We have become accustomed to having a clean, convenient and powerful source of energy just by plugging into a socket – at any time and almost anywhere. In fact, it is only in the past few decades that we have been able to take electrical energy for granted.
The exhibition covers two rooms and deals mainly with the generation and distribution of electric energy and its conversion for useful purposes in homes and businesses. Historic exhibits from three main areas are on display: electrical machines, electrical systems and high-voltage technology. The high-voltage demonstration is very popular with museum visitors, who can watch demonstrations at 300,000 volts with AC current and pulse discharges (lasting two millionths of a second) that simulate lightning hitting a building at up to 800,000 volts. Another exciting experiment explains the concept of a Faraday cage and how a person sitting inside one escapes unharmed from a 270,000-volt discharge.
The first room presents the historical beginnings and the further development of electrical machinery: DC technology on one side of the room AC and 3-phase on the other side with many experiments demonstrating start-up, braking and operational performance.
The second room, nearer to the main entrance to the museum, shows electrical systems such as generators, switchgear and protective equipment such as are still used in power stations and electricity supply networks.
The high-voltage apparatus in this area is one of the most popular demonstrations at the Deutsches Museum.