Car heaters allow riders to travel in comfort, and the earliest autos used an opening to the engine to release hot air into the front seats of the car. The design invention, claimed by Margaret Wilcox in 1893, proved less than adequate for temperature control, and later designs improved on the basic system.
Electric Car Heater
A Canadian inventor, Thomas Ahearn, takes credit for the first electric car heater, introduced in 1890. The basic design used an electrically-operated blower to exchange heat between the interior and the engine.
Autos sold beginning in the late 1920s used the circulating water from the engine to heat the passenger compartment. This required running the car until the engine warmed up enough to produce heat.
Auto heaters available in the 1930s and 1940s were sold as aftermarket additions for buyers. South Wind heaters, invented in the early 1930s by Harry J. McCollum, offered immediate warmth from a gasoline-powered heater added to the engine compartment. The invention sold over three million units by 1948.
Rotating Heat Exchanger
The rotating heat exchanger, introduced in 1974 by German inventor Nikolaus Laing, provided a plate of fins for circulating air pushed through the heating vent. This design is no longer utilized.
Custom Heating Designs
Most heaters are situated between the engine firewall and the engine, and this creates difficulties for some auto designs. Automobile designers modify the heaters to meet the demands of the individual engine compartments.
- "American Heritage" magazine; South Wind; Michael Lamm; Spring 1995
- "The Automobile Age;" James J. Flink; 1998
- "A History of Land Transportation;" Maurice Fabre; 1963
- "A History of Invention;" Trevor I. Williams; 2000
- Photo Credit car heater vent image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com
Who Invented Refrigerated Railroad Cars?
The development of the railroad was a breakthrough for the growth of the United States, both geographically and economically. It became possible...
Who Invented the Car?
Two Germans, Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, both took credit for making the first car. Eventually the car companies that they founded...
The History of Car Heaters
Modern car users take very high degrees of comfort for granted. But in their short history, automobiles have gone from rustic horse...
Who Invented the V8 Engine?
Frenchman Leon Levavasseur was a 39-year-old inventor in 1902 when he took out a patent for the first V-8 engine he called...
Who Invented the First Automatic Car?
The invention of the first automatic car is more evolutionary than the result of a single invention. Frenchmen Louis-Rene Panhard and Emile...
What Year Was the First Water Heater Invented?
Before the invention of the water heater, hot water was a time-consuming luxury. Anyone wanting a bath had to heat the water...
History of Electric Heaters
Electricity has changed the world. For thousands of years, mankind has burned candles or oil to provide light and burned wood to...
How to Wire a Reznor Heater
Reznor heaters can use either natural gas or propane to heat a single one-piece burner assembly. They connect to a 115-volt power...
Inventions in 2005
Each year thousands of inventions are registered with the U.S. Patent Office, some which become large commercial successes, some which take years...