A Short History of Air Conditioning and Air Conditioners

ceiling fan

How many air conditioning units do you have installed in the various facets of your everyday life? Do you have one in your car? How many are there in your home? How many in your office space or, just in general, in the place you work at?

Chances are that there is a handful. We all depend on our AC systems to keep our brains from boiling over and out through our ears when the suffocating heat of summer rolls along. But how much do you actually know about these ingenious devices? We did a little digging and put together this interesting overview of their history. Jump right in!

In the ancient days

The oldest thing that was any little bit similar to the modern solution has been found in Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians are credited with inventing lots of stuff we use today – even perfume, which you can read about in this article.

They would moisten some reeds by trickling water into them and then hang them over the windows. The breeze going through these moist reeds would be nicely cooled, plus it kept the air in their homes humid, which you can imagine was a lifesaver for these folks living in the desert.

If you boil the idea of air conditioning down to its barest essentials, however, you will find that it has been applied even in the prehistoric age – our cave-dwelling ancestors did have enough brains about them to come up with the concept of using snow, ice, and cold water to cool off. Gathering ice in the winter and then storing it in a cold place to save for use in the summertime became a legit business in the late seventeenth century, and then sometime later the “ice harvest” was replaced by mechanics, i.e. by the ice-making machines.

In our own times

The first electrical air conditioning unit is credited to an American engineer and inventor called Willis Haviland Carrier. He was hired by a printing plant from Brooklyn, NY to solve an application problem, and for this job, he started playing around with different ways of humidity control.

He developed the cold water coils system in 1902, and in the 1920s the air conditioner became adapted and marketed for home use. About a decade later, in 1933 to be precise, his business, the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America, revised this model and significantly improved it.

They introduced a condensing unit, driven by belt mechanics, with an associated “blower”, added an evaporator coil to the system, and enabled it for mechanical controls.

To read more about Willis Haviland Carrier and his famous invention, check out this link: http://www.historynet.com/willis-haviland-carrier-the-man-who-cooled-america.htm

air conditioning units

The modern AC solutions still follow this model and its basic science, although, admittedly, with much more sophisticated mechanization and many more physical and electronic components.

Nowadays, the elements that have become mandatory considerations include factors such as quieter performance, energy efficiency, more environmentally friendly materials, sophisticated electronic sensors, advanced vapor compression systems, delicate diagnostics, and more seamless, more convenient controls.

In order to improve the quality of air conditioning services and make them more environmentally conscious in our severely polluted twenty-first-century reality, the U.S. Department of Energy and other equivalent legal bodies throughout the world have consistently been setting progressively more demanding efficiency standards, driving a significant decrease in meaningless consumption of energy.

As a consequence, many of the biggest manufacturers of air conditioning systems have really put their heads, wallets, and resources together, and have increased their SEER rates (i.e. their Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) to significantly above the latest standards. This let them achieve the quadruple goal of making their business better for the environment, helping their customers save on energy costs, building their own reputation, and ultimately getting better sales.

The new wave: smart air conditioning

Aiming for even better efficiency rates and even greater convenience, developers and manufacturers have turned their attention to the thermostat. The traditional mechanical contraption that our grandparents had mounted on their walls has been replaced by the sleek diagnostic and control tools that we see in modern homes.

These neat gadgets render the adjustments of the air flow systems and compressors automatic, using microprocessors. This allows us to change our air conditioners’ settings and adjust their various functions remotely, be it from another room or from the other side of town or state. All we need is a computer connected to a stable internet signal, or a web-enabled mobile phone (which basically everyone has these days, one or the other, in some shape or form). You can even arrange to get alerts via email or text message when you need to replace a filter or arrange a routine inspection.

One ambitious possible plan for the future is to make the smart AC units and their related thermostats connect to the electric grid on the local or even national level. This would allow each unit to adjust its functions according to the relevant geography, and homeowners could regulate their systems in real time, in accordance with the changing weather conditions.

The wide-scale significance of AC units in homes

Air conditioners make more of an impact than just making our lives more comfortable in the summer heat. We already covered some of those above, in terms of energy efficiency and increased environmental awareness on the part of the manufacturing companies. But there is more.

According to the Energy Information Administration of America, about eighty per cent of American homes have an air conditioner installed, and these are, for the most part, “central system” unit types. This is actually an enormous number and a very important trend: it changed even the prevalent architectural design in the modern world.

Thanks to air conditioners, we can have a house without a porch, terrace, or balcony, or an office without any windows. They also enable people to settle, live, and work in areas with a terribly hot climate and uncomfortably humid atmosphere.

 

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