Looking Back on the History of Ventilation History

Looking Back on the History of Ventilation HistoryAlthough ventilation itself has been around as long as houses, modern ventilation systems got their start only around two centuries ago. Since then, they’ve evolved into reliable systems that provide clean air without wasting energy.

Mechanical Ventilation: Improving on Nature

Before the advent of modern mechanical ventilation, homes were built with features that relied on the laws of thermodynamics. One of the first systems to bridge the gap between natural and mechanical ventilation was the whole-house fan, which emerged sometime in the early 1800s. This system uses a large fan in the ceiling to encourage the stack effect, in which warm air rises and cool air falls.

With the advent of electricity, more fan-based ventilation systems appeared. These were either supply systems that drew in fresh outdoor air or exhaust systems that removed stale indoor air.

Despite these options, before the 1970s, most homes were build with gaps and cracks to allow airflow. When the energy crisis of 1973 hit, homeowners started demanding more energy-efficiency solutions. Just sealing up those energy-wasting gaps proved unhealthy because it trapped air pollutants indoors. In response, engineers began working on more efficient ventilation equipment. By the late 1970s, early models of heat recovery ventilation (HRV) and energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems had hit the market. Used correctly, these systems provide fresh air while minimizing energy waste.

Air Conditioning: Ventilation Plus Comfort

Just moving fresh air in and stale air out, while helpful, doesn’t really create a comfortable environment. It often leaves a lot of heat and humidity behind. In an attempt to solve this problem, in the 1830s, physician Dr. John Gorrie began experimenting with a machine that used a compressor to create ice.

Although Gorrie’s machine was ultimately unsuccessful, his work paved the way for Willis Haviland Carrier to develop the modern air conditioning system in 1902. His system removed both heat and excess humidity. By the 1930s, Frigidaire began producing air conditioning systems small enough to use in private homes.

To learn more about ventilating your home efficiently, get in touch with us at NisAir Air Conditioning and Heating.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Martin, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties in Florida about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 772-207-1658. 

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