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Installing solar panels to your vehicle or boat can be a cost-effective way to produce electricity. In this review I will be comparing flexible and rigid panels. Also highlighting the differences between the Renogy and Allpowers 100w flexible solar panels.
Product: Renogy 12v 100w Flexible Solar Panel
Price: $189.99 (There are often discounts)
Best place to buy: Renogy
Panel Dimensions: 48 x 21.6 x 0.08Inch/1219 x 546 x 2.03
Warranty: 25-year power output
5 year/95% efficiency rate
10 year/90% efficiency rate
25-year/80% efficiency rate
5-year material and workmanship warranty
The Renogy 100w Flexible Solar Panel Review – Better than Rigid?
Renogy was started by students at Louisiana State University. Renogy LLC was organized in 2010 and in 2013 they launched their online store. By 2013 they incorporated as the RNG Group Inc. In 2016, Renogy won two bronze-level Golden Bridge Awards. One of them for best product of the year with the Lycan solar power station.
Today Renogy produces a wide range of solar products and solutions. These include the recreational vehicles, home, truck, marine and commercial sectors. With solar power becoming more popular and more widely used as an alternative source of power generation. Their product range and technological innovations are bound to expand. To meet the challenges of global warming and reducing the world’s carbon footprint.
Renogy products are well-made and respected. The company has a reputation for quality workmanship, reliability, durability and customer service. The 100w Flexible Solar Panel Kit is engineered to fit into these high standards
What is the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel?
When traveling or vacationing in recreational vehicles or boats. Electricity is required to charge the batteries. Off grid power has traditionally been generated by fossil-fuels like gasoline. To charge leisure and house batteries it means running the engine. This uses valuable fuel which is becoming more and more expensive. It also means using up fuel that may be required to find a gas station or port.
The noise and constant throbbing can be very irritating and the Co2 release damages the environment. But there is a quiet and clean way to generate electricity by harnessing the power of the sun. Installing solar panels will release you from the constraints of having to run the engine or generator.
Using flexible 100w solar panels will allow you to generate electricity whenever you are out and about or at sea. The solar panels will collect the energy from the sun and allow you to power appliances or charge electronics. This means while the sun shines you will be able to take longer trips without the need to refuel.
Flexible V Rigid Renogy 100w solar panels
Installing solar panels to your vehicle, caravan or boat can be a tricky affair, if the surfaces are curved. This is when flexible solar panels have an advantage over rigid panels.
|Specs||Flexible Solar Panel||Eclipse Rigid Solar Panel|
|Size||48 x 21inch||40.9 x 21inch|
|*Wh Production Per Day||400||400|
The advantage of flexible solar panels over rigid is the weight and thickness. Along with the ability to cover curved surfaces. Flexible solar panels are the obvious choice for awkward shaped surface installation. There is a minus 1% difference in cell efficiency but for installation convenience it can probably be overlooked.
Renogy flexible solar panel V wind generator
Just a quick note regarding wind generators. They can be noisy, this can be very irritating if mounted above where you sleep at night. 100w flexible panels are completely silent. so your sleep will never be disturbed. Smaller boats may have a problem with generating enough energy. To effectively charge batteries in milder conditions.
The disadvantage of wind generation is, if there is very little wind charging will be affected. The disadvantage of solar power is, if conditions are cloudy battery charging will be affected. A combination of wind and solar power could be a solution to cope with both situations. Especially if you own a sailboat or yacht.
How Does The Renogy Flexible Solar Panel Work
The 100w flexible solar panel is made from 36 monocrystalline photo-voltaic (PV) cells. Thin layers of PV cells are set into an underlying layer of plastic to form a frame. This makes the solar panel flexible up to 248 degrees, perfect for curved surface installation. There is an IP68 waterproof junction box attached to enable wiring to a MPPT solar controller. I would make sure you fit a controller that is MPPT enabled.
A solar charge controller needs to be bought separately and is an absolute must to keep your system electrically safe and efficient.. As I mentioned earlier it is best to install a MPPT solar controller.
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
|Specs||Renogy Rover Elite 20A MPPT Controller||Renogy Rover 60A MPPT Controller|
|Max PV Input Power||520W/12V – 1040W/24V||800W/12V – 1600W/24V – 2400W/36V – 3200W/48V|
|Voltage Auto Recognition||12V/24V||12V/24V/36V/48V|
|Dimensions||7.85 x 5.12 x 3.02inch/199.5 x130 76.7mm||11.22 x 8.07 x 4.00inch/285 x 205 x 102mm|
|Warranty||2 year material||2 year material|
The controllers all have key features an example the Renogy Rover Elite 20A has;
- A Backlit LCD that displays system information and identifying error codes.
- Advanced MPPT Technology with up to 99% high tracking efficiency. 96% conversion efficiency, and a Lithium-reawakening feature.
- 4 deep cycle battery presets: Gel, Flooded, Lithium-Iron Phosphate (12.8V), and Sealed/AGM.
- Protection features which include overcharging, over-discharging, reverse polarity, overload, and over-temperature.
The controller is shipped with a battery temperature sensor, but is not compatible with lithium batteries. There are several other MPPT controllers in the Renogy range including 30A, 40A and 100A.
The 100w flexible solar panel has an efficiency rating of 21%. This is comparable with many of its rigid solar panel counterparts. The surface of the flexible solar panel has a couple of unique features.
- The transparent dots on the surface can gather sunlight from different angles
- The Matrix distributed dots can cause refraction and utilize sunlight twice
This means the flexible solar panel can effectively utilize sunlight. To increase solar conversion rate
The 100w flexible solar panel can withstand extreme wind of up to 2400 Pa and snow loads of up to 5400 Pa
In case you didn’t know;
PA is a pascal, an SI derived unit of pressure. This is used to quantify internal pressure, stress, Young’s modulus and ultimate tensile strength. (Source Wikipedia)
This all means you are unlikely to damage the panel if you walk across it. I would draw the line with stilettos. it would be dangerous to wear them on a boat or walking across the roof of an RV.
Installing 100w flexible solar panels to RV’s, campers, caravans boats and structures
The flexible solar panels need to be attached to your vehicle or boat using silicone structural adhesive on the backside of the panel. This means that they will be mounted flush to your vehicle roof or boat deck. This negates the need to use an aluminum frame associated with mounting rigid solar panels. Grommets are only to be used for non-mobile applications.
The 100w flexible solar panel does have 6 reinforced mounting holes, if for some reason it needs mounting on a frame. The mounting holes would normally be used if you installed the solar panels on a shed roof. This could be because you are trying to reduce weight stress for instance.
Where can I install 100w flexible solar panels
Connecting multiple solar panels together
The panels can be connected in both parallel and series. Meaning joining 4 x 100w flexible solar panels together would create a 400w system. If you wanted to create a higher wattage system with 4 solar panels. There is a Renogy 170w version available and 4 x170w would create a 680w solar system. In the case of a RV, camper or caravan it is possible to install both rigid and flexible panels.
Other Renogy Flexible Solar Panels In The Range
There are 2 other flexible solar panels in the Renogy range:
|50w Flexible Solar Panel||175w Flexible Solar Panel|
|Dimensions||26.5 x 20.0 x 0.16inch||59.2 x 26.5 x 0.08 inch|
|Weight||2.87 lbs||6.2 lbs|
What’s Good About The Renogy 100w Flexible Panel?
Super flexible and durable
The flexibility coupled with the durability of the Renogy flexible solar panel is probably the best on the market. It can be installed to virtually any vehicle, boat or structure. Particularly useful if you want to install on a roof that might not support the weight of traditional solar panels. This panel will survive hail, rain, sleet and snow and it can be installed with confidence.
Efficient and reliable
Efficiency and reliability are key factors when choosing any solar panel. The Renogy 100w flexible panel has both in spades. A 21% efficiency rating and ability to capture the sun rays from different angles. When you are out in the wilderness or at sea. You want to feel confident that your solar panels will charge your batteries. The Renogy will ensure you have few problems with battery charging under full sun or cloudy conditions.
Peace of mind when picking any product is really important and Renogy has seen to that. Along with the quality and durability of the 100w flexible solar panel. Renogy provides a 25 year power output and 5-year material and workmanship warranty. This emphasizes the confidence they have in their product and I feel you can have the same confidence too.
What’s Not So Good About The Renogy Flexible Solar Panel?
The major complaint with the solar panel is that the positive and negative cables are not the same length. And the cables are generally too short. This is fine for connecting in series right next to each other. For most other types of installation an extension will be required to reach the charge controller.
This is not a portable solar panel and it wasn’t designed to be. This kind of panel is meant for fixed installation to vehicles, boats and small structures. I really can’t see the point of mounting it on a frame and using it as a portable solution. But because it is so light it could be used for hanging on a larger tent. You would have to be careful when you are transporting it for this specific portable use. Renogy has several solar panels that are designed for portable use. A list of which I give below.
- 100w & 200w Foldable Solar Suitcase with or without controller
- 100w & 200w Eclipse Solar Suitcase with or without controller
Renogy 100w Flexible V Allpowers 100w Flexible
|Specs||Renogy 100w Flexible||Allpowers 100w Flexible|
|Solar Cell||Monocrystalline||*Sunpower (Monocrystalline)|
|Efficiency||21%||Up to 23%|
|Degree of Flexibility||248 Degrees||30 Degrees|
|Dimensions||48.00 x 21.6Inch/1219 x 546mm||41.92 x 21.45inch/1065 x 545mm|
|Open Circuit Voltage||22.5V||20V|
|Short Circuit Current||5.75A||5.8A|
|Air Resistance||2400 PA||2400 PA|
|Snow Resistance||5400 PA||5400 PA|
*In case you didn’t know;
SunPower solar cells are a thin layer of chemically treated single – crystal silicon cells
The efficiency of the Allpowers panel can be greater than the Renogy. Allpowers are saying that it is up to 23% efficient 2% more than Renogy. But Renogy is quoting a definite figure. If maximum efficiency is important to you, the Allpowers 100w flexible solar panel is for you.
The degree of flexibility between the two panels is wide. The Renogy panel is super flexible in comparison. This means where extreme curves require covering for installation, the Renogy panel has it covered. Please excuse the pun.
There is little difference in weight but the Renogy 100w has the edge when it comes to thickness. The Allpowers Solar panel is nearly twice as thick and this might be a deciding factor when installing on a boat.
The cost of the panels are the same but Renogy does give regular discounts on their website. While Allpowers offers an 18 month warranty, Renogy’s warranty is far superior. I won’t list it again here.
I would say that if efficiency above all else is the most important thing to you. Invest in the Allpowers 100w version. If covering curves, panel thickness and a great warranty are important to you. And you are not too concerned about the efficiency difference. Invest in the Renogy 100w.
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 vehicles or boats battery. 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 your vehicle 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. If you have a boat installation with sails, make sure they are not going to shade your panels.
Is The Renogy Flexible Solar Panel Any Good?
In conclusion, balanced against the 100w flexible solar panel and a rigid solar panel. When it comes to weight and installing on curved surfaces, flexibility is the perfect solution. The performance, durability and reliability of the Renogy flexible panel makes it my best buy. With the warranty, quality and workmanship in mind. You will be charging your batteries for many years to come,
The Allpowers version is something to consider. But overall I feel the Renogy will be better value for money because of its superior thickness and flexibility.
I hope you enjoyed this review and have found it helpful. If you have any questions about the Renogy Flexible Solar Panel . Or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below