7 Best Flexible Solar Panels Reviewed in 2021 – Top Picks & Buying Guide

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The late great Lou Reed once sang that electricity came from other planets.

And he was not too wrong, since electricity comes from the sun by the magic of solar energy. Solar energy frees you to travel across the seas, with the assurance that as long as the sun shines, there will be an infinite supply of energy.
I speak from experience, having installed 600 watts of solar panels on my canal barge. This means that for almost eight to nine months out of the year, except on very cloudy days, I can get all the power I need to liveaboard without having to start the engine.
The ocean is a place where you can make sure there are no obstructions from the sun, so it’s no wonder that solar power is the best energy option for boaters.

Our Top Pick

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top 10 Best Flexible Solar Panels To Buy In 2021

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10 Best Flexible Solar Panels Review

SaleBestseller No. 1
Renogy Flexible Solar Panel 175 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 175W 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
  • Highly Durable: Rigorously tested, the 175W panel Was designed to withstand extreme wind of up to 2400 PA and snow loads of up to 5400 Pa
  • Potential Uses: The Renogy 175 Watt Flexible Monocrystalline Panel can be primarily used on off-grid applications that include marine, rooftop, RV, boats and any curvy surfaces
SaleBestseller No. 2
100W Flexible Bendable Solar Panel with Innovative New Strong Encapsulant, Lightweight Bendable Solar Power System for RV, Boats, Roofs, Cabin, Tent, Car, Trailer, Curve Surfaces (B)
  • 【Reliable & Professional】The semi flexible solar panel is unlike traditional old one. It is made with new innovative encapsulation material to protect the cells inside the panel and provide a longer life span. It is so strong that people could even walk on it and the fragile solar cells inside still remained intact. This has never been seen before (Note: the solar panel needs to be placed on smooth floor when it is tested)
  • 【Good Bendability】The solar panel can be curved to a maximum 250 degree arc, allowing to be mounted on an RV, boat, cabin, tent, car, trucks, trailers, yacht, motorhome, Roofs, or any other irregular surface. High module conversion efficiency, fast and inexpensive mounting.
  • 【High Conversion Efficiency】High efficient monocrystalline solar cell, adopt unique back contact technology and remove electrodes on the solar cell surface that block the sunshine to increase the solar panel conversion efficiency up to 50% more efficiency than ordinary. The transparent dots on the surface can gather sunlight from different angles, this unique feature can sufficiently utilize sunlight and increase solar conversion rate.
  • 【Durability & Waterproof】High temperature resistance, easier to clean. The solar panel made of advanced water resistant material, the junction box is sealed and waterproof, the internal blocking diode which prevents reverse current drain at night. Can be used for many different applications,such as for use in RVs, caravan, boats, tents, trailers, cabin, etc.
  • 【Versatile】This solar panel is easy to transport, hang, and remove, 6 stainless eyelets at the edges for easy installation. This panel can also be used for other various applications, including providing power on a boat or teardrop trailer. Mounting Recommendation: Modules must be mounted using silicone structural adhesive on the backside of the panel, grommets are only to be used for non-mobile applications.
Bestseller No. 3
400 Watt Solar Panel 2 Pieces 200W Flexible Solar Panel 12v-24v Solar Panels Kit with 40a Charge Controller Suitable for Installation On Various Uneven Surfaces
  • 🌏 Quality assurance: The new solar panel newly developed in 2022, with strict quality control, can achieve higher output power in a smaller area than the previous model, Ensure stability and reliability.
  • 🌏New energy sources: Solar panels contact sunlight and convert it into electricity. New types of solar energy have been popularized in thousands of households. Energy saving and emission reduction start from you and me.
  • 🌏High conversion rate: The solar panel adopts high-quality silicon material, which can achieve long-term output stability and reliability. Conversion rates are extremely high, even in bad weather.
  • 🌏 Lightweight and easy to carry: Happy holidays or weekends, if you want to travel with your family and friends, you don't have to worry about running out of electricity with this solar panel, and it's light and easy to carry with you, making your journey smoother.
  • 🌏Perfect after-sales: After receiving it, if you have any questions, please send an email, we will reply you as soon as possible. Rest assured, our service is designed to make our customers 100% satisfied with their purchases.
Bestseller No. 4
Topsolar Flexible Solar Panel 100W 24V/12V Monocrystalline Bendable - 100 Watt 12Volt Semi-Flexible Mono Solar Panels Charger Off-Grid for RV Boat Cabin Van Car Uneven Surfaces
  • 【Good flexibility】The minimum radius of the arc that a solar flexible panel can reach is 40cm(15.75 in).It is allowed to be installed on trailers, boats, cabins, tents, cars, trucks, trailers, yachts, trailers, roofs, or any other irregular surface.
  • 【Light weight & easy to install】It is only 0.1 inches tall and weighs only 3.97lb, which is very suitable for the assembly of invisible solar energy. And the solar panel is easy to transport, install, hang, and remove.
  • 【High conversion efficiency】High efficient monocrystalline solar cell, adopt unique back contact technology and remove electrodes on the solar cell surface that block the sunshine to increase the solar panel conversion efficiency up to 50% more efficiency than ordinary.
  • 【High-quality material】: The solar panel is made of ETFE. ETFE material has higher light transmittance and longer service life than ordinary materials. ETFE materials ensure the best performance day after day. The backplane adopts TPT, which is good for heat dissipation, waterproof, high temperature resistance and easy to clean.
  • 【Wide range of application】: It is very suitable for 12-volt battery charging. Multiple panels can be connected in series to charge 24/48 volt batteries. It needs to be used with the controller to protect the battery, and the solar panel can be easily connected to the solar controller/regulator.
SaleBestseller No. 5
Alrska 180 Watt Flexible Solar Panel, 12 Volt Monocrystalline Semi-Flexible Solar Panels Bendable Mono Off-Grid Charger for Marine, RV, Cabin, Van, Car and Uneven Surfaces
  • High Power Output:Alrska 180W Flexible Solar Panel can provide an average of 500 to 600 Watt-hours of electricity per day (depending on sun availability).It is equipped with half-cut PERC cell technology that enhances solar light capture and electrical performance, improving the output efficiency.
  • Ultra Flexile & Lightweight Alrska Lightweight Solar Panel suits most curved surfaces as it is bendable within 240 degrees. It weighs only 1/3 of the rigid panel and presents an all-black glare-free appearance. Highly Durable: This solar panel accomplishes with IP67 rated
  • waterproof junction box and solar connectors. Rigorously tested, 100W panel was designed to withstand extreme wind of up to 2400 Pa and snow loads of up to 5400 Pa
  • Ready for Installation: 2.3 feet long solar connector cables for quick and easy installation.NOTES: Modules must be mounted using silicone structural adhesive on the backside of the panel.
  • Potential Uses: Alrska 180 Watt Flexible Monocrystalline Panel can be primarily used on off-grid applications that include rooftop, RV, boats, trailers, cabins, trucks, cars, tents and any curvy surfaces.Please be free to contact us through Amazon whatever any questions or concerns you have.
SaleBestseller No. 6
HQST 100W 12V Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel,9BB 100 Watts Mono Solar Panel,Polished PET Coating,23% High Efficiency Module PV Power,IP67 Waterproof for RV Camper Van Boat Yacht Cabin Shed
  • [Extremely Flexible] With good flexibility, this solar panel is perfect to be installed on any off-grid living space with curved surfaces such as roofs, campers, trailers, boats, cabins, sheds, tents, yachts and more. 6 pre-drilled mounting holes allow you to secure this flexible solar panel much more easily.
  • [9 Busbars Solar Cell] Upgraded with 9 busbars (BB) solar cell, HQST solar panel provides high conversion efficiency up to 23%. The narrower busbar space and more cells receiving surface bring lower cost and increase the output of the PV module. Compared with 5BB panel, HQST solar panel ensures lower risks of microcracks and longer service life.
  • [Optimized Conversion Efficiency] The integrated monocrystalline solar cells combine with polished, ultra-transparent PET on the surface to absorb maximum sunlight and optimize the conversion efficiency, to empower a sustainable life.
  • [Waterproof & Dustproof] This flexible solar panel is equipped with the IP67-rated junction box to effectively block water splashes and dust from outside, making it perfect to be used outdoors. It is much more durable than traditional glass and aluminum model solar panels.
  • [Ultra-Lightweight Design] Thinner than two piled pennies (approx. 0.1 in), HQST flexible solar panel only weighs 5.3 lbs, which is very suitable for the assembly of invisible solar energy. And this solar panel is also easy to transport and install.
Bestseller No. 7
400 Watt Flexible Solar Panel kit, 2pcs 200Watt Monocrystalline Bendable Solar Battery Charger Portable Solar Panel with 40A Controller for Home Camper RV Etc 12-24V System…
  • ♜【High Conversion Rate】Using high-efficiency monocrystalline panel silicon solar cells, the conventional power generation efficiency is about 22%-25%, our power generation efficiency can reach 30%, and the total area is smaller under the same power.
  • ♜【Wattage】Our mono solar battery charger maximum supply voltage is 24V, and the maximum supply current is 8A. The wattage is voltage (24)×current (8) = wattage (192), voltage range 150-200 watts.Also, it can charge 12/24V batteries by connecting multiple solar panels in series.
  • ♜【New Chips】Traditional chips may be damaged by bending. We use solar system brand new chips, bending and hard tapping will not damage the chip easily! Using the latest component packaging technology, thinner, lighter, softer and longer life.
  • ♜【New Waterproof PET Material】 Flexible solar kit is made of PET material, after special treatment, it is more wear-resistant and improves the efficiency of absorbing sunlight. With IP67 waterproof design, it is safe, waterproof and high temperature resistant for outdoor use.
  • ♜【High Safety Factor】Bendable solar battery charger high light transmittance, safe and reliable, not afraid of high temperature, no danger of combustion and explosion. 200W flexible solar panel adopt photovoltaic special cable and MC4 connector, MC4 connector is easy to use, plug and play.
Bestseller No. 8
JIANG Amorphous-Solar-Panel-CIGS-Film-Power-Portable-Ultra-Thin-Charger-Photovoltaic-Solar-Cell Flex Waterproof 2W DIY (14.96x2.76in(38x7cm))
  • CIGS Technology:Copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) is a thin-film solar cell technology. Unlike silicon-based solar cells, the CIGS thin-film solar cells are more flexible, stable, durable, light-sensitive, and last much longer. Therefore, investing in CIGS may provide you with more peace of mind and long-term benefits
  • Unbreakable: waterproof, fire-resistant,Largely eliminates issues of damage from microcracks as a result of foot traffic or vibration, earthquake and hailstone resistant
  • Shade Resistant:Outperforms other solar pan in partially shady conditions, Partial occlusion and weak light can still generate electricity
  • Stable Output: CIGS Solar Panel is more stable than the monocrystalline solar panel. As a result, it will gather more energy while partly shaded or in low-light conditions
  • Robust Handling:for seamless integration into your production process,can be applied in many electronics markets including wireless sensor networks (smart buildings, smart cities and smart homes)medical and sports devices, security sensors and cameras, agriculture monitors, beacons and electronic signs, computer peripherals, and wearable electronics (bracelets, watches, armbands, etc.).Exempt from the trouble of changing the battery
Bestseller No. 9
VICEMOB 175 Watt 12 Volt Flexible Solar Panel ETFE Monocrystalline Bendable Waterproof Off-Grid Charger for Camping Tent Car Boat RV Van Camper and Various Surface Scenes (175 Watt, White)
  • Flexible for More Scenarios - You can use it in various scenarios where the standard solar panel cannot be installed; tailor-made for curved surfaces, Fits like a blanket on all surfaces.
  • Different from other Flexible Solar Panel - Use ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) is a new technology with a light transmittance of up to 95%. There are regularly arranged bumps on one side, a beam of light can be propagated and refracted many times, and the higher efficiency can be converted into electrical energy.
  • Safe and Sturdy - Built-in blocking diodes can prevent reverse charging and safely charge and maintain 12V batteries. Can withstand extreme winds up to 2400 Pa and snow loads up to 5400 Pa.
  • Different From Traditional - Compared with the PET solar panel charger, it is lighter, thinner, and has a longer service life. And it has better waterproof and self-cleaning ability.
  • We devote ourselves to providing the best customer service and bringing the best shopping experience to every customer. If you are not satisfied with our product to have any quality or function problems, please feel free to contact us; we will reply within 24 hours and guarantee to provide you with a satisfactory solution.
Bestseller No. 10
1600w Solar Panel 4x400w Flexible Solar Panel with 40a Controller (2 Pieces) Solar Panels for Homes Easy to Carry On The Go, Monocrystalline High-Efficiency Pv Modules, for Caravans/Roofs/Marines
  • ✅ULTRA LIGHT AND FLEXIBLE: Thanks to the advanced polymer materials, the flexible solar panels are 75% lighter than traditional glass solar panels. With 23% curvature, the product can be installed on some curved surfaces.
  • ✅ SAFE SOLAR PANELS -- The solar panels use advanced technology to prevent battery overcharge, overvoltage, discharge, short circuit and reverse polarity protection, so that the battery is fully protected.
  • ✅High conversion efficiency -- High-efficiency monocrystalline solar cells use unique back contact technology to remove the electrodes that block sunlight on the surface of the solar cells, so that the conversion efficiency of solar panels is 50% higher than that of ordinary cells.
  • ✅8-10-year service life -- Nowadays, clean energy has entered thousands of households, which can not only save resources, but also reduce costs, worry and effort. It is an indispensable good product for people to travel and use electricity at home.
  • ✅Easy installation -- solar panels 6 metal reinforced mounting holes in each corner, and six evenly spaced metal grommets for quick installation and fixing.

Last update on 2022-11-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

WHAT IS SOLAR ENERGY?

Simply put and as already mentioned, solar energy is derived from natural sunlight. The solar panels which capture the sunlight generate it into electricity. You can install solar panels almost anywhere, on the roof of your house, your workplace, your office, etc. Because the sun is a natural nuclear reactor, it releases packets of energy called photons.

The photons travel from the sun to the earth for about 93 million miles at a recorded time of 8.5 minutes. This means that every hour, the sun emits photons in such a great amount that the solar energy which can be generated from them would be enough to satisfy electricity needs globally without any cuts or load shedding problems.

Only five-tenths of one percent of the energy used in the United States accounts for photovoltaic energy. However with the increasing demand for solar energy and sustainable methods of living, new technology is being made so that more and more solar energy can be harvested. Apart from the updated technology, solar panel manufacturing companies are making sure that the solar panels are affordable to most people.

A report from the International Energy Agency in 2017 showed that the demand and consumption of solar energy has grown as much as to surpass the consumption and demand for all other types of energy sources.

It is one of the fastest growing sources of power and soon enough, the whole world will be enjoying the benefits of solar energy. Companies like Facebook have already committed to reduce their gas emissions, especially with the use of solar energy and are setting the trends for other companies and partners like this Facebook Advertising Agency. 

WHAT ARE FLEXIBLE SOLAR PANELS?

With solar energy demand and consumption on the rise, business energy solutions technology is being released every year. A new solar energy technology released is the Flexible solar panels.

A normal monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panel is made up of silicone pieces or blocks which are 200 micrometer thick. To make a flexible solar panel, the silicone blocks must be thinner than 200 micrometer. They should be thinner than a human hair to be flexible enough which is why the silicone blocks are sliced to only a few micrometers of width. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has currently found out about an organic material to add in solar cells. Since solar cells are made up of silicone material mostly, electrodes of graphene have been found to be a much more organic material to substitute silicone with. Currently the material used for solar panels is quite brittle and not flexible. However, graphene with its transparent and easily malleable gives more flexibility and sturdiness to solar panels.

Thin film panels are a type of flexible solar panels which are currently accessible to consumers. Thin film solar panels are basically made with material which is over more than a hundred times thinner than your average standard silicone based solar panels. The thin film panels are flexible, durable and efficient, you can find out more information on autoservis zagreb.

PROS AND CONS OF FLEXIBLE SOLAR PANELS

  • One of the main advantages of installing flexible solar panels is that they can fit for almost any solar energy based project. So, for example, if your roof has soon structural problems and you can’t afford to install standard silicone based solar panels, then flexible solar panels are your best bet. This is because they are small, flexible and durable and won’t destroy the structural integrity of your roof.
  • Installing flexible solar panels will reduce installation costs. Since they are lightweight, these flexible solar panels are easily transportable and can be placed anywhere. Hence, they require less labour and reduce installation costs.
  • The main disappointment from flexible solar panels is their reduced efficiency. While the efficiency of traditional solar panels lies between 17 to 20 percent, flexible solar panel efficiency lies between 12 to 13 percent. This means that you will need more flexible solar panels to produce the same amount of electricity as a standard solar panel.
  • Flexible solar panels are much suited to small areas which do not require much energy like SUV cars. Due to their lightweight structure, there may be wear and tear on the top of the roof. Moreover since more flexible solar panels are required to produce the same amount of energy as that of a standard solar panel, that may be a problem for people who have limited roof space.

HOW DOES A SOLAR PANEL WORK?

In simple words, solar panels help to produce energy by allowing the little particles of light (or photons) to separate the electrons from the atoms. Once the electrons are separated, they encourage electricity to be generated. The solar panels usually contains small cells called photovoltaic cells. The word photovoltaic simply means that it converts sunlight into usable electricity. A great number of these photovoltaic cells are linked and fixed together to form one solar panel. Every photovoltaic cell on the solar panel is made up of two sides of semi conducting material. The semi conducting material is almost always silicon, since silicone is also preferred to be used in microelectronics as well by companies like automehanicar zagreb.

For the solar panels to work, the photovoltaic cells need to create an electric field first. Like a magnetic field is created due to two opposite poles, same is the case with the photovoltaic cells. However since there are no opposite poles involved in the photovoltaic cells, manufacturers often mix or ‘dope’ the silicone which is attached to the two sides of the photovoltaic cells. The silicone then gives each side a negative or a positive charge as they are attracted to each other.

Most manufacturers add phosphorus to the top layer which results in extra electrons being added to that part which will have a negative charge. Similarly at the bottom layer, boron is added which will have fewer electrons and a positive charge. So when the photons of the sun hit the photovoltaic plates and knock electrons loose from the atoms, the electric field formed at the junction of the silicone pushes away the electron from the silicone junction. However the photovoltaic cells are not the only element in solar panels responsible for producing electricity. A few other components of the solar panels use the electrons to turn them into energy which can be used.

Metal conductive plates are placed on the side of the photovoltaic cells. Their job is to transfer the knocked out electrons to the wires. As the electrons hit the wires, they then travel done the wire like electricity.

AN IMPROVEMENT IN DESIGN AND EFFICIENCY

Researchers have now produced solar cells which are flexible and ultra-thin, thinner than paper and lighter than hair or paper. They are 1/100th the width of hair and extremely light like feathers, probably even much lighter. They have been experimented with and they can sit on top of a soap bubble without popping the bubble. However, just because the solar cells are light does not mean that they cannot compare in performance to glass based solar cells. In fact, they provide twice as much energy and are twice as efficient as the glass based solar cells. In a study carried out in 2016 and publish in the journal of Organic Electronics, researchers found that these flexible solar panels are capable of being integrated into architecture and as wearable electronics as well.

Other types of solar power technology also exist, for example solar thermal and concentrated solar power. However the function of each and every solar power technology is to produce energy from sunlight to either heat water or create electricity.

However, a few questions may come to your mind. ‘What if I’m not at home, what will happen to the solar energy generated then?’ Or, ‘how will I get electricity during the night time when there is no sunlight’. Sweat not, because you can still benefit from the net metering system in the solar panels. During day light hours, the solar panels produce enough energy that your home will still have electricity for 3 or more days if the sun doesn’t come out. The excess energy is fed back to the solar panels.

HOW TO INSTALL SOLAR PANELS

Installing solar panels is not a DIY process. Even the most professional of electricians or technicians needs to be trained on how to install a solar panel, the fire and safety precautions to be taken and what not. If you generally want to know information on how to install solar panels, here are a few steps which help in installing solar panels:

  • The first thing you should do is to find a solar installers. You can ask around, ask your friends or neighbours who have a solar panel installed. They will recommend a reliable solar panel installer who should be able to give you a free quote of how much it would cost and whether your house is eligible to have a solar panel installed. Your solar panel installer will ask you a bunch of questions, for example, your monthly and yearly electricity bills, the type of roof you have, whether you have shingles or bricks on your roof, whether your roof is flat or angled, etc. He will then advise you further and suggest you any solar financing options if they are applicable to you
  • The solar panel installer will visit your house and evaluate it. He will then determine which solar panel, inverter, racking or other parts will go well with the type of roof you have. Your solar panel installer will also inspect your roof and your electrical grid to identify any problems. If, for example, you have problems with the electricity grid then they will suggest you to get it fixed or if there is a problem on the roof then they will suggest you to get it repaired. If the solar panel installer decides that your house is ready for the installation and is code compliant, they may start the process.
  • Once your installer has the exact measurements, he will then move to the solar engineering and site design plan. The plan will be for the installers ease. It’ll basically include where to place the solar panels, which position to place the solar panels in, the wiring of the system and how it will be connected to the utility. They will make sure that the plan is compliant with safety and local fire department rules and regulations. The installer will then submit the plans and reports to your county departments and to your utility company. Since many cities and counties have different requirements of compliance and installation, make sure you hire an installer who is well versed with your city’s permitting department’s rules and regulations. The time it will take for your project to be approved will be one to three months. Your installer will keep you informed.
  • The actual installation of the solar panels is the easiest part. You can even watch the solar installers install the panels. Make sure that if you have any pets or children then they are safely inside because there will be a lot of action. The whole process is quite enjoyable to watch. The solar panel is attached to the roof and the required electrical and monitoring system and wires are attached.
  • Once the solar panel system is installed, your local county inspector will visit to check whether everything and process carried out was as planned and written in the granted permit. Depending on where you live the inspection process can take a few days or even a week. After all the requirements of your country and city departments are fulfilled and approved, your installers will turn on the solar panels and you will be able to produce clean and environmentally safe electricity.

Types of Flexible Solar Panels

There are three main types of flexible solar panel named based on the material and construction of the solar gathering cells of the panel. These are known as monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks when compared with the others and again, the choice of which is best leans heavily upon where they will be used.

Monocrystalline

Often considered the most efficient panels, these contain solar cells made from the purest form of silicon. They are generally the most compact cells, making them use less space than others. They also tend to be the longest lasting option. However, these two features also often equate to the highest price. On the downside, these cells are highly intolerant to shade. Monocrystalline panels can be recognized by their dark monochromatic appearance with rounded angles.

Polycrystalline

Often cheaper and bigger per watt than their Monocrystalline cousins, these solar panels share the durability and longevity of those panels. The process of melting raw silicon that is used for their construction is much more time efficient and cost effective than that of mono models, making them less expensive. These panels are less powerful and less space efficient than mono models but tolerate shade better.

Amorphous

Completely different from the other two, Amorphous solar panels are often heavy, space intensive, and cost more per watt of power than their alternatives. Best in cloudy weather, these panels are not as severely affected by shade as monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. Extremely durable, these panels are often seen sewn into backpacks and other cloth items.

Best Application for Flexible Solar Panels in Van Conversion

If you are converting a van to live in, flexible solar panels are an ideal choice for many reasons. These include the ease with which they may be installed, the ability to mount them to most curved surfaces, and what they lend to stealth.

Stealth

Not only do they allow for total off the grid living with self-sustainable power, but they are ideal for stealth. Often, keeping the fact that your van has been converted for living a secret can be the difference between living in peace and being harassed by well-meaning citizens and police. While rigid solar panels are obvious and draw immediate attention, flexible panels can be hidden. Luggage and bike racks coupled with flush mounting is one way to keep permanently attached solar panels on the roof hidden from obvious detection.

Portability

The ability to install and remove quickly and easily is a major bonus for flexible solar panels. They are easily stored in the back of a van or RV making them ideal for van conversions and portable living of all kinds. Some even come with the ability to folded up and tucked away in an included case.

Easy Installation

Flexible panels are easy and quick to install with the right tools. In fact, many can be mounted without using any tools whatsoever. A high strength adhesive like a water- and weather-proof tape such as Eternabond or 3M VHB tape is one of the best options. This means that there is no need to drill holes in the watertight exterior of your van. However, some may require one hole through which the wires to the charge controller can be run.

Flexible Solar Panels: Pros and Cons

As always, the specific needs of any individual or situation will determine how great of a pro or con a feature of flexible solar panels is. For example, while their lightweight nature would be a strong pro for those involved in van conversion, it would not matter as much to somebody with a tiny house. That is because the tiny house has a structure designed to support more weight than the van does. With that in mind, these features are more general guidelines than staunch rules.

Pros

  • Lightweight for use on roofs without extensive structural support
  • Ideal for temporary or short term use
  • More affordable than rigid panels
  • Flexibility to follow the contour of a curved roof
  • Easy to transport
  • Easy tool free installation
  • Off the grid power source

Cons

  • Do not allow for air flow or cooling, reducing life span
  • Less energy efficient than rigid
  • Shorter warranty period
  • Lower total wattage generated compared to rigid

Many of the cons of flexible solar panels can be offset with a few simple steps. For example, the efficiency and life span of these panels is often reduced in comparison to rigid panels because rigid panels allow for air flow beneath while flexible panels are mounted flush to a surface and do not. By providing some method for air flow and cooling off the flexible panels, their energy efficiency and life span can be extended.

Flexible vs Rigid: What is the Difference?

There are several differences between rigid solar panels and their flexible alternatives. Whether or not one is better than the other depends upon your needs, we hope to inform and help point you in the right direction to get the best flexible solar panel for your goals.

Rigid Panels

Many would consider rigid solar panels to be the best choice for efficiency. However, their fragility, weight, and need to be permanently mounted make them less than ideal for portability and stealth.

Rigid solar panels are encased in frames that are generally constructed of aluminum. The solar panel array is made of thick glass. These panels are stiff, flat, and heavy. They must be secured to the surface of the building with extensive hardware which involves drilling holes for screwing down the panels. For a RV or van conversion, this means potentially compromising the watertight exterior of your vehicle.

Rigid panels are often heavier by over 10 times per watt of their counterpart flexible panels.

Flexible Panels

Flexible solar panels can be considered by some to be superior to their stiffer counterparts in a number of ways.[1] These primarily relate to how well they can be used for portable or stealth applications.

Their lighter construction makes them weigh roughly 75 percent less than rigid models for easier transport. While their surface is more prone to scratching, it is shatterproof unlike the glass of rigid panels. Furthermore, their flexible construction allows them to bend roughly 30 degrees which makes them ideal for mounting on curved surfaces such as those of a van roof or RV.

In addition, most flexible solar panels are easily installed with needing to drill or do any advanced electrical work. Some can even be glued down to the roof or your tiny house or van conversion. This means there is no need to ruin a watertight surface to install these panels.

Final Verdict!

Now, that you are aware of the problems with flexible solar panels, it is time to look for a solution. Just because they are not as high quality as a typical solar panel, they are great in certain circumstances, such as on the go campers, someone living on a sailboat or people that live off-grid. As long as they can get enough sunpower they should be able to get enough power output and this is a great diy that anyone can install if they have enough space on their rooftop or anywhere they think they will get maximum power from the sun.

If you are desperate to go for flexible panels only, then we suggest an approach to follow. Before buying flexible panels, make sure that you have a look at the manufacturer website.

Go for the top manufacturers. After the looking at the site, prepare your set of questions.

Only buy flexible panels from a manufacturer that makes use of good quality material, and offers an acceptable warranty period. 

As a result, you will be able to get a smart bargain.

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