War of Currents (Ac - Dc)

Topics: Alternating current, Nikola Tesla, War of Currents Pages: 10 (2965 words) Published: January 6, 2013
Tesla vs Edison:


In the "War of Currents" era (sometimes "War of the Currents" or "Battle of Currents") in the late 1880s, George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison became adversaries due to Edison's promotion of direct current (DC) for electric power distribution over alternating current (AC) advocated by Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla.

Thomas Edison American inventor andbusinessman was known as "The Wizard of Menlo Park" and pushed for the development of a DC power network.| George Westinghouse American entrepreneur and engineer backed financially the development of a practical AC power network.| Nikola Tesla Serbian-American inventor, physicist, and electro-mechanical engineer was known as "The Wizard of The West” and was instrumental in developing AC networks.| Introduction:

During the initial years of electricity distribution, Edison's direct current was the standard for the United States and Edison was not disposed to lose all his patent royalties. Direct current worked well with incandescent lamps that were the principal load of the day and with motors. 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 economic operation by using smaller machines during periods of light load and improving reliability. At the introduction of Edison's system, no practical AC motor was available. Edison had invented a meter to allow customers to be billed for energy proportional to consumption. But this meter only worked with direct current. As of 1882, these were all significant technical advantages to direct current systems. From his work with rotary magnetic fields, Tesla devised a system for generation, transmission, and use of AC power. He partnered with George Westinghouse to commercialize this system. Westinghouse had previously bought the rights to Tesla's polyphase system patents and other patents for AC transformers from Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs. Several undercurrents lay beneath this rivalry. Edison was a brute-force experimenter but was no mathematician. AC cannot properly be understood or exploited without a substantial understanding of mathematics and mathematical physics, which Tesla possessed.

When tesla came America he was firstly hired by Thomas Edison. He worked for Edison but was undervalued (for example, when Edison first learned of Tesla's idea of alternating-current power transmission, he dismissed it: "Tesla's ideas are splendid, but they are utterly impractical."). Bad feelings were exacerbated because Tesla had been cheated by Edison. Edison promised Tesla to give $50000 if he could make his dynamos more efficient by keeping them in DC. Tesla worked day and night to finish the job and when he was finally completed. Edison Said: “Tesla you don’t understand our American humor.”

Thus Tesla left his company and partnered with George Westinghouse who was inspired by his ideas.


“Anything that wont sell, I don’t want to invent.” (This shows that he was more a businessman then an inventor.)

“Let the future tell the TRUTH, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked is mine.”

Electric Power Transmission:

The competing systems:

Edison's DC distribution system consisted of generating plants feeding heavy distribution conductors with customer loads (e.g., lighting and motors) tapped into it. The system operated at the same voltage level throughout. For example, 100-volt lamps at the customer's location would be connected to a generator supplying 110 volts to allow for some voltage drop in the wires between the generator and load. The voltage level...
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