In choosing the best flexible solar panels, you will come across products with varying durability, ease of installation, solar cell efficiency, size, and weight. But the most defining quality of flexible solar panels is the power output.
Best Flexible Solar Panels at a Glance
- Renogy Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel – Overall Best Flexible Solar Panel
- Socentralar Flexible Solar Panel – High Energy Output
- SunPower High-Efficiency Solar Panel – Lightweight and Flexible Panel
- Suner Power Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer – Extremely Lightweight
- TP-solar Flexible Solar Panel – Easy to Install
- Lensun Flexible Solar Panel – Completely Waterproof
Durability matters because solar panels are generally installed outdoors. Of course, while outdoors, they are exposed to the elements – rain, UV light, wind, amongst others. The said elements will rapidly or gradually wear out your solar panel. But if the flexible solar panel you opt for is highly durable, it would resist impending deterioration for a very long time. Hence, it would have a long lifespan.
Whether you intend to invite a professional to install your flexible solar panel, or you intend to go DIY, an easy installation process is desirable. If the solar panel installation process you opt for is complicated, you will pay for it in cash or with your time.
Not all solar cells have the same efficiency. The efficiency of flexible monocrystalline solar panels is higher than the efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels. At the same time, thin-film solar panels offer better performance in low sunlight than the two types of crystalline flexible solar panels.
Size and weight also matter when you are buying flexible solar panels. Obviously, if a flexible solar panel is too big or too heavy, its flexibility will be less significant.
Without producing sufficient electricity, even the most flexible solar panels are only slightly better than duds. Flexible solar panels that do not produce enough power to run your devices or appliances will be useless to you. This is why you should place power output foremost on your scale of features.
Our Best Flexible Solar Panels Review
1. Renogy Flexible Solar Panel
About the Product
The Renogy Flexible Solar Panel impresses on all fronts. This is why we choose it as our overall best flexible panel.
This bendable solar panel offers the joint-highest power output, the joint-best durability, remarkable flexibility, high efficiency, and decent size & weight.
The Renogy 100 Watt Flexible Solar Panel offers an output power of up to 100 watts. Of all the bendable solar panels we reviewed, only the Socentralar Flexible Solar Panel matches this output. The rest fall short by at least 50%.
With the relatively high power output of the Renogy, you will be able to power more than just mobile devices with this solar panel. You can power a radio, a small television, lamps, laptops, and other appliances with power consumption below 100 watts. So, all in all, it is an excellent source of camping electricity.
Remarkably, the junction box of the Renogy is rated IP 68. The only other product on our list with an ingress protection rating as high as this is the Lensun Flexible Solar Panel.
With this rating, you could say the junction box is almost totally waterproof. Whether it rains or snows, you never have to worry about moisture damaging the contents of the box.
Besides its impressive level of water resistance, the Renogy Flexible Panels are the most flexible solar panels in our review. You can bend the panels through 248 degrees – none of the others come close.
The Renogy is about the same as the other flexible solar panels on our list on the efficiency front. It comes with monocrystalline solar cells like the rest. And of course, these types of cells offer a higher output power per unit space than polycrystalline cells.
The rated efficiency should be in the 20-23% range – at least 4-10% higher than what a polycrystalline cell can offer you.
Unlike other solar panels, the installation of these panels is pretty uncomplicated. Obviously, this ease of installation is, in part, due to the flexibility.
Whether you want to place this on curved surfaces, uneven surfaces or use it as your RV solar panel, it’s all straightforward.
Size and Weight
While the Renogy is the longest flexible panel in our review, it is also the thinnest. Knowing it is just about 0.08 inches thick, its high level of flexibility is not so surprising.
These bendable panels are not the lightest solar panels in our review. But it weighs just 4 pounds, and that should not be hard to carry around. Also, its weight is just about 25% of what traditional panels of equal size would weigh.
- It offers the joint-highest power output – only the Socentralar Flexible Solar Panel comes close.
- Remarkable durability – offers the highest water resistance of all the reviewed flexible solar panels.
- Highly efficient – more so than polycrystalline solar panels.
- Bends through 248 degrees – more than any of the other flexible solar panels in our review.
- The connecting cable could be a bit longer.
2. Socentralar Flexible Solar Panel
About the Product
Like the Renogy, the Socentralar Flexible Solar Panels impresses on various fronts. It only falls slightly short of the Renogy in its resistance to water.
The Socentralar Flexible Solar Panel offers up to 100 watts of solar power – the same as the Renogy and the joint-highest of any reviewed products.
The high output power of the Socentralar affords you the chance to connect multiple small devices to the solar panel simultaneously. It also makes it possible for you to use various devices that consume 100 watts or less.
Besides powering devices directly, the panels can also be used to charge batteries. Considering its high output power, it should charge your battery faster than other panels with lower outputs.
The junction box has an IP 67 rating. While this is still very water-resistant, it is less so than an IP68 rating.
Nonetheless, the water-resistance beats that of the Suner Power and the TP-Solar. It is also on par with the Sunpower flexible panel.
The Socentralar runs on monocrystalline solar cells. So, its efficiency is pretty much assured.
The manufacturer states that the average conversion efficiency is 21%. Since the average conversion of polycrystalline cells is just about 13-16%, the rated efficiency of this product is pretty decent.
If you live in a region that does not get intense sunlight for a long period, you may want to consider thin-film solar panels over monocrystalline panels.
Like most solar panels that are flexible, the installation is pretty straightforward.
Unlike rigid solar panels, you can install flexible solar panels on various surfaces, thanks to their flexibility.
The process is uncomplicated, whether you intend to place it on curved surfaces or hook it up to your RV batteries.
Size and Weight
The Socentralar is not as thin as the Renogy, the Lensun, TP-Solar, and the Suner Power. But it is thinner than the Sunpower solar panel.
As we said before, the ease of installing flexible solar panels is partly due to their flexibility. And since thicker solar panels are less flexible, the Socentralar may not be as easy to install as the Renogy.
The Socentralar weighs around 4.44 pounds – the heaviest of any of the review panels. But while it is the heaviest, its weight is not bad at all.
- Offers the joint-highest energy output – the same as the Renogy.
- Its durability is impressive, especially its resistance to water. While it may not be as water-resistant as the Renogy, it still packs a punch.
- It has an average conversion efficiency of 21%, above what you may get with a standard solar panel.
- Installation is straightforward.
- A longer connecting cable would have been preferable.
3. SunPower Monocrystalline Flexible Solar Panel
About the Product
This small solar panel offers remarkable durability, top-notch conversion efficiency, and a fair amount of power. These lightweight solar panels have the thickest dimension of the several solar panels we reviewed.
The power produced by the SunPower solar panel falls short of what you can get with the Renogy and the Socentralar panels. In fact, the SunPower flexible solar panel kit can only match half of the power the said solar panels produce.
Nonetheless, SunPower remains a good camping solar panel choice. It should power multiple mobile devices and can power larger devices whose power consumption exceeds 50 watts.
If you were to charge a battery, you should get a full charge within a relatively short period.
The water resistance matches that of the Socentralar. Both are rated IP 67, which is a very high degree of water resistance. Only the Renogy and the Lensun offer higher resistance to water than the SunPower.
The SunPower uses efficient monocrystalline solar cells. It has a rated conversion efficiency of 23.5% – the second-highest amongst the reviewed products.
Going by the rated efficiency, it offers at least 7.5% to 10.5% more efficient than polycrystalline photovoltaic cells. Then compared to the average monocrystalline solar panel, it offers around 3.5% to 8.5% more efficiency.
While monocrystalline cells are highly efficient, you may check out thin-film solar panels if you are bothered by low sunlight intensity.
As with others, installing the SunPower is pretty easy. It fits pretty much in any place you fix it, be it a curved surface or a flat one.
Size and Weight
The SunPower panel weighs just 2.1 pounds, making it the second-lightest product on the list, just behind the Suner Power solar panel.
But while it is one of the lightest products we reviewed, SunPower is the thickest. So, you may find that it is more of a semi-flexible solar panel. Or in other words, it is not as flexible as the others.
- Produces a decent amount of solar power, although the Renogy and Socentralar produce more power.
- Highly water-resistant – on par with the Socentralar solar panel.
- Has a rated conversion efficiency of 23.5% – one of the highest in the market.
- Installation is pretty straightforward.
- It could be thinner for more flexibility.
- Longer connecting cables would have been even better.
4. Suner Power Bendable Solar Panel With Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer
About the Product
Suner Power does very well on the conversion efficiency front. But beyond that, it offers a decent output power, considerable durability, and it is lightweight.
As you may have guessed from the name, the Suner Power 50 Watt offers a maximum output wattage of 50 watts. While this is not the highest amongst the products we reviewed, it is pretty substantial for use on camping trips and should be able to serve multiple small devices simultaneously. It should also be able to charge your battery within a reasonable time fully.
However, if you want higher flexible solar panel power, you should consider either the Renogy or the Socentralar.
The junction box does not resist water, and the Renogy, Socentralar, SunPower, or Lensun solar panels. But it still offers a high degree of water resistance.
The IP 65 rating of this flexible solar panel indicates that it will not permit ingress of dust, and it will resist the entry of powerful jets of water.
Besides its protection against dust and water, the Suner Power comes with multiple circuit protections. It features over-discharge protection, overcharge protection, short circuit protection, and reverse polarity protection.
With these features, the safety of the battery you power the panel with is pretty much assured.
One feature we fancy about Suner Power is the inbuilt solar charge controller. The solar panels come with an MPPT charge controller.
MPPT charge controllers pull about 20% more power from solar panels to batteries during the charging process. This makes charging faster and more efficient.
These bendable panels use a 3-stage charging process: bulk, fl0at, and absorption. This feature optimizes charging while improving battery life.
Like the others, these flexible solar panels use monocrystalline solar cells. So, its efficiency is not in doubt.
Of all the products we went over, the Suner has the highest conversion efficiency rating – 24%. The closest rating to this is that of the Sunpower panel.
Installing these solar panels come with little or no problem. Since it is flexible, it conforms to the shape of any spot you lay it on. So, you never have to worry about creating a frame or stand where it fits.
The panel bends through 30 degrees – not as much as the Renogy. But all in all, it is still flexible enough for a smooth installation.
Size and Weight
Weighing just 1.67 pounds, the Suner is the lightest product on our list. And this makes it the most portable.
It has a thickness of about 0.1 inches – not as thin as the Renogy and not as thick as the Socentralar and the SunPower flexible solar panels.
- Lightest and most portable product in our review.
- Has the highest rated efficiency of the flexible solar panels on our list.
- Produces a decent amount of power – but the Renogy offers twice as much output power.
- Offers multiple circuit protection features to ensure batteries charge with it stay in good shape for long.
- Having multiple connection options would have made it even better.
5. TP-Solar Flexible Solar Panel 50W 24V/12V
About the Product
The TP-Solar does produce a decent amount of power. But beyond that, it is quite efficient, easy to install, and relatively portable.
Like the SunPower and Suner Power, the TP-Solar offers an output wattage of 50 watts. This makes it a suitable option for powering various mobile camping devices. Plus, you can charge your batteries with it to save power for when the sun is unavailable.
While the 50 watts the TP-Solar produces will charge a low-capacity battery within a few hours, it may take longer to charge batteries with higher capacity. So, if you intend to charge your battery with this panel, consider the battery capacity first.
A 12v 25Ah battery will charge fully in about 6 to 8 hours with the TP-Solar. However, a 12v 100Ah might take over 24 hours to attain a full charge.
The TP-Solar is waterproof to a great extent but not as much as the Renogy or the Lensun. Beyond its water resistance, the body of the TP-Solar is resistant to fairly high temperatures thanks to the TPT backplane. So, it will not get degraded readily by the heat from the sun.
The TP-Solar is made with ETFE – a type of plastic that resists dirt and is self-cleaning. This plastic contributes to the overall durability of the panel.
Made with monocrystalline cells, the efficiency of the TP-Solar panel is assured. On average, the conversion efficiency of this product should be around 20%, which is higher than what the average flexible solar panels offer.
Besides the cells, the ETFE plastic used in making the TP-Solar contributes to its efficiency. This plastic allows more direct sunlight to pass through it than most regular materials. Of course, as more sunlight reaches the cells, more solar energy is generated, and efficiency shoots up.
The TP-Solar has a bendability of around 30 degrees, and this allows easy installation on surfaces traditional rigid panels cannot be installed.
Whether you place it on the roof, on an RV, on a yacht, or you take it camping, the installation process is basically plug-and-play.
Size and Weight
Weighing 2.42 pounds, the TP-Solar is one of the lightest solar panels we reviewed. And while it weighs almost 50% more than the Suner Power panel, packing the TP-Solar for your camping trips should not be a problem.
The TP-Solar has a thickness of 0.1 inches – only the Renogy is thinner. Like its weight, the limited thickness of the TP-Solar contributes to its portability.
- Combines ETFE plastic and monocrystalline cells to optimize conversion efficiency.
- It offers a fair output wattage – but the Renogy and the Socentralar offer 100% more solar energy.
- The use of ETFE and TPT in the construction of the TP-Solar makes for resistance to water, temperature, and mild scratches.
- Installation is uncomplicated.
- Does not come with an inbuilt charge controller like the Suner Power. So, you have to get one to charge your battery.
6. Lensun Flexible Solar Panel
About the Product
The Lensun Panel might not offer the highest output wattage of all the solar panels we reviewed. However, its durability, efficiency, and portability are remarkable.
The Lensun Panel has a lower power output than every other rollable solar panel we examined. Its rated output wattage is only about 30 watts. So, its use may be limited to devices like laptops and mobile phones.
You may also charge batteries with this. But do not expect the same charging speed you will get from a 50-watt or 100-watt solar panel from the Lensun Panel.
We recommend checking out the Renogy or the Socentralar solar panels for batteries with larger capacity.
The junction box of the Lensun Panel offers the highest degree of water resistance of any product in our review. The only other product on our list as water-resistant as the Lensun Panel is the Renogy. With an IP68 rating, it is practically impermeable to water or dust.
Besides being water-resistant, this flexible solar panel is heat-resistant, UV-resistant, and needs only little maintenance. These characteristics are all thanks to the ETFE covering and the TPT backplane.
Created with monocrystalline solar cells and estimated to have a rated conversion efficiency of 22%, the Lensun Panel is undoubtedly highly efficient.
This solar panel is crafted with ETFE plastic, which allows high sunlight transmittance. So, the cells are efficient, but the covering of the panel delivers relatively more sunlight for conversion into solar energy.
As with other flexible solar panels, the solar panel can be installed on various surfaces. You would not need a frame as typical panels do. All you have to do is get the Lensun Panel on a surface exposed to sufficient sunlight.
Size and Weight
The Lensun Panel weighs just 2.6 pounds – just a bit higher than what the TP-Solar weighs. At 2.6 pounds, the Lensun Panel is surely portable and measures 0.1 inches in thickness – less than the Renogy and on-par with the TP-Solar and the Suner Power panels.
- Offers the joint-highest resistance to water ingress alongside the Renogy.
- Made with solar cells and a covering that promote conversion efficiency.
- Highly durable – resistant to water, heat, and UV degradation.
- It is pretty portable. However, the Suner Power solar panel offers the highest portability.
- The output power could be higher.
Buying Guide for the Best Flexible Solar Panels
Features to Look Out For in the Best Flexible Solar Panels
The power your solar panel produces determines how well it executes its prime purpose. If a solar panel does not produce enough solar energy to support your devices, its use will be limited. Also, if the panel produces relatively low power, it would only support minimal loads. Then, when you try to charge a battery with it, the charging rate would be slow.
Going by the above, output wattage should be at the fore of your mind when buying flexible solar panels.
Solar Cell Efficiency
This feature is a bit straightforward. Solar panels with monocrystalline cells offer the highest efficiency. On average, their efficiency is about 15-20%. So, when you go shopping, keep an eye out for them.
While monocrystalline panels are great, you may want to check out thin-film panels if direct sunlight intensity is limited in your region.
Water-resistance is one of the main features that determine the durability of flexible solar panels. So, when buying yours, pay attention to the ingression protection code. Generally, the higher the ingress protection code, the more water-resistant a product is. Be on the lookout for products with IP65 to IP68 ratings – they offer the highest degrees of water resistance.
Besides water resistance, pay attention to the materials used in making the covering and backplane of your solar panel. Materials like ETFE and TPT are desirable because they resist heat and UV damage while prolonging product lifespan.
Size and Weight
It goes without saying, but the weight of solar panels plays a part in their portability. The heavier a panel is, the less portable it would be. So, if you intend to go on trips with your flexible panel, ensure you get one that is light enough for you to pack.
When going over the size of flexible solar panels, pay attention to the thickness. With thicker panels, we expect lower flexibility.
What Is the Most Efficient Flexible Solar Panel?
The most efficient flexible solar panels are those that come with monocrystalline solar cells. However, in areas with low sunlight intensity, a thin-film solar panel would be pretty effective. This is all thanks to the ability of thin-film solar cells to absorb light across a broad spectrum.
Do Flexible Solar Panels Last?
Well, flexible solar panels are not as physically durable as a traditional solar panel can be. And as expected, they do not last as long as traditional solar panels.
Generally, a flexible solar panel will last 10-15 years less than conventional solar panels.
Why Cant Thin Flexible Solar Panels Fail?
The prime reason flexible solar panels fail is excessive flexing and bending. Granted, flexible panels were built to be flexible. But if one flexes them or bends them too much, the solar cells may crack. Of course, when the cells crack, the overall efficiency of your flexible solar panel will drop.
Besides excessive flexing and bending, scratches to the surface of a flexible solar panel may also lead to failure. As said before, flexible panels are not as durable as conventional panels. While the conventional types come with glass solar panels, the flexible types typically have plastic covering.
Of course, plastic coverings are not as rigid as glass coverings. So, scratches to the plastic coverings usually damage the cells of a flexible panel.
How to Clean Flexible Solar Panels
You can clean flexible solar panels by wiping their surfaces gently after applying a neutral soap solution and water.
Then in situations where you have tough stains like grease, you apply denatured alcohol to remove the stains.
One thing to note while cleaning flexible solar panels is to avoid using abrasive force. Wiping the surface of the panel with abrasive materials like brushes will damage the solar cells. Consequently, the efficiency of the panel will drop.
Always go for flexible solar panels with high output wattages. But while doing that, ensure you pay attention to their efficiency, durability, and portability. While it is desirable to have a panel that produces sufficient solar energy, having one that withstands harsh elemental conditions while maximizing power production is even more pleasing.
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