My ACOPower 12 volt flexible solar panel review. Is going to be taking an in depth look at the 110 watt panel and starter Kit. Solar power for your recreational vehicle or boat brings energy freedom. But if you have curves to cover, the dream of freedom may become a bit tricky. Or maybe you are looking for a lighter weight solar solution. Rather than a heavier rigid solar panel kit. Or to DIY install on a garage, shed or workshop roof. Whichever it is, a flexible solar panel can provide the solution.
Product: ACOPower 110 Watt 12 Volt Flexible Solar Panel
Single Flexible Solar Panel Price: $177.90
Starter Kit :
1 x 110 Watt Flexible Solar Panel
1 X PWM 20A Charge Controller
Starter Kit Price: $328.90
25-year power output
1 Year All Other Components
This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links
ACOPower 110 Watt 12 Volt Flexible Solar Panel Review
In this review I will be taking a look at the individual panel and complete 110w 12 volt installation kit. This includes specs, terminology, some comparisons and my world famous pros and cons section.
Aco Power was established in 2011 and is based in Los Angeles. They produce solar panels, generators, controllers, inverters, batteries and accessories. They invented the world’s first portable battery powered fridge/freezer.
Flexible Solar Panels Have A Distinct Advantage Over Rigid
Flexible solar Panels have a distinct advantage over rigid panels. This is because they are much thinner and lighter. And of course they are flexible. This means curves are not an obstacle to installation. The lighter and thinner construct means you can directly adhere them to surfaces. This is particularly useful for a marine installation. And the weight difference is a boon for the recreational vehicle owner.
I know not everybody is a fan for various reasons, some of which are touched on in this review. For instance the overheating factor in extremely hot weather conditions. Which can also cause flaking and warping. But as a solution for curved surface, weight and thickness installation problems.They are the 12 volt solar panel type of choice. .
How Does The ACOPower 12 Volt 110w Flexible Solar Panel Work?
What are the ACOPower 110 Watt Flexible Solar Panel Specs?
|Specs||ACOPower 110 Watt 12 Volt Flexible|
|Solar Cell||Sunpower Monocrystalline|
|Efficiency||20.5% to 24%|
|Degree of Flexibility||27 Degrees|
|Dimensions||44.7 x 21.3inch/1070 x 540mm|
|Construction Materials||EVA, TPT and ETFE|
|Open Circuit Voltage||20.8V|
|Short Circuit Current||6.9A|
The flexible solar panel is made from layers of EVA, TPT and ETFE polymers. The monocrystalline solar cells are coated with the ETFE to protect them.
If you don’t know what these polymers are:
|TPT||Tedler Polyester Tedler|
This means it is very durable and waterproof, resistant to most weather conditions. Including hail, rain, snow and wind. The ETFE makes it scratch resistant and ACOPower says that it should have a 15 year lifespan. They do not give a guarantee that this is the case, they just say it. I am unable to verify this. So I suppose you will just have to take their word for it. But I will say some other companies are claiming 25 years.
The built-in junction box has an attached MC4 connection for attaching to the solar controller. Or to connect to Y branch connectors to use more than one panel in a solar panel bank.
The layered polymer construction of the 12 volt solar panel makes it super durable. As I mentioned earlier there can be problems with warping. But the actual construction makes the panel virtually indestructible. You would have to really go out of your way to do serious damage. If you glue the flexible solar panel to your boat deck. You should be ok walking on it now and again in deck shoes. I would draw the line with stilettos!!!
And coming with a 25 year solar output warranty. Which I know slightly contradicts what I have already said. It’s a solar output not a materials warranty, but still suggests longevity. ACOPower must be very confident that you will be using it for many years to come.
As discussed earlier some people have a beef with flexible solar panels. Along with those beefs, they believe 12 volt rigid panels have a better real world efficiency capability. This is probably true. But we need to remember that no technology is perfect.
The claim from ACOPower of up to 24% efficiency will have been achieved under lab conditions. The Sunpower monocrystalline is certainly capable of this in ideal circumstances. But a wise person, using the panel in the real world. Would look towards the more realistic 20.5% efficiency rating.
This is still above the solar industry standard of 17% to 19% and some can be ever lower than that. The 12 volt 110w flexible comes with a great warranty. This should alleviate some apprehensions you may have over flexible solar panels.
Weight and thickness and flexibility
The weight of the flexible solar panel is just 4.85lbs/2.2kg. It stacks up favorably compared to other 100w 12 volt makes like;
|ACOPower 12 Volt 110w Flexible||Allpowers 12 volt 100w Flexible||Newpowa 12 volt 100w Flexible||Renogy 12 volt 100w Flexible|
|Flexibility||27 Degrees||30 Degrees||248 Degrees||248 Degrees|
Granted ACOPowers flexible panel is slightly heavier, thicker, and less flexible. But there is an extra 10 watts of output compared to the other three. And more power is always a good thing.
The flexible solar panel can be mounted with screws via pre-drilled holes with grommets in the panel. This is handy, if you ever want to remove them for cleaning your roof or general maintenance.
Because all solar panels lose efficiency in very high temperatures. A further consideration might be to use a frame. This has the advantage of creating an airflow beneath the solar panel keeping it cooler. This will help with efficiency on baking hot days. Velcro may even be a good option for detachability.
It can also be permanently fixed with a silicone structural adhesive. Like Sikaflex 252i which is also waterproof even to salt water.
Where can the 110 Watt 12 Volt Flexible Be Mounted?
The flexible solar panel can be mounted to any type of roof or curved surface. Where the curve degree is less than 27.
- All boats
- Recreational Vehicles
- Tiny Houses
- Flat Roofs using a tilt bracket or frame.
If you have a back problem or disability and carrying weight is a roadblock for you .You can even use it as a portable solar panel. By hooking it up to a solar power station with the ACOPower DC35135 Adapter. Or hanging it from a tent or mobile home.
Mounting The Flexible Solar Panel To A Buildings Roof
If your intention is to mount the solar panel on a building’s roof like a shed. You will need a solar controller plus a battery. And if you want to power AC appliances such as power tools. You will also need an inverter. The controller and inverter are discussed later in the post. So carry on reading for those items. The types of batteries the controller will charge is also discussed later in the post.
But what isn’t discussed is the best battery type to use for a building roof installation. Probably the best to use are sealed lead acid batteries like AGM and GEL or lithium-ion. They both have various advantages and disadvantages.
Sealed lead acid advantages and disadvantages
|No Spill and Non Hazardous||Slow To Fully Recharge|
|Self Contained System||Limited Life Cycle|
|Better at Handling Different Temperatures||Must Be Kept Charged|
Lithium-Ion advantages and disadvantages
|Longer Life Span||Initial Cost|
|No Maintenance||Can Be Damaged By Over Charge and Discharge|
|Very Efficient Power Usage||Require a Battery Management System (BMS)|
|Deeper Discharges||Not As Good Handling Temperature Variations|
|No Off-Gassing or Ventilation Problems||Cost More To Be Recycled|
The big takeaway is that lithium-ion batteries are more expensive. But have a longer lifespan than sealed lead acid. Lead acid batteries are less expensive but you will be buying more of them.
What’s Good About The 12 Volt 110w Flexible Solar Panel
Monocrystalline Solar Cells
The monocrystalline solar cells will ensure high efficiency. Because they are the best out there at the current time. This means your battery will charge faster than using polycrystalline or thin-film. Leaving you free to charge your phone. Or maybe take a shower without too many worries.
The amount of applications the flexible solar panel can be applied to is never ending. Particularly because you can glue it to your curved boat wheelhouse or roof. This means there aren’t any real limitations where it can be mounted. Especially if space is at a premium making placement difficult. And the weight reduction over rigid solar panels. Will ultimately reduce fuel costs for your recreational vehicle.
Easy To Install
If your DIY is ok you will find the 12 volt flexible panels are not that difficult to install. Because they can be glued onto surfaces. You won’t have the worry of drilling lots of holes into your pride and joy. If you are using them for a tent or marquee. You will be able to use velcro to mount them. How easy is that?
What’s Not So Good About The 12 Volt 110w Flexible Solar Panel
The ACOPower flexible solar panel 27 degree flexibility is a limitation. When other panels claim a up to 248 degree flex. But in the real world isn’t 27 degrees enough bendability? How many flexible solar panel installations have you seen. That require mounting to a curve over 27 degrees? But if you feel the limited flexibility is a deal breaker then it is. Go buy the Renogy with its 248 degree curve.
Yes it is a bit heavier than the other three flexables I compared it to. I might have been a bit unfair in the comparison. Because the BougeRV, Kingsolar and Windynation 100w flexibles are all heavier. While the Suaoki 150w is 7.1lbs. Ok I did have to spend some time finding them. But even though the ACOPower is heavier than the three I compared it to in the review. It’s not by much.
Durability Versus Rigid Solar Panels
Flexible solar panels are not as durable as rigid solar panels. As I mentioned earlier they do have good durability. But they can be prone to warping in extremely hot weather conditions. As they say everything is a balance. And if your need is for a lightweight flexible solution. You might have to overlook flexible solar panels shortcomings. In favour of convenience, practicality and ease of installation.
ACOPower 110w Versus The Renogy 100w Flexible Solar Panel
|Specs||ACOPower 110w 12 Volt Flexible||Renogy 100w 12 Volt Flexible|
|Solar Cell||Sunpower Monocrystalline||Monocrystalline|
|Wattage||110w 12/24V||100W 12V|
|Efficiency||20.5% to 24%||21%|
|Degree of Flexibility||27 Degrees||248 Degrees|
|Dimensions||44.7 x 21.3inch/1070 x 540||48 x 21inch/1219 x 533|
|Construction Materials||EVA, TPT and ETFE||EVA, TPT and ETFE|
|Warranty||25-year power output|
1 Year All Other Components
|25 year power output5 year/95% efficiency rate10 year/90% efficiency rate25-year/80% efficiency rate5-year material and workmanship warranty|
Both flexible solar panels are made from Monocrystalline solar cells encased in polymers. The ACOPower is made of the same construction materials. Except it has an extra layer of TPT and ETFE. Is this the reason why it is less flexible, thicker and heavier? I think it would certainly make it more robust.
Yet the ACOPower panel is a bit cheaper than the Renogy. But the Renogy scores with the warranty. One thing that isn’t apparent from the comparison table. Renogy recommends mounting their panel with glue over screws. Is this a further indication that the ACOPower is a sturdier product. I will leave that with you to decide. You can see a full review and buy the Renogy 12V 100w Flexible Solar Panel here.
What’s In The Box
- 1 x 110W Solar Panel
- 1 x solar connector for 12V battery
- 1 x User Manual
The Components That Make Up The Rest Of The 110w Flexible Solar Panel Kit
This section includes the controller, the inverter, and other kits in the range. A section of quick pros and cons related to the whole kit.
Proteusx 20A Charge Controller
The 110w flexible solar panel kit comes complete with a waterproof PWM 20A solar controller.
In case you didn’t know
Pulse-width modulation (PWM), or pulse-duration modulation (PDM). Is a method of reducing the average power delivered by an electrical signal. It effectively chops it up into discrete parts. And is one of the primary methods of reducing the output of solar panels. So that it can be utilized by a battery. (Source: Wikipedia)
What Are The ACOPower Proteusx 20A Solar Charge Controller Specs?
|Nominal Voltage||12V/24V DC|
|Maximum Input Voltage||50V|
|Dimensions||5.59 x 3,7 x 1.06inch|
What batteries will the Proteusx Controller charge?
It will charge 8 types of batteries:
The display is a blue backlit LCD display and is easy to use. The screen shows which battery type you have selected to connect. This is done through a push button clearly marked battery type. Cycling through them is pretty straight forward. It also shows the amount of volts charging the battery.
The LED icons on the front of the unit light up when a solar panel is attached. Red when a panel is attached and blue for incremental states of charge. And the solar/battery terminal outputs are clearly marked. But not so on the rear of the unit. This may cause some angst if you are installing in a small confined space. Because the actual connections are on the rear of the controller. So you should mark them clearly yourself before beginning installation
While the rear connection of the electrical terminals gives some protection from the elements. Because they are behind the controller but they are still exposed wires. The manual says there are rubber masks provided to protect the terminals. Several reports say this is not the case. So I would purchase some masks separately just to be sure.
Not MPPT Enabled
Although the Proteusx PWM controller will do a good job. It may well be worth considering swapping it out for an MPPT controller. This is because it will make the 110w flexible solar panel more efficient. This means it will charge your leisure batteries faster and more efficiently.
In case, you didn’t know;
Maximum power point tracking (MPPT). Optimizes the DC match between the solar panel and the charging 12V battery. This means the MPPT keeps the power transfer between solar panel and battery, at its highest efficiency.
ACOPower Solar Controllers Available In The Range
|30A Midas MPPT||$139.80|
|30A Midas MPPT With Remote Meter||$165.80|
|40A Midas MPPT||$179.95|
|40A Midas MPPT With Remote Meter||$205.80|
ACOPower offer two optional inverters:
In case, you didn’t know;
An inverter converts direct current D/C electricity to alternating current AC. This means you can power domestic appliances up to the inverters wattage rating.
For example; If the inverter wattage rating is 1500 you can power appliances with an under 1500w rating. But be aware the larger the appliance wattage. The faster it will drain your battery.
What other ACOPower Flexible Solar Panel Kits Are Available In The Range?
|220 Watts||330 Watts||440 Watts||550 Watts|
|Number Of panels||2 x 110w||3 x 110w||4 X 110w||5 x 110w|
|Charge Controller||1 x 30A MPPT||1 x 30A MPPT||1 x 40A MPPT||1 x 40A MPPT|
|MC 4 Adaptor Kit||30ft||30ft||30ft||30ft|
|Cable Entry Housing||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Y Branch Connectors||4||3||2||1|
You can slightly reduce the cost of each kit buy using a PWM controller. Instead of an MPPT controller. For instance the 220 watt kit with the 20A PWM controller would come in at $538.99
What’s Good And What’s Not So Good About The ACOPower 110w Flexible Solar Panel Kit
|What’s Good||What’s Not So Good|
|Efficiency||*No Crocodile or ring terminal to battery|
|Weight||No Rubber masks For Terminal Wires|
|Thickness||Unmarked Electrical Wire Terminals On The Rear Of The Unit|
|Durability||Controller Not MPPT|
|Good Reliable Charge Controller|
|Can Charge Lithium-Ion and LiFeP04 Batteries|
* Crocodile or ring terminals need to be purchased separately
What’s in the box
- 1PC HY-FL-110W Flexible Solar Panel
- 1PC HY-PWM20AW Charge Controller
- 1PC 8FT 8AWG Tray Cable
- 1PC 30ft 12AWG PV Cable
- 1PC Cable Entry Housing
Solar Power Has Some Limitations
Solar power is fantastic, because it provides an environmentally friendly energy source. Let’s be honest. Without solar panels the world would be relying on smelly, noisy gasoline generators. You just need to be aware of a few things.
When it is overcast, the PV cells will receive less light. Reducing the rate of charge, meaning it will take longer to charge your batteries. This isn’t a major problem. Until full sunlight returns, limit the number of devices you are planning to power or charge .
Shade will stop charging altogether. Keep an eye out for this now and again and move the flexible solar panel back into the sunlight if necessary. This is important if you are near an overhang or obstruction such as in and around a forest. You will need to check for shade more often.
Flexible Solar Panels Have Their Critics?
I understand that there are a small minority of people out there. Who have had a bad experience with flexible solar panels. It can be easy to criticize a newer technology. Particularly one that under the right circumstances is more useful than the older solution. And I have discussed the technology’s shortcomings such as warping in this review.
Having done a pretty thorough search for poor reviews for the ACOPower 110w. There are very few apart from the minor niggles I have already mentioned. And they are really about the wiring for the controller.
As a stand alone flexible panel it stands up pretty well to it’s rivals. And as a complete installation kit it makes mounting and wiring a cinch. Assuming you are ok with DIY. Sure there are less expensive solar controllers on the market. But that would mean shopping around. And shopping all the components for a kit from the same manufacturer gives a certain piece of mind. In the knowledge that at least the different components will all fit and work together.
I hope you enjoyed this review and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about the ACOPower 110 Watt 12 Volt Flexible Solar Panel. Or want to leave your own personal review, please feel free to leave a comment below.