Solar energy is sustainable and grid-interdependent. While households mainly employ rigid solar panels for environmental and cost-saving purposes, a flexible solar panel allows you to charge your devices when the grid is not available.
The chief technical singularity of flexible solar panels is that they are much lighter than rigid ones. For example, a 100-watt, low-wattage flexible panel is about 70% lighter than its rigid silicon counterpart. This feature allows flexible solar panels to be mounted in brittle places that would not hold the weight of a traditional silicon panel.
Let us compare two 100-watt solar panels by Renogy, one of the leaders in solar systems. The flexible panel has the same efficiency and production per day characteristics as the rigid one, but the weight of the flexible panel is four times smaller.
At the same time, the price of the Renogy flexible panel is almost twice higher. The material and workmanship warranty is twice smaller. It is 5 years for a flexible panel compared to 10 years of a rigid solar panel. Pay attention that the performance warranty is the same for Renogy rigid and flexible panels. The brand expects the output to drop gradually but slowly for both.
It guarantees 95% efficiency within 5 first years of use, 90% for years 6 to 10, and 80% for the rest of the 25-year warranty period. It means that this type of panel is as productive as a rigid one, but it is less durable than its older models. It comes as no surprise since rigid panels are protected by glass and aluminum frames, while flexible ones are protected with a thin layer of plastic.
Since flexible panels are lighter, they are easy to carry around. They are also much thinner and can easily fit anywhere when you need to store them away. You can fix them to the roof that does not have the necessary structure to carry heavy rigid solar panels.
Bendable solar panels require much less labor and cost to install. You do not need to hire a special installer as you can easily bolt the solar panel structure yourself. It also eliminates the need to install any additional robust mounting system.
Mounting of flexible panels is normally much easier than that of rigid ones. Quite typically, they are meant to be dismounted regularly. Often, they are fixed on top of vehicle roofs such as boats, campervans, and cars.
Best Flexible Solar Panels
There are a huge number of solar panels. They differ in voltage, size, material, flexibility, and other parameters. For example, 100-watt panels are commonly used for boats and small yachts, while 200 and 300-watt high efficiency flexible solar panels are used in RVs or trailers. When pitching upon a solar panel, it is necessary to consider the operating conditions: weather, illumination, size, and angle of the surface. Let`s review the best offers on the market.
It offers almost 3 quarters of circle flexibility. It means this panel can be fixed to a very uneven surface. Nevertheless, the panel can withstand extreme wind and snow load. The price is about $300.
Flexible up to 30 degrees. Empowered with prime Maxeon Cell technology, it offers the highest 22-25% efficiency on the market. The supplier also claims that the panel performs very well in cloudy weather. The panel bends 30 degrees. The brand gives a 5-year power warranty and a 2-year product warranty. The price is about $280.
This panel is very light and small. This portable flexible solar panel scales a bit more than 2 pounds. It is perfect for being carried around. It can be curved up to 30 degrees. The model has mounting holes and can be fixed to a tent or a cabin. At the same time, this small flexible solar panel is highly efficient. The brand claims it is 23,5% efficient. The price is about $90.
4. Best 100 watt flexible solar panel Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline Flexible Solar Panel
Renogy flexible solar panel is distinct from both traditional rigid silicon options and standard flexible panels. It is included in the roster of the best flexible portable solar panels. Unlike other flexible solar panels, this model accepts an angle of up to 248 degrees. This difference allows installing it on more curved surfaces. Such flexibility is achieved through extreme thinness. This model is only 0.08 inches wide, which is 95% thinner than its counterparts. Weighing in at 4.2 pounds, this solar panel is ideal for boats, RVs, yachts, tents, and other non-standard surfaces. Waterproof, frost, and wind resistance make the Renogy flexible solar panel ideal for marine use.
A flexible solar panel kit comprises a solar panel with tray cables, a charge controller, an adaptor kit, a battery, and a power inverter (optional).
Renogy Company provides fast and free shipping. The purchase is delivered in a strong box to protect the content from damage. It is packaged properly with foam corners and a lot of space on the sides and front of the panel. The price is about $190.
To accurately install the panel, follow the instruction below:
- Take the solar panel out of the packaging by holding both or one side with both hands. Do not step on the panel or put heavy items on it.
- Clean the panel by spreading water on the surface. Use a damp cloth to clean it.
- Put the panel on a flat surface.
- Use a marker pen to mark every 8 to 12 inches.
- Apply adhesive across the panel according to the marks.
- Apply adhesive to the left and right edges of the panel and leave some space for airflow.
- Put the solar panel in the desired position.
- Apply adhesive to the windward edge of the panel for extra protection.
- Let the panel sit for 48 hours.
5. The Best 200 Watt Flexible Solar Panel XINPUGUANG Semi Flexible 200W Solar Panel Cell for RV
A Chinese brand XINPUGUANG manufactures high-efficiency flexible panels with Monocrystalline silicon cells, which provide high efficiency even in low light. This model is thin and lightweight. The item dimensions are 46.26 × 21.26. The weight is 4.4 pounds.
The solar panel can be flexed up to 30-40 degrees, making it convenient to install on a rooftop, boat, yacht, trailer, or other curved surfaces. This allows you to select a convenient angle and position for the panel for maximum efficiency. The brand claims it is 19,8% efficient.
The small weight of the solar panel (approx. 0.1 inches) does not affect its reliability. The design easily withstands extreme low and high temperatures, snow, and wind pressure.
Longer service life provides additional lamination of sheets with an innovative sealing material.
The solar panel kit comprises 2 pieces of a 100-watt solar panel, 20A 12v/24v charge controller, 2 cable sets, and connectors. The price for the solar panel kit is about $256.
To accurately and safely install the solar panel, follow the instruction below:
- Connect the battery to the controller and then connect the solar panels.
- Be convinced that when the controller is connected in parallel, the voltage does not exceed the maximum permissible value. If the total input power of the solar panel is greater than the rated power of the controller, there is a risk of fire.
- Connect a cable to all components and check if the connection is stable.
- Check that the positive and negative poles of the controller are exactly matched.
- If the power of one controller is not enough to operate all the solar panels, several controllers can be connected at the same time.
6. Best 300 watt flexible solar panel RICH SOLAR 300 Watt Flexible Monocrystalline High-Efficiency Solar Panel SunPower Cell
It is a high-quality solar panel that comprises 32 monocrystalline cells. Each solar panel cell is built on a copper base to provide durability, corrosion, and crack resistance. Prime cells provide 22 to 25% efficiency. The panel parameters are only 44.5 × 21.3, but this tiny tot is capable of producing energy of up to 600 volts and 300 watts. It weighs only 4.4 pounds to make your installing and using processes comfortable and free.
The solar panel is only 0.12 inches wide. Due to its subtlety and the correct arrangement of monocrystalline cells, the solar panel bends up to 30 degrees. This makes it easy to install on the roof of a car or house, mobile home, yacht, boat, and other curved surfaces. The brand provides a 25-year warranty for a solar panel and a year for controllers.
This model also comes with a waterproof junction box. This accommodates the panel for marine use. The waterproof junction box makes the panel resistant to extreme temperatures, rain, snow, and gusts of wind.
The Rich Solar 300-watt solar panel kit comprises solar panels, a 30A charge controller, mc4 adaptor, mc4 connectors, and cables. The price of a kit is about $480. The Rich Solar Company provides free delivery and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best flexible solar panels for RV
A lot of RV holders are wondering about the constant supply of energy. One of the most obvious and profitable options is buying a solar panel. However, there are several important points to pay attention to when choosing a solar panel. Let us take a look at them.
- Quality of materials. A solar panel is a long-term purchase that can save your budget later on. Do not be tempted by cheap options made from low-quality materials. A solar panel like this can only last you a few months. However, you can choose the best value flexible solar panels of good quality. Just follow our recommendations.
- Solar panel type. There are 2 chief types of solar panels: thin film and crystalline silicon. On thin-film materials, photocells are applied to the surface of the panel. This allows thin the layers hundreds of times than those of silicon panels. Thus, the panel can be bent and twisted without damage. This is a great option for curved surfaces.
The second type is made up of dense and hard silicon cells. However, they could also be made bendable by splitting the cells into smaller ones. This allows these flexible solar cells to be mounted on the roofs of an RV. However, the second option is more expensive.
- Efficiency. Flexible solar panel efficiency highly depends on the charging efficiency. To accurately find out the performance indicators, carefully read flexible solar panel reviews of real buyers on verified reviewers.
- The size and shape of the RV. It is important to choose a solar panel for the parameters and curves of your RV. If you have a little space on the roof, choose panels with smaller lengths and widths. If the roof angle is too large, go for the most bendable models, such as the options from Renogy, which bend up to 248 degrees. It is also important to consider the strength of the roof. Do not use heavy panels if your roof cannot support the weight. Give preference to thin and light models.
It is important to consider all of these factors before purchasing a solar panel. Now, let’s take a look at the three most efficient flexible solar panels for RVs.
This solar panel model is one of the most versatile, convenient, and ergonomic options on the market. With the same number of cells (32), this model provides 125 watts. The product has been designed for use in the RV. The construction of the solar panel can be folded 30 degrees, which allows it to be installed comfortably on the roof of an RV, car, boat, or tent.
Thanks to the laminated coating, the surface of the panel is reliably protected from splashing water, rain, and corresponding damage. Besides, the design handles extreme temperatures, wind, and snow very well.
The solar panel mounting is quite simple. You just need to connect the device with solar cables via mc4 connectors. Thus, a multi-panel system can be easily connected.
The price of the model is also quite attractive. It costs from $130 to $140, which corresponds to an overall price on the market.
However, some customers notice poor customer support of the company. That`s why it has an overall rating of just 3.6 points on Amazon.
This model is the ideal solution for the rig owner. In addition to two 100-watt solar panels, the set also includes a GP-PWM-30 controller and cables. This is very convenient since the buyer will not need to purchase additional items separately.
The performance and quality of the solar panel are quite impressive. The structure is 82% lighter than that of its frame counterparts, due to which, it bends up to 30 degrees. The design of the solar panel is so sturdy that you can walk on it or place heavy objects on top without damage. Such strength is not provided by other manufacturers.
In addition, the model reliably protects against water drops, snow, wind, and temperature extremes. This is the ideal solution for RV owners. For the panel to retain its properties, it must be washed regularly.
However, the only drawback of this model is the price. Even with free shipping, this product is quite expensive. The price ranges from $1,000 to $1,200.
9. Uni-Solar 136W 24V Flexible Solar Panel
A feck of solar panels is ineffective in low-light conditions. However, this is not about the Uni-Solar 136W 24V Flexible Solar Panel. It belongs to roll up solar panels. This flexible model is made of triple-junction amorphous silicon. This allows it to absorb red, blue, and green sunlight. Thus, this solar panel is most effective in any, even low light.
If you are planning to travel in dimly lit or cloudy locations, this solar panel is a must-have for you.
Another obvious advantage of this model is the easy installation process. To do this, you just need to remove the adhesive panel cover and fix it on the roof of the RV. It may only take you a few minutes. Even beginners with no experience in installing solar panels should have no difficulty.
In addition, the solar panel performs well in extreme temperatures.
For its quality and low-light efficiency, the model has gained 4.7 points on Amazon.
However, it has several disadvantages. The first is unreliable packaging. Some buyers complained about the quality of the delivery and the damaged packaging of the goods, because of which, they had to return or change the products.
The second is the high price average $80 plus shipping. But given the benefits and features of the panel, it is well worth it.
Kate is an environmental consultant specializing on green technologies and nature preservation techniques. She has more than 3 years of experience and worked with several non-profit organizations to save our nature from disruptive influence of people.