Solar Panel technology is developing fast, and we see panels based on different technologies like half-cut solar panels, PERC solar cell technology, bi-facial solar panels, and many more.
The flexible solar panels are also the product of the advancement in solar technology.
Flexible solar cell technology is in the solar market for a long time.
You might have used calculators in your school time. They use to have 2-way power, one from the battery and another from a flexible solar cell fixed at its top.
Different Types of Solar Panels
We can categorize solar panels into three categories:
1) Monocrystalline solar panels: Monocrystalline solar panels are made from wafers of silicon cells. They are highly efficient, last longer more than 25 years, occupy less space, are uniform in colour, and are costly.
They are more immune to power loss due to the temperature rise.
2) Polycrystalline solar panels: This type of solar panel is made from fragments of silicon cells.
They are comparatively less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels, occupy more space, shorter life span, and are cheaper.
(Because their production process is cheaper).
3) Thin-film solar panels: The standard commercially available mono- or polycrystalline solar cells are 200 – 300 micro-meters thick.
To make a flexible solar panel, the silicon wafers are further sliced many times to reduce the thickness of the cell.
It makes them lightweight and increases their flexibility. Hence, they are called flexible solar panels.
The flexible solar cells are made by pasting photovoltaic material on the base (high-grade substrate of glass or plastic).
The two most common technologies used in making flexible solar cells are:
The flexible solar panels are available commercially to the homeowners under the name of Thin Film Solar Panels.
These thin-film solar panels are durable and lightweight and can meet your energy needs.
Advantages of Flexible Solar Panels
The biggest advantage of these panels is that they can easily fit into places where it is difficult for traditional solar panels.
As they are lightweight, flexible solar panels are a good option for homeowners whose roofs are old and can’t bear the heavy load of conventional solar panels.
In addition, flexible solar panels are portable too.
It is for people looking for solar panels for their RVs, Boats, or campervans.
When mounted on the vehicle top, their lightweight and flexibility don’t hinder the speed of these vehicles.
Their transparency gives the option to install them even on glass surfaces; without much affecting the incoming sunlight through the windows.
The flexible solar panels are durable and can bear harsh weather conditions.
The flexible solar panel is less costly than traditional solar panels, and it is also cheaper to install them.
Disadvantages of Flexible Solar Panels
The flexible solar panel does have certain limitations.
The flexible solar panels have low efficiency of between 7% to 14% than the traditional solar panels, where we see the efficiency as high as 22.2%.
Read: Top 7 most efficient solar panels in the world
They need more space than the traditional solar panels to generate the same amount of energy.
Therefore, it is not suitable for homeowners who have limited space.
On the contrary, these are suitable for small projects like RVs, boats, etc where the energy needs are fewer and limited.
They have a shorter life span than traditional solar panels, which have 25 years of useful life.
Read: Solar Panel specifications explained: A complete guide in 2021
They are more vulnerable to harsh environmental conditions than traditional solar panels.
Best Flexible Solar Panels in the Market
1) Renogy 100 W/12 V Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panels:
Some of its features are:
2) SunPower 170 watts Flexible solar panel:
3) TopSolar Flexible solar panel:
4) Winnewsun bifacial flexible solar panel 100 watts:
Other good options are flexible solar panels from Giaride, Sutakhi, and Newpowa.
Are investing in Flexible Solar Panel worth it in 2021?
Flexible solar panels are most suitable when your energy needs are small.
If you are mobile most of the time and use vehicles such as RV or solar boats, investing in flexible solar panels and installing them on your vehicles could be worth investing in.
The payback depends on the use of flexible solar panels.
The more you use your vehicles on which the flexible solar panels are fixed, the faster would be the payback.
Find the Solar Payback
Whether you are going for flexible solar panels; or are looking for a traditional solar power system to meet your home energy requirements.
It is better to design and know the pay of the system beforehand.
My solar feasibility spreadsheet enables you to do this in minutes.