The Minneapolis Heat Regulator, 1918

The Minneapolis Heat Regulator, 1918

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The Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota manufactured the “The Minneapolis” heat regulator in 1918. The Minneapolis was first manufactured around 1908, and the clock attachment seen in this object was sold with the Minneapolis beginning in 1912. The Minneapolis regulator had a thermometer that displayed the temperature in the room, a thermostat that kept that house at an even set temperature, and a time attachment that could be set to turn on the furnace when desired. The key depicted wound the clock attachment, a necessary feature for the clocks that were not powered by a battery or hard wired into the house’s electrical system. The Minneapolis operated via a thermostatic metal coil that contracted and expanded with changes in temperature. This movement would close a circuit, opening or closing a draft to raise or lower the temperature. The Minneapolis Heat Regulator Company merged with the Honeywell Heating Specialties in 1927 to become the Minneapolis-Honeywell Heat Regulator Company.
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.
Object Name
clock: 2 1/4 in; 5.715 cm
overall: 9 in x 2 3/8 in x 2 3/4 in; 22.86 cm x 6.0325 cm x 6.985 cm
ID Number
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Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
Domestic Furnishings
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Object Project
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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We still have a functioning Minnesota Heat Regulator Thermostat but we never had a key to wind the clock.Do you know where we can get one? We have lived in this home for over 40 years.
I was able to find a key that would work at a clock repair shop.
"I purchased one of these today at an estate auction, perfect condition and perhaps an earlier model that the one pictures here. Fascinating device."

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