History of Residential Air Conditioning

Author: CC

Feb. 04, 2024

Home Appliances

Residential air conditioning is popular now, but that wasn’t always the case. As part of our summer blog series on air conditioning, we have put together a timeline of commercial and home air conditioning usage in the United States. Learn when this appliance became a must-have in Louisville KY and across America.

Air Conditioning’s Commercial Beginnings

While earlier prototypes existed in industrial settings, the first air conditioner as we know it debuted in New York City’s Rivoli Theater in 1925. It pushed air through water-chilled coils to produce a stream of cooled air and relied upon a central compressor to keep things cold. Since hot New York summers led locals to flock to the movie theater (as it provided the only air conditioner), the AC also launched the concept of the “summer blockbuster” movie that’s still relevant today.

This 1925 invention, by American engineer Willis Carrier, launched the concept of commercial air conditioning. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, these early air conditioners spread through theaters, department stores, office buildings, and even train cars, providing comfort and allowing employees to be much more productive in summer months.

The Rise of Residential Air Conditioning

In 1931, engineers H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman developed the first window-unit air conditioner. These early units featured a similar design to today’s room air conditioner models: A box that sits on a window ledge and cools one or more rooms. One year after their invention, these room air conditioners were available for purchase to the tune of $10,000 to $50,000, Popular Mechanics reports.

Of course, this hefty price tag put them out of the reach of nearly all Americans. For air conditioners to really become widespread, the cost would need to come down first.

In the 1950s, thanks to increased American prosperity after World War II, air conditioning units first became widely affordable. Everyday Americans were able to buy room units and enjoy cool comfort year round. In 1953 alone, 1 million air conditioners were sold.

Things changed again in the 1970s, when central air was invented. The early central air functioned much as it does today: Using a condenser, a fan, and coils, air makes its way through the unit, gets chilled, and gets dispersed throughout the house. These early central air conditioners used Freon as a refrigerant, a substance later revealed to be an environmental hazard.

Since the 1990s, when Freon’s dangers came to light, manufacturers have worked to develop greener room and central air conditioning units.

At present, roughly two-thirds of American homes have air conditioning. American homeowners spend $11 billion each year on AC to cool their homes and consume 5 percent of the country’s electricity to do so.

To get the most out of your air conditioner, contact Kentuckiana Comfort Center. As a leading home heating and air conditioning service company in Louisville and Lexington KY, we have nearly 40 years of experience with residential and commercial heating and cooling. We routinely perform home and business air conditioning tune-ups, maintenance calls, servicing, and installation.

With warmer weather and high humidity on the way, it’s nice to know that your home is equipped with an air conditioner to make sure your family stays nice and cool. A central air system is something that many of us have grown accustomed to in our everyday lives. We flip on the air conditioner without hardly thinking about it, so it is hard to imagine a day when we did not have this home comfort feature

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Did you ever wonder where the air conditioner came from? Who invented central air, and how it was created? Get comfortable while we take a moment to track down the answers to these questions and explore the history of air conditioning.

Who Invented The Air Conditioner?

While the concept of air conditioning has initial roots in second-century China when an inventor named Ding Huane crafted a manually powered rotary fan, the first modern air conditioner was invented by Willis Haviland Carrier in 1902. Willis experimented with the laws of humidity control to solve an application for the printing plant in New York, and the air conditioner was created. With the creation of modern air conditioners, portable A/C units were soon after invented by Federick Jones for field military hospitals, which served to keep wounded soldiers comfortable.

How Was The A/C Invented?

Willis Carrier borrowed concepts of mechanical refrigeration previously established to remove moisture from the air to control room humidity with the operation of his air conditioner. Growing in their research and development through the years, the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America manufactured an A/C that used a belt-driven condensing unit and blower, mechanical controls, and an evaporator coil in 1933. This unit became the model in the growing field of air cooling systems in the United States. While air conditioners today use the same fundamental science, they used more advanced components as science and equipment have improved throughout the years. 

Who Coined The Term ‘Air Conditioner’?

After the invention came out from Willis Carrier, Stuart Creamer, a mill engineer, created a similar device that added moisture to the hot air in textile plants. He called his invention an “air conditioner” because it conditioned the air to be moist and cool. It was then built into many plants to make work environments more comfortable and productive.

How Has The HVAC Industry Changed Through The Years?

Heating and cooling technology have changed drastically since its emergence. Today, there are more than 100 manufacturing brands of HVAC equipment and parts. Some industry leaders include Trane and Rheem, which are offered as quality replacement options from Logan A/C & Heat Services. High-efficiency and variable-speed HVAC systems are popular choices of consumers today, both of which have great benefits for home comfortthe environment, and energy savings.

The History Of Trane – America’s Most Trusted HVAC Brand

A leader in the HVAC industry today, Trane was founded in Wisconsin in 1885 and was incorporated in 1913. The Trane brand has over 120 years of experience in the heating and cooling business. James Trane was used to experiencing cold winters in Wisconsin, so he invented a new low-pressure heating system called the Trane Vapor Heating System. James and his son, Reuben, created the connector radiator in 1923, establishing their company’s reputation. Today, Trane is the preferred brand for those looking to replace their old heating and cooling system with quality HVAC equipment.

Logan Services is proud to offer Trane systems to heat and cool your homes properly. We are the #1 volume residential Trane dealer in the nation and your local Comfort Specialist in the Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati areas. If you are looking to replace your air conditioner this year, give the Logan Services team a call today!

Trane | A/C Installation | Air Condtioners


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