As a civilization, we often fantasize about living in a different time period. “If you could live in any decade/era,” so goes the party game, “When would it be?” Perhaps you’d like to be a flapper in the pre-depression era, sharing cocktails with F. Scott and Zelda. Or maybe you dream of being a 60s radical, fighting for social justice aboard a freedom bus. Whatever the case may be, one would find it especially difficult to do without the modern conveniences of the modern world.
We don’t envy the kleenex-box sized cell phones of the early 90s, but at the time, they were cutting-edge. You wouldn’t be angry as a caveman simply because you can’t send a lurid text to the girl you hit over the head with a club and dragged to your dwelling. And you certainly don’t realize, Mr. Time Traveller, how much you’d miss air conditioning.
Modern air conditioning technology first emerged in the 19th century industrial era, but its history is much richer than that. Primitive concepts of AC can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt, where reeds were hung in windows with water trickling down them.
The first air conditioner was invented in 1902 and, like all prototypes of modern day machinery, it was unwieldy. Today there are several varieties of AC units. Depending on your budget and location, these are just some examples in humankind’s unyielding quest to cool off.
1. Window Air Conditioners
The window air conditioner is perhaps one of the most commonly used air conditioner types. We’ve all seen cityscapes and buildings from which units hang out of open windows, replacing a pane of glass. They are made up of a casing that houses all the parts of the unit.
The system is comprised of two parts, the inner that cools the room and the outer that hangs from the window and absorbs the heat from the atmosphere. For convenience, they are controlled manually, often today using a digital remote control. In those especially humid days, you’ll be grateful to have one in your home.
2. Split Air Conditioner System
Split air conditioner systems have grown in popularity due to their largely silent operation. While the window air conditioner is more common, it’s often noisy. The split AC unit is much like the Window unit, with the compressor, condenser coil and capillary tubing on the outside and cooling coil blower on the inside. It’s perfect for cooling specific rooms in the house.
3. Central Air Conditioning
Central air conditioning is a necessity in large spaces or houses. They circulate cool air through supply and return ducts. Installation of such an AC unit often requires a great deal of planning, as the size of the space and room for the machine must be taken into account. Even the smallest miscalculation could result in your utility bills come out much higher than necessary.
4. Portable Air Conditioner
Out of all the air conditioner types, portable air conditioners are probably the most convenient. These come in handy when you’re just trying to cool off in one room, as they don’t take up a great deal of space and can be transported easily.
The unit takes the warm air in the atmosphere and vents it through an exhaust hose installed through a window. They’re incredibly easy to install and perfect for small apartments or homes, provided only one room needs cooling.
5. Hybrid Air Conditioner
Looking to reduce your utility bill during those unbearable summer months? The hybrid air conditioner wisely chooses between two energy sources – fossil fuels and electricity – in order to reduce costs on energy. In the summer, the heat pump works as any AC unit would. In the cold winter, these air conditioner types reverse the process, heating your home.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics dictates that heat gets transferred from a hot object to a cold one. When the refrigerant drops below the temperature outside, whatever extracted heat there is can be pumped into your home.
6. Geothermal Heating and Cooling
In case you haven’t turned on the news in the past decade and a half, we’re currently undergoing a climate crisis, with a great many scientists saying the damage we’ve done to the planet is already irreversible. Geothermal energy is the efficient and environmentally conscious way to cool or heat your home.
No matter the weather, the ground temperature is a steady 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A geothermal coil installed deep in the ground can either heat or cool the air. As we press on into an unforeseeable future, this may be the most green air conditioning technology on the market. Whatever is on the horizon, one must always stay vigilant while still living in relative comfort.