A review of the new TIGO TS4 Platform
Tigo optimizers have been on my to-do list for a while. With Tigo’s new range of optimisation, safety and monitoring on the “TS4 platform” if figured it was time to get around to it.
What does a panel optimizer do?
An optimizer it a box of tricks that you sit behind individual solar panels to:
- Increase output. This is done by making solar panels run independently of each other, so one panel is not dragged down by the shade, soiling or mismatch of the other panels. TS4 optimisers do this by “impedance matching” panels.
- Increase safety: This is done by deactivating the power at the panel level in an unsafe situation.
- Monitor at a the panel level, so we can identify problems that may occur over time.
My meeting with Tigo
I used to avoid fancy terms like “Module Level Power Electronics” as it was solar “bling” that was not financially viable. However technology has developed, the price has come down. My work with Enphase and SolarEdge over the last two years has proven “MLPE” is not just viable but in many cases, Scottish common sense. When I heard that Tigo Energy’s trainer Raquel Kahn was over from Silicone Valley last week, I jumped at the chance at going to a training day.
I arrived fashionably late to what I expected was going to be a big gathering of solar nerds. I was happy, however, to see a heap of empty carparks Powerark’s Brisbane office. I was ushered upstairs and into the meeting room… they had been waiting for me?
How good is this: I was the only sparkie in the Tigo training day! The meeting included Raquel (Silicone Valley’s Tigo trainer), Jeff Routledge (Tigo general manager in Australia), a Jinko representative, David Ji and two of his staff from Powerark.Since I was the only sparkie there, I turned it into a two and a half our personal tutorial from Raquel and Jeff. Tigo. I totally geeked out.
If I could summarise the experience, I would say this: Tigo have got their product development ridiculously sorted out, but their marketing for some reason in Brisbane, lags behind. When SolarEdge did a training day last year, they attracted over a hundred solar nerds.
What’s so good about Tigo’s TS4 platform?
- Selective deployment. You only need to optimise the panels that have shade issues. This helps reduce upfront costs.
- Fewer components. SolarEdge brag about the fact that they have fewer components than Enphase. Tigo chip based solution has halved the component count of SolarEdge. Fewer components increase efficiency and reliability.
- Less work. It only works when it needs to. It only takes the output voltage of a panel down, if, and when required. This again increases efficiency and reliability.
- Agnostic. SolarEdge is not committed to any inverter. I am. I want to show you the advantage of Fronius. SolarEdge pretends they do this, but they don’t really.
- Better warranty. Let’s face it, SolarEdge and Tigo are new players to the solar manufacturing market. They have been around as long about as long as my more conservatively growing business MC Electrical: seven years. As rapidly growing young companies with what must be phenomenal capital expenditures, it may still all go pear shaped for either of them. But if you have a Fronius inverter with a Tigo embedded Jinko (Bloomberg Tier 1) panels, your warranty is rock solid.
- Battery compatibility. SolarEdge have the haloed Tesla, but again Tigo is inverter agnostic, so your options are endless. The Fronius Primo can be linked to an AC coupled battery such as Enphase, or the Fronius Symo Hybrid can be linked to the Tesla or the Fronius Battery.
I only met with Tigo last week, but I was so enthused by their product, I passed on that enthusiasm on to my sales staff. We installed our first Tigo system today – even before I could perform proof of concept on our warehouse roof. My installation team loved it, and that’s always a good indicator of a successful product to me! Keep tuned I’ll get them on my warehouse roof as a test soon; I reckon Tigo TS4 may be the next best thing in Solar!
I’m always keen to hear another point of view, so let me know your experience in the comments!