A Pioneer in Heating Efficiency: The History of Cambridge Direct Gas-Fired Heater Technology

Over time, our products have evolved during our never-ending commitment to building the most efficient heating system on the market. Read the history of our gas fired heater and other products, and how Cambridge technology has grown since our inception in the 1960s.

1960's - Cambridge pioneered the concept of building the most efficient heating system using energy efficient direct gas-fired air heaters for industrial space heating and air curtain applications. Previously, only indirect gas-fired heaters had been used. The first Cambridge product was called a Thermal Curtain. This direct gas-fired, high velocity air curtain was mounted over loading dock doors in factories and soon evolved into a combination air curtain, make-up air and space heater. This brought on heating efficiency with three important heating/ventilating benefits. 

1970's - Cambridge developed the first blow-thru type burner specifically engineered for industrial space heating applications. It permitted a more compact heater package and solved the problem of keeping the blower motor and other internal components cool for longer service life. Energy shortages during the 1970's created a real need for energy efficient direct gas-fired heaters. However, lack of a certification standard for this equipment made it hard for engineers to know when and how to safely use it.

1980's - Cambridge initiated a new American National Standard Institute (ANSI) standard for direct gas-fired air heaters making the use of this equipment widely acceptable. Higher gas prices made heating efficiency more important. Conventional low temperature rise make-up air heaters were not very efficient because they added too much air to the building. Cambridge developed a new high performance burner that could safely and cleanly provide up to a 160°F temperature rise/discharge air temperature. This was a major industry development because Cambridge heaters now provided maximum BTU output with the high efficiency of direct gas-fired burning (no flue losses), while using a minimum of outside air (30% to 50% less blower air). This high temperature design also eliminated the need for recirculating (80/20) type heaters that re-heat potentially contaminated air and have higher operating costs.

1990's - Non-recirculating, energy efficient Cambridge heaters helped fight rising utility costs and problems with indoor air quality. Cambridge completed a major plant expansion after surviving the St. Louis flood of 1993. The new S-Series Space Heater and M-Series Make-Up Air Heater product lines were introduced along with more effective temperature control systems.

2000’s - Cambridge again is at the forefront of harmonizing and implementing new direct gas-fired ANSI standards for both U.S. and Canadian applications. New standards are implemented to differentiate non-recirculating and recirculating type direct gas-fired industrial heater designs. Cambridge is the first manufacturer certified to the new Z83.4 standard for non-recirculating equipment. The Cambridge Building Study Program is introduced. This service, provided at no cost to the contractor or building owner, verifies heater performance by data logging actual building temperatures documenting utility bills. Comparison building studies and energy modeling document 40% to 70% energy savings vs. other industrial space heating systems. The new ITH-Series Infrared Radiant Tube Heater product line is introduced as a cost effective way to provide focused energy efficient heat for large and small buildings. Cambridge heating/ventilating equipment saves energy and improves indoor air quality for LEED Green Building Projects. Cambridge is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and an Energy Star Partner. Cambridge Blow-Thru@ space heaters are pre-qualified for EPAct Federal tax deductions when used in eligible buildings.

2010’s and Beyond – Cambridge introduces the SA-Series, bringing all the advantages of the S-Series into a compact design for commercial HVAC. The SA series is incredible at providing heating efficiency, without all the complexity of a condensing system.

Cambridge also began utilizing High Temperature Heating & Ventilation technology in its products with the goal of increasing heating efficiency, both heating and ventilating commercial and industrial structures. These products have the lowest total cost of ownership when compared to standard efficiency units. Cambridge HTHV products have been proven through our own building studies and studies from the Department of Energy to save between 20% and 70% on building energy costs, making it the most efficient heating system technology available.