Title:
Multiple-output solenoid valve
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multiple-output solenoid valve for selectively distributing a gas to a plurality of burners is provided. The multiple-output solenoid valve includes a manifold and a plurality of solenoids positioned therein. The valve has a single gas input, housing defining a manifold, and a plurality of gas outputs. Each of the plurality of gas outputs is coupled with one of the plurality of burners. Each of the plurality of solenoids resides in the manifold and is individually activatable to permit expulsion of the gas from one of the plurality of gas outputs.



Inventors:
Kimble, James D. (DeKalb, IL, US)
Pierog, Dennis W. (Hoffman Estates, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/088455
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/24/2005
Assignee:
Robershaw Controls Company (Richmond, VA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24C3/12
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080168976Adjustable cooking apparatusJuly, 2008Simsack
20060150965Exhausting and cooling system for cooking utensilJuly, 2006Kim et al.
20060283438TRAY ASSEMBLY FOR A BARBECUE DEVICEDecember, 2006Lu
20090250048ADJUSTABLE BURNER KIT FOR BARBEQUE GRILLSOctober, 2009Educate et al.
20060249139Chimney starter grillNovember, 2006Alongi
20090301466SOLAR TRACKER WITH MOVEMENT IN TWO AXES AND ACTUATION IN ONLY ONE OF THEMDecember, 2009Humanes Asensio et al.
20060260605Collector for solar radiationNovember, 2006Connor
20080289621Solar-energy extraction structureNovember, 2008Crowell
20090301467Control Method and Device for Quasi-Uniaxial Sun Chase of Solar PanelsDecember, 2009Cheng
20060144384Barbeque grillJuly, 2006Santagata
20070209656Vapor Heating Type Cooking ApparatusSeptember, 2007Lee



Primary Examiner:
PRICE, CARL D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REINHART BOERNER VAN DEUREN P.C. (ROCKFORD, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for selectively distributing a gas in a gas range, the apparatus comprising: a housing having a gas input, a manifold cavity, and a plurality of gas outputs; and a plurality of solenoids residing in the manifold and individually activatable to release the gas from one of the plurality of outputs such that the gas is selectively distributed in the gas range.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the housing further defines a sealing flange between the manifold and the gas output.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein each of the plurality of solenoids includes a plug, and wherein each of the plugs is engageable with an associated one of the plurality the sealing flanges to prevent expulsion of the gas from an associated one the plurality of gas outputs.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein the plug is disengagable from the sealing flange to permit expulsion of the gas from an associated gas output.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the plurality of solenoids are individually electrically activatable.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a cover, the cover securable to the housing to encapsulate the plurality of solenoids in the manifold.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, further comprising a gasket, the gasket disposed between the cover and the housing when the cover is secured to the housing.

8. An apparatus for selectively distributing a gas to a plurality of burners, the apparatus comprising: a housing having a gas input, a manifold, and a plurality of gas outputs; and a plurality of solenoids, each of the plurality of solenoids residing in the manifold and sealingly engaging an associated gas output to prevent fluid communication between the manifold and the gas output, the solenoids being individually activatable to permit fluid communication between the manifold and the gas output.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the housing further defines a sealing flange between the manifold and the gas outlet.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein each of the plurality of solenoids includes a plug, each of the plugs engagable with one of the plurality the sealing flanges to inhibit fluid communication from the manifold to one the plurality of gas outputs.

11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein each of the plurality of solenoids are operable to disengage the plug from the sealing flange to permit fluid communication from the manifold to one the plurality of gas outputs.

12. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the plurality of solenoids are individually electrically activatable.

13. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising a gasket and a cover, the cover securable to the housing to compress the gasket between the cover and the housing and to encapsulate the plurality of solenoids in the manifold.

14. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the plurality of solenoids include a first solenoid and a second solenoid, the first solenoid preventing the gas from expulsion from the manifold and the second solenoid simultaneously permitting the gas to be expelled from the manifold.

15. A method of reducing a number of connections within a gas appliance having a plurality of burners, comprising the steps of: providing a valve housing having a single gas inlet, a manifold, and a plurality of gas outlets; incorporating a plurality of solenoids into the manifold of the valve housing, each solenoid selectively sealingly engaging one of the plurality of gas outlets; coupling a gas delivery conduit to the gas inlet of the valve housing; and coupling a burner connector to each of the plurality of gas outlets.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of electrically coupling a selector for each of the plurality of burners to an electrical connector for the solenoid.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of selectively energizing one of the plurality of solenoids.

18. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of selectively de-energizing one of the plurality of solenoids.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein one of the plurality of burners is a bake burner.

20. The method of claim 15, wherein one of the plurality of burners is a broiler burner.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention pertains to solenoid control valves, and more particularly to gas solenoid control valves for use in an appliance such as a gas range.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In a typical appliance such as a gas range, a manifold is employed to distribute a gaseous fuel to a plurality of valves that are individually associated with a burner. The gas first enters a manifold at a manifold input. From there, the gas is distributed inside the manifold such that the gaseous fuel is available to each of the multiple manifold outputs.

From the manifold outputs the gas is expelled into a number of individual interconnecting tubes. The gas flows through each of these interconnecting tubes until reaching the inputs of a number of individual valves. Each valve selectively permits or denies the gas to be released from the valve output. If the gas is released, the gas leaves the valve through the valve output and flows through a burner connector to the burner. At the burner, the gas is ignited so that the range can be utilized by a user to, for example, prepare a meal.

Unfortunately, when the above-described manifold in the typical appliance is used, numerous gas connections and fittings within the gas range are required. For instance, a gas connection must be formed between a gas delivery conduit and the manifold input, between each of the manifold outputs and one end of each of the interconnecting tubes, between the other end of each of these interconnecting tubes and the valve input for each of the gas control valves, between each of the valve outputs for each of the gas control valves and one end of each of the burner connectors, and finally between the other end of each of the burner connectors and the input of each of the burners. These gas connections are time consuming to formulate and are a potential source of gas leaks. In a high-line range having multiple oven cavities, the number of connections for each oven's bake burner and broiler burner significantly increases the cost of production of such ranges and the potential for leaks at each of these multiple connection points multiplies.

Therefore, an apparatus that can selectively deliver gas to a burner on a gas range using a minimal number of gas connections would be desirable. The invention provides such an apparatus. These and other advantages of the invention, as well as additional inventive features, will be apparent from the description of the invention provided herein.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the invention provides an apparatus for selectively distributing a gas in a gas range. The apparatus comprises a housing and a plurality of solenoids. The housing has a gas input, a manifold, and a plurality of gas outputs. The plurality of solenoids reside in the manifold and are individually activatable to release the gas from one of the plurality of outputs. Therefore, the gas is selectively distributed in the gas range.

In another aspect, the invention provides an apparatus for selectively distributing gas to a plurality of burners. The apparatus comprises a housing and a plurality of solenoids. The housing has a gas input, a manifold, and a plurality of gas outputs. Each of the plurality of solenoids resides in the manifold and sealingly engages an associated gas output to prevent fluid communication between the manifold and the gas output. The solenoids are individually activatable to permit fluid communication between the manifold and the gas output.

In a further aspect, the invention provides a method of reducing a number of connections within a gas appliance having a plurality of burners. A valve housing having a single gas inlet, a manifold, and a plurality of gas outlets is provided. A plurality of solenoids, each selectively sealingly engaging one of the plurality of gas outlets, is then incorporated into the manifold of the valve housing. A gas delivery conduit is next coupled to the gas inlet of the valve housing and a burner connector is coupled to each of the plurality of gas outlets.

Other aspects, objectives and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a solenoid valve constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention as found in a typical double gas range;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the solenoid valve of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a partially-exploded perspective view of a solenoid in the solenoid valve of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the solenoid of FIG. 3 with a spring, a bushing, and a plug;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of the solenoid valve of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the solenoid valve of FIG. 5 when the solenoid valve has been assembled;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the solenoid valve of FIG. 5, taken from a different viewpoint, when the solenoid valve has been assembled;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the solenoid valve of FIG. 7 taken along line 8-8; and

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view highlighting the disengagement of the sealing flange and the plug in the solenoid valve of FIG. 8.

While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, an embodiment of a solenoid valve 10 for selectively distributing a gaseous fuel constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention is illustrated. To provide a context for the present invention, the solenoid valve 10 is shown disposed within, or operating as a part of, an appliance, such as a high-line gas range 12 having multiple oven cavities 13, 15. However, those skilled in the art will recognize that such operating environment to which the present invention is particularly well suited is presented by way of example, and not by way of limitation. The gas range 12 includes, among other things, a plurality of surface burners 14, a plurality of surface burner selectors 16, a bake burner 17 and a broiler burner 19 in oven cavity 13, a bake burner 21 in oven cavity 15, a cooking mode and temperature selector 23 for oven cavity 13, a temperature selector 25 for oven cavity 15, a gas delivery conduit 18 for receiving the gaseous fuel from an external source, burner connectors 20 at each burner 17, 19 and 21, and gas connections 22.

In this exemplary environment, the solenoid valve 10 of the present invention includes a gas input 28 coupled to and receiving gas from the gas delivery conduit 18. Each of the three gas outputs 34 are coupled by gas connections 22 to the burner connectors 20 for each burner 17, 19, and 21. The valve 10 individually controls the output of gas to each of the connected burners 17, 19, 21 based on inputs received from the cooking mode and temperature selector 23 and the temperature selector 25. As will be recognized by those skilled in the art, the cooking mode and temperature selector 23 operates to control which burner 17, 19 in oven cavity 13 is used and the temperature of the cavity itself. For example, if a user wanted to bake a cake, the selector 25 would command the valve 10 to supply gas to the bake burner 17. The selector 25 would then monitor the temperature of the cavity 13, and would command the valve 10 to stop supplying gas to burner 17 when the temperature of cavity 13 reaches the preset temperature set by the user. If the user were to select the broiler, the selector 25 would command the valve 10 to supply gas to the broiler burner 19.

Referring now to FIG. 2, the solenoid valve 10 comprises a housing 24 that defines a gas input 28, a plurality of gas outputs 34, and a manifold 30. To control the flow of gas out of each of the gas outputs 34, the valve 10 includes a plurality of solenoids 26 positioned within the manifold 30. The manifold 30 is sealed by a gasket 44 positioned under cover 46, which is secured to the housing 24 by securing members such as, for example, screws 48, rivets, nuts, and the like. The electrical connectors 76 of each of the solenoids 26 are exposed through the cover 46 for external connection to the solenoid control circuitry.

The gas input 28 is connectable to the gas delivery conduit 18 (see FIG. 1). As such, when the gas is delivered by the gas delivery conduit 18 and reaches the gas input 28, the gas flows into the housing 24 via the gas input 28 until the gas occupies the manifold 30. The gas is then allowed to flow out of each the gas outlets 34 when the solenoid 26 withdraws the plug 62 from the sealing flange 38 as will be described more fully below.

The gas outputs 34 are fashioned to expel the gas that is residing in or flowing into the manifold 30. Each of the gas outputs 34 is coupled to a burner connector 20 and each of the burner connectors 20 is coupled to a burner 17, 19, or 21 in the gas range 12. Thus, the gas can, when desired, flow through the gas delivery conduit 18, into the gas input 28, into and through manifold 30, out of the gas output 34, into and through the burner connectors 20, and arrive at burners 17, 19, 21 (depending on which one or ones of the solenoids 26 are commanded open). At that time, the gas escaping the burners 17, 19, 21 can be ignited such that a user can employ the gas range 12 to heat food and the like.

In a preferred embodiment, the gas delivery conduit 18, the gas input 28, the gas outputs 34, the burner connectors 20, and the burners 14 (collectively referred to as “components”) can be threaded such these components are threadably mateable with each other. Such threaded mating of the components prevents gas leaks. In preferred embodiments, the threaded mating is supplemented with Teflon tape, sealant, and/or other products to further promote and ensure the formation of a gas seal between the components. Methods of connecting the components, using threaded mating or otherwise, are well known in the art.

As show in FIGS. 3 and 4, one of the plurality of solenoids 26 found in solenoid valve 10 is displayed. Each solenoid 26 comprises a solenoid bobbin 50, an armature 52, a sound damper 54, a solenoid frame 56, a spring 58, a bushing 60, and a plug 62.

Referring specifically to FIG. 3, the solenoid bobbin 50 includes a coil portion 64, a spring seat 66, and a base 68. The spring seat 66 and the base 68 are secured to opposing ends of the coil portion 64. The spring seat 66 includes a first armature opening 70 dimensioned to receive the armature 52. The base 68 includes a coil wire securing slot 72, securing flanges 74, electrical connectors 76, and a second armature opening 78 dimensioned to receive the armature 52. The first and second armature openings 70, 78 and the coil portion 64 of the solenoid bobbin 50 form an armature channel 80.

To assemble the solenoid 26, the armature 52 is inserted into the armature channel 80. The sound damper 54 is then moved toward the base 68 until the sound damper and the base are engaged and a pin 82 on the base is slideably received in sound damper aperture 84. Thereafter, the solenoid frame 56 is biased toward the solenoid bobbin 50 until the pin 82 is slideably received by and snapped into the pin notch 86, the spring seat 66 is slideably received by the spring seat notch 88, and the solenoid frame 56 otherwise engages the base 68 and/or the solenoid bobbin 50. In this arrangement, the sound damper 54 and the solenoid frame 56 together restrict the armature 52 from sliding through or out of the first armature opening 70. Additionally, the armature channel 80 only permits the armature 52 to travel rectilinearly (e.g., up and down, back and forth) within the armature channel 80.

When the solenoid bobbin 50, the armature 52, the sound damper 54, and the solenoid frame 56 have been assembled, as illustrated in FIG. 4, the spring 58, the bushing 60, and the plug 62 can be secured to the armature 52. Such securement is performed by fitting the spring 58 around and onto the spring seat 66, inserting the armature 52 through a bushing aperture 90, and inserting the armature 52 through a plug aperture 92 until the armature flange 94 snaps into the plug aperture. Because of the respective dimensions of the plug aperture 92 and the armature flange 94, once the armature flange has been forcibly inserted through the plug aperture 92, a great deal of effort is required to disengage the two components from each other. Therefore, rectilinear motion of the armature 52 is likewise experienced by the plug 62. The spring 58 biases the plug 62 away from the spring seat 66, which, when installed in the valve 10, forms a seal against the sealing flange 38 (see FIG. 8).

The coil portion 64 on the solenoid bobbin 50 has a coil of wire (not shown) inside. This coil of wire is coupled to the electrical connector 76 at flange 74. When a voltage is applied to terminals 96 of the electrical connector 76, a current flows through the coil of wire and a magnetic field is generated within the solenoid bobbin 50. The magnetic field biases the armature 52 towards the sound damper 54. As a result, the spring 58 is compressed and the plug 62 is also drawn toward the sound damper 54. When installed in the valve 10, this action withdraws the plug 62 from the sealing flange 38 to allow gas to flow out of gas outlet 34 (see FIG. 9) as illustrated by flow lines 106.

As illustrated in FIG. 5, solenoids 26 are each inserted into manifold 30 through manifold opening 32. When the plug 92 on the solenoids 26 engages one of the sealing flanges 38 (see FIG. 2), a gas seal is formed and insertion of that solenoid 26 into the manifold can be halted. Engagement of the plug 62 and the sealing flange 38 will at least partially compress the spring 58 to ensure a bias force is applied on the seal. After the solenoids 26 have been positioned within manifold 24, the solenoids are secured inside the manifold 24 by engaging the securing flanges 74 and the coil wire securing slot 72 (FIGS. 3 and 4) to corresponding slots and flanges (not shown) on and inside the manifold 30.

Once the solenoids 26 have been inserted inside the manifold 30, the gasket notches 98 and gasket slots 100 on gasket 44 are aligned with shafts 42 and terminals 96 such that the gasket 44 engages the housing 24. The cover 46 is then secured to the housing 24 by aligning cover apertures 102 and cover slots 104 with shafts 42 and terminals 96. Thereafter, screws 48 are inserted through the cover apertures 102 and into shafts 42. As the screws are threadably driven into the shafts 42, the cover 46 is drawn toward the housing 24, the gasket 44 is compressed between the cover 46 and the housing 24, and a gas seal in formed. In other words, the manifold 30 is sealed proximate the manifold cavity opening 32. Therefore, the solenoids 26 are encapsulated within the manifold 30 of the housing 24 and, resultantly, within the solenoid 10. FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate the completed valve assembly 10.

After assembly, the solenoid valve 10 is disposed within or coupled to the gas range 12 as depicted in FIG. 1. Notably, the solenoid valve 10 requires far fewer gas connections 22 compared to gas ranges that are known in the art. For instance, when the solenoid valve 10 is employed in the gas range 12, the solenoid valve only needs a gas connection 22 between the gas delivery conduit 18 and the gas input 28, between the gas outputs 34 and the burner connector 20. In contrast, in the typical gas range, gas connections must be made between a gas delivery conduit and the manifold input, between a manifold output and one end of the interconnecting tube, between another end of the interconnecting tube and the valve input, between the valve output and one end of the burner connector, and finally between another end of the burner connector and the burner. Thus, the solenoid valve 10 operates in the gas range 12 using fewer gas connections 22 since such connections are undesirably subject to gas leakage as well as time consuming to form.

In operation, when solenoid valve 10 is used in the gas range 12 and a user operates one of the selectors 23, 25, a voltage is applied to terminals 96 on the associated one of the solenoids 26. The voltage induces current to flow through the wire that is coiled inside the solenoid bobbin 50. When that current flows through the wire, a magnetic field is produced in and around the solenoid bobbin 50 such that the armature 52 is drawn toward the sound damper 54. As the armature 52 is increasingly forcibly biased toward the sound damper 54, as progressively shown in FIGS. 8 (quiescent state) and 9 (activated state), the spring 58 is compressed until the plug 62 disengages from the sealing flange 38. Therefore, the gas is free to flow, as shown by the gas flow arrows 106, from the manifold 30 to the gas output 34. After leaving gas output 34, the gas is directed through the burner connector 20 and to the associated burner where the gas is ignited.

When desired by the user and/or when controlled by the gas range 12 itself, the flow of gas to the burner(s) can be terminated. If the user chooses to shut off the range 12, the user simply manipulates the appropriate selector 23, 25 to an off or lower temperature position. The voltage applied to the terminals 96 is removed and the magnetic field dissipates. When this happens, the spring 58 expands to bias the armature 52 away from the sound damper 54 until the plug 62 re-engages with the sealing flange 38 and forms a gas seal (see FIG. 8). Since no more gas is permitted to flow, the flame in the gas range 12 is extinguished. Of course, the process of engaging and disengaging the plug 62 and the sealing flange 38 can be repeated by each of the solenoids 26.

All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents, cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.

The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) is to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and “containing” are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning “including, but not limited to,”) unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.





 
Previous Patent: Saw blade with cutting depth gauge

Next Patent: Barbeque grill