What Makes a Tier 1 PV Module Tier 1?

The phrase “Tier 1 PV modules” comes up frequently when discussing solar module brands. Solar manufacturers like to tout their Tier 1 rankings, and they play a vital role in marketing and selling. 

Bloomberg Finance Energy News (BNEF) first introduced its tiered ranking system to help distinguish higher quality solar manufacturers from the hundreds of others in the industry. BNEF ranks module manufacturers as tier 1 if the company provided in-house manufactured panels to six different projects that have been non-recourse financed by six different banks over the past two years. Since non-recourse financing does not allow the lender to pursue anything other than the collateral, it’s an indication that the bank has confidence in the manufacturer.

But what goes into making a tier 1 PV module actually tier 1? 

Several factors contribute to producing the high quality and reliable modules that solar project stakeholders want to keep using. 

Let’s take a look at the rigorous manufacturing processes, controls and testing that come together to make a tier 1 PV module.

Robust internal quality control

Implementing robust internal quality control processes is the first step in manufacturing Tier 1 quality PV modules. This includes quality control throughout the entire value chain. 

One way to go about this is for the solar company’s upstream business model to tightly control quality over every step of the manufacturing process. This starts with silicon crystallization all the way through to module deployment in the field. 

With these internal quality controls in place, the manufacturer can maintain high reliability and solid module performance. These are some of the key panels characteristics that project stakeholders want for their installations. 

Third-party recognition

Independent third-party testing and recognition are other important aspects that help create the environment for producing tier 1 PV modules. 

For instance, two highly respected independent organizations that do this for the solar industry include PV Evolution Labs (PVEL) and DNV GL. PVEL is the leading independent lab of the downstream solar industry. Meanwhile, DNV GL operates in more than 100 countries as an accredited registrar and classification society. These two organizations know the solar industry better than anyone. Their credible third-party testing and independent product performance reviews help guide the solar industry in determining the top performers. 

Standard industry warranties

When a solar manufacturer includes an industry standard warranty, it means the company stands by its products. 

A solar company recognized as fully bankable stands a much better chance to still be in business for the warranty’s duration. This isn’t as much of a sure shot with solar companies that lack a similar level of bankability.

How Trina Solar checks these boxes 

Combined, a dedication to these factors all contribute to making PV modules the go-to brand for solar project stakeholders to consistently use in installations. 

Due to this commitment, Trina Solar has received industry recognition as a Tier 1 solar manufacturer. For the sixth consecutive year, BNEF ranked Trina Solar as a fully bankable company, topping the list for the past five years. PVEL has recognized Trina Solar as a “Top Performer” on its PV Module Reliability Scorecard rankings for six consecutive years.

Most recently, Trina Solar’s new Vertex 600W & 550W series recently passed the TUV Rheinland PV Module IEC standard serial test and obtained two certificates, IEC 61215 and IEC 61730. This makes the Vertex series the first modules to obtain these certifications in the PV industry.  

But what really sets Trina Solar apart from the rest of the pack is that we consistently partner with major developers, EPC’s and distributors around the world. By delivering unrivaled project success for our partners, Trina Solar maintains its reputation as a truly best-in-class manufacturer.

Trina Solar accomplishes these feats with its 200 in-house quality tests that guarantee the reliability and performance of its products. 

Want to learn more about what makes Trina Solar a tier 1 module manufacturer? Contact us today. 



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