A Brief History of HVAC

These days, we’re used to HVAC. We only really notice how much we depend on it when we experience a problem with our system. However, people didn’t always enjoy this modern luxury. Air conditioning and heating technology is something that evolved over time, and it has a very interesting history.

The Evolution of Air Conditioning

Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the history of air conditioning begins in Florida. In the 1840s, John Gorrie started to use interior cooling systems in the sunshine state with the purpose of fighting disease. This was before the invention of electricity, so his technology depended on ice.

It wasn’t until much later, in 1902, that we began to see what we’d recognize now as a primitive form of air conditioning. An engineer in New York named Willis Carrier designed an “Apparatus for Treating Air” using cooling coils and water. His company is credited as the inventor of AC!

The term “air conditioning” wasn’t used until a few years later, though. The first unit for a residential property was installed in 1914, and it was much larger than the convenient AC units that Beehive installs today! In fact, it needed an entire room of its own.

In the beginning, air conditioning was incredibly expensive. Translated to modern-day prices, AC cost between $120,000 to $600,000. As you can imagine, it was accessed only by the most wealthy people in society. This is very different from the mainstream popularity that air conditioning enjoys right now.

What does air conditioning have to do with the arts? Quite a lot, actually! Theatres were often uncomfortably hot, so when an effective cooling system for theaters was launched in Los Angeles in 1922, this really improved the audience’s experience!

The Development of Heating Systems Over Time

To trace the history of heating, we have to go back to the Ancient Greeks. Using their understanding of design and architecture, they designed hearth systems in the center of their homes in order to heat them. The Romans had their own version of under-floor heating, too!

The first almost-furnace was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1742. He created a cast-iron stove, which was revolutionary in a society where wood-burning fireplaces were predominantly used to heat homes. Cast iron radiators were created around 1885, and this allowed all rooms in a home to be heated at once.

50 years later, the first forced-air furnace was developed. This depended on an electric fan which sent coal-heated air throughout the home’s ducts. Soon, versions fired by gas and oil hit the market.

In the late 19th Century, a range of innovative thermostats including the thermostat-controlled draft damper and the compressed air thermostat, which depended on vapor pressure, was invented. They changed the world of HVAC forever.

We should be grateful for the options that we now enjoy when it comes to heating and cooling our homes. People of the past would undoubtedly be amazed by our smart technology and our advanced thermostats. 

Looking to discuss the best system for you? Contact Beehive and let Salt Lake City’s HVAC experts guide you!

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