October 23, 2023

Solar Panel Tier List

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What is a tier 1 solar panel?

Let's kick off by chatting about what everyone seems to be gabbing on about lately: tier 1 solar panels. Now, it might seem a bit complex, but really, it's not as tricky as you might think.

In all honesty, this whole business about tiers should probably be left in the dust. Why's that? Well, it's because the system is kind of getting gamed, that's why! Pretty much all the solar panel manufacturers are scrambling to dub themselves "tier 1". Before you know it, everyone's fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Even regular folks who just want to make their homes a bit greener are only considering "tier 1" panels.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that these panels are bad. It's just that the label "tier 1" is not always a surefire promise of quality, but rather a marketing strategy that's been passed around like a hot potato.

What is the best solar panel to choose from?

When it comes to picking the best solar panel, there are a couple of golden rules to remember.

Generally speaking, if you're paying more for a product, you're usually getting something extra special. That could mean the performance is top-notch, the customer support is second to none, or the warranty has you covered for longer. All these factors contribute to determining whether a solar panel is worth the extra dosh.

It's a bit like buying footy boots. If you go for the cheaper option, they might do the job, but the pricier boots often offer better support, are more durable and can give you that extra edge on the field.

What solar panels do we recommend?

Alright, now that we've got the general stuff out of the way, let's talk specifics. There are a few solar panels that we reckon are worth your hard-earned cash:

JA Solar

Born and bred in China, JA Solar started making their mark on the solar industry in 2005. They've quickly grown into one of the world's largest producers of solar cells and modules, making them a reliable choice for your home.

Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar was founded in Ontario, Canada, in 2001 and has since expanded globally. They're a massive player in the solar industry, known for their quality products and commitment to sustainable energy.

REC (Renewable Energy Corporation)

Hailing from Norway, REC started lighting up the solar scene in 1996. They've got a solid reputation for producing high-performance solar panels and leading the charge in renewable energy technology.

Q Cells

Q Cells is a German-born, South Korea-run manufacturer that hit the solar stage in 1999. They're a big name in the industry, known for their innovative, high-efficiency solar products.


With its roots in the US, SunPower has been leading the solar revolution since 1985. They're known for their top-tier efficiency panels and have made a name for themselves as a reliable, high-quality manufacturer.

Each of these brands has proven to be reliable, durable and high-performing. Others, like Seraphim and Jinko, are also quite decent, but we're putting our reputation on the line here. We'd rather steer you towards a product we're confident in so you don't end up regretting your purchase.

We would not recommend Trina, though. Back in the day, Trina was known for producing good-quality, budget-friendly panels. But then they got bought out, and let's just say their products haven't quite been up to snuff since then.

What are the qualities that we look for in a good panel?

Here's our checklist of what we look for in a solar panel manufacturer and their panels:

A minimum 25 years product warranty

Solar panels are a significant investment. Therefore, it's essential to safeguard that investment for an extended period. Experience has shown us the importance of a warranty, especially when early malfunctions occur. A warranty of at least 25 years provides reassurance and peace of mind.

Vertically integrated in the solar panel industry

A company that covers all aspects of the solar panel production process demonstrates a commitment to the industry. Companies with this type of integration have a vested interest in every step, ensuring high quality throughout. Their longevity also offers assurance they won't vanish overnight as trends change.

High efficiency levels, with a track record of improvement and innovation: 

Efficiency equates to value in solar panels. Panels with high efficiency provide greater energy production, giving more value for your investment. Companies demonstrating continuous improvement and innovation indicate they are forward-thinking and focused on delivering the best to their customers.

Manufactured by a company with at least a decade of experience

Experience is crucial in a complex and evolving industry such as solar energy. A company with at least a decade's worth of experience generally indicates a proven track record, knowledgeable staff, and established customer service structures. Trusting a novice in this field can lead to numerous challenges.

Guaranteed stock levels

There's little as frustrating as selecting the perfect product, only to find it unavailable. Therefore, we value manufacturers who can guarantee stock availability. This allows customers to make an informed decision and follow through immediately, mitigating the disappointment of unmet expectations.

JA Solar is a brand that ticks all these boxes for us, which is why they're generally our top pick.


Choosing the right solar panel isn't about jumping on the tier 1 bandwagon. It's about doing your homework, knowing what to look for, and picking a panel that will give you the best return on your investment. If you follow this guide, you'll be well on your way to making an informed choice. Happy solar shopping!

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