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Flexible solar panels

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As their costs continue to fall, the best solar panels are increasingly popular, enabling people to lower their carbon footprint and generate savings on household energy bills. This guide focuses on flexible solar panels, which differ from standard solar panels in that they are more malleable. 

This flexible design enables them to be installed on roofs that may not be able to accommodate conventional solar panels, for example curved roofs, the roofs of caravans and motorhomes and, because they are also lightweight, the canvas sides of tents. Some smaller flexible solar PV (photovoltaic panels) can also be fitted to clothing, enabling users to generate power for small electronic devices while out walking. 

Flexible solar panels do have some disadvantages, such as lower efficiency and lower resilience to wind and weather, but in certain scenarios, the pros outweigh the cons. 

What makes a solar panel flexible?

Flexible solar panels are available in two forms: thin-film and crystalline silicon (often referred to as ‘semi-flexible’ solar panels). Both are more lightweight than conventional solar panels, being a fraction of their width, and malleable. The reason these panels can bend to some extent is that their solar cells are protected by a thin but firm protective layer of material such as plastic or metal, for example anodised aluminium. 

The thin-film variety is the most malleable of the two. The crystalline silicon, semi-flexible solar panels can be further divided into either monocrystalline or polycrystalline. Monocrystalline solar PV panels are made from a single wafer of crystalline silicon, while polycrystalline silicon panels are made up of fragments of silicon that have been melted down and moulded together.

Flexible solar panels differ from conventional solar panels in that they are made by laying one or more layers of solar PV on top of a layer of plastic, glass or metal, which makes them thinner than conventional panels, and more flexible. This in turn means they can be installed on a number of different surfaces, including curved ones, and even on fabric. 

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  • Because flexible solar panels are bendable, they can be installed on more surfaces than conventional panels. This makes them a good choice for RVs, trailers, boats, sheds and garages
  • Flexible panels tend to be cheaper than conventional ones, so they’re a good option for those on a budget
  • Some types of flexible solar panels can even be fitted onto material, so they’re a good choice for campers and hikers

Advantages of a flexible solar panel

Flexible panels have many advantages over their solid, conventional counterparts, including: 

  • Their compact design. Given that flexible panels have a much smaller width than conventional ones, they are suitable for smaller homes. As they are lightweight, they can also be installed on surfaces that wouldn’t otherwise be able to support heavier panels. 
  • Their cost. Flexible solar panels are much less expensive than conventional solar panels.
  • Their ease of installation (and de-installation). Flexible solar panels are easier to install than other types of panels, and can more easily be moved, stored and reinstalled as needed. 
  • Their versatility. Because flexible solar PV is bendable, it can be installed on a variety of different surfaces, including curved surfaces, meaning that it is ideal for caravans, motorhomes and even on tents.
  • Their aesthetic design. Flexible solar panels tend to have a darker appearance than conventional ones, which depending on your taste and the surface they are intended to be installed on could be more visually pleasing.

Disadvantages of flexible solar panels

Flexible panels aren’t right for everyone, however, and they do fall short of conventional panels in some areas: 

Efficiency. Flexible solar panels are not as efficient as conventional solar panels. This means that, in general, you need more flexible solar panels in order to generate the same amount of energy as a conventional solar panel.

Durability. Flexible solar panels do not last as long as conventional solar panels and they are less resilient to bad or extreme weather, particularly high winds and other extreme weather events. 

Warranty. Given that they are not as resilient as conventional solar panels, flexible solar panels will typically not have as good a warranty. Usually, warranties for flexible solar panels will run for around 1-5 years, instead of the 20 years or more covered by standard solar panel warranties.

How much do flexible solar panels cost? 

As with conventional solar panels, how much flexible solar panels cost depends on a range of factors, particularly quality and efficiency. 

You’ll need to consider how many panels you need to power your space

As a rough guide, you can get one 100W flexible panel between £100 and £200 depending on the brand. More powerful panels will be more expensive. Unlike conventional panels, flexible solar panels are readily available from online retailers like Amazon, making the buying process simpler. 

Estimated guide to flexible solar panel costs and savings

Number of panelsPerformance per panelTotal costsSavings per year
10100W£1,000 – £2,500£100 – £135
10150W£1,500 – £5,000£170 – £215
10175W£1,300 – £6,000£190 – £240

Frequently asked questions about flexible solar panels

Yes, there are a range of solar panel grants available in the UK which would include flexible solar panels. However, as always, there is a specific set of criteria that must be met to qualify. Typically, the criteria includes low-income households or those with low EPC energy ratings. 

This depends on the brand and the quality of the solar panel. In general, walking on any solar panel is not advisable. For one thing, this might cause the surface to crack which will then negatively affect its performance. An occasional step might be possible, but it would be wise not to make a habit of it.


Some brands produce panels that can be walked on with soft shoes. These are normally intended for installation on boats and are also often more expensive as they are made with extra-durable materials.

Most flexible solar panels are designed to resist some rain and high winds, but it’s worth noting that they tend to be less resistant than conventional panels. 

Flexible solar panels are designed to be installed on roofs where it would be more difficult to install conventional solar panels, for example on curved roofs or roofs with limited space. These panels can easily be bonded to a caravan or motorhome roof with glue. Their flexibility also means that they are resistant to overhanging branches that might scrape the roof of a caravan or motorhome.

Robin has been writing about clean energy and the renewable technology industry for nearly 25 years. He is passionate about environmental issues and climate change; Robin has written for many publications, such as Renewable Energy Magazine, Solar Thermal Magazine, and Water 21 Magazine.

Amy Reeves


Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.