What Is the History of the Modern Air Conditioner?

Jul 20, 2022 | A/C, Air Conditioner, Blog, History, HVAC, LRF, LRF Maintenance, OH, Ohio

In the day and age we live in today, it’s hard to imagine dealing with the sweltering summer heat without the luxury of your residential air conditioner. However, others long ago didn’t have the comfort of home cooling as we do today. So, how did we get the high-efficiency air conditioners in our homes today? In this article, our HVAC experts at LRF Maintenance, Heating & Cooling illustrate the history of the modern air conditioner and how we have the luxury of the home comfort we have today.  

What Was Used to Stay Cool in Earlier Days? 

Although there was nothing like the luxury of cool air from an air conditioner, in the earlier days, folks stayed cool by being creative and using air conditioning science that dates back long ago. For instance, Ancient Egyptians stayed cool by using evaporation for cooling purposes by hanging cold, wet cloths in doorways to cool homes whenever breezes came through the house. Another example dates back to Ancient Rome, where they created ingenious inventions that made life easier at the time. Among these famous inventions are Aqueducts, which were used to pump water through the city and even through individual homes. Evidence suggests that aqueducts were located inside the walls of wealthier Roman homes, which ultimately helped cool the air by circulating water. 

Centuries would pass before we could understand how to keep our homes and families cool. However, by 1758, Benjamin Franklin and Cambridge University professor John Hadley presented an investigation of the effects of evaporative cooling, stating that evaporating inconstant liquids on the surface of water could cool matter to freezing. The study of combustion, performed by Hadley and Franklin, paved the way for experimental research on a variety of related concepts in England that would eventually lead to English scientist Michael Faraday. However, in 1839, Faraday used ammonia in his study, becoming the volatile liquid in the world’s first air conditioner. This research assisted American Physician Dr. John Gorrie in building his first mechanical cooling device in the 1830s before perfecting it over ten years later in 1851. 

Who Invented the Modern Air Conditioner? 

Finally, at the turn of the 20th century came the first modern air conditioners in several basic models developed by none other than Willis Carrier. Carrier developed the air conditioner when manufacturing processes such as Sacket-Wilhelm’s Lithographic and Publishing Co. needed an efficient method of cooling paper during printing. To help with this, Carrier created a machine that blew air through cold coils to generate a cooling effect and de-humidified to ensure the paper remained smooth and ink stayed fresh. 

Up to this point, cooling was only a luxury found in only hospitals and manufacturing settings. However, because of this massive success for air conditioners, by 1914, Carrier developed the first in-home air conditioner installed inside a Minneapolis Mansion. One year later, Carrier joined a group of engineers from the Buffalo Forge Company to create the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America. Air conditioners would become so popular in the 1950s that records show roughly 74,000 air conditioners were installed across the United States.   

How Did We Get to the Air Conditioning Equipment We Have Today? 

With a promising, bright future ahead for high-efficiency cooling, improvements continue to be made to the modern air conditioning system. Future innovations to the current air conditioner include working with the magnetocaloric effect, which exposes magnetic materials to a magnetic field to heat up and then cool down to extreme temperatures by removing the magnetic field. Prototypes are currently being tested, and these new pieces of cooling equipment are meant to be eco-friendlier and more efficient than typical air conditioners.  

Until then, homeowners can benefit from modern, top-of-the-line home cooling products and equipment that we provide at LRF Maintenance Heating & Cooling. So if you’re looking for an upgrade for your home cooling system, look no further! We got your back! Call us today at (614) 837-4822, or schedule an appointment online by clicking here!