Flexible Solar Panels vs Rigid Solar Panels: Which Ones Better?
As solar power grows in popularity, more and more people have been exploring the use of flexible solar panels as opposed to traditional, rigid solar panels. So, are flexible solar panels better than rigid solar panels? Well, comparing the two is a little bit like comparing apples and oranges.
Both types of solar panel have their pros and cons. In some cases, flexible solar panels are better than rigid solar panels. In other cases, the reverse is true. In this article we will outline the advantages and disadvantages of both flexible and rigid solar panels to help you decide which type of solar panel is going to be better for your electricity needs.
Flexible Solar Panels
Flexible, or bendable, solar panels are an extremely convenient way to produce solar electricity. Most flexible solar panels weigh less than six pounds and are less than an inch thick. High efficiency flexible solar panels can usually be bent to around 30 degrees, allowing them to contour to any curved surface of a boat, RV, van, or trailer.
The installation capability of flexible solar panels is extremely easy, as most systems are simply taped or glued to a surface using an included adhesive. The convenience of this system does have a downside, however, as the lack of space between a flexible panel and a roof can lead to the creation of a heat sink that will cause damage to the panel and limit its lifespan.
Pros of Flexible Solar Panels
- Able to Contour to Different Surfaces
- Easy Mounting & Dismounting
- Very Lightweight
Cons of Flexible Solar Panels
- Prone to Damage
- Short Warranty Periods
- Generally Less Efficient than Rigid Panels
Best Uses for Flexible Solar Panels
Flexible solar panels are best used in situations where solar energy is required to be portable or only used occasionally. The lightweight and convenient installation of flexible solar panels makes it perfect for marine, RV, and van usage in which the panels can bend to fit a nonlinear roof and can be used and moved with ease. Whereas flexible panels may not be the best option for long-term, full-time use, if you are looking for the stealthiest option available, bendable solar panels are also perfect for remaining undetected.
Rigid (Traditional) Solar Panels
Rigid solar panels are what most people consider to be “traditional” solar panels. Most traditional solar panels are made up of a photovoltaic (PV) system, comprised of either polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. Traditional, rigid solar panels are typically made with an aluminum metal frame and glass casing to protect the solar cells from scratches or damage and deterioration from weather.
Most rigid solar panels are usually mounted in one place, although there are some portable, foldable “suitcase” options available. Permanent installation requires a racking system, of which, some home and RV owners are reluctant to put the required holes in their roofs. Setting up a permanent rigid solar panel system requires more time and cost than a flexible solar panel system, however rigid solar panels are generally warranted to last longer and produce more energy.
Pros of Rigid Solar Panels
- Highly Efficient
- Built to Withstand Damage
- No Heat Build-up Beneath
Cons of Rigid Solar Panels
- Usually Mounted in One Place
- Heavier than Flexible Panels
- May Require Putting Holes in Your Roof
Best Uses for Rigid Solar Panels
Traditional, rigid solar panels are best used for residential, commercial, and full-time mobile solar applications. If you are planning to utilize solar energy for a long period of time, the efficiency, strength and warranty that comes with choosing traditional solar panels is unmatched by the technology available in flexible solar panels. We recommend using rigid solar panels for any permanent solar panel system installation.
Conclusion: Should I Use Flexible or Rigid Solar Panels?
Ultimately, the decision of whether flexible or rigid solar panels are better comes down to the amount you are planning to use your solar energy system.
If you have a boat, van, or RV that you use for the occasional weekend getaway, flexible solar panels are a perfect low cost and easy to set up option for generating remote solar power. Any weekend warrior will enjoy the lightweight, low hassle installation of bendable solar panels.
If you plan to be generating and using solar power everyday, generally, rigid solar panels are going to be better than flexible solar panels. Although initial costs may be higher, the longevity and efficiency of a rigid solar panel system make traditional solar panels the smarter option.
Know which kind of solar panel is right for you? You can shop for flexible and rigid solar panels on shopsolarkits.com.