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Invention & Evolution of Portable Air Conditioners

Australian weather has been known to be extremely pleasant through the year. With the increase in industrialization, however, and rising deforestation, gradually, with each passing year, the temperatures in Australia during summers are soaring upward. Summers are the most awaited season of the year, with the children having a vacation and families planning get-togethers. However, with summers getting warmer, there was a drop in the amount of fun people had during the summer breaks. While the days were getting hotter and more sweaty, the nights were becoming sultry, making it uncomfortable to stay indoors or outdoors and have a good family time. While winters and monsoons bring snow and rains to hinder the fun, summer’s heat which was usually looked forward to, was also becoming a deterrent. The thought of a comfortable, cool sunny afternoon without having to bear the brunt of the heat was becoming a distant dream. Man, the inquisitive being, has evolved trying to find ways to work around problem. Faced with the hot summer days and sultry nights, he decided to work on methods to cool his surroundings.

Methods to keep the homes cool are found abundantly in ancient scriptures. Ancient times saw building in close proximity and with light exteriors only to keep the temperatures low in the interior of the buildings. Tree-filled porches and windows near the doorways were other common methods to keep the buildings cool. In the Middle East, where the temperatures usually soar quite high, windcatchers are found which are towers that rise to great heights. These “catch” the hot air/wind and in the process of moving it down to the actual building, turn the air cool. As a further step ahead, a modified version of windcatchers would pass this air through underground water canals. Because of the level, these underground water tanks would be much cooler, and therefore cool the air before it is circulated to the entire building.

With passage of time, more newer techniques were being devised to help keep the temperatures at bay, without taking away the fun in the holiday season. The fan was another tool used a couple of centuries ago to keep homes and offices cooler during summers. As we move to more recent times in history, approximately 70 years ago, another solution to this problem was found with the invention of air conditioners. The technique is not new in comparison to the windcatchers described above, but the equipment surely was. The earlier air conditioners were centralised and were developed so that once installed, the entire building complex can be maintained at a desired, comfortable temperature. However, these centralised units have their own disadvantages. They are quite expensive and are difficult to install and maintain. Once installed, they are difficult to transport. The entire building is affected by the centralized air conditioner, so that even unused or unoccupied rooms are supplied cool air by these conditioners. The utility bills are usually high with these units. Modifications to overcome these difficulties were developed, and thus portable air conditioners were invented.

What was initially considered an item of luxury and affordable only by the rich became more affordable over the years. The portable air conditioners underwent numerous modifications, and have now become more of a necessity than a luxury. The constant soaring temperatures have only made them all the more a necessity. These portable air conditioners are flexible, easy to install, easy to transport, and definitely more economical in comparison to the fixed air conditioners. Occupying less space, they can be used even in small homes, offices, and porches. In effect, the summers are again made not just bearable but more pleasant, comfortable, and enjoyable.