The two solar panels I have bought are a folding 60 & 120W Coocheer brand. The 120W model has a DC output of 120W/18V which may not sound like a lot, but is amazing.
Since they are made from the same company I can really compare the improvements. The 120W which Is newer is more efficient in collecting power, and it collects power even when there wasn’t direct sunlight. This was amazing to me. When the sun shone on it, it quickly filled 60% of one of my solar batteries that was 50Amp hours or 166 Watts. I was even able to connect it to my second solar battery and fill that up as well even though it was charging. I was stunned.
I didn’t fully understand how well these solar panels would work. I can easily use 1 120W panel to fill two of the 166 batteries and I am going to give the 60W to a friend. The 60W unit cost $150, and the 120W unit cost $200 and well worth it. Being able to now make power no matter what happens with the power company is such an incredible feeling. I have been using my laptops, ipad, iphone and solar lighting and charging it with this power. As I said I am going fully solar I am just learning what I need.
I contacted my landlord about installing rigid solar panels and left a vm but he hasn’t called back. I doubt he will. Well it doesn’t matter since I can put this out the window and collect solar power. I’m sure it would collect power through the glass as well it is so good. I’ll try that today.
Using folding solar panels is fun. They fold up and look like a small briefcase and in my opinion are a superior way instead of rigid panels. I have learned that rigid panels become less efficient every year. The reason is that the weather can cause small micro-fractures which decrease their ability to collect power. It seems to be that the typical loss per year is 1% for rigid panels. Which means that if they bought a 120W panel and kept it for 20 years, it is now a 100W panel. The foldable panels however get put away when the solar power isn’t needed, so they won’t wear as quickly. In addition you don’t have to worry about snow, lightning or other weather damage. Yes putting it out and taking it back in are some labor, but that labor saves the wear and tear on the panel. To me, that seems a worthwhile trade off.
The other disadvantage of rigid panels is compatibility. You have to be careful because some companies have proprietary connections. I stay away from those companies. I love the DC input 5.5mm connection. Right now my solar panels have that as their output, and the Beudens have that as their input. They come with other adapters but so far this system is working well. As I get larger batteries this might change. Many people who review solar power love the anderson connectors which are more used with rigid panels.
What is the disadvantage of folding solar panels? Well you can’t scratch any solar panel so in my opinion folding them out puts them at risk of being scratched. If you are careful this is a non issue. I really haven’t experienced any problems with folding solar panels. They are a little warm after being in the sun but they cool down quickly. They will be less efficient in winter, but that is a non-issue for me as well. When I find a problem with them I will write another post.
There is no reason not to have solar now. It will save you money.
Update: My suggested solar panel is the Merlin. It can produce electricity even when it is overcast.