A very short update about the flexible solar panels from Link Solar.
Many of these flexible panels on the market today, are of a low quality, but with the arrival of ETFE laminates and high quality Backcontact solar cells, I took a gamble on these improved panels.
Now, about six months after the original installation, this first update shows that the panels still look brand-new and no wear or tear is visible. Another uncertainty was the VHB tape, used to attach these panels directly to the metal roof of the vehicle. After driving around and exposure to the harsh sun here in Florida, I can say that these first six months have had no visible impact on the panels and the VHB tape looks to be the best way forward to attach these flexible panels to the roof.
Don’t these panels need to ‘breathe’? I thought that the most panels operate best at ~80degrees, and on the roof, need a couple of inches to let air pass through so they don’t heat up too much and their efficiency decline? Don’t these flexible panels need to beathe? Don’t they overheat and reduce output?
I’m not an expert at this, just have a lot of experience. In general, the cooler it is the better the performance of solar panels. An air gap between panel and vehicle roof is probably the most discussed subject with regard to flexible panels. But over the years, I have only seen one documented case, that indicated an approximate 10% decrease in efficiency (in one of the earlier flexible solar panels). While I assume that there likely is a performance loss, I have no clue what that might be under real life circumstances. A simple solution is to add more watts, to compensate for perceived losses.
At this time, I think it is irrelevant. Most people should not consider flexible panels; they are much more expensive than rigid panels and have almost no track record. Only reason to get flexible panels is for weight reduction and ‘stealthy’ installation.
Another issue with flexible panels, is in my opinion, that the failure rate of most of these (‘first generation’) panels is extremely high. I took a gamble and bought high quality panels made with ETFE laminates, back contact, high efficiency, high grade Sunpower solar cells. So far (6 months after installation) they still produce close to the rated Vmp and Imp (max. power). I will continue to monitor that and post that info on the website and in my videos.
Currently most flexible panels are made with cheap PET laminates, low-efficiency solar cells, both of which an ordinary buyer can avoid (at a price); most solar cells come in many grades, more often low grades with a lot deficiencies and that is very difficult to discern for most of us. I would not buy these panels.
A lot of reasons but no clear answers 🙂
I do think that these flexible panels would be useful as an awning… if you’re gonna have one, why not solar? assuming that is even possible.
Just not feasible, yet. Flexible panels are not as flexible as you may think, unless it’s amorphous thin film solar, but these are usually less efficient. And unless you’re parked most of the time, where the awning can be used, the panels wouldn’t be available to produce electricity all the time.
I have seen some exterior window covers covered with solar cells, that can be lifted up when parked and lowered for privacy.