Find your perfect panel: rigid vs folding solar panels

Rigid vs folding solar panels, find out what solar panel you should buy for your next trip. Every since launching our Arc 10W and Arc 20W folding solar panels, we wanted to run down why we introduced these products and what are the key differences. The bottom line is that we love both panels and they each have some advantages.

Advantages to our Rigid Solar Panels

Our rigid panels are coated in urethane and can last 10 years outside without significant loss in power. They are completely waterproof and can easily handle saltwater environments. This means you can have the panel mounted permanently on a bag or other surface so that it is always gathering sun. They are also extremely space efficient as there is virtually no wasted space on the panel.

rigid solar panel on canoe, rigid vs folding solar panels

Advantages to our Folding Solar Panels

The folding solar panels fold up into a more compact form factor. If you’re hauling a lot of gear, it is sometimes easier to stash a folder in your bag than a rigid panel. Although our rigid panels are super tough, it sometimes *feels* better to slide the folder in a bag because the panels are folded in on themselves. We coat the folding solar panels with ETFE. It is stronger than the PET or epoxy that many panels use, but won’t last quite as long as the urethane. For nearly all portable power applications, it will be more than sufficiently UV resistant.

20 watt folding solar panel camping, rigid vs folding solar panels

Size and Weight Comparisons

Lets look at the 17 Watt rigid solar panel vs our 20 Watt folding solar panel (Arc 20W).

The rigid panel is about twice as energy dense as the open folding panel. The 17 Watt panel measures 39 x 27 x 0.6 cm vs the Arc 20W’s 94 x 28 x .08 cm (open) 20 x 28 x 1.9 cm (closed). That translates to 62 square cm per Watt on the 17 Watt panel vs 132 square cm per Watt on the 20 Watt panel (including the flap). Of course, the 17 Watt panel can’t fold down into as a compact book-like form.

foldable-solar-panel-size, rigid vs folding solar panels

Weight is a draw. Both the 17 Watt and 20 Watt folder weigh about 45 grams per Watt. The 17 Watt panel weighs 760 grams vs 910 grams for the 20 Watt panel.

thickness of rigid solar panel vs foldable panel, rigid vs folding solar panels

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