What are Tier 1 Solar Panels?

Looking for a quality brand of solar panel can be daunting, with so many manufactures offering so many types of technology, it can be hard to pick which will offer you the best value for money and reliability.


Mis-leading sales of ‘Tier 1 solar panels’

Many clients come to us and ask for a Tier 1 panel, often under the misunderstanding that a Tier 1 panel will be a top quality product worth buying.  In actual fact, there is no such thing as a ‘Tier 1 Solar Module’, only ‘Tier 1 Module Manufacturers’.  An important difference as, in Bloomberg’s own words – “We strongly recommend that module purchasers and banks do not use this list as a measure of Quality” – The Bloomberg Tier 1 classification has nothing to do with the quality of the product.


Bloomberg’s methodology.

Tier 1 is simply an investigation by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that entails the Solar Panel manufacturer needing to show that 6 different finance houses have backed projects of over 1.5MWp of solar (a fairly large solar farm) within the last 2 years.  You can read the full Methodology on Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s website here.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance do not publish tier 2 or tier 3 lists, so any sub-tiered lists out there are just made-up marketing terms.  It’s also important to note that BNEF’s tiered system “ranks” manufacturers and not specific panel lines. Tier 1 doesn’t mean the panels are the best performing modules on the market.


How to find out who’s on the list.

You’ll also note in Bloomberg’s Methodology document that access to the list of Manufacturers on the Tier 1 list is only available to BloombergNEF subscribers, which is several hundred dollars/quarter.  As the list is not widely accessible, it’s also very easy for Solar PV manufacturers and sellers of Solar PV panels to claim that their ‘Panels’ are Tier 1 as it’s unlikely anyone could prove otherwise.

So all in all, not worth the paper it’s written on and if anyone tries to sell you Tier 1 panels, you’re now armed to deal with their false claims.

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