Home / Kelvinator History


Kelvinator was founded in 1914 in Detroit, Michigan by engineer Nathaniel B. Wales, who, along with several partners, developed the first mechanical refrigerator for homes to be marketed under the name of "Electro-Automatic Refrigerating Company".

Almost immediately, the company's name was changed to "Kelvinator Company" in honor of the British physicist, Lord Kelvin, who discovered the absolute temperature scale measured in kelvins.

Since then, Kelvinator has been credited with the introduction of many "new technologies" such as the first self-contained unit with cooling system, the compressor and condenser in one unit (1925) and the world's first two-door household refrigerator (1934). The innovation continued with products such as the first auto-defrost refrigerator as well as room air conditioners.

At one point of time, Kelvinator Company was so dominant that it held 80 percent of the market for electric refrigerators.

In 1937, Kelvinator merged with Nash Motor Company, forming Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. As a division of Nash-Kelvinator, Kelvinator continued to grow, expanding into making condensers and compressors for manufacturers of other makes of refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioning units.

The company's household product line was supplemented by electric ranges, water heaters, home freezers, room air conditioners, kitchen cabinets, sinks, kitchen waste disposers, and in 1952 a complete line of home laundry equipment was acquired through the purchase of Altorfer Bros. Company (ABC), of Peoria, Illinois.

Kelvinator was purchased by White Consolidated Industries in 1968, and subsequently became part of the Electrolux Group in 1986.