Modern commercial air conditioning really hasn’t been around long, in the grand scheme of things. Developed out of necessity, HVAC innovators took the concept of cooling and went big – but they didn’t go home. They brought commercial cooling into public buildings and business facilities, creating the modern systems we rely on today. Estes Commercial is proud to carry on the tradition of innovation when it comes to commercial air conditioning.
Commercial Air Conditioning Concept for Disease Control
The idea of commercial air conditioning was first brought to light in the 1840s. Cities were struggling with the spread of diseases such as malaria, which many believed were associated with high temperatures. Physician Dr. John Gorrie first proposed cooling cities as a preventative measure and invented a hospital room cooling system to improve patient comfort.
Dr. Gorrie was based in Florida, and shipping the ice needed for his cooling system was not practical. He developed a system to create ice, made by a compressor using steam, water, horse or wind-blown sail power, laying the ground for artificial cooling. While his invention was unsuccessful at the time, it did become the foundation for modern commercial air conditioning.
Carrier’s Commercial Air Conditioning Unit
In 1902, “the father of modern air conditioning” Willis Carrier developed the first modern electrical AC unit. His invention came about as he set out to solve a humidity problem in a commercial publishing facility. Carrier’s system used cooling coils to heat water to add humidity to a building, or cooled water to provide dehumidification. Carrier also developed and patented an automatic control system to regulate air temperature and humidity levels for the era’s textile mills.
As he developed these air treating inventions, Carrier saw his systems could benefit other industries by providing cooling and humidity control.
First Commercial Air Conditioning Systems in Public
The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis brought commercial air conditioning to the American public– the Missouri State Building was the first public building to use mechanical refrigeration for cooling. Commercial air conditioning then made its way into other public facilities – notably, the theaters of the 1920s. Theaters became a refuge for patrons to keep cool indoors during the hot summer months due to their commercial air conditioning systems.
Theaters were a hotbed of commercial air conditioning development during the 1920s. The first commercial air conditioners created uneven and humid conditions with modified heating systems which distributed cold air at floor level, literally leaving movie lovers with “cold feet.” Carrier recreated the theater cooling system, installing the first cooling system to distribute cool air at a higher level, providing better humidity control along with even temperatures at Los Angeles’s Metropolitan Theater in 1922.
Carrier also introduced a centrifugal chiller commercial air conditioning system at New York’s Rivoli Theater in 1922. This system used fewer compressor stages and moving parts compared to earlier systems, delivering more reliability and lowering the cost of such systems, making them more accessible for commercial use throughout the United States.
Commercial Air Conditioning Efficiency Improvements
As the cooling industry advanced, American homes saw the first residential cooling systems, although the technology’s widespread use was a concern during the energy crisis of the 1970s. As a result, lawmakers passed laws aimed at reducing energy consumption. This became the groundwork for the Department of Energy’s Appliance and Equipment Standards Program, which sets a federal standard for commercial air conditioning energy efficiency.
Commercial air conditioning has developed immensely over the years, bringing business owners innovative and energy efficient cooling solutions. Estes Commercial is ready to deliver the air conditioning solutions your business needs today – contact us to learn more.