If you’re not familiar with the different solar technologies you’re going to find it difficult when comparing flexible solar panels vs rigid ones.
Specifically, you’ll be stuck on whether to go for the flexible solar panels that you can fold and move around with or buy rigid solar panels that are suitable for permanent installation applications.
The confusion might probably stem from the fact that foldable solar panels are portable, bendable, and less expensive. And you know that rigid solar panels are sturdy, long-lasting, highly efficient but costly.
This might leave you wondering which solar panels to buy.
If you’re finding it difficult to choose the best solar panels for your intended use you have come to the right page.
In this flexible vs rigid solar panels comparison guide, I’m going to talk about these two types of solar panels.
I’ll objectively compare the two to make it easier for you to decide the suitable solar technology for your needs.
Let’s dive in.
What are Flexible Solar Panels?
When I was building my first camp van (and I believe if it’s your first time to use solar energy, you must be thinking the same) the only type of solar panel I thought I’d be using is the dark, flat panels mounted on rooftops. However, I was surprised to learn about bendable solar panels.
As the name suggests, flexible or foldable solar panels can be bent easily to around 30 degrees to suit the surface where they are installed.
They are usually thin; less than an inch thick hence.
Due to their portability, these types of solar panels can be carried anywhere at any time.
The flexible solar panel installation process is also easy and straightforward.
Often, mobile solar panels are less expensive than rigid solar panels.
I currently have my flexible solar panels installed in my custom camp van. On all my trips, I use electricity in my van.
However, there are some downsides with this solar panel technology that I will talk about in a moment.
But before that, let’s learn about the other type of solar solution you probably have seen or used.
What are Rigid Solar Panels?
Rigid or traditional solar panels are probably what you might have bought or seen on many rooftops out there.
They are flat and are made up of photovoltaic technology.
Often, rigid solar panels are installed in one place.
These types of solar panels have a glass cover and sturdy aluminum metal frame to protect the cells against scratches and damage from bad weather.
The two types of rigid solar panels include monocrystalline solar panels and polycrystalline solar panels.
Installing these types of panels is sometimes time-consuming.
Flexible Solar Panels vs Rigid: Feature Comparison
As many people continue to shift to solar power, in a bid to save the planet from pollution, solar companies have continued to improve their innovativeness to make solar panels that suit everyone’s needs.
Below, we compare some of the features of flexible vs rigid solar panels.
1. Areas of Application
Flexible solar panels can be installed in different places as they can be curved to adapt to different surfaces. You can install these solar panels in your campervan, caravan, or anywhere you want while on the go.
On the other hand, rigid solar panels can be used in a few areas. To use these solar panels, you’ll need to fix them permanently in one place.
Flexible solar panels aren’t as heavy as their counterpart. For instance, an average 100W rigid solar panel may weigh around 20 pounds, whereas a flexible solar panel with the same power weighs around 5 pounds. This makes foldable panels suitable for use in roofs that don’t take much weight.
Flexible solar panels are, therefore, easy to carry around whereas rigid ones are large and not portable.
Besides, rigid solar panels require a professional to install them.
Thin-film solar panels are inexpensive.
Unlike traditional solar panels, these types of panels are less costly and require less labor to install.
You can get a 100W flexible panel in the market for as little as $100.
On the other hand, because of the high-quality material used to make them and the efficient power they produce, rigid panels come with a costly price tag. Installing them is also labor-intensive.
Flexible solar panels can be installed on glass surfaces or even on windows as they allow partial light to pass through. They are semi-transparent.
On the other hand, rigid panels are opaque and are suitable for use on rooftops.
Flexible solar panels are less efficient.
While they are a reliable source of power for users who are always on the go, flexible solar panel efficiency is lower than that of traditional panels.
Generally, rigid solar panels have a power efficiency of around 7% to 13%.
Flexible solar panels have a shorter lifetime.
Even though flexible solar panels are durable, they tend to have a shorter lifespan than traditional solar panels. This is perhaps the reason why they come with short warranty periods.
Rigid solar panels, as their name suggests, are sturdy. Of course, they can be affected by dirt, water, or debris when not taken care of; however, these panels are built with durability in mind.
You can expect your rigid framed solar panel to last for more than 30 years.
On the other hand, flexible solar panels aren’t as durable as such. Often, flexible thin-film solar cells have lifespans of up to 10 years.
Typically, the longest warranty you can get with good flexible RV solar panels is around 10 years. After all, you cannot have an RV for more than ten years.
However, rigid polycrystalline and monocrystalline solar panels can come with a basic warranty of up to 30 years. Besides, this warranty period doesn’t mean your panels will become unusable after the 30th year. These solar panels can last up to sixty years.
Flexible Solar Panels vs Rigid: Pros and Cons
When you’re out to buy your solar panels, it helps to understand the good and bad sides of your intended solar solution.
Note that’s sometimes it’s not easy to know which solar panels to choose as this can entirely depend on where and how, and what you intend to use your panels for.
To help you make an informed decision, I’ll share with you the pros and cons of each type of solar technology.
Pros of Flexible Solar Panels
Below are some of the advantages of flexible solar panels:
- They can be used in areas where rigid solar panels cannot be mounted.
- They are easy to carry around.
- They are less costly.
- They can be used in low-light areas.
- Flexible solar panels are thin.
- They are easy to mount and dismount.
Cons of Flexible Solar Panels
- They tend to be fragile.
- They tend to get hot when exposed to extreme temperatures.
- They have lower efficiency.
- They have a shorter lifetime.
- They have short warranty periods.
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Pros of Rigid Solar Panels
- Rigid solar panels, as the name suggests, are sturdy as they are built with tempered glass and aluminum frame.
- Can withstand tearing and scratching.
- They are highly efficient than flexible solar panels.
- They are waterproof.
- They utilize space efficiently.
- They have an extended warranty.
Cons of Rigid Solar Panels
Even though unbendable solar panels are durable, highly efficient, and come with a longer warranty, they aren’t without their downsides.
Below are some of the disadvantages of these panels:
- They are only suitable for permanent installation.
- These solar panels are heavy and bulky.
- You may need to put holes in your roof to mount these solar panels.
Best Uses of Flexible Solar Panels
Due to their portability nature, these solar panels are suitable for use on the go.
Generally, portable solar panels can be used in the following areas:
- Boats and Yachts
In a nutshell, if you’re looking for solar panels for your outdoor trips, cycling, climbing expeditions, kayaking, camping trips, etc. then perhaps you’d want to choose rollable solar panels.
You can also use these power panels on unique rooftops that are curved as well.
Best Uses of Rigid Solar Panels
Due to their rigid nature, traditional solar panels are suitable for commercial, residential, or areas that need full-time electricity.
Rigid vs flexible solar panels: Which is better?
Generally, which one is better between flexible solar panels vs rigid panels depends on where, how, and when you intend to use them.
In other words, the choice depends on your solar energy needs and your personal budget.
For instance, if you intend to use power occasionally, then you’d consider buying flexible solar panels.
They are less costly, easy to install, flexible, and portable.
Equally, if you intend to use solar power every day then you’d better go for rigid solar panels.
These panels have a higher initial cost but are long-lasting and highly efficient.
Last update on 2021-06-27 at 16:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API