Flexible Solar Panels vs. Traditional Solar Panels: Costs, Pros & Cons

The solar panels you see on rooftops normally have rigid photovoltaic cells and frames, which means they need flat surfaces. Solar panels are also larger and heavier than they may appear when seen from the ground.

Flexible solar panels – possible applications

source: HQ Solar Power

Their exact dimensions vary by brand and model, but most residential panels are close to 65” x 40”, while having a thickness of around 1.5”. They are also quite heavy, ranging from 40 to 50 pounds. However, flexible solar panels are a viable option in cases where the size and weight of traditional PV modules limit their use.

Flexible solar panels are less standardized than their rigid counterparts, which means you can find a much wider range of sizes, wattages, and prices. Unfortunately, this also means low quality products are very common, and you must be careful when comparing your options.

As a bare minimum, you should look for flexible solar panels with certification marks like UL and ETL to ensure safety. Electrical products that have not been properly tested are more likely to suffer faults or start a fire.

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Solar Powered Air Conditioning Basics: Costs & What You Need to Know

Solar panels can generate large amounts of electricity during the year. For example, a 10-kilowatt system produces well over 15,000 kWh per year with favorable sunlight conditions.

Solar-powered AC unit on a residential metal roof

Since central air conditioners have the highest energy consumption in most homes and commercial buildings, it makes sense to ask the question: “Can my air conditioner run with solar power?” The short answer is yes, but there are some technical details to consider.

First, we must keep in mind that solar panels have a variable output that depends on sunlight. They are most productive around noon, but their output is lower in the early morning and late afternoon when there is less sunlight. Solar panels also become much less productive with cloudy weather, and their output drops to zero at night.

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How Solar Panels Can Be a Good Investment, Even with Modest Sunshine

There is a common but wrong idea that solar panels are only effective in places with a lot of sunshine. The reality is that home solar panels are being used successfully in less sunny regions like the US Northeast and Pacific Northwest.

You can also find examples in other parts of the world: Netherlands and other nations have more than 600 watts of solar capacity per person, according to a recent report by SolarPower Europe (PDF). Those nations have relatively low sunshine.

Abundant sunlight makes solar panels more productive, which means they produce more kilowatt-hours per year. But, you also need to consider local electricity prices, since they determine the dollar value of those kilowatt-hours!

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