Electricity Meter: Shallenberger’s meter supplies AC power
“Faith is like electricity but you can’t see it and you can see the light” by Tribhuvan Chaubey
In the late nineteenth century, George Westinghouse was a happy man. He had just demonstrated that an AC (Alternating Current) generator could be used to power lights a mile away. It now dawned on him that he could make a fortune charging for AC electricity. He needed was electricity meter based on an alternating current. Thomas Edison was also fairly content because his company, General Electric was generating the more popular DC (Direct Current) electricity and he was charging by the lamp.
Oliver Shallenberger (1860-1898) a graduate of the United State Naval Academy had been watching the developments in AC generation closely and had been working on an AC electrical meter. He had taken his early ideas to Thomas Edison but as the meter was not DC-related but Edison was not interested. Shallenberger then visited Westinghouse to present his ideas.
Westinghouse was baffled by Shallenberger’s drawing but after half an hour gave him the job of chief electrician at his company. So it was that Shallenberger left the Navy in 1884 and joined Westinghouse Company.
In 1888, Shallenberger was working on a new Ac lamp when a spring fell out and landed on the inside ledge of the lamp. He noticed that the spring was moving under the force of the nearby electric fields. He took this idea for his electricity meter which became the industrial standard. The design was very similar to that of a gas meter. The same basic meter technology is still used today. Nikola Tesla later showed that Shallenberger’s meter was actually a type of AC electrical motor.