Solar Panels – Know The Difference

When choosing solar panels, it is often hard to determine their quality.  How long they will last? How well will they perform? With hundreds of brands on the Australian market, there are so many different systems to choose from.

Fortunately, solar PV brands have been independently rated based on quality, from Tier 1 to Tier 3. Tier 1 being the highest quality and Tier 3 being the lowest. These ratings are the best way for you be informed about exactly what you are investing in.

The Tier 1 Solar Panel

There are a number of organisations that assess and rate solar panel brands, and their methods also differ. However, they all, more or less, come to the same conclusions. Pike Research, one of the leaders in this field, has produced the following model:

Solar Panels, Tier 1 - 3 Triangle

Click to Enlarge. (Source: Pike Research)

As shown above, Tier 1 only represents 2% of the total number of manufactures on the market. They are manufacturers that have been in the industry for longer than 5 years, have a superior manufacturing process and are committed to producing products that lead the industry, both now and in the future.

More specifically, according to Pike Research, a Tier 1 solar panel manufacturer meets all of the following criteria:

1. Vertically Integrated: All the items and equipment that created the end product are produced in-house! They do not outsource any parts or production of the assembling process. This is right down to the smallest parts. This allows customers to easily source spare parts if required.

 2. Invest Heavily in Research & Development (R&D): Manufacturers are continually researching and being innovative to improve their products and practices. Any problems they come across can be quickly evaluated and appropriate changes made to their products or services.

3. Advanced Robotic Processes: Manufacturers use advanced and automated techniques to ensure product quality is maintained at its highest standard.

4. Manufacturing Solar Panels For Longer Than 5 Years: This is an indication that the company is fully established in the industry. And while, the future cannot be predicted, they have the stability to be around to support their customers and back up their warranties, well into the future. As solar panels are a relatively new product, that has increased in popularity quickly, it has seen many companies appear on the market that may not be as stable.

The Tier 2 Solar Panel

The middle Tier holds around 8% of the market. These manufactures are still on their way up and are considered to be not as highly advanced as their Tier 1 competitors. They have little or no investment in research and development, they are using only partial robotics (they rely on manual work also), and have been in production for between 2 to 5 years. There manufacturers and their products lack the quality set by their Tier 1 competitors.

The Tier 3 Solar Panel

At the lower end of the scale we have Tier 3. According to Pike research, this is a massive 90% of the market. These manufactures have the least experience and are generally only assemblers. They do not invest any time in research and development, use mainly outsourced materials and parts and manual labour only is used in the manufacturing process (no advanced robotics). These types of manufacturers do not show any long term commitment to the industry or their customers. Parts and materials are becoming hard to come by on a global scale, as a result, businesses that are not manufacturing their own parts risk having a shortage of spare parts and warranty replacements.

Which Manufacturers Are Tier 1?

The Bloomburg New Energy Finance research specifically name Suntech as a Tier 1 supplier. The list of manufacturers and their rating is updated quarterly, their research document outlines how to obtain the latest copy of the list.

At Jessups Solar Squad, we are committed to only supplying you with the best! We are a supplier of quality Suntech PV Panels, which have the Tier 1 rating.

Have any questions about solar panels?  Call us today, we are happy to help.  Alternatively, request a free analysis to get a tailored recommendation for a quality solar system.

You may still have some questions about using renewable, green energy. If you still have any pressing questions that we haven’t answered, please do not hesitate to contact us on 1300 552 785 or 6331 6933 immediately and we will help.

John Thirgood
Managing Director,  Jessups Solar Squad

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