Benjamin Franklin was one of the most brilliant inventors and thinkers of his time. Though he is best known for his discoveries related to electricity, including the lightning rod and bifocals, one of his most ingenious innovations is hardly known today. This was Franklin's development of a new wiring method that revolutionized how homes and buildings were powered.

Franklin's Frustrations with Existing Wiring Techniques

In the early 1740s, Benjamin Franklin began to devote more time to investigations of electricity. During this research, he started to wire his own home for electricity. However, he found existing wiring techniques to be tedious, dangerous and inefficient.

At the time, most electrical wiring was done in a "busbar" configuration. Busbars consisted of heavy metal bars installed along the ceiling or floor. The busbars would distribute power to different parts of the home. However, this meant that anytime new wiring was needed, the busbars had to be partially dismantled. The wiring process was time-consuming, and left the electrical system prone to sparks and shorts.

Franklin knew there had to be a better way. So he began to conceive of an entirely new wiring method to make electrical systems safer, more efficient and easier to install.

Franklin's Revolutionary New Wiring Technique

After much trial and error, Franklin devised a radical new wiring method in 1744. He discovered that by running individual, insulated wires inside the walls of a building from the main power source to each outlet, lighting fixture and appliance, he could create a vastly more effective electrical system.

This was the origin of modern electrical wiring. Franklin's key innovations included:

In comparison to busbars, Franklin's insulated, in-wall wiring technique was a monumental improvement in safety, aesthetics, ease of installation and efficiency. He had created a completely new wiring paradigm.

The Slow Acceptance of Franklin's Superior Wiring Method

Franklin extolled the virtues of his new concealed wiring technique in papers and books. He installed the wiring system in his Philadelphia homes as a prototype.

However, it took decades for his wiring method to gain widespread adoption:

So despite its obvious advantages, Franklin's wiring technique was not immediately embraced. But over time, the safety and reliability of concealed, insulated wiring could not be denied. By the early 20th century, a version of Franklin's wiring method finally became the standard for home and building electrical systems.

Franklin's Lasting Impact on Modern Electrical Systems

Today, we take for granted electrical wiring that runs safely behind our walls and floors. But this is only possible because of Benjamin Franklin's innovations. His concealed wiring technique would go on to enable:

Franklin's concealed wiring technique pioneered principles that are still followed over 275 years later. Next time you plug in a device, switch on a light or enjoy electricity in your home, remember Benjamin Franklin's unsung but revolutionary contribution to the way buildings are wired for power. The world owes a debt of gratitude to Franklin's genius.