Black History in the HVAC Industry

Notable Names in Modern Heating and Cooling

Black history is rich with inspiring stories of heroes, inventors, and leaders. Many industries have benefited from the minds and the work of African Americans. One of those industries is the HVAC industry, where three exceptional inventors shaped how homes are heated and cooled today.

David Crosthwait

davidAs a talented mechanical and electrical engineer, inventor, and writer, David Crosthwait did a lot of his most important work in the 20s and 30s, when he developed heating systems designed for buildings and extremely large spaces. This heating design included the invention of a vacuum pump, a boiler, and a thermostat control that was installed in two of the most iconic buildings in New York City – Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall.

Crosthwait’s expertise in air ventilation, heat transfer systems, and central air conditioning led to a prolific body of work that includes 39 US patents and 80 international patents for the invention of various heating systems, vacuum pumps, refrigeration methods, and temperature regulating devices. All of these innovations in the HVAC industry earned him some of the top accolades in the field, including an honorary doctorate at Purdue University and being named a fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers – the first black person awarded this honor.

Alice H. Parker

Born in 1895, Alice H. Parker was already ahead of her time. Sensing the need for a more effective way of warming her home through the coldest days of winter in New Jersey, Parker improved the design of central heating by replacing coal and wood burning with a gas furnace and ductwork to fuel the heating system. This proved more efficient and convenient as it no longer required people to go outside in the cold just to chop or buy wood. It also lowered the risk of house fires because wood no longer needed to be left burning overnight in the fireplace.

The patent for her design was filed in 1919.  While the original system she came up with was never used, her idea of using natural gas to push warm air through ductwork to heat different parts of the house has become the basis of modern central heating systems still used in most homes today.

Lewis Latimer

lewisWhile his most notable work involved the invention of more durable carbon filaments resulting in longer-lasting light bulbs, Lewis Latimer’s innovative spirit went beyond electricity. After his work improving Edison’s light bulb, Latimer collaborated with Edison, helping him win his legal fight for patents in the court. He also dabbled with other inventions later in life. Some notable ones were his innovations in elevator safety and creating a system for controlling climate and improving hygiene in rooms by improving indoor air quality.

Latimer also patented a new type of evaporative air conditioner, a revolutionary device that used the natural cooling effect of water to cool the air. The device passed hot or humid air over water to reduce its temperature and humidity. This invention was the predecessor of modern air conditioners, which rely on similar principles to regulate the temperature and humidity of indoor spaces.

About Master Plumbers Heating & Cooling

Master Plumbers Heating & Cooling is a family-owned business serving the Greensboro, NC, community and the surrounding areas. They offer straightforward pricing, honest information, and membership plans. Call them today for air quality, AC, or heating services in Greensboro, NC.