Flexible Solar Panels: Everything You Need To Know
From digital nomads to outdoor enthusiasts, flexible solar panels are a great on-the-go option for providing clean, renewable energy wherever life takes you. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know which model is the best choice for you?
In this article, well go over what flexible solar panels are, how they differ from rigid solar panels, and the best products currently available from top solar companies.
You can also follow the links below to connect directly with an installer in your area.
How Does Solar Power Work In A Camper Van
Solar power harvests the suns heat and light, its energy, and turns it into energy you can use.Solar Panels in the basic sense work by converting available sunlight into usable electricity and that power is called wattage. Watts are made up of amps and volts. Different panels have different ratings for amps and volts, depending on your needs.
Renogy offers two types of solar kits: On-Grid kits and Off-Grid kits. On grid systems by the way are designed to feed unused electricity back into the power grid to reduce or eliminate your utility bills. Off Grid options are self contained and meant to be mobile. Thats the type of kit were using in this install.
So how do you know how much power you need in your off grid world? We made a list of all the devices we plan on running in the van. We got the wattage information, or the amps and volts of the product, and considered the average run time per device. With that information, we consulted with Renogys helpful team who helped us accurately size our system so it runs effectively and efficiently.
Is A Charge Controller Necessary
Most definitely, yes! Charge controllers are a very important component of part of any solar installation.
The only time you dont really need a solar charge controller is if using a solar panel less than 5 watts.
A solar charge controller connects the solar panels to the battery/batteries, limiting how much charging current flows and how fast your batteries charge. They effectivelt prevent overcharging.
Solar charge controller can prevent batteries discharging too much by disconnecting the system if stored energy goes below 50%. Battery life reduces if regularly discharged more than 50%.
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Flexible Solar Panels Guide
Heres what well cover in this guide:
- Are flexible solar panels any good?
- How long do more flexible solar panels last?
- Are flexible solar panels more efficient/cost friendly?
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What If The Country Of Manufacture Is Important To Me
This doesnt mean that country of origin is never important, of course: everyone has their own preferences. For example, many Americans would prefer solar panels made in the USA to ones that are imported, whether for patriotic reasons or because they trust the American-made brand for quality.
American-made vs imported panel costs
American-made solar panels generally cost from $0.50 to $0.80 per watt about $0.10 to $0.30 more per watt than imported panels. The highest quality, premium American panels may even come in around $1.00/W.
For a typical 6kW system, an additional $0.30/W translates into about $1,800, a reasonable amount to pay if the Made in America stamp is important to you. Also keep in mind that some states may offer rebates for locally-made panels that can offset some or all of the additional cost.
Check out our list of U.S. solar panel manufacturers for more information about companies that make solar panels in America.
Manufacturing location vs headquarters location
If country brand is important to you, be aware that the location of a companys headquarters is not always the same as its factories. All else being equal, knowing that a companys head office is relatively close or in a familiar country could help you make a decision.
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Which Types Of Batteries Used In Solar Power Systems
The recommended batteries for solar are designated deep cycle.
There are different types of deep cycle batteries, which include the traditional flooded lead acid, sealed lead acid, and LiFeP04 .
Flooded lead acid batteries have been around for a long time and the cheapest. Unfortunately they need considerable maintenance.
Sealed lead acid batteries are a great option because they can store up to 15 percent more power than ordinary lead acid. They can also charge 4 times faster.
Lithium iron phosphate batteries are expensive, but as they last up to four or five times longer than standard lead-acid batteries, its cheaper in the long run.
LiFeP04 batteries are also much lighter and are inherently deep cycle.
Zamp Solar Product Portfolio
While Zamp Solar sells everything you need to experience life off the grid, they group their portfolio into a few main categories, including roof-mounted solar kits, portable solar kits, charge controllers, and accessories. If you are setting out to install a solar system for the first time, it might be overwhelming to buy the individual components, but selling kits, Zamp Solar makes the process much less daunting. Their simple product categorizations will help guide you to what you need.
Roof Mounted Solar Kits
Zamp Solars roof-mounted solar kits are more versatile than you might imagine. They range from 90-watts to over 1000-watts and can be used for traditional uses such as building roofs and more adventurous purposes such as boats and RVs. Not only do the solar panels come with an industry-leading 25-year warranty, but their kits are expandable so that your solar panel system can grow as your needs grow.
Zamp Solar Panels For RV
While we love these products because they are versatile, they are most commonly used with RVs because many RVs are built with a Zamp Solar Specific plug-in. And we love the roof-mounted solar kits because you dont have to worry about piecing together your solar panel set-up on your own. Zamps kits provide you with everything you need to harness the suns power, including everything below:
Premium solar panel
Multi-port roof cap
Mounting feet and other hardware
What does PWM Mean Exactly?
Portable Solar Kits
Remove case and unfold
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Renogy 2x 450w Monocrystalline Solar Panel
Renogy’s High-powered 450 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel maximizes power output while minimizing installation area and system equipment costs, making it ideal for utility-scale systems, solar power plants, residential, and commercial applications. To boost the electrical performance and power production of your solar array system, this solar panel combines high efficiency mono PERC cells with Half-Cell and 10-Busbar technologies. Reduce your electricity bills and carbon footprint by generating renewable energy.Renogy has been creating and manufacturing the most efficient and sturdy solar panels as well as the most complete off-grid solar system since 2010. Our solar power system comes with an industry-leading warranty and reliability guarantee because to an emphasis on testing, quality control, and traceability. Renogy is an investment in yourself. This will be the most cost-effective long-term investment you’ve ever made.
Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Review
This is my hands-on review of the Renogy 100 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel.
I spent weeks testing it on its own as well as alongside other top 100 watt solar panels. I tested it with a multimeter, inspected its build quality and measured its power output on a sunny day.
After all that, I think the Renogy 100W Mono panel is the best 100 watt solar panel for most people. Its my favorite combination of size, build quality and power output.
Its only real downside is price. Its a bit pricier than most other 100 watt panels.
|42.4 x 20 x 1.38||Weight:||13.6 lbs weighed14.3 lbs listed|
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How Do Renogy Solar Panels Perform
Were going to be taking the van out for more testing and use and hope to get an even better feel for how these panels are working. We might also be opting to add another battery so we can keep enough power on hand for cooking, refrigeration, ventilation, and even powering our mobile office with laptops, and even my YouTube TV lights.
Weve also got a new device called the Renogy Phoenix PHX100. Its a small soda can sized power bank that can recharge our phones 6-9 times, or a laptop 1-2 times. This is our just in case backup, or one we can use outside the van. Were also contemplating adding a Renogy Lycan AC generator but Im getting ahead of myself.
How Do I Know Which Is The Best Solar Panel Kit For Me
Renogy have different styles of solar panel kits depending on your energy needs and depth of knowledge. If youre a solar newbie or want to add-on to an existing system, starter kits are a great way to increase you knowledge of practical solar power systems.
Other kits are optimized for efficiency and reliability. If you happen to specialize on RV boondocking or spend a lot of time on the road in your camper, Renogy has a range of solar panel kits specifically designed for RV and van use.
They even have Cabin Solar Kits for off-gridders, either at home or in a cabin retreat in the woods.
2000 Pure sine wave inverter with LCD display
Renogy uses the most advanced technology in the solar industry for theior inverter designs.
These products offer excellent features power-saving mode, can connect to monitoring devices such as the BT-2, and utlises automatic power transfer.
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How Do Solar Panels Work
Were no scientists here, but it is still fascinating to understand how solar panels work. I mean, you put this magical panel on top of your RV and can use it to power your electronics?
At a basic level, electricity is generated when particles of light separate electrons from atoms. Each solar panel is a collection of photovoltaic cells in which this process occurs, and the photovoltaic cells combine to produce an electric field. Science is incredible, and it makes all of our lives better.
Who This Solar Panel Isnt For
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What Does A Renogy Solar Kit Contain
The huge advantage with a Renogy solar kit is that all the components are compatible and matched to work together.
All solar panel kits include: solar panels (number depending on power rating, solar charge controller, all connecting cables, and hardware to mount it all.
Add some energy storage batteries and you have a complete DIY solar generator kit.
Things To Consider When Buying Renogy Solar Panels
Renogy solar panels come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from small 10W panels to massive 320W behemoths. Weve compared and reviewed many solar panels on the market today, so what do we think are the key indicators that you should look at when purchasing a Renogy solar panel?
The first thing that makes Renogy panels stand out is their active warranty. Whatever it is youre looking to buy, whether it is a car, TV, or solar panel, its always encouraging when a manufacturer is prepared to stand by their product and offer a lasting guarantee of its quality.
When it comes to solar panels specifically, manufacturers usually provide whats called an equipment, materials, or workmanship warranty.
This type of warranty states that the manufacturer guarantees that they will replace your product if it fails to perform as a result of environmental issues or manufacturing defects. This is where Renogy stands out from the competition because they also offer what is called an efficiency warranty, which states that your product must perform at a certain level of efficiency.
2. Temperature Coefficient
This metric is used to evaluate the performance of a solar panel. It is an indicator of how adaptable your panel is to adverse or less-than-ideal weather conditions. As is the case with any electronic equipment, solar panels perform better when they are cool.
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Renogy Ultra Lightweight 160 Watt 12 Volt Flexible Monocrystalline Solar Panel And Up To 248 Degree Arc For Rv Boats
If you are someone for whom weight and size of the solar panels are a big concern? Then perhaps its time to invest in the Renogy 160-Watt 12-Volt mono crystalline Solar Panel.
Not just that, they are also a perfect fit on curved surfaces with an arc of 248 degrees, where conventional solar panels can not be mounted. Such as the arched roof of your cabin and even can be hung outside your camp just like a mat.
Renogy 160 Watt Extremely flexible solar panels are made of flexible Mono crystalline cells that are said to impart higher efficiency and are remarkably flexible.
These Mono crystalline cells, because of their flexible nature, are also more durable than conventional solar panels as they are made of glass plates which are more prone to breakage.
These panels can be used like all of its traditional 12V counter parts and are compatible with all the 12V devices. The cables are also connected with male and female MC4 connectors which makes chaining it to other devices fairly an easy task.
These panels also have a weatherproof rating which makes it resistant against wind or snow loads and is easily capable of powering Renogys power stations in a few hours.
So if you want for a higher electrical output than the 160 watt solar panels, these will be perfect for your use.
Advantages And Considerations Of Renogy Solar Panels
As mentioned above, these solar panels come as kits that are offered directly to the consumer for DIY use. They are both easy to transport and easy to install having pre-drilled holes on the backs of the panels allowing for easy home installation.
Furthermore, Renogy solar panels are highly efficient.
Not only is their solar cell efficiency high, but they come with a 4-stage battery charging process that allows the battery to charge in a way that is both efficient and safe.
On top of being efficient, these solar panels are reliable, another key feature they possess that can be attributed to their high durability. The durability and reliability stem from the fact that they are designed to last a long time.
They come equipped with Tedlar Polyester Tedlar back sheets for prolonged endurance and lifetime as well as aluminum frames that are both waterproof, corrosion-resistant, and strong enough to withstand high winds of up to 2400 Pa of pressure as well as snow loads of up to 5400 Pa.
On top of this, all Renogy solar panels come with a 25-year warranty period, this long warranty serving as a clear indication of the expected minimum lifespan of these solar panels.
When purchasing a Renogy solar panel kit, you need to bear in mind that they are designed for the roofs of smaller homes or vehicles. This means that they are too small to power an average-sized home to the extent that your home is powered independently from the grid.
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Does Renogy Offer Decent Customer Support
I have not had an interaction with Renogys customer support myself. However, in doing research on Renogy across the web I found a significant number of complaints against Renogys support on Trustpilot and on their community forums stating that the company often does not respond to support inquiries. There are also comments around the web saying that Renogy support is OK, but there are definitely more complaints than there should be.
Renogy 100 Watt Solar Panel Suitcase Review
We have been testing out the Renogy 100 watt solar panel alongside other contenders matching similar specifications, and the results have been worth a look. Be it testing it with a multimeter, inspecting its build quality, or measuring its power input on a sunny day, we have tried to cover all bases before drawing a definitive conclusion about the product.
After the rigorous testing process, we can vouch for the fact that the Renogy 100W solar panel is one of the best in the market, for most peoples needs. It is the perfect combination of size, power output, and build quality. Sure, it is a little pricier than youd expect, but hey, thats the cost of getting something that will sate your needs and serve for long.
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Overall Review: Renogy Solar Panels For Off
For now were very happy with our decision to add solar power, and we like the 100 watt, 12 volt Renogy panels, and the service we got. The panels cost about $149CAD each.
You can also find them conveniently on Amazon.
*A note about Affiliate Links: Occasionally I will include affiliate links in my reviews. I do this partly for convenience of the reader in case you want to read more or purchase but I also may get a small commission from the click, which helps me keep the blog running. If you chose to use this link I thank you greatly for supporting the blog. Theres no obligation or cost to you for using this link.