Worthy return on investment is important to businesses. For entrepreneurs, investing in a solar power system not only gives them access to a clean source of electricity in contribution to sustainable well-being of the earth, but also allows them to cut down operating costs and strengthen long-term profitability. But how do we know which solar panels, as one of the most system components, are the go-to choice? What are the criteria and who are the manufacturers to look for to ensure the best return on investment?

Bloomberg, the provider of financial and investment analysis, has developed a tiering system that categorizes solar panels into tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3* based on an analysis on bankability of solar power projects that involves multifaceted evaluation. The system enables informed decision-making of investors, financiers and lenders, such as banks and financial institutions.

What are the criteria for tier-1 solar panels?

Based on Bloomberg’s tiering criteria, tier-1 solar panels are the products from manufacturers that

  1. Operate the entire production themselves, ranging from early-stage silicon wafer production through to solar panel assembly, which allows full quality control—a manufacturer that uses any outsourced components is disqualified from tier-1 listing;
  2. Invest in research and development of solar panels, including the entire production process, to enable continuing product development;
  3. Adopt advanced production automation technology to ensure consistent, high-standard quality of the products manufactured; and
  4. Has more than five years of production experiences, which is a proof that they have the capabilities, expertise and a solid foothold in solar panel production.

Why are tier-1 solar panels the go-to choice?
Highly accepted across the world, Bloomberg’s tiering system has made solar panels from its listed tier-1 manufacturers the best-selling category because, in addition to photovoltaic performance from high-standard production, entrepreneurs who invest in a solar power project have betterassurance of life-time maintenance and service support from the manufacturer. Moreover, projects that use tier-1 solar panels have a higher chance to secure project financing in comparison to those using non tier-1 products. 

*Remarks: Tier-1 solar panels are products from the most trusted manufacturers whereas tier-2 are from less trusted manufacturers and tier-3 are from the least trusted manufacturers with high risk of poor-quality solar panels and company bankruptcy before the warranty period ends.