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The Best Flexible Solar Panels (2023 Guide)

Mar 18, 2023

Flexible solar panels are a great option when you need a portable electricity source that doesn't rely on gasoline or other fuels. Some panels have an adhesive design that are easy to install on vertical and curved surfaces where conventional solar panels are not practical. Here, we at the Guides Home Team review some of the best flexible solar panels available on the market.

Because of their portability, flexible solar panel kits often have built-in power outlets for small appliances. Flexible solar panels come with portable power stations for off-grid recharging.

Flexible solar panels use photovoltaic cells to generate electricity, just like traditional rooftop solar panels. The major difference is that their PV cells are installed on a flexible material instead of a rigid aluminum and glass frame. Thanks to this design, flexible solar panels can fit on curved surfaces, or they can be folded and stored.

Here are a few fast facts about flexible solar panels:

Before you use flexible solar panels, keep in mind that you can't completely fold all products. You can bend some to a specified angle, but you will damage them if you bend them further. Always check the instructions provided.

Solar experts recommend flexible panels when you need portable off-grid power for small appliances. Ideal opportunities to use them include:

Because flexible solar panels are smaller than their rigid counterparts, their wattages are also lower. The largest flexible modules reach around 200 to 300 watts, while a traditional rooftop system with 15 rigid solar panels can reach 5,000 to 6,000 watts. Flexible solar panels are not designed to power large devices such as air conditioners and electric water heaters. If you need to power an entire home, a traditional rooftop installation is the way to go.

However, you can use flexible solar panels at home, especially during blackouts, but you must be aware of their limitations. You can use them to power small devices as long as you don't exceed their rated wattage. But because of their limited power ability, flexible PV modules won't achieve significant savings on your electric bill.

Flexible solar panels can be classified into three primary types based on the material used for their photovoltaic cells. Like in any purchase decision, each option has pros and cons:

Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels use the same material (crystalline silicon), but there is one important difference. Monocrystalline cells are cut from single-crystal silicon wafers, which means the entire cell has a uniform microscopic structure. This results in a higher energy conversion efficiency. Polycrystalline cells have a simpler manufacturing process in which silicon solidifies into multiple crystals with random orientations. This results in a lower price, but also a lower efficiency.

Both types of silicon solar cells are rigid because they use a crystalline material. A flexible solar panel can be manufactured by arranging PV cells into small rigid sections with foldable joints. Another option is using ultra-thin crystalline silicon cells, which provide more flexibility.

Thin-film solar panels use a layer of photovoltaic material that is deposited on a substrate, which can be flexible. Some of the most common thin-film materials are cadmium telluride (CdTe), copper indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) and amorphous silicon.

This table summarizes the difference between crystalline silicon and thin-film flexible solar panels:

You can find dozens of flexible solar panels brands in the market, but not all of them are high-quality products. Renogy, SunPower, Topsolar and WindyNation consistently rank among the best flexible solar panel brands.

These manufacturers produce flexible solar panels characterized by their efficiency, reliability and durable design. Their products meet electrical safety standards of Underwriters Laboratories, and they cover their panels with solid warranties.

Price: $149.99

If you’re looking for an off-grid electric power system, Renogy is one of the best brands available. Their product selection includes flexible solar panels ranging from 50 W to 200 W. Renogy uses monocrystalline cells, which means their solar panels have superior energy efficiency.

The Renogy 100 W 12 V Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel is 75% lighter than an equivalent rigid panel. The following are some of its key product features:

Renogy solar panels are built for the toughest weather conditions. This makes them an excellent option when you want a reliable power source for camping and other outdoor applications. The Renogy 100 watt flexible solar panel is 48" x 21.6" x 0.08" and weighs 4.2 pounds.

Price: $199.00

SunPower is a leading manufacturer of traditional solar panels, and it holds the record for the highest energy efficiency in the industry (22.8%). However, SunPower also makes flexible monocrystalline solar panels in 50 W and 110 W versions.

SunPower's flexible solar panels use the Maxeon solar cell technology, which has already achieved excellent performance in their larger conventional modules. Here are the product features offered by their 110 W flexible PV module:

The SunPower 110 W flexible solar panel has a weight of only 4.4 pounds, making it one of the most portable options available, and it has a 6.5" x 21.9" x 0.8" dimension. You can install this solar panel temporarily using its stainless steel grommets or permanently with adhesives.

Price: $109.99

Topsolar has a wide selection of flexible solar panels, which ranges from 20 W up to 300 W. Panels use photovoltaic cells manufactured by SunPower, which are characterized by their industry-leading efficiency (22% to 25% under laboratory conditions). Topsolar flexible solar panels have a slim design with a thickness of less than 0.1 inches.

The Topsolar 100 W flexible solar panel offers the following features:

The 200 W solar panel has a weight of 3.7 pounds and a 41.3" x 21.3" x 0.07" size. The largest flexible solar panel available from Topsolar has a rated power of 300 W, a weight of 13.4" and dimensions of 71.3" x 36.2" x 0.07".

Price: $129.99

WindyNation is often associated with wind turbines because of its brand name, but it also manufactures high-quality solar panels for off-grid applications. Its product selection includes 100 W flexible solar panels, which have the following features:

The WindyNation flexible solar module weighs 5.5 pounds and is 42.3" x 20.5" x 0.1" in size. You can install this solar module temporarily using its stainless steel mounting holes or permanently by applying an adhesive.

Although we detailed four of the top flexible solar panel brands, there are more options on the market. Here are areas to consider when comparing flexible solar products:

Compared to traditional PV modules with rigid frames, flexible solar panels are much easier to install. Thanks to their lower wattages and system voltages, flexible solar panels are also a much safer option for DIY projects. Their flexible design makes them ideal for uneven surfaces such as RV roofs.

Flexible solar panels often include stainless steel brackets for a temporary installation. You can also attach Velcro to their back surface in case you need to install and remove them regularly. Many flexible solar panels are compatible with adhesives if you need a permanent installation.

Solar panels have simple maintenance needs compared with other solar systems. The most important requirement is keeping their surface clean, because accumulated dust blocks sunlight. You can wipe off flexible solar panels with a damp cloth or soft brush. Avoid using hard brushes and chemical agents to prevent damage.

Flexible solar panels are ideal if you need an off-grid and portable electricity source for mobile devices and small appliances. We recommend a traditional rooftop solar system if you want to power large electrical devices, since they exceed the typical wattages of flexible solar panels.

A flexible solar panel kit can provide electricity for small home devices, but you need a rooftop system if you’re looking for significant power bill savings. The amount of energy that flexible modules can provide is only a fraction of your monthly home consumption.

You can expect to pay less than $250 for a 100-watt flexible solar panel kit. A rooftop solar system is a much larger project: a 6,000-watt system will cost you around $18,000 before deducting tax credits and other incentives. Here are some articles where you can read more about rooftop solar panel and battery systems:

SunPower, Renogy, Topsolar and WindyNation are widely regarded as some of the best flexible solar panel brands.

The flexible solar panels manufactured by Topsolar have some of the highest wattages available, reaching up to 300 W. Renogy also makes large flexible panels, reaching up to 200 W.

Rigid and flexible solar panels are designed for different applications. Traditional rigid panels are the best option when you want to generate large amounts of electricity for a home. Flexible solar panels are recommended when you need a portable power source for small appliances.

All four brands recommended above have comparable performance and excellent reviews. However, Renogy offers a 5-year material and workmanship warranty, which is much better than competitor warranties. SunPower offers a 2-year warranty, while Topsolar and WindyNation offer a 1-year warranty.

We scored each solar panel manufacturer based on the most important considerations for homeowners looking to invest in renewable energy: Solar panel tier, cost per watt, efficiency range and warranty period.

We spoke with five solar experts when researching the best solar panels, including two solar wholesalers, a solar durability representative at PV Evolution Labs and the CEO of Elevation Solar. We also received cost information from solar wholesalers and extensively researched each solar manufacturer's lineup to holistically rank each one.

Here's how we broke down the scoring:

Aniket Bhor is a solar engineer who has spent nearly a decade studying and working in the solar power sector in the European, Asian and North American markets. He is a climate enthusiast and avid cyclist, and he also loves to lose himself in books and cooking.

Renogy, SunPower, Topsolar WindyNation Price: Price: Price: Price: Cost: Warranty: Wattage: Wattage: Included Components: Aniket Bhor