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Solar Panel Guide (2)

New approaches for small RV’s.



After I introduced Semi Flexible Solar Panels in my previous post, questions remain about the performance of these new semi flexible modules.

Rigid Residential Flexible
Amorphous Thin Film Semi Flexible
average cost per watt 1 $ 0.80-2.00 $ 1.50 $ 2.00-7.00
low light performance average good good 2
high heat performance average good good 2
efficiency 15 watt/sf 5.5 watt/sf 15 watt/sf
weight 40 oz/sf 11 oz/sf 7.5 oz/sf
roof penetration yes no no
warranty 20-25 yrs 20 yrs 10 yrs 3
1 2014
2 Several unconfirmed user tests indicate low light and high heat performance are less than rigid panels.
3 Misuse of the limited flexibility is often given as a reason for the shorter warranty period. Product life maybe similar to rigid panels.

As a general indication, prices for these panels are double that of regular rigid modules. For that, you’ll get a substantial weight reduction and a more aesthetically pleasing finish and maybe even some improved fuel mileage.

High heat performance is probably the biggest drawback, where some users indicate a considerable performance drop during the hottest part of the day. Under low light circumstances, they seem to under perform too, however no significant amount of energy is produced those times of the day anyway.

A simple solution for these problems is to oversize your system by adding an extra panel, if needed. Test your basic system after installation and, if necessary, add a panel that you can hang on the side of your van or other location, when you are parked in the shade. Store it under your mattress while driving.


Rigid Residential Flexible
Amorphous Thin Film Semi Flexible
Kyocera Unisolar AMSolar
maximum Power (Pmax) 245W 128W 100W
voltage at Pmax (Vmp) 29.8V 33V 18V
current at Pmax (lmp) 8.23A 3.88A 5.56A
short-circuit Current (Isc) 8.91A 4.8A 6A
open-circuit Voltage (Voc) 36.9V 47.6V 21.3V
size 65.5”x39” 216”x15.5” 41.2”x21.2”
weight 44lbs 17lbs 5.5lbs



How much of a premium you are willing to pay for semi flexible panels may depend on the type of your RV that you have. When I focus on a converted cargo van or small Class B, the advantages of these new high efficiency panels probably outweigh the extra investment. Comfortable boondocking or stealth living may finally be achievable with few restrictions. One major uncertainty remains as little is known about the long term performance of these modules.

And other issues remain, such as scratch resistance and production quality. That will not stop you, if you want to push the boundaries and be among the first with this new technology.

conventional alternative
Step 1 Calculate usage needs 2 x 6V
1 x 12V
battery system 1
4 x 6V
2 x 12V
battery system 1
Step 2 Calculate panel wattage Calculate maximum number of panels and adjust for available space.23
Step 3 Calculate batteries Adjust your usage
1 A small RV or converted van can only reasonably store 2 or 4 – 6V batteries.
2 Provide enough wattage to adequately recharge your batteries.
3 Flexible lightweight panels allow you to use them as portable additions to fixed panels and store them under your bed.


How To Make Small RVs Comfortable By Installing Inconspicuous & Low-Profile Solar Panels.

[ Click Here To Download ]

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