The air conditioner is the most important unit in homes during the summer. If the system breaks down, everyone will be quick to notice. Inventors created the air conditioner to make homes more comfortable and to reduce heat-related illnesses.
The first rendition of the air conditioning system was in 1840. This system was developed by John Gorrie, a doctor and an inventor from Florida. Gorrie believed that cooling homes and hospitals was the easiest way to fight heat-related diseases.
The Gorrie System
Gorrie had an idea to cool hospitals. He created cold zones by using ice from frozen lakes. The process of gathering ice from the lake was tedious, though. The ice would melt, and the hospital rooms would heat up again. Gorrie knew he had to get another more effective system. This is when he started researching refrigeration.
He created a machine that made ice, which was then used to cool rooms. However, his idea to use refrigeration to cool room did not materialize as his sponsor died before he could actualize the idea. In 1851, the U.S. granted him a patent for this ice-making machine.
Other inventors and engineers would go on to use the ice-making machine for other purposes, including freezing beef for exportation to the U.K. Countries such as Australia also ventured into refrigeration to rival the beef exportation from the U.S.
In 1851, James Harrison created the first commercial ice-making machine. He used vapor-compression refrigeration for which he received a patent the same year. In 1855, he created another ice-making company, and the story of ice was ready for adoption in the world.
When Michael Faraday invented electricity, he opened up more avenues for inventions.
Carrier Invented the Modern Air Conditioning System
Willis H. Carrier was granted the patent for the first air conditioning system in 1914. When he discovered air conditioning, Carrier was the chief engineer for a New York Company, Buffalo Forge. He was tasked with finding a solution to a humidity problem at a local publishing company’s offices.
He researched the problem and wrote a paper on it. This paper and the drawings on it formed the basis for the modern air conditioning system. He created a system that dehumidified the room by heating water and cooled the room to humidify. He called this system “The Apparatus for Treating Air.” His idea was to balance temperature, air circulation, humidity, and ventilation to make a room more comfortable.
The Apparatus for Treating Air was manual, and he wanted to make it more efficient and easier to use. He created an automatic control system. The U.S. granted him a patent for the automatic system in 1914. He wrote many more papers that formed the basis for the modern air conditioning.
In late 1914, Carrier and six other engineers left Buffalo Forge to form Carrier Engineering Corporation, which later merged with two other companies to form the Carrier Corporation.
The air conditioner was invented in 1902, but it was first installed in a residential house in 1914. This first AC was large and consumed too much power. The unit was 20 feet long, seven feet tall, and six feet wide. It would fit in an entire room. It was also so expensive, only the wealthy could afford it.
The AC After 1902
After the invention of the AC, there was still a lot that needed to be done to make the system effective, efficient, and affordable. The organizers of the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 wanted to test the use of refrigeration for cooling. They cooled the Missouri State Building using mechanical refrigeration. They were able to circulate 35,000-cubic feet of cold air every minute using the system.
Although the system was not as effective as they would have wanted, the public enjoyed the cool air. It also encouraged theaters around the country to try mechanical refrigeration for comfort. Most theaters created systems that circulated cold air through floor vents. The main problem with the system was that while the system cooled the floor, the air above the ground still remained hot.
In 1922, Carrier Corporation designed a cooling system for theaters. Instead of circulating air from floor vents, the Carrier system used vents places high on the walls.
The success of these systems led engineers to want to create a better cooling system – one which was not so large and so costly. In 1925, Carrier Corporation designed the centrifugal chilling system, which it installed at the New York Rivoli Theater. The centrifugal chilling system was able to cool theaters better and consume less power.
Today, AC systems are more affordable to buy and install. Talk to Shines Energy if you need to install or replace your AC system.
The Modern Air Conditioner
The modern air conditioner was invented in 1947. In 1947, AC companies installed more than 43,000 AC units. Thirteen years later, more than 60% of all new homes in the U.S. had built-in AC units.
Although Carrier Corporation shaped the air conditioning industry, there are so many other players who contributed to the invention. Frigidaire is one of these players. He developed the split-system cooler in 1929. This system was small enough to fit in rooms, but it was still too heavy. The system did not materialize, but it formed the basis for split-system ACs.
In 1930, General Electric was granted patents for 32 room cooler prototypes, further contributing to the air conditioning technology. The first portable air conditioning was designed by J.Q. Sherman and H.H. Schultz. This unit was small enough, so homeowners could place it on a window ledge.
General Motors engineered the first non-flammable refrigerant, CFC, which was used until the 1990s. It paved the way for Freon after it was phased out when evidence showed it depleted the ozone layer.
Inventions and innovations made air conditioning more efficient. According to the Energy Information Administration, more than 87% of U.S. homes had AC units installed in 2009. Today, many new homes have AC systems.
The high number of ACs installed in the 1970s caused an energy crisis. This led to the creation of standards that guided how manufacturers created ACs to make them more efficient. The first standard created in 1993 was meant to make the systems more efficient enough to save homeowners $29 million in 30 years.
Manufacturers created the second standard in 2006, which is meant to further save homeowners money. Between 2006 and 2035, the standard should save homeowners up to $70 billion in utility bills. Air conditioners have become more efficient and more effective at cooling homes. The modern air conditioner runs at 50% more efficiency compared to the AC used in 1990.
The AC not only makes homes more comfortable but also saves lives. Since the invention of the AC, heat-related deaths have reduced significantly. As ACs advanced to be more efficient, there is also a need to make them more environmentally friendly. The Energy Department runs the Emerging Technologies Program, which collects innovations from young engineers.
Call Us for Quality HVAC Services
At Shines Energy, we install, replace, repair, and maintain your HVAC systems in Dartmouth and the surrounding areas. We also sell products such as heat pumps, furnaces, air conditioners, thermostats, and packaged systems. Call Shines Energy today to find out more.