Have you ever wondered how “magic” air conditioners actually work their cooling wonders?
From early ice-and-fan contraptions to today’s advanced systems, A/C technology has an intriguing history.
A surprising start
It all started when a publishing company had issues with humid air damaging its printing process. In 1902, young engineer Willis Carrier was tasked with devising a solution. His “Apparatus for Treating Air” adjusted humidity by sending air through a series of chambers. Carrier used fans, filters, and coils filled with coolant, which controlled the air’s temperature and humidity.
Over many decades, engineers refined Carrier’s basic concepts into compact, modern A/C units. The unit in your home today relies on the same thermodynamic principle – that heat flows from warm areas to cooler ones. Inside, a fan blows your warm indoor air over cold coils filled with refrigerant. As heat transfers into the liquid, your air is chilled. The refrigerant absorbs enough heat that it evaporates into a gas, which gets pumped outside and re-condensed by outdoor air, ready to cool again.
A bumpy road
Those refrigerants have evolved over time for safety and environmental reasons. Originally, dangerous chemicals like ammonia and propane transferred heat. Later, CFCs like Freon became popular, until we realized they damage earth’s ozone layer. Today’s units use updated hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
This technology that started from humble origins now allows human habitation in otherwise unbearably hot and humid climates. It powers our modern workforce and urban lifestyles. But A/Cs aren’t without drawbacks. Many refrigerants act as greenhouse gases when leaked. The electricity demands of A/C place a strain on power grids.
Ballard at the forefront
Luckily, more options are in development. New standards and greener tech aim to enhance efficiency and sustainability. Here at Ballard, we combine state-of-the-art heating and cooling technology with good old-fashioned customer service. We also offer maintenance plans and 24/7 repair service to keep your equipment running at peak performance year after year.