Production of Solar panels has undergone a significant shift due to technological advancement. Nowadays, flexible solar panels are more prevalent than other types of solar panels.
The flexible solar panels adapt to different surface shapes, unlike conventional panels with sturdy rectangular bodies. They are slim and light as well, unlike conventional solar panels.
Most types bend up to 30 degrees, but some very advanced versions can flex for up to 248 degrees. Besides, they can accommodate better than the traditional models.
However, flexible solar panels are more expensive than traditional ones. Despite this, these panels are growing in demand due to their benefits.
Types Of Flexible Solar Panels
There are three major types of flexible solar panels: Silicon crystalline, thin-film, and adjustable panels made of organic materials
- Silicon crystalline flexible solar panels
As the name suggests, these solar panels are made of silicon. In this panel, many crystallines are used.
Users can bend these flexible solar panels by 30 degrees. Although silicon crystalline solar panels were also used in traditional models, they were stacked at 200μm thickness; and thus, had a rigid unbendable body.
- Thin-film flexible solar panels
In these panels, the photovoltaic materials are pasted or printed on aluminium sheets, cloth, or thick paper.
These solar panels are quite flexible as the fabric can be rolled up and kept in small spaces. However, they are less efficient and less durable than the previous crystalline solar panel models.
- Flexible solar panels made of organic materials
These are the third classification of flexible solar panels, primarily made of organic materials. The industry for solar panels has faced difficulties because of the electrodes’ brittleness.
However, the manufacturers use graphene electrodes while making these solar panels. Consumers have high expectations from this upgrade and believe that new solar panels will offer better functioning and durability.
Uses Of Flexible Solar Panels
Flexible solar panels have unique attributes; thus, buyers can use them for multiple applications.
Some of the notable ones are as follows:
- Boats require ample energy to keep the autopilot and radio systems running. Electricity is necessary to perform these tasks. The flexible solar panels can provide the energy needed for these operations. By absorbing the energy from the sunlight and converting it into electricity, these panels can help the boat batteries get charged.
- They are useful in campers and recreational vehicles due to their portable nature. The charged-up flexible solar panel can help lights run at night.
- It is essential to keep the phone charged while hiking. However, if the phone runs out of battery, flexible solar panels can help in this situation. The panels can be fastened to a backpack and used to power electronic devices.
- The flexible solar panels can be attached to tents during camping. Users can charge their electronic gadgets for long-term operation.
Different Technologies Used In Flexible Solar Panels
The two technologies used in flexible solar panels are as follows:
- – Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS)
These cells are the newest advancement in thin-film solar technology. They can be placed on metal foil, plastic, and glass.
- – Amorphous Silicon (a-Si)
Another technology utilised in flexible solar panels is amorphous silicon. This technology facilitates the use of de-fractionated light to generate power. Therefore, these kinds of solar panels can generate energy in the early morning or late at night.
Advantages Of Flexible Solar Panels
There are many factors behind the popularity of flexible solar panels over traditional ones. The pros of using them are as follows:
- They are more flexible than conventional models since they have fewer layers.
- They don’t have a rigid structure.
- They weigh less than the earlier ones due to less stacking.
- They are simple to set up.
- They are easy to transport.
- They are flexible, so they can fit in odd places.
- They don’t need installation in a specific space with additional items.
- They don’t require high upkeep to work at their best.
- They are semi-transparent and can be used on glasses or windows.
Disadvantages Of Flexible Solar Panels
The following are the drawbacks of flexible solar panels:
- These are less efficient than conventional panels.
- They have a shorter life span.
- Since there is less stacking, more space is required to spread the layers.
- The power production can degrade up to 80% in two years.
- These panels do not dissipate as much heat as conventional panels can.
Things To Consider While Purchasing Flexible Solar Panels
Solar panels are expensive. Therefore, it is essential to consider a few factors before purchasing them to avoid unsuitable investments.
Some things to consider while purchasing flexible solar panels are –
- – Power Output: Check the power the panels can supply and buy the one that provides the best energy output.
- – Longevity: Choose the panel that can last for a long time.
- – Efficiency: Select the one that is more efficient than the others. The more efficient solar panel will generate more power.
- – Size And Weight: If you’re planning to take them on campsites or boats, it is essential to check the weight and size.
- – Bending Angle: Not every flexible solar panel can turn to 30 degrees. Check which solar panels can bend to 30 degrees and shortlist them for purchase.
- – Ease Of Installation: Find the one that is easy to install before buying.
Flexible solar panels have made solar panel utilisation simpler due to their adaptability. Besides, these panels have several other advantages over the traditional ones.
However, they are yet to make a bigger impact. The factor that hinders their popularity is their large space requirement. If the manufacturers can work on this problem, more people will start using flexible solar panels over the traditional ones.
Q1. Why do flexible solar panels malfunction?
Flexible solar panels can malfunction for various reasons. However, the most common cause is bending the panels more than their capability.
These panels can only bend up to 30 degrees. If pushed beyond their capacity, they might break or crack.
Q2. Is airflow needed for flexible solar panels?
Yes, airflow is required for flexible solar panels. Without airflow, the panels might get overheated, and their surface might get damaged.
Q3. Is it possible to cut a flexible solar panel?
Yes, it is possible to cut a flexible solar panel. However, you should not cut the panel as it is very sensitive and might not work later.