What Is the History of the Modern Air Conditioner?

A/C, Air Conditioner, Blog, Circleville, Cooling, History, HVAC, OH, Ohio

The heat has been relentless over the past couple of weeks. With high temperatures of 90 degrees, could you even imagine not having a working A/C system in your home? Daily tasks like cleaning up the house, taking a nap, or even sitting on the couch would be rather uncomfortable. It’s easy to take things we are so used to for granted until suddenly it isn’t available anymore. Then bam! Life unravels, and things seem a little topsy turvy for a time. Without a working A/C, it’s safe to say that even the best of us, most likely, would not function very well. So just how did the concept of the air conditioner come about? When cavemen were cold, they sparked a flame by rubbing rocks or sticks together to keep warm. However, trying to cool down… well, that’s a whole ‘nother story. Join your Circleville Heating & Cooling family as we visit some time periods to get a better glimpse of where it all began and how the history of the modern A/C progressed. 

Where Did It All Begin? 

The concept of cool air cannot be solely attributed to one person or civilization. People have been tormented by the summer heat since the beginning of time. However, there are a few monumental milestones in history that are well worth notating and giving credit to where credit is due: 

  • Ancient Egypt- The Egyptians understood the magnitude of cooling by evaporation. They would hang wet cloths or fabric in front of their doorways so that when the wind passed, it produced a cool breeze. 
  • Ancient China- In 180 AD, a man named Ding Huan in China, created a rotary fan that functioned by cranking it. This is one of the first traced methods of air cooling. 
  • Ancient Rome- The Romans were strategic in their inventions and created the infamous aqueduct system. This consisted of a series of complex underground tunnels that funneled water and cool air under the floors of the homes of the wealthy. 
  • 1758-  Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley investigated the effects of evaporative cooling. They found that, if done correctly, evaporating inconstant liquids like alcohol on the surface of water would freeze the object. They successfully cooled an object to 7 degrees while the ambient temperature remained at 64 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • 1820- Michael Faraday was an English inventor who experimented with ammonia. His work was the first documented experiment using a volatile liquid used in a modern air conditioning unit of its time. 
  • 1830-  Dr. John Gorrie was an American physician who designed the first cooling machine. It was not patented, however, until 1851 and was explicitly used by hospitals to create a healthier and more comfortable atmosphere for patients suffering from tropical ailments. 

Who Was the Founder Of Air Conditioning? 

Willis Haviland Carrier is known as the “father of air conditioning.” He was an engineer who experimented with the laws of humidity. When a printing plant in New York found a need to keep their printing press cool so the paper and ink would be preserved, Carrier came up with the concept of mechanical refrigeration. Pulling different concepts from the discoveries people made before him, his invention took off and was a huge success. His invention used air sent through coils full of cold water, which resulted in the air being cooled down while removing moisture in the air to control the humidity in the room. It proved successful and was an absolute breakthrough. In 1933, the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America was formed. Today we all know this HVAC brand as Carrier. 

What Are A/C Systems Like Today? 

Modern conditioners still use the same fundamental designs that Carrier’s first A/C system used. His invention set the blueprint for A/C development thereafter. Today, we can choose from various types of A/C units that have progressed significantly from the first designs. A/C units today now: 

  1. Utilize diagnostics and controls 
  1. Use electronic sensors 
  1. Have vapor compression 
  1. Function accordingly with smart thermostats 
  1. Are energy-efficient 

Per the Energy Consumption Survey taken in 2020, 88% of Americans utilize air conditioning systems in their homes. Air conditioning today is no longer considered a luxury. It’s a basic necessity that contributes to the well-being and quality of life. At Circleville Heating & Cooling, we want the best for you, your home, and your family. So, if anything comes up with your A/C system this summer, don’t hesitate to reach us at (740) 218-5323, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here! Have a fantastic summer and stay cool!