What's the difference between Tier 1 solar panels and others?

How can we physically verify the difference between a Tier 1 panel and other less efficient ones assuming all panels are not labelled?

Every manufacturer is claiming Tier 1.

BNEF Tier 1 is not a particularly useful thing to look at when choosing solar panels. See more info here

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Hi Alloy,
The panel manufacturer’s history and reputation is far more important than the Tier 1 rating. For example well known solar panel manufacturers such are Sunpower, LG, Winaico, Trina, Jinko and Q cells are always a good option. Of course the highly efficient panels from LG and Sunpower will cost more though, but the panels will also last longer and have greater performance. The lower cost panels will do a similar job but you will need more of them to get the same output.

The link Marty posted above will have all the information you need to make an informed decision. There are lots of technical differences but the quality manufacturers are still the same

Thanks. I have a manufacturer who’s producing a 380-W mono panels. Their name is Bluesun. Anyone knows their record? I got a couple of mono panels from them and later realized it had some shades of blue colours in them. Not purely black as I’d wished they’d been. Yet they too are claiming Tier 1.

Hi Alloy, I have never heard of Bluesun but looking at there website I would guess they produce or rebrand lower end panels from other manufacturers. They are definitely not recognized as a well known manufacture in Australia. The blue color is not really an indication of quality. Wondering why would you choose an unknown manufacturer when there are so many well known reliable options?

Ah, I know Blue Sun Group, bought some racking off them. Yes they are a wholesaler. I agree, I wouldn’t recommend buying rebranded panels either. However, looking at their website, it doesn’t look like they carry self branded panels. Are you sure it’s not another brand @Alloy?

@Marty, the name is Bluesun as a single word and not Blue Sun. Well, I’m not sure of the branding aspect but the impression I got from them was that they have their own manufacturing plant. They are currently producing the 380-W mono panels which I’m considering getting for my projects.

They’re currently offering a watt at $0.26 US or less when the order is in large quantities.

Ah ok, in that case I am not familiar with them. Wow, it’s really unbelievable how cheap panels are these days!

Alloy, do Bluesun have a warranty and a good track record? It would be risky proceeding with a large installation with an unknown manufacturer. From my experience very cheap prices in solar often equates to reduced quality and performance. My advice is do plenty of research and look at all viable options.


That’s the data sheet. What do you guys make of it?

Actually the spec sheet is better than expected. I see it states 100% EL double inspection (this mean they have 2 stages of electroluminescence crack detection testing) which is good and also salt and ammonia resistance to TUV standard.
I personally would still use other well known brands but if you are confident that the company is reputible then give them a try.

How physically verifiable are these parameters on the data sheet? I have a couple of their 320W panels here with me. I’m less experienced in these products, I must admit.

If they stated these spec’s then it’s a good sign. Generally the less reputable companies wouldn’t even list this information. The problem is you can’t verify this is accurate unless you have test results from independent organisations like DNV-GL. All this information and more is explained in the following article.