Best Flexible Solar Panels
Even though it is still a fairly new technology, if you’re looking for the most convenient, easy to install, and cost-saving variety of solar available — you are going to find everything you need in flexible solar panels.
Today we’re going to provide you with all of the information you could ever need to fully understand this fantastic solar variety in conjunction with a list of five of the best products on the market for you to choose from. Read on for a life full of hassle-free solar power.
What Are Flexible Solar Panels?
As with all other panels of this type, flexible panels rely on a series of cells designed to soak up photon rays from the sun before redistributing them as usable energy thanks to the inbuilt inverter components and absorption mechanism. This increasingly popular means of accessing the sun’s power feature solar cells made out of naturally occurring organic materials (this is true of the latest versions at least) or incredibly thin silicon wafers that have a high degree of flexibility.
This makes flexible solar options viable in circumstances where traditional bulky, heavy, and cumbersome arrays might not be possible. Examples of this would include a house roof that isn’t strong enough to support a series of panels, a lack of space, and awkward or inaccessible locations.
Though you’ll need more panels than you would with a traditional array to be able to meet your power demands when using “flexi” paneling, you’ve got many more location possibilities on offer due to the dynamic and accessible build quality. Simply put, their flexibility makes solar possible in situations where it would otherwise have been completely unviable. As their technology advances, flexible arrays may even become the new normal for this amazing sun-fuelled power solution niche.
Flex Solar Panel: Main Types
In this section, we’re going to provide you with a quick overview of the two main categories of flexible solar panels so that you fully understand the difference between market options. This should help you to determine which type will be more effective for you, based on your individual circumstances.
Thin film solar panel varieties
These highly adaptable solar solutions are great for anyone looking for the most versatile choice on the market due to them being completely malleable. You can bend and roll them into almost any shape. This is thanks to the integrated cells being made out of an all-organic material that is then printed onto flexible sheets. This presents an option that’s both lightweight, and completely moldable. You can use them almost anywhere you can think of.
The catch is that due to the fact they are not as widely available as crystalline solar solutions they’re more expensive and less powerful. You’ll need more of them to achieve your desired power output requirements. Provided you’re aware of that, it might still prove viable to make use of thin-film technology if you’re trying to install a solar array into (or onto) a particularly awkward location. They’re also useful if your power requirements are low.
Crystalline panels offer a higher level of efficiency compared to thin-film varieties meaning that you’ll have to use less in order to achieve more power. They’re cheaper too cause they’re more widely available. The main two cell varieties in this category are mono and polycrystalline. While the cells aren’t as thin as those found on film cell panels, they’re still thin enough to accommodate a modest degree of movement.
You can usually get away with bending the cell sheet by anywhere up to 30 degrees. Though that might not sound like much, it actually makes all the difference in the world when you’re trying to install solar panels in certain locations. As the efficiency on offer is higher here too, you’ll also need fewer cells compared to thin-film to achieve your desired energy output. This makes it a more cost-effective flex solar panel option on the whole when combined with its widespread availability. The catch is that your desired location might call for thin-film.
How to Choose Flexible Solar Panels
We’ll now make you aware of the key areas to compare when shopping for this flexible sun-based power technology. This article is going to help you to determine which option or options suit your needs the best, and make you aware of what a truly good quality product looks like.
Panels are available offering a wide variety of wattages including 100, 200, or 300 with the cost per panel increasing in line with the output they produce. Always do the maths on your power requirements well in advance of making a product purchase.
How durable is your product?
The durability of solar panels is one of the most important factors to consider before making a purchase. Remember that they’re going to be used in outdoor locations. ETFE plastic builds tend to be the most resistant on the market when compared to other materials such as PET and PTE plastics.
How effective is it?
After the power output, efficiency is the next most important area to consider. On average, panels will convert 15% of the sun’s energy for effective redistribution as power. Some of the absolute best models on the market can convert between 20 – 25%.
Depending on where you’re planning to put your array, its size and weight are going to make all the difference. If you’re installing on a roof you’ve got serious weight capacity and space at your fingertips. This won’t always be the case in smaller locations. Choose carefully and measure before buying.
Does it include a warranty?
This is serious technology designed to fulfill a serious purpose. If it doesn’t offer effective and reliable power, then your solar array isn’t good for anything. Try to make sure that your preferred product is covered by a warranty to lead to a stress-free buying experience in the event that it doesn’t perform.
How easy is it to install?
Make sure that you actually know how to make use of your flex solar cell technology before committing to a purchase. Check out the installation instructions online before clicking buy to assess whether or not you can do a self-install, or you’ll have to pay someone to do it for you.
Angle of bend
What’s the bending angle threshold for your item? Is it going to be able to work with your intended surface effectively? Measure the angle of your surface against the maximum bend capacity of your desired panel before buying to avoid any disappointment during the installation.
The following brands are well known for producing some of the best flexible solar options on the market right now. Buying a product from any of the following manufacturers will ensure that you’re getting a high-quality, widely used item: Rich, Renogy, ALLPOWERS, Jackery, AUECOOR, Rockpals, Unisolar, Winnewsun. Though they don’t represent all of your available manufacturer options, the above list certainly features some of the best.
Top 5 Best Flexible Solar Panels
We’re now going to provide you with a list of the five best flexible solar panels currently available. There’s no need to look anywhere else or waste a second more of your time performing internet searches.
5. XINPUGUANG Solar Panel 4pcs 100W 12V 400W Flexible System
For the best value option possible this four-piece set combines four 100 watt output sheets for the all in one flexible solar power solution to supply your energy requirements, regardless of how big they are. Though not everyone is going to need up to 400 watts of power, if you’re in need of a cost-effective way to achieve a larger flexible solar array without breaking the bank then this really does serve as a no-brain option.
It’s highly weatherproof, very durable, and flexible enough to be able to be placed on the majority of surfaces without any kind of issue. The only downside is that you might not need four sheets, and the cost of the system is more than you’d pay for individual sheets.
- Amazing value four-sheet system
- Will supply the power requirements of the majority of people due to 400W capacity
- Super weather resistant and durable
- Flexible enough to work with most surfaces
- Might provide more power than is needed
- More expensive than single unit options
4. Winnewsun Flexible Solar Panel Bifacial 100W
With an efficiency rating of up to 22% and unique bifacial technology that means both sides of the panel can absorb photon rays, this is absolutely one of the best flexible options on the market for a wide variety of purposes. Usually, the technology that leads to it being possible to make a solar panel flexible only allows for one side of the sheet or cell system to be usable at a time. In this instance, however, you can make use of both for maximum effectiveness and optimise the 100 watts of power output on offer.
Considering the weather resistance and efficiency rating on offer too, this leads to a super-premium option that’ll work perfectly as a one-stop solution for small installations. It can even be combined with other arrays to generate more power if required.
- Both sides are usable for maximum efficiency
- Incredibly flexible for multipurpose use
- The neutral design means it’ll weave seamlessly into most exterior locations
- Really easy to use and install
- Quite expensive compared to some options
- Thin design could be susceptible to impact damage
3. Unisolar 128 Watt Flexible Solar Panel PV Laminate
This is easily amongst the best thin-film panel varieties on offer anywhere and it comes packing a respectable wattage capacity of 128 in conjunction with being one of the most durable offerings within this product category. Due to the incredibly thin film housing, you’re literally going to be able to put this laminate sheet of cells pretty much anywhere you want.
It’s easy to install, weather-resistant, and incredibly lightweight making for maximum accessibility. Due to having a 128-watt output, you’re probably going to get away with simply needing one sheet to accommodate your needs if you’re an RV or boat owner. The downside? The housing may be susceptible to damage and thin-film technology makes for a lower photon conversion rate.
- Super flexible design makes for easy installation
- Cheap price considering the power output
- Ideal for use with RV’s and boats
- Massively weatherproof
- Not as hard-wearing as crystalline panels
- No included warranty
2. Renogy 50 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
This highly durable panel from Renogy is a great choice for those who want to power smaller installations and don’t require a significant amount of power. It’s also flexible enough to be able to be installed on pretty much any surface. Wind and snowproof enough to be able to withstand even the harshest of environments, this cell array can either be used on its own or combined with other options for a higher level of power output.
Installation is easy thanks to the lightweight, endlessly tested housing. This has proven to be a highly popular choice for RV and boat owners or anyone who needs to install panels on a curved surface where fixed solar arrays may not be possible.
- Really easy to install and mount
- Perfect for small setups where not much power is needed
- Incredibly weather resistant
- Extensively tested for total peace of mind
- Expensive considering the low wattage output
- Won’t provide enough power to cover larger requirements
1. RICH SOLAR 100 Watt 12 Volt Extremely ETFE Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
With an excellent warranty, a high degree of flexibility, and an 80-watt output capacity this is easily one of the most convenient and accessible flexible solar panels for sale at the moment and even has durable, long-lasting housing to provide total peace of mind.
It’ll merge seamlessly onto a wide variety of surfaces thanks to the 30-degree flex capacity and the lightweight design makes installation incredibly easy, even for a self-install. The price isn’t bad either considering the quality. The downside would have to be the max power output of 80 watts. There are more powerful panels out there, but if you don’t need the extra power then this product will absolutely suit your needs.
- Lightweight and easy to work with
- 80 watts is enough power to cater for small installation needs
- 30-degree bend capacity will work with a wide variety of surfaces
- Good long-lasting build quality
- More expensive than some options considering the lower wattage compared to alternative products
- Power output is lower compared to some other products
Pros and Cons of Flex Solar Cells
We’ll now summarise the reasons for and against choosing flexible solar technology before you make a final purchase choice, just so that you’re absolutely sure that this is the right path for you to go down.
- Incredibly flexible so will work with most surfaces
- Really light so it’s easy to lift and install
- Accessible installation that makes DIY possible
- Portable and can be taken with you if you move
- The best flexible crystalline systems are almost as effective as permanently housed arrays
- Much cheaper than fixed panels
- Will make solar feasible in circumstances and locations where it may not otherwise have been an option
- A wider variety of sizing options are available compared to traditional solar panels
- Not the most desirable power source for roof installations because more panels will be required compared to traditional options
- Not quite as efficient as fixed panels
- Usually not as powerful as fixed panels
- Flexible panels won’t add resale value to your home, whereas permanently fixed arrays might
We’ve now reached the end of our flexible solar ride, and we hope that you enjoyed finding out everything you need to know about this incredibly versatile modern power technology. Though solar systems are by no means new anymore, flexible varieties are leading the way in the evolution of the solar industry thanks to being an economic option that provides enough power to suit the majority of people’s requirements.
If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional mains power to fuel small scale day to day activities and electricity requirements then you can probably get all of the power you need with a flexi solar product.