Reviews

Optimizers in Australia

One aspect of Tigo optimisers that makes it stand out from SolarEdge is the limited work Tigo optimisers are required to do. SolarEdge optimisers require you to use a SolarEdge inverter. The SolarEdge inverter does not have a “Maximum Power Point tracker” (MPPT) and as a result, it requires each SolarEdge optimiser on the roof to continually adjust the voltages and current throughout the day to achieve the Maximum Power Point.

Optimizers in Australia
Project Owner: MC Electrical
System Size: Various system sizes totaling 10,000 optimizers
Panel Type: Various panel types ranging between 190W - 345W
Inverter Type: Various inverter types including SMA

Mark Cavanagh, owner & manager of MC Electrical, collaborated with numerous Australian PV installers to test and share his findings in his blog about Tigo's Flex MLPE. What he found were Tigo's astonishingly high-reliability rate, cost-effective selective deployment, flexibility with PV equipment brands, and the many benefits of the TS4 units' optimization and monitoring. 

Read the entire Review blog post here.

"Tigo Energy optimisers are the quiet achiever of the Solar industry. In part one of this blog, I’ll explain how installing solar panels in shade will affect your solar production. I’ll show, through a series of tests, how solar panel bypass diodes work reasonably well to combat shade, but I’ll also explain why solar panel diodes are not the solution. Next, I’ll explain how Tigo optimisers work, and I’ll give three reasons why Tigo optimisers are significantly better than bypass diodes. In part two, I’ll discuss why I believe Tigo is a better solution that SolarEdge." 

"The product that made my testing so much fun was the Tigo TS4-M (Monitoring). The Tigo TS4-M is a dumbed down version of a Tigo optimiser. It’s a device that monitors what a panel does but doesn’t optimise. You may think it’s a dumb idea to pay extra just to monitor your panels. But for testing how solar panels react to shade without an optimiser, the Tigo TS4 is a perfect tool. When a bypass diode engages, the panel voltage reduces by a third – and the Tigo monitoring reveals this." Read why Tigo can be used with 3 Phase inverters.

Read why Tigo can be used with 3 phase inverters.

UK Housing - 4,000 Homes and Counting

UK Housing - 4,000 Homes and Counting
Project Owner: Low Carbon Exchange
System Size: Over 4,000 Homes
Panel Type: Aleo
Inverter Type: SMA

The largest residential developer in the United Kingdom, like many tier-1 installers and PPAs, chose Tigo Energy as their main platform for module-level optimization and monitoring. Performing over 40 installations a day requires a robust and efficient fleet management system with serious scalability. Tigo Energy offers the management features required for large-scale rollouts with module-level data, fleet-wide alerts and advanced reporting and analytics. This enables developers to quickly assess the global health of massive fleets with precise granularity.

Off Grid Solar

We are happy with Tigo Energy optimizers which have optimized the power coming in from our arrays.

Off Grid Solar
Project Owner: Monty W.
System Size: 7kW
Panel Type: BP
Inverter Type: Outback

KSDW 88.9 FM is located on Mt. Palomar, CA. It sets on top of a peak near the Palomar Observatory at approximately 5800′ elevation. Our site is off-grid and is powered by (40) BP 4175 solar panels. We have (2) Outback 3648 Inverters giving our station a solid 120V/240V/1PH system which consumes a constant 12Amps to run the equipment. There are (3) Outback Max 80 charge controllers which control the power coming in from our (3) solar arrays outside and keeps our (36) Outback batteries charged. We have approximately (3) days of autonomy with our batteries and just in case there are (2) Onan Cummins generators to be sure. One serves as our generator to charge battery bank controlled by aux on Outback inverter in conjunction with our Outback Mate 3. The other generator is an emergency back up as redundancy to prevent any off air time....We had major shading issues due to placement of solar and towers. We installed Tigo Energy optimizers which have optimized the power coming in from our arrays. Tigo Energy has also given us the ability to take an almost live look at what is going on with our solar at anytime of the day, as well as invaluable information regarding our site.

Expanded System

After talking to my installer, I decided to upgrade to a bigger system. We already had 48 X 170w panels, but we wanted to increase the system with an extra 24 X 235w panels.

Charlie S.

Expanded System
Project Owner: Charlie S.
System Size: 12.5kW
Panel Type: Astronergy
Inverter Type: SMA

"A couple of years ago with the threat of power costs going up 60% in the next few years and concerns regarding the environment, I decided it would be a good idea to get solar.

My installer designed a 8.16kw system that was completed and commissioned at the end of June 2010. My idea was to put in a system that would cover our electricity costs and export excess power into the grid for profit.

The system performed well in the first twelve months even though we do not have the ideal roof direction and we had a lot of cloudy and rainy days in that period.

After talking to my installer, I decided to upgrade to a bigger system. We already had 48 X 170w panels on the roof and designed a system with an extra 24 X 235w panels that would include Tigo Energy PV optimizers. My system designer guaranteed me that Tigo Energy optimizers would work with the two different sized panels.

The 48 X 170w panels had to be taken off the roof and the Tigo Energy optimizers installed on them. The serial numbers were recorded and the panels returned to the roof along with the twenty-four new panels.

The new system was commissioned on 14 September, 2011. From 19 November, 2011, I have been able to check my computer every morning to see that all the panels have fired up. Every night around 8:10pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, Tigo Energy sends me a report telling me how much power has been generated during the day and alerting me of any failures during the day. I am also able to go back and check all the records from day 1.

As we are paid for the excess kilowatt hours that are sent into the grid system, we haven’t paid a power bill for two years and, we are being reimbursed around $1700 every three months.

Calculated on our power bills from 2009, we receive around 15% ROI. Recently, our power charges have risen by 22% so the return on our investment is even greater. Using the information from my Tigo Energy system, my son completed a high school assignment which showed we would have covered the cost of the system in six years."

Laguna Beach

I’m very happy with the actual performance of my system, and related return on investment (ROI).

Matt M.

Laguna Beach
Project Owner: Matt M.
System Size: 5kW
Panel Type: Sanyo
Inverter Type: SMA

The size of PV solar system I chose was projected by my installer’s computer model before I installed it to displace 59% of my kWh usage, and to offset 67% of my electric bill $ (the latter figure is higher because of the progressive electricity rate structure). My neighbor has a huge Eucalyptus tree which throws shade on my roof & my solar panels a few hours every day. (You can see it on the left side of the attached photo. That’s why I paid a little extra for a «TIGO» system). As you can tell I’m very happy with the actual performance of my system, and related return on investment (ROI). I have reduced my electric bill by almost 60%, just as projected. And my projected ROI on this investment as noted above is based on my actual savings to-date, not the ones projected before we installed the system.

Fit Club Springfield, IL

" We are ecstatic that we can monitor and track our investment. The Tigo Energy Maximizer System has increased our energy harvest and made spotting maintenance issues much easier. We even had a solar day to bring in members of the community to learn about solar, the Tigo system was an amazing addition to this event! "

Kevin I., Owner, Fit Club

Fit Club Springfield, IL
Project Owner: Kevin I.
System Size: 14.0 kW
Panel Type: REC 215
Inverter Type: SMA 6000 X 2

When the FitClub in Springfield, Illinois decided to trim its energy costs and further promote a healthy lifestyle they contacted C. Power Design to do the installation. After evaluating the site Daniel G., an executive at C. Power recommended Tigo Energy’s Maximizer system for the array. «The Tigo Energy Maximizer system is a great asset for a solar installer,» Daniel G. said. "Using Tigo Energy on my solar installs differentiates our product offering and enhances the value of solar to our clients. The systems are simple to install, make arrays plug and play, and provide great tools for monitoring and improving security. I recommend Tigo on all the installations I do.«Even though the FitClub is a flat metal seam roof, the Tigo Energy system improved energy yield by over 11%. In Illinois, clouds move frequently over these arrays and the Tigo Energy system is able to stabilize the array through these quick changes in weather patterns. The monitoring system also picked up a faulty diode, which was dragging down the performance of the array. «If the Tigo system was not in place, we would not have noticed this.»

Ivor A. Residence

"I have seen a marked improvement in the energy output of my array. The Tigo system corrects design issues from different angles and module mismatch. There is an improvement even with no shade on my array. Now with Tigo, I can actually see the improvement."

Ivor A., CEO of Z.E. Homes

Ivor A. Residence
Project Owner: Ivor A.
System Size: 10.27 kW
Panel Type: Evergreen Solar ES 190
Inverter Type: SMA 5000 us

With the personal motto “With the Fierce Urgency of Now,” Ivor A. of Long Island, NY started Z. E. Homes to help foster energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ivor realized he could probably be getting more energy out of his solar arrays. After evaluating different options at Solar Power International 2009, Ivor selected Tigo Energy for use on his house.

“I like the Tigo system very much,” said Ivor. “With Tigo’s MLPE, I was able to retrofit my house, using an existing SMA inverter. Only Tigo gave me the ability to retrofit my existing system without changing any costly BOS systems. Plus, now with Tigo monitoring, I can track how my array is doing at all times. Z. E. Homes has successful deployed Tigo units on numerous projects in New York. On all the projects we see improvement using Tigo. I put Tigo on every PV project I do now.”

Daniel D. Residence

"Tigo’s online module-level monitoring system totally validates what [the installer] told me in the sales process about the dual-angle design. It’s beautiful. "

Daniel D., System Owner

Daniel D. Residence
Project Owner: Daniel D.
System Size: 5.76kW
Panel Type: Sharp NU-U240F1
Inverter Type: SMA SB 5000 US

When Daniel D. decided to put solar on his mother’s roof, he asked for five different bids. One of the bids caught his attention; it planned to increase energy production and provide module-level data by including Tigo’s MLPE.

“I called back the other four companies,” Daniel explains, “and asked that they all resubmit their bids with Tigo.” Jeff M. of S.Solar had never heard of Tigo before this, but he embraced the new approach. According to Daniel, “Jeff really got the Tigo Energy value proposition. He embraced it, and because of his great customer service, I decided to go with S.Solar.”

The installation went smoothly, and now Daniel is extremely satisfied with his system. “I can log in from my home in Japan, and see how my mom’s system is performing. In fact, I can even tell how the weather is each day because I can see if there are clouds rolling across the system.”

Jeff had suggested putting half of the modules on the south-facing roof (to optimize overall production) and half of the modules on the west-facing roof (to take advantage of time-of-use pricing in the afternoon sun). With Tigo’s module-level monitoring, they can visually see the performance of each string throughout the day. Daniel confirms “It totally validates what Jeff told me in the sales process about the dual-angle design. It’s beautiful.”

Jeff has embraced Tigo, saying “Tigo provides me the best of both worlds — the benefits of micro-inverters and the benefits of central inverters - without the downside of either. I can confidently bid Tigo with every deal and know the customer is getting their money’s worth.” He is also impressed with the energy production and reporting of Daniel’s system. “This system is performing better than any other system we have installed, and Tigo’s reporting provides us with the data to prove it.” Jeff is also grateful that Daniel introduced him to Tigo. “Daniel brought Tigo to my attention, and it has changed the way we design our systems and run our business.”

Clif Bar Headquarters in Emeryville, CA

" We’re moving into a new era of system design, where we have module-level control and monitoring. "

Gary Gerber, CEO, Sun Light & Power

Clif Bar Headquarters in Emeryville, CA
Project Owner: Gary Gerber
System Size: 530kW
Panel Type: SunTech STP280-24/Vb
Inverter Type: SATCON PVS-500

The 530kW solar installation atop Clif Bar & Company’s new sustainably designed 115,000 sq ft headquarters in Emeryville, CA features one of the hottest developments in solar PV: optimization, control, and maintenance technology. Berkeley-based Sun Light & Power constructed the smart solar system, which was named the largest such installation in North America in April 2011. Gary Gerber, CEO of Sun Light & Power, one of the oldest solar companies in California, is a big fan of Tigo’s PV power optimizer:

“We’re moving into a new era of system design where we have module-level control and monitoring,” explained Mr. Gerber. “Every module is tuned once every second to its highest operating potential. So simultaneously, a single brain looks at every module on the roof and tunes it to its maximum power point. Even in the shade, the Tigo unit will still extract the maximum power from that module and will not drag down the performance of any other module on the string. This is by far the largest system of this type that we’ve built. I applaud Clif Bar for innovating here.”

In the Clif Bar installation, more than 1,900 Suntech 270W modules are being paired with optimizers. These little devices, about the size of a computer modem, are installed on the back of each module and send data about the module’s performance to the datalogger every second. This datalogger then reviews the data and uses complex algorithms to calculate optimal performance and what adjustments are needed in each module to achieve it.

“Out of nearly 2,000 modules, it’s not unlikely that we’ll see some issues with some of them right out of the box, but we’ll be able to see the problems immediately once they are plugged in,” Mr. Gerber said. “Systems age, and each module is going to age differently. So even if they start off identical, within a matter of weeks or months, variations will start to show up,” he continued. “Long-term, it gives you a lot of peace of mind to know that your system is performing at peak, is self-correcting, and that you can inexpensively determine whether you need to swap out any problem modules.”

With Tigo’s software, end users and installers with maintenance contracts can access an system’s data anywhere there’s an internet connection. Even visitors might be able to get a look since Clif Bar plans to have a live monitoring station for its array in the lobby.

For the Clif Bar project, Mr. Gerber did the analysis himself for Sun Light & Power’s bid and priced out the system both with and without the optimizing components. “We do a comprehensive long-term financial analysis and return on investment calculation. And with the [optimizer], it improved the return compared to without it. It pays for itself,” he said.

The use of these kinds of systems, according to Mr. Gerber, “represents the future of commercial solar. If it were my decision to add 4% or 5% cost to the system with this product, and improve performance, get monitoring and peace of mind for the long term — for me that’s a no-brainer.”

Jason F. Residence

«Without Tigo Energy, I would have lost energy production indefinitely. We were able to identify and solve a problem in just a couple weeks!»

Jason F.

Jason F. Residence
Project Owner: Jason F.
System Size: 6.88kW
Panel Type: Sanyo HIP-215NHKA6
Inverter Type: SMA SB6000 US

Homeowner Jason F. was excited about finally installing a solar system on his home. After extensive research, Jason wanted his solar plant to incorporate Tigo Energy’s MLPE and was thrilled to find a system that he could rely on in the long term. “Although I could find high-quality modules and system hardware with enough due diligence, I didn’t want to rely on trust alone to ensure the system’s quality for 25 years. There is no substitute for data — and Tigo Energy gives me that.”

In addition to increasing energy output by correcting module-level mismatch, Tigo provided Jason with granular information and controls to identify and solve PV problems. Jason didn’t realize how soon this feature would prove valuable. Jason knew his system output would be constrained by shade from a tree near his home, but it came as a surprise when Tigo’s software highlighted two consistently underperforming modules that were not near the tree. “The software made it so easy to spot the problem! Right away, I could tell the technicians exactly which panels to investigate.”

Jason called his installer and they began by looking into potential hardware problems. They changed the locations of the solar modules and Tigo’s MLPE, assuming it was a module hardware failure. However, the issues persisted at the same locations. It became clear that the problem was related to something physical at that exact spot. Further on-site inspection revealed a vent that was one foot high and just large enough to cast a shadow over two panels. The vent was too small to show up on the installer’s readings that were taken on the roof but was certainly large enough to impact system performance. And while the vent caused only partial shadows on two of the modules, it was enough to impact the system’s production overall by over 7.5%. Luckily, with Tigo installed, the MLPE mitigated the string/mismatch issues (reducing the power loss from 7.5% to only 1.3%), and also provided the data necessary to find and correct the issue. The vent was cut down to six inches and the shadow was eliminated. This quick fix never would have been identified without Tigo’s module-level data.

“Without Tigo Energy, I would have lost energy production indefinitely. We were able to identify and solve a problem in just a couple weeks!” Jason’s solar installation continues its great performance and provides his home with sustainable energy. The Tigo system has already paid for itself, and he is excited about maintaining maximum production by optimizing the yield of every module.

G.NG. New Technologies Ltd

“With Tigo’s MLPE, we can control our investment every single minute on an individual panel basis. An installer can avoid unnecessary and expensive field trips and troubleshooting.”

G.NG. New Technologies Ltd
Project Owner: Giorgos E.
System Size: 9.87 kW
Panel Type: Sanyo HIT 235W
Inverter Type: SMA Tripower TL10000

Installer Giorgos E. was hunting for a way to optimize energy harvest on the G.NG New Technologies Lt headquarter's 10kW PV system. He and other PV system owners are increasingly aware of the efficiency losses from module mismatch, and this system was no different. Giorgos knew that his system suffered from partial shading in the winter. After searching for a solution, Giorgos learned about the Tigo’s MLPE. He was impressed by the many system advantages it offered at a low cost.

“With Tigo’s MLPE, we can control our investment every single minute on an individual panel basis.” Incorporating Tigo units reduced the impact of four modules that are shaded in the winter. The system’s performance is no longer dragged down by a few limited modules. Giorgos sought out distributed power electronics as a solution to a known problem in his system, but he was pleasantly surprised when he discovered additional benefits from installing a Tigo Energy system.

First, Giorgos is glad that G.NG can distinguish itself among distributors by helping clients enforce warranties more effectively. Tigo’s DC-to-DC MLPE enable better enforcement by providing direct module-level data and evidence for performance. “Thanks to panel-level control, an installer can avoid unnecessary and expensive field trips and troubleshooting.”

Secondly, the module-level data identified an underperforming module that Giorgos would not have otherwise noticed. The module produced 50% less energy than expected each day after 4 pm. This was especially surprising because they noticed the drop in performance during June, as opposed to the winter months. After being alerted to the issue, field engineers returned to the site for further investigation. They discovered that the underperforming module was limited by an unanticipated source of shade. The obstruction was removed immediately, greatly improving total system performance. This installation would have underperformed indefinitely if the issue had not been identified and addressed. Tigo’s MLPE has helped make the G.NG system the production leader among 10kW installations in Greece, despite partial shading.

Tigo emails monthly energy production reports of all system data. In addition to advancing relationships with existing clients, the software displays have helped G.NG secure new customers. Giorgos is excited that the Tigo solution provides “module-level control and a safety switch that pays for itself by boosting your system’s performance.”