While researching solar panels and different solar retailers, you might have come across the term Tier 1.
But to fully understand which solar panel is best for you, you need to understand what these ‘tiers’ actually mean, and how solar panel manufacturers are categorised as Tier 1, 2 or 3.
What does Tier 1 mean?
Solar panel manufacturers are ‘ranked’ into three tiers. Tier 1 solar panels are panels that are manufactured by big brands who have a good reputation in the industry. As these companies have generally been around for more than a few years, you’re a lot safer investing in Tier 1 companies than Tier 2 or 3.
Where did the Tier 1 list come from?
The tiering system for Australian solar panels is compiled by a company called Bloomberg (click here to read about the tier system itself). There are a few other tier 1 lists out there, but the Bloomberg list is the one which most solar companies rely upon.
The list is a ranking of the panel manufacturers – not the panels themselves. This is an important distinction to be aware of: panel manufacturers often build a range of panels of varying quality and scope – from budget-friendly panels to the higher, premium end of the spectrum.
The Bloomberg lists places emphasis on companies with a stable financial background, that invest in research and development into new and emerging technologies, and the companies’ manufacturing capacity.
Tier 2 and 3 solar panels aren’t necessarily bad quality…
But Tier 1 solar panels are a good marker of trust and reputation.
Tier 2 and 3 – or lower – solar panels are not necessarily poorer quality in terms of parts or manufacturing. However, these manufacturers may have only been established in the previous 12 months, might have only completed a few jobs and might not be guaranteed to still be around for years to come. Smaller, boutique brands might build good quality panels, but how likely is it that will they be around in another 4 or 5 years to service, repair or replace your panels if something goes wrong?
Buying solar panels from a Tier 1 company is a great way to judge quality in an increasingly crowded market, and a way to safeguard your future in the event of any technical issues or warranty claims. You can expect to pay a little more for Tier 1 solar panels than Tier 2 or 3, but, as the saying goes, you often get what you pay for.
How do I know if the panels I’m buying are Tier 1?
Many solar companies – us included – will state that their solar panels are Tier 1. But without direct access to the Bloomberg-published list, it can be really difficult to know if the retailer is using the Bloomberg tier system.
When you get a quote for your new solar system, make sure to ask for verification of their Tier 1 status. Either ask for the criteria they’re basing their Tier 1 classification on, or ask about the manufacturer itself. A trustworthy solar retailer will only be happy to provide you with this information to help you make an informed choice.
Our Solar and Battery Storage Buying Guide is the definitive buying guide for solar panels and battery storage.
As the market continues to grow and change, so do your options for solar panels – it can be overwhelming. The guide was created by our solar specialists to help answer your questions and concerns.