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Appliances History Learning Center

Let's Clear the Air

Most places around the world combat annual rising temperatures and have dealt with the hot weather just the same as most places still do; sweat and create ways to cool themselves off. With the great technologies that we have made in the past century, it has improved the way we use our “natural” surroundings to beat the summer heat.

The concept of air conditioning began to emerge in ancient Egypt when they hung moistened plants from windows or doorways to allow the wind to keep the area cool. Ancient Rome and Medieval Persia also adapted these ideas and eventually led to the invention of the rotary fan during the reign of the Han dynasty by Ding Huan. Mr. Ben Franklin also had a turn at this new development using scientific analysis to determine the effects of cooling certain liquids.

Modern developments emerged in the 1900s and the first electrical air conditioning unit was invented by mechanical engineer, Willis Carrier. He wanted to lower the temperature after visiting a Brooklyn publishing company and found that the excessive humidity altered the printing process. It is said that over 100,000 pounds of ice was needed to sustain the plants temperature daily.


Not too long after Stuart Cramer, a mill engineer, created a similar machine that added water vapor to the air in a textile plant. Although Cramer was the second person to create something of this sort, the term “air conditioning” originated from him and best explained what invention’s capabilities.

Air conditioning units did not get their jump start in the industry until 1908, when the first air conditioners were put in workshops to cool the workplace and employees. The first non-industrial air conditioner was used by department stores and other places of entertainment in 1921 in order to keep customers comfortable as they browsed and mingled. However these methods were not safe because chemicals like ammonia were used as coolant. Talk about “cleaning” the air rather than “cooling” it.

Todays methods are of course safer and better for the environment. Consider how often you will be using your unit, what size of room(s) need to be cooled, the amount of sun exposure, and if you will need to cool many different rooms at different times. There are various options that allow you to choose the size, shape, color, or even if you want to make your cooling system portable. One things for sure; when the weather gets hot we just want to chill out.