How to Install Flexible Solar Panels
Have you ever wondered how to install flexible solar panels? If so, we’ve got you covered.
Today, we’ll take a look at what makes solar panels so conducive to the RV lifestyle.
Let’s jump in!
What Is a Flexible Solar Panel?
French physicist Edward Becquerel recognized the photovoltaic effect in 1839. Smithsonian Magazine defines this as “a process that produces a voltage or electric current when exposed to light or radiant energy.” This laid the groundwork for the solar panels we see today, including flexible solar panels for RVs.
Flexible solar panels consist of polycrystalline material, basically silicon. This material produces cheaper solar panels thanks to the ease of creating polycrystalline. Individual cells measure about the width of a human hair.
The Basics of Installing Your Own
There are three primary ways you can install your flexible solar panels on your RV.
You could use Velcro. First, apply commercial-grade adhesive velcro tape along the edge of your roof. Then adhere your panels to the top via the tape.
Or you could use 3M VHB adhesive tape. Use it by priming the surface, putting on the tape, and applying pressure. You’ll need an oscillating tool to remove the tape.
Finally, you could try screwing down the panels. Thanks to the rivets on the panels’ edges, you can screw them directly into the roof like rigid solar panels.
Additional methods used to install flexible solar panels on your own include a zipper system, grommets, and PVC honeycomb panel frames. These methods are not used as frequently but do offer alternative ways to mount your panels.
What Tools Do You Need?
You probably already have the necessary tools to install flexible solar panels. Some of these include a cordless drill, a caulking gun, and a heat gun. You may also need sandpaper, a file, insulation tape, an electrician’s multi-tool, and a wire crimping tool.
Depending on the brand and model of flexible solar panels you choose, you may need different tools for the job. You’ll find that many solar panels on the market today come with an instruction manual included in your kit. In addition, the manufacturer might provide a list of necessary tools.
Generally, you can use the same basic tools no matter how you plan to install your solar panels. However, the tools may differ slightly depending on the make and model of flexible solar panels you choose.
When Should You Call a Professional to Install Your Flexible Solar Panels?
That depends on how comfortable you are trying to do the job yourself. It also depends on the type of flexible solar panels you choose. Don’t forget about your RV, either. Be sure you know all of your rig’s relevant specs before trying to install flexible solar panels.
Anytime there’s a risk of danger, it’s best to seek professional help. For example, the panels could be heavier than you expect. Also, you’ll need to connect the panels’ wires to a generator, which may pose a safety risk. Any time electricity is involved, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
As with any unfamiliar task, always consult a professional if you’re unsure or uncomfortable. Reach out for help if you think installing the panels yourself might be dangerous.
Is Installing Your Own Flexible Solar Panels Worth It?
For many, choosing to install flexible solar panels on your RV can make traveling smoother. Some RVers find that solar panels make RVing more economical and pleasant.
If you want to camp remotely for longer, investing in flexible solar panels might be a sensible decision for you. The upfront cost of solar panels can be somewhat steep, depending on which brand and model you select. However, this renewable energy source should pay off in the end.
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Thursday 20th of May 2021
You would NOT connect solar panels to a generator, ever. They connect to a charge controller, which in turn connects to your battery bank.
Thursday 20th of May 2021
I am reading from people who have installed flexible solar panels that they are failing after a year. They suspect that they are not as robust as rigid panels, or are overheating if mounted without any spacing from the roof which provides for airflow.
I had been looking into flexible solar but hearing about their short lifespan is leaning me towards rigid panels and having to screw into the roof.