The heating, cooling, and ventilation industry is quite young – equipment and techniques were developed in the 1930s and 40s and solidified in the 50s and 60s. Since then, we have seen gradual improvements in efficiency, comfort, and reliability. The two biggest innovations to take us into the modern age (2017) have been the computerization of the equipment and the ability to modulate the output of the equipment to meet the heating or cooling load.
Here are two examples of early HVAC technology that still closely resembles what we install today.
Here is the Miracula air source heat pump from a 1948 trade show in Chicago. It used outside air as a heating and cooling source and provided year round comfort. Because it used R-12, pressures and temperatures were fairly low so it worked best in a mild climate. But the concept was proven and was a commercial success. Unfortunately, innovations in heat pumps were doomed by oil at very low prices….
Why spend the money on a large heating system like this when boilers and radiators were so successful and effective and inexpensive to operate and maintain? It would take another thirty years before fossil fuel became expensive enough to encourage heat pump sales again.
Air conditioning systems fared better – they offered something that no other existing technology could offer and everyone wanted AC. These pictures are from a Carrier AC system from the 50s in the basement of a store on Main Street, Vineyard Haven.
Our goal is to be Martha’s Vineyard’s premier plumbing and HVAC shop – to do that we need to know the past of our industry. We are always interested in any stories and pictures about older heating and cooling systems on the Vineyard. If you know of any existing historic HVAC installations on the island, please let us know.