What Is The History Of The Modern Air Conditioner?


With these hot and humid Ohio summers, let me start by saying that I am so thankful to live in a time of air conditioning! Imagine enduring this heat without the amenity of an air-conditioned environment! Those with only fans at their disposal have some idea of this fight to stay cool, and those dwelling in developing countries sincerely have a significant understanding of this hardship. But, for centuries, people got along in their day-to-day without cooling appliances; and adapted to finding supplementary ways of keeping cool. To get a glimpse of how we’ve progressed, look back to the past with Mount Washington Heating & Cooling, and let’s explore the steps taken to get us to the advancements in air conditioning we see today. 

How Did Ancient Civilization Keep Cool? 

Keeping cool looked a lot different than it does now. So, how might this look? Looking at Ancient Egypt, we may find the Egyptians slinging wet clothes upon the thresholds of their living structures. This method generated an evaporating cooling effect by delivering a more rejuvenating breeze as the wind blew. Looking at Ancient China, roughly 180 AD, Ding Huan formulated a rotary fan, hand-cranked, to generate a draft. And if we look at Ancient Rome, we can see they used their inventive engineering capacities to develop the aqueduct, allowing Romans to pump cold water through the walls of the more elite to freshen up and reinforce a cool habitat during the hot summers. This trench-like structure is just one of Rome’s many revolutionary techniques passed onto future generations! 

What Inventions Lead Up to the Modern AC? 

As we push further through the timeline, we can see more and more developments critical to establishing the modern air conditioner. In 1758, Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers, evaluated evaporative cooling results with his colleague John Hadley. In doing so, they lowered the temperature of a thermometer from 64° F to 7° F! Then, in 1830, American physician Dr. John Gorrie began his endeavor on the first mechanical cooling apparatus ever reported. Though clunky and demanding an excessive quantity of ice water to function, it could cool an area by as much as 20 degrees. His invention, patented in 1851 and was mainly used in hospital rooms and was exciting in its ability to nurture a healthier atmosphere for dealing with ailments like yellow fever. And there we have it, guys, Science! Not only is it exhilarating, but essential for the future of humankind! 

What Did Air Conditioning Look Like In the 1900s? 

  • The Early 1900s: Willis Carrier is famous for developing the first air conditioner in 1902, comparable to today’s models. His invention could cool air reasonably, reducing humidity levels by approximately 55 percent! Carrier’s Rational Psychometric Formula, submitted in 1911, is fundamental to today’s air conditioning. And if we shift forward a few years to 1914, we find the first in-home air conditioning machine, established in a mansion, estimated around 7 ft tall and 20 ft wide! While anything but subtle, Carrier was indeed onto something! Then in 1928, not only were air conditioners now a more acceptable size, but we also had the discovery of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), which became the traditional refrigerant used in residential air conditioners, at least for the time being. 
  • The Mid-1900s: Air conditioners became popular in suburban homes in the middle of the century, with records indicating the installation of about 74,000 air conditioners. In 1953, the popularity of air conditioners grew to the point that supply could not keep up with demand! And in 1957, the rotary compressor was developed, making way for a more peaceful and efficient air conditioning unit. 
  • The Late 1900s: The 70s was a demanding decade for central air conditioning for commercial buildings in big cities, so many air conditioning companies began start-ups to fulfill this demand. Then in the 90s, the energy utilized for air conditioners doubled over ten years, prompting the production of more energy-efficient units to stay within regulations enforced by modern environmental laws. 

Just in the last millennia alone, we have seen significant technological advancements! I’m eager to see what future inventions will emerge in the next decade regarding air conditioning! In science and technology, we are forever uncovering new things and using them to our customers’ advantage! At Mount Washington Heating & Cooling, we work hard to deliver the best and most innovative HVAC technology. Thus, as technology and science progress, so do our committed professionals! Call us today at (513) 655-5115, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here

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