What Is The History Of The Modern Air Conditioner?

Jul 20, 2022

Here in Ohio, the summer heat can feel brutal, so let me start by emphasizing how thankful I am to live in a time of air conditioning! Imagine withstanding the heat without the convenience of an air-conditioned hiatus! Those at the mercy of fans alone have some idea of this struggle to stay cool, and those in developing countries have a significant understanding of this dilemma. But, for centuries, people pressed on through life without cooling appliances; and adjusted to finding additional ways of keeping cool. To get a summary of how we’ve progressed, New Albany Heating & Cooling wants to invite you on this historical exploration of the steps taken to get us to the developments in air conditioning we see today. 

How Did Ancient Civilization Stay Cool? 

Staying cool appeared a lot different than it does currently. Let’s look at Ancient Egypt, where we see the Egyptians slinging wet clothes upon their thresholds. This technique created an evaporating cooling effect by providing a more restoring breeze as the wind blew. If we look at Ancient China, roughly 180 AD, Ding Huan developed a rotary fan, hand-cranked, to produce a draft. And in Ancient Rome, we can see they utilized their creative engineering abilities to establish the aqueduct, helping Romans to pump cold water through the walls of the elite to freshen up and enhance a cool environment during sweltering temperatures. This trench-like configuration is just one of Rome’s many revolutionary systems bestowed upon future generations! 

What Visions Paved the Way To the Modern AC? 

As we progress along the historical timeline, we can see more and more advancements fundamental to constructing the modern air conditioner. In 1758, Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers, assessed evaporative cooling effects with his colleague John Hadley. In doing so, they decreased the temperature of a thermometer from 64° F to 7° F! Then, in 1830, American physician Dr. John Gorrie commenced his venture on the first mechanical cooling apparatus ever to be reported. Though large, mandating an excessive amount of ice water to work, it could cool a vicinity by as much as 20 degrees. His creation, patented in 1851 and was primarily utilized in hospital rooms and was captivating in its proficiency in facilitating a healthier environment for handling illnesses like yellow fever. This is Science! Not only can it be exciting, but it is necessary for the future of generations to come! 

Where Was Air Conditioning In the 1900s? 

  • The Early 1900s: Willis Carrier is memorable for creating the first air conditioner in 1902, similar to today’s models. His invention could cool air considerably, lowering humidity levels by about 55 percent! Carrier’s Rational Psychometric Formula, submitted in 1911, is fundamental to today’s air conditioning. But if we shift forward a few years to 1914, we discover the first in-home air conditioning machine, placed in a mansion and estimated to be about 7 ft tall and 20 ft wide! While anything but discreet, Carrier was on the right track! Because in 1928, not only were air conditioners now a more reasonable size; we also have the discovery of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), which became the proper refrigerant utilized in residential air conditioners, at least for the time being. 
  • The Mid-1900s: Air conditioners became common in suburban households in the middle of the century, with reports revealing the installation of about 74,000 air conditioners. In 1953, the rise of air conditioners prospered to the point that supply could not meet demand! And in 1957, the rotary compressor was formulated, providing a more quiet yet efficient air conditioning unit. 
  • The Late 1900s: The 70s was a demanding period for central air conditioning, especially for commercial buildings in big cities, so, many air conditioning businesses began to come out of the woodwork to satisfy this demand. And in the 90s, the energy utilized for air conditioners doubled over ten years, compelling the production of more energy-efficient units to remain within restrictions set by modern environmental laws. 

Just in the last millennia alone, we have watched significant technological developments! I’m interested in the future innovations to come within the next decade or so regarding air conditioning! With both science and technology, we are constantly unearthing new things and wielding them to our customer’s benefit! And at New Albany Heating & Cooling, we work hard to provide the best and most advanced HVAC technology. Accordingly, as technology and science improve, so do our devoted HVAC stars! Call us today at (614) 636-5002, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here