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Ask the Expert: Installing a Home FLO Charger

As electric vehicles continue to appear on roadways in Canada, home charging solutions are becoming much more popular. Meanwhile, the selection of available electric cars has greatly diversified, with manufacturers such as Nissan, Chevrolet, and Hyundai offering popular EV models that are incompatible with Tesla charging stations. Here at TCA Electric, EV charging options have become a common point of inquiry from our customers, and for those interested in purchasing non-Tesla electric vehicles, we commonly recommend the FLO charger for home use. But what is a FLO charger, and how do you go about installing one for your home? We’re answering these questions and more in today’s blog post!

Who (or what) is FLO?

A car charges at a FLO charger within their network

While Tesla’s supercharging network tends to grab more headlines, FLO is another major player in terms of EV charging in North America. FLO is the largest EV charging network in Canada. And while they’re based in Quebec, FLO has a strong focus on serving EV drivers throughout the country.

One major draw for FLO is their compatibility with many electric vehicles. While Tesla has made exclusivity a major part of their business strategy, the FLO charger network is compatible with a long list of popular electric vehicle makes and models, giving drivers far more options in terms of which EV model is most preferable to them. FLO offers a subscription service to use their public charging stations, and they also offer home charging solutions, which is what we’ll be discussing today.

Do I need a FLO charger for home use?

For years, the ability to fuel your car at home seemed like a dream, and regular trips to the gas station seemed like an intractable part of life. Now, however, electric vehicles offer us the height of convenience: the potential of fuelling your car right at home. But do you need a FLO charger (or other EV charger) for your home? At TCA Electric, we feel that a home charging station is the right option for many drivers.

Charging speed is the main problem that a home EV charging station like the FLO charger can address. Any electric vehicle can be charged out of the box with a Level 1 charger, which is plugged into an ordinary 120-volt outlet. However, this method of charging is quite slow; while the exact rates vary depending on the model of electric vehicle, a Level 1 charger may only add around 7-8 kilometres of range per hour of charging, and even less in cold temperatures. For those who aren’t driving very often, this may be enough. For other folks, however, a Level 2 charger is a much better option, as these can typically add around 20-50 km of driving range per hour. Everyone’s situation is different, of course. But the experience and convenience of a home charging station for your electric vehicle is hard to match.

FLO charger models: The G5 and the X5

FLO offers two home chargers, the G5 and the X5, and when it comes to which FLO charger model is right for you, the choice boils down to one major question: Do you prefer a connected (or “smart”) charger, or not? As FLO writes in their FAQ, the difference between these chargers is simply that “The FLO Home X5 is connected; the G5 is not.” And it’s true—all other specifications are pretty much identical. Both are Level 2 chargers, offering 6.2-7.2 kW of charging power; both feature a charging cable that is 7.62 metres long, with the same charging connector; and each carries the same five-year warranty.

Of course, the connectedness does impact the price point of these chargers. The FLO Home G5 charger costs $995, while the X5 is pricier, at $1,295. The benefits of a connected EV charger should not be overlooked, as the X5 can be controlled from an associated app. You can also remotely adjust the amperage and set a charging schedule, enabling you to charge more at off-peak times, which some energy companies have incentivized. Both FLO charger models are very sturdy, however, and whether a connected charger is worth it will depend on your needs and budget.

Where should I install a home FLO charger?

Typically, the ideal location for any EV charger is as close to where your car is most often parked as possible. For many, this is inside their garage or carport. However, another important consideration is proximity to your electrical panel. Since your home FLO charger will need to be connected to a breaker, opting for a location a bit closer to your electrical panel can lessen installation costs somewhat. Luckily, both the G5 and X5 are durable and certified to operate at temperatures from -40 to 50 degrees Celsius, so installing one in a less sheltered location—just outside your garage, for example—is still a possibility.

What is the installation process?

Some minor electrical work can be done at home by skilled DIYers; however, an EV charging installation is not such an occasion. Since installing a FLO charger involves working directly with your electrical panel, it’s a job that should only be handled by a qualified and licensed electrician. In addition to the risk of personal injury, attempting the installation as an amateur could result in mistakes that cause severe damage to your home’s electrical system.

Due to the power demands of Level 2 chargers, those with 100-amp electrical panels may first need a service upgrade to 200 amps, while those with a suite may need to look into adding a demand charge controller. Once this is done, the basic installation process is fairly straightforward: Chargers like the FLO G5 or X5 are installed by running 240 volts from an electrical panel to your preferred charging location. The cable running between the charger and its breaker will be insulated and firmly secured to prevent damage, especially lengths of the cable that need to be run outdoors. Finally, the FLO charger itself will be mounted and the new charging station will be ready.

TCA Electric: Professional FLO Charger Installation

At TCA Electric, we’re excited to be part of the up-and-coming electric vehicle market, and we’ve made it a priority to keep ourselves informed of all the charging options available to our customers. Whether it’s a FLO charger, a Tesla charger, or any other device, we’re standing by to help you make the most of your electric vehicle ownership experience with a home charging station. With years of experience installing home charging stations, we’re the expert electricians for your EV charging needs. Contact us today!