Monroe Heating & Air

What Is the History of the Modern Furnace?

With the modern technology we possess to keep our homes warm and cozy, have you ever wondered how people kept warm in the past? In the last century alone, HVAC technology has become a staple in American households, and equipment has advanced tremendously. To give our readers an idea of what life was like before conventional heating, our knowledgeable and friendly technicians at Monroe Heating & Air want us to start at the beginning:

Igniting the Fire 

Once upon a time, it wasn’t always easy to keep warm in the winter. Because human survival has always been reliant on staying warm during the coldest times of the year, there needed to be some way for individuals to do so. Keeping warm during the cold winter seasons consisted of producing heat through a wood-burning fireplace or an open fire. But, unfortunately, homes wouldn’t stay home for long after the fire burnt out. 

The Radiator is Born

In 15 AD, a type of radiator that created space heat was developed by the Romans called the hypocaust. Although the Romans didn’t technically make the first one, eventually, around 1855, Franz San Galli created the first modern radiator. Assisted by a man named Dave Lennox, they enhanced home heating with low-priced, coal-fueled cast iron radiators.

Introducing the Bunsen Burner

The year 1855 was full of heat element discoveries. In addition to developing the first modern radiator, the Bunsen Burner was also introduced to society within the same year. The Bunsen Burner was invented by German scientist Dr. Robert Bunsen, intended to heat his laboratory at the University of Heidelberg. This heating device was one of the first open flame systems to produce heat without soot and a blend of gas with air controlled before combustion. This development then sparked the further progress of propane, oil, and gas-fired home heating machinery. Some of this technology can even still be seen in today’s modern heating equipment, known as the pilot light. 

Dawn of Electric Heat

Not long after the Bunsen Burner was introduced to the world, in 1882, the invention of electric heat would enter the picture. Known as the “father of the electrical heating industry,” Albert Marsh discovered metal chrome in 1905, allowing him to construct a heating element that was 300 times stronger than others sold on the market at the time. Marsh’s heating device converted electricity into heat by pushing electrical currents through the heating element, which is still modeled today. 

Start of Centralized Heating

In 1919, the first American patented centralized heating system was created by Alice Parker. Thanks to the centralized heating unit regulating and distributing more even warm temperatures throughout the home, no more huddling your families around the fireplace to stay warm.

The Debut of Forced Air Distribution 

The invention of the centralized heating unit paved the way for the first coal-fueled electric fan and duct system that distributed forced heat throughout the home. Heat transfers from the furnace through the house by traveling through the duct system, enabling rooms around the home to be heated by just one system. At the time, gravity-fed systems were more common and, unfortunately, required a massive amount of ductwork in basements of most homes. 

Development of Smart Technologies and the Modern Furnace

Because they weren’t as efficient as planned, the answer to gravity-fed heating systems was the creation of smart technologies and motor-driven fans. Motor-driven fans allowed forced heated air to travel through a smaller, compact rectangular duct system to ensure even temperatures throughout the entire home. This system is controlled through a thermostat that measures the home’s temperatures by circulating heated air throughout the home by activating the gas burner. The development of modern heating equipment not only helped heat an entire house more efficiently but also improved indoor air quality by using air filters to clean recirculated air.

Over time, heating equipment and technologies have developed to run more efficiently, be controlled remotely, and bring optimal comfort to you and your loved ones. However, if your heating system has been around since you moved in, and you can’t remember the last time it was replaced, or your home heating costs are continuously rising, it may be time to get an upgrade. Monroe Heating & Air can help! Call today at (513) 540-4890, or schedule an appointment online now by clicking here!