Flexible Solar Panels Or Rigid Solar Panels, Which Is Better For RVs?

RV solar panels are very popular these days. Who doesn’t want to take a road trip in their car. The issue of power supply is the top priority in RV traveling. Installing solar panels on the RV roof is essential. Faced with many solar panel options. This guide is worth your careful reading.

. What are flexible solar panels/portable solar panels?

Flexible solar panels, is a kind of thin film solar cell, and it is technologically advanced, high performance, low cost and widely used. It is characterized by : Amorphous silicon encapsulated by resin as the main photovoltaic element layer laid flat on a substrate made of flexible material. This new solar cell can be bent into curved shape or any irregular shape at will. It can be applied to solar backpacks, solar convertible tops, solar flashlights, solar cars, solar sailboats and even solar airplanes.

II. What is rigid solar panel?

Rigid solar panel is also known as traditional fixed solar panel. As its name suggests, rigid material and fixed mounting form are its characteristics. Solar panels with solar cells mounted under tempered glass are rigid solar panels. They vary in size and most panels are mounted in an aluminum frame for easy outdoor installation.

III. Rigid Solar Panel VS Flexible Solar Panel

1. Advantages of Flexible Solar Panel

A.Portable solar panels: “portable power”

Conventional rigid solar panels are mostly used to power residential and commercial complexes, and are large in size and power as well as volume. Constrained by the weight, thickness, portability and bending degree of a number of constraints, can not be realized for civilian use, can only be used in mountainous areas and housing projects.

Flexible solar energy using thin film technology balances the need for low wattage and thinness. The same size of flexible and traditional rigid solar panels, flexible solar panels weigh only 1/10 of traditional solar panels, the thickness of only 1/5. At the same time, flexible solar panels are designed to meet the needs of low-wattage power, usually with a capacity of 50 W to 300 W. Flexible solar panels can be stored in the battery for use in mountainous areas and housing projects. And they can be stored in batteries for later use. Thus it is a particularly useful mobile power source. Ideal for long trips where it is unportable to carry a power source, RVs, boating equipment, marine equipment (including large yachts), camping trips, long-distance trips, or even for everyday use as your main source of power for living off the grid.

B.Flexible: Wide range of application scenarios

If the shape of a solar panel cannot be changed, it is destined to be installed only on the roof. Flexible solar panels change this law. Flexible solar panels can withstand a certain degree of bending. It can be installed on curved surfaces. It can be bent into a curved surface or any irregular shape, and thus can be applied to solar backpacks, solar convertible tops, solar flashlights, solar cars, solar sailboats, and even solar airplanes.

Another scenario where solar panels are not rigid is BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic), which can be integrated into windows or roofs, exterior or interior walls to take advantage of the abundant solar energy and convert it into electrical current. This current can be stored in batteries to generate power or be used as energy.

C.High photovoltaic conversion efficiency

High photovoltaic conversion efficiency of over 21% makes it the first choice for retrofitting modifications to caravans or self-driving cars.

2. Disadvantages of Flexible Solar Panel

A.Short life span

As the surface of the protective plastic is relatively soft, it is easy to scratch and bear less impact. /But too much panel bending often leads to problems with internal connections and even short circuits between cells. Due to these problems, the warranty period of flexible solar panels tends to be shorter than that of rigid solar panels

B.Flexible panels are not as easy to adjust the angle of light because their position depends on the surface to which they are attached.

C.The cell efficiency is not as high as rigid solar panels. First, due to the lack of rigid solar panels frame heat dissipation, the second is the inconsistency of the panel to receive light, affecting the absorption of light energy, and thus less efficient than rigid solar panels.

3. Advantages of Rigid Solar Panels

A.Better heat dissipation: higher power generation efficiency

One advantage of rigid panels over flexible panels is better heat dissipation. Most rigid solar panels have some gaps in the frame. This prevents the solar panel from overheating and affecting power generation efficiency.  Knowing that solar panels perform best at low temperatures leaving a small gap between the panel and the roof of the car allows air to circulate to lower the temperature of the panel. Mounting or gluing the panels directly to the roof loses cooling airflow to the underside.

When using flexible panels, the more the panel is bent, the less efficient it becomes. This is because panels generate electricity best when the entire panel receives consistent light. And flexible solar panels are subject to inconsistent light, some places more, some places less, so the power generation efficiency is low.

B. High stability: long life

The surface of rigid solar panels is wind- and hail-resistant glass. Most panels are mounted in aluminum frames for easy outdoor installation. They are constructed to resist hail, sand, and strong winds. The glass is scratch-resistant and can be adapted for long-term use. (ii) They are rugged and usually have a long warranty (over 10 years)

C.They are easier to position towards the sun, come in a wide range of sizes and are cheaper per watt.

. Flexible solar panels or rigid solar panels, which is better for RVs?

Large RVs: Fixed solar panels (high power consumption, people who need more than 200W of solar power.)

Small cars, SUVs, etc.: Flexible solar panels

Charging small electronic devices: Flexible solar panels (portable solar panel or solar suitcase)

Curved surfaces : Flexible solar panels

Flat surfaces: Rigid solar panels.

Large interior space: Flexible solar panels

Small interior space: Rigid solar panels

Ready to install: Flexible solar panels

Permanently mounted on the roof: Rigid solar panels

For easy installation: Flexible solar panels

For summer traveling: Flexible solar panels

Pursuing stable power generation: Rigid solar panels

Pursuing cheap price: Rigid solar panels