ChargePoint raises the bar in the home-charging arms race.
Back in 2015 when ChargePoint introduced the ChargePoint Home EVSE, there were very few residential chargers that had WiFi connectivity and smart-charging features. There were even less that had those capabilities and were also packaged into an aesthetically-pleasing unit that would take up very little real estate on the wall of your garage.
The ChargePoint Home quickly became one of the best selling home charging stations on the market and has since built a reputation of being a very reliable, solid unit.
While ChargePoint had made minor enhancements and improvements over the past four years, the Home has basically remained the same until now. Enter the new ChargePoint Flex. The Flex addresses one of the only weaknesses the ChargePoint Home has, and that's the ability to charge an EV at a higher rate than 32-amps.
Back in 2015 when the ChargePoint Home launched, there were very few EVs that could accept more than 32-amps while charging on an AC electrical source. Therefore, it made sense at the time for ChargePoint to focus on the 32-amp limit for their Home charging units.
But times are changing, and more and more EVs, like the Audi eTron and Tesla Model 3, can now accept more than 32-amps. The Enel JuiceBox (formally eMotorWerks JuiceBox) has been selling the JuiceBox Pro 40 for many years now and has been using the fact that the unit can deliver 40-amps to the vehicle as a competitive advantage in their marketing over ChargePoint.
However, with the new Home Flex, ChargePoint is upping the EV smart-charging arms race with the ability to deliver up to 50-amps of power to an EV. I use the term "smart-charging" because the JuiceBox and Home Flex units are both WiFi-connected smart-chargers. ClipperCreek also has higher-powered units, like the HCS-50, which can deliver 40-amps of power, but it's not a smart-charger. For a fair apples-to-apples comparison, the ChargePoint Home Flex is better compared to another WiFi-connected smart-charger, like the JuiceBox Pro 40.
With the ability to deliver a full 50-amps, the ChargePoint Home Flex can charge any EV sold in the US today at its maximum AC charging rate. This will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future, as most OEMs are signaling that they won't offer AC charging at a rate higher than 40 to 48-amps. Tesla use to offer dual 40-amp chargers on the Model S and Model X, but they discontinued that offering for a couple of reasons.
First, it became clear that the electrical service on most residences, even newer construction, couldn't supply a dedicated 100-amp circuit necessary for the 80-amp charger without a very expensive upgrade. Secondly, home charging simply doesn't need to be that fast, as the cars are parked there for many hours every day. Charging at 48-amps would prove more than fast enough, even for the larger-sized battery EVs.
This means if you purchase a ChargePoint Home Flex today, you'll most likely have more than enough power to charge any EV you have now, and also for any EV you buy in the future.
Also notable is that if you have an EV that charges at a lower rate, you don't need to be concerned about having too much power, because the car always dictates how much power it receives. So even if you have a plug-in-hybrid now that can only accept 16-amps, the ChargePoint Home Flex will charge that car without any issue and still have more power available if your next EV can charge at a higher rate.
Another great feature of the ChargePoint Home Flex is its ability to work on various sized electrical circuits. Most other home chargers need to be installed on a circuit that can deliver the maximum the charger can deliver because the unit cannot be de-rated to match the circuit. This can be especially troublesome for EV owners who have a supply issue at their home. They may not currently have enough spare power in their service panel to add a 60-amp circuit for the full power of the unit.
In that case, they can de-rate the Home Flex unit to limit its power delivery to the maximum the circuit can supply. After installing the unit, the owner pairs it with their ChargePoint account through the app. While setting up the charger, you're asked what size circuit it's connected to. This will limit the power delivery to match what your circuit can safely supply.
I like this feature a lot because it allows the owner the flexibility to install the unit on a lower-powered circuit today, but increase the power in the future if they decide they want or need more power. To do so, they will need to upgrade the circuit, but they won't then have to buy a new charger.
The ChargePoint Home Flex looks exactly the same as the regular ChargePoint Home with the exception of the color of the outer casing. Instead of shiny black, the ChargePoint Home Flex has a sleek matte gray finish.
Packed with Smart-charging app features
The app for the ChargePoint Home Flex has all the features we've come to love from ChargePoint. Users can set reminders so they don't forget to plug in, the app also allows you to see how much energy your EV takes with every charging session. You can even set your cost per kWh (this varies greatly from utility to utility around the country so check your electricity bill) in the app and it will tell you how much each charging session costs. This is a great tool for calculating exactly how much your EV costs you to charge. Many people who have an EV just estimate the cost of the electricity their car uses. With the ChargePoint app, you know exactly how much you use and how much it costs you so you know exactly how much you're saving as compared to buying gasoline.
Also, like the basic ChargePoint Home, the new Flex allows you to set the car's charging to coincide with a Time Of Use electricity plan that you may be using to take advantage of lower off-peak electricity rates. It's also Amazon Alexa compatible, allowing you to access and control the charging of your car from your couch.
You do so by saying: “Alexa, ask ChargePoint…”
"To start charging my car.”
"To stop charging my car.”
"If my car is plugged in.”
"How many miles I’ve added.”
"How much I spent on charging last month.”
"To check my account balance.”
Safe and efficient
All ChargePoint products including the new Home Flex are UL listed. Safety certification is important, and having an established entity like the Underwriters Laboratory thoroughly test and list the unit means it's passed their high standards for safety. There are a LOT of new entries in the EV charging industry now, many of which are made by upstart overseas companies that are focusing on low-cost at the expense of quality and safety. We urge our readers to consider safety when buying any EV charging equipment and don't be afraid to ask the manufacturer questions regarding the quality of the product. The ChargePoint Home Flex is also one of the few EV chargers that are Energy Star listed, making it one of the most efficient units available today.
Installing your Home Flex
We always recommend hiring a licensed electrician to install any of your EV charging equipment. That said, the ChargePoint Home Flex is available in hard-wired or plug-in versions. The plug-in units can come with a NEMA 6-50 or NEMA 14-50 plug, to match either existing outlet you may have. If you decide a plug-in unit is right for you, you simply have your electrician install the outlet that matches the plug you ordered on your Home Flex.
However, since the ChargePoint Flex can accept and deliver various levels of power, there are factors to consider when choosing a plug-in or hard-wired unit. If you plan to charge at higher than 40-amps, like I do for my Tesla Model 3 (48-amps), you might want to have the unit hard-wired. That's because NEMA 6-50 and 14-50 outlets are installed on 50-amp circuits, which means the highest continuous load you should draw from it is 40-amps, or 80% of the circuit.
For 40-amp or less charging, I typically recommend getting a plug-in unit because it's so much easier to install (just plug it in and hang the unit on the wall), it's also much easier if there's ever a problem and you need to return it under warranty for a replacement. They even include circuit labels in three languages so you can label the circuit the charger is on.
ChargePoint makes the installation process very easy. Although the charging cable isn't connected to the unit when you receive it, (it's the only unit that comes this way that I know of) ChargePoint couldn't have made it any easier to connect the cable. You simply connect three wires and plug in a small connector, then snap in the cable clip. It takes all of about two minutes and no tools are even required because the wires are locked into place by depressing a tab. ChargePoint includes three mounting screws, a drill bit, and even a nut driver for the screws.
The ChargePoint Home Flex comes with a 23-foot cable and is available on Amazon or directly from ChargePoint's website for $699.00 and would make a great holiday gift for the EV-lover in your life.