The Evolution of the Modern Air Conditioner

Air conditioning is an essential installation in Sarasota, Florida, homes. This appliance is so common today that it’s easy to forget it wasn’t always a standard feature. The modern air conditioner has come a long way since its inception in the early 1900s. Take a look at the evolution of air conditioning and some of the modern enhancements that have made this technology more efficient and enjoyable than ever.

Primitive Cooling Methods

Humans have always had a desire to fight off the sweltering heat of summer. In ancient Rome, the wealthy used the aqueduct system to circulate water through the walls to cool the area.

Hand fans were the easiest method of personal cooling. These have been a popular accessory in China for over 3,000 years. In the Middle East, massive wind towers used the same idea on a grander scale to capture and amplify breezes. Fortunately, these inefficient and often awkward solutions were eventually replaced with more effective air conditioning technology.

The First Modern Air Conditioner

Willis Carrier developed the earliest version of our current air conditioning technology in 1902. He created a mechanical unit that blew air over coils filled with cold water.

The invention was designed to control humidity more than temperature. Cold air can hold less moisture than warm. Carrier’s invention helped keep humidity levels low for the Sackett & Wilhelms printing plant, where moisture was wreaking havoc on the paper and ink. Though early air conditioners were large and expensive, the technology behind their operation is essentially the same as what we rely on today.

The Evolution of Refrigerant

When cool water wasn’t available for early air conditioning systems, people used various refrigerants instead. Refrigerants can convert between liquid and gaseous states, absorbing and dispelling heat in the process. Contained in a closed loop, refrigerant can efficiently move heat from one area to another as it’s either compressed or evaporated.

For many years, people preferred R22 refrigerant for their air conditioning systems. However, they later discovered that this substance was doing irreparable damage to the ozone layer. New systems now rely on the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant.

You can no longer purchase an air conditioner that uses R22. The substance will become illegal on January 1, 2020. If you’re still using an air conditioner that relies on R22 refrigerant, you’ll want to upgrade your cooling system before this date.

High-Efficiency Units

In an effort to meet the growing demand for energy-efficient appliances, the HVAC industry has begun developing a broad range of high-efficiency units. Most air conditioning units have lowered their energy use by implementing high-efficiency motors and increasing the heat exchange surface area.

Efficiency for air conditioners is indicated by their SEER rating. A system with a SEER of 13 uses about 2,308 watts of energy each hour, while one with a SEER rating of 16 uses just 1875 watts.

The higher the SEER rating for your air conditioner, the less energy it’ll ultimately use. For the consumer, this translates to a greener home and lower utility bills.

Compressor Innovations

AC compressors have evolved significantly in recent years, offering another way to increase comfort and efficiency while cooling the home. Compressors traditionally had one mode. This component was either on or off. When the compressor was functioning, it pumped cooled air throughout the house.

Today, you’ll find two-stage and variable speed compressors. A two-stage compressor has two speeds to choose from, so it provides the option of running at a lower speed when you need less cooling. This will still help lower the temperature in the home, but it uses less energy and ultimately gives the homeowner greater control over the home’s temperature. Variable speed compressors have three or more speeds, so you can easily make minute adjustments to your home cooling.

Keep your air conditioner running as efficiently as possible. Schedule prompt AC service for both annual maintenance and any important repairs. Contact Custom Air & Plumbing at (866) 819-0992 for all your cooling needs.

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