Title:
Washing Machine of Water Storage Type
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A washing machine comprises a laundry basket, a water inlet, water storage means, a connection pipe assembly, a pipe control valve, a reclaiming pipe, a three-way control valve, and a controller. The water storage means is capable of storing fresh water from the water inlet and storing at least a final batch of rinse water from the laundry basket. The connection pipe assembly is connected between the water storage means and the laundry basket. The pipes of the connection pipe assembly have a large diameter or are installed with pumps to increase the flow rate of the water entering the laundry basket. The reclaiming pipe is connected between the water storage means and the three-way control valve at an outlet of the laundry basket for transferring the final rinse water from the laundry basket to the water storage means. In operation, the washing machine can save time, power, and water.


Inventors:
Hsu, Pei-tzu (Keelung City, TW)
Application Number:
13/760063
Publication Date:
08/22/2013
Filing Date:
02/06/2013
Assignee:
HSU PEI-TZU
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06F39/00
View Patent Images:
Claims:
I claim:

1. A washing machine, comprising: a laundry basket; a water inlet adapted to be connected to an outside fresh water source; water storage means being provided with one water level regulator that can close or open the water inlet according to water level of the water storage means, the water storage means capable of storing fresh water from the water inlet and storing at least a final batch of rinse water from the laundry basket; a connection pipe assembly connected between the water storage means and the laundry basket, the connection pipe assembly including at least one upstream pipe and at least one downstream pipe; a pipe control valve provided for the connection pipe assembly, the pipe control valve being mounted between the upstream pipe and the downstream pipe of the connection pipe assembly, so that the upstream pipe of the connection pipe assembly is connected between the water storage means and the pipe control valve, and the downstream pipe of the connection pipe assembly is connected between the pipe control valve and the laundry basket; a reclaiming pipe having one end connected to the water storage means for transferring at least the final batch of rinse water from the laundry basket to the water storage means; a three-way control valve provided for the laundry basket for controlling water flow direction, the three-way valve having an inlet port connected to an outlet of the laundry basket and a first outlet port connected to another end of the reclaiming pipe; and a controller for controlling the pipe control valve and the three-way control valve.

2. The washing machine of claim 1, further comprising a discharge pipe that has one end connected to a second outlet port of the three-way control valve.

3. The washing machine of claim 2, further comprising an overflow pipe connected between the water storage means and the discharge pipe.

4. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the water storage means includes at least one water tank.

5. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the water storage means includes a fresh water unit and a gray water unit, the fresh water unit being connected with the water inlet for storing fresh water flowing therefrom, the gray water unit being connected with the reclaiming pipe for storing gray water or rinse water reclaimed from the laundry basket, the connection pipe assembly including at least two upstream pipes and at least one downstream pipe, one of the upstream pipes connected between the fresh water unit and the pipe control valve, another of the upstream pipes connected between the gray water unit and the pipe control valve, the downstream pipe connected between the pipe control valve and the laundry basket.

6. The washing machine of claim 5, wherein the fresh water unit includes at least a water tank for storing fresh water from the water inlet, the water tank being installed with one water level regulator that can open or close the water inlet according to water level of the water tank.

7. The washing machine of claim 5, wherein the fresh water unit includes a pump for the water inlet.

8. The washing machine of claim 5, wherein the gray water unit includes at least a water tank so that gray water from separate washing and drying operations can be collected to different water tanks.

9. The washing machine of claim 5, further comprising a discharge pipe that has one end connected to a second outlet port of the three-way control valve.

10. The washing machine of claim 9, further comprising an overflow pipe connected between the gray water unit and the discharge pipe.

11. The washing machine of claim 1, further comprising a water quality sensor within the laundry basket for detecting the cleanliness of the water therein and transmitting signal to the controller.

12. The washing machine of claim 1, wherein the connection pipe assembly is a combination of large pipes and small pipes, or the connection pipe assembly is a combination of normal pipes installed with a pressurizing pump.

13. The washing machine of claim 5, wherein the connection pipe assembly is a combination of large pipes and small pipes, or the connection pipe assembly is a combination of normal pipes installed with a pressurizing pump.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a washing machine and, more particularly, to a washing machine of water storage type, whereby the time and power required for a laundry activity can be reduced, and the rinse water thereof can be reclaimed for a next laundry activity, so that water consumption can be reduced.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

In recent years, the washing machine industry developed very fast, however, it often focused on advanced functions, such as ozone sterilization and inverter technology. There are few manufacturers that pay attention to developing a time-saving and power-saving washing machine. The existing washing machines employ almost the same operating cycles to conduct a laundry activity, which generally includes washing, rinsing and spinning cycles. Except that the washing cycle needs to be added with detergent or washing chemicals, each rinsing cycle use water to remove the detergent or washing chemicals added in the washing cycle. Each rinsing cycle consumes a lot of time for waiting the laundry basket of the machine to be filled up with water. Also, the water used in each rinsing cycle is discharged out. In fact, the water used in the last one or two rinsing cycles is often clean enough to be used again, because the clothes would be taken to a dryer machine after the final rinse and then can be directly put on a person. At least, the water used in the final rinsing cycle would be clean, it is unfortunate that the existing washing machines do not make use of the rinse water again.

In view of the foregoing, the applicant has contrived an improved washing machine that can mitigate the disadvantages of the existing washing machines.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The primary object of the present invention is to provide a washing machine of water storage type, which can save time, power, and water in laundry activities.

To achieve the above object, one embodiment of the washing machine of water storage type may comprise a laundry basket, a water inlet, water storage means, a connection pipe assembly, a pipe control valve, a reclaiming pipe, a discharge pipe, a three-way control valve, and a controller. The water inlet is adapted to be connected to an outside fresh water source. The water storage means is provided with at least one water level regulator that can close or open the water inlet according to water level of the water storage means. The water storage means is capable of storing fresh water from the water inlet and storing at least a final batch of rinse water from the laundry basket. The connection pipe assembly, including at least one upstream pipe and at least one downstream pipe, is connected between the water storage means and the laundry basket. The pipes of the connection pipe assembly have a large diameter or are installed with pumps to increase the flow rate of the water entering the laundry basket. The pipe control valve is mounted between the upstream pipe and the downstream pipe of the connection pipe assembly, so that the upstream pipe is connected between the water storage means and the pipe control valve, and the downstream pipe is connected between the pipe control valve and the laundry basket. The reclaiming pipe has one end connected to the water storage means for transferring at least the final batch of rinse water from the laundry basket to the water storage means. The three-way control valve has an inlet port connected to an outlet of the laundry basket, a first outlet port connected to another end of the reclaiming pipe, and a second outlet port connected to one end of the discharge pipe. The controller is provided for controlling the pipe control valve and the three-way control valve.

Other objects, advantages, and novel features of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a schematic view of a first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows a schematic view of a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a diagram generally illustrating an electrical connection of a controller of a washing machine, wherein the controller is electrically connected with a pipe control valve and a three-way control valve.

FIG. 4 shows a schematic view of a third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 shows a diagram generally illustrating an electrical connection of a controller of a washing machine, wherein the controller is electrically connected with a pipe control valve, a three-way control valve, and a water quality sensor.

FIG. 6 shows a schematic view of a fourth embodiment of the present invention, wherein multiple washing machines share one water storage means.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 and 3 respectively show a schematic view and a diagram of one embodiment of the present invention, which illustrate how a washing machine of the present invention can save time and power in a laundry activity. As shown, the washing machine 11 generally comprises water storage means 1, a water inlet 2, a connection pipe assembly including an upstream pipe 4 and a downstream pipe 6, a pipe control valve 5, a controller 7, a three-way control valve 8, a reclaiming pipe 9, an overflow pipe 10, a laundry basket 11a, and a discharge pipe 12. Although the embodiment shows only one laundry basket therein, the present invention can have more than one laundry basket as well. The water inlet 2 is adapted to be connected to an outside fresh water source, such as a tap water supply. The water storage means 1, which may include one water tank, is provided with at least one water level regulator 3, at an end of the water inlet 2, which can close or open the water inlet 2 according to water level of the water storage means 1. The water level regulator 3 can be a traditional ball float device. When water level of the water storage means 1 is higher than a predetermined level, the water level regulator 3 can close the water inlet 2 to stop water from entering the water storage means 1. When water level of the water storage means 1 is lower than the predetermined level, the water level regulator 3 can open the water inlet 2 to allow water to enter the water storage means 1. The connection pipe assembly, which includes at least one upstream pipe 4 and at least one downstream pipe 6, is connected between the water storage means 1 and the laundry basket 11a. The pipe control valve 5, which is provided for the connection pipe assembly, is mounted between the upstream pipe 4 and the downstream pipe 6 thereof, so that the upstream pipe 4 is connected between the water storage means 1 and the pipe control valve 5, and the downstream pipe 6 is connected between the pipe control valve 5 and the laundry basket 11a. Generally, the pipes of the connection pipe assembly have a diameter greater than the water inlet 2. Alternatively, the connection pipe assembly can be designed to be in combination of large-diameter pipes and small-diameter pipes. Fore examples, some pipes of the connection pipe assembly may have a diameter greater than the water inlet 2, while some other pipes of the connection pipe assembly may have a diameter less than the water inlet 2. Alternatively, the connection pipe assembly can be a combination of normal pipes installed with pressurizing pumps. With such features, the flow rate of the water flowing into the laundry basket 11a can be increased.

In operation, when the controller 7 issues a command to open the pipe control valve 5, water in the water storage means 1 can flow into the laundry basket 11a via the upstream pipe 4 and the downstream pipe 6. Since the pipes 4, 6 of the connection pipe assembly of the present invention have a diameter than those of conventional washing machines or the pipes 4, 6 of the connection pipe assembly are installed with pressurizing pumps, the flow rate of the water flowing into the laundry basket 11a can be increased, so that the time required for filling the laundry basket 11a can be reduced. When the machine conducts a washing cycle, a rinsing cycle, or a spinning cycle of a laundry activity, fresh water may flow into the water storage means 1 until the predetermined level thereof has been reached, and the water stored therein can be used for a next cycle of the laundry activity, thereby significantly reducing the time and power required for completing the laundry activity.

Next, the following paragraphs will illustrate the water-saving advantage of the present invention. For a laundry activity, detergent or other washing chemicals are only added in the washing cycle thereof. Thereafter, several rinsing cycles are conducted to remove the detergent or washing chemicals. After the final rinsing cycle and the spinning cycle thereof is finished, the laundry clothes can be taken to a dryer machine, after which the dried clothes can be put on a person. Generally, the water of the final or the last two rinsing cycles is clean enough to be re-used. Alternatively, a water quality sensor 11b (see FIG. 4) can be installed within the water storage means 1 and cooperated with the controller 7 to decide whether the water of a rinsing cycle is clean enough to be re-used. This feature will be illustrated in more detail below. To achieve the purpose of re-using a batch of rinse water, the reclaiming pipe 9 is provided, wherein it has one end connected to the water storage means 1 for transferring at least a final batch of rinse water from the laundry basket 11a to the water storage means 1. Furthermore, the three-way valve 8 is provided at an outlet of the laundry basket 11a so as to control the flow direction of the water sent out from the laundry basket 11a, as be fully illustrated below.

The three-way control valve 8, which is provided for the laundry basket 11a for controlling water flow direction, has an inlet port connected to the outlet of the laundry basket 11a, a first outlet port connected to another end of the reclaiming pipe 9, and a second outlet port connected to one end of the discharge pipe 12. When the final rinsing cycle of a laundry activity is finished, the controller 7 can operate the three-way control valve 8 to have the inlet port thereof communicated with the first outlet port thereof but not communicated with the second outlet port thereof, so that the water of the final rinse can be reclaimed to the water storage means 1 and thus can be re-used for a next laundry activity, thereby achieving the purpose of saving water.

Furthermore, the washing machine 11 is provided with the overflow pipe 10 connected between the water storage means 1 and the discharge pipe 12. Therefore, when the water level regulator 3 has a fault, which causes water in the water storage means 1 to reach the overflow outlet thereof, water can flow into the discharge pipe 12 via the overflow pipe 10.

FIG. 2 shows a second embodiment of the present invention, wherein the water storage means 1 may include two water tanks cooperated with two pipe control valves 5. As shown, the left tank of the water storage means 1 is connected with the water inlet 2 and one upstream pipe 4. The right tank of the water storage means 1 is connected with the reclaiming pipe 9, the overflow pipe 10, and one upstream pipe 4′. Although the embodiment shows two water tanks therein, the water storage means 1 may include more than two tanks.

FIG. 3 shows a general diagram illustrating that the controller 7 is electrically connected with the pipe control valve 5 and the three-way control valve 8 so as to control all cycles of a laundry activity.

Furthermore, the water storage means 1 can be applied to a washer with single laundry basket as well as a washer with two laundry baskets, wherein the spinning action for extracting water for laundry clothes is conducted in a separate basket for the washer with two laundry baskets. Also, the water storage means 1 can be applied to any type of washer, including top-loading washer or front-loading washer.

The controller 7 can be adopted from any existing controllers, such as a general microchip controller. The pipe control valve 5 and the three-way control valve 8 can be adopted from any existing electrical-operated valves.

FIGS. 4 and 5 respectively show a third embodiment of the present invention and a general diagram of a controller employed in the embodiment, wherein the water quality sensor 11b is installed within the laundry basket 11a. Furthermore, the water storage means 1 includes a fresh water unit 1A and a gray water unit 1B, the fresh water unit 1A being connected with the water inlet 2 for storing fresh water flowing therefrom, the gray water unit 1B being connected with the reclaiming pipe 9 for storing gray water or rinse water reclaimed from the laundry basket 11a, the connection pipe assembly including at least two upstream pipes 4A, 4B and at least one downstream pipe 6, the upstream pipe 4A being connected between the fresh water unit 1A and the pipe control valve 5A, the upstream pipe 4B being connected between the gray water unit 1B and the pipe control valve 5A, the downstream pipe 6 being connected between the pipe control 5A valve and the laundry basket 11a. (Generally, gray water or greywater is defined as used water generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing, which can be recycled on-site for re-use.) The water quality sensor 11b, which can be adopted from any existing water sensors, can detect the cleanliness of the water of a rinsing cycle of a laundry activity and transmit signal to the controller 7. If the cleanliness of the rinse water arrives at a predetermined standard, the controller 7 can operate the three-way control valve 8A to allow the rinse water to be reclaimed to the gray water unit 1B via the reclaiming pipe 9. Thus, the water reclaimed in the gray water unit 1B can be re-used for a next laundry activity, so as to save water. If the cleanliness of the rinse water is below the predetermined standard, the controller 7 can operate the three-way control valve 8A to allow the rinse water to be discharged out via the discharge pipe 12.

As shown in FIG. 4, the fresh water unit 1A may include at least a water tank for storing fresh water from the water inlet 2, wherein the water tank may be installed with one water level regulator 3 at the end of the water inlet 2 so as to control water level therein (similar to the left tank of the water storage means 1 shown in FIG. 2). Furthermore, the fresh water unit 1A may include a pump for the water inlet 2. The pump can also be controlled by the controller 7 to achieve the purpose of increasing the flow rate of the water from the water inlet. The gray water unit 1B may include a water tank, which is similar to the right tank of the water storage means 1 shown in FIG. 2. Further, the gray water unit includes at least a water tank so that gray water from separate washing and drying operations can be collected to different water tanks by means of the controller.

FIG. 5 shows a general diagram illustrating that the controller 7 is electrically connected with the pipe control valve 5A, the three-way control valve 8A, and the water quality sensor 11b so as to control all cycles of a laundry activity

FIG. 6 shows a fourth embodiment of the present invention, wherein multiple washing machines share one water storage means 1. Thus, the water storage means 1 can be shared by the laundry baskets 11a of the washing machines, and each washing machine has its pipe control valve 5, connection pipes 4, 6, controller 7, and three-way control valve 8.

The water storage means 1 shown in FIG. 6 may include a water tank being installed with a water level regulator 3, which is similar to the left tank shown in FIG. 2. Thus, the water tank can be shared by the laundry baskets 11a of the washing machines. Alternatively, the water storage means 1 shown in FIG. 6 may include a fresh water unit 1A and a gray water unit 1B, as described above.

As a summary, the present invention can increase the flow rate of the water flowing from the water storage means 1 to the laundry basket 11a by employing one or more connection pipes of large diameter or by installing pressurized pumps for connection pipes of normal diameter, so that the time required for completing a laundry activity can be greatly reduced, and thus the power consumption therefor can also be reduced. Additionally, the rinse water of the laundry activity can be reclaimed to the water storage means for a next laundry activity, so that the water consumption can also be greatly reduced.

Although the present invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, it is understood that the present disclosure is made by way of example only and the combination and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention hereinafter claimed.





 
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