What Are Tier 1 Solar Panels Australia?

What are Tier 1 solar panels?

Tier 1 solar panels refer to panels produced by well-established and financially stable manufacturers that meet strict quality and performance standards. The tier system is an industry classification that ranks panel makers based on production scale, bankability, and financial health. Tiers are designated from 1 to 3, with Tier 1 representing the highest rating.

For a solar panel manufacturer to achieve Tier 1 status, they must have:

  • A vertically integrated production process and direct control over manufacturing.
  • Sufficient financial resources for steady investment in R&D and quality control.
  • A large global production capacity, typically over 1 GW per year.
  • Proven bankability, financial health, and creditworthiness.

Tier 1 manufacturers undergo regular auditing and quality testing to maintain their certification. Their panels are built to high standards using premium materials. As a result, Tier 1 panels tend to be more efficient, durable, and reliable than lesser tiers. Brand trust and panel warrantees are also stronger with Tier 1 products.

In Australia’s solar market, the most recognized Tier 1 panel brands are Canadian Solar, JinkoSolar, Trina Solar, Qcells, and Longi Solar. Going with a Tier 1 panel provides peace of mind and typically a superior return-on-investment.

Why does Tier 1 certification matter?

Tier 1 certification indicates that a solar panel manufacturer meets high standards for quality, reliability, and financial stability. There are several key reasons Tier 1 status is important for consumers looking to install solar panels:

Higher quality: Tier 1 panels are produced by large, established companies using automated manufacturing processes. This results in more consistent quality control and fewer defects. Tier 1 brands rigorously test their products to ensure they will perform well over their lifetime.[1]

Better performance: Tier 1 solar panels often have higher efficiency ratings, meaning they can produce more electricity from the same amount of sunlight. Their quality components and rigorous testing enables them to maintain optimum performance over decades in the field.

Longer warranties: Confident in their products, Tier 1 manufacturers typically provide 25-year power output warranties. This guarantees a minimum energy production over 25 years. Tier 2 warranties may be shorter or have more conditions.[2]

By opting for Tier 1 panels, homeowners and businesses can feel assured they are investing in proven, high-caliber solar products that will deliver returns for decades.

List of Tier 1 solar panel brands:

There are several major manufacturers that are consistently ranked as top tier 1 producers of solar panels (cite: https://www.renvu.com/Tier-1-Solar-Panels-List-2022). Some of the most prominent Tier 1 solar panel brands include:

  • JinkoSolar – One of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world, JinkoSolar is a leader in innovative solar cell technology and reliable panels. Based in China but sells globally (cite: https://www.renvu.com/Tier-1-Solar-Panels-List-2023).
  • LG – The famous Korean electronics brand also produces high-efficiency monocrystalline solar panels with strong 25 year warranties.
  • Panasonic – This Japanese electronics company manufactures high-quality N-type monocrystalline solar panels with industry-leading efficiency.
  • REC Solar – Founded in Norway, REC makes tier 1 monocrystalline and heterojunction solar panels for residential and commercial use.
  • SunPower – Known for its premium monocrystalline solar panels made in the USA, SunPower panels have high efficiencies and sleek all-black aesthetics.

Other big names in Tier 1 solar manufacturing include Trina, Canadian Solar, LONGi, and Qcells. While not the only measure of panel quality, Tier 1 certification indicates widely accepted and reputable brands known for product reliability and financial stability.

Tier 1 market share in Australia

Tier 1 solar panels have been gaining significant market share in Australia over the past few years. According to a 2019 report by SunWiz, Tier 1 panels accounted for around 65% of the residential solar market in Australia, up from just 35% in 2015 [1]. Some of the key factors driving the growth in Tier 1 market share include:

tier 1 solar panels have captured over 50% of australia's residential solar market.

  • Increasing consumer awareness – Homeowners are becoming more educated about panel quality and Tier 1 certification.
  • Falling prices – The cost of Tier 1 panels has decreased, making them more affordable.
  • Bank requirements – Most banks require Tier 1 panels to provide financing for solar projects.
  • Installer preferences – Many quality installers prefer using Tier 1 products to reduce warranty claims.

The market share gains highlight the increasing importance that Australian consumers and industry are placing on panel quality and reliability. While Tier 1 products are more expensive than lesser-known brands, the extra peace of mind appears to be resonating with homeowners. The market share of Tier 1 panels in Australia is expected to continue growing as consumers become savvier about solar purchasing decisions.

Cost of Tier 1 solar panels

Tier 1 solar panels from premium brands do generally cost more upfront compared to lesser known brands. According to Solar Reviews, you can expect to pay around $0.20-$0.30 more per watt for a Tier 1 panel.

However, the higher upfront investment in a quality Tier 1 system often pays off over the long run. Tier 1 panels tend to have higher efficiency and better performance warranties. This means they’ll produce more clean energy over their lifetime. Their superior durability also results in lower failure rates, saving on maintenance and replacement costs.

Additionally, the strong warranties (up to 25 years) provided by Tier 1 manufacturers offer greater long-term peace of mind. While Tier 1 panels cost more initially, their higher output and reliability makes them a worthwhile investment for many homeowners seeking maximum solar energy production over decades.

Tier 1 solar panel warranties

Tier 1 solar panels come with strong warranties that cover both the product and performance. The product warranty typically guarantees the solar panels will be free of defects for 10-12 years (Source). The performance or power warranty provides assurances on electricity output, guaranteeing a high percentage of rated power for 25 years or longer (Source). These lengthy warranties give homeowners confidence in the durability and longevity of Tier 1 solar panels.

Having a product warranty of at least 10 years and a performance warranty of 25 years or more is a defining characteristic of Tier 1 solar panels (Source). The warranties reflect the rigorous testing and proven field performance data of Tier 1 products. While Tier 2 panels may offer shorter 5-10 year warranties, Tier 1 warranties match the long functional lifespan of high quality solar panels. This allows homeowners to maximize long-term energy production and return on investment.

Performance and efficiency

Tier 1 solar panels are known for having higher conversion efficiencies and better low-light performance compared to Tier 2 and 3 panels. This is because Tier 1 manufacturers use higher grade silicon and more advanced cell technologies in their panels (Tier 1 vs tier 2 solar panels).

For example, monocrystalline panels from Tier 1 brands like SunPower and LG typically have efficiencies around 20-22%, while standard monocrystalline from Tier 2/3 is around 16-18%. Polycrystalline Tier 1 panels range from 17-19% efficient, compared to 15-17% for lower tiers (Solar Panels Quality Pyramid).

Higher efficiency means Tier 1 panels can produce more electricity from the same amount of sunlight. This results in higher energy output over the lifetime of the system. Tier 1 panels also tend to degrade slower than lower grade panels.

In low-light conditions like overcast days or early morning/late afternoon, Tier 1 panels can squeeze out more power. Their superior performance helps offset times when sunlight is limited.

Are Tier 1 panels worth it?

Tier 1 solar panels tend to cost more than Tier 2 or 3 panels. You’ll generally pay around 10-30% more for a Tier 1 solar panel. So are they really worth the extra investment? There are pros and cons to consider.

The biggest advantage of Tier 1 panels is their superior quality and performance. Tier 1 manufacturers use higher grade silicon and more advanced technology to produce more efficient solar cells. This results in higher energy output over the lifetime of Tier 1 panels compared to lower tiers.

Tier 1 solar panels also tend to have better warranties, usually 25 years for product warranty and 25+ years for performance. Their proven reliability means you can expect decades of clean energy production. The longer coverage provides more security on your investment.

On the downside, Tier 1 solar does come at a higher upfront cost. However, experts estimate you can recoup the extra expense in energy savings within just a few years. When weighing the pros and cons, many homeowners find the superior quality, performance and warranties make Tier 1 solar panels well worth the extra investment.



Find the right installer

The importance of high quality installation for solar panels cannot be overstated. A bad installation can lead to all kinds of issues down the line such as leaks, damage, underperformance and even safety hazards. That’s why it’s critical to find an experienced, reputable installer when getting Tier 1 solar panels in Australia. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you should look for installers with at least three years of experience and ask them how long they’ve been in business (Decisions, Decisions: Choosing the Right Solar Installer – Energy.gov).

Do your research by reading reviews and talking to neighbors to find the most qualified installers in your area. The best solar panel company will have a proven track record of high quality installations. Work with a trusted local company, rather than a fly-by-night operation or one of the big national chains which may use subcontractors. Take time to evaluate companies thoroughly before moving forward (7 Tips for Finding the Best Solar Installers Near Me – CNET). This due diligence will pay off with a seamless installation and solar panels that provide maximum return on investment.

Financial incentives

There are a few financial incentives available from the Australian government and energy providers to help lower the upfront cost of installing solar panels in your home. The main incentives are solar panel rebates and feed-in tariffs.

The Victorian government offers a solar panel rebate of up to $1,400 for households installing a solar PV system under its Solar Homes Program. This rebate amount covers up to 2400W of solar panel capacity. There are also options for interest-free loans if more capacity is required [1].

On a national level, small-scale solar PV systems are eligible for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) under the federal Renewable Energy Target scheme. Each STC is equivalent to 1 megawatt hour of renewable electricity generation and can be sold to reduce the overall system cost. Currently STCs provide a rebate of around $350 per kW installed [2].

Feed-in tariffs provide payments from energy retailers for excess solar electricity fed back into the grid from your rooftop solar system. Feed-in tariff rates vary by state and provider. The minimum feed-in tariff is 6-8c per kWh but some deals offer 10c or more.

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