top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichael Clement

Many panels have been dropped from Tier 1 status in recent times. So, what is this and does it matter?

Ah. Good old Tier 1. Usually, when we hear this term we warn our customers to look further into the situation in front of them. For years, this term was used to justify why you should buy a specific panel. The trouble was, you couldn't find a panel that didn't claim Tier1 status, and many of the cheapest and nastiest brands all had this all over their marketing material.

So, we have to go back a while here on a little trip down memory lane. In 2009, when this author was wholesaling panels and the industry was very new, Tier 1 was a way for the established and major brands to stand out among their cheap OEM competition. These days, a company has to have many conditions, such as more than a gigawatt of production, totally integrated production lines from raw silicone until the final product, publicly listed, etc. Now, this meant due to the huge start-up costs of solar manufacturing, that there were roughly 8 or so companies that meet this criteria in the whole world.

But this had a flow-on effect. It was meant to be an indicator of quality and reliability after all. How could small brands compete with the majors when all they did was take a major panel and put a badge on them? Why would someone buy a panel that was essentially a Yingli with a badge on it?

All of a sudden, the meaning of the term changes. Tiny brands became Tier 1. You couldn't find a panel sold that didn't have Tier 1 written all over it. Customers were told in mass "Don't worry about anything, your panels are Tier 1 which makes them the best." The companies selling these panels also said they were "high efficiency" so don't worry about a thing. They then usually told customers "We are cheaper because we are bigger and have better buy prices." As anyone who's been in the industry will tell you, being bigger means they have to sell for more, not less due to their overheads, but I digress...

This is how so many terrible systems were installed across the country. Large sales companies sold millions of panels, many of which never worked out of the box, on mass to the public. And, as a flow-on effect, solar in Australia developed a terrible reputation among many that it doesn't work, due to the unassuming public being sold the tier 1 dream.

As for us, well, we had many a battle just trying to get customers not to blow their money. We would often be called the bad guys for simply telling a customer that their deal was not all it was cracked up to be. These same customers were always the ones who screamed the loudest when it all went wrong. But quickly found their screams fell on deaf ears. Their bad reviews were received or buried under thousands of fake positive ones. Good terms and conditions meant legal action was futile.

So, after all this, the term had recently changed again. Many companies have just been left off this list as you can see below.

But what does this mean to you as a customer? Well, it's not easy. However, if you stick to a major brand, and know how to research online you should usually be okay. We must also stress here, a panel doesn't have to be Tier 1 to be quality. But, as we have said to so many customers over the years, if we say beware, please at least do some extra research. We warned many people over the years about certain brands and marketing. If even a few had listened, well, we would have a very different industry.

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The battery backlash has begun!

Well, it's not an article we saw coming this year, but alas, here it is. The great battery backlash began in 2024. It's no secret that recently one state government brought in a battery rebate. We dec

Why do we recommend the products we do?

Qcells are leaving Australia! No, we didn't sell them. We did however have many an argument with a customer about this, but as it turns out, there was a reason. We have been working together as a team

Quality. What is it? And how is it achieved?

Recently, we saw a claim from a well-known and popular online solar and electrical company. Their claim to fame was they had so much more quality due to having over 20 tradespeople in their team of va


bottom of page