Title:
Refrigerator having pressure equilibrium apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A refrigerator having a pressure equilibrium apparatus, including a through hole formed through a main body for communicating a refrigerating space of the main body with the outside therethrough, a case inserted into the through hole and provided with opened upper and lower surfaces, and a switching unit, installed in the case and rotated by its own weight to open and close the case, for achieving pressure equilibrium between the refrigerating space and the outside of the main body.



Inventors:
La, Young-man (Incheon, KR)
Application Number:
10/903538
Publication Date:
06/30/2005
Filing Date:
07/30/2004
Assignee:
LA YOUNG-MAN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25D17/04; (IPC1-7): F25B9/00; F24F7/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
JIANG, CHEN WEN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CANTOR COLBURN LLP (20 Church Street 22nd Floor, Hartford, CT, 06103, US)
Claims:
1. A refrigerator having a pressure equilibrium apparatus, comprising: a through hole formed through a main body for communicating a refrigerating space of the main body with the outside therethrough; a case inserted into the through hole and provided with opened upper and lower surfaces; and a switching unit, installed in the case and rotated by its own weight to open and close the case, for achieving pressure equilibrium between the refrigerating space and the outside of the main body.

2. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 1, wherein the switching unit includes: a hinge body hinged to the case such that both ends of the hinge body contact the inner surface of the case; a sealing protrusion horizontally extended from one side of the hinge body so that one portion of the inside of the case is sealed by the sealing protrusion; and a weight body horizontally extended from the other side of the hinge body so that the other portion of the inside of the case is sealed by the weight body.

3. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 2, wherein an upper protrusion is formed on the inner surface of the case so as to contact the upper surface of the sealing protrusion, and a lower protrusion is formed on the inner surface of the case so as to contact the lower surface of the weight body.

4. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 2, wherein a cavity is formed in the upper surface of the weight body, and a counterweight made of metal is inserted into the cavity.

5. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 3, wherein a cavity is formed in the upper surface of the weight body, and a counterweight made of metal is inserted into the cavity.

6. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 1, wherein a cover is attached to the outer surface of the main body corresponding to the through hole, and a filter net is installed on the cover.

7. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 2, wherein a cover is attached to the outer surface of the main body corresponding to the through hole, and a filter net is installed on the cover.

8. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 3, wherein a cover is attached to the outer surface of the main body corresponding to the through hole, and a filter net is installed on the cover.

9. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 4, wherein a cover is attached to the outer surface of the main body corresponding to the through hole, and a filter net is installed on the cover.

10. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 1, wherein a flange is formed on the circumference of the upper end of the case so that the case is caught by the outer surface of the main body around the periphery of the through hole.

11. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 2, wherein a flange is formed on the circumference of the upper end of the case so that the case is caught by the outer surface of the main body around the periphery of the through hole.

12. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 3, wherein a flange is formed on the circumference of the upper end of the case so that the case is caught by the outer surface of the main body around the periphery of the through hole.

13. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 6, wherein a flange is formed on the circumference of the upper end of the case so that the case is caught by the outer surface of the main body around the periphery of the through hole.

14. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 2, wherein the transverse length of the sealing protrusion is longer than that of the weight body.

15. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 3, wherein the transverse length of the sealing protrusion is longer than that of the weight body.

16. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 4, wherein the transverse length of the sealing protrusion is longer than that of the weight body.

17. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 1, wherein the through hole is placed above a bucket of an evaporator installed in the main body.

18. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 2, wherein the through hole is placed above a bucket of an evaporator installed in the main body.

19. The refrigerator as set forth in claim 16, wherein the through hole is placed above a bucket of an evaporator installed in the main body.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a refrigerator, and more particularly to a refrigerator having a pressure equilibrium apparatus for equilibrating pressures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator to allow easy opening of a door from the refrigerator.

2. Description of the Related Art

Generally, a refrigerator comprises a main body having a refrigerating space, a door, for opening and closing the main body, installed on a front surface of the main body, and internal machinery for constituting a refrigerating cycle supplying cool air to the refrigerating space. The internal machinery includes a compressor, a condenser, a capillary tube, and an evaporator.

When the temperature of the refrigerating space is lowered by the internal machinery constituting the refrigerating cycle, the pressure of the refrigerating space is lower than the pressure of the external atmosphere.

In case that there is generated a difference of pressures between the refrigerating space and the external atmosphere, the difference of pressures causes a difficulty of opening the door from the main body of the refrigerator, thereby causing inconvenience to users of the refrigerator.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, the present invention has been made in view of the above problems, and it is an object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator having a pressure equilibrium apparatus with a simple structure for equilibrating pressures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator to allow easy opening of a door from the refrigerator.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator having a pressure equilibrium apparatus, in which a case is firmly sealed and the weight of a weight body is easily adjusted.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator having a pressure equilibrium apparatus, which prevents external foreign substances from being introduced into a main body of the refrigerator when the pressures of the inside and outside of the main body are equilibrated.

In accordance with the present invention, the above and other objects can be accomplished by the provision of a refrigerator having a pressure equilibrium apparatus, comprising: a through hole formed through a main body for communicating a refrigerating space of the main body with the outside therethrough; a case inserted into the through hole and provided with opened upper and lower surfaces; and a switching unit, installed in the case and rotated by its own weight to open and close the case, for achieving pressure equilibrium between the refrigerating space and the outside of the main body.

Preferably, in order to efficiently open and close the case, the switching unit may include a hinge body hinged to the case such that both ends of the hinge body contact the inner surface of the case; a sealing protrusion horizontally extended from one side of the hinge body so that one portion of the inside of the case is sealed by the sealing protrusion; and a weight body horizontally extended from the other side of the hinge body so that the other portion of the inside of the case is sealed by the weight body.

Preferably, in order to efficiently seal the case by means of the switching unit, an upper protrusion may be formed on the inner surface of the case so as to contact the upper surface of the sealing protrusion, and a lower protrusion may be formed on the inner surface of the case so as contact the lower surface of the weight body.

Preferably, in order to easily adjust the weight of the weight body, a cavity may be formed in the upper surface of the weight body, and a counterweight made of metal may be inserted into the cavity.

Preferably, in order to prevent foreign substances from being introduced into the main body, a cover may be attached to the outer surface of the main body corresponding to the through hole, and a filter net may be installed on the cover.

Preferably, a flange may be formed on the circumference of the upper end of the case so that the case is caught by the outer surface of the main body around the periphery of the through hole.

Preferably, in order to rapidly rotate the switching unit, the transverse length of the sealing protrusion may be longer than that of the weight body.

Preferably, in order to efficiently discharge condensed water generated from the case and the switching unit, the through hole may be placed above a bucket of an evaporator installed in the main body.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other objects, features and other advantages of the present invention will be more clearly understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the-accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pressure equilibrium apparatus in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a longitudinal-sectional view of the pressure equilibrium apparatus in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a schematic longitudinal-sectional view of a refrigerator comprising the pressure equilibrium apparatus installed therein in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is, an enlarged view of a main portion of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a schematic view illustrating the operation of the pressure equilibrium apparatus in FIG. 4; and

FIG. 6 is an enlarged longitudinal-sectional view of a refrigerator comprising a pressure equilibrium apparatus installed therein in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Now, preferred embodiments of the present invention will be described in detail with reference to the annexed drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pressure equilibrium apparatus in accordance with the present invention, and FIG. 2 is a longitudinal-sectional view of the pressure equilibrium apparatus in FIG. 1.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the pressure equilibrium apparatus comprises a case 20 provided with opened upper and lower surfaces, and a switching unit 30 placed in the case 20.

The case 20 includes an upper protrusion 21 formed on the inner surface thereof, a lower protrusion 22 formed on the inner surface thereof, and a flange 23 formed on the circumference of the upper end thereof.

The switching unit 30 includes a hinge body 31 hinged to the inner surface of the case 20, a sealing protrusion 32 formed on one side of the hinge body 31, and a weight body 33 formed on the other side of the hinge body 31. A counterweight 35 made of metal is inserted into a cavity 34 formed in the upper surface of the weight body 33.

The case 20 is firmly attached to a main body of a refrigerator, and serves as a passage communicating with air and a supporter for supporting the switching unit 30.

The switching unit 30 serves to seal the inside of the case 20 by causing the upper surface of the sealing protrusion 32 to contact the upper protrusion 21 and the lower surface of the weight body 33 to contact the lower protrusion 22, and, when there is generated a difference of pressures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator, to rotate to open the inside of the case 20 by allowing the sealing protrusion 32 to descend centering on the hinge body 31 and the weight body 33 to ascend centering on the hinge body 31.

The inside of the case 20 is opened by the rotation of the sealing protrusion 32 and the weight body 33 in a regular direction, thereby achieving pressure equilibrium between the inside and outside of the refrigerator. Thereafter, the sealing protrusion 32 and the weight body 33 are rotated in the opposite direction by the weight of the weight body 33, thereby being returned to their initial positions.

That is, the switching unit 30 is rotated to eliminate the difference of pressures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator, and is then returned to its initial state by the weight of the weight body 33, thereby maintaining the pressure equilibrium of the refrigerator without using any separate driving means.

Since the weight poise 35, made of a metal and inserted into the cavity 34 formed in the upper surface of the weight body 33, is easily replaced with another one, it is possible to easily adjust the total weight of the weight body 33.

When the inside of the case 20 is opened by rotating the sealing protrusion 32 and the weight body 33, external air is rapidly introduced into the case 20 through gaps between the sealing protrusion 32 and the upper protrusion 21 and between the weight body 33 and the lower protrusion 22, thereby allowing the pressures of the inside and outside of the refrigerator to be equilibrated.

When the case 20 is inserted into a through hole formed through the main body of the refrigerator, the flange 23, formed on the circumference of the upper end of the case 20, is caught by the external surface of the main body around the through hole, thereby easily fixing the case 20 to the main body.

The transverse length of the sealing protrusion 32 is longer than that of the weight body 33. This structure expands the dimensions of the sealing protrusion 32, and increases the resistance of external air generated on the upper surface of the sealing protrusion 32 due to the difference of pressures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator, thereby facilitating the rotation of the switching unit 30.

FIG. 3 is a schematic longitudinal-sectional view of a refrigerator comprising the pressure equilibrium apparatus installed therein in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of a main portion of FIG. 3. FIG. 5 is a schematic view illustrating the operation of the pressure equilibrium apparatus in FIG. 4.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the refrigerator comprises a main body 10 having a refrigerating space 12 therein, a door 13, for opening and closing the main body 10, installed on a front surface of the main body 10, and a compressor 14, a condenser 15, a capillary tube 16 and an evaporator 17 constituting a refrigerating cycle for supplying cool air to the refrigerating space 12.

A through hole 11 is formed through the upper surface of the main body 10, and the pressure equilibrium apparatus comprising the case 20 and the switching unit 30 is installed in the through hole 11.

The through hole 11 serves as a space, through which the refrigerating space 12 of the main body 10 of the refrigerator communicates with the outside of the refrigerator, and in which the pressure equilibrium apparatus is installed.

The case 20 is fixed to the main body 10 by the contact between the flange 23 of the case 20 and the outer surface of the main body 10 around the circumference of the upper end of the through hole 11, and the switching unit 30 including the hinge body 31, the sealing protrusion 32 and the weight body 33 is installed in the case 20.

Since the through hole 11 is placed above a bucket 18 of the evaporator 17 installed in the main body 10, condensed water, generated from the case 20 and the switching unit 30 due to the difference of temperatures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator, drops into the bucket 18.

As shown in FIG. 4, when there is not generated a difference of pressures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator, the upper surface of the sealing protrusion 32 contacts the lower surface of the upper protrusion 21 and the lower surface of the weight body 33 contacts the upper surface of the lower protrusion 22, thereby sealing the inside of the case 20.

As shown in FIG. 5, when there is generated a difference of pressures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator, i.e., when the pressure of the refrigerating space 12 of the refrigerator is lower than the pressure of the outside, in order to achieve pressure equilibrium between the inside and outside of the refrigerator, the sealing protrusion 32 is pushed downwardly by the external air and rotated centering on the hinge body 31, and the weight body 33 ascends.

Here, the external air is rapidly introduced into the inside of the refrigerator through gaps between the sealing protrusion 32 and the upper protrusion 21 and between the weight body 33 and the lower protrusion 22, thereby allowing the pressures of the inside and outside of the refrigerator to be equilibrated.

After the pressures of the inside and outside of the refrigerator are equilibrated by opening the case 20 by the rotation of the sealing protrusion 32 and the weight body 33 in a regular direction centering on the hinge body 31, the sealing protrusion 32 and the weight body 33 are rotated in the opposite direction centering on the hinge body 31 by the weight of the weight body 33 so that the weight body 33 descends and the sealing protrusion 32 ascends, thereby being returned to their initial positions as shown in FIG. 4. Thus, the case 20 is sealed by the switching unit 30.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged longitudinal-sectional view of a refrigerator comprising a pressure equilibrium apparatus installed therein in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 6, the through hole 11 is formed through the upper surface of the main body 10, and the pressure equilibrium apparatus comprising the case 20 and the switching unit 30 is installed in the through hole 11.

A cover 40 is attached to the outer surface of the main body 10 corresponding to the through hole 11, and a filter net 41 is installed on the cover 40.

The cover 40 and the filter net 41 installed thereon, when the case 20 is opened by the rotation of the sealing protrusion 32 due to the difference of pressures between the inside and outside of the refrigerator and the external air is introduced into the inside of the main body the refrigerator, serve to filter out foreign substances introduced into the main body 10 together with the external air.

That is, the filter net 41 serves to prevent foreign substances from being introduced into the main body 10 during the pressure equilibrium between the inside and outside of the refrigerator.

As apparent from the above description, the present invention provides a refrigerator having a pressure equilibrium apparatus, rotated by its own weight, for achieving pressure equilibrium between the inside and outside of the refrigerator, thereby facilitating the opening and closing of a door of the refrigerator and providing convenience to users.

Although the preferred embodiments of the present invention have been disclosed for illustrative purposes, those skilled in the art will appreciate that various modifications, additions and substitutions are possible, without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as disclosed in the accompanying claims.