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Black Contributions to the HVAC Industry

Appreciate Indoor Comfort By Learning About Those That Made it Possible 

It’s easy to forget that up until the last century, there wasn’t too big of a difference between living outside and inside. Living in a home kept people out of the wind and safe from predators, but the only heat sources available were those that could be burned in grates like firewood or coal. 

Indoor climate control is one of the biggest innovations in the entire history of mankind, and many people helped make it possible. This month being Black History Month, now is a time to celebrate the achievements of black inventors that helped make modern comfort possible. Here are three of the most important contributors that helped make modern life comfortable. 

David Crosthwait 

davidBorn in Tennessee in 1898, David Crosthwait was one of the first engineers to lay the groundwork for temperature regulation. By 1920, he had earned his master’s degree in engineering from Purdue University. From there, he went to work for C.A. Dunham Company where he quickly got to work inventing several devices that made indoor climate control possible. Among his contributions to the HVAC field are the following: 

  • Early designs for thermostats
  • Vacuum pumps 
  • New designs for heating systems

His work earned him 119 patents both at home and abroad. His ideas were so revolutionary that he was commissioned to design the heating systems for the Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center. Additionally, he was the first African American to become a fellow in the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers. 

Alice H. Parker

Necessity is the mother of invention, or at least irritation is. Alice H. Parker, a resident of New Jersey, got tired of the constant task of stoking the fire and hauling around the wood to stay warm during the winter. A graduate of Howard University, she decided to design some equipment that would utilize current utilities to make her job easier. 

Natural gas was a common utility in the 1920s, but it was used exclusively for lighting. Parker patented her furnace before anyone had considered using it for heating. Parker’s designs recognized the potential of natural gas and contained rudimentary ductwork, thermostats, and zone control for maximum comfort and efficiency. 

Lewis Latimer

lewisAchieving the level of notoriety that Lewis Latimer attained is difficult. However, the social climate of the early 1900s made it even more difficult for a black man. Born the son of escaped slaves and fighting on behalf of the Union Navy in the Civil War, Latimer set his sights on the invention. Training and working as a draftsman, he gained the attention of Alexander Graham Bell, who used his skills to submit the patent for the telephone. 

After working at the forefront of communications, Latimer earned the respect of Thomas Edison, who hired him to make some changes in the production of carbonized filaments used in lightbulbs. On the side, Latimer contributed to climate control by patenting one of the earliest known designs for a cooling system. 

About Cleary Plumbing & Air

Cleary Plumbing & Air is ready to solve any plumbing or HVAC problem. Their skilled technicians offer guaranteed service for indoor air quality improvements and heater repairs. Call today for emergency HVAC service in West Palm Beach, FL.