History Of Fans
Did you know that the fan – one of the most common and useful household appliance – dates back to about 500 BC? Pictorial evidence suggests that fans existed in ancient India, Rome, China, and Japan, in various forms. While in India ‘punkah’ fans fashioned out of palm fronds were popular, the Romans preferred fans carved out of peacock feathers. In China and Japan, the ‘pien-mien’ or folding style fan was used. Around 180 CE, Ding Huan, the engineer of the Han Dynasty designed a rotary fan that was manually operated. It had seven wheels, each having a diameter of 10 feet.
These early form of fans were basically limited to the rich and the upper class. During the seventeenth century and early eighteenth century, European traders made the folding style fan quite popular in Europe, and it quickly became a status symbol among the nobility and the Royalty. These fans were beautiful and ornamental – while the frame of the fan would be crafted out of ivory, tortoiseshell, mother of pearl, with silver or golden embellishments, its screen would be exquisitely painted by skilled artisans.
The real progress took place during the nineteenth century, when the electric fan was invented. In the year 1882, Schuyler Skaats Wheeler invented a fan with two blades and an electric motor. He based his invention on the works of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Wheeler’s fan was marketed by the Crocker & Curtis Electric Motor Co. The same year, Philip H. Diehl, invented the first electric ceiling fan. Using the electric motor of a Singer sewing machine, he fashioned out a ceiling fan by attaching blades to it. He patented his invention in the year 1887. Over the years, Diehl continued to modify his design and soon, he gave the world a ceiling fan with a light unit attached to it. In 1904. Diehl’s company, Diehl and Co. incorporated a split-ball joint in the electric fan, an idea which, after three years was transformed into the first oscillating fan.
As the years went by, fans underwent a lot of minor and major modifications and today we have access to a wide range of electric fans in so many styles, colours, and types.
About The Invention
The early models of electric fans fashioned propeller blades attached to the shaft of an electric motor. The motors used direct current and were bipolar. These fans were bereft of covers or casings, and hence, the workings were exposed. Resistance (resistance wire or light bulb) was the means of speed control in these early models. It was only after Tesla came up with his work on Alternating Current (AC), that fans began to be rooted on this principle.
In early 1890’s, fan designs had become more inclusive with frames and motor casings. Fans that worked on the AC principle used induction as a method of speed control, unlike the earlier models. Fans continued to undergo several modifications, and during 1900, the first oscillating fans were manufactured. Initially, they were powered by wind, and in 1904, there appeared mechanical oscillating fans.
By the year 1910, most fans had round-edged fan blades and were becoming increasingly popular as a household appliance. These ‘residential fans’ operated at low speeds for quietness as they were mostly used in bedrooms. By 1920, fans had become a staple in almost every household in the US and were making their way to other parts of the world.
Ever since its inception, the fan has undergone many modifications and transformations. From palm leaf and peacock feather fans, we moved onto electrically powered fans. With the passage of time, electric fans continued to improve in design, function, performance, and style. Today the fan industry has provided us with fans to suit our specific cooling needs. There are so many types of fans available in the market- ceiling fans, table fans, pedestal fans, tower fans, bladeless fans, wall mount fans, false ceiling fans, window fans, rechargeable fans, and so on.
While table and pedestal fans are ideal for small personal spaces, tower fans come with a sleek and slim design and can easily fit in in any part of the room. Window fans and wall mount fans help to create good ventilation in your home by driving the stale air out and bringing in fresh air from outside. False ceilings are on the rage nowadays, and false ceiling fans have been specially crafted for such ceilings. Furthermore, energy efficient fans are also very popular as they not only help us to save power but also provide outstanding performance. Thus, modern fans are greatly diversified.