The History of Heat Pumps in Nokomis, FL

A heat pump is an engineering marvel that combines indoor heating and cooling into one simple and efficient system. This extraordinary device emerged because of parallel developments in both refrigeration and thermodynamics. Here’s a short history of heat pumps to inform homeowners in Nokomis, FL, and beyond.

Early Attempts at Indoor Climate Control

For centuries, humans have been at war with the climate, seeking warmth during frigid winters and a way to relieve the oppressive heat of summers. Most early attempts at this were quite humble.

To heat their homes, humans could do little more than build fires or create wood-burning stoves. For indoor cooling, an early go-to method was one the ancient Egyptians had invented of building massive rooms in the hope that heat would dilute as air moved about.

There were two early advancements to heating and cooling. The first came from Imperial China in the second century CE, and the second came from the Roman Empire.

This first invention was a giant mechanical fan that inventor Ding Huan built to cool the Chinese Imperial Palace. The second was the hypocaust, a massive underground heating system that produced steam through burning wood and warmed the floors and walls of buildings via direct radiation.

Discoveries in Artificial Cooling

The first important discovery in artificial cooling came from Giambattista Della Porta in 1558, when he used potassium nitrite to cool water far below freezing. In 1758, Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley worked together to discover that, under certain conditions, when alcohol evaporates, it can rapidly drain heat from the surrounding air.

Cooling Pumps and Refrigeration Machines

Discoveries like these found a few practical applications. First, Cornelis Drebbel created a giant cooling machine that used these principles and cooled the Great Hall of Westminster Abbey in a famous demonstration in 1620. William Cullen made a pump-operated refrigeration machine in 1748 that created a vacuum over a diethyl ether solution.

In 1805, the American Charles Evans built a closed-cycle refrigerator that sucked away heat using compressed ether. American doctor John Gorrie also built several refrigeration machines throughout the 1840s and finally secured patent rights in 1851.

Heating and the Key Breakthrough

As the likes of Gorrie and Evans were doing their work, pioneers in the field of indoor heating like Franz San Galli and Dave Lennox were creating radiators, furnaces and similar machines. Heating and cooling seemed like parallel tracks until the English physicist Lord Kelvin made a critical discovery. In 1852, he found that it was possible to run the processes inventors were using to cool areas in reverse, thus uniting heating and cooling.

Heat Pumps Take Shape

Peter von Rittinger, an Austrian mining engineer, took the next critical step. In 1856, he built the first recognizably modern heat pump, though he used his machine exclusively to evaporate brine in salt marshes. It would take more time for heat pumps to jump from industrial to domestic use.

Modernization, Improvement and Spread

Advancement over time culminated in the work of the English engineer John Sumner and the American engineer Robert Webber. In 1945, Sumner created the first water-source heat pump, and Weber invented the geothermal heat pump three years later.

For political reasons, few cared about how much electricity their devices used, though this finally changed thanks to the energy shortages and price spikes of the 1970s. As fossil fuels became more expensive and environmentalist consciousness grew, governments began subsidizing developments in non-fossil-fuel-based energy technologies like heat pumps.

Gradually, this led to many improvements. Now, heat pumps are more energy efficient than traditional central HVAC systems under most circumstances, and thousands of service technicians in the HVAC industry are available for heat pump repair and maintenance.

Our NATE-certified service technicians are available to suggest HVAC options for your home that meet your budget and needs. Call Custom Air & Plumbing to to learn more about our HVAC installation services.

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