Enphase Energy just released its next-generation energy management system, which aims to make installation cheaper and faster for installers and bring increased options for solar PV customers.

Enphase has been slowly building its capability beyond microinverters for years, and already has various relationships with home energy management companies such as Nexia and Nest.

The release of the Envoy-S energy management system lays the groundwork for more. However, many of the benefits will first accrue to installers rather than end-use customers.

The Envoy-S has been integrated into the Enphase AC Combiner Box, which essentially brings three boxes (meter, PV sub panel and Envoy-S) into one enclosure to reduce installation time and material costs. Enphase says the new hardware reduces interconnection and equipment costs by 20 percent, and can help with faster installation.   

Faster installation times and a more seamless installation process will be more important than ever as solar installers rush to close business ahead of the expiration of the federal Investment Tax Credit at the end of 2016, said Ilen Zazueta-Hall, director of product management at Enphase.

The latest Envoy-S offers the option for revenue-grade metering included in the box, although a standard offering without the revenue-grade meter is still available. There is also optional AT&T cellular connectivity, which is dubbed Enphase Mobile Connect. Mobile Connect comes with a five-year, fixed-price data plan for installers for unlimited data -- as data needs may change in coming years because of utility requirements or homeowner needs, said Zazueta-Hall. 

The device monitors the solar system and a potential battery system, and will also offer information to homeowners on whole-house load and how that matches with solar production.

In the future, Enphase will likely include disaggregation so customers can understand which loads in the house are driving that energy profile. Currently, the whole-house monitoring platform, called MyEnlighten, only shows kilowatt-hours, but will eventually be integrated with utility rates to show costs of energy used and money earned for those who have net metering.

Enphase is also integrating with APIs from additional smart-home companies that will be announced soon. Earlier this year, Enphase, which now refers to itself as an “energy technology company," announced a partnership with MyLight in France to control where the solar load is going in the home.

The first use cases for Envoy-S will be integration between a battery and the solar PV system. That functionality will be coming early in 2016 in Australia, and Enphase said that it would be introduced in North America in the latter half of 2016.

Enphase is just one example of the many ways residential solar players are integrating into the smart home. SolarCity has partnered with Tesla, for example, and SunPower invested $20 million in Tendril.

Enphase reported record revenue in its most recent quarter of $102.1 million -- shipping 357 megawatts in the first half of this year, more than the company shipped in all of 2013.