How Heat Pumps Have Evolved in Sunrise, FL

Rather than have separate air conditioning and heating systems, many people in Sunrise, FL have decided to use heat pumps in their homes. These devices are usually quite a bit more efficient than central HVAC systems and have undergone a fascinating evolution. To inform homeowners everywhere, we’re going to recount some of the history of that evolution.

The Heat Pump and Its Precursors

According to most historians of the subject, Peter von Rittinger, an Austrian mining engineer and pioneer in the field of mineral processing, invented the very first heat pump in 1856. This device was recognizably modern because it used a compressor to pressurize vapor and trigger condensation, just like today’s heat pumps do. However, the idea for the heat pump didn’t just pop into Rittinger’s head out of nowhere.

Before Rittinger’s invention, artificial heating and artificial cooling followed largely independent paths of development. For example, the Scottish doctor and chemist William Cullen designed a cooling machine in 1748 that bears mentioning because it used a pump to create an artificial vacuum above a solution of diethyl ether. Even earlier, the inventor and engineer Cornelis Drebbel made his own cooling machine and demonstrated its workings in 1620.

Many more pioneers in artificial refrigeration followed in the 19th century, but two who deserve special comment are Charles Evans and John Gorrie. In 1805, Evans made a closed-cycle refrigerator that used compressed ether to drain heat from the surrounding air. Gorrie built a cooling machine that manufactured ice using a compressor, tinkering with it throughout the 1840s and patenting it in 1851.

These inventions rested on a few earlier theoretical discoveries. For example, in 1558, Giambattista Della Porta found a way to rapidly cool water using potassium nitrite. In 1758, Ben Franklin and John Hadley realized that evaporating alcohol could pull heat from ambient air.

Franklin also contributed to the field of indoor heating. In 1748, he invented a cast-iron furnace with adjustable baffles. Franz San Galli invented and patented the radiator in 1857, and Dave Lennox modified this invention to burn coal in 1885.

The Inflection Point

The crucial inflection point that ended the independence of developments in artificial cooling from those in artificial heating came in 1852. That was the year during which the British mathematician and physicist Lord Kelvin discovered that thermodynamic processes are reversible. In other words, he found that any process that cooled a room could run in reverse to heat a room, thus making heat pumps a theoretical possibility.

Peter von Rittinger was the one who first realized that possibility though his heat pump had exclusively industrial and commercial applications. He used it to evaporate brine in salt marshes so that miners could more effectively extract salt. Domestic use would have to await the 20th century.

Going Modern and Going Mainstream

In 1945, the English engineer John Sumner burst onto the scene with the invention of the first water-source heat pump. His design was incredibly innovative — using compressors, refrigerant and all of the things we associate with contemporary heat pumps — but it did not draw much attention at the time.

In the 1970s, this all changed. The world experienced a massive energy crisis as fossil fuel prices rose and governments began to subsidize the development of all kinds of technologies that ran on alternative energy. As a result, the efficiency of heat pumps grew steadily in the 1980s and 1990s, and they began to spread into more and more homes.

Finally, starting in the 2000s, the final major development in heat pump evolution took place: integration with smart technology. As the Internet of Things and digital and programmable thermostats became increasingly prominent, heat pump efficiency grew even further. Today, the industry is mature and only poised for more progress.

The foregoing whirlwind tour of heat pump evolution and growth should only impress upon you what powerful inventions they are. Heat pumps can keep you warm through the winters in Sunrise, FL and cool through the summers. Call HI-VAC Air Conditioning Service and request our HVAC services. for heat pumps.

Image provided by iStock

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