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  • Flexible Solar Panels

    Searching the word flexible on this site doesn't really come back with much in the way of relevant information about glue down flexible solar panels. I am moving in that direction for the roof of my RV. I have found a couple companies that make them. MiaSole and Solopower. Is there a more relevant forum site for flexible solar you folks know of? Thanks in Advance, Bill

  • #2
    Bill,

    I have 6 of the Suaoki 100w. They now make a 150w version. Maybe this can help.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al8rCydNiLs&t=1s

    Take Care,
    Neil
    Last edited by goodoleme; 08-22-2018, 02:27 PM.

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    • #3
      I wonder how the efficiency of a flexible panel compares to rigid models. Does anyone here have an idea of the tradeoffs of using a flexible panel? Seems like there is a big benefit by hugging the roof of the van/RV as far as aerodynamics and gas mileage go

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      • #4
        I decided to go with flexible panels so I could glue them down. My concern was potential liability of rigid panels flying off the roof while driving on the freeway. I would expect that rigid panels might affect a smaller rigs aerodynamics and fuel mileage but it probably wouldn't be very noticeable on mine due to it being as aerodynamic as a huge brick. I was really jazzed by Global Solar 's peel and stick panels! They have been around for a long time and their offerings are pretty comprehensive with nice long warranties. I wanted to buy two 300w panels but after getting up on my roof I realized I only had a max of 12' contiguous space, and only two spots that large. That ruled out their 300w and 200w peel and stick panels, the 300w panels are 18' long and the 200w are 12', but I needed three of those 200w to make 600w of power and only had space for 2. That Left me with just the 100/115w option. I really didn't want 6 panels and all the ancillary connections required. I know the connections are water proof, but that seems to good to be true to me. Bummer, no peel and sticks for me.
        I ended up pulling the trigger yesterday on four 160w Renogy Flexible Panels RNG-160DB-H which will hopefully arrive by tomorrow. Their warranty is just as good as most rigid panels, 5 year workmanship and 25 years for 80% capacity left. Being they are only for a motorhome the 5 year part is probably all I will ever need.
        While searching the internet for flexible panels, very few had more than a years warranty for anything. The other thing I noticed from most of the flexible panels were their very low total voltage allowed, most wouldn't even allow 2 of their panels in series it was so low.
        The Go Solar looked good but was extremely expensive at close to $5 a watt "not" installed. The GS 115w were only $2.80 a watt and after a 10% discount on the Renogy site purchasing direct, they were only $1.68 a watt. I must admit rigid panels were way cheaper per watt, I saw some near $.50 a watt. But those were HUGE panels that I now know would never fit on my RV roof.
        When they arrive i will be performing a "sidewalk" test of the panels. Basically laying them on the side walk and hooking them up as if they were on the roof to measure their output flat in full sun at 32 degrees north latitude in the middle of September. BTW, Renogy recommends Sitkaflex 252 for bonding the panels to my roof. I couldn't get any other vendor to recommend a glue. Obviously Global Solar comes with glue already applied..
        -Bill

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bigbillsd View Post
          Searching the word flexible on this site doesn't really come back with much in the way of relevant information about glue down flexible solar panels.
          Not much to know about them other than stay away from them. Thing is the flexible panels are made with materials that cannot tolerate sunlight form more than a few years. So no you are not going to hear a lot about a lousy product here. We know better.

          MSEE, PE

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          • #6
            Interesting, Companies like Global Solar give such long warranties on their flexible panels, and are still around 22 years now.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bigbillsd View Post
              Interesting, Companies like Global Solar give such long warranties on their flexible panels, and are still around 22 years now.
              So, get a set of them and report back on how they work out for you. Just make sure to keep track of their output as f(time) in a verifiable way. I bet several users here of us would be interested in things like that from the ask the person who owns the product perspective.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Guest View Post
                I wonder how the efficiency of a flexible panel compares to rigid models. Does anyone here have an idea of the tradeoffs of using a flexible panel? Seems like there is a big benefit by hugging the roof of the van/RV as far as aerodynamics and gas mileage go
                Less efficient. There is no air cooling space under them, just fiberglass roof, which allows for no cooling. So as panels get hotter their efficiency goes down. and flex panels are generally several % less efficient than glass/poly or glass/mono.

                As for peel-n-stick, I think of it as peel-n-pray. Surface prep is critical to adhesives, and few folks will follow the rigors required to get a good adhesive bond.
                Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
                || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
                || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

                solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
                gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

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                • #9
                  Flexible panels do have some advantages, but you get what you pay for. In a word, PowerFilm panels.

                  No, they may not last as long as a mono / polycrystalline. And yes, they are less efficient, meaning you need a physically larger panel than you ordinarily would.

                  While I can't speak for other companies, I have tested PowerFilms, and even when placed flat on hot cement in my 105F degree ambient temp day, they don't lose power. I was expecting them to when placed directly on a super hot surface, but was surprised at full output especially when they read something like 160F on my laser temp probe.

                  And, since they are not mono/polycrystalline, you can have a tree-branch shadow cross them, and only the shaded part is no longer producing any output.

                  Put a wet leaf / bird dropping on a mono panel, and expect a drop to about 10% of rated output.

                  What this all means is that if you have panels on the RV, and you are not VERY careful about shading from a vent pipe, flag, antenna, corner of some other rooftop obstruction *throughout the day*, you could very well be producing bupkiss, maybe 10% max from your mono panels.

                  With powerfilms, as mentioned small shading does not drop the output radically, just the part that's shaded, so in a bad situation, you may end up with more gain so to speak.

                  All panels to perform their best must be tilted upwards obviously - flat on a roof and you are looking at 50 to maybe 60 efficiency of their own rating.

                  So there ya go. No, the films will not be something you pass on to your children. But, they might make sense if you take into account the specifics of your situation. And most importantly, use *proven* manufacturers like PowerFilm. There may be others, but I haven't tested them, other than dinky cell charger toys.

                  Main problem: VERY expensive, but you do get what you pay for. To help longevity, cover them so that they are not exposed to sun during non-use periods.

                  So no, I personally would not consider them as a more or less permanent solution. But for RV / Boating / Portable needs, and IF you do your homework on loads and solar-insolation hours depending on where you go, they can be a worthwhile consideration.
                  Last edited by PNjunction; 09-19-2018, 02:10 AM.

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                  • #10
                    I had looked at them, but the only viable solution for my application was from them was the foldable 220w panel and they were even longer than the Global Solar models. I wasn't sure about gluing down the foldables, and the rollables I could see were only a max of 90w. It looks like they are mainly geared toward portable panels from their literature. -Bill
                    Last edited by Bigbillsd; 09-19-2018, 11:11 AM.

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                    • #11
                      ROCKPALS is a very strong solar panel the build material looks awesome, the panels durability is remarkable and works excellent in low light. I charged my phone a GoPro hero 4 and a flashlight to test it and is extremely fast to charge.
                      Last edited by AndrewCoates; 12-12-2020, 11:50 PM.

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                      • #12
                        There's another thread here from Jacob Cambridge on flex panels. He is planning to put Merlin Solar flex panels on a standing seam residential roof. They make 105 watt 24-cell and 165 watt 36-cell panels with monocrystalline cells. It sounds good and the result will probably be very eye pleasing.

                        Echoing what others have said, flex panels do not have a lot of history and a few brands have had bad experiences. It is possible that there are great flex panels out there and they will prove durable and dependable, but that is far from certain. Also, the $/watt is much higher than conventional rigid panels. There is a lot of history on conventional panels and many conventional makers have big corporations behind them. You can't say that about flex panels. And there's also what Mike said about reduced output.
                        7kW Roof PV, APsystems QS1 micros, Nissan Leaf EV

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                        • #13
                          We can address some issues. Thin-film advantages and disadvantages. I've been though plenty over the years.

                          Less-efficient: needs more space for install to get same wattage as mono. HOWEVER, in real-world situations with shadows, wet leaves and other obstructions compared to perfectly exposed panels, thin-film which can handle them better, can actually come out ahead at the end of the day.

                          Spectral efficiency: generally more efficient across a wider spectrum of light than mono/poly. Does better in overcast, but stay REAL - overcast is a bummer no matter what panels you use.

                          Heat: can actually get hotter than a mono panel before dropping output. Blew my mind when testing my mono panels flat on concrete at noon in middle of summer with sun straight overhead with no air cooling, and the thin film laid down next to it. Didn't expect that.

                          Degradation: Major issue. To make them last long, if you aren't using them, don't expose them to light. Seriously. Campers - fold them up, don't leave them installed outdoors until next year doing nothing.

                          Marketing and scams - thin film has been pushed for years, and there are plenty of marketers and scammers willing to take your money.

                          My hope is that they can get thin-film durable, and more efficient. There *are* good panels out there, like PowerFilm.

                          But just keep an eye on your wallet - like decades past, there's always some "breakthrough" that is simply investor-bait.

                          Thin film is moving forwards, albeit slowly.
                          Last edited by PNjunction; 04-29-2021, 01:15 AM.

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