Air Conditioning – A Brief History

Air conditioners are one of the most important things you will find in any type of building in any city nowadays. It is one of the most widely used pieces of equipment in hotels, offices, shopping malls, industrial plants, Internet caf├ęs and homes. It's hard to imagine these places having no air conditioning units.

Air conditioners play a vital role in this modern age. For example, shopping malls are spending huge amounts of money just to keep its interiors and the thousands of people coming in and out of the building cool. Offices, whether they are private or public, spend as much as business establishments in acquiring the best air conditioning brands to give its staff a comfortable working environment.

In some buildings, air conditioners are a must not only to keep the workers and the place cool, but to protect sensitive machines like computer servers, modems and routers, photocopiers and film processors from extreme heat. Machines need to be kept cool as much as the people who are using them.

Gone are the days when air conditioners are exclusively for the rich. Today, most middle-class homes have air conditioning units fitted throughout including bedrooms and living room areas. Yuppies who are earning just enough can even afford this kind of luxury.

The concept of air conditioning units dates as far back as ancient Egypt and Persia when Pharaohs and aristocrats had to be pampered using a water system to cool brickworks of the kings' royal chambers. Only the ruling class of the pre-dynasty era had the privilege of enjoying this type of expensive comfort.

It was British inventor and scientist Michael Faraday who revolutionized techniques in the development of early air conditioning systems. This process involves compressing and liquefying ammonia to cool air through evaporation which paved the way to the evolution of modern air conditioning technology.

Stuart W. Cramer, a textile mill owner, first coined the word "air conditioning" in 1906. He experimented with ways to determine the effects of dry air created by industrial processes and filed a patent that had used the term "air conditioning" in conjunction with "water conditioning".

Cramer developed his techniques and came up with a system that had dramatic effects on the quality of air circulating in his factory which then enhanced his business' productivity.

Air conditioning units, while they add a new dimension in the way we live today, have recently been found to be emitting toxic chemicals that destroy the atmosphere. Some of these chemicals are ammonia, the ones Michael Faraday was experimenting within the early days.

In the 1920s, a type of gas called chlorofluorocarbons and hydro fluorocarbons was introduced to power air conditioners. Towards the end the 20th century, these gases would prove to be dangerous as well to the environment, especially to the earth's ozone layer.

Since then, environmentalists have called for drastic measures to minimize if not eliminate chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs not only in air conditioning units but in other popular appliances being used around the world.

New and less harmful gases have now been developed to make modern air conditioners clean and safe.