How Has Air Conditioning Evolved Over the Years?

Summers in Myrtle Beach, SC, are humid and hot. It’s common for daytime temperatures to reach 91 degrees or more. These high temperatures are bearable thanks to how much air conditioning has evolved over the years.

The Beginning of Air Conditioning

John Gorrie, a native of South Carolina, got the idea for air conditioning in the 1840s after moving to Florida. Gorrie wanted to create a mechanism that could cool any building in Florida and keep residents comfortable.

Gorrie made a system that could cool hospital rooms by using ice, but the ice came from frozen streams and lakes in Florida and other states. However, shipping ice was more costly than Gorrie anticipated.

In 1851, Gorrie solved the ice shipping problem by creating a machine that could create ice. Although he was unable to patent this new technology, the machine became the foundation for modern air conditioning.

The Evolution of Modern Air Conditioning

There were no major advancements in air conditioning between 1851 and 1901. In 1902, Willis Carrier created the first modern air conditioner.

The need for human comfort didn’t play a role in the invention of the first modern air conditioner. He needed a way to prevent humidity from causing magazine pages to wrinkle. His system was able to control humidity by the use of cooling coils to humidify or dehumidify the air.

He got a patent for what he called “Apparatus for Treating Air.” After working to improve upon the technology, he was able to create an automatic control system for regulating air temperature and humidity.

When he saw the importance of his invention, he formed a company. From there, he set out to show how his invention could cool all types of buildings.

Public Buildings Get Air Conditioning

The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair used mechanical refrigeration to keep attendees cool. The eight-month fair took place at the Missouri State Building, and an estimated 20 million people attended. This was the first time Americans got to experience air-conditioning in a commercial building.

Movie theaters were the first public buildings to make regular use of air conditioning. These were heating systems with refrigeration equipment added to distribute cold air. In 1922, the the company installed the first technologically advanced cooling systems in movie theaters.

In 1922, he invented a new air conditioning system that relied on a centrifugal chiller. The new system was more reliable, had fewer moving parts and was less expensive than the existing larger air conditioners. This advanced model of air conditioner became popular for public buildings all over the United States.

Trane’s Advanced Home Cooling Solutions

The systems for public buildings were too large and expensive for residential homes. But in 1929, another company created an air conditioner small enough for home use. However, the units were still too expensive and heavy for most homeowners to handle.

Engineer Henry Galson eventually developed an air conditioner small enough to fit into a typical residential window. Because of its small size and low cost, the Galson air conditioner became widely popular. In the 1960s, central air conditioning was also available in addition to window units.

Air conditioners continue to evolve and become more efficient. New air conditioning technology has also made it possible to cool buildings with less energy. The result is people can enjoy the benefits of air conditioning while saving energy and money on their power bills. Trane now manufactures some of the most advanced air conditioners available.

It’s estimated that modern air conditioners use around 50% less energy than those in the 1990s. There is current research into making air conditioning even more sustainable and efficient.

Contact Warren-Hay Mechanical today to discuss your air conditioning needs. Our service techs offer commercial and residential cooling services. We can also help with issues such as indoor air quality, HVAC maintenance and heat pump service.

Image provided by iStock

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