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The 'war Of Currents' Essay

530 words - 2 pages

The competition between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison to supply electricity to cities in the late 1880s is often called the 'War of Currents', as this battle ultimately decided which type of current became the standard for the generation of electricity today. Due to different advantages and disadvantages, Edison promoted direct current (DC) for electric power distribution, whereas Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla both advocated alternating current (AC).Edison's direct current was initially the standard for the United States for electricity distribution as not only did DC work well with incandescent lamps (the principal load of the day), but DC systems could be directly used with storage batteries, providing valuable load-levelling and backup power during interruptions of generator operation. Also, Direct current generators could be easily paralleled, allowing economic operation by using smaller machines during periods of light load and improving reliability, and Edison had invented a meter to allow customers to be billed for energy proportional to consumption, but this meter only worked with direct current. Furthermore, at the introduction of Edison's system, no practical AC motor was available.However, the great disadvantage of using DC for electricity distribution was that it could only be generated and distributed at the voltages at which it was used by consumers, meaning that currents in conductors were hefty, resulting in huge and expensive energy losses over distances more than one or two kilometres. Thus, many power stations and an unattractive abundance of wires to carry the required current were needed in order to supply electricity to a large city.Westinghouse and Tesla's AC generators overcame these disadvantages as, through the use of transformers,...

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