The History of Air Conditioning

Imagine being out in the summer’s sun all day, somewhere like Arizona or Florida. After being out all day, the only thing on your mind is to get home and cool off. But wait, as soon you get home, there air is just as hot as it was outside. The heat we can experience in places such as these provide risks for our health. Before the 1960’s, this was what life was like. Now, thanks to air conditioning, 87 percent of American households feel a lot more comfortable and relaxed.

In the 1840’s Dr. John Gorrie from Florida wanted to do something about the humidity and heat in buildings. He was an inventor and a physician, so his goal was to provide a comfortable environment for his patients to be in. He believed in “the evils of high temperatures”, and created the first ice maker by using a compressor that could be powered by a horse, water, or steam. His funder for the idea died, so the project was out the window. However, the foundation and idea for modern air conditioning was set into place.

In 1902 a man by the name of Willis Carrier, who worked at the Buffalo Forge Company, was assigned to solve an issue of humidity that occured at a textile factory. Carrier succeed and created a system that was able to humidify or dehumidify a room, which was followed by an automated system to control the air. In the 1920’s, Hollywood movies rolled out and theaters needed air conditioning. The idea of air conditioning worked, however the flow of air was inefficient. This is why most air vents are located higher on a wall or the ceiling, as cool air falls.

Even with the technology advancing, it was yet to be affordable for residential use. Equipment was either too big, or cost too much. In 1929, Frigidaire created smaller home scaled units, which helped expand the development of residential air conditioning. An engineer by the name of Henry Galson created a compact and inexpensive unit in 1947. He also produced and sold over 47,000 units. By the 1960’s most homes had air conditioning. Today, 47 percent of all household energy consumption is from air conditioning.

Even today, heating and air conditioning technology continues to improve. With smart thermostats and more efficient units, Benson’s provides customers the ever-improving luxury of HVAC.