The best flexible solar panels work by providing low-cost, off-grid power on-the-go, making it ideal for boats, RVs, cabins, and other outdoor locations and activities like camping and hiking.
Sometimes, when homes cannot use the traditional, rigid solar panels due to uneven roof or other reasons, flexible solar panels serve as a pretty good alternative.
In the solar industry, flexible solar panels are called "thin film panels." This is because they are made from layers of one or more photovoltaic (PV) material on top of glass, metal or plastic. These layers end up over 300 times smaller than the standard silicon-based solar panels.
The design of flexible solar panels makes them a lot more lightweight, portable and flexible, while keeping the durability and energy-efficiency of traditional silicon panels.
What better way to understand the capabilities of flexible solar panels than to check out the current models offered in the market today. We've handpicked several interesting models that may fit your requirements:
- 1 Comparison Table Of Best Flexible Solar Panels
- 2 Top 7 Flexible Solar Panels To Buy in 2020
- 2.1 1. SunPower 100 Watt Flexible Monocrystalline High Efficiency Solar Panel
- 2.2 2. Kingsolar 100 Watt Flexible Solar Panel
- 2.3 3. Renogy RNG-100DB-H 100-Watt 12-Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- 2.4 4. GIARIDE 100-Watt Flexible Solar Panel High-Efficiency Monocrystalline Cell
- 2.5 5. WindyNation 100-Watt, 12-volt Bendable Flexible Thin Lightweight Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- 2.6 6. Richsolar 80 Watt 12 Volt Extremely ETFE Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel Ultra Lightweight
- 2.7 7. ALLPOWERS Solar Panel 100W 18V 12V Bendable Flexible Solar Charger SunPower Solar Module
- 3 Factors To Consider When Buying the Best Flexible Solar Panels
- 4 Wrap Up: Which is the Best Flexible Solar Panels for Me?
Comparison Table Of Best Flexible Solar Panels
Best Flexible Solar Panels With The Most Features
Best Flexible Solar Panels For Various Settings
Best Flexible Solar Panels Under $150
Top 7 Flexible Solar Panels To Buy in 2020
Made by one of the most popular brands in the country, SunPower's 100-watt flexible solar panel is a top-notch option if you want maximum power performance from your unit. This is because the main material used are Gen II Maxeon silicon solar cells, the same material you can find in traditional solar panels.
The SunPower 100-watt solar panels consist of 32 high-efficiency monocrystalline cells. They have up to 23% efficiency (its 110-watt counterpart has up to 25%), which are both in the higher range when it comes to the efficiency of flexible solar panels.
Another good thing about SunPower's flexible solar panel is that it could perform well even in hot temperatures, so if you're planning to mount it on top of your trailer while passing through the desert, this make and model could deliver the power you need. Some low-quality panels lose efficiency as the temperature rises.
If you're an owner of other flexible solar panels, you'll quickly realize that the SunPower's flexible solar panels are special. Unlike other brands, these panels are very hard with thick plastic as the top layer. The quality is definitely evident as quickly as you carry them. Plus, the panels come with 17.7 feet of 12 AWG cable and MC4 connectors (already integrated as a single piece), so it's easier for people to install themselves.
The Kingsolar 100-watt kit may look like any of the other contenders of best flexible solar panels on this list, but there are two things that make this kit special.
For one, Kingsolar skipped PET and used an ETFE surface, a type of thermoplastic polymer known for resistance to corrosion and heat more effectively compared to the more common PET surface. The transmission of ETFE material can be as high as 95% and also perform even at high temperatures.
Aside from being waterproof (with an IP68 rating), these flexible solar panels are also made with copper cables covered with 3 layers of plastic film and water-resistant, sealed junction box.
Kingsolar's 100-watt flexible solar panels convert up to 23.5% of sunlight into usable power. It boasts of superior weak-light sensitivity and impressive internal-blocking diode that prevents reverse current drain at night.
This flexible solar panel kit can curve at a maximum 30 degree arc and since it only weighs 4.8 pounds and measures 0.1-inch thick, it can be installed in any irregular or curved surface like boats, cabins, RVs, trucks, trailers and tents, among others. This also means removing and transporting these flexible solar panels are as hassle-free as installing them.
Renogy's flexible monocrystalline solar panel is a favorite of many veteran fans of portable solar power. It's an ideal kit if you're looking for something to power up your yacht, boat, trailer, RV, and even all kinds of curved rooftops.
Designed and manufactured in the USA, the Renogy 100-watt flexible solar panels also feature IP68-rated waterproof junction box, making them perfect for outdoor use. They're 21% efficient thanks to the durable monocrystalline silion material that takes in a massive amount of power with a tiny footprint.
It has built a reputation for being an all-purpose flexible solar panel because of its durability and power despite weighing only a measly 4 pounds. Being super lightweight and its capability of flexing up to 248 degrees means users can easily install these solar panels themselves on numerous applications under an hour. Any adhesive or sealant could do the trick.
Renogy backs its flexible solar panels with excellent warranty - you get a standard 5-year warranty and 25 years for power, which is one of the longest warranty you can find among the best flexible solar panels out there.
The GIARIDE flexible solar panel is crafted with high-efficiency monocrystalline cell and 100% waterproof material.
Unlike other panels that boast flexibility but only bend at a certain angle, GIARDE's offering delivers with a smooth curve of 30 degrees max. You can mount it on top of your camper, trailer, and even the roof of your sedan.
And because it weighs super-light and requires just ordinary adhesive to keep it in place, anyone can install these like a pro. GIARIDE even made it easier for users by pre-drilling the panels for faster and more secured mounting, making it perfect for temporary installations as well.
The junction box of GIARIDE's 100-watt flexible solar panels are extremely waterproof that many users were left impressed when the panels accidentally fell off their boats and still survive after. The advanced lamination with dust- and water-resistant thin film of the solar cell probably helped keep the kits virtually untouched as well.
Performance-wise, the 50-watt version can charge around 25 watts when facing the sun completely. Imagine how intensely powerful GIARIDE's 100-watt flexible solar panels could perform.
If you're looking for a temporary flexible solar panel for a quick camping trip or other similar applications, WindyNation's 100-watt flexible solar panels can deliver enough power to charge your gadgets without breaking the bank. They're super thin - about 0.1 inches - making it perfect for various installations without having to worry about bulking up your car, camper, or yacht.
The WindyNation 100-watt flexible solar panel is pretty inexpensive, which can be perfect for users just trying out the world of solar panels. It's also for people who consider price as the major deciding factor. The downside to this is that the kits are made of PTE, a polyester with shorter lifespan, so don't expect it to last beyond its 1-year product warranty.
Installing this kit follows standard installation for flexible solar panels - you just need a good quality adhesive to stick it to your chosen spot. WindyNation's 100-watt model comes with blocking diode in the junction box to eliminate battery discharge or draining at night.
Our pick for the value-for-money flexible solar panel, Richsolar's 80-watt model features ETFE coating, which feels solid and durable for its low price-point. It is a flexible solar panel, so it was expected for the kit to be super-lightweight (under 5 pounds) and extremely bendy (flexes 30 degree max).
This kit is designed for charging 12-volt lead-acid batteries and can easily put out 100 watts as advertised. Because of its flexibility, the Richsolar 80-watt flexible solar panels can be installed in various settings, from tents and huts, to boats, RVs, campers, and other applications with irregular or uneven surfaces.
Installation is also a breeze, without the need for tools. You can mount these flexible solar panels with your chosen adhesive in under 30 minutes. And if you want a more permanent installation, Richsolar already provided copper-eyelet holes ready to use.
There's an upside and downside to the ALLPOWERS flexible solar panel. On one side, it uses the high-efficiency SunPower solar cells that produces exceptional power output. On the other hand, it makes use of the lower-quality PTE polyester that is known to degrade faster in sunlight compared to the newer ETFE material. PTE is also cheaper, which brings down the price of this ALLPOWERS model completely.
Now that you know what you're signing up for, ALLPOWERS does have other qualities to impress. It has an efficiency of up to 23.5%, which is on the higher range when it comes to flexible solar panels. The 100-watt ALLPOWERS flexible solar panel is also weatherproof, waterproof and highly durable thanks to its 6 laminate layers.
ALLPOWERS bendable solar panels are able to curve to a maximum 30degree arc, which makes it a good fit for a wide range of vehicles, boats, tents, cabins, or even as a standalone panel.
Factors To Consider When Buying the Best Flexible Solar Panels
The prices of flexible solar panels only include the solar panel kits. For this to work, you'll need a solar controller, deep cycle battery, battery connectors, and other optional accessories like extended solar panel wires.
Like other types of solar panels, these super-thin, flexible solar panels have their own pros and cons. As such, you have to weigh these considerations before buying one of the best flexible solar panels we've compiled above:
Other considerations like size and weight are also important, especially since every project is different and has varying requirements.
Wrap Up: Which is the Best Flexible Solar Panels for Me?
Note that this list of best flexible solar panels just touches the tip of an iceberg - there are dozens of other models that would be perfect. However, we stuck to 100-watt models to cater to beginners looking to give flexible solar panels a shot and these 7 could definitely deliver.
For those on a budget, ultra lightweight Richsolar 100-watt 12-volt flexible solar panels is one of the most inexpensive, yet durable and efficient flexible solar panels around. But if you're looking for a kit that could be used in virtually any possible application, check out the high-efficiency GIARIDE 100-Watt Flexible Solar Panels.
Our top pick is Renogy's RNG-100DB-H 100-Watt 12-Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel, since it is relatively affordable, powerful and has the most features out of all models we handpicked. Plus, this kit offers the longest warranty.
Make sure to weigh the considerations listed above, and if you can't get past the technical stuff, go with the one with the best warranty, since it is often a good indicator that the company is confident about their product's durability.