Who Invented the Furnace?

It's fascinating that someone, at some point in time, had an inspiration for an idea that would change the way we live. How cold would our winters here in town be if we didn’t have any central heating? We’d be walking popsicles. Here's what we know about the invention of the furnace.

Who invented the furnace?

Before the final piece of what we see today, there were of the invention. One of the earliest inventions was what is called a Roman Hypocaust. It was an open room that was beneath the floor of a room that would be heated. Sometimes, the hypocaust could also heat the walls of the home if the correct piping was installed. All of this took place around 15 AD.

If we speed up time, cutting to a somewhat familiar shape of a radiator, a coal burning cast iron radiator was invented by Dave Lennox in 1742. It ran based off coal and acted as an in-home broiler that was able to provide hot water or steam to rooms.

Alice H. Parker applied for the first patent for the earliest version of the furnace as we know it. On December 23, 1919, her patent was officially granted. Her invention gave way to the first coal-fueled, electric fan and ductwork distributed forced air wall furnace around 1935.

What do we know about the inventor?

There is very little recorded information about her. We know that she was an African-American woman born in 1895 in Morristown, New Jersey, making her only twenty-four years old when she received the patent. She was educated at Brown University, one of the only universities at that time that would allow an African-American woman to attend and she graduated with high honors in 1910.

How did the first furnace operate?

Her furnace ran on natural gas, which was extremely innovative for the early 1900s. Wood and coal had been commonly used up to that point for heating homes. The gas furnace was safer to use than wood and it even had a duct system much like what we use today where the heat was able to distribute itself throughout a home and effectively heat it, It also had the earliest form of a heat modulator for controlling the heat. While it would still take a few decades for her invention to be put to use, her design is the inspiration for the furnaces that we use today.

Tin Man Heating & Cooling can take care of all of your heating and cooling needs. Whether you need a preventative maintenance schedule, a repair, or an installation, give us a call today and schedule an appointment with one of our courteous, highly-trained specialists and find out why we have earned our reputation of providing reliable, quality service throughout the Bowling Green area for over 30 years.