A Timeline of HVAC History

HVAC History: A Timeline

Feb 8, 2018

HVAC History: A TimelineIn the midst of relentless heat and humidity, your HVAC system is performing an incredible engineering feat. It is keeping your home cool. The technology and principles your HVAC system is based on span thousands of years. Read on for a timeline of HVAC history that helps keep your Orlando home comfortable today.

Radiant and Central Heating and Cooling

During the Greco-Roman era, the first radiant and central heating and cooling systems were developed. Wood-burning furnaces sent heat through tubes and channels (i.e. ducts) under tile flooring to heat multiple rooms. Wealthy citizens of ancient Rome utilized their amazing aqueduct system by circulating water through the walls of their homes to stay cool.

Evaporative Cooling

Electrically-driven evaporative coolers are widely used today in arid climates, such as the southwestern United States and the Middle East regions of the world. In fact, cooling by evaporation has been used for thousands of years:

  • In ancient Egypt, people hung wet reeds in windows, which cooled outdoor air as it blew through the reeds.
  • Benjamin Franklin discovered that evaporating alcohol could cool an object enough to freeze water.
  • Around the same time, it was discovered that compressing or liquefying ammonia could freeze water.
  • In 1881, air forced through sheets soaked in ice water helped keep ailing U.S. President James Garfield cool.
  • In 1906, a contraption called an atomized sprayer used water-filled ducts that sprayed a mist, which would cool air as the mist evaporated. This device gave birth to the term “air conditioning.”

Electric Fans

Schuyler Skaats Wheeler of New Orleans invented the electric fan in 1882. A few years later, Philip Diehl attached fan blades to his own invention, the electric sewing machine motor, and introduced the first ceiling fan.

Air Conditioner

The hero of this article is Willis Carrier. In 1902, at the age of 25, he invented the modern air conditioner — a machine that cooled rooms by forcing air through water-cooled coils. Even though his intention was to develop a dehumidifier, which he did, his resulting air conditioner has changed the world.

For more HVAC history nuggets, contact Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions!

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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