June 20, 2024

Multi Factor Rapid Shutdown (MFRS) for PV System Safety

New Tigo technology inspired by technological improvements and adoption in cybersecurity
Watch the full webinar on demand
Multi Factor Rapid Shutdown (MFRS) for Enhanced PV System Safety

In today’s digital age, safeguarding our online information and identities have become paramount. As cyber threats evolved, so did our defenses. Enter Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), a game-changer in the world of cybersecurity.

Just as 2FA has revolutionized digital security, Tigo recently released multi-factor rapid shutdown (MFRS) capability to transform safety and security with rapid shutdown systems in the solar industry. By combining Power Line Communication (PLC) and wireless communication, these systems ensure that solar modules are de-energized upon loss of power or initiated by a first responder and not by accident.  

This dual-layered approach parallels the principles of 2FA, adding robust safety measures to meet stringent code requirements. Let's explore how these advancements in both fields are enhancing security and safety in our increasingly interconnected world.

The opening of the first ATM machine by Barclay's in London, 1967. Credit: WSJ

The Birth of Two-Factor Authentication

The concept of two-factor authentication isn’t as modern as one might think. The roots of 2FA can be traced back to the early days of banking. In 1967 Barclays opened the first ATM (Automated Teller Machine). ATMs introduced a simple yet effective security measure: the combination of a physical card (something you have) and a PIN (something you know). This dual-layered security became the precursor to the sophisticated 2FA systems we use today.

With the advent of the internet and the subsequent rise of cyber threats, the need for robust online security measures became evident. In the early 2000s, tech companies began experimenting with various forms of two-factor authentication. Google was among the pioneers, introducing 2FA for its accounts in 2011. Since then, the adoption of 2FA has surged, becoming a standard security feature for many online services.

The Mechanics of Two-Factor Authentication

So, how does 2FA work? It’s all about adding an extra layer of security. When you log into an account, instead of relying solely on a password, you’re required to provide a second form of verification. This second factor could be:

• Something you know: A password or PIN.

• Something you have: A smartphone, security token, or smart card.

• Something you are: Biometrics like fingerprints or facial recognition.

By combining two of these factors, 2FA makes it significantly harder for someone to gain unauthorized access. The primary benefit of 2FA is enhanced security and protection. The underlying systems aren’t inherently insecure, however it is a recognition that there are bad actors and that mistakes happen. For example, even if you lose a debit card, someone still needs your PIN to withdraw money from an ATM.

Multi-Factor Rapid Shutdown in the Solar Industry

Just as 2FA enhances security in the digital world, multi-factor rapid shutdown (MFRS) systems enhance safety in the solar industry. Rapid shutdown is a code requirement designed to ensure the safety of emergency responders by quickly de-energizing solar modules. Tigo TS4 Flex MLPE rapid shutdown devices integrate this concept through two forms of rapid shutdown communication: Power Line Communication (PLC) and wireless communication.

• PLC (Wired): This method uses the existing electrical wiring to send a heartbeat signal from a transmitter to each rapid shutdown device.

• Wireless: This method uses a wireless heartbeat signal from Tigo Access Points to each rapid shutdown device.

In both instances, when the heartbeat signal is lost, the rapid shutdown devices go into shutdown mode and reduce voltage at the module-level, ensuring that the conductors in the array are at a safe level for humans.

A Multi-Factor Rapid Shutdown system with both wired (via RSS Transmitter) and wireless (via CCA and TAP) rapid shutdown signals. The TS4-X units perform the module shutdown function.

Until recently, customers chose to comply with rapid shutdown codes with PLC or wireless signals. However, the newly released Tigo TS4-X family of Flex MLPE allows customers to use both at the same time. To enter rapid shutdown mode, both signals must be lost. This prevents potential false shutdown modes that may occur if one signal is impaired from crosstalk, design or installation issues.

By employing both PLC and wireless communication, the Tigo MFRS system mirrors the principles of 2FA—adding layers of security to ensure that safety measures are effectively executed. This dual approach ensures that our solar equipment meets stringent safety codes while providing peace of mind to installers, homeowners, and emergency responders.

An image of a TS4-X-O installed on a rooftop solar module as part of a code compliant rapid shutdown system

Embracing the Future of Online and Solar Safety

As we continue to rely on digital platforms and renewable energy sources, the importance of robust security and safety measures cannot be overstated. Two-factor authentication represents a significant advancement in protecting our online identities, just as multi-factor rapid shutdown systems represent a leap forward for reliable rapid shutdown systems. By embracing these technologies, we take proactive steps towards a safer, more secure future.

In conclusion, while no security measure is foolproof, two-factor authentication provides a formidable barrier against cyber threats, and our multi-factor rapid shutdown system enables unmatched levels of rapid shutdown signal security and redundancy in the solar industry. MFRS technology is yet another step forward as part Tigo’s commitment to Total Quality Solar installations.


News articles


Blog posts

Sign up for our newsletter
Thank you for signing up!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.