Solar panels can get quite heavy and not every roof or surface is strong enough to support them. They can also be quite difficult to transport. Your best bet in these cases is to go for a more flexible model of solar panel. Flexible solar panels are made of a thin material that allows the panel to bend and flex. This versatility has made them increasingly popular. Each of these solar panels present different levels of flexibility so you’re going to want to choose one that matches your individual needs.
There are two types of flexible solar panels: Thin-film and crystalline-silicon. The thin-film solar panels are the most malleable out of the two. The inherent flexibility of these panels means a versatile use in multiple settings charging different power sources or single appliances. This type of solar panel is guaranteed to deliver clean, solar energy with the added bonus of positioning on curved, rugged and oblique surfaces.
Lightweight, flexible, compact and highly efficient. The Topsolar 100W Flexible Solar Panel is our top pick as it integrates versatility and high performance. Featuring a unique black contact technology that increases solar energy conversion at up to 50% more efficiency than ordinary panels.
Our best budget pick features a sturdy panel and controller module kit that provides emergency charging for a wide range of appliances, including 12 and 24V car, RV, motorcycle and boat batteries.
A compact but powerful solar panel from a brand renowned for its expertise in the sector. This panels performance and durability are well-known. Its high-tech and lightweight composition make it extremely versatile and it is available in 50, 150 and 175W models.
How Do Flexible Solar Panels Work?
The difference between flexible solar panels and regular panels is all in the material used. Unlike “traditional” fixed panels (that also includes many portable models), flexible solar panels are made of much thinner silicon wafers than the norm.
Ultra-thin layers of PV material are layered on a plastic, metal or glass base. This increasingly lightweight build, the result of continuous advancements in photovoltaic technology, confers added versatility, portability and of course, flexibility.
Pros And Cons Of Flexible Solar Panels
Solar panels that can be placed almost anywhere and molded to a certain degree obviously have some striking advantages when compared to fixed alternatives. Let’s see the many advantages of investing in flexible solar panels while also giving an honest look to some of their downsides.
- The first huge advantage is in the name. Flexible solar panels can be bent, shaped and placed in places that would be impossible for a fixed panel, becoming increasingly useful for off-grid locations and placement in both vehicles and mobile homes. Their light weight also makes them ideal for placement on roofs, as opposed to heavier panels that may not be suited for such risky positioning
- Representing the forefront of PV tech, some flexible solar panels implement highly efficient organic photovoltaic material that boasts an energy conversion rate of 12.25%
- The semi-transparent qualities of some models make for an awesome usage over window panes. These models literally make the your windows a conduit for solar energy!
- Thin-film solar cells react less adversely to weather extremes compared to regular solar panels, this means higher energy conversion rates even in overcast weather
- Many of the latest flexible solar panel models (especially of higher quality builds) are extremely durable
- Flexible solar panels are cheaper to install than regular panels
- Flexible solar panels are definitely intended for lower energy loads. This type of panel needs more space to generate the same amount of solar power than regular counterparts
- They are also not intended for residential use as they simply cannot muster the same amount of energy as a fixed solar panel in the long run
- Although many models are sturdy, durable and water resistant they still have a shorter lifespan and generally higher vulnerability to long term atmospheric and environmental repercussions
What Is The Average Price Of A Flexible Solar Panel?
Though there are already many different models of flexible solar panels, it is better to invest a little more in a product that will serve you well in the long run instead of a cheap but flimsy alternative.
As mentioned, a big advantage of flexible solar panels is their lowering of installation fees. With that said a minimum of 100$ to a maximum of 300$ (for panels with higher wattage) and anywhere in between will ensure a quality product.
The Best Flexible Solar Panels Reviewed
Renogy 100 Watt 12 Volt Extremely Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel
- Brand: Renogy
- Protection Class: IP68
- Potential Uses
- Extremely flexible
- Ultra lightweight
- Highly durable
This flexible solar panel is one of the best models for uneven surfaces. Very easy to mount and weighing 70% less than conventional solar panels making it top-notch for versatility. With a 248 degree arc, it can be placed on almost any surface with relative ease.
Each solar panel is only a tenth of an inch thick. Even though it’s thin, the panel is extremely durable and can withstand even extreme winds. Rain and other atmospheric conditions aren’t an issue either, since it’s completely waterproof with an IP55 rating. At 100W, it offers a decent, steady supply of clean solar energy for multiple uses.
- Lightweight and versatile build
- Very durable
- Fits curved surfaces at a 248° angle
- Cannot be rolled up
SunPower 170 Watt Flexible High Efficiency Solar Panel
- Brand: SunPower
- Robust, Durable & Weather Resistant
- Lightweight, Portable & Easy to Install
- Micro Junction box has IP67 protection
SunPower has been a global leader in solar technology since 1985 so its safe to say they know what their doing in terms of solar products. With an efficiency rate of 25%, one of the highest on on our list thanks to its Maxeon high efficiency solar cells, this is one of the most efficient solar panels on the market today. This model is easily portable and can be bent to fit practically any surface. Its compact and sleek design takes up minimal space and isn’t too cumbersome to use or carry. As a premium pick it is definitely on the expensive side but it more than makes for its cost with its high-end tech, robust build and flexible design.
- High-efficiency rate
- High-tech build, composition and performance
- Geared towards portability and versatility
DOKIO Semi-Flexible Solar Panel
- Brand: Dokio
- Junction box are completely water resistant
- Extremely light weight and efficient
- Easy installation
The DOKIO Semi-Flexible Solar Panel is extremely lightweight at only 0.1 inches in thickness. Incredibly straightforward to install in both temporary and permanent locations. It offers a very high efficiency due to its monocrystalline solar cell composition. Its ETFE lamination guarantees a higher light transmittance and longer lifespan than most solar panels. The panels themselves are made of highly water-resistant materials, making the structure withstand even harsh rain, snow and other atmospheric extremes.
- Lightweight and robust build
- Straightforward use and installation
- EFTE lamination guarantees higher light transmittance and improved lifespan
- Also on the expensive side
Newpowa 100W Semi-Flex Solar Panel
- Brand: Newpowa
- Flexible Up to 248 degree
- High-Efficiency Mono-crystalline Solar Cells
- Durable & Waterproof
This model by Newpowa is in the lightweight range, which vastly increases its portability. It’s thin enough to be out of sight when mounted on a roof and will also fit snugly for transportation uses. All cables are pre-attached, making it much easier to set up. The mounting kit is also readily provided. This includes 6 metal reinforced mounting holes that make the panel ideal to mount onto any surface, however curved, irregular or oblique they may be..
With an IP68 waterproof certification, it is perfect for water outings (boat trips and the like). It can even withstand high temperatures, making it extremely durable. In the event of any damage though a solid 5-year warranty is offered with purchase.
- 5-year warranty
- Versatile and durable
- Pre-attached cables and mounting kit provided
- Only semi-flexible
Topsolar Flexible Solar Panel
- Brand: Topsolar
- Waterproof and Durable
- Ultar-Thin & Ultra-Light Design
- High Conversion Efficiency
Our top pick, integrating versatility, flexibility and high performance. The entire panel can be arched at 30 degrees, making it perfect for various irregular surfaces including: Trailers, boats, cabins, tents, cars, trucks, trailers, yachts, trailers and rugged roofs, basically any surface.
The panel itself is composed of high efficient monocrystalline solar cells. This model uses unique back contact technology, removing electrodes on the solar cell surface that block the sunshine and in turn increase solar panel conversion efficiency. This model is also incredibly temperature resistant (high and low) and easy to clean (an underrated quality).
The EFTE lamination offers better light transmittance and longer service life. Furthermore, the back plate adopts TPT material (short for Tedlar Polyester Tedlar), which is conducive to heat dissipation. This ensures long-time stable performance. Its composition is also more durable than traditional glass and aluminum model solar panels
- Very high efficiency
- Lightweight build
- Extremely durable and temperature resistant
- High-tech composition that guarantees high performance over a long period
- Slightly higher price than average
XINPUGUANG 100W Solar Panel
- Brand: Xinpuguang
- Highly durable
- High-quality monocrystalline silicon cells
This high-quality monocrystalline silicon solar panel provides a steady supply of solar energy even on days where with overcast or inclement weather. The models build can withstand high winds, snow, extreme temperatures, and rain. Whether it’s for an RV, boat, or tent, it can be positioned over various uneven surfacse while still offering maximum solar conversion efficiency.
This panel was designed with the prerequisites of functionality, reliability and flexibility in mind. You’ll never have to worry about a power outage with this panel, which can effectively deal with problems caused by power shortages by quick conversion of backup solar energy.
- Very functional, reliable and flexible
- High durability
- High wattage
Framy Solar Panel 400W
- Brand: Framy
- High efficiency
- Semi-flexible board
An extremely high-performance model (highest wattage on our list). This model by Framy seamlessly meshes one of the highest outputs on the market with increased versatility and flexibility. This model is easy to disassemble, meaning it can be set up for household usage, but also for on the go use during camping, boat or RV trips. It presents a very light weight build, only 2.5mm thick, making easy to hang and carry.
It comes with four metal holes already drilled, allowing quick and easy installation. The panels effectiveness is ensured by lengthy testing of each individual unit before sale. The junction box on the back of the solar panel has a built-in Schottky diode to prevent reverse current in use. Operating at 16V, the Framy 400W can charge almost anything in the 12 – 24V range including car, boat and even yacht batteries.
- Very high wattage and Volt range
- Durable build and design
- High utility junction box
- Needs a separate controller to recharge its battery
ECO-WORTHY Flexible Solar Panel 100 Watt
- Brand: Eco-Worthy
- Ultra Lightweight
- Extremely Flexible
- Highly Durable
- Backup Power
- Endless Energy
This flexible solar panel is made of state-of-the-art technical materials that ensure no cracking and a concrete increase in efficiency. It is extra lightweight (weighing only 3.67 pounds), making it easy to transport (20% lighter than a standard glass framed panel). The 30° flexibility it offers makes it adaptable to numerous surfaces. It also comes in a slew of exponentially more powerful models, the strongest offering a wattage of 800! Lastly, the panel is self-cleaning, an extremely useful feature that is often overlooked and that few other panels possess.
- Available in 100, 130, 200, 400 and 800W models
- Ultra-lightweight build
- Slightly lower solar conversion efficiency than other panels
Sutakhi 100W Mono Flexible Solar Panel
- Brand: Sutakhi
- High quality material
- High efficiency
- Emergency charging other 12V battery
- Portable and lightweight, easy for carrying
Our best budget pick due to its extreme versatility and performance at a killer price. This flexible solar panel kit complete with adjustable controller module can be flexed to a 30-degree angle, allowing it to be optimally placed on any curvy, oblique or uneven surfaces. It has a high PTC rating, which means it offers an elevated module conversion efficiency.
Intuitive and easy to mount, the customer can easily choose between multiple attachment methods including: Adhesive, grommets, zip ties, or Velcro. This brand’s customer service is great, and each individual solar panel has been tested beforehand by the manufacturer.
- High wattage and PTC rating
- Multiple installation choices
- Very affordable
- Low flexibility
The Flexible Solar Panels Buyer’s Guide
Trying to find the perfect solar panel can be a challenge as multiple factors have to be taken into consideration. Follow this guide to help you find a good match.
If you want a solar panel with high power, you’re going to want to focus on the wattage. Higher wattage allows you to plug in more devices, and it will provide more power for longer periods of time. A rough guideline to follow is by selecting a solar panel with a wattage between 100-150. This value has been shown as the ideal wattage number for the average person. Though different people have different energy needs, so a value like this becomes purely subjective. All solar panels reviewed here pack a punch, with some intended as emergency backup generator chargers and can be used to power even car, RV, boat and even yacht batteries.
Durability is a vital factor as it goes hand in hand with the longevity of your investment. Any prospective solar panel company needs to look at the materials used for the solar panel and framing. Various types of resilient plastic and polymers are utilized in the build as protection from dust and moisture affecting the solar cells. The best type of plastic is ETFE, which is more expensive than PET and PTE, but it offers advanced durability and efficiency. When considering crystalline or thin-film in terms of durability, crystalline is considered tougher. A highly waterproof panel will obviously have an edge over a less durable model, as panels are intended for outside use even in harsh weather or even direct use over bodies of water.
While all of the panels listed above are flexible to the point that this category could be considered the main one, some are more so than others. Depending on the surface, you’re going to want to consider the degree of flexibility. Highly flexible solar panels have a bending range of 30 degrees. This is adequate for semi-curved surfaces like on RVs and boats. However, if you want more flexibility, you can find solar panels that roll up like a floor mat.
Most flexible solar panels are relatively easy to install yourself, without the need for secondary technical assistance. Many kits will come with pre-drilled holes or self-adhesive tape and detailed instruction manuals. If DIY isn’t your strong point know which companies are based in you country or general geographic region and how effective their customer service is (in the case of our reviewed models, all companies enjoy stellar reputations in that sector).
There are so many different kinds of solar panels out there, with flexible solar panel models having a definite advantage in versatility, flexibility, easiness of installation and ease of positioning on any surface. Taking into account these factors together with durability, cost and performance we reiterate our choice of the best flexible solar panel on the market to be the Topsolar 100W Flexible Solar Panel.
Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best flexible solar panels:
It depends on the wattage and efficiency of the solar panel, but all models reviewed here can be used as integral components of your solar grid.
Most solar panels are waterproof since they need to be outside to work. Some are even self-cleaning, getting rid of any outside debris that may coat your panel after any bout of extreme weather.
It’s quite easy to buy a flexible solar panel. You can buy a selection from Amazon, which will mean fast delivery to your area. Sometimes, you may even be able to go onto a manufacturer’s website and purchase it from there too. They may also offer help with an added installation cost.
Flexible solar panels have an added versatility that comes with their malleable qualities meaning they can be position on uneven, oddly-shaped and curved surfaces. This improves not only their placement as a static panel, but also portability as many flexible solar panels are designed for use in RV’s, boats and even yachts.
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