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The Inventor Behind the Air Conditioning Unit

Many people like to know the history behind their property and some of the components used within it, and your air conditioner is an example of a component with a storied history. Invented well over a century ago and popular in homes for nearly 100 years, the air conditioner unit can be traced back to a single inventor.

At Thompson’s Comfort Connection, while our primary services are found in areas like air conditioning repair or furnace replacement to clients around Sandy, Midvale, Draper, Cottonwood Heights, Riverton and nearby areas, we’re also students of history. Here are the basics on how the air conditioner was invented, the man responsible for it, and how this product eventually became a mainstay in homes around the country and even the world.

Willis Carrier and the Air Conditioning Unit’s Invention

As we noted above, the invention of the air conditioner can be traced back to a single individual: Willis Haviland Carrier. In 1902, Carrier was a young engineer fresh out of Cornell University who had taken a job with the Buffalo Forge Company to design heating systems.

During that year, Carrier was standing on a train platform when he had the revelation that it could be possible to dry air by passing it through water, thereby creating fog. This idea led to the development of the first air conditioning unit, which was used to control humidity in a printing plant in Brooklyn, New York.

Carrier Engineering Corporation

In 1915, Carrier founded the Carrier Engineering Corporation, which became one of the leading names in air conditioning manufacturing. This company was among the pioneering entities in the air conditioning and refrigeration industry, with Carrier’s work leading to several advancements in the technology.

Initially, Carrier pioneered an automatic control system that aimed to balance temperature and moisture in the air. This item, known as the Apparatus for Treating Air, was the first known attempt to apply science to the air conditioning process.

The Term “Air Conditioner”

While Carrier gets the full credit for inventing the technology that led to air conditioner use around the globe, he is not actually responsible for the name “air conditioner.” Rather, this term was coined by a mill engineer named Stuart Cramer, who in the years soon after Carrier’s initial invention created a very similar device that also added moisture to hot air inside textile plants.

Because this invention conditioned the air to make it moist and cool, Cramer referred to it as an “air conditioner.” The technology’s initial purpose was not to make air cooler, but rather to add moisture for textile production – however, the term stuck and eventually became synonymous with the process of cooling air.

AC In Homes

For the bulk of the first 30 or so years of its existence, the air conditioning unit was primarily used in industrial settings – places like textile plants, movie theaters and department stores. However, by the 1930s and 1940s, this changed; residential homes began using air conditioners on a wider scale after several advancements made them smaller, more affordable and easier to install.

Today, over 90% of American homes have some form of air conditioning, and the invention originally created by Willis Carrier is now a vital part of our daily lives. Without it, many regions of the country would be unbearable during the hot summer months.

Air Conditioning in Cars

It took a bit longer for air conditioning to become a common feature in cars. The very first instance of this can be found as early as 1939, but like with so many vehicle-related areas, this was reserved only for extremely expensive or rare cars.

Only by the late 1950s and early 1960s did air conditioning become a standard feature in many vehicles, and today it’s quite rare to find a car without some form of AC installed. As with residential homes, this feature has become an essential part of our daily commutes during the hot summer months.

Other Portable AC Inventions

Over the decades since Carrier’s initial invention, several other forms of air conditioners have been created as well. These include portable AC units, which are popular for their versatility and ability to cool specific areas without the need for installation.

With advancements in technology, we can now even control our AC units remotely through smart devices or set them on a timer for energy efficiency. As our society continues to evolve, so does our reliance on air conditioning and the many forms it comes in.

The invention of the air conditioner by Willis Carrier over a century ago has led to significant advancements in cooling technology. What began as a solution for industrial settings is now an essential part of our daily lives in both residential homes and vehicles. As we continue to find new ways to stay cool and comfortable, we can thank Carrier for his initial invention and the many advancements that have followed since.

At Thompson’s Comfort Connection, we’re proud to be a part of the HVAC industry and to continue providing top-quality air conditioning services to our clients. We are constantly staying up-to-date on the latest advancements in cooling technology, so we can provide our customers with the best possible solutions for their homes and vehicles. And who knows – maybe one day we’ll have even more innovative ways to keep cool thanks to new inventions and technological developments.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help keep you comfortable all year round, whether you’re in Sandy, Midvale, Draper, Cottonwood Heights, Riverton or any nearby area of Utah!


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