Why 110 Volts?

Why is it that American electronics require 110 volts while the UK and most of the world use 220 volts? The answer may surprise you that it has nothing to do with added safety, costs, or reliability.
Sadly, the answer is …

it’s always been this way.

Edison set the standard, and it has not been modified since. Edison’s first incandescent light bulb was designed to work at 100 volts, and his primitive generator provided 110 Volts. And because Edison established the first electrical power company, ConEd, he set the standard for the United States.

The rest of the world uses 220 voltage devices to reduce costs while keeping risk relatively the same. In order for a 110V system to produce the same power output as a 220 Volt system, a 110 volt system must supply roughly twice the current to make up the difference in lower voltage. Twice the current means roughly twice the cross sectional area, twice the copper, and the requirement for heavier equipment. So Europe was smart enough to tweak the grid for their needs, and not using the it’s always been this way excuse.


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