Who Invented the Electric Fan?

Page Created on 11/12/2013 and last reviewed 8/12/2016 by .
The electric fan was invented by Schuyler Wheeler back in 1882. The first fan required direct current (dc) power and only had 2 blades and used an open wound motor, but by 1887 a six blade design had been introduced, along with a top mounted interchangeable light that also served as a speed control. It became commercially available in 1887 and was manufactured by the Crocker and Curtis Electric Motor Company.

Curtis Wheeler Fan Images

1887 Wheeler fan

Curtis Wheeler Fan Specifications

The motor was rated at 100-110 volts DC, (AC current wasn't in use at that time).

The speed of the fan was changed by replacing the lamp, the lamp provided resistance to the DC circuit and higher resistance lamps would lower the speed.

The fan speed ranged between 900-1600 RPM.

Wall sockets were not in use at that time so a connector that screwed into a lighting socket was used.

Schuyler Wheeler Biography

Schuyler Skaats Wheeler
Schuyler Skaats Wheeler an electrical engineer, was born New York City, May 17, 1860, the son of James Edwin Wheeler and Annie Wood Skaats, who were of Dutch descent. His education; Friends Sem., Keble Hall, Columbia Grammar School, Columbia College and afterward received degree of Science from Hobart College. He was married Apr. 25, 1891 to Ella Adams Peterson, again he was married Oct. 11, 1898 to Amy Sutton, of Rye, N.Y.

After leaving Columbia College he became an electrician for the Jablochkoff Electric Light Co., and in 1881 he entered the factory of the U. S. Electric Light Co. in Newark. Soon after he became one of Thomas Edison's engineering staff and was put in charge of the underground conductor construction of the Pearl Street Station in New York City, of the Edison Electric Light Co. at the time of its starting in 1882, when incandescent lighting was for the first time put into commercial use. While in charge of the Station, Schuyler invented many of the devices and methods used. Afterward erected the Edison plants at Fall River, Mass. and Newburg, N. Y., becoming superintendent of the latter.

He then left to become engineer with Herzog Teleseme Co. and in 1886 he rejoined his old associates, Charles G. Curtis and Francis B. Crocker in the formation of the C. & C. Electric Motor Co., which produced the first electric motors ever made commercially and which was the originator of the electric motor industry as a commercial business. Within two years these originators separated from the company formed (The C. & C. Electric Motor Co.) and organized the firm of Crocker & Wheeler for the purpose of developing a finer line of motors. This firm was afterward incorporated as the Crocker-Wheeler Company and is now well known as one of the principal electric manufacturing companies of the country, located at Ampere, N. J., which was named by them after the great French scientist. Schuyler who was now President of Crocker-Wheeler Co., the inventor of numerous machines and electrical devices.

In 1900 he presented to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the Latimer-Clark Library, the most complete collection of rare early electrical works in the world. He authored (with Prof. Francis B. Crocker) the text book Management of Electrical Machinery, and of numerous contributions to technical journals, and in his presidential address to the annual convention of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, 1907, proposed a Code of Engineering Ethics which is now under advisement by the Institute. Inventor of numerous electrical and mechanical devices especially in the early days, such as the electric elevator, electric fire engine, the method of coupling dynamos together, the series multiple method of motor control, etc.

Schuyler Wheeler's many affiliations include the Treasury Building Committee, United Engineering Societies. Past president American Institute of Electrical Engineers, member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, A. A. A. S., Historic Preservation Society., St. Nicholas Society., Chamber of Commerce of NY., Clubs: University, Riding, (N.Y. City); Automobile Club of America (v.-p.). Residence: Ampere, Bernardsville, N. J. Address: 30 Church St., NY. City. (compiled from Who's who in New York City and State-p1911).

View the full list of American inventions here.