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When Was Air Conditioning Invented?

Feb. 04, 2024
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When was air conditioning invented? That is a question that few people likely know the answer to. With so many types of air conditioning systems available today, it may be hard to imagine a life without the comforts of residential air conditioning. While inventors, such as Benjamin Franklin, paved the way for the systems needed to produce conditioned air, it was the head of a publishing company that helped to create the foundation for the air conditioning systems used today. Read on to learn more about when air conditioning was invented or, if you are ready to upgrade your current system or install a new one, contact Superior Home Supplies today.

Cooling Air Before Air Conditioning Was Invented

Believe it or not, air cooling was not standard in many homes until the late 70s and early 80s. Only 10% of homes had some form of air conditioning by the late 60s. Part of the reason air conditioning didn’t catch on before the latter half of the 20th century is that summers were cooler. Climate change and ozone depletion have increased temperatures in the summer, making air conditioning more of a necessity than a convenience. Even though the temperature was cooler decades ago, it doesn’t mean there weren’t a few periods of hotter weather where people had to come up with creative ways to cool down. To help cool down the air in their home, homeowners took a few simple steps to help keep the heat at bay. When the temperatures would soar, homeowners would.

  • Limit cooking, baking, and chores until the temperature cooled down in the evening.
  • Open up the windows when the temperature was lower, typically from the evening until mid-morning to allow the air in the home to cool down.
  • Cover windows and keep them shut during the peak times of heat and sun.
  • Take advantage of local swimming areas and sprinklers.
  • Cool down their internal body temperature with cold drinks and foods such as ice cream and iced tea.
  • Create make-shift air cooling systems, blowing air with a fan over a tub or block of ice.

The Invention of Air Conditioning

So when was air conditioning invented? The beginnings of the first air conditioner occurred in the early 20th century. As temperatures in the summer were beginning to rise, the need to develop an apparatus for treating air became apparent in 1902. Willis Carrier helped to answer this need by creating one of the first known air conditioning systems. Willis Haviland Carrier, an American engineer, knew that humidity was a concern during the summer months. He had seen the effects of high humidity levels in his printing plant in Brooklyn, New York. The humidity caused warping of the paper and affected its ability to feed through the printing press. So the first modern air conditioner was born out of Willis Carrier’s desire to control humidity levels and create a cooler environment. He started his journey by focusing on the concepts of mechanical refrigeration that had been developed by John Gorrie years before. The ultimate design that he came up with resembles much of the modern air conditioning systems that we see today, such as a belt-driven condenser, compressor, coolant, coil, mechanical controls, and an evaporator. Ultimately, he changed from the printing industry to creating cooling systems for residential air conditioning and air conditioning for office buildings and other commercial business air conditioning applications. He founded the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America to produce and distribute products from his designs. The Carrier Corporation continues to be a leader in air conditioning systems and HVAC systems.

Portable AC vs Central AC

When thinking about when was air conditioning invented, it is important to consider the types of air conditioning systems. While there is a wide range of air conditioning system types, such as heat pumps, and ductless systems, one of the first differentiations to make is between a portable air conditioner and central air conditioning systems. When deciding whether a portable air conditioner or central AC would be best for your home, it is important to consider energy consumption and how each type operates to provide you with a comfortable temperature. One of the most common types of air conditioning systems found in newer homes is a central air conditioning system. These HVAC systems can be stand-alone or paired with a furnace. They share the same ductwork as your heat system and can be controlled by the same thermostat. They have high energy efficiency ratings and use less electricity than a portable air conditioner, which makes them more environmentally friendly and allows you to save money on your energy bills. A portable air conditioner is designed for cooling the air in a smaller space, such as a room or small apartment. They rely on condensation and evaporation as well but can be placed in many areas throughout the home as long as they are close to a window where they can vent out. A portable air conditioner is not as efficient as central air conditioning, but when you choose an A/C unit that has varying speed control, it can be more efficient than models that don’t. While they don’t have as much cooling power as central air conditioning, they are great for small areas.

When Air Conditioning became HVAC Systems

Heating and air conditioning were designed to work together to provide comfort to your home all year round. When you pair an air conditioner with a furnace, the result is an HVAC system. HVAC systems utilize the same delivery method to deliver either cooled or heated air into your home so that you can achieve the desired temperatures. HVAC systems are perfect when upgrading to a new system or installing one for the first time. HVAC systems such as the Goodman 13 SEER 2 Ton Complete Split UPFLOW AC System with New 9 Speed furnace can help keep your home comfortable no matter how high or low the temperatures get.

The invention of the furnace

When learning about when air conditioning was invented, you may also be curious as to when and how the furnace came about as well. Before modern furnaces, most homes were heated with wood in fireplaces or wood or coal-burning stoves. Alice H. Parker saw the need for a central heating option that would work more efficiently than coal or wood-burning options. By 1919, she had patented her design for the first natural gas furnace. Even though the full specifications of the patent were not adopted into the design of modern furnaces, much of it was used to help create the gas furnaces that are widely used today. Through her designs, a system was created that would allow homeowners to customize their heating temperature by using a heat exchanger and burners to deliver heated air through a series of ductwork in the home.

How the two systems work together

HVAC systems are created by combining an air conditioning unit with a furnace so that cool air is delivered in the hot months and hot air is delivered when the temperatures get colder. Both components of the HVAC systems are controlled by one centralized thermostat, allowing you to easily switch between heat and cooling as needed. Both components of HVAC systems work to control not only the temperatures in your home but also the humidity levels, which can be a primary factor in maintaining the comfort of your home. With some HVAC systems, a humidifier will be attached to the furnace. This component will add moisture to the air to combat the dryness that cold weather and the heater will create. Once the warmer weather hits and the air becomes more humid, you will want to lower or turn off the humidifier attached to the unit. The air conditioning component of your system will dehumidify the air as it cools it. Both components work together to provide comfort in your home without utilizing a significant amount of energy. But, to ensure that both systems stay as efficient as possible and operate effectively, regular maintenance is important. If you have a regular HVAC maintenance plan, you will likely have service scheduled twice a year. Once in the fall before you turn on the heating system and once in the spring before you need to use your air conditioner. Even if you don’t have a maintenance plan, it is best to schedule a visit twice a year to ensure your complete system works properly.

Don’t wait. Find the right air conditioning system for your home at Superior Home Supplies

Now that you have answered the question of when was air conditioning invented, why not check out some of the latest innovations in air conditioning systems? Whether you are in the market for a portable air conditioner, a heat pump, or a traditional split system, Superior Home Supplies is here to help. We offer air conditioning options and complete HVAC systems, all designed to keep your home as comfortable as possible while saving you money on your annual energy bills.

Now that you have answered the question of when was air conditioning invented, why not check out some of the latest innovations in air conditioning systems? Whether you are in the market for a portable air conditioner, a heat pump, or a traditional split system, Superior Home Supplies is here to help. We offer air conditioning options and complete HVAC systems, all designed to keep your home as comfortable as possible while saving you money on your annual energy bills. Contact us today to find out more.

When was air conditioning invented? When was the first time someone turned that dial and felt a refreshing blast of cool air? Find out here.

No longer are the days of sitting at the kitchen table, sweating in your seat, and fanning yourself with the closest newspaper. There’s no need to persevere through unbearable heat—that’s what your A/C is for.

That’s why most Americans have it.

Research shows that 97% of Southern residents have some form of a cooling system, while 91% of Midwestern homes have a cooling unit. Even 65% of the population in Western states (like Nevada or California) own some form of A/C.

But this luxury wasn’t always available. When was air conditioning invented? When did we begin to know its chilly convenience?

Although A/C was invented in the early 1900s, it took until 1973 for there to be 50% penetration nationwide. Until then, A/C only remained a privilege for particular households.

Summer’s right around the corner though, and luckily for you, A/C is now a commonly-used technology. If you’re curious about air conditioning’s inception, we’ve got a brief history lesson!

Let’s get started.

A History of A/C: Pre-1900s

Willis Carrier is praised as the father of the modern A/C unit. But that wasn’t until the early 1900s. Obviously, many a person dealt with high temperatures and craved coolness before then. So what’s the story?

In the year 1758, Benjamin Franklin himself (along with professor John Hadley) touched on the idea of air conditioning. They experimented with alcohol and other such liquids, which were proven to evaporate quicker than water. They discovered that such liquids may be able to cool down an object enough to freeze water.

Of course, frozen water isn’t exactly the perfect solution to fighting severely high temperatures. What can we do with ice, after all? The next person to dabble in A/C uncovered a similar issue.

Let’s turn to physician Dr. John Gorrie (of Florida, no less!).

In the 1840s, Gorrie picked up where Franklin left off. He began to lay the groundwork for what would become our modern air conditioning system. Although his experiments weren’t always successful, they were undoubtedly impactful.

This Florida resident was sick of its grueling heat and wanted to discover a way to offer relief. He experimented with artificial cooling and even developed a machine that creates ice. However, the transportation of ice was a question he couldn’t quite answer before his (and his investors’) death.

When Was Air Conditioning Invented (Officially)?

Now we’ve made our way to air conditioning’s prized inventor: Mr. Willis Carrier. It’s a great story, and it all originated in the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn, New York.

Willis Carrier took a job within the company, which published pages for magazines and more, in 1902. The heat would sometimes affect the paper’s quality, causing it to wrinkle or furl at the edges.

To combat this problem, employees were required to use an apparatus that was revolutionary for its time. It was a machine which blew air over coils, causing cooled air to come out. This allowed workers to have some sway over the humidity in the room, keeping both the pages and ink intact.

Carrier then had an idea.

Couldn’t other companies benefit from this invention? Couldn’t other printing presses use this cooling device to their advantage? And ultimately, he was right—they could.

Thus arrived the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America, where Carrier spread the love of cooling. The company finally made its first residential installation in the year 1913. Mind you, these A/C units are nothing like we’re used to today—they were large, clunky, and burdensome objects.

This all happened despite a lack of initial interest. A/C slowly but surely began a necessary thing for people to have. There were no other viable solutions for the relentless heat. At the same time, ice was rapidly growing in popularity.

Making A/C Modern

Air conditioning got a facelift in the 1920s.

Two inventors soon created something more appropriately sized for the average home. H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman marketed a “room cooler,” or smaller A/C unit, to Frigidaire. The company then proceeded to install units in the windows of homes.

It was a small yet heavy, boxy, and grill-like unit that leaned on your windowsill for support. It kept an individual room cool—not ideal for the home, but amazing nonetheless.

A/C got smaller and smaller until eventually, it was fitting in our cars. And by the 60s, air conditioning had become so popular that it was already installed in millions of homes across the nation. Although they were costly and took a while to gain traction, most homes realized the benefits in due time.

Use A/C Wisely

In the United States, A/C is used more than in other countries, such as India or Brazil. That’s one reason why conserving our usage of it as much as possible will help ensure the longevity of the system itself, our planet, and much more.

There are many ways to save energy when you absolutely can’t forego the A/C unit (and if you’re in Florida, Nevada, Texas—how could you?):

Service your unit frequently to ensure its peak performance

  • Use the timers on your unit, so it’s never on when you’re not home
  • Check for holes, cracks, or any spaces in your home where the A/C could be leaking
  • Consider leaving it at a neutral temperature when possible, around 78 degrees
  • Use fans to supplement the flow of A/C
  • Check and replace your air filters on a regular basis

Try to remember, for years people survived without using their A/C in an unrelenting way! Be conscious of the impact when running your unit.

Stay Cool!

Thanks for taking a moment to educate yourself on the history of A/C.

If you’ve ever wondered, “When was air conditioning invented?”, now you know! It’s an interesting story that began with a feeling and evolved over time, bringing us the tech-savvy units of today. They’re smarter, lighter, and more affordable—just what we need with Summer around the corner.

Is your A/C in tip-top shape for the hot months to come? Have you checked that everything is in working order?

Check out this article that explains the average lifespan of your HVAC unit. And give us a call at (402) 731-2727 if anything seems off in your home!

When Was Air Conditioning Invented?

When Was Air Conditioning Invented? The History of Air Conditioning

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