Previous studies have reported that, before or after occurrences of strong earthquakes, some low earth orbit satellites recorded ionospheric disturbances, including electromagnetic emissions and plasma fluctuations over the epicenter region or its conjugate point. Theoretically speaking, due to some electromagnetic coupling effect, electromagnetic emissions from the earthquake preparation zone could propagate from the lithosphere to the atmosphere, and could reach the ionosphere, even up to the inner magnetosphere. This paper introduces the electric field detector (EFD) onboard the ZhangHeng-1 satellite (ZH-1). The EFD is designed to measure electric field fluctuations within the broad frequency range of DC to 3.5 MHz, divided into 4 channels: ULF (DC–16 Hz), ELF (6 Hz–2.2 kHz), VLF (1.8 kHz–20 kHz) and HF (18 kHz–3.5 MHz). The sampling rates of the channels are 125 Hz, 5 kHz, 50 kHz and 10 MHz, respectively. The EFD includes 4 spherical probes mounted on a over 4.5 m boom and an electronic box inside the satellite module. The resolution of the EFD is 1 μV·m-1·Hz-1/2 at frequencies from DC to 16 Hz, and the sensitivity is 0.1 μV·m-1·Hz-1/2 at frequencies from 6 Hz to 2.2 kHz, 0.05 μV·m-1·Hz-1/2 in the band 1.8 kHz to 20 kHz, and 0.1μV·m-1·Hz-1/2 from 20 kHz to 3.5 MHz. The dynamic range from DC to 20 kHz is over 120 dB, and over 96 dB from 20 kHz to 3.5 MHz. The EFD has two observation modes: survey mode and burst mode. The survey mode concentrates primarily on electric field power density values; the burst mode provides high sampling rate waveform data. The detailed configuration of the EFD onboard the ZH-1 is also introduced in this paper. During the six months’ orbit test phase, the EFD recorded a number of natural electromagnetic emissions. Preliminary analysis of these data suggests that the EFD performs well onboard the ZH-1 and is meeting the requirements of the scientific objectives of ZH-1.