The Fascinating History of Inventor Willis Carrier: Father of Modern Air Conditioning


Indoor hockey fan? Enjoyed a luxury cruise? Ever lived or worked in a skyscraper or multi-level building? Thankful for products you use that are created in a factory, or shipped by refrigerated truck? Have you taken a city bus on a hot day? Use a server at work? 

If you answered yes to any of these, you can thank Willis Carrier. 

Does the name sound familiar? Those of us in the HVAC industry certainly know the name, but others may not, but sure appreciate this Father of Air Conditioning. Yep, Willis Carrier is the engineer behind modern air conditioning and the founder of the Carrier Corporation, the company that manufactures several brands of HVAC systems. 

Willis Carrier was born in 1876 and graduated from Cornell University in 1901 with a Bachelors of Engineering degree. Just a year later, he was credited with inventing modern air conditioning by using a slide rule to calculate dew point control, foundational for managing air quality. In fact, air-conditioning was designed to control air temperature, humidity, circulation, ventilation and to clean the air. 

Increased Comfort and Productivity 

The textile industry was among the first adopters, improving worker productivity. In fact, prior to air-conditioning, many businesses would simply close when it was too hot to work. Charles Gates of Minneapolis is recorded as having the first residential use of an A/C system in 1914. 

From there, the implementation of air-conditioning systems grew. Madison Square Garden opened in 1925, and thanks to Carrier’s centrifugal chiller, indoor professional hockey was made possible. Portable units allowed for A/C on cruise ships, skyscrapers, and apartment buildings. Refrigeration on trucks makes shipping certain products, including food items possible. In fact, during WWII, Carrier made it possible to ship perishable foods to soldiers overseas. 

Cooling also became prevalent on public transportation, making buses more comfortable to ride in, and everyone during the summer months appreciated that! 

Increased Efficiency 

In 2011, Carrier introduced a heat pump, for high efficiency Greenspeed™ intelligence, while also becoming LEED® Gold Certified at their Monterrey plant. 

Next time you watch the Colorado Avalanche play, enjoy a cool home on a hot day, or feel the cool breeze on public transportation, maybe you will give a little shout out to our friend, Willis Carrier. 

Carrier’s focus on innovation and leadership has them continuing to improve their brands’ efficiency while offering quality, which is the reason why Sunshine continues to recommend and install them. If you know (or suspect) it is time to replace your HVAC system to improve your air quality, schedule a call today. Our professional HVAC technicians will look at your current system, listen to your goals, and offer suggestions for a winning solution. Give us a call today at 303-459-5469. 

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