HVAC History: Alice Parker Contributed to Modern Heating Systems

Published on: February 7, 2019
interior ducting | HVAC History: Alice Parker Heating Pioneer | AC Southeast®

Inventors Day is February 11th, so today we’re taking a look at one important inventor in HVAC history: Alice Parker. Parker’s contributions to central heating helped develop the modern heating systems we enjoy today. Let’s take a look at her life and her role in HVAC history.

HVAC History: Alice Parker


Inventor Alice Parker was born in 1895 in Morristown, New Jersey. She earned a certificate with honors from Howard University Academy in Washington, D.C. in 1910. Parker is best known for her contributions in HVAC history.


On December 23, 1919, Parker filed a patent for her heating system. Parker’s system used natural gas to power a furnace for heating. This idea was considered revolutionary at the time, as it conserved energy through central heating. Parker’s invention laid the foundation for the modern central heating systems our homes are equipped with today.


Parker’s heating system placed a unique twist on the concept of central heating. While this concept was around prior to her time, most central heating systems utilized coal or wood as heating fuel. Parker’s central heating system was the first of its kind to use natural gas.


In Parker’s system, cool air was drawn through the furnace, conveyed through its heat exchanger, then used air ducts to spread warm air throughout the home. The system featured multiple burners and allowed temperatures to be moderated for different areas, much like later zoning systems.


Parker drew inspiration for her invention from her own experiences. She felt the fireplace in her New Jersey home was not effective in heating the home during the cold winters. Parker’s invention advanced heating in many ways:

  • The use of natural gas meant homeowners no longer had to go out into the cold to chop or gather wood, nor purchase it for heating.
  • The risk of fire was lowered, as fireplaces no longer had to be kept lit through the night.


While little is known about Parker’s life, she is considered an important fixture in HVAC history, as well as women’s and African American history. Her patent predated the Women’s Liberation and Civil Rights Movements, coming at a time when opportunities for women and African Americans in this country were limited.

Caring for Your Heating System


The central heating system you enjoy in your home may not be what it is today without Parker’s contributions. Care for your heating equipment throughout the year to improve its efficiency and function. Your HVAC contractor offers preventative maintenance plans to deliver the value-added tune-ups and additional services you need to stay warm and keep your energy bills low.


Preventative maintenance should be performed annually for all central heating systems – twice per year if you use a heat pump to heat your home. During a preventative maintenance tune-up, your technician performs the skilled care your furnace, heat pump, or other heating equipment needs to perform at its best during heating season, and function efficiently to lower energy waste in your home.


Care for your heating system to honor Parker’s contributions to HVAC history. Use AC Southeast® to locate an HVAC contractor near you who provides the maintenance and service plans you need to care for your heating equipment throughout the year.