TIER-1 Solar Panel Reality


TIER-1 Solar Panel Reality

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TIER-1 SOLAR PANEL. It’s the first point which must be established. This is the most misused term in the solar industry. If you like the sound of the term Tier-1, glossy datasheets promising the world with unproven warranties and stories of fluff, stop reading. Before seeing the images of critical failure in cheap, so-called “Tier-1 solar panels” understand this, Tier-1 solar panels do not exist. Ask anyone with respectable knowledge in the industry and they will tell you the same. In a bid to keep it simple, see below.

Tier-1 in a nutshell.

  • Only Tier-1 solar panel manufacturers exist.
  • Tier-1 is a term created by Bloomberg with no criteria of quality in the selection process.
  • Bloomberg does not audit manufacturing facilities or product. It’s purely financial. Therefore, the Tier-1 list of solar panel manufacturers changes quarterly.
  • Tier-1 is a label which will not stay with the product for life as it is not a quality guideline and Bloomberg is not a testing institute.
  • Random audits on dubbed Tier-1 solar panel brands found cases of inadequate production against the nameplate value when subjected to Standard Test Conditions straight out of the box.
  • Tier-1 solar manufacturers rated by volume have greater product defects.

Proof that Tier-1 is no gauge for quality. The fact is, Tier-1 is a term low-end market sellers exploit to give the buyer a feeling of confidence in a cheap product. In most instances, beneath the surface is an underperforming electrical mess, despite the bank ability of a certain manufacturer in a nominated quarter. Industry experts suggest “be the savvy shopper” and always seek BEYOND TIER-1.


Pictures tell a thousand words.

WHAT THE INTERNET UNCOVERED in the last 3-years of critically failed “Tier-1 solar panels” installed in Australia alone. The images below from deemed Tier-1 manufacturers are less than 1% of catastrophic solar panel failures system owners have endured from 2015 to 2018. Expel the myth that Tier-1 is a quality guideline. Exposed are the avoidable results of inferior product selection.

  1. Micro-Cracks.
  2. Hot Spot.
  3. Fire.
  4. De-lamination.
  5. Shattering.
  6. Ingress.
  7. Deformation.
  8. Discolouration.


1. Micro Cracks.

Micro cracks are stress or pressure induced cracks in the silicon solar cells of solar panels. These cracks can’t often be seen by the naked eye, only with specific testing methods. Micro cracks are the route cause for so many solar panel malfunctions or inactive cells in solar modules.


Hot Spot Tier-1 Solar Panels

2. Hot Spot.

Hot spots are localised temperature rises within the solar panel causing devastating effects to the efficiency and degradation of a solar module. If you see these on your solar panel immediately get in touch with your installer. Hot spots are not stable and will eventually cause catastrophic failure.


FIRE Tier-1 Solar Panels

3. Fire.

An extreme potential hazard which exists with solar energy production, especially when on the roof of a family home. Solar panel fires are not as common as micro-cracks or hot spot, but are more of an evolved state from underlying defects, no matter how insignificant they may seem.


DELAMINATION Tier-1 Solar Panels

4. Delamination

Delamination is a serious issue as it allows moisture to penetrate the internal electrical components which in turn will cause a catastrophic failure, requiring replacement. As depicted manufacturer deemed Tier-1 solar panels are no stranger to this problem, comprised of low-quality materials and cheaper construction methods in order to achieve the mass volumes required for Tier-1 qualification. A result which Influences negative connotations towards solar energy when things go wrong.


SHATTER Tier-1 Solar Panels

5. Shattering

All solar panels must have a degree of resistance to elements which can influence shattering. This will however vary from manufacturer to manufacturer as the material qualification (glass selection) and construction processes vary dramatically. The main cause of shatter are varied between environment, construction and installation.


INGRESS Tier-1 Solar Panels

6. Ingress

When moisture penetrates the the protective layers of the solar module and makes contact within the internal electrical circuit. Severely expediting the degradation of the panel and eventually leading to catastrophic failure of the panel and entire solar system. Ingress is mainly caused by a low-quality production line and inferior material qualification.


DEFORMATION Tier-1 Solar Panels

7. Deformation

Deformation in it’s most severe form is likely to be caused by a combination of the detrimental effects listed within the previous 6 categories or as a result of inadequate strengthening properties within the solar panel. There are though, two main areas where the affects of solar panel deformation is prominent: The centre of the panel where slumping towards the roof is prominent and the outer frame region.

DISCOLOURATION Tier-1 Solar Panels

8. Discolouration

Discolouration will turn the diamonds or protective back sheet a yellow/brown colour. This is a chemical reaction between the poor quality materials and sunlight. More often than not appearing within the first few years of sunlight exposure. Poor or cheap material qualification is the source of such failure. Once discolouration commences the EVA is in a constant change from it’s original state which will inevitably lead to material breakdown.

An extreme reputation.

BEYOND TIER-1. Here’s our pick of solar panel manufacturers with an extreme reputation. A reputation with a proven history of manufacturing and an enduring product with minimal requirements for warranty action over the warranty period. A reputation far beyond Tier-1 solar qualification.

Like ;

  • LG (South Korea)

  • Sunpower (China)

  • Solarworld (Germany)

  • Aleo Solar (Germany)

  • Hyundai Heavy Industries (South Korea)

  • REC (USA)

  • Panasonic

  • Kyocera (Japan)

  • Winaico

  • Solarwatt

What’s important to you? No doubt cost plays an important roll in the selection process, however, is mediocrity acceptable? What other gauge for quality can be deemed a bench mark beyond Tier-1 solar labelling? Tell the world below!

Source : Solar Review