. 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.
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.
Are Chinese Flexible Solar Panels Any Good?
The majority of solar panels are manufactured in China, so there are good and poor solar panels made in China. iPhones are manufactured in China and are of high quality, so there are high production standards in China.
When deciding on your solar panel, a more important factor is the company standards, reviews, and service.