Panels are the lifeblood of your solar system and make up around 60-80% of the total cost of your system. This being the case, selecting what panel is best for you is crucial in getting the maximum return on your solar system investment. Continue to read on to find out everything you need to know about selecting the right panel for you.
Tier one panels:
What is a tier one panel? If you have been doing some research into solar installations, you would have seen this term thrown around a lot, but what exactly is a tier one solar panel? In its most simplistic definition, a tier one solar panel is a panel that is deemed to be of high enough quality and durability in the opinion of large financial institutions that it can be used in large scale, multimillion dollar solar projects such as solar farms. Essentially it is a panel that banks are willing to bank on. It will last many years and reliably produce power so that the financiers of these large-scale projects are guaranteed to see a return on their initial investment. Just as the banks look for a guaranteed return on investment with their solar investments, you as the customer should too. That is why we recommend only using tier one panels for your residential or commercial solar installation.
The Three Tiers of Tier One Panels
If you have got to the stage of getting some solar quotes you might be noticing quite a large price difference in what seem like similar systems. This is because there is essential three tiers inside the category of tier 1 solar panels,
The base tier are what we would consider to be the gold tier, These are the panels that are used in approximately 80-90% of solar installations in Australia. These are panel brands like Jinko, Leapton, Seraphim, Longi, JA Solar, Canadian Solar and there are probably another dozen or so brands that fit in to this category. All these brands are manufactured in China & when it comes to which panels you choose in this category you are really splitting hairs. As long as the panels are treated well in transport and installed correctly you shouldn’t have any issues with these panels for the next 15-30 years.
From here we step up the Platinum group of tier one panels. In this category, we have such brands as Q-Cells, REC & SolarEdge. These panels brands usually have been in the solar game for longer than their cheaper rivals &, have already proven themselves as a high quality, reliable solar panel brand over at least a couple of decades. They spend more money on research & development and produce panels that have higher efficiency solar cells, stronger performance warranties and longer product warranties. They are often more robust in design and are most commonly manufactured outside of China. These panels do come with a higher price tag and you will find yourself paying around 30-40% more for panels in the platinum category when compared to panels in the gold category.
Standing at the top of the mountain in a class of its own is one brand, Sunpower. Originally founded 1985 by a Stanford university professor to challenge the monopolised market of solar cell applications on spacecraft and satellites, Sunpower soon diverted their attention to solar powered aircraft & vehicles. Luckily for the solar customer over the past 30 years they have also become the world leader solar panel design & manufacture for residential and commercial solar installations. The company recently re-named Maxeon Solar Technologies but still boast the world’s most efficient solar panel the Maxeon series. Around 10% more efficient than most of its tier one competitors and with a performance warranty stating it will degrade in efficiency at half the rate of most of its tier one competitors, Sunpower believes that the Maxeon series will produce around 35% more energy over a 25 year period when compared to the average solar panel.
Combine this with a 40 year product warranty and you start to see why Sunpower Maxeon is the best solar panel on the market. For this supreme panel you will be looking at just over double the price of your average tier one panel, but if you’re looking for the best, or looking for a panel to last you close to the next half a century, then this is the panel for you.
When it comes to selecting the right solar panel for your residential or commercial solar installation it really comes down to two key factors. Your budget & what you are looking to achieve with your solar installation. If you are looking for a budget system to get you through the next 15-20 years then basic tier one panels will suffice & do an excellent job. If you opt for better panels you are buying more performance but you are also buying peace of mind, knowing that once they are installed they will perform year after year, decade after decade. There is no one correct answer when deciding what panel is best for you & the friendly team at Solar Energy Adelaide is always here to help with any advice.
Get in touch with us today to have a chat about your solar panel needs.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the difference between a performance warranty and a product warranty?
A performance warranty is essentially a warranty on the maximum degradation of the panel. It will usually be given as a 25 year warranty, and state that the panel will perform at a certain percentage of its rated output after that period of time. For most tier one panels this is somewhere between 80-85% of its original output after 25 years. The product warranty is the important warranty, as this is the warranty for if the panel is damaged or completely fails.
Where can I find more information specific to a solar panel?
You can find this information via the solar panel data sheet. The easiest way to find this data sheet is to Google the name and model of the panel.
Are higher powered solar panels better than lower powered solar panels?
No, the size of the panel in KW does not matter. Many smaller solar panels will work just as effectively as fewer larger solar panels.