If you’re shopping for a solar panel system, you’ve almost certainly come across the terms “Tier 1 panels” and “Tier 2 or 3 panels.” But what do these different tiers mean, and which option is better for your project? Are tier 1 panels better than tier 2 or 3 panels? Are Tier 1 solar panels really worth the higher price tag, or can Tier 2 or 3 provide just as much efficiency without emptying your bank account?
In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between each solar panel tier to help you decide which type to choose. From examining cost effectiveness to understanding performance levels, let’s investigate further how these distinct categories compare so that you can make the most effective investment in photovoltaic energy possible.
When it comes to selecting solar panels for residential use, homeowners can often feel overwhelmed. Questions such as life expectancy, warranties and guarantee offers, power production over the long term, and a decision on whether to pay more for higher-quality panels are all of great importance.
Given their reliability advantages, solar panels are generally categorised into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3, with the highest quality being Tier 1. Quality assurance across each tier should still be observed when making a purchase decision; however, investing in a panel from Tier 1 manufacturers can give added reassurance that you have made the right choice.
Also Read: What Can I Expect My Solar System to Produce, on Average, per Day? Solar Panel Production Explained
On What Basis Do You Differentiate Between the Different Solar Panel Tiers?
Solar panels have become a staple of sustainable energy production. To ensure their quality meets the highest standards, they are made using six key components and assembled with extreme accuracy in advanced manufacturing facilities.
Each component, from the junction box and back sheet to the tempered glass used to protect it all, is vital to creating panels of a superior quality suitable for any application. To guarantee excellent performance, many leading manufacturers are vertically integrated – meaning they are able to produce all necessary components, including the silicon ingots and wafers used in the cells, without losing any quality or compromising the process.
Solar panel manufacturers use a variety of externally sourced components to assemble solar panels, such as solar cells, polymer back sheets, and encapsulation EVA film. Quality control is a major challenge as the quality of these components is difficult to monitor.
For this reason, solar panels are divided into three tiers identified by their manufacturing process: Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3. Higher-tier categories usually have greater automation and vertical integration in their manufacturing processes. Therefore these preventive measures minimize the likelihood of errors when sourcing materials and putting them together into the final product; consequently, Tier 1 solar panels are deemed the highest quality available.
What Do Tier 1 Solar Panels Offer?
Tier 1 solar panels are known for their superior quality and performance due to the use of higher-grade silicon in their production. In order to ensure high accuracy and precision, these manufacturers employ advanced robotic processes to control the manufacturing process. As a result, they are able to minimize or wholly eliminate any potential human error.
Tier 1 manufacturers are also heavily invested in research and development activities that help them stay competitive. To increase efficiency, vertical integration is employed by Tier 1 manufacturers as they produce all key components used in a solar panel within their facility.
With an annual production capacity of over 1 GW and continuously supplying solar panels for five years or more, it can be seen why Tier 1 manufacturers have gained a reputation for producing highly reliable and efficient solar products.
Tier 1 manufacturers are well-known for their excellent quality and ongoing service commitment, making them a dependable choice for many. In order to produce the highest-performing solar panels, these manufacturers use the best-grade materials and components, making them often 30% more expensive than panels from manufacturers of lesser quality.
These products are typically backed with a 12-year product warranty and up to 25 years linear performance warranty, so it’s possible that savings can recoup the higher cost over time.
Examples of notable Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers include Jinko Solar, JA Solar, LONGi Solar, Trina Solar, and Canadian Solar – all of which are highly regarded in the industry for generating reliable energy systems.
What Do Tier 2 Solar Panels Offer?
Tier 2 manufacturers use partial robotics in the production of solar panels, relying on manual work through human production lines to produce good solar panels at a relatively low cost. While these dynamic leaves open the possibility of human error, these manufacturers often invest minimally in research and development, instead opting for a short-term approach.
Many companies that fall under Tier 2 manufacturer standards are usually small to medium-sized businesses producing solar panels with a useful life expectancy of up to 5 years. In addition, they typically offer a product (component) and linear performance warranties, although these operate at lower levels of coverage than Tier 1 counterparts.
Examples of specific Tier 2 manufacturers are RenewSys Solar, Luxor Solar, and Axitec Solar.
What Do Tier 3 Solar Panels Offer?
Tier 3 solar panel manufacturers typically operate on a manual production line, relying on the expertise of workers to solder cells together rather than robotics. This can lead to panels of variable quality depending on the operator’s skill set. In terms of research and development, these companies have zero investments; all their designs result from other manufacturers’ cells. However, they provide adequate warranties, although they are of lesser quality than a Tier 2 warranty.
Prominent examples include Tanfon Solar, Dongson Solar, and Lovsun Solar.
Here are the key differences between Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 solar panels, and which one is better compared to the other:
Tier 1 Solar Panels:
Most vertically integrated: Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers are usually the most vertically integrated, which means they handle most, if not all, of the production processes in-house. This allows them to have better control over the quality of their products.
Use the best grade of materials: Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers use the highest quality materials to produce their products.
Advanced robotic process in manufacturing: They employ advanced robotic processes in their manufacturing processes, which increases efficiency and reduces the likelihood of errors.
Supplying solar panels over five years: Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers have been supplying solar panels for more than five years.
Most expensive: Tier 1 solar panels are the most expensive option available on the market.
Best quality: Tier 1 solar panels are known for superior quality and performance.
Tier 2 Solar Panels:
Less vertically integrated: Tier 2 solar panel manufacturers are less vertically integrated than Tier 1, meaning they outsource some production processes to third-party suppliers.
Use the moderate grade of materials: Tier 2 solar panel manufacturers use moderate quality materials, which are still of good quality but not as high as those used by Tier 1 manufacturers.
Partial robotic process manufacturing process: They use a partial robotic process in their manufacturing process, which reduces production costs but may increase the likelihood of errors.
Supplying solar panels between 2 and 5 years: Tier 2 solar panel manufacturers have been supplying solar panels for between 2 and 5 years.
Moderately expensive: Tier 2 solar panels are moderately expensive.
Moderate quality: Tier 2 solar panels are good quality but not as good as Tier 1.
Tier 3 Solar Panels:
Least/ not vertically integrated: Tier 3 solar panel manufacturers are the least vertically integrated, meaning they outsource most of their production processes to third-party suppliers.
Use the moderate grade of materials: Tier 3 solar panel manufacturers use moderate quality materials, which are still of good quality but not as high as those used by Tier 1 manufacturers.
Partial to no robotic process in manufacturing: They use a partial to no robotic process in their manufacturing process, which reduces production costs but may increase the likelihood of errors.
Supplying solar panels above one year: Tier 3 manufacturers have been supplying solar panels for over one year.
Least expensive: Tier 3 solar panels are the least expensive option on the market.
Lowest quality: Tier 3 solar panels are good quality but not as good as Tier 1 and Tier 2.
Overall, Tier 1 solar panels are the best option in terms of quality and performance, followed by Tier 2 and Tier 3. However, Tier 1 panels are also the most expensive, so the decision to choose between Tier 1 and Tier 2 ultimately depends on the buyer’s budget and needs. Tier 3 panels may be suitable for those looking for a budget-friendly option, but the quality and performance may not be as good as Tier 1 and Tier 2 panels.
From our exploration of the differences between Tier 1, 2, and 3 panels and their benefits, it is clear that choosing a tier that best suits your needs will depend on a variety of factors. Tier 1 panels are generally thought to be the most reliable when it comes to the quality of the panel and its robustness.
On the other hand, Tier 2 and 3 panels tend to be cheaper and more user-friendly for those who aren’t concerned about having a really powerful panel setup or display. Ultimately, both have advantages and disadvantages depending on specific factors (e.g., budget and aesthetic requirements).
Fortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when selecting a panel tier. To make an informed decision between various available tiers, you may have to consider all the pros and cons mentioned in this article before settling down on one particular tier. To stay up to date with more information regarding these panel concerns or others related to audio/visual technology, be sure to follow us for updates!
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