Wind Powered Cleveland’s First Electric Home
In 1888, American inventor Charles F. Brush’s mansion was the first home to have electricity in Cleveland, Ohio. How did he get it? Brush built the world’s first automatically operated wind turbine in his backyard.
The turbine was built in the winter of 1887–1888. It stood 60 feet high, weighed 80,000 pounds, and supported a rotor of 56 feet in diameter. It stored electricity in a bank of a dozen batteries.
The turbine supplied 12kW of power—small by today’s standards—but plenty to power the home’s 350 incandescent lights, 2 arc lights, and a number of motors. Remember, Brush’s home was a mansion.
Was his project successful?
Absolutely! Brush’s turbine never failed to keep his home continuously powered during its 20 years of service. He kept it running for ten tears after Cleveland’s electric grid became available and eventually retired it.
Who Built The First Wind Turbine to Generate Electricity?
Who was first: the Scottish academic or the American inventor?
There is some controversy and debate here.
Why? There are conflicting historical reports that consider scale, purpose, and device types differently.
For example, one Wikipedia entry says:
More confusing is that other Wikipedia entries credit Brush as the first builder. That’s in conflict with the one above—not uncommon on Wikipedia.
Timewise, Brush and Blyth are virtually tied. However, they took different design approaches: Brush went horizontal while Blyth went vertcal.
Here’s a photograph of James Blyth’s design:
So, we propose a solution to settle the debate:
American inventor Charles Brush gets credit for the world’s first horizontal access wind turbine (HAWT) to generate electricity.
Scottish academic James Blyth gets credit for the world’s first vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) to generate electricity.