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Home Electrical Systems
Modern technology has provided several things that make our lives better and easier. One that readily comes to mind as part of technological advancement is electricity generation for man. There is hardly any industry that does not rely on electricity to thrive since it is used to power most of the devices needed in the business.
Apart from the support it gives to industries, electricity is used regularly in homes to power appliances. Interestingly, only a few people can boast of knowing anything about the history of electricity or the first time someone used electricity in homes. If you have ever wondered how we came about electricity and its use, this should be an exciting read for you.
How Was Electricity Discovered?
Electricity is a natural force, and as a result, no one invented it. However, for it to be understood and harnessed correctly, it had to be discovered. Many people give the credit for the discovery of electricity to Benjamin Franklin. History has revealed that Benjamin Franklin was one of those with the most significant scientific minds during his time.
Before that time, scientists had experimented and conducted scientific research on static electricity. Benjamin Franklin took the research on electricity a notch higher when he postulated that, for electricity to be generated, there need to be negative and positive elements that will allow electrical energy to flow. In his opinion, lightning as we know it is a type of this flowing electricity.
Benjamin Franklin's Lightning Experiment
The famous kite experiment for which Benjamin Franklin is known was carried out in 1752. He wanted to prove that lightning was, in fact, electricity; to do this; he flew a kite in a thunderstorm. He had a metal key tied to the loose end of the kite string and thought it should conduct electricity. Electricity was indeed sent down the kite's string which gave him an electric jolt.
Electricity Existed Before Franklin's Lightning Test
There are pieces of evidence to show that electricity was known before Benjamin Franklin carried out his experiment. Around 600 BC, a Greek by the name of Thales realised that amber was able to attract feathers as well as other light objects after rubbing it with silk.
In Greek, Amber is called 'ëelectron,' and this is where the words electricity and electron came from. William Gilbert, who served as a physician and scientist to Queen Elizabeth l in the 1600s, coined the term electricity. He was the one that recognised the connection that exists between electricity and magnetism.
Gilbert was also the first to give details about the Earth's magnetic field. Machines that produced static electricity were developed in the 1700s. Initially, these machines were designed just so people could use them to have fun, and they were aptly called 'parlor trick machines,' but over time, they were improved and became more developed.
Francis Hauksbee invented neon light. He had inadvertently created electrical effects when he placed mercury into a glass globe, pumped air out of it, and spun it around. There was a glow effect when he rubbed it with his bare hand in the dark.
The Tussle Between AC And DC Electricity
Soon enough, electricity was made available in different parts of the United States. However, at the time, electrical power was only available in the form of a direct current (DC) system that Thomas Edison and General Electric created, even though alternating current (AC) was the more common of the two types of electricity.
Nikola Tesla was one of Thomas Edison's students, and he opined that AC was the superior of the two as it allowed the changing of power either to lower or higher voltages in a more efficient manner with the aid of transformers. Some people thought alternating currents between these two forms could be a way around the issue at hand.
Edison would have none of Tesla's theory and promoted his theory, suggesting that alternating current was highly hazardous to users. This was referred to by many only as a smear campaign to discredit and discourage the use of DC. The back-and-forth disparage from both sides peaked when George Westinghouse won in a competition where the General Electric also bided for the provision of electricity for the Chicago World's Fair.
Since alternating current could be supplied more straightforwardly and to even broader regions, it systematically replaced the standard form of energy around the United States.
The Invention Of Electric Light Bulbs
Coming up with a practical use of electricity took scientists some time even though they had known of electricity and could even generate it. Near the end of the 19th century, some exceptionally intelligent scientists began developing electrical applications.
One such person was Thomas Edison, and in 1879, he invented the first electric bulb that would work for a reasonable length of time. This was a form of brand-new luxury in many homes. The most common method people chose to take advantage of it was by installing generators and creating home electricity for themselves.
An excellent example was the electrical lighting inside the White House in 1891, powered by a pair of generators. However, it is amusing that the president and his wife could not bring themselves to touch the light switches for fear they could get electrocuted. This responsibility was handed over to one of their personnel.
Insull Accomplished A Life-Long Ambition
Power stations began to spring in some major cities as the new use of electricity paved the way for development. However, most of them could only sustain a few city blocks with their electricity. Samuel Insull worked with Thomas Edison as his personal secretary but left him in 1892, so he could accomplish the ambition of having an impact on the electric industry.
Insull started his career working for Chicago Edison, a company producing and distributing electrical power. Eventually, he significantly reduced the cost of large-scale operations over a long period. He succeeded in doing this by bringing about an increase in the number of consumers, which led to a decrease in the cost of power provision.
Initially, Insull used high voltage transmission lines to bring electricity to neighboring communities, but in the long run, he succeeded in doing this with rural areas too. This way, Insull was able to make electricity available to both the wealthy and the ordinary people. While it was no easy feat, Insull eventually succeeded in changing the pricing for consumers whose electricity consumption was not the same as average consumption pricing.
This singular act allowed rural areas to have continued access to energy sources. By effect, Insull was rated as the most successful businessman in the power industry at the time. With the start of the Great Depression in 1929, several good things were wiped out, and unfortunately, Insull's businesses and wealth were equally affected.
Introducing Electrical Components And Wiring
The commercial use of electricity first started in the city of Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland, in 1882. This was quite impactful in the overall development of the country. It is somewhat strange to observe that some of the less crowded communities in Australia had access to electricity way before most of the major cities.
In the year 1888, Tamworth, a location in Australia, pioneered electricity use for public lighting. In the years that followed, electrical supplies were delivered to Young, located in South Western New South Wales. During the first stages of the transition to electricity use in homes, bare copper wires were used for electricity transmission with a minimal coating of cotton insulation.
Wood was used majorly to manufacture switch handles, sockets, and fuse blocks. Between 1890 and 1910, knobs and tubes were employed to wire electrical installations. As there were no voltage regulators at the time, the light brightness would fluctuate according to the demand placed for its use on the electrical system.
Electricity In Our Modern Age
Gas lamps served as the primary source of illumination in many homes in America for a more significant part of the 20th century. By 1925, only about fifty percent of Americans could boast of having access to electricity in their homes. When the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 was signed into law by the then president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, it paved the way for the extension of electricity use to rural areas within America.
As a result, almost all the homes in the country had access to electricity by 1960. Initially, electricity was used for the sole purpose of lighting. However, electricity demand began to increase with the development of innovative electrical home appliances such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, refrigerators, etc.
With the need for many of these appliances and electronic devices in homes, it became equally necessary to have components and wirings that could withstand the substantial electrical load. Developments are still taking place in the electrical power industry in the 21st century, although alternating current has remained the most used power source.
Research is ongoing on using different types of renewable energy, and there are remarkable success stories recorded so far. This may not be unconnected with the fact that with renewable energy sources, there is a relatively lesser overall negative impact on the environment.
What The Future Foretells For Electricity
It is good news for humankind that there are renewable energy sources, but at the moment, electricity is needed for the smooth operation of almost every facet of any economy.
It is a significant player required to drive economic growth and development. While renewable energy usage may be the new norm the world over in the near future, the need for certified electricians will remain inevitable.
Whether for upgrading electrical panels or the wiring process of home appliances, you will still need the services of these professionals to ensure safety and compliance with laws that govern the use of power sources. In the same vein, if you need help with your electricity, reach out to an expert near you.