A single crystal, polycrystalline, or Sunpower solar panel is mostly filled with cells, which can be a little thinner than a human hair. To protect the cells inside, surface materials such as glass, ETFE and PET are usually used for lamination and encapsulation. But what can be called flexible solar panels, the surface materials are usually ETFE and PET. First of all, they have good light transmittance, which can ensure that the solar panel receives the sun’s light, so that it can generate electricity properly. Secondly, ETFE and PET can maintain their toughness after lamination.
Generally, flexible solar panels have certain requirements for bending degree. Flexible solar panels generally do not use single crystal and polycrystal or dual core solar cable, because these two types of solar cells are too brittle, generally used or placed improperly, easy to cause internal fragmentation, and finally lead to insufficient power or unable to generate electricity. Therefore, Sunpower cell is generally used for flexible solar panels. Firstly, its conversion efficiency is higher than that of mono-polycrystalline. Secondly, its bending degree is 15°-20°.
Another type of flexible solar panel, which is not widely available today, is called thin-film solar panels, which do not use the usual silicon wafers known as CIGS. The biggest hurdle for these flexible panels is that they are much less efficient than rigid panels. The average rigid solar panel today has an efficiency of about 16-20%. However, thin-film flexible solar panels are only 7-15% efficient, which means you need more flexible panels to produce the same amount of power as rigid panels. The thin-film flexible solar panels are not only more expensive than single-crystal polycrystalline solar panels but also more expensive than Sunpower solar panels.
Flexible solar panels may not be suitable for rooftop energy production, but they are a good option for people who need lightweight and portable power sources. Flexible solar panels are durable and lightweight, making them ideal for small-scale, mobile applications such as motor homes, boats and other energy needs that do not require high-power output. It will be less weather-resistant than glass (rigid) solar panels, and glass (rigid) solar panels will last longer.