Title:
Whole building evaporative cooler
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus for supplementing the air quality in a dwelling with an evaporative cooling system configured to couple to an existing central air conditioning system in the dwelling. The evaporative cooling system includes an evaporative cooling unit supported at ground level adjacent to the dwelling with a portion of the evaporative cooler extending through an exterior wall of the dwelling; between the studs of the exterior wall.



Inventors:
Palmer, Roger C. (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Townsend, Donald L. (Phoenix, AZ, US)
Application Number:
10/860206
Publication Date:
12/08/2005
Filing Date:
06/03/2004
Assignee:
AdobeAir, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/259.4
International Classes:
F24F5/00; F25D23/12; F28D5/00; (IPC1-7): F25D23/12; F28D5/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NALVEN, EMILY IRIS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOLEY & LARDNER LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A method for supplementing the air quality in a dwelling having an air conditioning system including a duct work system and a compressor, the method comprising the steps of: providing an evaporative cooler having a housing with an extension extending therefrom and a high capacity blow wheel; placing the evaporative cooler adjacent the dwelling; installing the extension through an opening in an exterior wall of the dwelling; coupling the extension to the duct work system of the air conditioning system in the dwelling; and controlling the operation of the evaporative cooler and the air conditioning system.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the opening is between two studs in the exterior wall of the dwelling and the extension is configured to fit between the studs.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the opening in the exterior wall exposes a stud and the extension is configured to fit around the stud.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the step of coupling includes the steps of providing a flexible duct having two ends, attaching one end of the flexible duct to the extension and the other end to the duct work system.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein one end of the flexible duct has a smaller inside diameter than the other end of the flexible duct.

6. The method of claim 1, including the steps of providing a damper and installing the damper between the evaporative cooler housing and the air conditioning compressor.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the evaporative cooler housing includes dual inlets.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein one inlet is in one side of the evaporative cooler housing and the other inlet is in another side of the evaporative cooler housing.

9. The method of claim 1, including the step of mounting the evaporative cooler housing at a predetermined grade in relation to the dwelling.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the evaporative cooler housing is at ground level.

11. An evaporative cooling system for use in a dwelling structure having a central air conditioning system, including a duct work system and a compressor, the evaporative cooling system comprising: an evaporative cooling unit, including: a housing having a front panel and an opposing rear panel having an exhaust extension extending inwardly into the dwelling structure, the housing further including a first and second side panel extending between the front and rear panels, the front panel having an exposed surface area that is uninterrupted to prevent air from entering there through; a blower located within the housing and aligned with the exhaust extension; a first and second evaporative media pad proximate the first and second side panels of the housing; a water distribution system mounted in the housing and configured to permit water to flow downwards through the media pads; a stand configured to support the evaporative cooling unit located on the ground adjacent to the dwelling structure; a flexible duct having a first end and a second end, wherein the first end interior diameter is larger than the interior diameter of the second end, with the flexible duct configured to couple to the housing of the evaporative cooling system and the duct work system of the air conditioning system; and a control unit configured to control the operation of the evaporative cooling unit and the air conditioning system.

12. The evaporative cooling system of claim 11, wherein the exhaust extension enters the dwelling structure between two studs of an exterior wall of the dwelling structure.

13. The evaporative cooling system of claim 11, wherein the exhaust extension is configured to fit around a stud in the dwelling structure exterior wall.

14. The evaporative cooling system of claim 11, including a damper mounted between the evaporative cooler housing and the air conditioning compressor.

15. The evaporative cooling system of claim 11, including dual inlets, with each inlet including one-way louvers.

16. The evaporative cooling system of claim 15, wherein one inlet is in one side panel of the evaporative cooler housing and the other inlet is in another side panel of the evaporative cooler housing.

17. The evaporative cooling system of claim 11, wherein the blower is configured to overcome high static pressure in the duct work system of the air conditioning system.

18. The evaporative cooling system of claim 11, wherein the control unit is configured to alternately operate the evaporative cooling system and the air conditioning system.

19. An evaporative cooling system for use in a dwelling structure having a central air conditioning system, including a duct work system and a compressor, the evaporative cooling system comprising: a means for cooling, including: a means for housing having a means for exhausting extending inwardly into the dwelling structure; a means for blowing located within the means for housing and aligned with the means for exhausting; a first and second evaporative media pad mounted in the means for housing; a means for distributing is mounted in the means for housing to permit water to flow downwards through the media pads; a means for supporting the means for cooling located on the ground adjacent to the dwelling structure; a flexible duct having a first end and a second end, wherein the first end interior diameter is larger than the interior diameter of the second end, with the flexible duct configured to couple to the means for housing of the means for cooling and the duct work system of the air conditioning system; and a means for controlling the operation of the means for cooling and the air conditioning system.

20. The evaporative cooling system of claim 19, wherein the means for exhausting enters the dwelling structure between two studs of an exterior wall of the dwelling structure.

21. The evaporative cooling system of claim 11, wherein the means for exhausting is configured to fit around a stud in the dwelling structure exterior wall.

22. The evaporative cooling system of claim 19, including a means for metering mounted between the means for cooling and the air conditioning compressor.

23. The evaporative cooling system of claim 19, including dual means for allowing air only into the means for cooling.

24. The evaporative cooling system of claim 19, wherein the means for blowing is configured to overcome high static pressure in the duct work system of the air conditioning system.

25. The evaporative cooling system of claim 19, wherein the means for controlling is configured to alternately operate the evaporative cooling system and the air conditioning system.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of evaporative coolers, and more particularly to a whole building evaporative cooler housing.

Evaporative coolers are well know and used in warm dry climates to both raise the humidity and cool the air. Evaporative coolers work by drawing air from outside through a media soaked with water. As the air flows through the soaked media water is evaporated by the outside air thereby lowering the temperature of the air. The cooled air is then directed into the area to be cooled.

An evaporative cooler includes a number of elements all of which are stored in a housing. These elements typically include an air blower; a media pad; a water distribution system; and an electric motor. Evaporative coolers need to be maintained on a periodic basis to replace the media pads and to clean the water distribution system.

There are three traditional approaches to mounting evaporative coolers. One approach is to mount the cooler on the roof in which the cooled air is blown down into the building. This type of cooler is also referred to as a down-draft cooler. The roof mounted cooler provides the advantage of being out of the way and can be easily connected to a duct system to deliver the cooled air. However, maintenance of the roof-mounted coolers is difficult due to access. Additionally, many roof mounted coolers are being banned under local zoning ordinances due to the aesthetic nature of the cooler located on the roof.

Another method of locating evaporative coolers is by hanging the housing from a window or eve. The cooled air is then blown into the area to be cooled through the side of the cooler and is also referred to as a side-draft cooler. The window or eve hung coolers while being more accessible are typically hung from the eves or proximate a window. This approach has a number of disadvantages including blocking the window from use by the cooler. Additionally, the width of the coolers or the distance from which they extend from the building can be up to three feet or more. This extension from the home may not be aesthetically pleasing and also takes up a portion of the yard. Where the coolers are located in more densely populated areas with housing units close to one another the three feet extension may take up a significant portion of the space between the buildings. In addition to making use of the space between the building more difficult to use for garbage and recycling containers, it may make maintenance of the unit more difficult.

A third method of mounting the coolers is to place them on the ground in which the cooled air is blown upwardly. This type of cooler is also referred to as an updraft cooler. This type of cooler has the disadvantage of requiring even greater yard space than the down-draft and side-draft coolers.

Connecting an evaporative cooler to a central air conditioning (A/C) system is problematic because usually the A/C ducts are too small to efficiently move the air from the evaporative cooler system. One solution has been to use larger registers or relatively short, straight, and free of obstructions ducts. However, such solutions add costs to the system and may require replacement of existing duct work.

Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide an evaporative cooler that could be ground mounted that would be easy to maintain in small tight areas between buildings. Additionally, it would be desirable to provide an evaporative cooler housing that was not mounted to a roof to avoid local zoning prohibitions. Further it would be desirable to provide an evaporative cooler housing that did not excessively protrude into the yard from the building. Still further, it would be desirable to provide an evaporative cooler combined with a central air conditioning system using a common duct system in the building.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

There is provided a method for supplementing the air quality in a dwelling having an air conditioning system including a duct work system and a compressor. The method comprises the steps of providing an evaporative cooler having a housing with an extension extending therefrom and a high capacity blow wheel. Placing the evaporative cooler adjacent the dwelling. Installing the extensions through an opening in an exterior wall of the dwelling. Coupling the extension to the duct work system of the air conditioning system in the dwelling. Controlling the operation of the evaporative cooler and the air conditioning system. Another embodiment of the method includes the steps of providing a flexible duct having two ends, attaching one end of the flexible duct to the extension and the other end to the duct work system. Another embodiment of the method includes the step of mounting the evaporative cooler housing at a predetermined grade, such as at ground level in relation to the dwelling.

There is further provided an evaporative cooling system for use in a dwelling structure having a central air conditioning system. The air conditioning system includes a duct work system and a compressor. The evaporative cooling system comprises an evaporative cooling unit, including a housing having a front panel and an opposing rear panel that has an exhaust extension extending inwardly into the dwelling structure. The housing further includes a first and second side panel extending between the front and rear panels. The front panel has an exposed surface area that is uninterrupted to prevent air from entering therethrough. A blower is located within the housing and aligned with the exhaust extension. A first and second evaporative media pad is mounted proximate the first and second side panels of the housing. A water distribution system is configured to permit water to flow downwards through the media pads. A stand is configured to support the evaporative cooling unit located on the ground adjacent to the dwelling structure. A flexible duct having a first end and a second end, wherein the first end interior diameter is larger than the interior diameter of the second end. The flexible duct is configured to couple to the housing of the evaporative cooling system and the duct work of the air conditioning system. A control unit is configured to control the operation of the evaporative cooling unit and the air conditioning system.

There is also provided an evaporative cooling system for use in a dwelling structure having a central air conditioning system that includes a duct work system and a compressor. The evaporative cooling system comprises a means for cooling, including a means for housing having a means for exhausting extending inwardly into the dwelling structure. A means for blowing is located within the means for housing and aligned with the means for exhausting. A first and second evaporative media pad is mounted in the means for housing. A means for distributing is mounted in the means for housing to permit water to flow downwards through the media pads. A means for supporting, a means for cooling is located on the ground adjacent to the dwelling structure. A flexible duct having a first end and a second end, wherein the first end interior diameter is larger than the interior diameter of the second end, with the flexible duct configured to couple to the means for housing of the means for cooling and the duct work system of the air conditioning system. A means for controlling the operation of the means for cooling and the air conditioning system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of an exemplary embodiment of a whole building evaporative cooler coupled to a duct work system of an air conditioning system.

FIG. 2 is a sectional top view of the evaporative cooler illustrated in FIG. 1 along the line 2-2, with the exhaust extension configured to fit between two wall studs of dwelling 10.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the evaporative cooler illustrated in FIG. 2 along the line 3-3.

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the evaporative cooler illustrated in FIG. 2 along the line 4-4.

FIG. 5 is a sectional top view of an exemplary embodiment of an evaporative cooler with the exhaust extension configured to fit around a wall stud of dwelling 10.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the evaporative cooler illustrated in FIG. 5 along line 6-6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the Figures, an evaporative cooling system 25, including an evaporative cooler 30 is attached to a dwelling structure 10. Evaporative cooler 30 includes an evaporative cooler housing 32, a media assembly 66, 68 a blower assembly 60, and a water distribution system 70. For purposes of convenience, the rear panel 36 of evaporative cooler housing 32 will be the side that is adjacent the dwelling 10. Accordingly, front panel 34 of the evaporative cooler 32 faces away from the dwelling. The right side 42 and left side 44 of evaporative cooler 30 is on the right and left, respectively as viewed from an observer facing front panel 34. (See FIG. 2.) Further, the term “width” as used herein shall refer to the dimension that is perpendicular to the wall of the dwelling 10. The term “height” shall refer to the up/down dimension, and the term “length” shall refer to the dimension that is both perpendicular to the height and width (see FIG. 1).

In an exemplary embodiment, evaporate cooler housing 32 is formed from a rear panel 36, a front panel 34, a pair of right and left side panels 42, 44, a base, and a top panel. Referring to FIGS. 2-4 the base may include a base plate and four upstanding flanges extending therefrom and to form a water retention cavity or basin. Right and left side panels 42, 44, are attached to the front upwards extending flange of base. Rear panel 36 may include right and left panels having a collinear upper edge and a collinear lower edge. Extending from such panels is a rearwardly extending portion herein an exhaust extension 40 having a panel offset a predetermined distance from the panels and by flanges respectively. A bottom edge of the panels and flanges is a predetermined distance above the lower edge of the panels.

Rear panel 36 can be formed from a single piece of sheet metal bent to form the various panels. It is also possible to form rear panel 36 from two or more pieces of material. The front panel 34 can be formed from a single piece of sheet metal or from two or more pieces of material. The front panel 34 does have an exposed surface area 38 that is uninterrupted to prevent air from entering therethrough.

The inwardly extending exhaust extension 40 can be configured to fit through an opening 16 between two spaced studs 14 of dwelling 10 (see FIGS. 2 & 3). The inwardly extending exhaust extension 40 can also be configured to fit around a wall stud 14 of dwelling 10 (See FIGS. 5 & 6). The opening 16 in the exterior wall 12 exposes a stud 14. Such configuration avoids having to cut the stud 14 and constructing a frame within the wall 12. A standard spacing for studs is 16 inches on center. Of course other standards are also contemplated, for example 24 inches on center. The benefit of providing features that can be used with standard spaced studs, allows the evaporative cooler to be installed on new construction or existing buildings without the need to modify the stud configuration. Rear panel 36 may further include an upper cap member.

A housing 32 is formed from the base, top panel, rear panel 36 and front panel 34. An access door may be provided to allow access to the interior of the housing 32. The width of the sides 42, 44 of evaporator cooler housing 32 is typically determined by the width of the evaporative media pads, 66, 68.

Exhaust extension 40 includes an opening 41 which serves as the air outlet from the evaporate cooler housing 32. It should also be noted that the front side 34 of housing 32 does not include any openings. However, it is possible in an alternative embodiment to provide louvered openings alone or in any combination in the other panels. The air inlets 46, 48 of an exemplary embodiment of an evaporator housing 32 is accomplished through the right and left side panels 42, 44 that are located on the right and left sides of the housing 32.

In one embodiment, (See FIG. 5), water distribution system 70 includes a pump, a water distribution line, and a water diffuser. The pump includes a base having on inlet. The base rests upon a plate of the base. Water is pumped from the base into the water distribution lines through a first line. The line may split into two lines via a splitter. Each of the lines terminate with a nozzle, that is secured to a water diffuser. Water diffuser includes a top panel having a bottom surface that faces downward. A nozzle support plate extends from a front edge of upper plate. Water is pumped from a water basin defined by base through water distribution lines to the two nozzles located on the respective right and left water diffusers.

Water is sprayed through each nozzle such that it sprays the water against surface of the evaporative media pads 66, 68. The size of the nozzle outlet is sufficient to minimize cleaning required due to mineral buildup. The portion of the water flow that hits the media pads 66, 68 is then directed downward.

In another embodiment, (See FIGS. 2 and 3) water distribution system 70 includes a pump, a water distribution line, and a water diffuser. The pump includes a base having an inlet. The base rests upon a plate of the base. Water is pumped from the base into the water distribution lines through a first line. The line may split into two lines via a splitter. Each of the lines couples to a distributor tube 87. The distributor tube 87 is coupled to a water distributor 88. Water distributor 88 includes a plurality of upwardly facing holes, and top panel having a curved surface that faces downward. A distributor tube 87 extends from a front edge of top panel to the rear edge of top panel. Water is pumped from a water basin defined by base through water distribution lines to the two distributor tubes 87 located on the respective right and left water distributors 88.

Water is sprayed through each distributor tube such that it sprays the water upward against the water distributor surface which spreads the water evenly as it reaches the evaporative media pads 66, 68. The size of the distributor holes is sufficient to minimize cleaning required due to mineral buildup. The portion of the water flow that hits the media pads 66, 68 is then directed downward.

Turning to FIGS. 3 & 4, the blower assembly 60 includes an impeller 61 that is driven by a motor. Air is drawn through the side inlet 46, 48 and blown out through the outlet 41. The blower 60 may extend into the exhaust extension 40 allowing the blower 60 to be partially located within the wall 12 of the dwelling 10.

In an exemplary embodiment, the blower 60 is a rotary blower having a ⅛ hp motor and blower wheel. Additionally, the position of the blower permits the air entering the media pad 66, 68 to move directly into the blower. Of course air entering either the top or bottom of the media will enter the blower at an angle. However, greater efficiency is achieved since the inlet or openings of the blowers face the right and left sides of the evaporative cooler and media. An increased blower wheel diameter would require a larger blower housing which in turn would require a large evaporative cooler housing. A larger housing would project further from the building structure. Alternatively, the air flow could be increased if the length of the blower wheel is increased as measured along a longitudinal axis about which the blower wheel rotates. However, the increased length of the blower wheel along its longitudinal axis would require a larger size opening in the building if a portion of the blower housing would fit within the extension portion. Coupling the evaporative cooling system 25 to the existing air conditioning system 20 of a dwelling 10 requires the blower 60 to be configured to overcome the typical high static air pressure, for example 0.6 to 2.0 inches of water, of the duct work system 22 of the air conditioning system 20.

Turning to FIGS. 1 & 4 evaporative cooler 30 includes an exhaust extension 40 that extends between the rear panel 36 through the wall 12 of the dwelling 10. Extension 40 is formed of a rigid preformed plastic sheet or sheet metal. The extension is movable from a flattened position to a rectangular position that has the same periphery as the opening 41 of extension 40. Other types of extensions are also contemplated such as an accordion style member or an extension formed from two separate components that slide relative to one another. The ability to easily adjust the width of the extension permits the flexible duct 80 to fit adjacent the inner wall of the dwelling while allowing the rear panel 36 of the housing 30 to be adjacent the outer wall of the dwelling 10.

The flexible duct 80 has a first end 82 and second end 86. An exemplary embodiment, the first end 82 has an interior diameter ID larger than the interior diameter ID of the second end 86 with the flexible duct 80 configured to couple to the housing 32 of the evaporative cooling system 25 and the duct work system 22 of the air conditioning system 20. A typical air conditioning system 20 duct work 22 may have twelve inch diameter ducts. An exemplary embodiment of a flexible duct 80 will have an ID of eighteen to twenty inches at one end and an ID of twelve inches at another end that connects to the air conditioning system. The high capacity blower 60 and flexible duct 80 combine to overcome the high static air pressure in the existing air conditioning system duct work.

The evaporative cooler housing 32 is mounted at a predetermined grade in relation to the dwelling 10. The predetermined grade in one exemplary embodiment is at ground level with the evaporative cooling housing 32 supported on a stand 74 located on the ground G adjacent to the drawing structure 10. The stand 74 can be composed of any material that is suitable for the environment in which it is located and provide sufficient strength to support the evaporative cooler housing 32. The stand 74 may be a slab, for example of concrete or it may be a framework on legs and it may include decorative features that are compatible with the evaporative cooler housing 32.

The evaporative cooling system 25 includes a control unit 90 which is configured to control the operation of the evaporative cooling unit 30 and the air conditioning system 20. Dampers 92 can be mounted between the evaporative cooling housing 32 and the air conditioning compressor 24. The control unit 90 is typically configured to alternately operate the evaporative cooling system 25 and the air conditioning system 20.

For existing dwellings 10 and buildings a method for supplementing the air quality in the dwelling 10 having an air conditioning system 20 is provided. The air conditioning system 20 which includes a duct work system 22 and a compressor 24. The method includes the steps of providing an evaporative cooler 30 having a housing 32 with an extension 40 extending therefrom and a high capacity blow wheel 61. Placing the evaporative cooler 30 adjacent to the dwelling 10 and installing the extension 40 through an opening 16 in an exterior wall 12 of the dwelling 10. Coupling the extension 40 to the duct work system 22 of the air conditioning system 20 in the dwelling 10 and controlling the operation of the evaporative cooler 30 and the air conditioning system 20.

Additional steps include providing a flexible duct 80 having two ends 82, 86 and attaching one end of the flexible duct 80 to the extension 40 and the other end of the duct to the duct work system 22. A damper 92 can be provided and installed between the evaporative cooling housing 32 and the air conditioning compressor 24 to provide additional control for the air quality in the dwelling 10. Additional dampers 92 may be installed for additional air quality control. A controller 90 coupled to the evaporative cooling system 25 and the air conditioning system 20 and their attendant equipment (ex. dampers, vents, and the like) alternately operates the evaporative cooling system 25 and the air conditioning system 20.

It is important to note that the construction and arrangement of the elements of the evaporative cooler housing as shown in the preferred and other exemplary embodiments is illustrative only. Although only a few embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail in this disclosure, those skilled in the art who review this disclosure will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible (e.g. variations in sizes, dimensions, structures, shapes and proportions of the various elements, values of parameters, mounting arrangements, use of materials, orientations, etc.) without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of the subject matter recited in the claims. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims. The order or sequence of any process or method steps may be varied or re-sequenced according to alternative embodiments. Other substitutions, modifications, changes and omissions may be made in the design, operating conditions and arrangement of the preferred and other exemplary embodiments without departing from the spirit of the present invention as expressed in the appended claims.