The aim of this guide isn’t to tell you flexible solar panels are bad, nor are we saying that you shouldn’t buy them.
Flexible solar panels are actually a versatile and lightweight option that might suit some solar users better than rigid/glass panels (we’ve actually written a similar short guide on 5 benefits of flexible solar panels too).
However, there are some problems that flexible solar panels can present for some users and applications – and we want to outline them to you.
If you’re wondering ‘are flexible solar panels any good?’, it might be worth scanning over this guide to find any information that you’re looking for to help you answer that question in your own mind.
Flexible Solar Panel Problems: 6 Reasons NOT To Buy Flexible Panels
1) Flexible panels are hard to tilt or angle into the sun
Flexible solar panels will usually either be stuck onto the surface you install them on, or fixed down through their mounting holes.
Either way, the panels lay flat on the surface.
This is not actually a massive problem – as some users find that the panels work perfectly well laying flat on a boat or Rv roof for example.
However, in some situations, you may need to angle the position of your solar panels via brackets or a solar panel mounting rack, to get the most efficiency from them.
2) The crystalline rigid/glass panels tend to have a better transfer efficiency of solar energy in direct sun than the flexible and thin film solar panels
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solid/rigid solar panels tend to perform more efficiently in direct sun.
An amorphous solar panel (i.e. a solar panel that is non-crystalline, and the silicon are applied in thin film instead of in crystals) tend to be designed to aborb a wider range of infrared and UV lights when they aren’t in the sun.
So, look out for this when look at a flexible, semi-flexible or bendable panel.
3) Flexible solar panels are closer to the surface they are installed on – can be issues long term if it’s an extremely hot surface (even with heat resistance)
If you have a metal house roof or an Rv roof for example – especially if it’s a dark color – you can imagine how hot it gets in the hotter months.
Many flexible solar panels will have heat resistance ratings, but over the long term, would you want your laminate film panel in contact with that heat?
Bubbling can sometimes be an issue on low quality panels.
A rigid solar panel will be raised off the hot surface with either brackets or a panel rack, and are made from metal and glass, which is harder wearing.
4) Flexible solar panels tend to be more expensive per watt than rigid/crystalline solar panels
A GOOD flexible solar panel, with the portability and newness of the flexible technology, tend to be more expensive on a $ per watt basis than a mass manufactured rigid solar panel.
5) Flexible solar panels can have questionable quality products, and customer support
Like we mentioned in the intro – there are a wide range of companies and third party sellers who distribute flexible solar panels.
Each of them may vary in the quality of what they offer. Differences in quality might involve:
- The manufacturing process,
- Performance of the panel,
- Length and guarantee of the warranty,
- Level of customer service and tech support if you have any issues with the panels
6) Flexible solar panels are more vulnerable to rough or sharp objects
This one is fairly straightforward – a laminate film panel will be more vulnerable to scratching or ripping than a hard rigid panel.