All the Important Things You Need to Know About Tier 1 Solar Panel Manufacturers in 2024


With solar energy booming in Australia and around the world, there’s no wonder there are many solar manufacturers today. In fact, there are over 5,000 solar panel brands that are listed on the Australian Clean Energy Council list. Indeed, there are so many options to choose from. However, it can get very overwhelming, especially if you are new to the world of solar. 

How do you differentiate between a good solar panel and a not-so-good one? Here, Energy Matters will take you through Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers and why we recommend that you choose from this list, where possible.

Tier 1 Solar Panel: What is it?

The first thing that probably comes to mind when you hear the word Tier 1 solar panel is that it is the highest quality out there. However, you will be surprised by what it actually means. 

When people say “Tier 1,” it often refers to the solar panel ranking by Bloomberg New Energy Finance Corporation, which is called “Tier 1.” The ranking rates solar panel manufacturers by their “bankability.” It’s a measure of a manufacturer’s financial strength. So, why is it important?

As per Bloomberg NEFC, Tier 1 solar manufacturers are “those which have provided own-brand, own-manufacture products to at least six different projects which have been financed non-recourse by six different commercial banks in the last two years.” 

Bloomberg also notes that they only put manufacturers on their list if they have their own production facilities and sell under their own brands.

In detail: What the Tier 1 ranking tells you

Bloomberg NEFC finds out about solar farm deals to evaluate how they are financed. Then, they ensure that the manufacturer hasn’t gone bankrupt or filed for insolvency. Through this, the solar panel manufacture is financially stable, as evaluated by commercial banks. 

With so many solar panel manufacturers entering the industry, you want to ensure that you’re getting your solar panels from a manufacturer that has the staying power. If you run into an issue 1, 5, or 10 years down the track, you will want to know that you can rely on the manufacturer honouring the manufacturer’s warranty.

In order to rank on the Tier 1 list, the business must be competitive, yet  also a low-margin business. This is also why the biggest solar panel manufacturers are the safest and best. 

Another thing that the Tier 1 ranking will tell you is that there are a lot of solar panel manufacturers out there who are just assemblers. They are the ones who don’t manufacture the components of a solar panel. 

Those marked as Tier 1 have their own production team, factories, and strict quality control processes. These demonstrate that Tier 1 panels are likely to be more reliable and would likely generate more energy over their 25-year lifespan. 

Additionally, Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers invest and market their brands. This shows that they care about their reputation. Lower tiered manufacturers often do not invest in their brand or business.

How does the Tier 1 ranking help you?

As mentioned, being tiered by Bloomberg NEFC doesn’t necessarily translate to quality. Still, it’s helpful in other ways. 

For one, it indicates whether the solar manufacturer would be around to honour its warranties. Why is this important?

When buying solar panels, you are not just buying and installing them; the panels need to perform for years. This is where the warranty plays a crucial role. 

Therefore, it only makes sense to want to be confident in what you buy. You want to be 100 per cent sure that the manufacturer will still be in business over the lifespan of your panels to claim the warranty. 

The Tier 1 ranking indicates whether a manufacturer is financially stable to withstand the ups and downs of the solar industry. Moreover, it will give buyers assurance that the company will be able to support them should there need to be a warranty claim in the future.

Is a Tier 1 solar panel THE choice for you?

The short answer is yes, having Tier 1 solar panels is good. In fact, you might want to check the manufacturer’s rating when you’re looking for solar panels first. 

As good as being “tiered” is, you also need to check the performance of the solar panels. Tier 1 doesn’t tell you the solar panel efficiency and the power output you can expect at the end of the 25 years, which is why you must research properly.

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Updated January 2024

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