Best Flexible Solar Panels In 2020: Expert Reviews & Guide – TheEnergyFix

Best Flexible Solar Panels In 2021: Expert Reviews & Guide

 

Compared to other solar technologies, flexible solar panels are a relatively new innovation in the solar industry. Traditional rigid solar panels, such as the ones you might install on your roof to generate electricity for your home, have been in use for many years. In situations where you need to be more portable (such as traveling, RVing, boating, or camping), or if you have a roof that does not conform to a standard shape, flexible solar panels are the best option.

Let’s take a closer look at the best flexible solar panels, including product reviews, frequently asked questions, and the impact on the power grid.

Best Flexible Solar Panels: Overall Picks

Renogy Panel Review

When it comes to value, this panel is unbeatable. 50W, 100W, and 160W are the different wattage ratings available. According to the amount of power used, the prices for each wattage rise. When installed, it will not be in the way or appear bulky because it is only 0.1 inch tall (as opposed to 1.26-1.6 inches for rigid panels). In order to ensure that it can withstand storms, it has been tested in extreme weather conditions with high winds and snow loads.

The following are the most significant characteristics of this product:

  • Flexibility: 248 degrees of bending flexibility
  • Weight: 4 pounds
  • Mounting: Mounted using the provided silicone structural adhesive
  • Electrical: Junction box (holds all electrical equipment) is IP 68 rated (i.e., waterproof)
  • Efficiency: 21% solar cell efficiency
  • Power Warranty: 25-year power output warranty
  • Product Warranty: 5-year product warranty

This solar panel has been certified by the ISO9001 standard. If you are interested in the specifics, you can view Renogy’s specification sheet here. Overall, this solar panel is ideal for nearly all applications, whether they are indoors or outdoors. It comes highly recommended!

SunPower Flexible Panel Review

SunPower, a solar powerhouse and manufacturer of flexible panels, has developed its own flexible panel. It is similar to Renogy in that it is available in three wattage ratings: 50W, 100W, and 110W, as well as 170W. Let’s take a look at the specifications:

  • Flexibility: 30 degrees of bending flexibility
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Mounting: Mounted using the provided silicone structural adhesive
  • Electrical: Junction box (holds all electrical equipment) is IP 68 rated (i.e., waterproof)
  • Efficiency: 23-25% solar cell efficiency
  • Power Warranty: 5-year power output warranty
  • Product Warranty: 2-year product warranty

The solar cell efficiency of SunPower is higher when compared to that of Renogy, which allows it to convert more of the sun’s irradiation into usable energy than Renogy does. The most significant disadvantage of the Sunpower flexible solar panel is the 5-year power output warranty, which covers only 80% of the maximum output (110W times 80 percent ). Solar panels, on the other hand, have a long lifespan, with only a 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent reduction in efficiency per year on average. These warranties are in place to protect the consumer in the event that the solar cells fail during the product’s lifespan (e..g, if before 5 years, the output goes to 80 percent ). More information about the SunPower product specifications can be found in this PDF.

Expert Opinion: A word of caution about other brands

There are a number of other manufacturers besides Renogy and SolarWorld. We do not recommend any other brands, however, because they either have inferior warranties, are constructed with lower-quality soler cells, or are not based in the United States of America. AllPowers, KingSolar, and WindyNation are just a few examples of such companies.

Flexible Solar Panel Benefits to a 24/7 Clean Power Grid

TheEnergyFix is here to serve as the information gateway to a 100 percent clean power grid that runs on renewable energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These solar panels are best suited for use in residential or traveling situations. Here are some examples of possible applications for these panels:

  • Home Charging Port: Install a solar panel on your home’s window, porch, or roof to serve as a charging port (if possible). Make use of the electricity generated by the solar panel to charge your phones, laptops, and other electronic devices on-demand. Another option is to charge a solar battery, which can then be used to recharge your electronic devices later on.
  • Pumps for swimming pools and spas: Do you have an indoor or outdoor swimming pool or spa at your residence? Instead of relying on electricity from the grid, flexible solar panels can be used to power the water pumps.
  • RV: instead of using grid electricity while traveling, install a few of these panels on the roof of your RV and use electricity/store it while you are traveling.
  • Camping: If you are going camping for any reason, bring a flexible panel with you instead of relying on the grid for electricity. Utilize the energy it generates by mounting it on the top of a tree or in an open area.

All of these applications make use of locally available renewable energy sources rather than relying on the power grid. Using flexible solar panels, you can achieve a one-to-one carbon emission offset, meaning that any amount of energy you generate and use with flexible panels is the same amount of energy that a coal plant would not generate for you.

FAQ about Flexible Solar Panels

What are the different types of flexible solar panels?

Thin-film solar panels and crystalline solar panels are the two types of solar panels available.

Thin Film

Thin-film solar panels are those in which the photovoltaic material is directly printed onto the surface of the panel. Because of the nature of printing, the device becomes more adaptable in its environment. Thin-films can be printed on a variety of different materials, including clothing, windows, and paper. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been experimenting with the idea of putting flexible solar panels on clothing.

Thin-film, on the other hand, has not been able to capture the market as effectively as its counterpart, crystalline. Thin-film transistors are generally more expensive to manufacture and less efficient than thick-film transistors. The efficiency of thin-film solar cells ranges from 4 percent to 12 percent, whereas the efficiency of crystalline solar cells ranges from 13 percent to 19 percent.

Crystalline Silicon

The most widely used solar-energy material on the market. Crystalline has two subtypes, which are referred to as polycrystalline and monocrystalline, respectively. These solar cells are created by cutting silicon wafers, and if the wafers are cut thinly enough, they can be made to be flexible in the environment.

When compared to thin films, crystalline can only bend to a maximum of 30 degrees, whereas thin films can bend to a maximum of 60 degrees. This may restrict its applications, but it will be fine for RVing, camping, and other outdoor activities.

In general, crystalline cells are less expensive to manufacture than thin-film cells, and they are also more efficient. If you are looking for the best flexible solar panels, there is a good chance that you will be purchasing one that is made from this material technology.

What are the similarities and differences between flexible solar panels vs rigid solar panels?

Let’s compare flexible vs rigid solar panels:

  • Flexible panels can be bent to an angle of up to 30 to 45 degrees. Rigidity is not the case.
  • Flexible panels have a wide range of applications. Rigid is primarily used for applications that are stationary.
  • Flexible panels have a lower power output than rigid solar panels.
  • Flexible panels have a lower durability rating than rigid panels (due to not being protected by the glass as in the rigid panel case)
  • Flexible panels have a shorter warranty period from the manufacturer than rigid panels.

How do I mount flexible solar panels?

Flexible panels can be attached to a surface using glue, velcro, or other types of adhesives. It is not necessary to screw them down or to drill holes in order to secure them. This is a significant advantage of rigid panels.

Because the panels are portable, you can remove them and reuse them in another application if you choose to use velcro, for example. This is extremely convenient!

How do warranties work?

The majority of solar manufacturers will offer power as well as a product warranty. For example, Renogy’s 25-year power output warranty includes the following language:

  • 5 year/95% efficiency rate
  • 10 year/90% efficiency rate
  • 25-year/80% efficiency rate

This means that if the efficiency rate falls below 95 percent within five years, you will be covered by the policy. Alternatively, if the efficiency is less than 80 percent after 25 years of use, you are also covered. It is expected that after 80 percent of its capacity, the solar panel will no longer be usable because it will not be able to generate the power required to operate your devices.

What is the purpose of the manufacturer providing such warranties? Occasionally, solar cells within a solar panel will fail, reducing the efficiency of the panel as a whole. You are not at fault in this situation, and as a result, you are protected.

In addition, you will receive a standard 5-year product and workmanship warranty. The solar cells themselves are not covered, but if the solar panel itself physically starts to come apart as a result of a manufacturing defect, you will be compensated. Of course, you’re responsible for general wear and tear.

What is the best flexible solar panel for RV?

A typical RV adventure journey will take you through a variety of terrain, including deserts and extremely cold climate zones. When compared to Renogy, SunPower will perform better in hot climates due to its higher temperature coefficient relative to the power source. Both Renogy and SunPower panels are excellent for RVs, but if you know you will be in warm climates on a regular basis, the SunPower panel is the better choice.

What is the best flexible solar panel for camping?

Both SunPower and Renogy solar panels are ideal for use while camping. The Renogy is one pound lighter than the Sunpower, so if you plan on backpacking while camping, the one-pound weight difference could be a significant savings.


Verdict

When it comes to using flexible solar panels, it’s a no-brainer to contribute to the power grid becoming carbon-free while also providing an abundant source of electricity. We looked at the best flexible solar panels available on the market, discussed various application scenarios, answered frequently asked questions, and discussed what to look for when making a purchase.

When it comes to our expert recommendation, the Renogy panel is the best choice because of its competitive pricing, excellent 25-year warranty, and flexibility angel. If you have a very specific use-case in which you absolutely require the high-efficiency panel, then SunPower is the best choice for your needs.