With numerous solar module manufacturers that sell panels of different shapes and sizes around the world, it is difficult to create a consistent and trustworthy system to measure how good a solar brand is.
Therefore, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has created a PV module tiering system that defines tier 1 solar manufacturers from a financial and bankability point of view.
What is tier 1 solar panel?
Tier 1 solar panel is a set of financial-based criteria defined by BloombergNEF to find the most bankable solar brands suitable for utility-scale applications.
Tier 1 module manufacturers must have supplied their own brand products manufactured in their own facilities to at least six different projects larger than 1.5 MW, which were financed by six different banks in the past two years.
A smart solar investor might recognise that BloombergNEF’s tiering system values solar module brands who specialise in large, utility projects.
As you might know, the utility-scale installations are usually ground-mount, MW-scale systems built on abundant spaces, and is a financially sensitive market segment that rewards financial strength and low-cost products.
So the tier 1 list is dominated by large conglomerates, such as Jinko, LONGi, First Solar, that are financially strong and proficient in offering low power density solar panels.
Unlike utility applications, rooftop commercial and residential solar projects situate on limited roof areas and don’t have dedicated solar maintenance teams.
So high-quality rooftop solar panels need to have high efficiency and long reliability, found in SunPower, LG Solar, and WINAICO, and require a different set of criteria defined by tier 1 solar module.
Looking beyond tier 1 to choose quality solar panels
When you think about investing in rooftop PV systems, you will want to maximise energy production from the limited roof space.
You want to choose solar panels that are as reliable as possible, so you don’t have to climb up the roof very often to maintain them.
So here are a few tips in choosing the best quality solar panels for rooftop applications.
Reinforced solar glass with anti-reflective coating to trap maximum light energy
The glass on the front of a solar panel allows sunlight to enter while protecting solar cells from the weather.
So the solar glass is strengthened to withstand huge impact from hailstones, as big as 35 mm, to increase solar panel lifetime and reliability.
WINAICO panels use solar glass with anti-reflective coating (ARC) to reduce light reflection and make sure almost all the light energy can reach the solar cells.
High-efficiency solar cells designed for maximum energy yield
A solar cell is a key component in generating electricity from light.
WINAICO invests heavily in leading-edge high-efficiency solar cells to fit the biggest power output on a solar module.
With the better low-light response, WINAICO solar panels can begin producing energy earlier in the morning, and turn off later at dawn, to give you the most energy production on the roof every day.
We also research extensively into solar cell defect analysis, such as PID and LID issues, to reduce the speed of solar cell deterioration in the field of operation.
Unique external L-key to strengthen the panel frame
A sturdy frame protects the solar module from thermal and mechanical stress.
WINAICO’s unique WSP frame contains an external L-key that guarantees the highest strength against rotation and pressure.
The industry-leading frame design protects solar modules from wind stresses and thermal expansion.
A dedicated water drainage groove makes sure solar panels installed on an angled roof can drain water easily in the rain.
This promotes self-cleaning through rainwater and prevents dust to settle over solar cells to reduce energy generation.
Reflective ribbons can boost module efficiency further
Solar cells are strung together with electrically conductive ribbons to generate voltage for a solar panel.
Though ribbons are effective at conducting electric currents, the thin conductors block light from reaching the solar cells underneath.
WINAICO panels use light-reflective ribbons that are textured on the surface to reflect light onto the solar cells, effectively increasing the light-absorbing area on the cells by 2.5% or more.
This way more light can shine on the solar cells for extra module efficiency.
High-quality EVA film that provides long-term adhesion
EVA film is an important adhesive layer between glass, solar cells, and backsheet.
The strength and quality of EVA make sure the laminate remains stable and insulated for the entire solar panel lifetime.
Watch out for poor quality EVA films that peel and turn yellow over time to the detriment of power production.
Backsheet can provide excellent insulation and aesthetics
A solar module backsheet protect the rear side of solar cells from humidity and heat.
A high-quality backsheet can cool the solar module while preventing water vapour from damaging the solar cells.
Specially designed full black modules use black backsheets for a sleek appearance that can fit on any colour of roof tiles.
Junction box to create a safe electrical connection
A junction box is needed to provide a safe, insulated cable connection from solar panels to external circuits.
WINAICO panels use IP67 rated junction boxes that stop dust and water from seeping into the circuits and make sure the connection is safe even on rainy days.
Rather than focusing our efforts on developing large-scale, utility applications, WINAICO combines the right components to create the perfect solar modules for rooftop solar installations for your homes and businesses.
We make sure you get the most energy production from your roofs, with no worries.
By understanding what tier 1 solar panels are, you will be better at choosing quality solar panels for your rooftop PV system.