Although the answer to the question “Who invented air conditioning?” seems relatively straightforward, there’s more than one answer. The concept of passive air conditioning dates back to the Ancient Egyptians, and it uses shade, insulation, air movement, and the breeze to eliminate hot air from an area. The use of heat-storing building materials such as rock can keep heat from permeating a room, and running water over a roof can help since one gallon of water will eliminate about 8000 BTUs of heat. The use of passive air conditioning persisted until early in the 20th century when electrically-powered air conditioning units were invented by a young New York traveler.
Willis Haviland Carrier
Born in Angola, New York, on November 26, 1876, the “Father of Air Conditioning” struggled with some aspects of math during his youth. Carrier had difficulty understanding the concept of fractions, and his mother recognized that he was struggling in this area. She helped him to understand the concept of fractions by cutting apples into various-sized pieces. Carrier maintained that, in addition to helping him understand fractions, this lesson taught him the immeasurable value of solving problems intelligently.
In 1901, Willis Carrier gained an engineering degree from Cornell University. In 1902, while standing in a foggy train station, he realized that one could control the amount of moisture in the air by passing it through water. This would enable him to control the humidity in the air, and this concept became the basis of modern air conditioning. After a year, he had created his first dehumidifier, which became the prototype for modern air conditioning. Carrier’s initial patent–No. 808897–was issued on January 2, 1906, and was entitled “Apparatus for Treating Air.” In May 1926, Carrier introduced the first residential air conditioner, and in May 1928, Carrier sold the first air conditioning unit that was designed for retail shops. It was sold to Merchants Refrigerating Company to regulate the temperature in their egg storage room.
His Rational Psychrometric Formulae, developed in 1911, standardized the process of designing air conditioning systems and has been invaluable to engineers for decades. Although his Formulae is periodically updated, it’s still part of the required curriculum for engineering students. It’s also used in many industries, such as those who make food products, tobacco products, photographic film, explosives, textiles, and many others. The Formulae helps to determine the best level of humidity and the degree of air conditioning required for the manufacture and storage of these and other products.
Although Carrier is credited with the initial invention of the air conditioner, another man invented the first portable air conditioner.
Carrier’s contribution to human comfort led to the birth of many other industries, such as movie theaters, shopping malls, transoceanic flights, and computers. During the summers, many people would flock to the malls and movie theaters to escape the sweltering temperatures outside.
His realization of the value of his invention led to the establishment of a network of businesses throughout the world, and Carrier is now the benchmark of the heating and air conditioning industry. Units are now built for energy-efficiency and sustainability as well as the ultimate in comfort.
Willis Carrier died in New York City on October 7, 1950, at the age of 74. He was awarded honorary doctorates from Alfred University in 1942 and Lehigh University in 1935. In 1985, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and in 1998, he was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.
Frederick McKinley Jones
Frederick McKinley Jones was born on May 17, 1893, but his mother soon deserted both him and his father. As a single parent in the early 1900s, his father had difficulty raising the child, so he was essentially orphaned by age 7. Frederick Jones was raised in a Catholic rectory and, by age 14, was working as an automobile mechanic. He had a natural mechanical ability and a very inventive mind, both of which were boosted by his independent nature and natural inquisitiveness. By reading and studying extensively, he was able to learn skills that would help him throughout his life.
After his discharge from the army, he taught himself electronics and built the transmitter for Hallock, Minnesota’s new radio station. He then designed and patented a portable air conditioning unit for transporting perishable food in trucks. By 1949, Jones had co-founded the U.S. Thermo Control Company with Joseph Numero, a former business associate. That company soon earned more than $3 million and became the Thermo King Corporation.
Jones’ portable air conditioning units were used in World War II to preserve food, medicine, and blood on the battlefield and in army hospitals. They were also used to keep wounded soldiers more comfortable while they were recuperating.
Frederick Jones died of lung cancer in 1961 in Minneapolis. During his lifetime, Jones obtained 61 patents for multiple mechanical inventions, ranging from a ticket dispensing machine to thermostats and temperature control systems for air conditioning units to portable x-ray machines.
Jones was given the Phyllis Wheatley Auxilliary merit award I n 1953 for his inspiration to youth. He was posthumously inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1977, and in 1991, President George Bush awarded him the National Medal of Technology. Jones also had the distinction of being the first African-American to receive the award. In March 2009, Heavy Duty Truck magazine’s editor Tom Berg called Frederick Jones “The King of Cool” due to the global cultural reverberation that resulted from his invention, which affected the world’s largest cities to the most remote villages.
Does Your Air Conditioner Need Maintenance?
If you’re among the millions who benefit from the inventions of Frederick Jones and Willis Carrier, then Sun City Mechanical can help you. We’ve been serving the West Valley’s cooling needs for almost two decades, and we can make sure that you keep your cool throughout the sweltering summers in Arizona.
We have annual maintenance plans that can help eliminate unpleasant surprises, but if you have an emergency, we offer 24/7 emergency service. If your air conditioning unit needs to be replaced, we carry a variety of units that will work for almost any installation. Our technicians are NATE-certified, so you can be assured that your installation will be professional and thorough. We carry a range of SEER ratings so that we can accommodate most needs, and we offer financing on approved credit.
If You Need Air Conditioning Services…
If your air conditioner needs service, maintenance, repair, or replacement, we can help. We provide many other services as well, so check out our website. Our customers are our only priority, and we’ll provide you with the outstanding customer service and response that’s the hallmark of our reputation. We’re also proud to offer a wide array of both heating and plumbing services. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.