Flexible Solar Panel: How to Compare Before You Buy?

Solar panel today is made with various methods and technologies so that the applications of solar panel could be extended into various applications. Solar panel is not only for cellphone charger, iPhone charger or solar generator only. However it could also be used for other applications such as supplying electricity on a boat, car or caravan roof.

Flexible solar panel is another design of solar panel that could give us more creativity and new ideas for different applications. Before we start the ideas we have to analyse. Then after that we can decide which type we can buy.

What are the specifications need to be checked for? How to make a judgement for the best solar panel for our new ideas? In this article we are going to discuss how to use simple mathematics to analyse solar panel. We would analyse it cost, efficiency and power before we decide to buy any panel.

Comparing Specifications of Flexible Solar Panels

A flexible solar panel does not mean that is so flexible that you could bend the panel totally. It has some limitation on certain degrees or angles how much we can bend it. There are various types of flexible solar panels ranging from semi-flexible to foldable solar panel.

Before buying any of the flexible solar panel, it is advisable for you to calculate the power per square meter, cost per Watt and the cost per square meter. You could check it from the product specifications.

Each manufacturer has different specifications for their solar panels. Normally more expensive solar panel could generate more electricity than the cheaper one. Regular solar panels (non-flexible and non foldable) are the cheapest solar panels. Semi flexible solar panels then are more expensive than the regular solar panels.

The most expensive are the fully flexible and foldable solar panels. These solar panels are produced from different materials which are more expensive than the materials to produce regular solar panels.

For example, you can check this webpage for a model of regular solar panel. The price for this solar panel is only US$ 69.95 for 12W.  Details for the solar panel is as follows.

Regular Solar Panel

  • Dimensions: 396 x 289 x 23 mm or 396 x 289 is the area
  • Power: 12W
  • Total area: 0.396 x 0.289 = 0.114 m2
  • Power/Area = 105.26 W/m2
  • Cost/Area = 613.60 $/m2
  • Cost/Watt = US$ 5.83

Semi Flexible Solar Panel

solar panel for boatTo give you a clearer picture the differences between regular solar panel and semi flexible solar panel, let us take a model with slightly similar power generation (15W). You can check this page for details. This model is suitable for application for yacht or boat. The list price is US$234.95.

  • Dimensions: 850 x 400 x 2.5mm or 850 x 400 is the area
  • Power: 15W
  • Total area: 0.85 x 0.40 = 0.34 m2
  • Power/Area = 44.12 W/m2
  • Cost/Area = 691.03 $/m2
  • Cost/Watt = US$ 15.66

Analyzing the Results

The results that we obtain from the calculation above are as follows:

  • Power/Area for regular solar panel of 12W is 105.26 W/m2
  • Power/Area for semi flexible solar panel of 15W is 44.12 W/m2

The results above show that the efficiency of the regular solar panel is better than the semi flexible solar panel. This means that with smaller space or area of panel, regular solar panel model could generate more power than the flexible solar panel.

  • Cost/Area for regular solar panel of 12W  is 613.60 $/m2 
  • Cost/Area for semi flexible solar panel of 15W is 691.03 $/m2

The Cost per Area for semi flexible solar panel is higher.

  • Cost/Watt for 12W regular solar panel-  US$ 5.83
  • Cost/Watt for 15W semi flexible solar panel -  US$ 15.66

The Cost per Watt shows us about the effectiveness of our investment or purchase for a solar panel. The regular solar panel above has lower cost per Watt than the 15W semi flexible solar panel model. It means that if we choose the regular solar panel model, we can have a better investment per Watt than buying the semi flexible solar panel model. However we also need to think about applications. Semi flexible solar panel is lighter and also could be applied for many applications compared to the regular solar panel.

Those are basically some simple calculations on how to evaluate few solar panels. Hopefully readers could benefit from this article. Thanks for reading.

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