How Have Heat Pumps Evolved in Chatsworth, GA?

Heat pumps are impressive machines that manage to heat buildings without the need to ignite anything. They even double as cooling systems during the summer. The story of how heat pumps evolved to make this possible is a fascinating one. Read on to learn more about heat pumps and their benefits for homes in Chatsworth, GA.

Artificial Cooling Emerges

As mentioned, heat pumps have both heating and cooling modes. However, historically, humans had taken an interest in cooling and refrigeration first, perhaps thinking that furnaces and fireplaces were sufficient to meet their heating needs. Therefore, a history of the heat pump has to begin with a discussion of refrigeration.

Things truly kicked off in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1558 and 1620 respectively, Giambattista della Porta and Cornelis Drebbel conducted experiments that helped establish what we know about evaporative cooling. Della Porta cooled ice to far below its freezing point using potassium nitrite, and Drebbel built an ancestor of the modern air conditioner and used it to cool the Great Hall of Westminster Abbey.

In 1758, Benjamin Franklin and his collaborator, the English chemist John Hadley, found that by evaporating certain substances, like alcohol and ether, one could very quickly produce artificial cold. In 1748, the Scottish physician William Cullen built the oldest known ancestor of the heat pump. Cullen’s machine would use a pump to create a vacuum over a pool of diethyl ether and the ether would boil and absorb heat from the surrounding air.

In 1805, the American engineer Oliver Evans pushed things further by building a closed-circuit refrigerator that drained out heat using compressed ether. In 1851, John Gorrie, another American, patented a design for a steam-powered refrigeration machine that used a compressor, which today’s heat pumps also use.

From Refrigeration to Heat Pumps

The following year, the British physicist William Thompson, better known as Lord Kelvin, had an all-important insight that later allowed people to combine cooling and heating in the same machine. In pioneering work on thermodynamics, Kelvin realized that the principles that made Evans’ and Gorrie’s machines run could move in reverse.

Just four years later, the Austrian mining engineer Peter von Rittinger created the first heat pump. Rittinger’s machine had exclusively industrial uses, drying salt marshes through evaporation so that miners could extract salt more easily. Still, the groundwork had been set.

Domestic Possibilities

Moving into the 20th century, the English engineer John Sumner was the first to build a water-source heat pump that was suitable for domestic use. He did this in 1945, which unfortunately meant that people ignored his design for some time. Sumner’s device was electrically powered, but after World War II, England was more interested in using coal to supply energy.

In 1948, Robert Webber, an American engineer, sought to improve Sumner’s design and use it to make his own freezer more powerful. While tinkering with his freezer, Webber accidentally burned his hand after touching some scalding water that the machine produced. He then had an idea, got some copper tubing and fans to blow and direct the steam and created a geothermal heat pump.

Heat Pumps Finally Spread

It was not until the 1970s that all of the foregoing developments would finally culminate. Thanks to the energy crisis going on at that time, governments tried encouraging people to find and develop appliances that didn’t get energy from fossil fuels. This spurred interest in heat pumps.

On the heels of this newfound attention, heat pumps began growing more and more efficient every year. Now, they have become more efficient than traditional heating or cooling systems in most situations. As of 2020, more than 17 million homes in the U.S. have had them installed, according to the Department of Energy. The industry itself has correspondingly grown, and there are many thousands of service technicians who know how to maintain, repair and install heat pumps.

Heat pumps have traveled a long road to get to where they are today. Now, anyone in need can get whatever sort of service they desire. Call Dalton Heating & Air to receive the best heat pump services in Chatsworth, GA.

Image provided by iStock

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