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#145445 - 05/23/06 08:14 PM Electric Lighting in 1890
GeneSF Offline
Member

Registered: 09/24/03
Posts: 39
Loc: Berkeley, California, US
Greetings all!

Interesting article: http://zapatopi.net/kelvin/papers/electric_lighting_and_public_safety.html I had heard in the early days of electric lighting the standard voltage was 100 both in the UK and US. This is from the very early years of AC. It covers electrical power distribution safety issues in many countries at the time as well.

Gene

[This message has been edited by GeneSF (edited 05-23-2006).]

[This message has been edited by GeneSF (edited 05-23-2006).]

[This message has been edited by GeneSF (edited 05-23-2006).]

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#145446 - 05/24/06 12:52 AM Re: Electric Lighting in 1890
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
OUCH!
The intro is written horribly! Eveyrthing else is fairly interesting though!

In the first days 100-120V were indeed standard, I think mostly because bulb filaments couldn't withstand higher voltages.

I once heard the 110 and 220 Volts were derived from arc lights - supposedly the minimum voltage for arc lights is 55V, and they wired 2 or 4 of them in series to reduce voltage drop.

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#145447 - 05/24/06 02:32 AM Re: Electric Lighting in 1890
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Interesting reading Gene.

Some of the earliest power distribution systems in British cities were indeed 3-wire Edison-type arrangements, 100/200V to 125/250V D.C. Many of them were then upgraded to double the voltage, and the 200/400 to 250/500V 3-wire D.C. systems survived in the older parts of some cities well into the 1950s (with a normal residential service taking just a 2-wire supply from one "hot" and the neutral).

It's noteworthy that the argument of overhead vs. underground distribution is still going on over a century later, at least in some places, There are plenty of people today who would like to see all cables placed underground, but they just don't realize how much more expensive that would be.

It's noticable even to the casual observer though how fewer overhead cables we have in a typical British town compared to a typical American town.


[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 05-24-2006).]

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#145448 - 05/24/06 03:16 AM Re: Electric Lighting in 1890
RODALCO Offline
Member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 863
Loc: Titirangi, Akld, New Zealand
Interesting article

 Quote:
I once heard the 110 and 220 Volts were derived from arc lights - supposedly the minimum voltage for arc lights is 55V, and they wired 2 or 4 of them in series to reduce voltage drop.

Yep, Texas Ranger you are correct.

The 110 and 220 Volts were derived from the 55 volts arc lamps in series.
To reduce the current from 2 or 4 lamps in parallel the series option was chosen and still remained within the limits of the available insulation materials for cables of those days.

Streetlighting was sometimes done on higher voltages as quoted in the article but mostly supplied via catenary wires which were strung on insulators hence a higher voltage was used.

Also the carbon filament, wolfram or early ediswan lamps didn't like the higher than 110 volts voltages and tended to burn out to fast.

Putting everything underground, great ! , but costs are high.
Even now these days overhead is more cost effective in rural area's anyway and is not subjected to damage by ground movement or directional drilling.
_________________________
The product of rotation, excitation and flux produces electricty.

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#145449 - 05/24/06 09:25 AM Re: Electric Lighting in 1890
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Note the following reference to arc lights in Italy which corresponds:

 Quote:
In Milan and Turin there are installations of aerial wires at 2,500 volts for forty arc lights in series.

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#145450 - 05/24/06 01:52 PM Re: Electric Lighting in 1890
GeneSF Offline
Member

Registered: 09/24/03
Posts: 39
Loc: Berkeley, California, US
Thanks everyone! I was wondering where the 110-120 standard came from. I didn't know that this came from earlier arc lighting. Some sources mention that the US went to 120 V by the 1930s when light bulbs were improved enough to handle it.

Here's another reference from Cecil Adams of "The Straight Dope" He was an electrican's apprentice no less. I read this one many years ago
http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_292.html

While I was an electronics tech and not an electrician, different methods of household wiring, plugs and sockets still fascinate me.

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#145451 - 05/26/06 02:58 AM Re: Electric Lighting in 1890
C-H Offline

Member

Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
If that wasn't enough, there were different arc lights on the market. They required slightly different voltages, somewhere in the 40-55 V range, and were normally wired in pairs to match a grid voltage of 80-110V.

I've heard that the first generator Edison got hold of put out about 110V which makes perfect sense: About 100V to run the arc lights and a little more for the voltage drop in the cables. Edisons real innovation was to design a bulb that ran on this voltage for extended periods of time.

Bulb that ran on a low voltage, like 20V, for a brief time did exist. But what use is such a thing?

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