Title:
Electromagnetic frequency-controlled zoning and dampering system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable remote wireless control for establishing different temperatures in separate portions of a building. The remote control not only regulates hot and cold airflow through rotatable damper vanes in one or more diffusers, but it also recharges the batteries that power the wireless receiver, servomotor and servomotor controls that selectively rotate the damper vanes. Damper vane rotation regulates air flow from the diffuser to control the temperature in the portion of the building. The damper vanes, moreover, are of a light plastic with a marginal band of a foam material to enable the vanes to rotate silently and freely also to form a seal that eliminates a great deal of air seepage past the individual vanes.



Inventors:
Kaiser, Muriel (Boynton Beach, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/449320
Publication Date:
05/31/2007
Filing Date:
06/08/2006
Assignee:
Energy Plus Technologies, LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24F7/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
JIANG, CHEN WEN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHARLES E. BAXLEY, ESQUIRE (90 JOHN STREET SUITE 403, NEW YORK, NY, 10038, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A heating and cooling diffuser for an air duct comprising a plurality of generally parallel damper vanes forming gaps therebetween said damper vanes being ganged for joint motion, a servomotor for controlling said joint damper vane motion, a linkage coupling said servomotor to at least one of said damper vanes for moving said ganged damper vanes, and a radio receiver and servomotor control for selectively activating said servomotor.

2. A heating and cooling diffuser according to claim 1 further comprising a battery access hatch for accommodating a battery therein.

3. A heating and cooling diffuser according to claim 1 wherein each of said damper vanes has a foam covering on each of the respective perimeters thereof to reduce noise and air seepage past said damper vanes.

4. A remote wireless thermostat and battery control for a heating and cooling air duct system comprising an electrical plug for selective insertion into a socket, a display for showing the temperature measured by the thermostat, at least one switch for setting the thermostat to a predetermined temperature and displaying said predetermined temperature on selective activation of said switch, a battery recharger coupled to the remote control for recharging air duct system batteries, a remote control transmitter for transmitting wireless signals that correspond to said displayed predetermined temperature and means for electrically coupling said plug to said battery recharger and to said remote control transmitter.

5. A wireless air heating and cooling system for controlling the air temperature at more than one predetermined temperature within different zones of a structure comprising a plurality of heating and cooling diffusers, arrays of generally parallel damper vanes establishing gaps therebetween mounted in said diffusers for ganged rotation together in at least some of said diffusers, servomotors each coupled to a respective one of said parallel damper vane arrays for rotating said respective arrays through a predetermined angle, linkage for coupling said respective damper vane arrays to said individual servomotors, a receiver and servomotor control individual to each of one of said servomotors for energizing said respective servomotors, respective batteries for powering said individual servomotors to rotate said respective damper vane arrays through said predetermined angle, and a wireless remote thermostat and battery controller for displaying the air temperature, switch means for said remote controller to change the air temperature to a predetermined temperature through generation of a signal that enables said receiver and servomotor controls to energize said respective servomotors to rotate at least some of said damper vanes through an angle that corresponds to said predetermined temperature, and battery recharging means for recharging respective batteries for said heating and cooling system.

6. A wireless heating and cooling system according to claim 5 wherein said wireless remote thermostat and battery control farther comprises a plug for insertion into a socket to energize said thermostat and battery control.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Provisional Application No. 60/740,786 filed Nov. 30, 2005 from which priority is claimed.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

None

JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT PARTNER

None

REFERENCE TO “SEQUENCE LISTING”

None

BACLGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to methods and technics used to control or damper heating, air-conditioning, or ventilation air flow and distribution in a controlled environment.

Due to increasing prices of fossil fuels, notably oil, propane, natural gas, and electricity used for heating or air conditioned controlled environments, in addition to the increasingly harmful effects of global warming, there is an important and immediate need to conserve energy.

This method describes a technic capable of controlling or dampening the airflow to a specific diffuser or register supplying conditioned air for an individual's specific temperature requirement for comfort in his locality.

A typical home air-conditioning and/or heating system consists of a forced hot/cold air furnace and/or air handler, condensing unit and ductwork for air distribution in the home. Each branch of this ductwork flows like a river, distributing air to each branch along the way and normally shrinking along its length to maintain static pressure within the designed duct system. Each branch usually has a wall register or ceiling diffuser on the end to further release and distribute the air flow.

A major problem in this, the typical design, is the incapability of the system to maintain an equal temperature throughout a dwelling due to several significant and frequently changing factors, the first of which is duct design and distribution. Often, ductulation, or the sizing of the ductwork to maintain proper static pressure, is not performed correctly, leaving the vents closest to the furnace or air handler delivering the most air and the vents farther away with little or no pressure.

A second problem is the difficulty maintaining equal temperatures in multilevel dwellings, heating or cooling. Because hot air rises and cold air falls, temperature inequalities occur even with a perfectly designed and delivered duct system. Even if the air flow is constant, in the summertime the second or third floor will be hotter and in the wintertime the first floor colder. Dampers installed in a duct system can help but untrained homeowners rarely adjust the system properly each season and even if they do, it is usually not correct for proper operation or energy efficiency.

A third problem with uneven comfort levels in a conditioned area or home is each individual's response to temperature and humidity levels. This varies widely. One person may be comfortable at 70° F. while another enjoys 68° F., as one example. In such a case, each would be more comfortable if their separate bedrooms were customized to their desired temperature.

Over-compensation also decreases the energy efficiency of a heating or cooling system. In an effort to adjust the comfort level of one region of a house, most homeowners set the thermostat of the system higher in the winter and lower in the summer, increasing the air volume to that area to accomplish this goal. This method wastes valuable and expensive energy by overheating or overcooling other areas.

Other factors cause uneven temperatures throughout a home or conditioned area on a daily basis, such as sun or wind direction, drafts, rain, humidity, snow-covered roofs, and changing seasons. These can change the temperature ox humidity levels in a dwelling on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. A room cool in the morning may be warm in the afternoon heating. Northern or Southern exposures may affect rooms similarly. Because of these variable and a constantly changing environment, attempting to balance a system is difficult.

Combined, these factors could waste, easily, 30% of one's annual energy cost. Keeping a constant temperature in every room of a house in unnecessarily wasteful, as well. A family may only occupy the living room or kitchen 20% of a typical workday. An average family heats or cools their entire residence all night, instead of concentrating the energy to their bedrooms for the eight hours they are sleeping.

While conventional, electrical damper systems may help direct air to desired locations using a series of thermostats, hard wiring, and a complex damper system made of motors, they are not cost-effective. A homeowner paying $1,200 to $4,000 installing such a system typically sees a $400-$800 return for his investment over the life of the system. These type of systems must be installed during the original construction of a home, otherwise installation involves cutting open walls, plumbing, wiring, and additional ductwork. This is unfeasible for a typical homeowner, leaving them a residence with few zoning options.

These effects translate to commercial applications, too. Offices in a corporate setting vary between themselves and common area temperatures individuals feel warmer or colder, depending on their tolerances, at the same temperature. Temperatures in a conference room rise suddenly during a meeting due to the increase in staff and their effect on room temperature.

This invention essentially resolves these problems, customizes the environment to an individual's desire, and saves energy without the disadvantage of expense.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The objectives above are achieved by a unique and improved mechanical design, a method of zoning and dampering a controlled environment such as a home or corporate setting. The subject electromagnetic frequency-controlled zoning system is designed by using known and proven engineered parts combined to result in an effective but inobvious invention.

The new design is comprised of a diffuser or damper of typical and most common size, a servo, armatures, motors, chargers, thermiostats, transformers, transmitters, receivers, and plastic molded bodies made to hold and conceal these mechanical devices.

This system is designed to be extremely affordable, in most cases less than $99.00 USC. This satisfies investment-cost concerns versus energy savings. It is simple enough for a homeowner to install with one screwdriver in approximately three minutes. This dispenses with any need for a technician or the more involved process of opening up walls for wiring, plumbing or ductwork.

The system is a diffuser or damper of typical and most common size and design to match existing ones. The diffuser or register of the supply side of the system has a tiny receiver and lithium battery with a servo which opens and closes the plastic damper with foam lining. As it receives the signal to do so, this regulates the airflow to the area through the diffuser or register. The plastic design with the foam lining serves three purposes. It is lightweight, moisture resistant, and forms a tight seal. The light weight facilitates motion. The foam lining prevents leakage. The tight seal prevents noise, associated with dampering airflow, and holds back static pressure.

The second part of the system is a small, programmable, square thermostat, about 3″×3″, of common design. This thermostat has a male side receptacle plug, typical to plug into any 110 volt home outlet. Inside the thermostat is a transmitter on the same frequency as the damper(s) that it controls. Inside a tiny compartment of the thermal at is a charger for the small lithium battery within the diffuser. A small, permanent-memory battery charger is within the thermostat for programming and power outages.

The technic of using the system: following the arrows on the thermostat, you manually set the LED reading, the time and temperature, to your desired setting or program. Then it is plugged into any outlet in the room. This customizes the area to the temperature-preference of the user. Simply remove the register or damper already supplying the room by unscrewing it from the wall or ceiling and replace it with one of the same size with the damper receiver on it. The installation is complete. You can install as many registers or dampers as you wish on one thermostat transmitter, for large rooms on the same frequency, or have several different thermostats in a home. You could in this way program different rooms to different temperatures, each on its own frequency. In the summertime, for instance, a bedroom could be programmed cooler during the hours of 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM, when it is occupied, but programmed warmer during other hours, when it is not.

The same could be done for high traffic areas such as family rooms, kitchens, playrooms, etc. This technic not only regulates the home properly despite outdoor environmental variables, but keeps it more comfortable while saving energy. This solves the problem of deficient or excessive airflow to parts of the house. By closing or opening the diffusers or registers where it is too hot or cold, and forcing the airflow where it is required, it adjusts to the problem of upstairs heat or downstairs cold and solves the over-compensation of the system to realize this goal. As described earlier in the patent, this technic also helps in the daily changes in weather conditions by maintaining a desired temperature in each room and sending excess airflow to areas where it is needed.

Up to 40% of a conventional forced hot or cold air system can be dampened without affecting the static pressure within the system. Most furnace and air-handler blower motors work on resistance; they adjust themselves to the zoning technic and maintain proper static pressure within the duct system. This means, in an average home of 20 supply registers, 8 can be dampered automatically. Since there is normally 1 or 2 supply diffusers or registers for every bedroom, this means every bedroom can be zoned and regulated, solving the problem of individuals feeling too hot or cold in their own bedroom.

The plug-in thermostat is so small it can be plugged into any outlet, making this feasible in any and every application. It is so small it is virtually unnoticeable. There are no wires or noise.

The tiny lithium battery with the diffuser by the servo can be removed once a year and placed inside the thermostat compartment for charging and replaced with the one already charged. This requires wattage comparable to a small radio for receiving and minimal motor abilities due to tile lightweight design. In addition to the leverage of the arm, the lithium battery holds a charge much longer than a conventional lead-acid model, with a long lifespan between charges.

The same technic can be used in corporate offices to prevent wasteful energy use, customizing the temperature of each office to each individual.

These and other features that characterize the invention are described in more complete detail with respect to the specific embodiment of the invention described below when taken with the figures of the Drawing. The scope of the invention, however, is limited only through the claims appended hereto.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1: Is a side elevation in full section illustrative of a diffuser in a duct system for use with the invention;

FIG. 2: Depicts a side elevation in full section of a wall register supply vent for use with the invention;

FIG. 3: Shows, in perspective, a plug-in, wireless remote control thermostat and battery charger for use with the invention;

FIG. 4: Is a floor plan for a house during the winter heating season that illustrates principles of the invention; and

FIG. 5: Is a front elevation of a damper vane for use in connection with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION

For a more complete appreciation of the invention, attention is invited to FIG. 1 which shows a ceiling diffuser 10 in a heating and cooling air flow duct 11. In accordance with a feature of this invention, the diffuser 10 has a horizontally mounted parallel array of damper vanes 12 that are mounted for pivotal movement in the direction of arrows 13, 14, in an air discharge opening 15 that is formed in the duct 11. The margin of the duct 11 that forms the opening 15 is provided with a foam seal 18. A polystyrene foam plastic, for example, is a suitable material for the seal 18.

The individual damper vanes 12, moreover, are ganged together for selective joint movement in the directions of the arrows 13, 14 in order to control air flow through the discharge opening 15. These damper vanes 12 are formed preferably of plastic material. Plastic vanes 12 in the heating and cooling duct 11 are particularly suited to the practice of the invention because they are light in weight, moisture resistant and, with the foam seal 18, form a silent, tight seal with each other and with the margin of the air discharge opening 15. As shown in FIG. 1, the foam seal 18 is mounted not only on the margin of the discharge opening 15, but also on the parallel edges of each of the vanes in the array of the damper vanes 12. In this manner, the seals 18 reduce noise from the diffuser 10 when a servomotor 16 is activated to rotate the damper vanes 12 fully in the direction of either the arrow 13 or the arrow 14 to close the discharge opening and stop air flow through the duct 11.

The electrical servomotor 16 is coupled to a damper vane 17 through a linkage 20 to drive the ganged damper vanes 12 in the direction of the arrows 13, 14 as described subsequently in more detail. A battery 21 is coupled to the servomotor 6 to provide a power supply for the diffuser 10. A rechargeable lithium battery has been found particularly suitable for the purpose of the invention. To replace the battery 21, an access hatch 22 is provided in the diffuser 10, which diffuser 10 also accommodates a radio signal receiver and servomotor control 23. The battery 21 is electrically coupled not only as a power supply for the servomotor 16, but it also powers the receiver and servomotor control 23 to regulate the width of gaps 24 between the adjoining damper vanes 12 and thus to regulate the air flow through the diffuser 10. This control is achieved through reception of radio signals by the control 23. The manner in which these radio signals are generated, moreover, is described later in the text.

A wall register 25 for use in connection with the invention is shown in FIG. 2. Thus, a heating and cooling duct 26 is mounted behind a vertical wall 27 to direct heating and cooling air flow to a wall diffuser 30.

The wall diffuser 30 has a set of vertically mounted damper vanes 31 that are linked together for ganged movement in the direction of arrows 32, 33 in response to selective activation of a servomotor 34 through a linkage 38. This adjustment is achieved by the wall diffuser 30 in which the ganged damper vanes 31, turned in the direction of the arrows 32, 33, control air flow through an air discharge opening 36 from the duct 26 into a zone or room 37 through a selective adjustment of gaps 40 between adjoining pairs of the damper vanes 31. A foam seal 41 also is secured to the parallel edges of each of the damper vanes 31 and to the margin of the duct 26 in the discharge opening 36 to reduce noise on activation of the damper vanes 31 and to reduce air flow seepage from the wall register 25 when the damper vanes 31 are turned fully in the direction of the arrow 32 or the arrow 33.

A specific embodiment of a damper vane 12 (FIG. 1) or 31 (FIG. 2) that characterizes features of the invention is shown in FIG. 5.

A single damper vane 19 formed from hardened plastic has a perimeter that is covered with a foam plastic seal 29 to reduce noise and air seepage during operation. Pivots 39 are mounted on the centerline, or line of balance for the vane 19. These pivots enable the vane 19 to be ganged with the other vanes in the array of damper vanes 12 (FIG. 1) or 31 (FIG. 2) in the respective arrays to establish ease of motion and to reduce the load on the servomotor 16, 34.

An access hatch 42 (FIG. 2) is formed in the exposed surface of the wall register 25 to enable a rechargeable battery to be inserted in the register 25 when the previously installed battery is electrically depleted. This battery, moreover, powers not only the servomotor 34, but also powers a radio receiver and servomotor control.

Turning now to FIG. 3, an illustrative wireless remote thermostat and battery charger 43 for use in connection with the invention is shown. Low power radio control apparatus for transmission of a signal on a predetermined frequency to a remote location for the purpose of a moving structure at that location in a desired direction and distance are well-known. Illustratively, the electrical circuits, both the wireless transmitter and the remote receiver; the servomotor control at that remote location for converting the received signal into a command signal for appropriately activating the servomotor; and the mechanical linkages for converting servomotor movement into the desired motion for the structure that is being controlled are well-known. Radio control apparatus for model aircraft are illustrative of these systems that can be readily adapted to the purposes of this invention.

Thus, in accordance with the invention, the remote thermostat and battery charger control 43 has a plug 44 with a ground connection that can be accepted by any three-prong household voltage electrical socket (not shown). The control 43, moreover, has a thermostat body 45 that houses a remote control transmitter 46. A light emitting diode (L.E.D.) display 47 or other suitable display usually shows the ambient temperature of the zone or room in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. To program an increased ambient temperature for the room, a spring biased “up” button or switch 50 is activated to energize the remote control transmitter 46 to send an appropriate signal to a predetermined diffuser that is receptive to signals on the same frequency as those generated by the control transmitter 46 as, for example, the radio receiver and servomotor control 23 (FIG. 1) in the ceiling diffuser 10. When activated, the button 50 (FIG. 3) also temporarily registers the desired increase in the temperature registered on the display 47. When the button 50 is released, however, the display 47 reverts to showing the ambient room temperature and the subsequent increases in that temperature as the remote control transmitter 46 regulates air flow from the illustrative ceiling diffuser 10. If desired, the remote control 43 also can be programmed to activate and deactivate the transmitter 46 at specific times to heat or cool zones within a building as needed.

The opposite result of reducing the ambient temperature is attained by depressing a spring biased “down” button or switch 51. The “down” button 51, while depressed, temporarily registers the desired decrease in the room temperature registered on the display 47. Upon releasing the button 51, the display 47 once more shows the ambient room temperature and the decrease in that temperature as the remote control transmitter regulates air flow from the ceiling diffuser 10 to produce the lower temperature within the zone.

A salient feature of the invention is the provision of a battery charger 52 in the thermostat body 45. As illustrated in FIG. 3, an access door 53 fastened by screws 54 to prevent tampering encloses the structure for mounting a rechargeable battery (not shown). Thus, an electrically depleted battery is mounted in the recharger 52 for restoration to an electrically charged condition. When a need arises to replace a rechargeable battery with a charged battery, the access hatch 22 (FIG. 1) is opened, the depleted battery, e.g. the battery 21, is removed from its mounting within the access hatch 22 and replaced by a charged battery from the remote control 43 (FIG. 3). The depleted battery 21 is then mounted within the battery charger 52 and the access door 53 is closed by means of the screws 54.

To recharge the battery within the battery charger 52, and to power the remote thermostat and battery charge control 43, the plug 44 is inserted into a three prong socket. Electrical power is supplied to the thermostat body 45, as for example, from a 110 volt, 60 hertz household current supply. Appropriate rectifiers and voltage regulators (not shown) within the thermostat body 45 supply a satisfactory direct current voltage not only to recharge the battery within the battery charger 52, but also to power the remote thermostat and battery charge control 43, the latter to enable the ambient room temperature to be adjusted through the damper vanes control signals that regulate the gaps 24 and 40 (FIGS. 1 and 2) between the respective sets of the damper vanes 12, 31 which, in turn, regulate air flow from the diffuser 10 or register 25.

In this way, in accordance with a feature of the invention, a recharged battery always is available for replacement in the diffusers 10, 30 and the thermostat body 45 (FIG. 3). Further in this respect, the thermal body 45 with its associated remote thermostat control 43 can be moved to any electrical socket that is convenient to the area within the building in which the temperature is controlled.

In operation, attention is invited to FIG. 4, an illustrative floor plan for a dwelling that employs significant features of the invention. As shown, vertical wall diffusers 55, 56, 57, 61, and 62 are mounted in walls of the dwelling 64. During the heating season, a primary remote wireless thermostat and battery charge control 65 is set to keep an established temperature 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit lower in the zone than the ambient temperature of the combination kitchen and living room 66.

In this respect, the remote control 65 is set to the desired temperature by depressing the “down” button 51 (FIG. 3) on the control 43 until the desired lower temperature appears in the display 47. The “down” button 51 is then released, the ambient temperature reappearing in the display 47, the displayed temperature then decreases until the desired lower temperature is sensed by the thermostat (not shown) in the body 45.

To so decrease the temperature in the room 66 (FIG. 4), the remote control transmitter 46 (FIG. 3) sends a control signal on a predetermined frequency to the receiver and servomotor control in the wall register 25 (FIG. 2) to adjust the gaps 40 between the damper vanes 31. This adjustment is accomplished by the servomotor 34 which, through the linkage 35 moves the damper vane 31 through an appropriate angular rotation in the direction of the arrow 32 or 33 in response to the signal from the primary remote control 65 (FIG. 4) as processed through the servomotor control that is tuned to respond to the primary remote control signal frequency.

This method allows the air flow to continue to areas of the dwelling 64 (FIG. 4) where it is required.

Note in this respect that a bedroom 67 is set in the manner previously described to a temperature of 76° F. on a remote control 70 that transmits control signals on a frequency different from the primary remote control 65 signals. So established the room 67 will heat to the requested temperature by adjustment of the airflow through the vertical wall diffuser 55 in the room 67, the diffuser 55 being tuned to the frequency of the control 70. In this way, the room 67 heats to the requested temperature while the kitchen and living room 66 remains at a comfortable desired temperature.

Rooms 71, 72 are not equipped with respective remote controls. In this circumstance, the rooms 71, 72 remain at normal system flow. Only 40% of the system registers need to be remote-dampened to permit relief of the system's airflow without imposing an overload on the motor for the heating and cooling air fan (not shown) or upsetting the system's static pressure requirements.

For cooling and air conditioning purposes, moreover, the procedure is a reverse of that described above for the heating season. Accordingly, the air heating system (not shown) is deactivated and the air conditioning system (also not shown) is energized to pump cool air through the heating and cooling ducts 11, 26 (FIGS. 1 and 2). As described earlier, the desired temperatures through the dwelling 64 are set through manipulation of either the “down” button 51 (FIG. 3) or the “up” button 50 on the remote control 43 on the wireless controls 65 and 70 (FIG. 4) to establish the predetermined temperatures throughout the dwelling 64.

Thus, through the practice of the invention, a number of unusual and important savings are possible. The remote controls are portable from room-to-room, being activated optionally by inserting the plug 44 (FIG. 3) into an ordinary household socket. Wiring each of the diffusers to a central control system—which usually requires installation during building construction or undertaking a major renovation to an existing building—is thus avoided. Further in this respect, a remote control can be carried from room-to-room, thereby offering the user a great deal of flexibility in room temperature control and considerable savings in heating and cooling costs. All of these features, moreover, are provided through a relatively inexpensive, light-weight and quietly operating diffuser system, in which rechargeable batteries are readily available for replacement in the diffusers, as needed.

Note further that the system described herein is applicable not only to residential dwellings, but also can be used in any environment in which temperature regulation is useful. Factories, apartment blocks, warehouses, and the like all can adopt this system to advantage.