Portable Three-Phase 22kW to Rapid DC Charger

Living in Europe with a rapid DC charging car can be a pain. 22kW charging stations — that’s charging stations that provide 32A at three-phase — are pretty much all over the place. In fact, there is very little difference in installing a 7kW post and a 22kW post other than wiring up two extra cables – this is assuming the power is there, of course.

Using these charging stations with any car other than the Model S or ZOE results in the car not pulling as much power as is available. They just default to the on-board charger’s limit which is usually 6.6kW or possibly even 3.3kW. This is why the ZOE’s charging system is so great in Europe, it can charge from pretty much any source at the highest power it can supply.

The Renault ZOE really is the most versatile car when it comes to charging in the EU.

The Renault ZOE really is the most versatile car when it comes to charging in the EU.

This is why many people around the world have been working on a device that could change the three-phase power from these 22kW posts and convert it into the CHAdeMO or CCS standards for direct current for rapid charging. Charging a car like the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi iMiEV or Kia Soul EV at this rate would take about an hour and twenty minutes. Far faster than the four or more hours they are usually limited to when charging from an alternating current charging station.

Designwerk, a hardware and software engineering company, has created ChargeBox that does just this. Coming in three versions, CHAdeMO, CCS and a combined box with both, their ChargeBox will allow cars with lower powered onboard chargers to gain a charging speed boost.

The ChargeBox starts at €15,000 (£12,000 / $20,500) for the single connector version and goes up to €16,500 for the multi-connector version. At this price point it is unlikely to be a consumer product however it is feasible that a company with a fleet of cars may buy one or a charging location that just has multiple 22kW posts could get one to cater to more cars.

Could the ChargeBox be the answer to getting faster charging in older electric cars?

Could the ChargeBox be the answer to getting faster charging in older electric cars?

The ChargeBox will be being used on this year’s WAVE where we are hoping that Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield — who is there as the official media correspondent — will be able to experience its powers on her own personal LEAF.

What do you think of the ChargeBox? Would you be interested in getting one to use with your electric car? Let us know.


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  • Jeffery Lay

    I’m glad the device exists, but I’ve got to ask why it costs so much. Is it because it’s a prototype device, not mass produced and thus not benefitting from economies of scale, or is there something inherently expensive in the production of such a device?

    • Surya

      I guess the price is so high for the same reasons DC fast charging installations are expensive. A 43kW AC charger is dirt cheap compared to a 50kW CHAdeMO charger.nMy home EVSE supports 22kW AC, and costs u20ac750 + installation. Unfortunately I do not have 3-phase power.

      • meandmyview

        Why should a 22kW DC charger be really expensive, when every Zoe has one built in? Having an AC charger does not solve anything, the car battery REQUIRES DC, and if it is not converted in the charge point, it has to be converted in the car. There is no such thing as an AC battery charger, the DC charger is either IN the car our OUTSIDE the car.Why should it be expensive just because it is portable,and not built in?

        • Surya

          I guess the one in the ZOE isn’t cheap either but since it isn’t sold as a separate product, Renault doesn’t have to make a profit on it. I can even chose to make a loss on it as long as the overall car makes them a profit. But that is speculation, I don’t know.nBut since AC charging infrastructure is easier and cheaper to deploy, we see more of it, which is why the ZOE is such a practical car. A ZOE at a 22kW charger will charge at 22kW, a Leaf will charge at 3.3kW or 6.6kW, which makes a huge difference.

          • meandmyview

            An 11kW AC/DC converter costs about $1000. It does not really cost a lot to set up DC infrastructure at 22kW either. We are getting a network of 50kW chargers in Norway, Denmark is covered with DC chargers, Estonia has an amazing amount of DC chargers. The EU is pushing member countries to install a given amount of DC chargers. Again, it’s much nicer to have these converters externally, than to force everyone to drive around with large & heavy DC converter themself. nnAt the rate electric car development is going now, I suspect every gas station to have a DC charger soon. In norway, about 10% of sold cars are electric, and Norway sure is not an optimal marked for electric cars (hilly & cold). It’s just a matter of very few years before gas cars have limited interest and DC charging can be done on thousands of locations in each country

          • Surya

            Well, in Belgium the situation is very different. We have a ton of 22kW AC chargers, only a hand full of DC chargers. I’m not against DC, it’s just that with the current situation, I’m very happy I have a ZOE

  • Surya

    Good stuff. Now all we need is something to use fast DC charging on the ZOE (which I own) in case no fast AC charging is available.nIn fact, why didn’t they include a DC port on the ZOE? I know you’re supposed to use the Cameleon charger, but what if no fast AC is around and you need it? If I understand correctly, including a fast DC port (be it CHAdeMO or CCS) wouldn’t cost that much extra, would it?

  • Matt Beard

    Looking at the size – that would be pretty easy to build-in. So how cheap would 22kW charging be if added at the factory to a car like the Leaf?

  • CDspeed

    I knew someday there’d be an electric gas can : )

  • offib

    I do hope what the future of this would bring. Unlike what anyone expected with the computer-like price drop of electric cars, this is an actual piece of hardware, it may be attainable pretty soon. I genuinely hope Moor’s law would apply to this. It would be a pretty good piece of kit for those who would own an EV that’s over 10 years old (I’m thinking of 2010 fleet i-MiEVs) and tinker around with it.nnEdit: Well, I’ve been recently informed that the whole idea only involves transistors and microprocessors. Chargers that we see in everyday EVs and others like this which change AC to DC or vica versa really have nothing to do with the sort.

  • Michael Thwaite

    I’m still confident that onboard chargers in EVs are a short term fix. When these units are down to <$1,000 we'll have these on our walls at home and we'll have a cheap L1 version with the car just as we have the current basic emergency units today.nnThe transition is coming.

  • Chris O

    Model S can be ordered with 20KW charging, the standard 10KW charger plus an additional 10 KW charger that would set you back $3600. If from a super high margin accessory price point 20KW of charging capacity costs $7200 it would be interesting to know what explains the $13K price gap between this offering and what Tesla is offering.

  • D. Harrower

    Anything that gives EVs faster charging capability is a good thing.nnThe price is obviously a real stumbling block at this point in time, but one hope that will drop eventually as the technology matures.