In Blog, Inverters, Micro Inverters & Optimisers

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.


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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34 Comments on Tigo Optimizer Review

Mark C said :administrator Report 4 years ago

Hi Paul, unsurprisingly we're starting to see failures on Tigo optimisers. It's possible but hard to track the fault down with panel-level monitoring. Blog about that coming soon.

    Paul said :Guest Report 4 years ago

    Do you have any updates on Tigo optimizers as I’ve just tested the optimizer Monitorize option and they failed drastically, look forward to your reply

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    Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

    Hi Baiju, Sunpower and Tigo is the best setup you can get :) Hopefully you got a Fronius inverter to match! It depends how old your panels are. If they are in the last 3 years or so, I don't think PID will be a problem with most decent panels -, especially Sunpower. When was your system installed? I can check if Sunpower ever had issues with PID.

      Baiju Jospeh said :Guest Report 6 years ago

      Dear Mark. I have Tigo optimizers connected to each of my Sunpower solar panels. I have heard about Potential Induced Degradation and I like to add anti PID devices. I am thinking of buying “ilumen PID box”. Solar panels will be connected to Tigo Optimzers and then connected to PID box and then fuses, mcbs, spds and goes to MPPT. What’s your opinion about PID boxes is it worth to buy and how about above mentioned setup

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      Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

      Hi Bauju, Is this a camping setup? if in parallel, all panels should be optimised. I'm not sure how well it would work with the MPPT of your particular inverter.

        Baiju Joseph said :Guest Report 6 years ago

        I have 3 panels connected in parallel to mppt. One panels gets little shade only in morning and another panel gets little shade only in evening. Can Tigo help me to optimize. Should I use Tigo optimizer to all 3 panels or optimize only panels which are getting shaded.

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        Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

        Hi Erika, Yes that's exactly what they do. Providing that panels are not in parallel with another string, you can "selectively deploy" Tigo. Make sure you put them on all shaded panels. If for example panel 9 was also shaded, it would defeat the purpose. Just yesterday we added 1 more optimiser on a job we installed with selective deployment Tigos. I'm looking at the production now. Until today it flatlined at 330w until 10 am. Today it has a steadily increasing curve up to 2000W until 10 am. It's worth getting it right!

          Erika said :Guest Report 6 years ago

          Hi Mark, We have a string have the shade in the early morning on panel 2,3 and 10 (they are all on a string and face west), see below. [1][2.][3.][4][5][6][7][8][9][10.] Can we put just TIGO on panel 2,3 and 10 to optimize the performance? In this case, when the three panels are under the shade, will the performance of the whole string be ~= 7 good panels? Thanks!

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          Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

          Hi Terry. I love that question. I'll bring it to the attention of Fronius and Tigo .... again! The answer is no, not yet, and maybe never. Apparently, there were plans to incorporate the individual monitoring from Tigo onto the Fronius SolarWeb platform. However, SMA is now a minor shareholder of Tigo, so although Fronius and Tigo are a perfect partnership, and they work together as businesses, plans integrating Tigo with Fronius SolarWeb seem to be on hold because of the SMA relationship.

            Terry said :Guest Report 6 years ago

            Hi Mark, Using the Fronius symo hybrid 3-phase inverter will the tigo panel level optimizes be incorporated into the Fronius monitoring system when the smart meter is also installed, Cheers, Terry

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            Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

            Hi Matt, Yes, you can selectively deploy panels if the panels are not paralleled. In a parallel string, all panels must have optimised. (My last blog "solar panel Design" explains the difference between parallel and series.) But I would say at a guess - because it is 2 orientations, you should be fine just to do the panels on the west.

              Matt said :Guest Report 6 years ago

              Hi Mark, I'm considering a system with panels facing north and some facing west. The west has some shade issues. Can I put tigos on the west side and none on the north side? Matt

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              Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

              Hi Gert. That seems like a messy setup! The first thing wrong there is the Growatt, affectionately known in the industry as Nowatt. I don't know what you mean by a duo optimiser. They are kind of plug and play, but if you are mixing optimisers, that may have something to do with it. Sorry not much help there!

                Gert Holtkamp said :Guest Report 6 years ago

                Hi Mark, I have 8 panels on a string inverter of Growatt.3 panels are qcell 280wp and 5panels are JA solar 300wp.I have now Tigo optimizers on the qcell panels.1 single and 1 duo optimizer.The solar results are bat.What going wrong?Are the tigo optimizers plug and play?Regards Gert Holtkamp

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                Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

                Hi Jonathon, No, Fronius is a grid-tied inverter. It's not designed for off-grid. Tigo and Sunpower can be used off-grid, but for an off-grid inverter, you need to use something like a selectronics inverter.

                  Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

                  Hi Michael, Yes, unfortunatly we have had issues with Trina Maxim too. Every job we have done we were able to relocate the antenna - bar one. Hopefully the next generation solves the problem, and hopefully, manufacturers of better panels (like QCells or Canadian) start using them.

                    Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

                    Hi Yong, Yes, it will be affected but it's a bit difficult to explain. The unshaded string will be affected because the MPPT will have to pick an average voltage point of both arrays for the MPPT. But the major influence is the current. Because the current in paralleled strings are added, then the current on the unshaded string is not affected. If it is only scattered shade, it won't be affected the unshaded string much. If it is completely shaded, it will affect it drastically. So if there is heavy shade, always use MLPE - like SolarEdge, Enphase, Tigo or Maxim.

                      Michael Schaffer said :Guest Report 6 years ago

                      Im looking at upgrading a small 2kw domestic 2008 BP Solar installation and am seeing complaints that panels with the MAXIM integrated modules are causing TV reception interference. Is this correct? Are the Trina panels with this tech exempt from this problem?

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                      Jonathan said :Guest Report 6 years ago

                      Hello Mark - Can the Tigo-Fronius-Sunpower combo be used in off-grid applications? Fronius inverters seem to be made for grid-tied systems, with AC output of 208/240/277. Thanks.

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                      Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

                      Hi Young, yes, you seem to have picked the problem. When parallelling into 1 MPPT, every panel needs to have a Tigo optimiser, otherwise, you will have significant voltage differences between the paralleled strings. Selective deployment only works when you have one string into an MPPT.

                        Yong said :Guest Report 6 years ago

                        Hi Mark, If I have 2 string of 7 panels (east and north) each connected in parallel on one MPPT, when east side is shaded, will it affected the other string in output power? Will 2 strings in parallel have the same power output as a string in un-shaded condition? Thanks.

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                        Mark C said :administrator Report 6 years ago

                        Hi Peter. I may have changed my view on that slightly. I used to call TIGO/Sunpower/Fronius the best system money could buy. I prefer Fronius over SolarEdge for reliability. The problem we found is to go Tigo individual panel monitoring is a bit clunky and potentially unreliable. So if you want to have individual panel monitoring, I would probably sacrifice a bit on reliability (Statistically according to our figures) and go for SolarEdge and Sunpower. Solar Edge individual panel monitoring and safety shutdown is some cool bling :) Mark.

                          Steve said :Guest Report 6 years ago

                          Seems to have gone quiet?

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                          Peter Blaszczyk said :Guest Report 6 years ago

                          Hi Mark I'm 5 months in the Solar game and I love it. Why do you say Tigo's are good if you want to install Sunpower panels? Regards Peter

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                          Roberto Dragao said :Guest Report 7 years ago

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

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                          Mark C said :administrator Report 7 years 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 7 years 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 7 years 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 7 years 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 7 years 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 7 years 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 7 years 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 7 years 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 7 years ago

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

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