Air Conditioner History: The Beginning of the Air Conditioner

air conditioner historyTo a lot of people, turning on their AC during the warm summer season is likened to the seasonal tradition of cutting the weeds and drinking some lemonade. But then, it wasn’t always like that. Back in the early 1900’s, watering holes was the most in thing to do. Taking a dip is the only way to cool themselves off during warm summer days. Up to the 30’s and 40’s, only wealthy citizens can afford to own an air conditioner. The irony is that these rich people rarely sweat from working so hard, as compared to the majority of the population. What they had back then were large, bulky window ACs that were very noise and consumed a lot of energy. Nowadays, it seems that AC manufacturers have perfected their craft. ACs for sale in the market are now quiet, efficient with energy, not expensive and pretty effortless to install. Here’s some fun facts about air conditioner history.

Let’s review the history of ACs over the years.

1758: Water Froze By Franklin and Hadley

The world-renowned Benjamin Franklin (Inventor, writer, and scientist) together with a professor from Cambridge University, John Hadley, discovered that water can be frozen when they let very volatile liquids like alcohol evaporate.

1848: Gorrie Files the Patent for a Machine that Makes Ice

Back in 1941, Dr. John Gorrie started his research to come up with a machine that can make ice at a hospital in Florida where he was working at the time. For quite some time, he devised a machine that steam powers to be able to extract heat from the water. In turn, this can make ice because it is cool beyond the standard freezing point. Gorrie had great plans for his design. He imagined that his machine would make a lot of buildings cooler throughout the world. Unfortunately, it did not materialize because he was not successful in acquiring sufficient financial backing. Gorrie’s principles are the framework of most modern refrigeration of today.

1902: Willis Carrier Conceived the First Modern AC

The name Willis Carrier is synonymous to the company Carrier Air Conditioner. After all, he is considered the father of the Air Conditioning that we are familiar with today. Carrier is the inventor of the first air conditioner and called it “the apparatus for treating air” for the company Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing. This publishing company was in dire need of a machine that will keep the temperature and the humidity around the room down. It will keep the paper from wrinkling, and the ink will not also be a mess during production. He was able to provide a comfortable and convenient working area at the publishing house through the machine he invented. Carrier’s machine blows air through some cold coils that go into the room. Once the world heard about this amazing innovation, a lot of companies want to hire his services and start knocking on his door to hire his services.

1906: The Air Was Conditioned By Stuart Cramer

Stuart Cramer, a mill engineer in the state of North Carolina, first used the term “air conditioning” in 1906. Cramer just made some additions to Carrier’s basic design by adding a ventilating device that will in turn deliver water vapor into the circulating air. His design is essentially contradictory of present-day ACs because he intentionally adds humidity into the air so that its yarn spins easily and is sturdier.

1914: No Longer Limited To Factories

Of course, homeowners would also like to enjoy cool air circulating inside their hot and humid homes, cool air that a lot of mills and factories all over the country enjoy. It came into fruition in 1914. But just like the early computers, they were very big and took up a lot of space. The first residential air conditioner was as high as seven ft., a width of six ft., and a length of 20 ft. (and people nowadays have the nerve to complain at how heavy their AC is. The installation of the first AC unit was in a Minneapolis mansion of a prominent millionaire. Most probably, they never get to use it since it was the millionaire’s spare house that housed no one.

1931: The Early Air Conditioners That We Are Familiar with Today

Two radical inventors accepted the fact that a 7’X6’X20’ AC is not practical; they designed a single AC that you can conveniently install on your home’s window ledge. The modern versions of these window ACs still abound the market today and is way cheaper than its price tag back then at around $50,000 to $10,000.

1939: Cars Started to Have ACs

Cars started to enjoy the breeze of cool air circulating inside it back in 1939. However, it was not easy to operate. Modern day dashboards include buttons or controls that can operate the car’s AC. But in the past, drivers need to turn off their engine to be able to start the car’s AC. Then, they have to open the hood to disconnect the compressor belt.

1942: Power Plants Take Initiatives

Since a big majority of US residents started to install air conditioners in their home, the country constructed the early “summer peaking” power plant. It was essentially designed to manage the extra energy load from all the ACs that are running during the summer season.

I hope you enjoyed this air conditioning history article.

August 18th, 2016 by Lief Simons
About Lief Simons

Lief Simons is the President of Plumbers Edmonton Ltd., which specializes in plumbing, heating and cooling installation, repair and servicing. For same day 24/7 service, call 587-408-3450.