There are a few different types of solar panels on the market – read about some of them and their differences here.
If you are thinking of buying, or want to buy and want help with choosing a flexible or semi-flexible solar panel, this guide will be extremely useful.
We’ve put together 18 buyer tips for choosing that will help save you time, research and money.
Let’s have a look at the list …
18 Buyer Tips For Choosing A Flexible, Semi-Flexible or Bendable Solar Panel
1. Decide what power/Watts you want
Most flexible and bendable solar panels come in two main power or Power specs:
Choose one or a combination of these two types.
2. Look at conversion efficiency of the panel
Most solar panel manufacturers should give you an idea of how efficient their panels are in capturing or converting sun energy.
As a benchmark, there are flexible solar panels on the market as of February 2017 claiming to have a 22-25% efficiency rate.
3. Look at what the panel is designed for
It is normal for a 50W or 100W flexible solar panel to be designed to operate on around 18 volts, and be designed to charge 12 volt lead acid or lithium batteries.
Rv batteries, marine batteries, bike batteries and similar smaller batteries are suitable for one or two flexible panels.
4. Decide how many panels you want
Depending on the power of the panel you want to get, and what you want to charge, make an informed decision on how many panels you think you’ll require.
5. Check what the panel made of
Most flexible and semi-flexible solar panels are made of a very lightweight material like plastic/laminate.
Make sure this material is ok for your intended use.
Whilst these materials are lightweight, not as rigid, and won’t crack or break – they are more susceptible to sharp objects than a glass panel, so consider that.
6. Check if the panel is just lightweight, or if it’s bendable and can be curved
There are two types of flexible, or semi-flexible solar panels:
Lightweight solar panels
Bendable solar panels
Flexible solar panels that don’t bend are just lightweight and made of a flexible material like plastic – so they have more flexibility than a glass panel.
Bendable panels on the other hand can curve or bend usually between 10 to 30 degrees – making them great for curved or irregular surfaces.
Bendable panels are usually not foldable though – so watch for that.
7. Check how the panel is to be fixed/adhered
Flexible panels are popular in part because they don’t need structural fixings most of the time.
They are usually stick on panels that can easily be adhered and removed.
Check what is actually required to stick the panels on – adhesive, grommets, zip ties, velcro, screws?
8. Check if you have to drill fixing holes into the panel, or if they pre-drilled for you
Panels should come with pre hollowed metal reinforced holes for fixing, but check this.
9. Check what surfaces you can adhere the panel to, and what applications its for
Flexible panels are hand because they can stick onto a range of surfaces.
e.g. rooftop, RV, boat, cabin, tent, other irregular surfaces.
They are also good for a range of activities and in a range of applications including but not limited to home, travel, camping, hiking.
Check the surfaces and applications a manufacturer recommends their panels for.
10. Check how long the connector cables are – how many inches…do you need cable extensions?
Connector cables running from the panel (usually MC4 cables) can be varying lengths.
Some are shorter in the range of 10 inches to minimise shade on the panel, but check length.
You can always get extension cables if the cables on the panel aren’t long enough for you.
11. Check if the junction box is sealed and protected
Simple one – but see if the manufacturer mentions the level of protection to the junction box on the panel.
Is it water resistant and sealed?
12. Check what testing has been done on the panel or if its certified
See if the panel has been tested in any way to achieve performance specs, or for efficiency % for example.
In addition, see whether the panel has any certifications in your country – like FCC, RoHS, CE certified if in the US
13. Check the surface area dimensions of the panel
Flexible panels are usually much smaller in dimensions than glass panels.
Check the surface area and thickness of the panel before you buy to make sure it will fit on the surface you want to stick it on.
14. Check the thickness of the panel
Simple one – most flexible panels are in the vicinity of 0.1 inches thick, so they are very thin.
15. Check how much the panel weighs
Depending on the strength of the surface you want to install the panel on, you might want to know the weight.
This is especially relevant if you want several panels.
For reference, most flexible panels are somewhere between 3 to 5 pounds.
16. Check the other specs of the panel – voltage, current etc.
It’s important to check other important specs about the solar panel like:
System operating voltage
System operating current (Amps)
Make sure these specs and others fit in with your current systems and what you want to do.
17. Check if the pane is transportable and able to be uninstalled and re-installed
Check how transportable the panel is, and whether the manufacturer mentions if it can be removed and installed elsewhere once it’s been installed on one surface
18. What sort of resistance does the panel offer – air, snow, hail, water and heat resistance of some kind?
Some manufacturer mentions resistance specs of their panels. For example,
Air Resistance – measured in pascals
Snow Resistance – measured in pascals
Hail Impact – look at the speed and weight of hail the panel is tested for
Water – is the panel water resistant?
Heat – does the panel dissipate heat well?