The Evolution of the Modern Furnace: The Development of the Home Heating System

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    There is no denying that we are existing in the most convenient era of history. Gone are the days when you have to do things the hard way. All it takes is a single click, and the Internet will bombard you with millions of information all at the same time. As technology and the manufacturing industry have exploded in the past years, mankind has continuously met incredible innovations that made life easy for everyone.

    Some of the most popular inventions today are modern furnaces and HVAC systems. The concept of warming up homes with a heating mechanism is not entirely new. Before, human survival largely relied on fire and wood to stay warm in the coldest months of the year. Fast forward to modern times, people have safer options to warm themselves up. At the same time, the number of furnace companies offering heating services and products rises every year because of the increasing demand for furnace systems at home.

    Looking back on the developments of modern furnaces, you might wonder how we get to this point. This article will discuss the essential developments in the furnace industry and the contributions of notable inventors. Learn about its brief history and how it changed the quality of life for everyone.

    Early heating systems

    Back in 15 A.D., ancient Romans relied on the hypocaust, a specialized radiator to warm specific areas. But it wasn’t until 1855 when Franz San Galli created the first heating radiator. Thirty years later, Dave Lennox made several adjustments to the traditional home heating system using a cheaper coal-burning cast iron radiator. This system follows the concept of natural convection, where it uses the rising heat to distribute the warmth inside a home. Homeowners would install the radiator in the basement to serve as a heater to keep the house warm.

    By 1855, German chemist Dr. Robert Bunsen introduced the Bunsen burner. It was the first heating system with an open flame using heat and blended gas. This discovery led to further advances in using other heating systems, such as gas-fired, propane, and oil.

    Apart from these developments, some families continue to rely on traditional heat sources. One example is the wood-burning furnaces. In the 1880s, Benjamin Franklin created the Franklin Stove, a newer home heating system with a free-standing cast-iron furnace. The apparatus features adjustable baffles to allow better control of airflow inside the firebox.

    Compared to other heating systems, the cast iron fireplace provided better warming mechanisms by using less wood than the open fireplace. The invention of the Franklin Stove is likely one of the most widespread developments in furnace systems in America.

    The electric age

    The late 1800s marked the beginning of the electric age. When Albert Marsh made a significant discovery in 1905 by discovering the chrome, it paved the way for the invention of a heating element a hundred times powerful than other heating systems in the market.

    This discovery led Albert Marsh to earn the name “father of the electrical heating industry”. His invention combines the power of a metal heating element and the electrical current to convert electricity to heat. While the modern electrical heating machines met a few changes, they still use the same mechanisms until today.

    In the early 1900s, gas reserves overtook coal furnaces, making them obsolete in the market. It was also when manufacturers started producing electric fans using forced-air heating to warm the air effectively.

    By 1919, Alice Parker patented the first central heating apparatus, putting an end to families who struggle to stay warm by the fireplace. The improved heating system can distribute warmth and regular temperatures efficiently around the home.

    Twenty years later, Parker’s discovery led to the invention of the forced-air wall furnace and coal-fueled electric fan. The heat coming from the furnace travels to the air through ducts, where the rising heat warms up the rooms. With the help of gravity, the air returns to the furnace to heat up again.

    Modern furnaces today

    Today, motor-driven fans replaced the gravity-fed furnaces, which forcefully heats the air through small ducts to warm up distant rooms. Grilles or registers emit the heated air, which returns the air to the furnace using a cold-air return mechanism for heating and recirculation. The thermostat controls the entire process, which measures the temperatures and triggers the blowers and gas burner that distributes the warm air.

    A large number of U.S. homeowners today are warming their houses using a gas-fired, forced-air central furnace, while others depend on electric heating and fuel oil. The advantage of forced-air heating is that the circulated air passes through a filter for cleansing before it returns to the system again, producing good air quality.

    Over the years, technology has played an essential role in the development of forced-air furnaces for more efficient heating systems. It also allowed families to have better access to optimal warmth for their homes. As you may have observed, modern heating systems today greatly rely on early inventions, paving the way for a better life for everyone.

    Meta title: The History of the Modern Furnace: How Home Heating Systems Developed

    Meta desc: The invention of the modern furnace and the home heating system made life convenient than ever. Learn about their rich history and how they developed through time.