Commercial Air Conditioning Service Boca Del Mar Fl – Have you ever wondered about the history of air conditioning? Read on… For those of us who live in hot climates, air conditioning has become such an indispensable device that we can’t imagine how people used to live in these places without it. We think of our ancestors who lived in the hottest parts of the world without the benefit of modern climate control, and we pity and admire them.
Ironically, air conditioning has been around since the dawn of civilization. As people build homes in hot places, we are actively thinking of ways to cool them. Modern air conditioners are much more efficient and effective than the methods used in ancient times, but they are actually based on the same basic principles.
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Even when modern air conditioners were invented, they faced an uphill battle. Many people believed that air conditioning was somehow against God’s will and considered the whole idea of air conditioning to be sinful. They forgot that people have been cooling the air inside their homes for thousands of years.
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Most early forms of air conditioning relied on evaporative cooling. It makes sense; Evaporative cooling is the mechanism our body uses to cool down when it’s hot, so it’s only natural that people take care and find a way to apply it to an entire home or building.
In ancient Egypt, people hung wet reeds in their windows to cool their homes. When the outside air passes through the window, the evaporation of the water in the reeds cools it, bringing it to a more comfortable temperature inside the house. But of course, it increases the humidity inside the house, which would be a nice bonus in a desert climate.
The ancient Persians developed cooling technology even further. They built unique towers called windbreaks that caught cool breezes and directed them inland. Sometimes they forced the air through an underground cistern filled with cold mountain water to cool the air even more. In other cases, all fresh air is forced into the cellar to prevent perishable food from spoiling.
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In some places, underground reservoirs are built with windbreaks capable of keeping water at temperatures close to freezing even in the hot summer months. This system was so effective that it eventually spread throughout the Middle East, from Arabia and Egypt.
Elsewhere, people found ways to preserve ice and snow from winter to summer, by adding it to drinks or using it to blow air through fans.
Evaporative cooling is a simple technique, but practical and easy to use. There are still cities in Iran where ancient wind turbines are the main form of air conditioning.
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Mechanical refrigeration was the next major step in the development of air conditioning, but it did not occur until the middle of the 18th century. Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley discovered that the use of volatile liquids such as alcohol or ammonia greatly improved the efficiency of evaporative cooling, especially when assisted by a bellows. Based on their work, Michael Faraday discovered that the compression of ammonia and then its evaporation can cool the air. These were the first important steps towards the development of mechanical cooling systems. For thousands of years we only had evaporative cooling. It worked well, but it doesn’t work everywhere.
Desert climates are great places to use wet reeds and windbreakers to cool the air. Hot, dry weather is ideal for evaporative cooling. However, the hot and humid weather is less than ideal. It still works, but not nearly as well.
It’s no surprise that a Floridian developed one of the first mechanical refrigeration machines (and ice makers). In 1842, a Florida doctor named John Gorrie used compressed air to create ice. It compressed air and forced it through several tubes. As air expands, it cools. This early compressor worked so well that ice formed in the pipes, making it the world’s first ice maker.
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Gorrie used ice to cool the air in his hospital and hoped the cold air would help malaria patients’ fevers. The cold air would sink in, freeze in a large pool near the ceiling, and pass over the patients. It was an efficient system, but it required a very large amount of ice. Gorrie’s invention never took off as he thought, and although he hoped to develop large, centralized air conditioning systems, he died before he could achieve his dream, and the idea of centralized AC died with him. For a while, at least.
Willis Carrier designed and built the first modern air conditioner and began operating in 1902 in Buffalo, New York.
Surprisingly, Carrier did not design its air conditioner for comfort. Instead, he tried to improve the newspaper printing process. The humidity levels in the air affected the paper and ink, causing inconsistencies in the printing.
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What Carrier did was basically reverse the steam heating process he was so familiar with. Its design allowed precise humidity control by passing air through cold coils instead of heat, condensing water vapor in the air. The cooling effect was secondary.
By 1933, he had improved the system dramatically. He invented a condensing unit driven by the belt together with a fan and evaporator coil, which make the system much more efficient and effective.
Businesses quickly realized that air conditioning and humidity control can also help increase productivity by improving the comfort of their workers. So Carrier eventually formed Carrier Air Conditioning of America, which is still in business today. By the 1950s, it expanded into residential and automotive sales, adding air conditioning to homes and cars at an ever-increasing rate.
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Before that, the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis introduced refrigeration to the American public. Large mechanical chillers pumped 35,000 cubic feet of air through the auditorium per minute, cooling the Missouri State Building.
By the 1920s, movie theaters were doing something similar. They used refrigeration technology to cool the air and forced it into the theater through floor fans. Unfortunately, this forced the hot air towards the ceiling and meant that the upper level of the theater would be uncomfortably hot. Instead, the lower layers were so cold that people would wrap their feet in newspapers to keep warm.
These systems were too large and expensive for use in private homes, but home cooling was already gaining momentum.
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In 1929, Frigidaire made the split home system cooling unit, which was small enough for home use, but still very heavy and more expensive than most people could afford. General Electric improved on this design and built a room refrigerator on its own, but by 1931 there were only 32 prototypes on the market, without a production model.
Meanwhile, Robert Sherman invented a portable window air conditioner in Massachusetts in 1945. His unit can cool, heat, humidify, dry and filter the air. By 1947, Henry Gelson had developed a more compact version that sold over 43,000 units. This was the first time that the average American could buy a home air conditioner.
In the 1960s, new homes had central air conditioners. In addition, window units were cheaper than in the 1940s.
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More than 80% of US homes now use air conditioning. Most of them use central heating and cooling instead of window units. Besides cooling the house, it is impossible to imagine a time when cars did not have air conditioning. Almost every car in the United States now has air conditioning. The ones that aren’t are probably decades old cars.
Both air conditioners and refrigerators require refrigerant. However, for the refrigerant to be compatible, it must be more volatile than water.
Initially, the refrigerants used were toxic and extremely dangerous, often flammable. Early air conditioners often used ammonia, propane, or methyl chloride. All these can lead to fatal accidents in case of leakage.
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In 1928, Thomas Midgley Jr invented Freon, a trademark of the DuPont company. It was the first flammable and non-toxic chlorofluorocarbon gas. Since then, scientists have developed dozens of CFCs and HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) called Freons. Each different iteration of Freon is assigned a letter and number value (R-11, R-22, etc.) to indicate its molecular structure.
R-22 is the freon currently used in most AC systems in homes and workplaces. Car companies used R-12 as an air conditioner in cars. Then they discovered that R-12 was damaging the ozone layer and switched to R-134a in 1994. R-12 and R-11 are no longer made in the United States. However, they can still be imported and see limited use.
CFCs and HCFCs are being phased out in favor of chlorine-free hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This is mainly due to environmental concerns, but HFCs are still not environmentally friendly.
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In the 90s, a German refrigeration company developed an ozone-safe refrigerant from isopentane and isobutane. As a result, large companies such as Coca-Cola, General Electric, Ben and Jerry’s and Unilever started to switch to this refrigerator.
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