A Brief History of Air Conditioning Systems

July 5, 2019

    Get a Free Replacement Estimate

    How can we help?

    As the sizzling Arizona summer approaches, homeowners across the state rely on their cooling systems to survive the almost unbearable heat and humidity. But have you ever wondered who you should thank for your trusted AC? What’s the history of air conditioners? 

    Before we tell you how the AC was invented, we want to let you know that you can depend on the foremost Scottsdale AC repair if you’re struggling with keeping your home cool. Whether you need someone reliable to keep your AC in shape or install your new AC system, count on our seasoned repair and installation technicians to take care of it with unparalleled professionalism.

    Read on to find out how air conditioners became what they are today!    

    Why was AC invented?

    Humans have searched for ways to stay cool during the hottest days of the year for as long as they have walked the Earth. From Egyptians hanging damp mats over doorways to the Roman aqueducts that circulated cool water, humankind has always had to find creative ways to outsmart the weather.  

    However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the modern history of air conditioning began. Here are some early highlights: 

    • The principles of air conditioning as it is known today are often related to the American statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin who attributed the refrigeration properties of a liquid to the speed of its evaporation in 1758. 
    • Similarly, Michael Faraday, the British inventor, experimented with the refrigerating effects of certain gases in 1820. He found that he could cool down the air in his laboratory when he compressed and liquidized ammonia and allowed it to evaporate. 
    • In 1851, John Gorrie, a Florida physician used air and compressed water to develop an open cooling system to help cool down yellow fever patients. Gorrie’s “cold air machine” was the first mechanical refrigeration device that resembled air conditioners as we know them today.  

    Who Invented Air Conditioning

    After years of hard work and creative experiments, the first modern AC system came in the 20th century thanks to Willis Carrier, a young inventor from New York. However, Carrier’s mechanical device wasn’t designed to keep rooms cool, but to maintain appropriate levels of humidity in a printing plant he worked in. Carrier used chilled coils which could both dehumidify and cool down the air inside the plant, keeping the humidity level at a comfortable 55 percent. 

    While Carrier’s first air conditioner was installed in 1914, such machines weren’t even close to becoming a common household addition due to their size and noisiness. However, Carrier’s continual experimentation yielded the centrifugal refrigeration machine – an air conditioning unit with a higher efficiency, otherwise known as a “chiller”. Its widespread success made it a popular addition to movie theaters and fancy hotels in the late 1930s.   

    From hotels and movie theaters to commercial businesses, cooling systems kept growing in popularity, despite still being considered a luxury for typical American families. The air conditioner’s rise to fame was slow but steady, with the number of American households with AC units jumping from 10% in 1965 to around 86% in 2007. Nowadays, these incredible devices are an inevitable part of the American lifestyle, keeping millions of families cool and fresh during even the hottest of summers. 

    Why is it called an air conditioner?

    Shortly after Willis Carrier designed his cooling machine, Stuart W. Cramer invented a similar device to add moisture to the stuffy air in his textile plant. Cramer was the first to use the term “air conditioning”, inspired by the idea of “water conditioning”, a then-popular textile making process.

    But why is it called an air conditioner, not an air cooler? The answer is quite evident: even though AC units have always been used predominantly to cool down air, their dehumidification properties were precisely why Carrier and Cramer set about inventing them. The AC doesn’t just cool down the air – it conditions it by removing excess moisture, making the atmosphere in your home as comfortable as can be. 

    Hire the foremost Scottsdale AC repair and stay comfortable

    The Valley of the Sun didn’t get its name for nothing. The extreme summer temperatures that characterize the Greater Phoenix Area make life without an air conditioner almost unthinkable. Most people even sleep with the AC on!  

    Luckily, the leading AC repair and installation company in Scottsdale is here to make sure your AC unit never fails you. The seasoned HVAC professionals at Hughes Air will keep your AC working optimally throughout the year, no matter how extreme the temperatures get. Reach out to us today!