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Published on August 1st, 2020 | by Kyle Field

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The ChargePoint Flex Makes Home Charging Easy, At Any Speed — CleanTechnica Review

August 1st, 2020 by  


The new ChargePoint Home Flex residential EVSE was built to take the difficulty out of selecting the right charger at the right speed for home charging. It is capable of accepting incoming 240 volt power at anything from 16 amps up to an impressive 80 amps. They sent us a Home Flex to run through the paces, and after spending a few weeks playing with it, we’re back to share what we have learned about the charger.

ChargePoint Home Flex residential EVSE

ChargePoint Home Flex. Image courtesy: ChargePoint

Flexibility First

First off, the Home Flex really shines when it comes to the purchase and installation process. Plug-in vehicle drivers come in all shapes and sizes, as do the vehicles tasked with moving them around. When it comes to recharging the car, driving behaviors, home electrical grids, and the vehicles themselves all play a significant role in selecting a charger. At our old home in Ventura, California, we only had a 100 amp electrical service to the house and little room in the panel to add high power EV chargers, so we tapped into the electrical dryer outlet to share its 30 amp capability with our EV charger.

While rebuilding our home in Ventura, California, we rented a small condo with only 110 volt power available for charging in the one-car garage, so we used a combination of 110 volt charging and public charging to stay topped up. In our new home, we built several 50 amp EV charger outlets into the garage and feel like we are now living in the lap of luxury with these high power charger affording us the ability to leave home every single day with a full charge on both cars.

Charging needs and home electrical setups are diverse. Driving behavior also plays a large role in how much charging capability you truly need at home. The ChargePoint Home Flex takes all of these into account with an EV charger that works equally well with a 240 volt 16 amp circuit as it does on a high power 240 volt 80 amp circuit. That flexibility lets homeowners purchase a charger that works with the lower power circuit they have in the garage that’s more than capable of providing enough charge overnight for a PHEV or a shorter commute like my wife’s current daily commute.

When it’s time to upgrade to a car with more range, the option to upgrade to a higher power circuit presents itself, or the new job comes with a longer commute, the Home Flex can be installed on a higher power circuit without the need to purchase a new charger. That flexibility makes the Home Flex a great option for those who are expecting life changes in the future and for those who just know that oftentimes, life just changes.

Installation

On the installation front, the ChargePoint Home Flex installs just like any other 240 volt level 2 EVSE in that it needs to be connected to power. ChargePoint offers the Home Flex with either a NEMA 14-50 plug or a NEMA 6-50 plug on the end. It can also be hardwired directly into the home electrical system for higher amperage installation. That makes it easy to get the garage ready before the charger comes by having a new outlet with the desired amperage installed.

At lower power, the ChargePoint Home Flex can be plugged in or hardwired:

For higher power installations over 50 amps, the ChargePoint Home Flex must be hardwired into the home:

The Home Flex itself requires a few simple connections to bolt up the charging cable to the EVSE itself, and as with any piece of high power equipment, it’s best to seek professional help for the actual installation. At our house, we followed the CHP50 Installation Instructions and had the charger up and running in no time at all. We found a stud near our NEMA 6-50 outlet and bolted the charger itself to the wall securely.

The ChargePoint Home Flex mounted and wired up. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

It doesn’t weigh that much at all, but given its daily use and the weight of the charging cable, it’s important to get it mounted well before getting too excited about plugging in your EV. For hardwired installations, an electrician is a good bet, especially for higher power installations where the high current requires everything to be perfect.

After getting the Home Flex bolted to the wall, a few simple screws attach the charging cable and the cover of the unit can be snapped into place. A quick double-check of all the critical connections found no issues, so we popped the plug in and things got a bit more exciting.

Connect to the ChargePoint App

An LED ring around the charger holster indicates that the Home Flex is powered on, so we hopped into the app to get it set up. As part of the ChargePoint family, the app affords owners control over the charger itself, visibility of the fully connected charger, and charging session data over time. As a regular user of the ChargePoint app for public charging over the last few years, the interface and app itself are familiar and easy to use.

When it comes to activating the Home Flex and linking it to your ChargePoint account, the process is very straightforward. Activating the charger gets it connected up to your home’s wifi network, which unlocks a ton of valuable features like reminders, scheduled charging, connecting it with Alexa or Siri, and tracking all of your home EV charging energy use through a single app. For now, ChargePoint does not offer Google Assistant integration, though it has been added to the list for future development. After logging into the app, a few simple clicks walk you through the process of adding the new charger to your account.

We played with the Alexa integration and found it to be useful and functional. Charging session status, last charging session details, and much more can be summoned with a few words. Very similar to turning the lights on and off with voice commands, it probably won’t change your life, but it does make it a tad easier.

Daily Charging

When it comes to actually using the charger, it just works. The design of the Home Flex builds on ChargePoint’s tried and true Home design with an integrated cable management system that makes charging convenient and easy. The charging adapter is made of high quality materials that feel durable enough in hand to survive the rigors of daily use with some of that use coming from our mini-humans that are less gentle with everything they touch.

The flexibility of the Home Flex is also extremely nice to have on a day-to-day basis. Many EVs already let owners adjust the speed of the charging from inside the vehicle, but having the ability to go into the charger app itself to adjust the charging speed is a game changer. We are currently working to maximize the amount of power we consume on a daily basis inside the window of time when our rooftop solar system is cranking out power.

ChargePoint Home Flex install

Our ChargePoint Home Flex install. Image credit: Kyle Field, CleanTechnica

To do that with the Home Flex, we simply opened up the app and were able to change the charging speed. That’s super handy and helps us better manage our home. I expect this functionality to pave the way for smart systems that are able to dynamically adjust charging speed based on insights from an artificial intelligence or machine learning system, but until then, I’m loving the ability to get a better grasp on our home energy footprint with the ChargePoint Home Flex.

More Information

The ChargePoint Home Flex will set buyers back $699, which is not the most affordable charger out there, but it is a great price for a charger that can charge at up to 80 amps. The flexibility it offers is also an important distinguishing feature as it can tap into a low power 16 amp circuit, a standard 240 volt 40 amp circuit, or a high power 80 amp circuit, and it plays nicely with each. Pairing that with the connectivity and intelligent features and the ChargePoint Home Flex is a serious contender in the residential EV charging space.

To dig in deeper, tap into some of the resources below.

 
 


 


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About the Author

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in BYD, SolarEdge, and Tesla.



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