EV Product Review: FLO X5 Home Charging Station

SEP 26 2018 BY TOM MOLOUGHNEY 27

Let the electrons FLO.

Now that Canadian EVSE maker FLO is bringing their high-quality charging stations to the US, we thought the readers here would appreciate a hands-on review. FLO has been selling their products for two years now, and has delivered about 4,000 units to Canadian customers.

More on FLO home chargers here

There are two versions of the FLO’s charging station; the Home X5 and the Home G5. The only difference is that the Home G5 is the standard unit, and the Home X5 adds connectivity with an app and smart charger features. The Home X5 is available in gray (Tungsten) or black (Carbon), while the Home G5 is only available in black.

 

 

The FLO Home X5 (far right) compared to four other popular EVSEs, seen in the InsideEVs charging station testing garage

Flo stations feature an ITT J1772 connector, charge at 240-volts, 30-amps and can deliver up to 7.2 kW. They come standard with a 25-foot cable, which is notable since some other EVSE manufacturers charge extra for a 25-foot cable, and both stations are officially rated to operate in a temperature range of -40 °F to 122 °F.

The first thing you’ll notice when unpacking a FLO Home is how heavy it is. This thing is solid, and weighs 25 lbs! The outer casing is made of solid aluminum and is NEMA 4X certified, meaning it is protected against foreign objects entering the unit, as well as water and damage caused by the formation of ice on the enclosure. The JuiceBox made by eMotorWerks is the only other EVSE with a solid metal outer case that I’ve tested.

FLO uses an ITT J1772 connector, the same one used by Bosch and eMotorWerks

Currently, FLO EVSEs are only available as hard-wired units, and a plug-in version is not available. Installing the FLO is pretty straightforward. First you need to attach the mounting bracket to the wall. As mentioned above, this is a heavy unit, so make sure you have the mounting plate secured strongly to the wall. You then secure the rear housing of the station to the mounting plate with one screw located on the bottom of the station. Attach the three wires from your feed, and then attach the front cover with two screws.

Once you’ve installed the unit, it’s time to download the FLO app, create an account with FLO and connect the device. Here’s where the FLO is a little different from other connected EVSEs like the ChargePoint Home and the JuiceBox Pro 40. FLO doesn’t use WiFi to connect the station, it uses a PLC (power line communication) device.

You need to plug the PLC into an outlet in your home (directly into an outlet, not into a surge suppressor or power strip), then attach the provided ethernet cable to the PLC unit and plug the other end into your router. It works fine, as long as you don’t have other PLCs in your home already, which I did. I had two PLCs in service already before I plugged in the one for the FLO. One was for my SunPower solar monitoring system, and the other was for a Netgear WiFi extender that I have to improve my home’s WiFi signal.

A screenshot of the Flo app.

As soon as I plugged in the FLO PLC, my WiFi went down and none of the PLCs would work. However, after a phone call to FLO tech support we were able to get everything back up and working.  Just beware of this potential issue if you currently have any PLCs working in your home.

Charging a BMW i3s. The BMW i3s can accept 32-amps so it charged slightly slower on the 30-amp Flo unit than it does on some of the other EVSEs pictured

I used the FLO Home X5 for a week to charge my BMW i3s and it performed flawlessly, as it should. The app displays the amount of electricity you’ve consumed in the current session, the amperage the car is taking and the duration of the session. The app also records your previous charging sessions so you can view them at a later date. The Home X5 also offers a power-sharing feature which allows the owner to install two FLO units on the same circuit without exceeding the circuit’s maximum load. That’s a good feature for homes with two EVs and only one available circuit to use for the chargers.

Pros

  • Solid construction, should perform well in any indoor or outdoor environment
  • 25-foot cable standard
  • Connected unit with app and smart features
  • Very robust 5-year warranty
  • Nice cable management and built-in LED-lit connector holster

Cons

  • Not currently available in a plug-in version
  • Only delivers 30 amps. Most competitors deliver 32-amps or more
  • PLC device can be a problem if you already have PLCs in use at your home
  • Expensive. Considerably more than competitive units from ChargePoint, ClipperCreek and eMotorWerks

Overall the FLO Home X5 is a good addition to the growing list of electric car charging equipment. It’s probably the most solid unit we’ve ever tested, and that’s saying a lot because ClipperCreek units are extremely solid, and made from airline-quality plastic. FLO obviously has confidence in their product, as all FLO EVSEs come with a five-year warranty, which is the best in the business as far as we know. While we like the form, it would be nice if it were slightly smaller, but that’s a personal preference, I guess. Of all the EVSEs in our testing garage, only the ClipperCreek HSC line is actually larger than the FLO Home X5 & Home G5.

Its main drawback in our opinion is the current pricing. At $995.00 for the Home G5 base FLO, and $1,295.00 for the connected version, FLO’s pricing isn’t in line with the competition. Here’s a look at how FLO’s main competitors stack up in pricing:

It’s definitely a high-quality EVSE, so if FLO manages to get the cost down closer to what these three market leaders sell for, then we think they can do well in the US market. However, at double the cost of established competitors, we’re not sure how well they will be received.

There’s is some good news on the pricing front, though. Just as we were about to post this article, we were contacted by FLO with an InsideEVs exclusive on their pricing and plug-in option. Below is an excerpt from the email we received:

1) Starting this weekend, there will be a permanent price drop on the different models of FLO Home in the US.

  • FLO Home G5 (standard model): $795
  • FLO Home X5 (connected model) – with Carbon casing: $995
  • FLO Home X5 (connected model) – with Tungsten casing: $1,095

2) Also, we will be releasing a plug-in version (with NEMA 6-50 plug) of each model (for the same prices) at the end of October.

OK, well that’s definitely a good start. Personally, I think all EVSE’s should be available in a plug-in unit. Plug-in EVSEs allow the owner to use one EVSE at multiple locations that they may frequent, and in many cases will reduce the installation cost. As for pricing, the $200.00 drop for the Home G5 as well as for the black (Carbon) Home X5 will definitely help to bridge the gap between FLO and their main competitors.

For more information on FLO or to order one, follow this link to their website.

*Note: We received 1 FLO Home X5 unit to test and use for the basis of an honest review. No other compensation was made.

Categories: Charging

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27 Comments on "EV Product Review: FLO X5 Home Charging Station"

newest oldest most voted
Clive

Too expensive.

Next /

bro1999

Yeah, especially when you can get a Chargepoint Home with the same features for almost half the price.

Devin A.

It’s expensive but it’s worth it, especially if you have your EVSE outside. I am in Canada and this thing works even at -40 – snow, rain, sleet, whatever, it’s rock solid.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Some people will only buy if it’s “UL Listed”. any word if it is or not?

I’m partial to the Jucebox and OpenEVSE products.

Neromanceres

I’m an engineer that works in product certification. UL is one of many for profit recognised certification agencies (they also have a completely separate private company that writes standards). ANSI regulates certification agencies and standards for the US. In Canada it’s regulated by the SCC (standards council of Canada). UL, CSA, ETL, FM, LC and many others are recognised NRTL’s for both the US and Canada and test all their products to the same certification standards for the US and Canada. The FLO EVSE’s are certified by CSA international to both US and Canadian standards (cCSAus mark). CSAus is very equivalent to a UL mark.

Lawrence

JuiceBox is UL listed which CSA often recognizes are references as acceptable in their standards. The JuiceBox is a nice little box that I suggested to install at work and it has served us really nicely. Especially having Wifi with a great app.

Devin A.

“CSA-certified. Meet applicable UL safety standards”

Mbo

Aren’t these prices in CDN$? That’s how much they sell, in Canada!

Clive

Great question and that might have something to do with the price point being so high

Frédérick St-Laurent

They cost a few hundred more dollars in Canada, so those are US prices.

Bob Wilson

Not having a 40A capability seems a little lame. I’ve got a JuiceBox setup at a favorite shopping area and we regularly see it maxed out with a wandering Tesla.

The City has 40kW, CCS and CHAdeMO charger. But if it is busy, I just head over to the JuiceBox for a quick charge and sandwich.

Frédérick St-Laurent

I have two X5 at home and so far they worked flawlessly. Might not matter for garages or people living south where it never freezes, but another strong point of it is that the cable stay flexible even extreme cold.

Clive

Considering their Canadian that makes a lot of sense.

Clive

ChargePoint makes one of the nicest chargers in my opinion. They’re pricing is a little higher but they make a really nice compact unit.

Clive

Tom is that your garage?

I see your BMW i3S is plugged in. 👍🏻

Spoonman.

Might want to check the flashing around your radon unit, looks like something is dripping down the pipe.

Nice review, though with my two PHEVs my $395 ClipperCreek unit seems to be doing just fine meeting our needs.

Mike

We’ve had a G5 for over a year now and it’s solid. Our neighbours have gone through three SunCountry EVSE’s in four years because they keep breaking in the in the winter (both EVSE’s, ours and theirs are installed outside and now they’re out of warranty!) because the SunCountry is made out of plastic and the Flo is not. Plastic is susceptible to UV damage and gets brittle in the cold. Their casing keep cracking which lets water in. I’ve suggested that when their EVSE breaks again to just buy a Flo and be done with it!

Our cast-aluminium G5 stands up to -40C without issue, and it really does still work no problem at +40C too! It doesn’t seem to mind the extremes. The cable even stays reasonably flexible at -40C so kudos to them because nothing seems works well at -40C except the Flo! It’s a solid unit and worth the premium price. It’s the only charger I recommend now because it just works no matter what.

vdiv

Having a metal case is a nice feature if it is mounted outside in a direct sunlight or at risk of careless landscaping. Perhaps that would make it a reasonable solution for a small office workplace charging. Does it have a load-sharing capability for multiple unit install?

Bill Howland
Yeah, they were handing out FLO brochures at the Erie, Pa. Drive Electric event. But $1000 or $1200 is way too much to pay. Last year I paid $285 for a home-made very conservatively designed 32 ampere Docking Station with Nema 14-50 attachment plug already attached, and it could be programmed to limit the current (through the car’s charger, of course) of throttling down to many different currents as low as 8 amperes for use on a more meager electric supply. I see no need to spend 3-4X this amount for an Old-School 30 ampere Docking station. My 7 year old Schneider Electric 30 ampere model (which I purchased at the time since it was by far the cheapest docking station available at the time), was only $735 THEN – and with a few slight modifications I made to make it run cooler, I still use it every day.. With all these ads for these expensive things – (they make Clipper Creek look Cheap) are given plenty of space here, I bet most EV owners opt for much more cost effective Duosida products – lately around $150 for the 16 ampere version and a bit over $300 for the 32… Read more »
Bill Howland

I learned something from the comments here however – if Sun Country Highway ‘plastic’ units are failing, this means formerly ‘ON PEDESTAL’ Clipper Creek stuff ain’t that great in Cold Weather, since that is all the SCH stuff is – rebadged CC’s.