Tracing Back Roots: The History of Air Conditioning

While most people take air conditioning for granted, this technology has positively affected lives in several ways. After all, it is one of the keys to a healthy and comfortable home. Though the HVAC system was once considered a luxury, it is now an essential part of homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings.

Air conditioning history

Below, we’ll provide a closer look at the history of air conditioning and its developments over the years.

The Birth of Air Conditioning

Dr. John Gorrie of Florida conceived the concept of air conditioning during the 1840s to protect residents from the adverse effects of high temperature. He believed that this was the key to keeping patients comfortable in hospital rooms and preventing diseases like malaria.

However, the problem was that his rudimentary system needed ice from frozen lakes and streams in the northern parts of the country. To bypass this costly approach, he started experimenting with artificial cooling. He created a machine that produced ice using a compressor powered by different sources, such as steam, water, horses and wind-driven sails. While this earned a patent in 1851, Gorrie failed to introduce his invention to the market due to financial concerns.

The First Modern Air Conditioning Unit

The next advancement in air conditioning was in 1902 by Engr. Willis Carrier, who then worked for the Buffalo Forge Company. He was assigned to address a humidity issue that was causing magazine pages to wrinkle at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn. He designed a system called “Apparatus for Treating Air,” which could either humidify by heating water or dehumidify by cooling water. As he continued improving his technology, he realized that air conditioning was crucial in various industries. He later formed the Carrier Engineering Corporation with other engineers.

Public Use of Air Conditioning

Two years after Willis Carrier’s success, air conditioning was finally introduced to the public. It was first installed in the Missouri State Building during the St. Louis World’s Fair. Another breakthrough in comfort cooling came in the 1920s, where it was first used in movie theaters.

Residential Air Conditioning

In 1929, Frigidaire proposed a split-system air conditioning unit small enough for the average home, though it was not without its downsides. General Electric’s Frank Faust improved its design using a self-contained cooler. Cooling systems continued to grow smaller after J.Q. Sherman and H.H. Schultz registered a patent for a unit that could be placed on a window ledge. Because of its steep price tag, engineer, Henry Galson went on to create a more compact, affordable window air conditioner. By 1947, homeowners were able to enjoy this technology for the first time.

To optimize the safety of air conditioning systems, Robert McNary, Albert Henne and Thomas Midgley synthesized chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) coolants. However, these chemicals would be linked to ozone depletion decades later and were eventually phased out.

Efficiency Standards for Air Conditioning

The energy crisis of the 1970s hit just as air conditioning increased in consumer demand. Lawmakers passed legislation to minimize energy consumption, which set the stage for the Energy Department’s Appliance and Equipment Standards Program. This has helped consumers save energy and money since then.

To achieve optimum comfort and energy efficiency for your home, Sheldon’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. has partnered with Carrier®, the leading HVAC manufacturer in the country. All of their products meet stringent standards for energy performance so you can get the best value for your money. Get in touch with us at (877) 411-9888 for more information.

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