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History of the Circuit Breakers Part 3 – Civic Recycling

History of Circuit Breakers Part 3

History of the Circuit Breaker

We last left off our exploration into the history of circuit breakers thinking about what may be next on the horizon. A little research into the topic presents us with a number of ideas, many of which are quite exciting in the development of how we consume and use electricity & power. Let’s look at a couple of ideas and developments of the last few years to get a firmer grasp on where the world of electricity and circuit breakers are headed.


The first exciting development we came across is being brought to us by leading power and automation technology group ABB. ABB has solved a 100-year-old problem in electrical engineering by developing the world’s first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC).

What this circuit breaker does is allow for the “interruption” of power flows, which will enable efficient integration and exchange of renewable energy. In layman’s terms, what this invention and new circuit breaker technology will do is allow existing power systems and grids to work with emerging technologies. This creates much better use of power and better system usage for companies as well as users. Sounds awesome and we love it!

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Circuit Breaker History from Civic Recycling: Part 1 (of 3)

circuit breaker history thomas edison breakers

Civic Recycling is a business based around products, delving into the history of circuit breakers is not something we do very often. But we thought it would be fun and informative to take a look at the history of circuit breakers, where they came from, who invented them, and where they’re going.

Parts of the story are incredibly interesting and there are some names that everyone will recognize from history who had a part in the creation of the modern circuit breaker.

History of Circuit Breakers

Being merely the introduction, today we’ll touch on a few of the notes that predated the modern circuit breaker and leave off with where things were headed at the onset of the 20th century. With that said, let’s jump into the earliest incarnations of the circuit breaker and why its invention was necessitated.

According to the book Edison’s Electric Light: Biography of an Invention, Thomas Edison, the vaunted inventor of the late 19th and early 20th century, had developed an early form of the circuit breaker according to a patent application from 1879. The purpose of his invention at the time was to protect lighting circuit wiring from accidental short circuits and overloads. Now, Edison’s version never quite took off to the extent he had hoped, as his invention was largely in sketches and the idea patented, without a true working product ever coming to fruition. But with these ideas out there, someone eventually picked up on the circuit breaker and brought it into a more commercial light.

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