Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame


Carl G. Kronmiller - 1988 Inductee

(1889 - 1968) "Mr. Thermostat" himself, Kronmiller earned that moniker over 28 years, most of them devoted to improving or developing the thermostats so important to Honeywell’s growth. Honeywell electrical engineer who received 71 U.S. patents. His best known inventions are in the famed Honeywell "Round" thermostat and a safety device for fuel burners. At least one of these inventions is believed to be in use in virtually every household in the United States. The round thermostat is a Honeywell trademark. The Honeywell Round shape is a Honeywell trademark. Granting trademark status to the shape of the thermostat means that no other company can make round thermostats.

The invention used as a safety device for fuel burners is recognized as making gas furnaces and gas water heaters safe. Known by many as the safe lighting gas value, where a button must be held while the thermocouple is being heated by the pilot burner until the button can be released to open the main valve. The invention used in the Honeywell Round thermostat is recognized as being a household item for controlling room temperature in many homes as by 1988 over 60 million had been sold.

Kronmiller started to work at Time-O-Stat Controls Company in October of 1929, which merged with the former Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company in 1931, and is now Honeywell, Inc. He was granted 71 U.S. patents in many different fields, either as the sole or a joint inventor. Early in his career, he designed the multi-wall cement bag that is still universally used, and the machinery to produce it.

The safety device is for gas burners using standing pilots where the thermocouple must be heated by the pilot flame before the main burner valve can be manually opened. In July, 1949, a patent was issued for a safety device he developed for gas burners. The gas valve could be safely opened to furnish fuel to a pilot burner and a bimetal or flame-responsive device such as a thermocouple would then be heated. When the pilot flame ignited, the main gas value could be opened to allow gas to flow to the main burner. If the pilot flame went out, the flame-responsive device would cool off and unlatch the mail gas value to close off the gas supply. This invention became a standard in the industry and was recognized as important in making gas furnaces and gas waters safe. Nearly all constant gas burners for furnaces and waters heaters today make use of this invention.

In 1940, he started work on a new thermostat that would use sealed contacts, so household dust and grease would not foul them. The round thermostat was developed over 12 years, interrupted by World War II. Kronmiller encountered high cost and reliability problems and the project was shelved until solutions were found. After its perfection and introduction, the round thermostat was an immediate success. The T86 Thermostat was introduced to the market in 1952 and is substantially the same as the Honeywell Round today. By the time it was introduced in 1953, a total of $633,500 had been spend on development. In was an expensive gamble, but the Round became a winner. By 1987, over 55 million Round Thermostats had been sold.

NOTE: These biographies have been compiled from information accompanying the nomination form submitted to the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame, information available on the Internet and from a variety of other sources.