Ratings of the manufacturers’ solar panels and everything you need to know about them.
Try to remember, how did you choose the car or maybe you are still choosing? Cars, like solar panels, are also divided into classes. If we hear the word “premium” car, we represent a huge concern that develops components, strictly controls the quality of manufacture and assembly of cars, invests heavily in the latest developments, pays great attention to detail. Typically, such cars have a high performance, longer manufacturer’s guarantee, meet modern requirements and have the highest quality standards.
Every quarter, Bloomberg classifies manufacturers of photomodules by groups Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3. Yes, of course, this list does not relate to the technical characteristics of FEM, but shows the financial stability of companies and their participation in various solar projects. But that’s not all.
To begin with, let’s understand what these groups are and which manufacturers fall into them?
Companies producing Tier 1 panels:
• People invest significant funds in research (R&D), have their own patents and constantly introduce new innovative approaches and solutions in the organization of production and technological processes.
• They have their own vertically integrated production. In other words, the manufacturer does not simply assemble solar panels, using for this components and materials made by other manufacturers, but has its own full production cycle, from growing silicon wafers and producing photovoltaic cells to assembling photovoltaic modules. At the same time carrying out strict quality control at all stages of production.
• Thanks to a fully automated production process, the impact of the human factor is minimized.
• They are constantly working on improving all technological operations; consider its perfection to be the main factor of high quality of finished products.
• Companies that refer to Tier 1 must operate in the global market for more than 5 years. 5 years is an indicative term of the solar industry. When the company works over this time, it means that it was able to properly organize the production of solar panels and elements, to establish their implementation and customer support. The manufacturer of FEM is focused on long-term operation and is financially stable. The longer a company is in the market, the more likely it is to meet all of its guarantee obligations.
• Guarantee on Tier 1 solar panels for more than 10 years.
Tier 2 manufacturers occupy a kind of middle ground between high-end Tier 1 and low-end Tier 3.
Characteristics of production panels Tier 2:
• Production is automated, but not at such a high level as in Tier 1;
• Investments in scientific and technical developments are being made, but to a lower extent than Tier 1, although manufacturers are actively implementing their own developments to improve existing products and launch new types of modules.
• Tier 2 brands are in most cases on the SES equipment market from 2 to 5 years.
• They have the potential, but do not have sufficient experience and resources to implement.
This is the largest segment of photomodules, which has the lowest quality class.
Features of production:
• Tier 3 deals exclusively with the assembly of solar panels, using components and photomodules made by other manufacturers, and usually of low quality.
• Production processes have an insufficient level of automation; depend on the human factor – manual labor. That is why solar panels of even one batch can differ significantly in the quality of the assembly.
• Do not conduct any research activities using other people’s (often illegal) technologies and developments.
• The parameters stated by the manufacturer in the accompanying documentation do not always correspond to the actual figures.
• The modern market is oversaturated with solar panels of this class.
• Doubtful guarantees.
Buying Tier 3 solar panels is like buying a “cat in the sack”. You can buy solar panels, both good quality and at an average quality, not very reliable and productive solar panel.
So the top 10 Tier 1 are high-tech modules with very high reliability and quality assurance. If you compare the ratings of Tier 1 over the past few years, it can be noted that the leading positions remain virtually unchanged; they are occupied from year to year by the same manufacturers.
Unisolar safely recommends and collaborates with Tier 1 for the construction of solar stations.
We want to emphasize that ratings are always very important, but in order to choose a quality manufacturer and equipment, you need to pay attention not only to the ratings, but also to the experience of working with Ukrainian companies. In one of the following articles we will tell you how to choose a reliable manufacturer of photovoltaic modules from our experience and get the best results from cooperation. Stay tuned and look forward to new posts.