How Has Air Conditioning Evolved Over the Years in Lenoir City, TN?

Over the course of a little more than a century, air conditioners have gone from being a luxury to being a near-ubiquitous presence that we can’t imagine living without. People in Lenoir City, TN, and across the county all rely on air conditioners to tide them over during unbearably hot weather. The story of how air conditioning reached its current state of use and development is a fascinating one.

Passive Forms and Early Inventions

Oppressively hot weather has posed problems for human beings since the dawn of time, and humans have, in turn, attempted to invent ways to cope with these problems. In ancient Egypt, people handled climate control passively by building large courtyards and buildings with high ceilings. In such massive spaces, heat would spread evenly and circulate smoothly, making high temperatures easier to endure.

Until the early twentieth century, this remained the go-to climate control method for the vast majority of people. Still, a few interesting, if short-lived, technological advancements occurred before the official dawn of modern air conditioning. For example, during the second century CE, the Chinese inventor Ding Huan created a 3-meter-long, mechanically powered rotary fan that was powerful enough to cool a large hall.

Setting the Groundwork

Cooling technology remained dormant for many centuries after this until finally, in 1758, Benjamin Franklin and English chemist John Hadley discovered that evaporating alcohol could rapidly generate freezing temperatures. Nearly a century later, in 1842, the Florida physician John Gorrie created the first mechanical refrigeration unit and obtained a patent for his design nine years afterward.

Gorrie hypothesized that what he called “the evils of high temperatures” were behind many, if not most, illnesses. After creating his ice-making machine, Gorrie hoped that such devices would be able to cool entire cities in the future. In fact, Gorrie did successfully cool a hospital using one of his inventions, but the design was impractical, requiring large quantities of ice brought in from lakes in northern states.

The AC Arrives

It was not until 1902 that air conditioning as we know it finally appeared on the scene, and for that, we have Willis Haviland Carrier to thank. That year, while working for the Buffalo Forge Company, the then 25-year-old engineer received a request from the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company of Brooklyn, NY for help with a thorny problem. Regular operations made Sackett-Wilhelms’ offices extremely humid, which then caused the pages of its published magazines to crinkle up.

Carrier, thanks to experiments he carried out the previous year on humidity and temperature control, was able to concoct an AC design that largely persists to this day. Carrier’s machine had coils filled with cold water and a set of fans that, by blowing air over those coils, cooled it. By 1933, after a series of refinements, Carrier’s system had ducts, evaporator and condenser coils, blower motors, sensors, controls and even some basic energy efficiency tools.

Mass Appeal

As early as the 1920s, commercial venues like the Metropolitan Theater in Los Angeles and New York’s Rivoli Theater were using air conditioning. Some wealthy people even started using ACs in their own homes around this time. Meanwhile, additional developments — like the creation of refrigerant by a team of scientists at GE and gradual reductions in the size of AC units — pushed the technology further.

Still, air conditioning remained beyond the reach of the common man. That finally began to change in the late 1960s. The 1970s energy crisis also serendipitously made ACs more affordable, because it forced companies to build more energy-efficient units. Through these events, we now enjoy a mature AC industry with armies of developers, engineers and repair technicians.

We are proud to serve our customers in this all-important industry. Call Cook’s Comfort Systems, Inc. today and let us provide you with an impressive range of essential air conditioning services.

Image provided by iStock

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