From cooling ancient royalty, keeping presidents alive and producing quality printed materials, air conditioning methods have advanced throughout history and continue to change the world.
The ancient world created ways to stay cool, well, before it was cool. From cave dwellers to mud huts, even the most primitive people understood keeping the heat out.
In ancient Egypt, Egyptians would wet reeds and hang them in the windows of their homes, to filter in a cooler air.
Romans utilized their legendary aqueduct systems to bring water from distant sources into the heart of the city. Aqueducts provided water for bathing, public fountains and (for the wealthy) cooler homes. Water would circulate through the walls to cool the interior of the homes. Importing water from distant land was not uncommon, but one emperor took the additional measures to import snow. He had giant piles of snow brought to his garden to stay cool even on the hottest of days.
The Persians built massive wind towers. Fans at the top of the tower brought cooled air down through the tower and into their homes.
In the second century, the Chinese constructed a giant fan approximately ten feet in diameter. Powered by the strength of servants, wealthy members of the dynasty relaxed in the dark, spa-like room containing the giant fan and cool air.
In the summer of 1881, President James Garfield was shot. In an attempt to ease his suffering, engineers created a make shift air conditioner as a way to keep to him cool. They fanned air across blocks of ice wrapped in wet cloth. Although it was simple, it helped keep Garfield alive for nearly 11 weeks.
It wasn’t until 1902, however, that the air-conditioning unit as we know today made its debut. Willis Carrier, an engineer and the “father” of modern air conditioning, was a problem solver. He began working for a publishing company in New York that struggled with the humidity in the printing room. The heat and humidity distorted the size of the paper and prevented the ink from aligning properly.
Using his knowledge of heating an object with steam, Carrier reversed the process and ran air through water-cooled coils. The system solved the problem of the publishing company, and sparked an apparatus that would change homes and businesses from that point forward. In 1906, Carrier received a patent for his invention, which he dubbed the “Apparatus for Treating Air.”
In 1921, Carrier received a patent for another air conditioning invention: the centrifugal refrigeration machine. This was a much larger apparatus used for conditioning larger spaces. Ideal for business spaces, the refrigeration machine allowed warehouses and office spaces to operate efficiently despite the warm weather.
In 1914, the first air conditioner was used in the home in the United States. Since then, it has grown into over 100 million homes in the US, and has become more popular across the world. Nearly a century later, Carrier’s methods are still the foundation for the modern air conditioning unit.
This summer, as we sit in our air conditioned homes and businesses, make note of historical journey of the AC unit and the ingenious inventions that have made it to what it is today.
Air conditioner up to the task of heating and cooling your home but your house needs some upkeep repairs? Contact Mr. Handyman to help with your to-do list.