General Controls Tempotherm Thermostat


This General Controls Tempotherm thermostat was manufactured during the 1960s. The thermostat could be programmed for separate temperatures for the day and the night. The Tempotherm could automatically oscillate between the two temperatures at the desired time.

The ubiquity of thermostats in 21st century homes shrouds the decades of innovation, industrial design, and engineering that went into making them an everyday object in almost every home. In the early 20th century, a majority of American households still heated their homes with manually operated furnaces that required a trip down to the basement and stoking the coal fired furnace. Albert Butz’s “damper-flapper” system was patented in 1886 and allowed home owner to set the thermostat to a certain temperature which would open a damper to the furnace, increasing the fire and heating the house. Progressive innovations allowed for the thermostats to use gas lines, incorporate electricity, turn on at a set time, include heating and cooling in one mechanism, and even connect to the internet.

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering, Engineering, Building, and Architecture, Thermostats, Domestic Furnishings


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2008.0011.09Accession Number: 2008.0011Catalog Number: 2008.0011.09

Object Name: thermostat

Measurements: overall - box: 6 3/4 in x 11 1/4 in; 17.145 cm x 28.575 cmoverall - thermostat: 4 3/4 in x 1 7/8 in x 3 1/2 in; 12.065 cm x 4.7625 cm x 8.89 cm


Record Id: nmah_1392746

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