Top 8 Best Flexible Solar Panels in 2018 – Reviews and Top Picks
Whether you are choosing to use solar energy out of preference or necessity, the fact remains that many solar panels just will not work for your intended purposes. They can be rigid and bulky, making it impossible to mount in smaller, irregular shaped areas. With flexible solar panels, you have the option to tap into solar panel just about anywhere you need power, whether that is on your boat, RV or out in your off-the-grid cabin. The key is to find the best flexible solar panels for your purposes to ensure you are getting the most value for your dollar and power for your uses.
Why Choose a Flexible Solar Panel?
You may be wondering why you should choose a flexible solar panel over a traditional style. The answer is fairly simple. It comes down to your intended use. If you have somewhere you need to mount the panel that is not flat, straight or perfectly level, you may run into problems installing a traditional solar panel.
With flexible panels, you can bend and form-fit each panel accordingly. Imagine having a round travel camper, which you want to generate enough solar power to run without any other power source. Traditional panels would be difficult to install on a round roof and would likely end up falling off. Flexible solar panels are mountable on most shapes and sizes.
Along with their bending characteristics, flexible solar panels are very lightweight in comparison to classic style solar panels. Most flexible ones are constructed of plastic whereas traditional styles are made from glass, steel and metal. This allows you to apply them in most situations.
How to Choose the Best Flexible Solar Panels?
Not all flexible solar panels are created equally. With a little research and comparing, you will find the perfect one for your desired use and needs. When shopping for a solar panel, especially a flexible model, you should keep in mind some key points and features that are important to the functionality and purpose of each. These features will help you determine which one is right for you.
Size and Weight
When examining different options, you should consider the size and weight of each panel. If you are intending on using your flexible panels in a smaller spot, you will want to choose a product that is on the smaller side and is very lightweight. However, if your desired purpose is on a larger scale, size may not be such an important factor. However, smaller and lighter make it much easier to transport and mount.
Of course, you should consider how many watts the solar panel will output, since obtaining power is the sole reason you are buying a solar panel in the first place. Lower watts mean less energy output and could also mean you will need to connect multiple panels to get the desired power level.
It goes without saying that if you are in the market for a flexible solar panel, you expect it to be just that—flexible. However, in terms of just how flexible the panel is, you could examine how far the panel can bend without worry of breaking. This is usually measured in degrees. This feature would be important for anyone planning to mount their panel on an irregularly shaped object/vehicle.
Since you will be using the panels outdoors, you want them to be tough and stand up to different weather conditions. This is especially true if you live in a climate with extreme weather changes. The panel should be water-resistant and not get bogged down by dust or sand.
What is meant by cell efficiency is how quickly the cells in the solar panel will turn the sunlight into usable energy. The average range is between 11 to 21%. The higher the percentage, the faster you will have access to that sunlight power! Have a look at the panel you are considering to find its rated efficiency.
Ease of Installation
This is a key point to make, since it is often overlooked in the buying process. If you are not familiar with mounting solar panels or are not handy, you will want to find a flexible solar panel that will not take much of your time to mount. Some panels will be much easier to install than others, so read carefully how you must install or mount them before you purchase.
When choosing your flexible solar panels, you should consider what additional accessories you may require, and which ones are included with the panels. If the cord on the panel is rather short, you will probably need an extension. Check to see if the panel you are considering includes an assembly tool. If not, you will need one for installing it.
Read more: Top 8 Best RV Solar Panels and Kit
Reviews and Topick of Best Flexible Solar Panels
**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon
1. ALLPOWERS SunPower Solar Module with MC4
This flexible solar panel offers much in the way of bending and versatility. You can mount this panel to most surfaces for multiple functions such as RV’s, autos, cabins, boats and much more. It has a bendability up to 30% with a frameless design to avoid stiff outer edges. Instead, you can easily install this panel using the four punched out holes in each corner or using adhesive if you should choose. It offers 23.5% efficiency, so sunlight is converted to power quickly, in comparison to other models. You won’t have to worry about durability since they are water resistant, even the junction box which is sealed well. With its 100 watts of power, you will enjoy much power but only at a very light weight.
2. Uni-Solar PVL-136 Power Bond
If you are looking for the easiest installation possible, the Uni-Solar PVL-136 is a great candidate. This 18-foot-long panel features Power Bond, which allows you to basically roll it out where needed and stick it down with the adhesive backing. It is ultra-thin at only .2” thick and weighs about 17lbs. It has superior flexibility since there are no hard edges or frames at all. The ideal use is when adhered to metal surfaces. Since there is no point of entry for water, dust, or other conditions, this panel is durable. These are rated to withstand high temperatures as well, so there is no worry when out in direct sunlight for long periods.
3. BougeRV SunPower Cell Solar Power Flexible Ultra Thin Panel
When you are looking for a super thin design in a flexible solar panel, you could consider the Bouge RV SunPower flexible panel. It is only .1” thick and weighs 5.73lbs. Despite the thin, lightweight design, this panel is super tough and won’t succumb to water, heat, weather, aging or fouling, using ETFE technology. You will also like how the built-in blocking diode prevents what is called “reverse draining” at nighttime, where your power may be lost as there is no sunlight. There are pre-drilled grommets for simple installation using screws to install and re-install as needed. The energy gather from sunlight is quickly converted since this panel boasts at 23-25% efficiency. Not only does this panel come with MC4 connectors but also a pair of 31” cables.
4. Renogy Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
When you are looking for the ultimate flexibility in a solar panel, the Renogy flexible solar panel should be considered. It boasts a 248-degree range of bend, allowing you to install it on almost any irregular or uneven shape or surface. Despite it’s thin 1.4” thickness, this 100-watt solar panel is built tough to withstand extreme wind storms and even heavy snowfall. This panel features ETFE material, making it a self-cleaning and anti-fouling panel that will outlive many other similar flexible panels. Weighing only 4lbs, transportation is easy, and it won’t weigh down your RV, car, boat or whatever you choose to use it for. If needed, you can run multiple panels together for more power as needed.
5. MOHOO Ultra Thin Lightweight Flexible Solar Charger Panels
This model of flexible solar panel has been updated and boasts super easy installation with six grommet holes, which are corrosion resistant, to secure the panel to your desired surfaces. The junction box is located on the front of the panel to allow for easy access and connectability. Each panel includes MC4 connectors. The lightweight design, at 5.43lbs is great for most applications and is easy to transport or re-install if necessary. The 100 watts of power output is perfect for many uses. The panel can be gently bent to a 30-degree maximum. You can connect multiple panels to get optimum power needed for your desired use.
6. Suaoki SunPower Solar Panel Charger Ultrathin and Flexible
This Suaoki flexible solar panel offers you faster turn around on the energy absorbed by the sunlight with an efficiency of 23 to 25%. It is a durable panel which is water resistant and great for many different applications. The lightweight design, being only 4.85lbs and .1” thick, makes it easy to transport and re-install if needed. Along with a high efficiency, this panel has built-in technology to prevent reverse draining at nighttime where you might lose some of the stored energy from the daylight. Under ideal sunlight conditions, this panel will produce 100 watts.
7. Genssi 4x 100W Mono Flexible Photovoltaic Solar Panel
This bundle gives you four flexible solar panels in one deal. These panels can give you high efficiency at around 22% and 100 watts of power each. They are lightweight, each only weighing around 4.7lbs each. They are meant to last up to 25 years and are waterproof, dirtproof and snowproof. The bypass diode means that you won’t lose or drop power if there is shade or obstructions from direct sunlight. What is special about monocrystalline is that more cells are packed into one area, which creates the higher efficiency you get with these panels.
8. Windy Nation Bendable Flexible Thin Lightweight Solar Panel
These lightweight flexible solar panels made by Windy Nation, offer 100 watts of power and a convenient .1” thin design. Each panel measures 41.7” x 21.3” which is a good size and works for most desired uses. The panel comes with six pre-drilled grommets for easy installation. If you don’t want to drill them down, they can be easily installed with adhesive tape and will stay in place. Included with these panels is MC4 connectors and a short cable. If you require longer extensions or connecting panels you will need to purchase hardware separately.
How To Install Flexible Solar Panels?
Once you have made your decision in which flexible solar panel is the best one for you, you may start to have questions such as how to set up your new flexible solar panels. In most cases, installation is fairly simple depending where they are to be mounted.
If your new panels have pre-drilled grommets, you may opt to screw down your panels for ultimate security. However, if you don’t want to drill through your boat roof/RV/Cabin etc., then you could lay a backing of plywood and screw the panel to that instead. Alternatively, you can use adhesive glue or tape which usually holds the panel securely without damaging your surfaces.
Once installed, you will want to set up the entire system, so you can start harnessing in that sunlight power.
It is not impossible to find the best flexible solar panel on the market for your exact needs and uses. With some simple research and comparison shopping you will know exactly what you are purchasing and if it will work where you need it to. Solar energy is a great way to not only save money but to save our environment and natural resources from being depleted.
In choosing the best flexible solar panel you will discover that, as with anything, there are pros and cons involved but our pick, the ALLPOWERS SunPower Solar Module seemed to tick off the most boxes and make the most sense. It has a frameless design that is lightweight and easy to install with pre-drilled grommets. The efficiency is superior to most other flexible panels and gives you the power you need, faster.
Hopefully this guide has been useful and helpful in making your decision which is the best flexible solar panel easier and insightful. Please leave us a comment or feedback, we love to hear from our readers.
Our Top Pick: ALLPOWERS SunPower Solar Module with MC4
The ALLPOWERS SunPower Solar Module seemed to tick off the most boxes and make the most sense. It has a frameless design that is lightweight and easy to install with pre-drilled grommets. The efficiency is superior to most other flexible panels and gives you the power you need, faster.