DEFA setting new standards for intelligent EV charging

With a strong focus on user-friendliness and newest technology, DEFA Power, the new EV charging station from DEFA is ready to conquer the world. Data Respons subsidiary Data Respons R&D Services is a trusted development partner.

  • Published: 8. August 2023

The electric vehicle market is growing – and consequently the market for charging stations. DEFA wants to be at the forefront and has extensive experience to draw from. For over 60 years they have connected vehicles to the electricity grid. Now DEFA has launched its perhaps most complex and sophisticated product, DEFA Power. The EV charger offers its user simple and intuitive handling, while its technical design meets the newest and most future-oriented standards in the charging domain. The goal is to market DEFA Power internationally.


Charging an electric vehicle is vastly more complex than putting a plug into a power socket. Especially, when you are considering a state-of-the-art charger like DEFA Power. Taking a closer look at the tech, you meet specialist terms like derating, load balancing, vehicle-to-grid, together with number and letter combinations like ISO 15118 and OCPP 2.0.1.

They describe the technical complexity that follows, when a charger is part of something bigger – on many levels. To fully function it must integrate seamlessly into a number of technical and digital infrastructures, from the local electricity grid to centralized billing systems and the user’s own mobile phone.

Making this complex integration work requires great expertise and specialized developer resources. As an expert in embedded electronics and complex development projects, Data Respons subsidiary Data Respons R&D Services could deliver exactly that.

Close cooperation between developer teams

The work was done in close collaboration with DEFA’s own developer team. The project was technically demanding, especially because DEFA had decided from the outset to develop a whole new product generation from scratch and on a future-proof technical platform ready to handle all the new functionality needed in the coming years. At the same time, the complex tech should under no circumstance complicate the user experience. In fact, the goal was exactly the opposite: To make the charger as easy to operate as possible.

– We saw a demand in the market for a more intuitive and seamless charging experience than other chargers provide, says Ann Katrine Strømquist, DEFA’s project lead.

– Previously it was people with a special interest in technology that bought an EV. Now they have become so widespread that a charger is used by many other target groups than just the tech-savvy. Therefore, it was important for us to design it for ease-of-use. It has an integrated display giving the user step-by-step information about the charging process. Moreover, we’ve developed an app which among other things calculates the optimal charging procedure to save both time and money.

Expertise within Data Respons R&D Services

At the same time, DEFA wanted to design a charging station based on the newest standards, to make it future proof. And it was to function across most of the world. To carry out this huge development project DEFA needed external resources, and it chose Data Respons subsidiary Data Respons R&D Services because of its extensive expertise in the field.

– They were responsible for delivering the basic code for the charger, according to our specifications. They built a prototype and test software for it as well. It was done within the agreed time frame and there was much excitement and applause the day we plugged in a car for the first time and began charging. It has been an efficient and well-functioning collaboration, and our competencies have supplemented each other perfectly.

«It has been a great collaboration, not least because DEFA has such a strong skillset within mechanics and software, and because they are very serious about designing robust and complex high-quality products. » Marianne Holmstrøm R&D Manager and project owner, Data Respons R&D Services

Electronics and mechanics

Marianne Holmstrøm, R&D Manager and project owner at Data Respons R&D Services, confirms. She praises the DEFA team for its high level of ambition and for its will to both work closely together with the Data Respons team and to give its development partner the responsibility to develop the most optimal solutions.

– Such a project requires close collaboration between electronics and mechanics. In the first phase of the project, we’ve contributed to the electronics, while DEFA has worked with the mechanics. Afterwards we’ve worked together writing the high-level application code that lets the charger communicate with the backend systems it interacts with.

Security and performance

Security and high performance have been important parameters while developing DEFA Power. The charging station complies with all current standards for electronics safety and is secured against hacking, preventing unauthorized charging. Furthermore, it is designed to deliver its maximum charging capacity of 22 kW.

It is a well-known problem with many of the existing chargers on the market, that they derate in warm weather or in direct sunlight. When the outside temperature adds to the heat generated while charging, the charger automatically reduces the current to avoid overheating, thus charging at a lower speed.

DEFA wanted to eliminate that problem, so that the customer always would be able to charge at max capacity of 22 kW. DEFA’s engineers developed a thermic design ensuring that the charger could dispose of excess heat, even in direct sunlight on a hot day, for instance in Spain. Instead of encapsulating its electronics in plastic DEFA’s engineers chose to let the charger remain open in the back, to deflect heat away from the device.

International launch

This feature makes DEFA Power unique on the market and is an important element in DEFA’s plan to introduce the charger to markets outside Norway.

According to Ann Katrine Strømquist, DEFA starts with Finland, Sweden, and Norway, expanding from there to other European countries. The company has also set its sights on Australia and North America. These are huge markets with currently minimal EV penetration compared to Norway, which gives a state-of-the-art EV charging station a big market potential.

High ambitions

The collaboration between Data Respons R&D Services and DEFA has been defined by the very high ambitions DEFA has had for future proofing its new charging station. Consequently, the developers from Data Respons have made sure it complies with ISO 15118, an international standard defining the communication interface between vehicle and grid. It enables future use cases, like vehicle-to-grid, in which the EV’s battery is used for storing energy from solar power systems or wind turbines. In these use cases, the battery feeds energy back into the grid and as such becomes a part of the decentralized Smart Grid of the future, in which a large number of small energy sources and storage media interact, controlled by complex software.

The charger also runs the OCPP2.0.1 communication protocol enabling advanced monitoring and diagnostics, price optimization and automated access control between vehicle and charging station.

Focusing on software

Within software development the two partners have worked closely together – and are still doing so.

– Software controls the interaction between a group of chargers, when they are part of a larger installation at a shopping center or a residential area, Marianne Holmstrøm explains.

– Here Load Balancing becomes important, which means that the current available locally is distributed evenly between chargers. In this way you optimize the use of the local network. Load Balancing is an example of the technical logic a charger is part of. Other types of logic are access to billing systems and communication with the app that is connected to the charger.

– The Data Respons team has been tightly involved and we feel that we really have contributed to this project, both in electronics design and software. It has been a great collaboration, not least because DEFA has such a strong skillset within mechanics and software, and because they are very serious about designing robust and complex high-quality products.

Collaboration is a great advantage

Ann Katrine Strømquist elaborates:

– Data Respons R&D Services developed the basic functionality of the charger and gave us a platform we could build upon. To work together with them in this way has been a great advantage for us because it means we own the product entirely. That gives us complete control over all components, and thus a shorter route to the customer. That is essential for us.

DEFA Power was launched in April. Currently, Data Respons is contributing to additional software development related to the charger, and with helping DEFA Power comply with regulations in new markets, such as the UK and US, which have different types of electrical grid than the Nordics.

«Data Respons R&D Services developed the basic functionality of the charger and gave us a platform we could build upon. To work together with them in this way has been a great advantage for us because it means we own the product entirely.» Ann Katrine Strømquist Project Manager, DEFA Power

Product development as a service – that is when we create the highest value for our customers

It is in projects like DEFA Power we really can make a difference, says Data Respons R&D Services CEO Ivar A. Melhuus Sehm.

Investing in competences and facilities

Data Respons R&D Services is investing significantly in lab facilities, test equipment, workshops for prototyping and other infrastructure necessary for carrying out projects from start to finish.

– Moreover, we invest in developing the competences of our staff. We are focusing on methodologies, checklists, procedures, certifications etc. That is a very dynamic process, in which we e.g., work with pairing senior staff with graduates fresh from university. In this way we combine the experience of mature employees with the energy and curiosity of young people.

Trust is essential

The business model of Data Respons R&D Services demands not only investment in equipment, facilities, and competences. It also requires the building of strong trust between customer and provider, Ivar Sehm explains.

– We’re at our best, when we take responsibility for the complete project and the whole value chain. Typically, we begin with a feasibility study to find the technologies most suitable for the job, and we do risk analysis and describe high-level system requirements. Then we carry out the project, including for instance mechanics, printed circuit board layout, software and integration.

All this demands, according to Sehm, equal collaboration and strong trust between the two parties. The customer contributes with domain knowledge and Data Respons R&D Services contributes with high-level knowledge of the technologies suited to solve the task at hand. You learn from each other, and this type of project becomes almost a symbiosis between the two organizations.

– That is how I’d like to describe the collaboration between us and DEFA. We work together with high integrity and strong trust. That is where we do our best for our clients, and that is where we provide the highest value-add to them.

This article was originally posted by Data Respons Subsidiary Data Respons R&D Services.

Photo of Ivar A. Melhuus Sehm

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Ivar A. Melhuus Sehm

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