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A brief history of heating systems

The story of heating


About 500,000 years ago man discovered fire, and little by little, he managed to master it as an ally to ensure his survival and comfort. Ever since, fire, fed by wood and biomass, constitutes a vital source of energy for humans and is still today the primary source of heat in the world. Over the centuries, human ingenuity, inventions and technological advances have obviously allowed us to create increasingly cozy comfort.

Central heating appears to have been invented in ancient Greece, but it was the Romans who became the supreme heating engineers of the ancient world with their hypocaust system. In many Roman buildings, mosaic tile floors were supported by columns below, which created air spaces, or ducts. At a site central to all the rooms to be heated, charcoal, brushwood, and, in Britain, coal were burned, and the hot gases traveled beneath the floors, warming them in the process. The hypocaust system disappeared with the decline of the Roman Empire, however, and central heating was not reintroduced until some 1,500 years later.

During this period, the brazero is the most common heating mode, although less sophisticated and requiring fuels producing less smoke. Besides charcoal, the Romans used wood perfectly dried according to several methods: by activating the drying of the wood by exposing it to a blazing fire, or by immersion in the watery portion of the olive which comes out first, before the oil during pressing.

In the Middle Ages, the fireplace as a heating mode was at first, a simple aperture in the centre of the roof which evolved over the centuries to become a very large opening surmounted by a pyramidal hood or mantle which rose directly from the fireplace, The architects gradually improved the design in order to avoid that much of the heat escapes through the hood. Therefore the size of the fireplace was reduced and metal plates were installed in the hood to prevent hot air from escaping too easily and cold air from entering.

Stove heating also emerges at the same time. By the late thirteenth century, appears the first masonry stoves covered with tiles. Gradually, chimneys are abandoned and replaced with metal stoves.


Modern heating


But all these methods of heating allowed to heat one, maybe two rooms of a house and central heating appears only at the eighteenth century; at first hot air baseboards with pipes installed in the wall distributed hot air from a central stove. But this type of heating was difficult to control and generated a lot of dust, which caused discomfort for the occupants. James Watt (1736-1819), inventor of the steam engine, adapts the concept and creates the steam radiator.  At the same time the radiator is born: this device is designed to receive heat and to spread it. Gradually, hot water begins to compete with steam and the generalization of the hot water central heating system occurs only after 1930. The radiator gains much popularity because in addition to providing a high level of comfort, it supplies domestic hot water to households.

At the end of World War II most homes do not have heating in every room. The rooms that are heated have dedicated equipment for heating and often the systems coexist. In the 1950s, central heating as a system is introduced: the heat is generated in oil or gas boilers, the rooms are heated by radiators. A global regulation becomes possible and comfort improves.

Another major breakthrough in terms of heating: electric heating. Although marketed early in the century, it was after World War II that here in Canada, most regions experienced rapid growth in terms of development and distribution of electricity. As with electrical appliances of all kinds, electric heating systems make their way into homes. The past decades have given rise to many high efficiency heating solutions which are respectful of the environment and accessible to all. Comfort is all about wellness, and it is now possible to spend the cold season in a cozy place knowing that our heating system offers the best performance without harming the planet.

Get more information by contacting a heating expert, he has the ability to recommend the best heating options according to your needs.

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