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What Is Tier 1 Solar Panel and Is It Important?

What Is Tier 1 Solar Panel?

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. A new standard was needed to help identify the optimal brands for consumers.

In 2012, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has created a PV module tiering system more commonly known as the Tier 1 Solar Manufacturer classifications that focused on financial and bankability. The industry label was awarded through 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 may recognise that BloombergNEF’s tiering system will value solar module brands that specialise in large, utility solar projects.

2.2 MW ground mount utility solar installation in Germany
A 2.2 MW ground-mount solar installation in Germany.

Utility-scale solar (or solar farms) are predominately ground-mounted installations that can produce power with the Megawatts. Almost all large solar farms are designed in abundant areas due to the low cost of the land and therefore can use lower-cost and lower efficiency solar products.

The Tier 1 solar panel 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. Utility-scale systems have a clear preference for manufacturers that can tailor solar products with these characteristics.

Unlike utility applications, rooftop commercial and residential solar projects are situated on limited roof areas and don’t have dedicated solar maintenance teams. This market is better suited to solar manufacturers that produce high-efficiency products that can maximise the total power in a compact design.

The rooftop solar market demonstrates a preference for efficiency and longevity. These characteristics can be found in brands such as SunPower, LG Solar, and WINAICO but are not well recognised by the criteria defined by a Tier 1 Solar Manufacturer.

50 kW rooftop commercial solar installation on Beverley Racecourse in Yorkshire
50 kW rooftop solar installation on Beverley Racecourse in Yorkshire.

Looking Beyond Tier 1 to Choose Quality Solar Panels

When considering rooftop PV systems it critical to consider a few factors when selecting a PV Brand. With the limited roof space, high-efficiency modules must be identified to maximise the total energy production of your system. Additionally, a selection on panels that require the least amount of maintenance is ideal to reduce the need to climb onto your roof for any inspection or work.

So here are a few components to look out for when choosing the best quality manufacturers for rooftop applications:

Reinforced Solar Glass With Anti-Reflective Coating to Trap Maximum Light Energy

The glass on the surface of a solar panel provides two critical uses for the long term performance of any PV system. The total energy captured by the silicon is correlated to the amount of light that is able to penetrate through the glass. Furthermore, the glass provides the structural integrity to protect the brittle silicon from all environmental factors such as hail and wind.

Using glass components that optimise both light-energy transmission and total integrity is not used by inexpensive manufacturers but is absolutely vital for rooftop pv systems. The WINAICO design choice to choose stronger solar glass revolves is one of reliability for rooftop PV systems. Our modules are certified to withstand 4x the hail impact energy as a standard module test and demonstrate standards well beyond the minimum.

Additionally, WINAICO panels apply an anti-reflective coating (ARC) over the surface of the glass to reduce light reflection and drastically improve the light energy that is captured by the solar cells.

solar glass with ARC coating
Solar glass with anti-reflective coating reduces reflection and allows more light to be absorbed by the solar cells.

High-Efficiency Solar Cells Designed for Maximum Energy Yield

The solar cells are the key component in generating electricity from light. It is vital to include only high-quality silicon to maximise the energy potential for rooftop PV. WINAICO invests heavily in leading-edge high-efficiency solar cells to acquire the biggest power output on a solar module. Using higher efficiency cells allows for larger solar systems on the same roof in comparison to standard industry modules.

With the improved low-light response, WINAICO solar panels can produce energy earlier in the morning and turn off later in the afternoon, to maximise the 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.

solar cell low light performance
WINAICO uses high-efficiency solar cells that maintain high efficiency even at low light.

Unique External L-Key to Strengthen the Panel Frame

The frame of a solar module provides the strength to resist thermal and mechanical stress. WINAICO’s unique WSP frame contains an External L-key that guarantees the highest strength against rotation and pressure. The design choice to use a thicker and taller frame generates additional integrity to resist high loads such as snow and powerful winds.

The industry-leading frame design protects solar modules from wind stresses and thermal expansion. With a dedicated water drainage groove, the WSP Series ensures that your solar panels can be installed on any angled roof and drain water easily in the rain.

l-key winaico wsp frame water drain
WINAICO uses unique L-key frame construction with water drainage function.

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.

light reflecting ribbon
The light-reflecting ribbon reflects light back onto solar cells to increase the light-absorbing area.

This way more light can shine on the solar cells for extra module efficiency.

High-Quality EVA Film That Provides Long-Term Adhesion

The EVA film is an important adhesive layer that resides between the glass, solar cells, and backsheet. It is the encapsulating material that binds most of the vital components together.

The strength and quality of EVA make certain the laminate remains stable and insulated for the entire solar panel lifetime. Using industry leading adhesive ensures structural integrity around the solar cells. The solar industry has shown examples of bad EVA, with degrading componts resulting in reduced power output.

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.

full black residential solar installation
A residential solar installation designed with WINAICO full black panels.

Junction Box to Create a Safe Electrical Connection

A junction box contains the internal wiring and electrical components for every solar modules. The emphasis on water resistance is critical to ensure a safe place to insulate all cable connection from the solar panels to external circuits.

WINAICO panels use IP67 rated junction boxes that stop dust and water from seeping into the circuits. This rating the same as certain water-resistant watches and ensures the connection is safe even on rainy days.

IP67 junction box winaico
IP67 junction box stops dust and water from seeping into the circuits.

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.

The quality of WINAICO’s solar panels is also backed with industry-leading 25-year product warranty and 3-in-1 insurance coverage.

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.

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