Who Invented The Air Conditioner & When?

The air conditioner is one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. It has been used in a variety of different applications over the years and has made life much more comfortable for people all around the world.

But who invented the air conditioner and when was it invented? Also, what are some of the different applications that it has been used for?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the events that lead to the first-ever air conditioning system and the innovations that followed.

Wall mounted split system blowing cool air.

The Origins of The Air Conditioner

In 1902, a man named Willis Carrier invented the first electrical cooling system. It was actually created to solve a problem for a printing company in Brooklyn, New York.

The humidity was wreaking havoc on the paper and ink, causing the print to smudge.

Carrier’s invention controlled both the temperature and humidity in the air and ultimately saved the company’s business.

He quickly realised the value of his creation and ultimately lead to creating the Carrier Airconditioning Company of America.

But the term “air conditioner” wasn’t used until 1914, when a man named Stewart W. Cramer coined the term we use today.

As you may imagine, the first air conditioners were large, expensive, and used a lot of energy. However, over the years they have become smaller, more efficient, and much more affordable.

Today, air conditioners have evolved to become small enough and affordable for use in homes, businesses and cars, as well as in industrial applications.

PIle of old style black and white newspapers.

Important Air Conditioner Innovations

While Carrier is credited with inventing the air conditioner, there have been many other innovations over the years that have led to its widespread usage.

In 1931, the first individual window-type air conditioner was developed by H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman. The following year they were selling a commercially available window AC unit but with a hefty price tag.

Just how high? Air conditioners sold anywhere around 15 to 21 thousand AUD in 1931, which, if adjusted for inflation would be around 200 thousand AUD to 1 million AUD today. That’s pretty steep for an air conditioner!

Later that decade in 1939, Packard offered the first vehicle with a built-in air conditioner.

However, it was very inconvenient to use because the owner had to stop the engine of the vehicle and disconnect the compressor belt for the air conditioner to function.

Fast forward to 2018 when there were about 1.6 billion air conditioners installed all over the world. Now there are plenty more options including split systems and ducted units. Fortunately, the price had decreased a lot too.

Older style window AC unit.

Final Thoughts

The air conditioner is a vital invention that has made a big impact on the world. It’s hard to imagine life without it, especially in hot climate areas.

While it may seem like a fairly recent invention in the grand scheme of civilization, the humble air conditioner has now been around for over a hundred years.

From early Freon-based units to modern-day ductless mini-splits, air conditioners have come a long way in a century’s time.

And with the world becoming increasingly hotter, they are only going to become more and more essential in the years to come.