4 Tips when considering buying Flexible Solar Panels.
You'll find retailers on eBay or Amazon selling all sorts of Flexible Solar Panels at all prices. But how could you make sure you get the best bang for your buck?
The performance will vary depending on the quality of the solar cells used, and the materials used to laminate those cells (the coating material & glue), and the assembling process.
1) Flexible Modules can have much Shorter Lifespan.
It should be noted that there are may good Flexible Solar Panels, in general these have a shorter lifespan than traditional framed panels, and many are of the poor quality with a peak lifespans as short as 3 years, slowly the materials used for lamination are improving.
Unsurprisingly, those retailers will also offer no warranty on these products. Warranty is a fairly good indicator of a manufacturers believe in there product.
One year warranty is standard, two years is good, three years is better.
One decisive factor in determining the lifespan of Flexible Solar Panels would be the laminated coating material. The two more popular types would be PET and ETFE.
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What is ETFE Coating ?
ETFE (Ethylene-Tetra-Fluoro-Ethylene) coating is a high-strength fluorine polymer that is corrosion and stain resistant, non-stick self cleaning, and retains its clarity (and therefore light transmittance) ensuring long service life for solar panels.
PET Coating is a polyester-based plastic. The main differentiating factors between the two is strength, durability, and resistance to corrosion.
While PET-laminated Solar Panels generally have lifespans of up-to & over 5 years, ETFE-laminated Solar Panels claim to have a lifespans of up to 10 years.
2) Cell Technology Offers Superior Quality and Efficiency
Sunpower's Maxeon multi-layered cell technology appear to be one such high quality solar cells commercially available, this also comes at a price.
SunPower cells boast efficiencies of up to 24.3%, which makes them capable of providing up to "35% more power compared to conventional cells with outstanding aesthetics."
Conventional cells will often have thin lines on the front of the cell, caused by the metal paste which is used to make electrical contacts. Those characteristics not only affect the aesthetics of the cell but the overall efficiency of the panel as well.
The exposed metal components are also vulnerable to corrosion, and although this might not be an issue for rooftop solar panel systems, it might be so if the system is in proximity to seawater, i.e. on a boat, or near the coast, which makes it ideal for building Marine Solar Panels.
3) What You Need to Know Before You Order
If you're just looking for a Flexible Solar Panel that's low-cost, to charge your phone or your tablet, then PET-laminated panels might be what you are looking for, as you might not need the most efficient cells.
Tip 1: Efficiency rating does not affect power output, it will not make your phone charge faster. Higher efficiency cells only decrease the surface area needed to achieve the output shown. For small-scale normal conditions charging, the highest efficiency solar cells are generally not worth it
If you're looking for a Flexible Solar Panel for your boat, RV, or for camping. One that you'll use for more than charging a phone, like your refrigerator, engine starter, or battery, then higher efficiency cells are better.
So, Waterproof, fire-resistant, durability and reliability, the ETFE-laminated Flexible Solar Panels definitely are what you are looking for. A little pricier, but definitely worth it.
There are a number of ways you can fix these panels, using Mounting brackets, glue, adhesive tape and screws.
Knowing what options suits you best, is based on your devices are compatibility, better panels are more waterproof if it rains.
Appliance Voltage is another consideration before ordering, we can assist you with that.
If you have any solar-related questions? You can contact us anytime. We've been in this business for over 50 years now, we know what works and what doesn't. We'll just try our best to help you, and even if you don't buy anything from us, that's okay.
4) How to Make Your Solar Panels Last Longer
Tip 1: The first and easiest way to ensure a long lifespan for your panels is of course to buy quality. Make sure you know what you're buying, and Always make sure you know what materials are being used.
Tip 2: If you are about to search & buy solar panels made from SunPower Grade A cells? Be aware, they are not graded as you might think. Read this, if you don't want to be fooled. (Grade A SunPower cells are actually the lowest-graded SunPower cells.)
Once, you've purchased the panels, remember that any physical damage to the surface of the panels can reduce their overall performance and lifespan. Scratches or cracks, for example, will diminish the cells' exposure to sunlight and affect performance, or even allow water in if the damage is serious enough.
Therefore, we recommend that you carefully think about the different factors that might mitigate your solar panels' performance before setting them up. For example; stray branches, strong winds which might pick up small objects and damage the panels' surface, or birds that tend to defecate at will.
If you're traveling and do not need to use your solar panels, you might want to use a protective cover.
Lastly, you will want to clean your solar panels for optimal performance. Water stains and accumulation of dust or dirt might even damage your solar panel surface. Most importantly before cleaning your panels, you need to first remove/hose any larger grainy objects which can scratch the coating when wiping the panel clean.
Contact up if you would like a Quote on any Solar panels.