The war of the currentssometimes called battle of the currentswas a series of events surrounding the introduction of competing electric power transmission systems in the late s and early s.
In June of that year Harold P. By the early s the war was winding down. Mergers reduced competition between companies, including the merger of Edison Electric with their chief AC rival, Thomson-Houston, forming General Electric in The new company now controlled three quarters of the US electrical business. DC commercial power Ac Dc Electric Company systems declined rapidly in numbers throughout the 20th century, but the last DC system in New York City was shut down in The war of the currents grew out of the development of two lighting systems; arc lighting running on alternating current and incandescent lighting running on direct current.
By the late s, arc lamp systems were beginning to be installed in cities, powered by central generating plants.
Arc lighting was capable of lighting streets, factory yards, or the interior of large buildings. In inventor Thomas Edison saw a market for a system that could bring electric lighting directly into Ac Dc Electric Company customer's business or home, a niche not served by arc lighting systems.
Edison designed his utility to compete with the then established gas lighting utilities, basing it on a relatively low volt direct current supply Uk Great Travel Company power a high resistance incandescent lamp he had invented for the system.
Edison direct current systems would be sold to cities throughout the United States, making it a standard with Edison controlling all technical development and holding all the key patents. Direct-current systems could be directly used with storage batteries, providing valuable load-leveling and backup power during interruptions of generator operation.
Direct-current generators could be easily paralleled, allowing economical operation by using smaller machines during periods of light load and improving reliability.
Edison had invented a meter to allow customers to be billed for energy proportional to consumption, but this meter worked only with direct current. The primary drawback with the Edison direct current system was that it ran at volts from generation to its final destination giving it a relatively short useful transmission range: to keep the size of the expensive copper conductors down generating plants had to be situated Ac Dc Electric Company the middle of population centers and could only supply customers less than Ac Dc Electric Company mile from the plant.
Using induction coils to transfer power between electrical circuits had been around for 40 years with Pavel Yablochkov using them in his lighting system in and Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs using the principle to create a "step down" transformer inbut the design was not very efficient.
Per Joule's lawthose losses go up as the square of the current. This effect is true for both AC and DC currents. In North America the inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse entered the electric lighting business in when he started to develop a DC system and hired William Stanley, Jr.
Westinghouse became aware of the new European transformer based AC systems in when he read about them in the UK technical journal Engineering. Westinghouse saw a way to build a truly competitive system instead of simply building another barely competitive DC lighting system using patents just different enough to get around the Edison patents. Westinghouse purchased the US patents rights to the Gaulard-Gibbs transformer and imported several of those as well as Jessica Company AC generators to begin experimenting with an AC-based lighting system in Pittsburgh.
The Westinghouse Electric Company was formed at the beginning of By the end of Westinghouse had 68 alternating current power stations to Xela Company DC-based stations.
All of the companies had their own electric power systems, arc lighting systems, and even incandescent lamp designs for domestic lighting, leading to constant lawsuits and patent battles between themselves and with Edison. Elihu Thomson of Thomson-Houston was concerned about AC safety and put a great deal of effort into developing a lightning arrestor for high-tension power lines as well as a magnetic blowout switch that could shut the system down in a power surge, a safety feature the Westinghouse system did not have.
He also thought the idea of using AC lighting in residential homes was too dangerous and had the company hold back on that type of installation until a safer transformer could be developed. Besides being an eyesoreNew Yorkers were annoyed when a large March snowstorm the Great Blizzard of tore down a large number of the lines, cutting off utilities in the city. This spurred on the idea of having these lines moved underground but it was stopped by a court injunction obtained by Western Union.
Legislation to give all the utilities 90 days to move their lines into underground conduits supplied The Walking Company Nj the city was slowly making its way Gabon Oil Company Recrutement the government but that was also being fought in court by the United States Illuminating Company, who claimed their AC lines were perfectly safe.
As AC systems continued to spread into territories covered by DC systems, with the companies seeming to impinge on Edison patents including incandescent lighting, things got worse for the company. Thomas Edison's own colleagues and engineers were trying to get him to consider AC.
Edison's sales force was continually losing bids in municipalities that opted for cheaper AC systems  and Edison Electric Illuminating Company president Edward Hibberd Johnson pointed out that if the company stuck with an all DC system it would not be able to do business in small towns and even mid-sized cities.
After Westinghouse installed his first large scale system, Edison wrote in a November private letter to Edward Johnson, " Just as certain as death Westinghouse will kill a customer within six months after he puts in a system of any size, He has got a new thing and it will require a great deal of experimenting to get it working practically. He noted what he saw as inefficiencies and that, combined with the capital costs in trying to finance very large generating plants, led him to believe there would be very little cost savings in an AC venture.
In February Edison Electric president Edward Johnson published an page pamphlet titled " A Warning from the Edison Electric Light Company " and sent it to newspapers and to companies that had purchased or were planning to purchase electrical equipment from Edison competitors, including Westinghouse and Thomson-Houston, stating that the competitors were infringing on Edison's incandescent light and other electrical patents. The pamphlet also emphasized the safety and efficiency of direct current, with the claim DC had not caused a single death, and included newspaper stories of accidental electrocutions caused by alternating current.
Southwick to seek some application for the curious phenomenon. Fell and the Buffalo ASPCA, electrocuting hundreds of stray dogs, to come up with a method to euthanize animals via electricity. An commission appointed by New York governor David B. There were early indications that this new form of execution would become mixed up with the war of currents.
After further prompting, Edison hit out at his chief electric power competitor, George Westinghouse, in what may have been the opening salvo in the war Ac Dc Electric Company currents, stating in a December letter to Southwick that it would be best to use current generated by "'alternating machines,' manufactured principally in this country by Geo. At this point an electrical engineer named Harold P. Brownwho at that time seemed to have no connection to the Edison company,  sent a June 5, letter to the editor of the New York Post claiming the root of the problem was the alternating current AC system being used.
Brown argued that the AC system was inherently dangerous and "damnable" and asked why the "public must submit to constant danger from sudden death" just so utilities could use a cheaper AC system.
At the beginning of attacks on AC, Westinghouse, in a June 7, letter, tried to defuse the situation. He invited Edison to visit him in Pittsburgh and said "I believe there has been a systemic attempt on the part of some people to do a great deal of mischief and create as great a difference as possible between the Edison Company and The Westinghouse Electric Co.
Edison thanked him but said "My laboratory work consumes the whole of my time". On June 8, Brown was lobbying in person before the New York Board of Electrical Control, asking that his letter to the paper be read into the meeting's record and demanding severe regulations on AC including limiting power to volts, a level that would make AC next to useless for transmission.
Westinghouse pointed out in Job Application For Company to various newspapers the number of fires caused by DC equipment and suggested that Brown was obviously being controlled by Edison, something Brown continually denied.
At a July meeting Board of Electrical Control, Brown's criticisms of AC and even his knowledge of electricity was challenged by other electrical engineers, some of whom worked for Westinghouse. Edison immediately offered to assist Brown in his crusade against AC companies. Brown paid local children to collect stray dogs off the street for his experiments with direct and alternating current.
Brown then applied volts of alternating current which killed the dog. Four days later he held a second demonstration to answer critics' claims that the DC probably weakened the dog before it died.
In this second demonstration, three dogs were killed in quick succession with volts of AC. Brown's campaign to restrict AC to volts went nowhere but legislation did come close to passing in Ohio and Virginia. What brought Brown to the forefront of the debate over AC and his motives remain unclear,  but historians note there grew to be some form of collusion between the Edison company and Brown.
Hastings who came up with the idea of using Brown and Ac Dc Electric Company New York physicians to attack Westinghouse and the other AC companies in retaliation for what Hastings thought were unscrupulous bids by Westinghouse for lighting contracts in Denver and Minneapolis. In addition, Thomas Edison himself sent a letter to the city government of Scranton, Pennsylvania recommending Brown as an expert on the dangers of AC. During this period Westinghouse continued to pour money and engineering resources into the goal of building a completely integrated AC system.
He bought the Waterhouse Electric Light Company in and the United States Illuminating Company ingiving Westinghouse their own arc lighting systems as well as control over all the major incandescent lamp patents not controlled by Edison.
Shallenberger developed an induction meter that used a rotating magnetic field for measuring alternating current giving the company a way to calculate how much electricity a customer used. Morgan to take over Westinghouse Electric. Thomson-Houston 1010 Phone Company continuing to expand, buying seven smaller electric companies including a purchase of the Brush Electric Company in Several of the business deals between Thomson-Houston and Westinghouse fell apart and in April a judge rolled back part of Westinghouse's original Gaulard Gibbs patent, stating it only covered transformers linked in series.
Morgan and the Vanderbilt family for Edison's lighting experiments, merged. Through the fall of a battle of words with Brown specifically attacking Nielsen Survey Company continued to escalate. Although New York had a criminal procedure code that specified electrocution via an electric Erie Insurance Company Number, it did not spell out the type of electricity, the amount of current, or its method of supply, since these were still relative unknowns.
During this time they sought the advice of Harold Brown as a consultant. This ended up expanding the war of currents Chambers Bottling Company the development of the chair and the general debate over capital punishment in the US. Hastings to arrange the use of the West Orange laboratory.
Brown used alternating current for all of his tests on animals larger than a human, including 4 calves and a lame horse, all dispatched with volts of AC. Westinghouse criticized these tests as a skewed self-serving demonstration designed to be a direct attack on alternating current.
Brown's December 18 letter refuted the claims and Brown even challenged Westinghouse Mortgage Company Clearwater Fl an electrical duel, with Brown agreeing to be shocked by ever-increasing amounts of DC power if Westinghouse submitted himself to the same amount of increasing AC power, first to quit loses.
In March when members of the Medico-Legal Society embarked on another Vbiger Company of tests to work out the details of electrode composition and placement they turned to Brown for technical assistance. Also in March, Superintendent of Prisons Austin Lathrop asked Brown if he could supply the equipment needed for the executions as well as design the electric chair.
Brown turned down the job of designing the chair but did agree to fulfill the contract to supply the necessary electrical equipment. This became another behind-the-scenes maneuver to acquire Westinghouse AC generators to supply the current, apparently with the help of the Edison company and Westinghouse's chief AC rival, Thomson-Houston. In May when New York had its first criminal sentenced to be executed in the electric chair, a street merchant named William Kemmlerthere was a great deal of discussion in the editorial column of the New York Times as to what to call the then-new form of execution.
The term " Westinghouse d" Yet Company put forward as well as " Gerry cide" after death penalty commission head Elbridge Gerryand " Brown ed". William Kemmler was sentenced to die in the electric chair around June The Multihull Company,but before the sentence could be carried out an appeal was filed on the grounds that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the US Constitution.
It became obvious to the press and everyone involved that the politically connected and expensive lawyer who filed the appeal, William Bourke Cockranhad no connection to the case but did have connection to the Westinghouse company, obviously paying for his services.
During fact-finding hearings held around the state beginning on July 9 in New York City, Cockran used his considerable skills as a cross-examiner and orator to attack Brown, Edison, and their supporters. His strategy was to show that Brown had falsified his test on the killing power of AC and to prove that electricity would not cause certain death and simply lead to torturing the condemned.
In cross examination he questioned Brown's lack of credentials in the electrical field and brought up possible collusion between Brown and Edison, which Brown again denied.
Many witnesses were called by both sides to give firsthand anecdotal accounts about encounters with electricity and evidence was given by medical professionals on the human body's nervous system and the electrical conductivity of skin. Brown was accused of fudging his tests on animals, hiding the fact that he was using lower current DC and high-current AC.
After the gathered testimony was submitted and the two sides presented their case, Judge Edwin Day ruled against Kemmler's appeal on October 9 and US Supreme Court denied Kemmler's appeal on May 23, After the first jolt of electricity Kemmler was found to be still breathing. The procedure had to be repeated and a reporter on hand described it as "an awful spectacle, far worse than hanging.
On August 25, the New York Sun ran a story headlined:. The story was based on 45 letters stolen from Brown's office that spelled out Brown's collusion with Thomson-Houston and Edison Electric.
The majority of the letters were correspondence between Brown and Thomson-Houston on the topic of acquiring the three Westinghouse generators for the state of New York as well as using one of them in an efficiency test. Further Edison involvement was contained in letters from Edison treasurer Hastings asking Brown to send anti-AC pamphlets to all the legislators in the state of Missouri at the company's expenseBrown requesting that a letter of recommendation from Thomas Edison be sent to Scranton, PA, as well as Edison and Arthur Kennelly coaching Brown in his upcoming testimony in the Kemmler appeal trial.
Brown was not slowed down by this revelation and characterized his efforts to expose Westinghouse as the same as going after a grocer who sells poison and calls it sugar.
Grantin a meeting with the Board of Electrical Control and the AC electric companies, rejected the claims that the AC lines were perfectly safe saying "we get news of all who touch them through the coroners office". The jolt entered through his bare right hand and exited his left steel studded climbing boot.
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