Willis Haviland Carrier is the father of modern air conditioning. In 1902, when air conditioning was invented by him, he was a recent graduate of Cornell University with a Masters Degree in Engineering. He had secured a position at Buffalo Forge Company, and his first project was to solve an application problem for Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn, NY.
Sackett-Wilhelms wanted to make the air inside their plant cooler and less humid so they could improve the quality their printed materials. Heat and humidity fluctuations in the plant adversely affected the dimensions of their printing paper and the alignment of their colored inks. In the process of trying to solve that problem, Willis started experimenting with a system that eventually became the first modern air conditioner.
Willis’s initial air conditioner was designed to assist the printing process by controlling both temperature and humidity. His air conditioning technology delivered stable temperatures and consistent humidity levels that allowed Sackett-Wilhelms to produce aligned, four-color printed materials. The air conditioner he built went into operation in July of 1902, and it’s recognized as the answer to the question of when air conditioning was invented.
Although Willis did not develop the first indoor cooling system, his air conditioner was the first cooling and humidity-controlling device that was both safe and effective. For this reason, he is considered the inventor of the technology that formed the basis of today’s air conditioners.
Air Conditioning Basics
Willis designed his machine by reversing the process of heating with steam. Rather than funnel air through hot coils, he funneled air through cold coils. As the air was cooled, moisture levels were controlled. This process was called evaporative cooling.
This early air conditioner was named the “Apparatus for Treating Air,” and a U.S. Patent was granted to Willis in 1906. The name “air conditioning” was actually coined by a textile engineer named Stuart Cramer. In 1906, Cramer filed a patent claim for a device that humidified indoor air with water vapor. This helped to condition the yarn used in textile plants. Early air conditioners used toxic and flammable gasses to operate, but in 1928 Thomas Midgley invented a non-flammable, non-toxic gas called R-22.
Growth Of The Air Conditioning Industry
Together with six other engineers and a pooled investment of $35,000, Willis formed The Carrier Engineering Corporation in 1915. Their mission was to improve air conditioning technology. In 1921, the corporation patented a device called the “centrifugal chiller.” It became the first air conditioning machine that could effectively cool large indoor spaces.
Over the next 30 years, this new air conditioning technology was used to create more productive workplaces. Given the means to control both temperature and humidity, manufacturing companies were able to make film, medical capsules, processed meats, tobacco, printed materials and textiles of superior quality. Because they were able to market better products, these companies flourished.
The push for cooled indoor air began in earnest in 1924 when three centrifugal chillers were installed in a department store in Detroit, MI. The store became an instant sensation and, soon after, air conditioning was installed in the Rivoli Movie Theater in New York City. Business at the Rivoli mushroomed as movie fans flocked to the theater to cool off during the hot, humid New York summers.
The DuBose House in North Carolina was the first private residence to install central air conditioning. Cooled air was distributed throughout the home via an elaborate system of ducts and vents. People began to clamor for smaller units that could be used to cool homes and apartments.
Responding to the demand, the company developed and marketed the first residential air conditioner in 1928. It was called the “Weathermaker” and intended for private use. During the Great Depression and WW2, residential air conditioner production was curtailed. However, in the years following WW2, sales of residential air conditioners soared.
In 1945, Robert Sherman created the first portable window-unit air conditioner. This clever machine heated, cooled, humidified, dehumidified and filtered the air. By the 1950s, air conditioning became more common in homes. Today, it’s unusual for a home or an apartment to be without an air conditioner.
Energy-Efficient Heating And Air Conditioning Technologies
Today, the focus in heating and cooling technologies is on energy-efficient products. Also, due to heightened concerns about the health hazards of indoor air, there is also a demand for products that remove indoor airborne contaminants.
If you’re shopping for a new furnace, heat pump or air conditioner, pay close attention to the efficiency ratings of the products. The higher the SEER, EER or AFUE ratings, the more efficient the system will be and the more money you’ll save on monthly utility bills.
As a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning carries a complete line of energy-efficient furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners. These super-efficient and state-of-the-art products can:
- Qualify you for 25C Federal Tax Credits
- Save you money every month on utility bills
- Qualify you for state, local and utility discounts
- Entitle you to manufacturer’s rebates
- Help to conserve natural resources
Our products can also improve the quality of your indoor air. Because the air in your home is often more polluted than the air outside, HVAC equipment like air filters, dehumidifiers, ventilators, air cleaners, humidifiers and air purifiers can make the air in your Garden Park GA home safer and healthier for everyone who lives there.