How Have Heat Pumps Evolved in Largo, FL?

Heat pumps are one of the most popular options in the world of heating and cooling for Largo, FL, residents. They’re also marvels of engineering that serve as impressive monuments to human ingenuity. Discover more about the history and evolution of heat pumps today.

Prehistory and Foundational Discoveries

Since heat pumps can both heat and cool the interiors of buildings, it’s impossible to fully separate their history from the histories of indoor heating and cooling. Foundational developments in the latter area also left imprints on the former.

We can start by mentioning an odd curiosity that the Chinese inventor Ding Huan created during the time of the Han Dynasty in the second century CE. He built a large manually operated fan that had the power to cool the Chinese Imperial Palace thanks to the principle of evaporative cooling. No one followed up on this device or explored its principles any deeper for a long time, however.

Finally, in 1558, Giambattista Della Porta found a way to use potassium nitrite to swiftly cool water below its freezing point. In 1758, Benjamin Franklin and his partner, the English chemist John Hadley, discovered a way to drain heat out of an area by evaporating alcohol.

Discoveries like these led to some practical devices. For example, the Dutch engineer and inventor Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel created a massive cooling machine whose power he famously demonstrated when he cooled the Great Hall of Westminster Abbey. Also, in 1748, William Cullen created the first recognizable ancestor of the modern heat pump, a device that generated a vacuum over a solution of diethyl ether and used a pump to do its work.

Inventors and tinkerers like the Americans Oliver Evans and John Gorrie created their own refrigeration machines in the early-to-mid 19th century. But the final important discovery to mention is one that the British physicist William Thompson made in 1852. His discoveries in thermodynamics showed that one could reverse the principles that made cooling machines possible and create heating machines.

Heat Pumps Officially Arrive

In 1856, Austrian mining engineer Peter von Rittinger created the world’s first official heat pump. Von Rittinger built his machine to dry salt marshes by evaporating water, making salt extraction easier. Though this machine had an exclusively industrial use, the door was open for residential use.

The next important breakthrough came in 1945 because of the English engineer John Sumner. That year, he built a water-source heat pump that could heat and cool the central office of the Norwich City Council Electrical Department. Three years later, the American Robert Webber created a geothermal heat pump.

Unfortunately, for political reasons, these inventions were mostly ignored when they emerged. This would finally change thanks to the 1970s energy crisis.

Reaching a Mass Market

After oil prices skyrocketed in the 1970s, governments began pushing for investments in technologies that didn’t employ fossil fuels. Because they were electrically powered, heat pumps were among the beneficiaries of this. Gradual increases in the power and efficiency of heat pumps followed until they became viable on a mass scale.

According to a June 2023 report from the nonprofit Rewiring America, about 16% of American households use heat pumps. There’s every indication that that number will only grow with time.

Today, heat pumps are a mature and developed technology. An army of highly skilled service technicians working all over the United States can provide repair and maintenance services for them in the same way as they would for any other kind of HVAC system.

With this glimpse into the evolution of heat pumps, it’s no wonder that so many homeowners in Largo, FL, and beyond use them to stay comfortable year-round. Whether you’d like to get a new heat pump this winter or fix the one you already have, our team of experienced professionals has you covered. Call Advanced Cooling Systems today and ask for our heat pump services.

Image provided by iStock

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