• Joseph Harris

A History Of Air Conditioning


Old Air Conidtioner

South Florida is home to tepid temps in winter and hot, sultry summers. Florida residents are grateful for our HVAC systems that help regulate temperature and humidity year-round. As you heat your home in the winter and cool everything down in the summer, do you ever give thought to how this technology came to pass?


Don’t take it for granted!

Once considered a luxury for the rich, air conditioning is now an accepted standard in many homes across the United States. We regulate businesses, homes, and entertainment venues with the expectation that everyone is kept comfortable, and we squawk when we experience anything less than the accepted standard. Regulating our indoor environments has become so important to us, in fact, that nearly 50 percent of all energy costs can be connected to heating and cooling.


Thanks to significant breakthroughs and discoveries, commercial and residential air conditioning are available to us, the result of technicians and scientists who challenged themselves to come up with a solution to the pervasive problem of heat and high humidity. Let’s take a peek into the air conditioning archives to see how it all came about, and who we should thank as we walk to our thermostats.


1800’s: The evils of high temperatures

As early as 1840, Dr. John Gorrie of Florida issued a call to action, proposing the idea of cooling cities to relieve residents of “the evils of high temperatures.” He believed that regulating air temperature was the key to controlling diseases like malaria. In theory, the idea was grand, but Gorrie had a bit to work on when it came to his methods. His bright idea for air conditioning involved shipping ice from colder climates up north down to the southern states for use. Needless to say, this idea was not sustainable.


After his first failed attempt and proposal, Gorrie conceptualized artificial cooling. He designed a machine that created ice by a compressor powered by a horse, water, wind-driven sails, or steam. His efforts resulted in a patented device in 1951. This prototype paved the way for other technologies to surface after the death of his financial backer.


New ideas….stagnant process

Improvements in indoor air cooling and regulation stood stagnant and still for many years until the efforts of engineer Willis Carrier came to light. He was charged with solving a humidity problem for the publishing company he was working for, as high temperatures and excessive humidity were causing published pages to wrinkle.


His original electrical prototype was able to remove or add humidity after passing water and air across coils. It was an accidental discovery that moisture regulation could also affect air temperature. His efforts were so successful that he soon broke ties with his former employer and struck out on his own along with fellow engineering buddies to form the Carrier Engineering Corporation.


Cooling public buildings: Word spread quickly

The first public building that was effectively cooled was the Missouri State Building at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. The crude cooling unit used 35,000 cubic feet of air per minute to cool the 1000-seat auditorium, but it did so successfully. Word spread quickly about the potential of comfort cooling. Businesses, large arenas, and theaters embraced the technology, and people across the country to watch their favorite silver screen stars in cool comfort.


Commitment to the process brings AC home to you

Various tweaks and turns in the process of building smaller compressors led giants like Frigidaire and General Motors to step up and enhance technology. Engineer Henry Galson developed a compact version of a window unit and set up production with several manufacturers. By the 60s, most new homes contained at least one unit, with more in the works as whole-house systems were developed for efficiency and comfort. Today, it’s uncommon to see homes and businesses without this technology that helps regulate and improve indoor air health for millions.


Thank your technician!

At Tropic-Air conditioning, we believe that a cool, comfortable home is an essential part of healthy living. Our professional technicians are knowledgeable, courteous, and dedicated to providing you with the best service and hardware to help reduce your energy costs and keep you comfortable year-round. Call us today for a professional assessment of your system and top-notch service that will keep you up and running whenever you need it most. Visit https://www.tropicairfl.com/ for more information.