The chronicle of HVAC history dates back further than many people realize. Almost as soon as humans began occupying permanent structures, they sought ways to make them more comfortable. HVAC innovations have also made homes safer.

Consider the fact that, before residential air conditioning units were common, indoor, heat-related fatalities in the United States soared every summer. As residential A/C became more widely available, the number of deaths due to indoor heat plummeted.

Here are some highlights of HVAC history through the centuries:

  • Ancient Greeks developed the concept of heating the underside of stone floors by lighting fires within flues routed beneath homes, creating what is probably the earliest central heating.
  • In the late 1700s in Scotland, James Watt developed a system to produce hot steam in a boiler and distribute it to individual room radiators.
  • Self-contained stove heaters were also made safer and more effective in the 18th century due to the Franklin stove, invented by none other than Benjamin Franklin. The device integrated a metal-lined fireplace and hot-air baffles that radiated heat in all directions inside a room.
  • Electrification in the late 19th century enabled fans to circulate air in hospitals. By the 1920s, large ceiling fans stylishly cooled American homes. Recessed, electric wall heaters were common in the ’30s.
  • Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright built homes in the ’30s that warmed rooms by circulating hot water through tubes embedded in the floor. Today, radiant floor heating is common in some areas.
  • In 1902, Willis Carrier patented a system utilizing a refrigerant flow that extracted heat from air inside buildings and dispersed it outdoors. He called it an air conditioner (not an air cooler), however, because his original intent was to reduce humidity inside buildings. Coolness was just a fortunate side effect of the process.
  • Early air conditioners were large and unsuitable for residential use however. It would be the 1970s before central A/C was routinely installed in all new houses. Today, more than 80% of U.S. homes have air conditioning.

Jackson & Sons is proud to carry on the tradition of HVAC history and innovation. Contact us for all your heating and cooling needs.