Tigo, an obscure start-up you probably haven’t heard of, is starting to make waves that are being felt across the solar industry. If you don’t own a solar system then you wouldn’t have had to struggle with the fact that while it is possible to monitor your system, the service is at best simplistic and down right boring.
This is due to a number of reasons, one being that the only device capable of gathering the right data is the inverter. The inverter acts as the ‘brain’ of your system, directing electricity to your home, batteries or the grid depending on a number of factors. However, the inverter can only see how much energy is being produced by your solar array as a net value, as well as give you some other information like the day's weather and temperature.
A few companies have provided web app's to view this information, however many inverters still come with a push button, blue-and-black text based interface. If you remember what working on a computer looked like before graphic interfaces, then it is not a dissimilar experience.
In a world of touch screens, cloud networks and driverless cars, the solar industry is definitely lagging behind when it comes to computerisation. So while solar cell efficiency continues to increase twofold every two years, we are still tolerating an unfamiliar and somewhat robotic form of interaction.
This is probably one of the biggest factors that stop people considering solar; the alien experience of being in charge of your own power generator, without knowing much about how it works or even how to work it.
This is what Tigo is looking to change, and by the looks of it, is beginning too. Tigo makes use of PVA monitoring, which essentially means that when your system is installed, you can choose to also have a communication relay placed on every panel. Giving you access to information on the health, efficiency and power output of not just your system, but each and every panel. An added benefit being that if a panel is ever damaged or functioning below optimal standard, then Tigo monitoring will show you that discrepancy.
Furthermore, Tigo is giving solar a technological makeover. You can view stats and in depth information about your system on any device, given that it’s data is stored using cloud technology.
The CEO of SMA, an immensely popular solar inverter manufacturer, had this to say after his company invested in Tigo:
"Around the world, over a billion solar modules have been installed that cannot be individually monitored. With this stake in Tigo Energy, we can, for the first time, give all solar modules intelligence -- in both existing and new plants.”
This means that even if you have had a system installed, you won’t miss out on the opportunity to ‘give intelligence’ and gain control over your, until now, slightly extra-terrestrial system.