History Of Air Conditioning

Family Danz Heating & Cooling has been around for nearly 40 years selling, installing, and servicing air conditioning systems throughout the Capital District of New York State, including Troy, Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga and the surrounding region. We‘ve seen a lot of technological advancements in AC in that time, and strive to keep up on every new development to best serve our customers.

But did you know that the theories behind today’s AC apparatus actually date back to Ben Franklin’s time of the mid 1700s? Or that an early version of AC was a makeshift box used to keep the body of President James Garfield cool after he was shot in 1881?

The gurus of all technology, Popular Mechanics, tell the tale of the beginnings of air conditioning way back to 1758. Then, Benjamin Franklin and Cambridge University professor John Hadley found that through the evaporation of alcohol and certain other liquids they could actually cool an object enough to freeze water. A few years later, inventor Michael Faraday found the same thing in England when he compressed ammonia into a liquid in 1820.

In a Florida hospital, Dr. John Gorrie built the first version of an air conditioning unit by creating a machine that used compression to make buckets of ice and then circulated air over them in the 1830s. He patented it in 1851, planning to cool buildings around the world with his invention. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to secure financial backers and his dream failed.

After President James Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881, they tried to keep him alive by constructing a large cooling unit for him to rest comfortably inside. United States Navy engineers made a cooling unit filled with cloth soaked in water with a fan blowing hot air overhead to keep the air closer to the ground cool. That device was found to be able to lower the room temperature by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but it also used a half-million pounds of ice in just two months, so it wasn‘t efficient enough to warrant further development.

In 1902, Willis Carrier invented the “Apparatus for Treating Air” for the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Co. in Brooklyn. His machine kept the paper from wrinkling and the ink aligned by blowing air over cold coils to control room temperature and humidity.

The first air conditioning unit was installed in the Minneapolis mansion of Charles Gates in 1914 — a unit measuring some 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 20 feet long. Window-mounted air conditioning units were invented by H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman in 1931, and available to the wealthy public a year later, costing between $10,000 to $50,000 in those days. That’s comparable to $120,000 to $600,000 today.

Central air came along in the 1970s, offering the convenience of a whole-house cooling system. But in 1994, air conditioning had a big setback, as the Freon the equipment used was linked to ozone depletion and then banned in several countries. New, environmentally friendly refrigerants were developed to solve that problem.

The technological advancements in air conditioning never stop, and today AC units are seeing vast improvements in both their energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. Give Family Danz a call today to learn more about the latest ways to keep cool all summer long, and become a bit of history yourself.

Family Danz Heating & Cooling is a full-service heating and air conditioning contractor, offering sales and service all through the Capital District of New York State. If you would like more information on any of our services, call us at 518-427-8685.