Black Inventors Who Transformed Home Electricity

Meet Three Important Inventors in Honor of Black History Month 

Black inventors were key players in the development of home electricity, a technology that has profoundly impacted how society functions today. From developing unique gadgets and tools to innovating entirely new methods of harnessing power, these creative minds put great effort into creating solutions for everyday needs — including electric lighting and power devices. As a result, countless households now enjoy modern comforts made possible by their ingenuity. 

By making electricity reliable, accessible, and affordable for everyone, black inventors earned an important place in history — one we should celebrate! This blog post will discuss some African American inventors who transformed home electricity as we know it today.

Lewis Latimer, the Mind Behind Carbon Light Bulb Filaments 

lewisLewis Latimer was born in September 1848 to formerly enslaved people. His childhood wasn’t easy; enslaved people needed documentation proving their freedom. His parents did not have such documentation, so they split the family up to keep them safe. 

When he was 16 years old, Latimer joined the U.S. Navy. After being honorably discharged after less than two years, he started working in a patent office. There, he discovered his love of inventing. He was skilled in playing classical instruments, speaking foreign languages, and even dabbling in literature. 

Perhaps Latimer’s most significant accomplishment was inventing a more durable carbon filament for light bulbs and modifying a process that made manufacturing them easier. This allowed factories to make more light bulbs than before, making them more affordable and accessible to many. His invention also made the light bulbs longer lasting. 

Latimer passed away in 1928, but his legacy lives on. Today, history buffs can visit his home in Queens, New York. It was deemed historically significant after his passing and doubles as a museum. 

James West, the Co-Inventor of the Condenser Microphone 

jamesJames West was born in 1931 to Matilda West, who was one of the “hidden figures” who worked for NASA. After graduating high school, West hoped to be a medical doctor, but he was drafted into the military. West was discharged after suffering wounds in the Korean War and started studying physics. He graduated from Temple University in 1957. 

Per Johns Hopkins University (where West is a professor), West co-invented the condenser microphone, a groundbreaking technology. More than 90 percent of smartphones, smart home devices, microphones, and other electronics rely on the technology West pioneered. Today, he holds more than 60 U.S. patents and more than 200 international ones. He’s also passionate about mentoring minorities and disadvantaged students in science, technology, math, and science. 

Marie Van Brittan Brown, the Inventor of the Home Security System 

Marie Van Brittan Brown was born in October 1922. While living in Queens, New York, she realized that many homeowners could benefit from having security systems. So, with the help of her husband (who was an electronics technician), she created a rudimentary security system. 

Per BlackPast, this system was comprised of peepholes, cameras, a monitor, and a two-way microphone. At one point, it also featured a “panic button” that allowed people to press it to call 911 during home invasions. Van Brittan Brown and her husband filed a patent for their security system in 1966. It was approved three years later, in 1969. 

Before she passed away in 1999, Van Brittan Brown had been interviewed by the New York Times and received an award from the National Scientists Committee. Smart home device inventors still cite her original patent, showing how groundbreaking her invention truly was. 

About Modern Electrical Services 

Modern Electrical Services have offered a wide range of electrical services to the residents of Groveland, MA, and the surrounding areas since 2016. They provide straightforward pricing, same-day service, and a satisfaction guarantee. Call them today for electrical services in Groveland, MA.

Back to School 101: Electricity in the Home

Learn the Basics of the Home’s Electrical System

Homeowners must know the basics of their home’s electrical functions. This allows them to maintain their systems, avoid problems, and keep residents safe. One doesn’t need a degree in electrical engineering to understand these things. They only need a few moments of their time to read the information outlined below.

The Electrical System’s Partselectric meter

The home’s electrical system is more than wires and outlets. These are some components of the home’s electrical system:

  • The electric meter: This device measures how much electricity the home uses. It’ll either show the reading using dials or a number digitally. It depends on how old the house is. The electric meter is generally located outside of the home on the side.
  • The disconnect switch: The disconnect switch allows homeowners to turn off their home’s power. They may do this when electricians make certain repairs, such as replacing an electrical outlet. This avoids any nasty burns or shocks while doing electrical work.
  • The breaker panel: The breaker panel is a big switch controlling how electricity travels to the home’s components. If one blows a fuse, they’ll generally fix it using the breaker panel.
  • Circuits: Electricity travels through the home using a series of circuits. These are usually inside the walls where homeowners can’t easily access them.
  • Electrical outlets: Nearly everyone knows what an electrical outlet is. This is where homeowners plug in their devices to power them on. Most outlets can last 15 to 25 years under ideal conditions.


Common Electrical Warning Signsburning smells

Now that one knows the basic parts of their home’s electrical system, they can learn how to spot issues. If one notices any of the following signs, they should consult an electrician immediately:

  • Burning smells: Electrical outlets should never smell when in use. They shouldn’t get intensely hot, either. This could mean the circuit board is melting or too much electricity is traveling through the system. One should avoid using an outlet if it smells because doing so could cause an electrical fire.
  • Flickering lights: Sometimes, a loose lightbulb could cause flickering lights—however, other underlying issues, such as loose connections or faulty wires, could also cause it.
  • Sparking outlets: Unplugging something while in use could cause a small spark. Most of the time, this is a harmless occurrence. However, if a spark “jumps,” causes burning smells, or causes excessive heat, this could point to a serious problem.

One shouldn’t attempt to fix issues with their electrical system themselves. Instead, they should turn to a trained professional who can identify the problem and safely render repairs.

Remember, Safety First!

The Electrical Safety Foundation International notes that there are 15,000 electrical fires each year. Many of these fires arise from DIY home repairs. Learning how to fix an electrical problem isn’t something one can learn on YouTube. It’s a task best left to a professional.

Here are some other things to know about electrical safety:

  • Avoid overloading outlets
  • Unplug appliances when not in use
  • Monitor the electrical meter for any unexpected increases
  • Keep electrical items away from water sources
  • Never run cords under rugs or blankets


About Modern Electrical Services

Modern Electrical Services has served the residents of Groveland, MA, and the surrounding areas since 2016. They provide straightforward pricing, same-day service, and the latest technology. Call them today for electrical services in Groveland, MA.