Solar panel technology is constantly evolving. New products like flexible solar panels are bringing more ways for people to harness the power of the sun.
These products are durable yet foldable and portable so that you can use them however you want. Flexible solar panels are also very lightweight and can be used off the grid.
That being said, we get a ton of questions from our customers about the different types of flexible solar panels that are available and what differentiates them from one another.
That’s why we’ve created this guide. It features six of the best flexible solar panels for 2023. It’s perfect for RVers, campers, boating enthusiasts, and anyone who loves the outdoors.
So, without further delay, let’s get into it.
- What is a Flexible Solar Panel?
- Types of Flexible Solar Panels
- What to Look For in Flexible Solar Panels
- The Six Best Flexible Solar Panels of 2023
What is a Flexible Solar Panel?
Flexible solar panels can be easily bent, folded, or wrapped around different objects. This makes them a great fit for irregular roofs, such as RVs and boats. Many people also use them in off-the-grid applications.
These lightweight panels are made of flexible photovoltaic cells that convert solar energy into electricity just like standard solar panels. However, it is important to note that they are slightly less efficient.
Flexible solar panels are made with a technology called thin-film photovoltaics, which is translucent. That means you can also mount these panels on glass or use them directly as windows.
Types of Flexible Solar Panels
There are several different kinds of flexible solar panels available to choose from. Each offers its own pros and cons. We’ll look at some of the most common options in this section.
- Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) Flexible Solar Panels: These panels are made using a thin film of amorphous silicon, which is a non-crystalline silicon. They’re known for their low cost and versatility, which makes them a popular choice for various applications.
- CIGS Flexible Solar Panels:CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide) flexible solar panels are made using a thin film of CIGS photovoltaic material deposited onto a flexible substrate. They’re known for their high efficiency and flexibility, making them a popular choice in portable devices and wearable technology.BougeRV's CIGS solar panels are the best on the market today. We’ll list some of them below for your reference.
- Graphene Flexible Solar Panels:Graphene flexible solar panels are made using a thin film of graphene, a material known for its excellent conductivity and strength. They’re still in the development stage but have the potential to be highly efficient and long-lasting.
- Monocrystalline Flexible Solar Panels:These panels are made using a thin film of monocrystalline silicon, a highly pure form of silicon. They’re known for their high efficiency and durability. But they’re also more expensive than other flexible solar panels.
- Polycrystalline Flexible Solar Panels: These panels are made using a thin film of polycrystalline silicon, a less pure form of silicon. They’re known for their lower cost and good efficiency, making them a popular choice for various applications.
What to Look For in Flexible Solar Panels
Flexible solar panels are a relatively new technology, which means this may be your first purchase of them. If so, here are the factors to pay attention to while shopping.
Efficiency: Flexible solar panels generally have lower efficiency than traditional, rigid solar panels. However, some flexible panels have been developed with efficiencies of up to 20%, which is solid. The efficiency rate can vary depending on the technology used to create the panels.
Wattage: Flexible solar panels come in a range of wattages, and the size of the panel you need will depend on your power requirements. Higher-wattage panels produce more electricity than lower-wattage panels, but they will also take up more space.
Durability: Flexible solar panels are designed to be more durable and resistant to damage than traditional panels. If you plan on using these outdoors, you’ll want panels that are designed to withstand conditions like rain, wind, and extreme temperatures.
Flexibility: Make sure to check how flexible the panels are as well. Some might not be flexible enough to fit the shape or curvature of your intended installation surface.
Brand and Warranty: Research brands and look for panels from reputable manufacturers that offer long-term warranties. Make sure to read and understand the terms of the warranty as well, as it can vary from one manufacturer to another.
Size and Weight: Flexible solar panels are generally smaller and lighter than traditional, rigid solar panels. This makes them easier to transport and install. However, it’s important to note that this does not mean the panels produce less electricity.
Cost: Flexible solar panels can be more expensive than traditional, rigid solar panels. That means it's important to consider the cost – both upfront and over the lifetime of the panels – to determine which option is best for your needs.
One last thing to note is that flexible solar panels are not as efficient as traditional panels. They’re also not suitable for all applications. If you’re unsure about whether this kind of panel is right for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to the BougeRV team for some guidance.
The Six Best Flexible Solar Panels of 2023
At BougeRV, we’re currently focused on launching high-quality CIGS flexible solar panels. Our engineers have the patent for this technology and are at the forefront of creating some of the most affordable and powerful CIGS flexible solar panels on the market.
At present, we’ve launched CIGS solar panels in two main categories: 100W flexible solar panels and 200W flexible solar panels.
For the 200W flexible solar panels, there are two main types, which we’ve highlighted below.
Compared to other thin film solar panels, this 200W CIGS is significantly thinner, more portable, and has remarkable flexibility. It can be effectively used on uneven surfaces, such as the roofs of RVs, boats or other outdoor camping sites.
The 200W thin film solar panel developed by the BougeRV team has a higher absorption coefficient, which is what makes these advancements possible.
What do users like? Our user O.B. says:
“Excellent Product, never thought that solar panels could be so soft and thin. I heard BougeRV CIGS Solar Panels won't be damaged, so I put them on the floor and checked the product after stepping on it, and there are no scratches and cracks, which is great.
This week is cloudy and rainy, so I wanted to take this opportunity to test the output power of CIGS Solar Panels in low light conditions, to my surprise, 200W CIGS thin film solar yields more power than other 200W solar panels I've tested before. Great product!”
What do users like? Our user Smith said:
“Make a few brief comments. I am a loyal fan of CIGS. I once bought 100W CIGS. To my surprise, the product workmanship is really excellent! So I want to buy 200W CIGS, but the customer service told me that 200W CIGS solar panel with adhesive is very popular, and the next batch of goods will not be sold until the middle of December.
But recently, I found that bougerv has newly launched 200w cigs with holes. I did not hesitate to place three, and I'm afraid there is no stock. I ordered the goods the day before yesterday, and it is here today. The delivery is fast. Bougerv's product packaging is perfect. After I opened it, there was no damage.”
BougeRV also has several 100W flexible solar panels available. There are currently four models that we’d like to draw your attention toward.
What do users like? Jenn Y., one of our users, says:
“This worked great! We used it to charge our large power bricks while camping - we have a electric ice chest, and this allows us to charge one brick while using the other.It has an adhesive surface on the bottom, as it's actually meant to be permanently attached to a car or RV.
But it works fine to just lay it out on a picnic table, or lay on top of your car.We did need to buy a MC4 Solar Panel Plug to DC 5.5x2.1mm Adapter in order to connect it to the barrel connectors on the power bricks.Overall, couldn't be happier with this.”
The 100W CIGS flexible solar panel is highly efficient in low light. Our product engineers have tested this solar panel to produce 38% more power than conventional monocrystalline silicon over the course of an 8-hour cloudy day.
In addition, the durability of the thin-film panel is also a prominent focus of the 100W CIGS, which can withstand any shock that may occur during installation and transportation.
What do users like? Our user jack says:
“I have bought two glue-backed CIGS in the past, and this time I bought two new versions. This version of CIGS isn't as long as the previous two, but it's still powerful and worth buying!”
Compared to conventional solar panels, CIGS solar panels have undergone a major shift in design and functionality. This is why they’ve been called the "next generation" of solar panels.
The 360° flexibility of this CIGS product allows it to be mounted on any surface, which is why CIGS is so popular with consumers. In addition, CIGS panels like this one can maintain efficiency and a high output even in shaded areas.
What do users like? Our user JOYZ says:
“This is the latest 100W CIGS Solar Panel. There is a 20% discount on Black Friday right after the launch. And the logistics delivery is very fast. I ordered the goods the day before yesterday, and they were delivered today! This generation of CIGS comes with a perforated configuration so I can drill them into the place I want them to be!!
I tested the CIGS, it had the same power output as the one with the glue on the back! Whether the flexibility, or Perform Better in Low-light, it has very good performance! Recommend everyone to buy, Black Five is coming to an end, maybe this discount will not be again!!”
Unlike traditional solar panels, CIGS solar panels will work even if the surface portion of the panel is damaged. This product is especially durable and a great fit for folks who really enjoy spending time outdoors.
What do users like? Our user Jack says:
“I bought two CIGS 100W Flexible Solar Panel to go with my 40a mppt Rover charger and a 50ah lithium ion phosphate, all from BougeRV, for my homemade camper. The panels are sturdy, well designed, and affordable. They come ready to go with MC4 connectors.
Even when the weather isn't idea (cloudy rainy days), I'm still getting more than enough power to charge my 50ah battery. The mppt charge controller is very efficient and able to utilize the panels efficiently. So far everything is working great.”
Are flexible solar panels any good?
Flexible solar panels, also known as "thin film" solar panels, can be a good option for certain applications. They are lightweight, durable, and can be bent or folded to fit onto curved surfaces, making them well-suited for use on boats, RVs, and other vehicles. They are also useful in situations where a traditional rigid panel would be too heavy or difficult to install.
However, flexible solar panels generally have lower power output and efficiency compared to traditional rigid panels. They also tend to degrade faster in extreme temperatures and are often more expensive in terms of cost per watt.
Can you walk on flexible solar panels?
Flexible solar panels are designed to be more durable than traditional rigid solar panels, but they are not meant to be walked on. Walking on the panels can cause damage to the cells and the encapsulation material, reducing the panels' performance and lifespan.
In general, you shouldn’t walk on solar panels because it can cause both physical damage and performance reduction. If you need to access the roof area where the flexible panels are installed, you should use a walkway specifically designed for that purpose. And make sure to have the proper equipment and safety measures to protect both the panels and the person.
Can flexible solar panels get wet?
Flexible solar panels can typically withstand exposure to rain and other forms of precipitation. But prolonged exposure to water can cause damage to the cells and the encapsulation material, reducing the panels' performance and lifespan.
Most solar panels are sealed and water-resistant but not necessarily waterproof. They are designed to keep water out but may not be able to handle standing water or heavy rain.
Manufacturers will typically specify the level of water resistance in the product's specifications, including the level of ingress protection (IP) rating. For example, an IP65 rating means that the product is dust tight and can withstand water projected by a nozzle.