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My Metting with Tigo

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.

Tigo TS4 Platform Specs


What does a panel optimizer do?

An optimizer it a box of tricks that you sit behind individual solar panels to:

  1. 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.
  2. Increase safety: This is done by deactivating the power at the panel level in an unsafe situation.
  3. 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.

Conclusion

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!

Mark Cavanagh.

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10 Comments on "Tigo Optimizer Review"

10 Comments on Tigo Optimizer Review

Roberto Dragao said : Guest Report 2 months ago

Hi Mark. Can Tigo's system be remotely shutting off?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 5 months ago

Hi Steve, no you can't. If it's parallel you technically need to optimise all panels because when the western panels are shaded, the MPPT needs to be at a different point than the eastern array. You can only selectively deploy when you have a single string in an MPPT.

Steve said : Guest Report 5 months ago

Hi Mark, if I had a series string on a eastern roof in parallel with a series string on a western roof on the one MPPT am I able to install Tigos on the panels on the western roof only? Otherwise is there a optimiser on the market that optimises strings rather than the individual panels? I have looked at Ampt in America and they appear to do this?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 6 months ago

Hi Geordie, spot on. If you have shading just at one end of your roof, we can put as many of as few Tigos as you like. It saves cost.

Mark C said : administrator Report 6 months ago

Hi Geordie, In short, yes. You can put them only on the panels that need them. It's a great advantage that Tigo has over other optimizers! There are some design considerations, eg, all panels must be facing the same direction, and that string cannot be in parallel.

Geordie said : Guest Report 6 months ago

Would you explain exactly what it means when you say "Selective deployment. You only need to optimise the panels that have shade issues. This helps reduce upfront costs." Does this mean you can have some panels in a string with Tigo's and some without?

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Mark C said : administrator Report 9 months ago

Hi Andrew. Count about $100 per panel plus install (which should be easy enough). The best thing is you can selectively deploy them, as long as you don't have parallel strings on 1 tracker.

Mark C said : administrator Report 9 months ago

Hi Wayne. Tigo do work well. I'm a fan of Tigo when you want to install Sunpower panels and a Fronius inverter, and you need optimisation. Otherwise, options are maxim or solarEdge. It is horses for courses!

Andrew said : Guest Report 9 months ago

Hi, I have existing system in Adelaide, (5 year old) with 2x SMA SB3800, 16x 238w Sunpower panels to each. One array was more heavily shaded until around 1pm in summer. Large tree on eastern side of house. I like the idea of Tigo units. Are they compatible with my install? roughly how much is the hardware to purchase as I note you are in Qld and would need SA install. Regards

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Wayne said : Guest Report 9 months ago

Mark, did you end up installing and monitoring the Tigo optimizers? Did they work as promised on the box?

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Wayne
Guest

Mark, did you end up installing and monitoring the Tigo optimizers? Did they work as promised on the box?

Andrew
Guest

Hi, I have existing system in Adelaide, (5 year old) with 2x SMA SB3800, 16x 238w Sunpower panels to each. One array was more heavily shaded until around 1pm in summer. Large tree on eastern side of house. I like the idea of Tigo units. Are they compatible with my install? roughly how much is the hardware to purchase as I note you are in Qld and would need SA install. Regards

Geordie
Guest

Would you explain exactly what it means when you say “Selective deployment. You only need to optimise the panels that have shade issues. This helps reduce upfront costs.” Does this mean you can have some panels in a string with Tigo’s and some without?

Steve
Guest

Hi Mark, if I had a series string on a eastern roof in parallel with a series string on a western roof on the one MPPT am I able to install Tigos on the panels on the western roof only? Otherwise is there a optimiser on the market that optimises strings rather than the individual panels? I have looked at Ampt in America and they appear to do this?

Roberto Dragao
Guest

Hi Mark. Can Tigo’s system be remotely shutting off?

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