Have you tried a doing a search for the best flexible solar panel? If you did, you’d be flooded with a lot of products all claiming to offer the best deal.
I have used a lot of flexible solar panels over the years and I can tell you from first-hand experience the quality varies greatly. Solar panels are great if they work properly, otherwise, it’s a pain and hassle.
I know you don’t have the time to read a ton of product reviews so I chose the top 5 already. I’ve also got a table that highlights their major features.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 5 Flexible Solar Panels: Comparison
- 2 Best Picks of Flexible Solar Panels
- 2.1 #1: ALLPOWERS Solar Panel 100W 18V 12V Bendable Flexible Solar Charger SunPower Solar Module with MC4
- 2.2 #2: Uni-Solar PVL-136 Power Bond PVL 136 Watt 24 Volt 216″ x 15.5″ inches
- 2.3 #3: Suaoki 100W 18V 12V Solar Panel Charger SunPower Cell Ultra Thin Flexible
- 2.4 #4: WindyNation 100W 100 Watt 12V Bendable Flexible Thin Lightweight Solar Panel Battery Charger w/ Power Sunpower Cells
- 2.5 #5: Flexible Solar Panel MOHOO 100W 18V 12V Ultra Thin Lightweight Cells Solar Charger
- 3 What is a Flexible Solar Panel?
- 4 Flexible Solar Panels vs Traditional/Hard Solar Panels – What’s The Differences?
- 5 What is a Flexible Solar Panel Used For?
- 6 What Does a Flexible Solar Panel Do?
- 7 Types of Flexible Solar Panels
- 8 Flexible Solar Panel Bits & Accessories
- 9 How to Choose a Flexible Solar Panel
- 10 Features to Look for in a Flexible Solar Panel
- 11 Flexible Solar Panels Advantages and Disadvantages
- 12 Top Flexible Solar Panel Brands
- 13 Final Verdict
Top 5 Flexible Solar Panels: Comparison
|Product||Flexibility||Peak Efficiency||Peak Power||Operating Voltage||Weight||Dimensions||View on Amazon|
|ALLPOWERS Solar Panel 100W 18V||30 degrees||23.50%||100 W||18V||4.7 lbs||1.5 x 22 x 42 inches||Check Price|
|Uni-Solar PVL-136||30 degrees||23.20%||100 W||18V||17 lbs||216-inches in length by 15.5-inches width by 0.2-inches in height||Check Price|
|Suaoki 100W 18V 12V||30 degrees||25.00%||100 W||18V||5.2 lbs||42 x 1 x 21 inches||Check Price|
|WindyNation 100W||30 degrees||24.00%||100 W||18V||4.1 lbs||42 x 0.1 x 21.5 inches||Check Price|
|MOHOO 100W||30 degrees||24.00%||100 W||18V||5.43 lbs||42.1 x 22.1 x 1.2 inches||Check Price|
Best Picks of Flexible Solar Panels
#1: ALLPOWERS Solar Panel 100W 18V 12V Bendable Flexible Solar Charger SunPower Solar Module with MC4
This flexible solar panel kit has been upgraded from previous versions so its SunPower Solar Cells now have 23.5% efficiency. By comparison other solar monocrystalline panels average 17% t 19% efficiency.
The 100W panels are guaranteed for 18 months, bendable and built for long term use. For all its power these panels weigh just 4.7 pounds so you can move it around more easily.
The mounting holes have been fortified with metal, and the frameless design makes set up convenient. You can bend the panels up to 30 degrees so you can mount it on your house roof or vehicle.
The panels are bendable but they’re also durable. These are also water resistant so it won’t get damaged easily like aluminum or glass models.
This level of durability extends to the junction box as it’s sealed and waterproof. Sunlight extraction is consistent whether its on a tent, cabin, boat or rooftop.
The ALLPOWERS solar panels charge 12V lithium and 12V lead acid batteries, and because you can adjust the arc it installs on irregular surfaces nicely.
These solar panels are eco-friendly and suitable for camp training, traveling and general outdoor use. The unit also dissipates heat better than other flexible solar panels.
Because the efficiency rate is 23.5%, the panels are able to collect more sunlight and is more efficient. Installing in tight locations is not a problem because you can adjust its position. Pre-drilled holes make securing and mounting easy no matter where it’s installed.
What I Like
- Installs on irregular surfaces
- Suitable for homes, tents, cabins, RVs, and more
- Comes with MC4 cable connectors
- 5% efficiency
- Durable construction and design
- 100 watts power
What I Didn’t Like
- No back lighting
- Instructions could be better
#2: Uni-Solar PVL-136 Power Bond PVL 136 Watt 24 Volt 216″ x 15.5″ inches
The 24 volt, 136 watt Uni-Solar flexible panels are built for all around use for house rooftops, RVs and other structures. The peel and stick design simplifies installation regardless of the surface.
Installation is one-step process and you don’t need a racking system for steel roofs, roofing pan or other materials. These are flexible yet durable solar panels and suited for home, RV/boat and commercial use.
Suitable for grid-tied and battery charging solar systems, these solar panels have thin film properties for superior performance. All Uni-Solar modules have triple-junction amorphous silicon solar cells that improve energy absorption.
The cell layers extract the red, green and blue light of the sun for better results. What this means is you get higher energy under diffused light and low isolation.
All the cells have bypass diodes that link each one, enabling laminates to generate electricity even if they’re a bit soiled or shaded. These laminates are also designed for use in high temperatures.
These solar panels are also durable and work under different lighting conditions. Note that these units are designed to work with 24-volt batteries.
A few Uni-Solar panels have MC4 connectors but majority have MC3. That’s not an issue though as the installation process is easy.
The panels do a great job of absorbing sunlight and converting it to electrical power. These panels are also known for their durability and should last for years without need for replacement.
The setup is straightforward and poses no problems for anyone who’s installed solar panels before. Even if you haven’t done it before, the instruction are clear.
What I Like
- Easy to install
- Can be set on different surfaces
- Durable built
- Racking system not required
What I Didn’t Like
- Uses MC3 connectors
- Occupies more space than typical flexible solar panels
#3: Suaoki 100W 18V 12V Solar Panel Charger SunPower Cell Ultra Thin Flexible
This semi flexible solar panel review can say the Suaoki is one of the better models available. With these solar panels you get up to 23% to 24% peak efficiency whether you install on the roof or a motor home.
These solar panels sport a frameless design to make installation easier. There are 4 mounting holes on the corners for your convenience.
At 100W the panels provide a lot of power, but it’s less than 5 lbs and just 0.1 inches thick. The panel is bendable and can be curved to a 30 degree arc for convenient use on RVs, tents and boats.
Working temperature is -40 to +85C so the panels can handle a diverse array of conditions. You can also put this on an SUV to jump start batteries, run cooling fans and perform other functions.
Setting up doesn’t take long and it gathers sunlight better than other solar panels. Ordinary flexible solar panels only work under ideal scenarios, but the Suaoki is built for use in ordinary real life situations.
The build quality is excellent so the panels should last for years. Suaoki also packages the panels well so it’s easy to assemble.
These panels are lighter and thinner than most, but that doesn’t make them any less durable. In fact these are more durable and don’t need a lot of maintenance.
Since the panels are light it’s easier to relocate somewhere else. Even if shadow falls on a panel or two they still work.
What I Like
- 100 watts of high power
- Works with 18V and under devices
- Can be set up on rooftops, vehicles and other surfaces
- Flexible yet durable
- Available in 50W and 100W versions
- Up to 25% efficiency
What I Didn’t Like
- Box instructions are limited
- Packaging needs improvement
#4: WindyNation 100W 100 Watt 12V Bendable Flexible Thin Lightweight Solar Panel Battery Charger w/ Power Sunpower Cells
Available in 1 piece, 2 piece and 4 piece 100 watt styles, WindyNation makes some of the best flexible solar panels for RV, rooftops, tents and other curved surfaces.
The solar panel includes a blocking diode on the junction box, reducing the possibility of battery draining / discharge at night. The package includes everything you need so you can set it up right away.
There are half a dozen mounting grommet holes on the panels. These metal grommets are spaced evenly for easy fastening.
If you don’t want to use attachments, use Velcro or adhesive as they work well too. Thee panels are lightweight and have a 24% efficiency rating.
These solar panels are built with convenience in mind so mounting and transporting are easy. This is the reason why these panels are suitable for mobile use.
The WindyNation junction box is weatherproof and waterproof. It is designed for use outdoors and doesn’t need a lot of maintenance.
You can roll these solar panels for transport. You can’t curve it a lot but it’s not necessary as the panels are light.
These solar panels are bundled with wires so you can hook up two or more of these. MC4 connectors are also provided.
These are full 100-watt panels and absorb the sun’s energy. It is also durable and runs smoothly even with little maintenance.
Overall, performance is consistent and comparable to more expensive, traditional panels. With a 100 W power, the WindyNation solar panels are appropriate for use at home or if you’re mobile.
What I Like
- Works for off grid, roofs, RV and boats
- Bendable up to 30 degrees
- Works under different weather conditions
- Mounts easily
- Night time discharge protection
What I Didn’t Like
- Not as smooth flexing as other solar panels
- Packaging needs improving
#5: Flexible Solar Panel MOHOO 100W 18V 12V Ultra Thin Lightweight Cells Solar Charger
This 100 watt flexible solar panel is designed to be used on unusually shaped surfaces such as recreational vehicles and camping tents. MOHOO has updated this version so it’s more effective in absorbing light.
Its junction box is weatherproof and water resistant. Like other MOHOO solar panels, this version is frameless for your convenience.
The panels deliver up to 100 watts of power even though it’s light and portable. The light weight means you can transport and pack the panels quickly.
You can flex the panel to a 30 degree curve, allowing you to use it on a recreational vehicle. Installation is always the same so it won’t take long to set it up.
Because the solar panel is water resistant and weather proof, you can use the panels in different outdoor situations. Its flexibility also means you’ll be able to set it up in crowded areas or tight spots.
What it all comes down to is efficiency, and the MOHOO holds up well compared to others. Performance is consistent and it also has a blocking diode that stops night time current drain.
The MOHOO solar panel shares some common features with the other versions. It has 4 mounting holes fortified with steel for easy screw fastening.
These holes are situated at the corners and makes installation quicker. These are cut in arcs and have black protect casing to prevent injuries.
The MOHOO solar panels are known for their durability and this is no exception. Even if the weather fluctuates,, expect to get good results when it’s installed.
The MOHOO solar panels provide consistent results and deliver the results you need. Its peak efficiency is among the best in its range.
What I Like
- Easy to install
- Made from durable components
- High efficiency rate
- Water resistant
- 30 degree maximum arc
- 100 W of power
What I Didn’t Like
- Instructions aren’t the most detailed
- Rather large
What is a Flexible Solar Panel?
Flexible solar panels have other names:
- Portable/Transportable Solar Panels
- Lightweight Solar Panels
- Stick On Solar Panels
- Soft Solar Panels
- Bendable Solar Panels
- Semi-Flexible Solar Panels
No matter what the name is, these flexible solar panels have the same function, convert solar energy into power. Flexible solar panels are usually made of polycrystalline or monocrystalline cells, both of which are designed to collect sunlight and turn them into usable energy.
In terms of function and purpose, flexible solar cells are not that different from traditional ones, except they’re lighter. The easy installation and set up also makes it more cost-effective.
Flexible Solar Panels vs Traditional/Hard Solar Panels – What’s The Differences?
This flexible solar panel review can easily highlight the difference between these two types of solar panels.
- Setup: flexible solar panels are installed via Velcro, zip ties or adhesive. Traditional solar panels need structural or solid fixing.
- Material Composition: soft solar panels are comprised of plastic or other lightweight materials. Rigid solar panels are made of aluminum, glass or other materials.
- Susceptibility: traditional solar panels are vulnerable to cracks and breaking. Flexible solar panels on the other hand, are susceptible to scraping and pointy objects.
- Versatility: traditional solar panels only work on flat surfaces, while flexible solar panels can be installed on different types of surfaces.
- Efficiency: the efficiency level varies. It depends on the specifications and not whether it is flexible or traditional.
- Weight: traditional solar panels weigh more because of the materials it uses.
- Ease of Installation: flexible solar panels are easier as they’re lighter. They’re also the option if you want to equip your vehicle with solar power.
Traditional and soft solar panels differ in other ways, but the stuff above are the most important characteristics.
What is a Flexible Solar Panel Used For?
The primary purpose of a flexible solar panel is provide you with another energy source. But its uses and benefits extend beyond that.
- Solar power is used as a source of renewable energy. Unlike oil, sunlight isn’t going to run out for billions of years. You can use solar energy over and over and it’s not going to run out.
- A source of clean energy: flexible solar panels do not cause pollution. They’re just as effective as oil, coal and other sources but without causing pollution.
What Does a Flexible Solar Panel Do?
A flexible solar panel is used as an alternative to aluminum, glass and other hard solar panels.
Bendable, flexible and semi-flexible solar panels are installed on homes, RVs, camp sites, tents and other structures. Like rigid solar panels, they convert sunlight into electrical power.
Flexible solar panels come in various styles, but they serve the same purpose, generate power. The fact that they’re bendable or flexible means it is suitable for unusually shaped surfaces, something rigid solar panels can’t handle.
A flexible solar panel has many uses, but basically it’s going to save you money and serve as an alternative energy source.
Types of Flexible Solar Panels
Ways of mounting flexible solar panels depend on the type you buy. These devices come in various styles but the most common are the following.
- Bendable: a bendable solar panel may be curved up to 30 degrees, though some are limited to 10 degrees. Bendable solar panels are most suitable for irregular surfaces and those with curvatures.
- Semi-Flexible and Flexible: these solar panels are flexible to a degree but you cannot curve or bend them.
- 50 Watt Solar Panels: bendable, flexible or semi-flexible solar panels with a maximum of 50 watts of power.
- 100 Watt Solar Panels: bendable, flexible or semi-flexible solar panels with a maximum of 100 watts of power.
The type of solar panel to get depends on your preference and where you plan to install it. You also need to consider if you’ll be installing the panels on an RV.
Flexible Solar Panel Bits & Accessories
Flexible panels work great on their own, but sometimes you need some accessories to enhance its functionality. Here are the top accessories and attachments you can get your solar panel.
- Cable Extension: you’ll need this if the cable on your flexible solar panel isn’t long enough.
- Cable Connectors: solar panels have connectors, but it won’t hurt to have an extra pair of MC4 cables lying around.
- Solar Charge Regulator Display: this device sets the withdrawal and addition of electric currents. This is also an important feature for discharges, charges and overshooting.
- Solar Panel Assembly Tool: you’ll need this to install and uninstall the solar panels. The panels may be bundled with one already though.
You’ll probably come across other accessories, but these are the essentials. If you buy a well made flexible solar panel these accessories may already be included.
How to Choose a Flexible Solar Panel
Here are some of the factors you may want to consider.
- Energy Extraction Efficiency: how efficient is the panel in obtaining sunlight? This tells you how useful the panel is in real life situations.
- Installation: look for solar panels that are easy to set up. Think also of the size and if you plan on adding more in the future. Is a DIY installation possible or is a professional required?
- Degree of Flexibility: some panels are really flexible while others don’t bend as much. The choice depends on the type of roof you have and your preferred style.
- Wattage: there are two options, 50W or 100W. Higher wattage means more power and better performance.
- Resistance Level: what resistance do the panels provide against snow, rain, hail, air, heat and water?
- Weight: the panel’s weight becomes an issue if you’ll be doing the installation.
- Junction Box: the junction box should be protected and sealed.
- Surface Adherence: what surfaces can you put the panel on? This question becomes important if you plan to install the panels on your RV, tent, cabin or other surfaces.
Features to Look for in a Flexible Solar Panel
Flexible solar panels for home use come in different styles, shapes and sizes, but the structure and configuration varies. Here are some features you’ll want to check out.
- Solar Cell Type: the majority of flexible panels are made of monocrystalline as they’re very efficient. Some of the better models have electrical connectors and components that improve its solar gathering capability.
- Power: look up its power output online or at the rear of the panel. The key figures are volts, amps and watts.
- Quality: buy only flexible panels that have been evaluated in Standard Test Conditions. This provides assurance the panels match the minimum requirements.
- Front and Back Materials: most flexible panels have a solid white back and laminated front layer. Some flexible panels use ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) as it is more durable.
- Durability: while flexible panels are flexible, that doesn’t mean you should bend them incessantly.
- Portability: lightweight flexible panels are easier to set up and more comfortable to transport. It’s for this reason why ETFE has become more popular now.
- Cleaning and Maintenance: a well made flexible panel won’t need a lot of cleaning so it’s more convenient to use.
- Anti- Heating Elements: some flexible panels generate a lot of heat during operation. Look for those that have aluminum backing to reduce heat.
- Connectors and Connections: MC4 connectors are ideal for DIY flexible panels. As for cable length it can be 10 inches or 6 feet, it varies.
Flexible Solar Panels Advantages and Disadvantages
Flexible solar cells continue to gain popularity, but are they really worth getting? Let’s examine the pros and cons.
- Flexibility: no surprise here. These solar panels are bendable and less likely to break.
- Discreet: these solar panels are less conspicuous compared to their rigid counterparts.
- Portable: because they’re flexible you can fold it and store in a container or sleeping bag.
- Convenient: you can put the solar panel in a backpack as it’s light enough. Just be careful you don’t fold too much it damages the photovaltic cells.
- Versatile: flexible solar panels are not just for home use. You can install them on RVs, mobile homes, your car and other vehicles and structures.
- Easy Installation: solar panels are easier than ever to install.
- Durable: flexible solar panels can handle weather changes without getting damaged.
- Affordable: the overall cost of these solar panels continues to go down.
- Generally, the efficiency isn’t as good as those of rigid panels. The quality is improving now, however.
- The batteries are more expensive compared to regular ones. The good news is the price tag is going down.
Top Flexible Solar Panel Brands
- MOHOO: the company manufactures high-quality solar panels for residential and home mobile homes. Their solar panels are recognized for their durability and flexibility.
- WindyNation: WindyNation have earned a solid reputation for their energy efficient and powerful solar panels. Their products have received acclaim for making solar panels that are easy to use.
- Suaoki: this company is known for their diverse array of flexible solar panels for homes. Their products are also distinguished by the lightweight and ease of installation.
- UniSolar: UniSolar has carved out a name for itself creating different types of solar panels. Their flexible products are especially known for their longevity.
- MOHOO: MOHOO is the name that people trust as their panels can take a lot of abuse. They’re also among the best when it comes to simplifying installation.
This top 5 list is based on my personal assessment of their products, in particular flexible solar panels. If we base it on global market share and volume, the top 5 would be:
- Trina Solar
- JA Solar
- Hanwha Q Cells
- Motech Solar
For the purposes of this article we focus on flexible solar panels.
There was a time when solar energy was considered too expensive for individual and home use. But now things have changed and solar panels are more common than ever.
I personally chose the 5 solar panels because they live up to the hype and deliver where it counts: energy. Of the 5, however, I give the Suaoki the edge in efficiency, ease of installation, versatility and durability.
I am not saying the other 4 are inferior or poorly made. It is just that the Suaoki offers more value for your money, so I call it the best flexible solar panel today.