Solar Panel Tiers

Solar panels have become an increasingly popular way for households and businesses to generate their own renewable energy and reduce their carbon footprint. However, with so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to decide which solar panel to choose. One factor to consider is the tier of the solar panel. Solar panel tiers are determined by the manufacturer’s level of vertical integration, investment in research and development, and the quality of the materials used in production. 

In this blog, we will explore the different tiers of solar panels, what sets them apart, and which tier may be the best fit for your specific needs. By understanding the differences between solar panel tiers, you can make an informed decision and select the right solar panel for your home or business.

These are the most common questions that homeowners have when choosing a solar panel.

  1. How long does a solar panel last? What guarantees and warranties do manufacturers of solar panels offer?
  2. What are the chances that the manufacturer will honor the warranty if there is a problem with solar production during the lifetime of the project?
  3. Which solar panel brand will produce more power over the lifetime of the project’s life?
  4. What should I pay for a high-quality solar panel?

Solar panels can be broadly divided into Tier 1 and Tier 2. Solar panels from Tier 1 are more reliable, so it is a good idea to purchase them.

What Basis Can You Use to Distinguish Between Different Solar Panel Tiers?

Solar panels are constructed using six components. They are assembled in highly automated manufacturing facilities that guarantee extreme accuracy. These six components include the junction box, back sheet, encapsulant EP (ethylene vinyl acetate), film, solar cells, and aluminum frames. 

Vertical integration is a common way for solar panel manufacturers to be well-known. This means that one company supplies all of the components needed to make a panel, including silicon ingots and wafers. This allows the manufacturer to ensure that the quality of all the components used in the manufacture of a solar panel is maintained.

Many solar panel manufacturers also use externally sourced components such as solar cells, polymer back sheets, and encapsulation EVA films. It is very difficult for manufacturers to control the quality of the sourced products.

Solar panels can be divided into three categories based on the way that key components are sourced or assembled. The manufacturing process is what differentiates the various tiers of solar panels. Automation is better than human error. Vertical integration also reduces quality issues in manufacturing and procurement. Premium quality solar panels of Tier 1 are considered to be the best.

What Are Tier 1 Solar Panels?

Tier 1 panels are made from the highest quality silicon for producing solar cells. The better the panel’s performance, the higher the silicon grade. Tier 1 manufacturers also control the manufacturing process with advanced robotic processes, which reduces or eliminates human error. To stay ahead of the curve, they invest heavily in research and development. 

They are vertically integrated, which means that they manufacture all the components of a solar panel themselves. They have a production capacity of more than 1 GW annually and have been providing solar panels for more than 5 years.

Tier 1 manufacturers only use the highest quality materials to make solar panels. This is why the panels are more expensive. A Tier 1 manufacturer may charge up to 30% more for solar panels than other manufacturers.

Tier 1 manufacturers usually offer a 12-year product warranty and a 25-year linear performance warranty for solar panels. They are well-respected in the industry for their quality and customer service. 

What Are Tier 2 Solar Panels?

Tier 2 manufacturers rely less on robotics and more on manual labor through human production lines. The production line is susceptible to human error which can lead to lower solar panel performance. These manufacturers aim to make high-quality solar panels at affordable prices. These companies invest little in research and development. They also produce solar panels that last between 2 and 5 years.

Although Tier 2 manufacturers offer product and linear performance warranties for their solar panels, they are not as good as Tier 1 warranties. 

What Are Tier 3 Solar Panels?

Tier 3 manufacturers are usually assemblers, rather than panel producers. They combine cells from different manufacturers into one panel. Because of the variability in quality, they use manual soldering to make solar cells. They invest at a minimum in research and development.

Although Tier 3 manufacturers offer product and linear performance warranties for their solar panels, they are less than Tier 2 warranties. 

Tier 1 Solar Panels Tier 2 Solar Panels Tier 3 Solar Panels
Vertical integration is the most common Less common vertical integration  Vertical integration is not possible/the least
Only use the best quality materials Use materials of moderate quality Use materials of moderate quality
Manufacturing using advanced robotics The partially robotic manufacturing process Manufacturing can be partially or completely automated
Over 5 years of solar panel supply Solar panels are available for supply between 2-5 years Solar panels supplied for more than 1 year
Most expensive Moderately price Lowest price
Best quality Moderate quality Lowest quality

Answering the Key Questions

You are buying two things when you buy a solar panel. A physical product that generates electricity, and a guarantee from the manufacturer that guarantees the panel’s performance year after year. Let’s now answer these questions.

How long does a solar panel last? What guarantees and warranties do manufacturers of solar panels offer?

A solar panel can last for more than 25 years, and generally, two types of warranties are available: a product warranty, which can last from 5 to 12 years, and a linear performance warranty, which can last from 15 to 25 years, depending on the manufacturer.

To ensure that you choose the best supplier, look for one that offers the longest product warranty and the longest linear performance warranty.

What are the chances that the manufacturer will honor the warranty if there is a problem with solar production during the lifetime of the project?

Tier 1 panels are made with high-quality materials that enable them to last longer and produce more solar power. They have an excellent reputation in the solar industry for their exceptional service and quality. In comparison to Tier 2 or Tier 3 manufacturers, Tier 1 manufacturers honor their product warranties.

What should I pay for a high-quality solar panel?

When compared to Tier 2 or Tier 3 solar panels, you can expect to pay between 10% and 30% more for Tier 1 solar panels. Although the initial cost may be higher, the long-term benefits and superior quality make them a worthwhile investment.

Solar Panel Tiers: Conclusion

Choosing a trusted brand from Tier 1 manufacturers can help eliminate many of the risks associated with product quality and ensure that the panels will continue to produce energy over their lifetime.

With ESD Solar, you can enjoy the many benefits of solar energy without any of the hassle. Let us help you take the first step towards a brighter future for you and the planet. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can customize a solar solution that meets your unique needs and budget.

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