The first successful electric household refrigerator, manufactured nearly 100 years ago, is on display at ASHRAE Headquarters in Atlanta.
DOMEstic ELectric REfrigerator (DOMELRE) was the first attempt to mass-market a simple, inexpensive household refrigerator. It also was the first successfully manufactured air-cooled system.
DOMELRE was developed by Fred Wolf Jr., who was a charter member of the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (1905), a group that merged with the American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE) to form ASHRAE in 1959.
The DOMELRE condenser, evaporator, and motor from 1916 is installed on the first floor of ASHRAE Headquarters.
“The piece comes from the Frigidaire collection, where it had resided since the 1920s,” ASHRAE historian Bern Nagengast, who arranged for the donation, said. “As far as I know, it's the only one in existence. It is a significant piece of both industry and ASHRAE history.”
Other interesting facts about the unit:
- It was designed to be inserted into a homeowner’s ice box.
- The plug was designed to screw into a light socket.
- It was advertised as the first “portable” refrigerator.
- It was one of the first refrigerators to have a space for an “ice tray,” originally a muffin tin.
- Sulfur dioxide was the refrigerant originally used.
Wolf was inducted into the ASHRAE Hall of Fame in 2014. To learn more about his work, go to www.ashrae.org/halloffame.