Did you know that forms of air conditioning have been discovered all the way back to ancient Rome? Did you know that the first modern air-conditioning system didn’t have the intention of cooling a room for people to be more comfortable in the heat? The history of air conditioning is an exciting tale. It shows how we have gotten to where we are with technology today and where it’s going in the future.
History of Air Conditioning
You may have heard that Benjamin Franklin invented modern air conditioning, but that’s not true. He did handle some experiments and enjoyed the coolness of opening his windows which was typically thought of as bad for your health in his time, but he wasn’t the inventor. However, you have to look even further back than Benjamin Franklin’s time to discover the history of air conditioning.
People have always wanted a way to get away from the heat of the day. The Chinese invented fans to handle cooling down. The Romans found ways to use the aqueduct system to allow wealthy citizens a chance to cool down. Circulating cool water inside the walls of their home would cool it down. Elagabalus, a Roman Emperor, went so far to have a mountain built of snow by his home. Donkey trains were would move the snow from a mountainous region to his home. Other Romans would eat snow to help them cool down.
Who Invented the AC?
During the Dark Ages, the luxury of cooling homes went away. That was until American engineers started trying to solve the problem in the 1800s. One famous instance of historic air conditioning tech was done by the caretakers of President Garfield who was dying during the oppressive summer heat. In 1881, a system was created where air would be blown through wet cotton sheets. To keep this system running, in only two months they used half a million pounds of ice. This device was a very costly venture.
The next big thing in the history of air conditioning was Nikola Tesla’s alternating current motors. This lead to the invention of oscillating fans. Then came Willis Carrier in 1902. This name may sound familiar since Carrier is an air conditioning brand to this day. Willis Carrier is the person who is known for the invention of the modern air conditioning unit. His unit used water-cooled coils inside of it which then had air blown past them to create cooling. However, this wasn’t for the use of people trying to stay cool. His invention was intended to control humidity. He worked in a printing plant where moisture could damage the process. In 1922, he found a way to reduce the size of the unit using a central compressor. In 1925, the first air conditioning unit was made public in the Times Square Rivoli Theater. Hence, the summer blockbuster trend where people could escape the heat on a hot summer’s day to watch a movie commences from this point.
How Has It Improved from Its Origins?
Devices that functioned early on in the history of air conditions were very expensive to run and were only available to the rich. Air conditioners today have changed drastically. They no longer require large blocks of ice or strange contraptions to run. Most of the air conditions today are becoming smaller and more energy efficient. This efficiency is thanks to the standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy. They have created minimum standards when it comes the amount of energy that an air conditioning unit needs to function. This practice has made the industry comply with these standards. In fact, not only are they complying, but many have exceeded the standards. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is about 16 or 18, which is better than the rules. This all means good things for people that enjoy a cool room on a hot day.
What Does the Future of AC Look Like?
If the history of air conditioning leaves you with only one impression, it should be that people will continue trying to find ways to maximize the potential of it. The future of AC features more smart technologies that make it possible to control your air conditioning unit easily. They are working on ways to make it so that your air conditioning unit can send you messages through email and texts. These messages are about when repairs or replacements should happen. Think about how much better you’ll be able to maintain your AC if it sends you a message letting you know that the filter is dirty. Replacing that filter keeps your unit running better and at optimal efficiency. The different innovations that are coming can make it possible for your air conditioning unit to run on less energy while still providing you with the best cooling possible.Back to blog home