HVAC history parallels other innovations that made life more comfortable and safer. HVAC advancements have also opened up geographical areas previously less occupied due to the climate. Thriving cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas, for example, were sparsely populated before the advent of air conditioning. The chronicle of HVAC history continuous to expand, as research and development produces new technology to make our homes more energy-efficient and our indoor air quality healthier. Here are a few notable chapters of HVAC history.
- Roman comfort control. Expensive villas in ancient Rome often incorporated some form of heating or cooling device. Passages integrated beneath marble floors often carried heat produced by fires in an enclosed area adjacent to the structure. In summer, water from the famous Roman aqueducts was circulated through voids inside walls to cool rooms.
- Ben Franklin, HVAC contractor. Houses in colonial America were typically heated by wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. Founding Father Ben Franklin, however, improved upon these devices with the Franklin Stove invented in 1741. Its cast-iron construction more efficiently radiated heat into rooms. The design also included air baffles to maximize heat gain from wood fuel as well as a siphon-like flue to make indoor heating smoke-free.
- Fans catch on. The first electric fan was invented in 1882—unfortunately before homes had electricity to enjoy the benefits of moving air. As electrification became a national priority after the turn of the 20th century, electric fans—particularly large ceiling fans still put to good use today—became the must-have household comfort appliance.
- A cool coincidence. In 1902, Willis Carrier was a young engineer hired to reduce excess humidity inside a Brooklyn, N.Y. printing factory so ink would dry faster. The system he invented to “condition” the air by extracting water vapor utilized coils that circulated refrigerant. The process had a very pleasant side-effect: it also cooled the inside of the building. Today, Carrier is known as “The Father of Air Conditioning.”
At Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar, we strive to stay on the cutting edge of HVAC history with the latest in heating, cooling and indoor air quality technology.