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The History of Air Conditioners

The History of Air Conditioners

We’ve all heard the phrase that something or other is the best thing since sliced bread. Living in Florida, it might be more meaningful to say that something or other is the best thing since air conditioners.

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We are so used to them, we’ve come to expect them wherever we go. But walk into a building with no AC (especially during the summer) and everyone notices. Yet, how much is generally known about them? Most people only know that they cool, and that’s pretty much it.

To show AC’s everywhere some love, we’ve decided to provide an overview of its history.


People often get nostalgic about bygone eras. Each generation speaks longingly about the “good ole’ days” of their youth. And while simpler times may have had their charm, it’s also easy to romanticize and leave out tales of hardship, such as the days when people had to brave oppressive summer heat and humidity prior to the invention of air conditioners.

Being exposed to high temperatures is not only uncomfortable, it also lends itself to disease. Thankfully for all of us, along came a man named John Gorrie. The man who is credited with inventing the ice machine, refrigeration, and the earliest form of air conditioning. It’s no coincidence that he’s from the Caribbean and then lived a good portion of his life in Florida.

He started his quest to engineer cooling devices as a result of a yellow fever outbreak in the Sunshine State back in the 1840s. Granted, his initial invention was very rudimentary (consisting of cold water, wind sails, and a horse), but it set the stage to the development of what is known today as modern climate control.

In 1902, Willis Haviland Carrier was tasked with figuring out how to prevent indoor humidity from causing magazine pages to wrinkle inside a Brooklyn publishing company. After creating a machine that used cooling coils to achieve exactly that, he started his own engineering company and decided to expand the use of his invention to industries beyond the publishing world. Later that same decade, other businesses started installing these machines to cool their offices.


Over a century later, having air conditioners in most homes and business has become a way of life in the United States. First, they were installed as boxy window units that cooled small rooms, until they eventually evolved to the central AC systems we’re familiar with today. However, there are several new technologies that make energy use more efficient.

1. Motion Sensors: The best way to conserve energy is to have an HVAC system that adjusts climate depending on how many people are present in a room, or if the room is vacant. While homeowners are always looking for ways to save on their energy bills, this can also be a huge bonus for businesses, since controlling temperature in larger spaces translates to significant cuts on overhead.

2. Smart Technology: From online banking to ordering pizza, in this day and age, we are used to controlling may things from our cell phones, and air conditioners are no exception. With just a few swipes you can set the temperature in your home to your desired setting. And with smart vents, you can even redirect air from empty rooms to occupied rooms.

3. Green Energy: The most recent development started on January 1, 2018, when amendments to the Clean Air Act required air conditioner manufacturers to build systems that run on environmentally friendly refrigerant.


Though we take it for granted, knowing that a device that was originally powered by a horse can now be controlled from a smartphone is astounding. However, that’s not the end of what’s in store for the HVAC industry.

That being said, there’s one pressing concern that weighs heavily on the Department of Energy: Even with recent environmental regulations, there’s a significant demand for AC installation. This makes air conditioners a huge contributor to global warming.

The answer is not simple, since in hot and humid climates such as Florida, AC systems are not a luxury, but a very real necessity. One solution could be using water as a refrigerant and enhanced dehumidification to lower energy costs for consumers.

Call HVAC Professionals in Broward, Palm Beach, or St. Lucie

At Sansone Air Conditioning Electrical & Plumbing, we know air conditioners. If you live in Broward, Palm Beach, or St. Lucie, let us help you make sure that your AC is in optimal condition.

Call us to hear about our specials or to schedule an appointment.
Broward: (954) 800-2858
Palm Beach: (561) 701-8274
St. Lucie: (772) 879-5656