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Best Solar Panels in 2021 [Tier 1 PV Modules]

You may hear of a lot of solar companies mentioning "Tier 1" solar panels in their sales proposals. But what does that really mean, and which are these Tier 1 solar panel brands? Let us break this down for you.
best tier 1 solar panel brands

Tier 1 Solar Panels

What are Tier 1 solar panels? The term “Tier 1 solar panels” is often used by solar companies and installers. They refer to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) ranking of solar panel manufacturers across the world — a new ranking is released quarterly every year. The solar industry is constantly evolving technology and new entrants frequently enter into the industry. With that in mind, the quarterly rankings published by Bloomberg’s clean energy-focused research arm provides an insight into hundreds of solar module manufacturers of solar modules in the market.

The main criterion for each ranking is bankability. This is a measure of whether a solar project using a particular brand of solar panel or module is likely to be financed based on its profitability in the long term. The ranking doesn’t consider if such solar panels are of the best quality. BNEF also clarifies this in their report.

“We strongly recommend that module purchasers and banks do not use this list as a measure of quality, but instead consult a technical due diligence firm”.

That said, the BNEF Tier 1 list can sometimes act as a shortlist of some of the best solar panel brands. This is because each brand’s annual module capacity serves as an indication of its popularity and quality. Solar panel manufacturers in the BNEF Tier 1 list are often highly reputable with strong service levels, warranties and innovation.

Best Tier 1 Solar Panels

So, what are the best Tier 1 solar panels in 2021?

Based on BNEF’s Q2 2021 rankings, we created a shortlist of the Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers that are the most popular in Southeast Asia. Take a look below!

Note: The most popular solar panel manufacturer may differ from country to country. This often depends on the efficiency of the solar PV panel compared to its cost. Supply chain and freight considerations also come into play.

ManufacturerCapacity (MW/year)
LONGi (China)50,000
Trina (China)33,600
Jinko (China)31,000
JA Solar (China)23,200
Canadian Solar (Canada)16,100
Risen Energy (China)14,100
SunPower / Maxeon (United States)3,600
LG2,400 (data from 2020)
REC Group (Norway)1,800
PanasonicN/A

In Singapore

In Singapore, the most popular solar panel brands are REC, Trina, Jinko and JA Solar.

REC Group’s global module capacity is significantly lower than other manufacturers. That said, REC panels are commonly used in residential projects in Singapore. This is because the company has a manufacturing plant based in Tuas. Local production means that the company is able to offer product and labour warranties of up to 25 years on their solar panels. Therefore, this is often the brand of choice for residential solar installations in Singapore.

Trina, Jinko and JA Solar are also popular, with product lines of notably high efficiency — up to 540 Wp for each panel, compared to the average of about 400 Wp. As their manufacturing is based in China, their cost tends to be lower than REC panels produced locally. However, most of them only have a 12-year product warranty and a 25-year power output guarantee. In addition, they may require more time to deliver, depending on freight schedules and whether an installer already has them in stock.

Wondering about the total cost of getting solar panels in Singapore? Try this free online solar assessment tool for your property or read our article on the average price of solar panel installation and maintenance here!

In Malaysia

Malaysia is a major hub in the region for solar equipment manufacturing, with several manufacturers like Jinko, JA Solar, Q-Cells, LONGi and SunPower all having manufacturing operations in the country. In Malaysia, the most popular solar panel brands within BNEF’s latest Tier 1 list are Canadian Solar, JA Solar and Jinko.

Hanwha Q Cells and GCL are also popular brands in Malaysia. However, there were insufficient projects to assess Hanwha Q Cells in Q2 2021. Meanwhile, GCL-System has been removed from BNEF’s Tier 1 list as a result of being in default because of major debts.

Read here to find out the average cost of solar panel installation and maintenance in Malaysia.

In the Philippines

Philippines is one of the countries in the region with the most solar panel installations. In Philippines, the most popular solar panel brands within BNEF’s latest Tier 1 list are JA Solar, LG & Panasonic.

Read here for a gauge of solar panel installation and maintenance prices in the Philippines market.

In Indonesia

Indonesia is largely powered by coal, but the archipelago has high solar potential, and has seen an increase in private solar investments in recent years. The most popular solar panels in Indonesia are typically the more affordable top Chinese manufactured modules in the list such as LONGi, Jinko, Trina, JA Solar, etc.

Read here for a breakdown of the price of solar panel installation and maintenance in Indonesia.


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This article was first published on 10 July 2021 and last updated on 5 Sep 2022 to include additional regional details.

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Solar AI Technologies
Solar AI Technologies
At Solar AI, we combine geospatial data and artificial intelligence to provide home and property owners with the tools and knowledge to get solar as easily as possible. Our mission is to use technology to simplify the solar experience for everyone.
Solar AI Technologies
Solar AI Technologies
At Solar AI, we combine geospatial data and artificial intelligence to provide home and property owners with the tools and knowledge to get solar as easily as possible. Our mission is to use technology to simplify the solar experience for everyone.
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