By Bill Mellema, Director of Engineering
In 2003, Morningstar introduced the TriStar PWM charge controller. It features a simple serial port that allows for Modbus communication and firmware updates via a PC connection. In those days, there were not a lot of solar products on the market that accommodated secure field firmware updates. Time has marched on and consumer expectations have shifted markedly. Today’s appliances, cars, phones, and even light switches receive firmware updates. The concept of physical hardware as an immutable device, fixed in function and performance from the time of purchase has been replaced with the concept of hardware as a platform for ongoing growth and enhancement; even as a work in progress.
Morningstar was a little ahead of the curve in 2003, but our commitment then and now is to design products that can react to the shifting needs and expectations of our customers. It requires forward-thinking in the design of the product itself, but more importantly it requires an ongoing commitment to “Sustaining Engineering” (SE).
All of our departments at Morningstar work together in service of SE. Our sales engineers deliver requests for new features or modifications of existing functionality directly to our product management and design teams. Our 100% in-house technical support team notifies engineering immediately of any issues or concerns so that we can provide remedy as rapidly as possible. The new product design team often pushes down new features or improvements in functionality to older products so that existing customers benefit from our teams latest innovations. In turn, we provide new firmware updates on our website that our customers can download free of charge for the life of their product. When you buy a Morningstar product, you can expect a long service life backed by a team of folks who are dedicated to continuous improvement and support.