You've probably heard of the famous "War of Currents" between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, but it wasn't as personal as often portrayed. It culminated in the execution of an elephant via alternating current, as the Edison Electric Company attempted to prove the hazards of AC. This is often misattributed to Edison himself, although Edison Electric was no longer in his control at the time.

Nonetheless, it is often represented as the pinnacle of the War of Currents, which AC would in short order win.

However, getting the electricity to the application is only half the battle. High-voltage AC can be sent hundreds of miles, but it needs to have its voltage reduced to be effective in homes and businesses. And in a growing number of applications, everything from doorbells to automobiles to renewable energy, direct current is the power type to be reckoned with. Look around the average American home, and you'll spot 110 and 220 V AC sockets, but look closer and you'll see dozens of power supplies inverting power, stepping it up or down, or modulating it so that our appliances and devices run with peak efficiency.

So here's our look at the unsung hero technology of modern life: power distribution and allocation equipment.

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