Compared to traditional, roof-mounted solar panels, flexible solar panels are lighter, more portable and easier to set up and dismantle – you can even do it yourself. Because of how thin and malleable flexible solar panels are, you can bend them around curved surfaces. This makes them ideal for camper vans, boats and homes with less conventional architecture.

Flexible solar panels are also more affordable than standard solar panels, although this comes at the expense of efficiency and durability, meaning these panels aren’t for everyone. Still, flexible solar panels are a cost-effective, climate-friendly way to generate electricity for your home or vehicle, reducing your reliance on the grid and saving you money on your energy bills.

Below, we’ll help you decide whether flexible solar panels are right for you by unpacking their main benefits and disadvantages and answering the most frequently asked questions.

What is a flexible solar panel?

Flexible solar panels are made from ultra-thin photovoltaic layers which, when placed in a sunny environment, convert the sun’s light into clean, renewable energy to power your home.

These panels are lighter, more malleable and more adaptable than conventional solar panels, and their flexibility makes them suitable for a range of placements and use cases, such as producing green electricity to fuel a sustainable off-grid lifestyle in a caravan or motorhome

But the real flexibility in this type of solar panel’s name is literal, as they’re designed to bend to fit the contours of the structure you place them on. Unlike traditional solar panels, which are rigid and must be placed on a flat base, flexible solar panels can wrap around curved surfaces. This could be the hull of your boat, the top of your van or the roof of a detached garage or shed on your property.

What is a semi-flexible solar panel?

A semi-flexible solar panel is somewhere between a flexible solar panel and the rigid, higher-efficiency solar panels you’re more likely to see on the roofs of UK homes.

Semi-flexible solar panels will flex and conform to curved contours without cracking or breaking, but, as their name suggests, not to the same extent as fully flexible solar panels. This means that while semi-flexible solar panels are ideal for flat or gently-curving surfaces, they won’t be suitable for ones with more pronounced curvature.

Benefits of flexible solar panels

Flexible solar panels are light, portable and easy to install and transport – not to mention more affordable than conventional roof-mounted solar arrays.

Let’s delve deeper into flexible solar panels’ key benefits for your home.

Lightweight design

Flexible solar panels’ thin design doesn’t just give them their trademark flexibility – it also makes them one of the lightest solar panels on the market.

This makes solar panels more versatile and suitable for a wider array of use cases and environments than traditional, heavier solar panels. You can, for instance, install flexible solar panels on surfaces with less robust load-bearing capabilities (such as the roofs of vans and motorhomes) and on residential setups not designed to host solar panels like the roofs of guesthouses and outhouses.

Easily installable

Flexible solar panels’ malleable design means you won’t need heavy-duty mounting brackets to install them.

Unlike roof-mounted panels, which require the services of a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)-certified solar panel installer to fit, you can install some flexible solar panels yourself. While we don’t necessarily recommend this DIY approach – especially if you’re planning to take advantage of any of the UK’s solar panel grants – it does make the process easier for small-scale solar setups.


Owing to their small size and their width being a fraction of their traditional counterparts, flexible solar panels are easy to transport. This, combined with how easy it is to set up and dismantle them, makes them a highly versatile and adaptable solution.

You might, for instance, rely on a flexible solar panel to light your shed or workshop at home, then uninstall it for use on your van or motorhome before heading out on a road trip.

For an even more innovative solution, you can use flexible solar panels alongside portable solar chargers to turn your backpack or wearable device into an on-the-go supply of self-sufficient, sustainably sourced electricity to power your adventures.


Flexible solar panels are more affordable than traditional roof-mounted solar panels.

For example, you can purchase a 100-watt (W) flexible solar panel for around £109 in the UK. For comparison, a 3-kilowatt (kW) traditional system would set you back between £5,400 and £6,000. To achieve the same power output (multiplying the 100W of flexible panels by 30 to reach 3,000W or 3kW you would get from a traditional panel), you’d need to spend £3,270 on flexible panels – around 40 per cent less than the price of a roof-mounted solar array.

To learn more about how much you can expect to pay to go solar in the UK, explore our guide to solar panel costs in the UK. We’ve also looked into cheap solar panels, including whether they’re worth it or if you’re better off spending more.


Flexible solar panels’ main advantage is the fact that as per their name, they can bend. So if you’ve always been frustrated by the inability to install solar panels because of your home or vehicle’s curvature, then flexible solar panels are the ideal solution for you.

Disadvantages of flexible solar panels

So, what are flexible solar panels’ main drawbacks compared to their more common roof-mounted counterparts? 

Less efficient

Flexible solar panels may be more affordable than their traditional roof-mounted counterparts, but this comes at a cost: efficiency.

On average, flexible solar panels have an efficiency of between seven per cent and 12 per cent – that’s the proportion of available solar energy your flexible panels will transmute into clean, usable electricity for your home or vehicle. By contrast, roof-mounted solar panels boast efficiency rates anywhere between 15 per cent and 24 per cent. It’s worth noting, however, that this depends on the type of solar cell and panel involved: we recommend first-generation monocrystalline panels to strike a balance between efficiency and availability or polycrystalline for affordability.

Overall, flexible solar panels won’t generate as much electricity as a similarly-sized ‘conventional’ solar setup with a comparable amount of panel power, so you’ll need more flexible panels to make up for it. Over time, this will negate the initial cost savings you’ll make with flexible solar panels, especially if you’re planning on exporting any of the excess electricity you generate to the National Grid through the UK government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme.

This isn’t really an issue if your main solar goals are to power your own vehicle or lifestyle in a way that reduces your reliance on the grid, rather than save you money on your energy bills year after year.

If those savings are your main goal, though, you’re better off opting for traditional, roof-mounted solar panels – our guide to the best solar panels is an excellent place to start.

Less powerful

In the UK, you’ll struggle to find flexible solar panels supplying more than around 100W to 150W of power. Traditional solar panels, on the other hand, come with power ratings between 200W and 450W. So if you’re relying on domestic solar to power your home’s electricity needs, you’ll be better off opting for traditional roof- or ground-mounted solar panels.

Flexible solar panels are ideal for vans, motorhomes, boats and other small residential setups such as sheds but for anything bigger, they’re unlikely to be able to supply the necessary power.

Less durable

Flexible solar panels’ key selling point – their malleability – also comes with a frustrating side effect: they’re less durable than rigid solar panels.

Sharp objects, excessive bending and impact can cause cracks or tears in your flexible solar panel’s surface, leading to reduced efficiency at best or complete failure at worst.

This is one of the reasons why flexible solar panels don’t last as long as traditional solar panels (around 10 years, rather than 25 to 30 years) and why manufacturers are more reluctant to offer longer warranties for flexible panels (one to five years, as opposed to the 25-year or even lifetime warranties that come as standard with the highest-quality solar panels.

How much do flexible solar panels cost?

Flexible solar panels generally cost between £100 and £150 for a 100W panel or around £1,000 to £1,500 for a solar array with a 1kW output, but there are plenty of factors that play into the final cost. 

  • The type of solar cell involved: whether that’s crystalline based (more efficient but more expensive) or thin film (more affordable but with a lower output and lifespan).
  • The amount of flexible solar panels you require: the greater your home or vehicle’s energy needs, the more solar panels you’ll need, which naturally pushes the costs up*.
  • The supplier you buy from: some less reputable solar panel providers may offer low-quality, damage-prone flexible solar panels or price their products unfairly high. To avoid falling prey to these suspicious suppliers, take a minute to fill in our quote-finding form. All you have to do is furnish us with a few details about your home and your household’s solar needs, and we’ll match you with the UK’s leading solar array installers, who’ll provide tailored solar panel quotes for your home.

*This is why using flexible solar panels to power the entire energy needs of a home isn’t feasible. The average two- to three-bedroom home in the UK will need a solar system of around 3kW (or 3,000W) to support its needs. Flexible solar panels are usually only available with a panel power of 100W, so you’d need at least 30 of them. This doesn’t just drive costs up (to £3,000 and more), it also means you’ll most likely run out of available roof space to fit your flexible solar panels on.

When should you choose flexible solar panels?

Flexible solar panels won’t be right for all use cases and circumstances: if you’re looking for the most affordable solar panels for your home with the highest levels of efficiency available, the top choice is still traditional, on-roof solar panels.

If these aren’t logistically feasible (perhaps because of issues with the strength or structure of your roof), ground-mounted solar panels are your next best bet. Alternatively, if you need a solar solution that will blend in better with your existing architecture (perhaps because of planning permission complications or even just noisy neighbours), we recommend opting for integrated solar panels or, if you have a bit more to spend, solar roof tiles.

That said, flexible solar panels may still be the best choice for you, especially if:

  • you have limited space to install traditional solar technology or your home’s exterior consists predominantly of curved, irregular surfaces;
  • you have concerns about your roof’s load-bearing capabilities, or are looking at installing solar panels on surfaces where weight is a concern, such as on vehicles or lightweight structures, and need a less heavy-duty solar solution to match;
  • you live a nomadic, off-grid lifestyle or are looking to go off-grid for a few weeks. Flexible solar panels are portable, so they’re ideal for staying self-sufficient while camping, hiking, boating or travelling around in a motorhome; 
  • you’re looking for a temporary solar solution. Flexible solar panels are easier to install and uninstall than more conventional varieties. This is one of the reasons they’re so popular with companies running events or managing construction sites and even in emergency response situations;
  • you’re on a tighter budget and are looking for a smaller-scale (albeit a shorter-term and less efficient) domestic solar solution; and
  • you need a portable, innovative source of green energy production. Flexible panels can, for example, be used on portable solar chargers, backpacks, wearable devices and other outdoor gear where weight and flexibility are paramount.

Read more: How do solar panels work?

Frequently Asked Questions