This question may make you curious because, in modern society, most countries have switched to 220V power supply. Surprisingly, however, some areas still cling to the 110V voltage and are unwilling to change. Is there any special reason behind this outdated look? You may think of some reasons, such as the adaptation problem of old equipment, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Next, I’ll reveal a reason you’d never expect. Be prepared for a surprising story.
Historical reasons for the use of 110V voltage in the United States: very early power system layout choices
When power systems were starting in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists and engineers faced a very important decision: which voltage to choose as the standard voltage. Two great inventors and entrepreneurs greatly influenced this decision: Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.
At that time, Edison invented the direct current (DC) system and established the Edison Electric Company. He firmly believed that direct current was the future method of power transmission. Therefore, Edison proposed 110V voltage as the so-called Edison standard. He believes 110V voltage is enough to provide the power needed for home lighting and small appliances.
But Tesla holds the opposite view. He developed the concept of the alternating current (AC) system and collaborated with George Westinghouse to popularize AC technology. Tesla believes higher voltages can provide longer transmission distances and reduce line losses. His theoretical basis is the relationship between voltage and current: power equals voltage times current. Therefore, if a higher voltage is used for the same power delivery, the required current can be reduced, thereby reducing line losses.
As the electric power system evolved, Tesla’s views gained more support. The advantages of alternating current systems gradually emerged and were used in various fields. 1903 Tesla built the world’s first large-scale alternating current power station near Niagara Falls. This power plant utilizes 6,600 V high-voltage electrical energy, improves the voltage to 110,000 V through a transformer, and transmits it to New York City 170 miles away. This feat further proves the feasibility and efficiency of AC power systems.
Although Tesla’s AC system showed many advantages, there was still a market for DC systems because many homes and factories already installed Edison’s DC equipment. To solve this trouble, Tesla designed the transformer to transform high-voltage rotating current right into low-voltage direct current, which is ideal for usage in DC equipment. This technology called a transformer-rectifier system, makes alternating and direct currents compatible.
Practical considerations for using 110V voltage in the United States: to facilitate power interconnection with other countries
One of the benefits of using 110V voltage is to improve the convenience of power interconnection. Many countries use 220V voltage or other standards, which troubles cross-border power interconnection. If the voltage standards of the two countries are inconsistent, additional power conversion will be required, increasing the cost and complexity of the equipment. Countries that use 110V voltage can more easily conduct power interconnection with other countries, reducing unnecessary troubles.
Using 110V voltage can also improve the versatility of electrical products. With the development of international trade, the export and import of electrical products are becoming increasingly common. Countries using 110V voltage can produce products that meet their domestic market needs and easily export them to other countries without additional voltage conversion. This not only reduces production costs but also improves the competitiveness of products.
Using 110V voltage also helps improve the safety of electrical products. Since electrical products use lower voltage, they are relatively safer. During use, in the event of malfunction or improper human operation, the possible risks will be greatly reduced. This is a guarantee for consumers and also provides certain protection for national power security.
However, using 110V also comes with some challenges and limitations. First, compared with countries using 220V voltage, the 110V voltage transmission distance is shorter. This means that in actual power interconnection, more relay stations and transmission equipment may be needed, increasing the cost of construction and maintenance. Secondly, due to the larger flow of 110V voltage, thicker wires are required, which also increases the complexity and weight of the circuit.
The role of the distribution of transformers
Voltage conversion: Transformers can change voltage levels to adapt to numerous transmission and consumption requirements. It can change the high-voltage present right into the low-voltage present, or vice versa, to ensure the trusted transmission and use of electric power.
Power transmission and transformation: In the power system, the transformer is responsible for transforming and transmitting the electrical energy generated by the generator so that it can be transmitted from the power plant to the place where the electricity is used. Likewise, it is also responsible for converting the delivered high-voltage electrical energy into low-voltage electrical energy suitable for user terminal use.
Isolation and protection: Transformers play the role of electrical isolation to prevent voltage interference, current fluctuations, arcs and other problems from causing harm to the power grid and user equipment. In addition, it can also be used as an over-current and short-circuit protection device to protect the safety of the power system and user equipment by automatically cutting off the circuit.
Provide steady voltage: The transformer can adjust the output voltage and solve the voltage instability triggered by power supply changes and tons modifications to ensure the regular operation and high efficiency of customer equipment.
Energy saving and economy: Voltage conversion through transformers can reduce line losses and grid energy consumption during power transmission. Long-distance power transmission reduces the number and length of transmission lines, reduces construction costs, and improves the economy and sustainability of the power system.
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