AC Becomes Accessible
Throughout the 1900s and into the 1920s, Carrier kept working on his cooled air technology. Though public places were embracing artificially cooler air, Carrier knew he could make it more efficient. During the early 1920s, movie theatres could draw a “summer blockbuster” crowd by filling underground pools with ice and using huge rotary fans to distribute that cool air throughout the building—I don’t think we need to say it, but this method was very inefficient and couldn’t cool the entire theatre. In 1922, Carrier debuted his centrifugal chiller—which was a central compressor that could make cooling systems smaller and much more effective.
Though this technology was being introduced at a large scale, it wouldn’t be until the 1950s and 1960s that it became accessible for most Americans. After WWII, companies were able to mass produce smaller AC units that could go in individual homes. As demand grew, so did production and advancements in technology. Today, a majority of Americans have some sort of air conditioning in their home. Whether it’s a window unit, or central AC, what was once a luxury is now a necessity.