Which solar Panels is best?
However, choosing solar panels on price alone is not wise, as what you select may not fit the area you wish to install it, or the brand/model may not have the necessary certifications to qualify for government rebates.
The modules may not provide the best performance to help ensure economic payback of the power produced, or a solid warranty from a well-established company.
3 Tiers Of Solar Panel Quality
In addition to cost, when choosing the best solar panel for your installation situation, it is important to consider both how it is manufactured and what materials are used.
We consider there to be three tiers of manufacturer quality and Energy Matters only supplies solar panels from the first tier.
Source: Solar Demand Dynamics, Cost Structures, Policy Factors, and
Competitive Differentiators for Suppliers: Market Analysis and Forecasts
Tier one includes the top 2 percent of solar PV manufacturers. We consider Tier one manufacturers are those that are vertically integrated. This means they control each stage of the manufacturing process. These companies invest heavily in research and development, use advanced robotic processes and have been manufacturing solar panels for more than 5 years.
Tier one producers use the purest/best grade of silicon to produce solar cells. The higher the silicon grade, the longer the solar cell will last and the better it will perform in converting the sun’s energy to electricity.
Tier one manufacturers produce some of the best performing solar panels and these can often be acquired at a very reasonable price. Modules produced by Tier 1 manufacturers include REC Solar, Flex and JA Solar; all of which are used in Energy Matters’ range of solar power systems.
However, “Tier 1” is a claim that some manufacturers make that don’t fit our definition – so it’s important to understand not all claiming to be Tier 1 are equal. Quality can vary greatly between Tier 1 manufacturers, so this should only be an aspect of due diligence when searching for the best solar panels for your needs.
Tier two includes companies who invest less in research and development, are reliant on both robotic and manual assembly on production lines and have often been in solar panel manufacture for 2 – 5 years. Tier two manufacturers can produce good panels at good prices; but it can be a hit and miss affair.
Tier three encompasses 90% of new solar PV manufacturers. These companies assemble panels only, they usually don’t manufacture their own cells and don’t invest in research and development.
While often available at a cheaper price, tier three manufacturers use human production lines for manual soldering of solar cells, which often isn’t the best approach as quality can vary operator to operator and day to day. A Tier Three solar panel may in the long run cost you much more in terms of reliability and electricity output.
Panel cost vs. value – other factors
As not all module manufacturers are equal and there are a variety of other factors that should influence your purchase decision rather than focusing solely on cost.