REVIEW – The BougeRV 100W CIGS Flexible Solar Panel is an extremely light, thin and flexible solar panel. Can a solar panel that can be fitted to curved surfaces actually continue to work? Does this very thin, less than a sixteenth of an inch thick solar panel convert sunlight to electricity as advertised? Let’s find out.
What is it?
The BougeRV 100W CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide ) Flexible Solar Panel is a glass free, weatherproof, < 1/16” thick, extremely flexible 100W solar panel. This panel is priced at $289.99 but you can save $40 when you use the code: gad40 on bougerv.com
What’s in the box?
- 100 Watt CIGS Flexible Solar Panel fitted with 2 MC4 connectors
- Owners Manual
Hardware specs for Solar Panels are not very sexy but are very important and technical. That said they are very important to consider if you are planning to use these panels with another manufacturer’s device as the maximums of either the open circuit voltage, short circuit current, and the maximum wattage, if any exceeded could damage the connected device.
|Maximum Power (Pmax)||100W|
|Solar Cells Efficiency||16%|
|Max. Power Voltage (Vmp)||25V|
|Max. Power Current (Imp)||4.01A|
|Open Circuit Voltage (Voc)||31.5V|
|Short Circuit Current (Isc)||4.32 A|
|Max. System Voltage||1,000 VDC|
|Operating Temperature Limits||-40°F – +185°F|
|Series Fuse Rating||10A|
|Temperature Coefficient of Pmax||-0.38%/°C|
|Temperature Coefficient of Voc||-0.28%/°C|
|Temperature Coefficient of Isc||-0.008%/°C|
|Dimensions (Width x Length x Thickness)||13.7” x 78.7” x 0x06”|
Each panel is equipped with two, ~3 ft, 12 AWG (gauge) wires terminated with standard IP67 waterproof MC4 connectors, one positive and one negative which either supports the direct connection to a portable power station like the BougeRV Flash 300 portable power station using some kind of adapter, e.g., Anderson Powerpole, DD5521, etc., or the panel can be placed in series or parallel to construct a larger solar panel array of your choosing.
Design and features
The BougeRV 100W CIGS Flexible Solar Panel claims to be 70% lighter and 90% thinner than an average solar panel, however, its main marketing feature is the incredible flexibility, claiming 360 degrees of bendability. That claim is not empty as the solar panel comes rolled onto itself, the photovoltaic cells facing out, in a cylinder the height of which is the width of the panel. The shipped panel was rolled much tighter than is shown in this image. Amazing.
Each panel has a very strong, one-time use adhesive tape to allow the panel to be attached to just about any smooth surface, bending around reasonable curves of any structure. They seem to be marketed for RVs and boats, but really could be attached to just about anything. The adhesive is designed to be able to handle highway speed winds, they could even be placed on the roof of a vehicle whose roofline is long enough to hold the panel. Most minivans and medium-size SUVs have a rooftop that would accommodate one (or two) of these. BougeRV will be offering panels without adhesive soon.
Given how light and flexible the panels are, one can decide to just treat them like a temporary panel. I do not think they are as useful in the temporary mode as typical temporary panels, which fold up, and sometimes have carry handles and stands that allow for more optimal sun positioning and are just easier to handle.
One thing of note is that the panel’s physical size makes them perfect for permanent mounting on a van for people who do the whole van living thing. That said I am not sure how the panels hold up to a standard carwash so you may be stuck hand washing your vehicle once this panel has been attached to your vehicle.
There are only a couple of things to discuss with respect to setup for solar panels. If the panel is permanently mounted, there is not much one can do to optimize the panel for the perfect sun angle. If the panel is not permanently attached, then it can just be laid either flat on the ground or propped up against something to position them towards the sun for better performance.
I had another portable 100 watt portable solar panel so I performed two different tests. One test with both panels lying flat, and another test with the panels angled towards the sun’s location.
I will talk about the flat panel test first where one portable power generator is sitting on top of the other one for easy comparison. In the video, you can see the outputs changing in real-time. You will notice that it appears that the typical foldable solar panel does a better job of converting the sun’s energy to electrical energy than the BougeRV 100W CIGS Flexible Solar Panel. I noticed about a 10-20 watt difference between the two panels while lying flat. I could not switch the panels between each solar power generator as the BougeRV panel has an electrical output that could exceed the input voltage threshold of the other solar generator and I of course did not want to damage it. That said, when I plugged the typical folding solar panel into the BougeRV power generator, I still noticed an increase in power coming in, close to what I witnessed when both panels were operating at the same time as in the video.
The next test was to place the panels at a better angle to the sun. Note that this was a different day. I could not get the generators close to each other to get any kind of concurrent picture / video, but again the standard foldable solar panel seems to outperform the BougeRV 100W CIGS Flexible Solar Panel by again about 10 or so Watts as evidenced by the two images below.
I did some research and it appears that the rated efficiency of the two panels is different, with the typical portable folding panel having a higher efficiency than the BougeRV 100W CIGS Flexible Solar Panel. This might explain the slight advantage of the standard glass-based folding solar panel to the very flexible solar panel from BougeRV.
It is worth mentioning that BougeRV also makes a 200W panel, which is about twice as wide as the 100W panel, and the same length.
What I like
- How light the panels are.
- How thin the panels are.
- How durable the panels seem to be.
What I’d change
- Not a big fan of the one-time use adhesive tape.
- Little on the pricey side.
Overall, I like the BougeRV 100W CIGS Flexible Solar Panel, but do not feel it is as useful as a temporary panel in the temporary mode as the heavier and less flexible Monocrystalline silicon, or Polysilicon panels are often coupled with other features like, handles, stands, direct USB charging, etc., making them very convenient for grab and go use. However, should you need a permanent attachment solution, and do not want the hassle of heavy mounting brackets, or need to form the panel over and around a smooth curved surface, such as a boat, van, RV, then these panels are the only choice. These panels just feel very durable. They do not suffer from the problems that the standard hard portable panels do as they are not made with glass and can’t really be broken and cracked. There is an amazing YouTube video where a guy drives over the panel with his car on a gravel road no less and they still work. I did not try to duplicate that test. Given the general robustness of the solar panel material of these panels, I can see them becoming common in many different applications. If you have an application where this panel can be permanently attached, I don’t think you will be disappointed by the BougeRV 100W CIGS Flexible Solar Panel.