Each product purchased by us, and solar panels including, should have a number of potential characteristics. The most attractive purchase is with a good price-quality ratio. And if the cost is immediately visible to us and with the naked eye, then it is much more difficult and sometimes impossible to determine the qualitative characteristics of a solar device in the same way. This issue becomes even more urgent if the purchase is made through the Internet.
In order to properly assess the quality characteristics of solar panels, it is worth paying attention primarily to two main factors: “Tier” and “grade”. The first characteristic is a direct indicator of the level of the manufacturer, the second – the quality of the components and the immediate assembly of the device.
Rating Тіеr – an indicator of the level of the manufacturer
The name Tier has migrated to alternative energy from the economy. This rating allows investors to select the most attractive companies financially. In solar energy, this term gives a characteristic of the level of the manufacturer, taking into account:
– product quality;
– automation of production lines;
– the total volume of produced devices;
– the amount of the company’s investment in the research work of its own production;
– the company’s reputation in the market, etc.
It is worth paying attention to the fact that various analysts make up a lot of ratings on this topic. But the most popular of all is the rating from Bloomberg.
This rating subdivides the manufacturing companies into three subgroups: Тіеr 1, Тіеr 2 and Тіеr 3.
So, Тіеr 1. In this subgroup there are about two percent of the world’s largest and most popular manufacturing companies. Their production produces about one gigawatt of solar power. Often, the production process for them covers the whole cycle, including growing the silicon component. Their investment in research is quite impressive, and production lines are difficult to robotize. The term of work in the market for such companies is not less than five years.
By Тіеr 2 are medium and small-sized producers that have their own production lines. Most often these companies do not want to spend money on research. Most of the production process involves manual work, and only a small part is the use of robotic lines. The market such companies have mastered at least two years ago.
Тіеr 3, in turn, includes manufactures engaged in assembling solar panels from the details of other companies. This list includes about 90 percent of the manufacturing companies on the market. About the research in these firms it does not go, as well as about robotization. Mainly handwork is used.
It is important to note that this rating has a direct relationship to the manufacturing companies, but does not characterize the quality of the solar devices themselves. Each company can develop a whole line of panels, starting with budget options, where the price and quality correspond to the declared category, ending with the panels of the premium class. And yet, the ratings of Tier provide an opportunity to indirectly assess the quality characteristics of the products produced by the manufacturer, as well as to assess the measure of responsibility with which the company refers to its business.
The characteristic of Tier allows drawing a conclusion about the conformity of the claimed quality characteristics of the panel and its real indicators. Here is an example: a company ranking in line Tier 1 guarantees to the buyer that within 12 months of the loss, the amount of generated energy with their panels will not exceed 0.8 percent. This suggests that in a decade or so the power of the solar module will not fall below 8-10 percent compared to the newly purchased one. Companies of the same group of Tier 3 do not guarantee a gradual reduction in the power of the panels. It may happen that generation will drop sharply by 10 percent, but not 10 years of device use, and after 2-3 years. The same applies to other characteristics of the panels.
The higher the company’s rating, the greater the likelihood of compliance with warranty obligations and the better the quality of maintenance and user support