Title:
Automatic bath temperature and level control
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A wall mounted electronic control system is used to control user defined temperature setpoints to regulate bath or shower water temperatures and tub levels where desired. The user will use a keypad to enter the desired temperature using the temperature setpoint adjust buttons (11) and initiate the start sequence on the control unit (10). The control unit (10) will output a signal to open the motorized water control valves (12). The thermocouple (14) will send an input signal to the control unit (10) where the unit will compare the input and output signal to generated an adjusted output to throttle the motorized water control valves (12) until the desired temperature setpoint is reached. The automatic drain valve (13) will close if the “Bath” mode is selected until the desired water level triggers the water level sensor (16), which will then close the motorized water control valves (12). An audible signal will then be generated by the control unit alerting the user that the bath is ready. If the “Shower” mode is selected the audible alarm will alert the user when the desired water temperature setpoint is reached.



Inventors:
Hamilton, Jerome (Woodbury, MN, US)
Gray, Ron (Rosemount, MN, US)
Application Number:
10/962323
Publication Date:
04/13/2006
Filing Date:
10/12/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D1/14; A47K3/00; E03D3/12
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Primary Examiner:
HA, JULIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Patrick L. Mixon (Dallas, TX, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A method for controlling and regulating water temperature and maximum fill level within an electronic control process comprising: (a) providing a programmed electronic control unit for processing system inputs and outputs, (b) providing automatic or manual means to modify the position of water valve(s) thus controlling water flow to reach desired water temperature setpoint, (c) providing a memory controller which will: (1) direct means for entering and viewing desired water temperature setpoint, and (2) direct means to observe actual water temperature, and (3) means to initiate start or stop of water temperature and water levels.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to the automatic temperature setting and level control for residential and commercial bath and shower facilities.

2. Description of Prior Art

Current bath and shower systems require near continuous monitoring to properly regulate water temperature to the desired setting and fill a bathtub to the proper level prior to use.

The user must adjust the water valve(s) to the proper position, wait some time for the water system to stabilize and deliver hot water, readjust water valve(s) to achieve the desired temperature, wait until the desired water level in the bathtub is achieved and then shut-off the water valves. All this interaction does not allow the user to easily perform other tasks. Additionally, if the user where to not monitor the water temperature and level, water and energy would be wasted and potentially in the case of a small hot water system all hot water could be exhausted with a delay required to reheat the system.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES

Accordingly, several objects and advantages of the automatic bath temperature and water level control are:

(a) Quickly adjust bath and/or shower water temperatures to the desired setting preferred by the user.

(b) Energy and water savings achieved by minimizing the excess water flow required to achieve desired user temperature and through the ability to close the drain and fill valves immediately when level is achieved.

(c) Allows the user to multi-task after initiating temperature and fill cycles.

(d) Safely regulates bath water temperatures to prevent accidental scalding of user due to higher than desired temperatures.

(e) Consistent and reliable temperature setting for bath and/or shower from the ability of the automatic bath temperature and water level control to store users preferred set points.

(f) Uses a low voltage electrical system to safely control all output devices in the system without risk to the user.

Further objects and advantages are to provide and easy and reliable system for setting bath and/or shower water temperature to allow users to accomplish other tasks while waiting for bath and/or shower to reach desired temperatures set point and level. Still further objects and advantages will become apparent from a consideration of the ensuing description and drawings.

DRAWING FIGURES

In the drawing, a depiction of the entire system is drawn. Single lines connecting the various devices represent electrical connections.

FIG. 1 shows the components of the entire system, callouts and description of the individual components are identified in the next section.

REFERENCE NUMERALS IN DRAWINGS

10control unit11temperature set point
adjust buttons
12motorized water control valves13automatic drain valve
14thermocouple15discharge facet
16water level sensor

SUMMARY

In accordance with the present invention an automatic temperature setting and level control comprises a wall mounted electronic control system for temperature set point and display, a thermocouple for temperature measurement, motorized valve(s) and drain and a water level sensor.

OPERATION

The manner of using the automatic temperature setting and level control requires that the user first enter the desired temperature using the UP or DOWN arrows 11 on the control unit 10 keypad. The user will then depress the START button on the control unit 10 to initiate the fill and temperature control sequence.

The control unit 10 will output a signal to the motorized water valve(s) 12 to begin adjustment of the valve to reach the desired set point temperature. The control unit 10 will also output a signal to the automatic drain valve 13 to open. The thermocouple 14 inserted into the water flow in the discharge faucet 15 will monitor the temperature continuously providing feedback to the control unit 10. The feedback signal will be compared to the set point generating a error signal that will be amplified providing an output from the control unit X to the motorized water valve 12 to make additional adjustments to bring water temperature within the control limits of the desired set point.

Once the desired set point has been reached the control unit 10 will output a signal to the automatic drain valve 13 to close thus initiating the bathtub fill cycle. The bathtub will continue to fill while the level of the water is being monitored by the water level sensor 16. Once the level has reached a pre-adjusted level as indicated by the water level sensor 16 the control 10 unit will output a signal to the motorized water valve(s) 12 to close and provide an audible alert to indicate to the operator that the bathtub is ready for use.

Upon completion of the users bath, the user will depress the END button on the control unit 10 to end the cycle. The control unit 10 will then output a signal to the automatic drain valve 16 to open and drain the tub. The system will then be reset and ready for another cycle.

CONCLUSION, RAMIFICATIONS AND SCOPE

Accordingly, the reader will see that the automatic temperature setting and level control will allow various combinations of control device designs to allow for easy retrofit to existing systems and allow for adaptation to new systems and integration in various plumbing system product lines.

Although the description above contains much specificity, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. For example, this invention can be used with the full automatic control as described above or automatic elements of the system can be controlled manually.