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Solar Panels Grade: Understanding the Quality Levels

Understand the differences between A, B, C, and D grades, and learn the factors to consider when judging the appearance and purchasing solar panels.

Solar panels Grades

Published on 13/05/2024

By Prachi Singh

Solar Comparison

Differentiating A, B, C, and D Grades of Solar Panels 

Solar panels are categorised into grades ranging from A to D, with the A-grade bracket further divided into A+ and A-. Understanding the grade of a solar PV panel is crucial in determining its quality and performance. In this article, we will provide an overview of the various solar panel grades and how to assess them.

I. Judging the Solar Panel Grade Based on Appearance 

If you can gain access, visually inspecting the solar panels and accompanying equipment can reveal some of the differences between the various grades.  

  1. Surface Examination: Carefully inspect the tempered glass surface for roughness and residual silicone, which can impact the panel's power generation efficiency. 
  2. Cell Inspection: Check for chipped edges and hidden cracks in the solar cells. Irregular manufacturers may use broken cells for splicing, posing potential risks and compromising safety. 
  3. Back Quality: Assess the back pressure quality, ensuring it is even without bubbles or folds, indicating a higher solar panel rating. 
  4. Edge Assessment: Examine the panel's edges for flatness and straightness. Some small manufacturers use manual beating frames, which may result in irregular shapes and reduced structural integrity. 
  5. Silicone Evaluation: Verify if the silicone around the back is evenly distributed and adequately seals the gap between the panel and the frame. 
  6. Welding Examination: Carefully observe the string welding of the solar cells for any signs of leakage. Additionally, check the arrangement of the cells for proper alignment. 
  7. Junction Box Inspection: Assess the solidity of the junction box and ensure that the junction box cover fits securely. Verify the wire lock's functionality and adjustability. 

Check Top 10 Solar Panels in Australia

II. Purchasing Considerations 

There are further external factors that play a role in the quality of a solar panel, the price you pay, and your overall customer experience.  

  1. Authorised Dealer: Purchase solar panels from authorised dealer agents of major brand manufacturers. Check for warranty contracts, invoices, and other relevant documents to ensure the purchase of genuine solar panel grade A components and enjoy reliable after-sales support and extended warranties. 
  2. Market Awareness: With the growing photovoltaic industry, it is essential to be cautious when choosing solar panels. Some smaller module factories buy and reprocess old cells for resale, resulting in lower-grade B and C modules that may deteriorate within a few years. Opting for A-grade modules ensures excellent performance and a lifespan of at least 25 years. 

III. Understanding the Solar Panel Grades of Cells 

  1. Grade A 

Grade A solar cells are easily the most sought-after for their premium quality. They are devoid of any chips, cracks, and scratches, which helps them convert solar energy into electricity at their best efficiency. You can also tell them apart from their ideal appearance (uniformity of colours, crystals, etc.). Moreover, the filling factor of the CVC of these elements- which is the direct determinant of their efficiency in producing energy- is more than 0.7. They don’t grow old fast, and you can expect them to stay productive for a long time. The manufacturers that belong to the Tier 1 category confine their use of elements to Grade A only (which precisely explains why they belong there!). 

2. Grade B 

Grade B cells are home to more visual defects compared to Grade A. Many manufacturers refrain from using elements allotted with this Solar Panel rating. You may encounter some sellers who will try to convince you into believing that the lower grade of these cells is nothing but a mere matter of their appearance (which, they would claim, has nothing to do with their performance). However, that’s hardly the case. The filling factor of the CVC of these elements is between 0.4-0.7. As a result, their productivity is not only less but limited. 

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3. Grade C 

If you lower the quality grade, you’ll come across Grade C Solar Cells. They usually possess visible defects and microcracks, downgrading their performance and efficiency. As a result, their efficiency in energy production is a mere 12%. So, justifiably, no respected manufacturer would opt to use elements that fetch this solar PV panel rating. They are often only used in systems that require low voltage to charge batteries or go to third-rate producers.  

4. Grade D 

Broken elements considered unfit for use in modules belong to this grade. They often undergo a re-melting process for new silicon. However, they are considered safe to be used by unscrupulous module builders. 

Switch Smart to Solar Panels with Econnex

When selecting components for your photovoltaic system, it is crucial not to prioritise small cost savings over component quality. Exercise caution and ensure you are dealing with reputable suppliers that use the finest elements graded with premium Solar Panel Grades. By doing so, you can avoid being misled by unscrupulous businesses and make informed decisions regarding solar panel grade selection.  

For that, Econnex is right by your side to assist! We leave you spoiled for choice among a host of solar panels that fit with various household and energy needs. The best part? Every solar retailer compared on Econnex holds current CEC accreditation and all solar products shown on the platform meet relevant international standards. Choose what works best for you among the available options and make the seamless switch with us! 

Solar Comparison
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