Title:
Unitized boiler control mounting frame apparatus and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A control frame for a boiler includes a control mounting surface and a control panel. The control frame can be formed from a single piece of sheet metal, such that the control mounting surface and the control panel form a single undivided unit. In addition, the control frame can structurally support a boiler enclosure. The control mounting surface can include mounting interfaces for a control device, an optional microcontroller and wiring terminal strips. The control panel can also include cutouts or mounting interfaces for instrumentation or other control devices. The control frame can further include a latch interface to hold a separate cover panel in place.



Inventors:
Moskwa, Kenneth R. (Valparaiso, IN, US)
Hoffmaster, Fred (LaPorte, IN, US)
Miller, Wayne (Michigan City, IN, US)
Nicholas, Len H. (Syracuse, NY, US)
Russell, Douglas M. (Syracuse, NY, US)
Ryan, Scott H. (Skaneateles, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/117521
Publication Date:
11/02/2006
Filing Date:
04/29/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F22B1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
WILSON, GREGORY A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BakerHostetler (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A control frame for a boiler, comprising: a control mounting surface; and a control panel, wherein the control mounting surface and the control panel form an single undivided unit.

2. The control frame of claim 1, wherein the control frame is configured with an attachment interface for attachment to a boiler.

3. The control frame of claim 2, wherein the control frame is further configured as a structural member to support a boiler enclosure.

4. The control frame of claim 2, wherein the control frame includes the boiler attached to the attachment interface.

5. The control frame of claim 1, wherein the control frame includes a single undivided sheet of metal.

6. The control frame of claim S, wherein the sheet of metal is folded to form the control mounting surface and the control panel.

7. The control frame of claim 1, wherein the control mounting surface includes a mounting interface for attachment of a control device.

8. The control frame of claim 7, wherein the mounting interface comprises at least one convexity configured to support and stabilize the control unit.

9. The control frame of claim 7, wherein the control frame includes a control device mounted to the control mounting surface.

10. The control frame of claim 1, wherein the control mounting surface includes a mounting interface for attachment of a microcontroller.

11. The control frame of claim 10, wherein the mounting interface comprises at least one convexity configured to support and stabilize the microcontroller.

12. The control frame of claim 10, wherein the control frame includes a microcontroller mounted to the control mounting surface.

13. The control frame of claim 1, wherein the control mounting surface includes a mounting interface for a wiring terminal strip.

14. The control frame of claim 1, wherein the control panel includes an instrumentation display device.

15. The control frame of claim 14, wherein the instrumentation display device includes a dial meter.

16. The control frame of claim 1, wherein the control panel includes an input device.

17. The control frame of claim 16, wherein the input device comprises a control switch.

18. The control frame of claim 1, wherein the control frame includes a latch interface configured to engage a cover panel.

19. A control frame for a boiler, comprising: means for mounting a control device; and means for mounting a control interface, wherein the means for mounting the control device and the means for mounting the control interface form a single undivided unit.

20. A method of mounting a control device and a control interface for a boiler, comprising the steps of: fabricating a control frame including a control mounting surface and a control panel that form a single undivided unit; mounting the control device to the control mounting surface; and mounting the control interface to the control panel.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to fuel-burning combustion devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to a control panel and mounting frame for water and steam boilers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Domestic boilers are used to generate hot water, which may be used to flow through a circuit to provide heating to a facility such as a home or office building. The hot water also may be stored in a hot water tank and used for hot water needs such as running a dishwasher, showers and other domestic hot water uses. Boilers generally fall into two categories, electric boilers and fuel-burning boilers, depending on the source of heat energy required to operate the boiler.

Electric burners commonly include an electrical heating element, whereas fuel-burning boilers commonly include a fuel-burning combustion device, or burner, to provide a source of heat to heat liquid water or steam. The burner may supply a hot gas mixture, which can be routed through a series of flue passageways. A boiler may further include two or more flue sections designed to transfer heat by way of convection from the hot gas mixture to liquid water or steam. The flue sections typically can include one or more connected flue passageways through which the hot gas mixture can flow.

Boilers may include a controller or a control panel. The control panel and the controller in some boilers are not mounted near each other. Control-related devices on the control panel, such as instrumentation meters or control switches, frequently are electrically linked to the controller. Accordingly, it is desirable to provide a method and apparatus that locates an attractive control panel in the immediate vicinity of the controller on a boiler.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The foregoing needs are met, to a great extent, by the present invention, wherein in one aspect an apparatus is provided that in some embodiments provides a unitary boiler control frame that locates a subjectively attractive control panel in the immediate vicinity of a control mounting surface for a boiler controller.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a control frame for a boiler includes a control mounting surface and a control panel. In addition, the control mounting surface and the control panel form an single undivided unit.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a control frame for a boiler includes means for mounting a control device and means for mounting a control interface. Furthermore, the means for mounting the control device and the means for mounting the control interface form a single undivided unit.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, a method of mounting a control device and a control interface for a boiler includes the steps of fabricating a control frame that has a control mounting surface and a control panel that form a single undivided unit. The method further includes mounting the control device to the control mounting surface and mounting the control interface to the control panel.

There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, certain embodiments of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof herein may be better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are, of course, additional embodiments of the invention that will be described below and which will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto.

In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of embodiments in addition to those described and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein, as well as the abstract, are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

As such, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this disclosure is based may readily be utilized as a basis for the designing of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a control frame for a boiler according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a layout for the control frame of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the control frame of FIG. 1 installed on a boiler.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An embodiment in accordance with the present invention provides a unitized boiler control frame, including a control mounting surface and a subjectively attractive control panel that form an undivided unitary piece. The control frame has the advantage that the control panel is located in the immediate vicinity of a controller, which can be mounted to the control mounting surface.

The control frame provides for organized and efficient wiring of the boiler control components, as well as providing structural support for the boiler jacket or enclosure. The invention will now be described with reference to the drawing figures, in which like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout.

An embodiment of the present inventive apparatus and method is illustrated in FIG. 1. A boiler control frame 10 can include a control mounting surface 12 and a control panel 14. The control mounting surface 12 can provide for mounting one or more boiler controllers, along with additional boiler control devices. The control panel 14 can provide a subjectively attractive external panel for mounting and viewing control instrumentation, such as a temperature meter, a service switch, or the like.

In addition, the control frame 10 can be fabricated from a single sheet of metal or a segment of sheet metal. Furthermore, the control frame 10 can be designed as a structural member to provide support or stiffening strength to an associated boiler. In a preferred embodiment, a flat layout shape corresponding to the control frame 10 can be cut or stamped from a steel sheet, which can then be folded or bent into a desired shape, such as that shown in FIG. 1. However, in other embodiments, the control frame 10 can be fabricated from any suitable metal, metal alloy or nonmetal material, such as aluminum, tin, a fiber and resin composite, plastic, or the like.

FIG. 2 shows an example of a flat piece of sheet metal that has been cut or stamped into a shape or pattern 16 in order to form a control frame 10. The control frame 10 can include an attachment interface to provide for attachment of the control frame 10 to a boiler. For example, the example control frame pattern 16 shown in FIG. 2 includes flat surfaces 18 along each side of a control mounting surface 12 and a set of holes 20 stamped or drilled into the control frame 10 to accommodate fasteners, such as screws, rivets, pins or the like. Alternatively, the control frame 10 can be adhered to a boiler using an adhesive.

The control mounting surface 12 can include an attachment interface for a control device. For example the attachment interface 22 shown in FIG. 2 includes raised fastener interfaces 24 with a stamped or drilled hole 26 for a fastener, such as a screw, rivet, pin, or the like, in order to attach a control device to the attachment interface 22. The attachment interface 22 can further include raised areas, or convexities 28, to support or stabilize the control devices. In other embodiments, the control mounting surface 12 can be modified to accommodate any suitable control device, or more than one control device.

Furthermore, the control mounting surface 12 can include conduit holes 30 to allow wires to pass through the control mounting surface 12. Thus, a strain relief grommet can optionally be placed in each conduit hole 30 and wiring can be fed through the conduit holes 30 to electrically link additional boiler components.

In addition, the control mounting surface 12 can include a mounting interface 32 for one or more wiring terminal strips. For example, the wiring terminal strip mounting interface 32 can include fastener holes 34 configured to fasten a wiring terminal strip to the control mounting surface 12 using screws or rivets.

Moreover, the control mounting surface 12 can include a mounting interface 36 for an optional microcontroller. The microcontroller mounting interface 36 can include, for example, fastener holes 38 to accommodate fasteners, such as screws, rivets or pins, or the like, to attach a microcontroller to the control mounting surface 12.

Additionally, the microcontroller mounting interface 36 can include one or more raised areas, or convexities 40, to support or stabilize the microcontroller. For example, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the microcontroller can include a rail attached to the lower surface of the microcontroller, and the convexities 40 can contact the lower surface of the microcontroller to prevent it from rocking back and forth on the rail. In other embodiments, the microcontroller mounting interface 36 can be modified to accommodate any suitable microcontroller, or more than one microcontroller.

In order to form side panels for the control panel 14, the control frame pattern 16 can include tabs 42. The tabs 42 can be folded or bent to a vertical position to form side panels for the control panel 14 (see FIG. 1). In addition, the pattern 16 can be folded or bent, for example, at fold line 44, to form a vertical panel at an angle of ninety degrees from the control mounting surface 12.

Furthermore, the pattern 16 can be folded or bent a second time at fold line 46 in order to form an upward facing control panel 14 at an angle of, for example, approximately forty-five degrees from horizontal. In alternate embodiments the upward facing control panel 14 can be formed at any angle from horizontal, for example, within a range from zero degrees to ninety degrees from vertical.

Any number of mounting interfaces for control instrumentation or other control devices can be cut out or stamped from the control panel 14. For example, a meter cutout 48 can be cut or stamped into the control panel 14 in order to provide for mounting a meter, such as a temperature dial meter, a pressure dial meter, a clock, or the like, into the control panel 14.

Likewise, a rectangular cutout 50 can be cut out or stamped from the control panel 14 in order to mount other types of control devices, such as a control switch, in the control panel 14. Similarly, an access cutout 52 can be cut out or stamped from the control panel 14 to allow access to a control device or microcontroller mounted on the control mounting surface 12 underneath or in the close vicinity of the control panel 14.

Moreover, the control frame pattern 16 can be folded at fold line 54 in order to form a cover interface 56 that can support a cover panel on a boiler. Additionally, a tab 58 can be cut or stamped into the pattern 16 to provide a latch interface to latch the cover panel into a closed position. For example, the latch interface can include a threaded hole 60 through which a fastener can pass to latch the cover panel against the control panel interface 56 and hold the cover panel in a closed position.

Additionally, the control frame pattern 16 can be folded at fold line 62 in order to form a vertical trailing edge 64 at the rear edge of the control mounting surface 12. The trailing edge 64 can provide a rounded edge over which wiring can pass without causing damage to the wiring.

FIG. 3 illustrates a control frame 10 installed on a boiler 66, in addition to illustrating an example configuration of a control system installed on the control frame 10. The example control system includes an instrumentation display device 68, an input device 70, a control device 72, an optional microcontroller 74, a wiring terminal strip 76.

For example, the example control system includes an instrumentation display device 68 that is installed in the control panel 14. The instrumentation display device 68 can include any type of display device that is suitable for use with the control frame 10 and the boiler 66, including a dial meter, a digital display, a light emitting diode (LED) alphanumeric display, a cathode ray tube (CRT) display, a liquid crystal diode (LCD) display, or a similar display.

Likewise, an input device can be mounted in the control panel 14. For example, the control system shown in FIG. 3 includes an on/off service control switch 70. Nevertheless, other embodiments can include any suitable input device that is compatible with the for use with the control frame 10 and the boiler 66, such as other control switches, a digital keypad, or the like.

In addition, the example control system illustrated in FIG. 3 includes a control device 72 mounted on the control mounting surface 12. A preferred embodiment of the invention includes a control device 72 in the form of a digital temperature controller. Other embodiments can include any suitable control device 72 that is compatible with the control frame 10 and the boiler 66, such as an analog temperature controller, a burner controller, or the like.

An example of a control device 72 that is compatible with the control frame 10 and a boiler 66 is the Honeywell Model L7224U Oil Electronic Aquastat® Controller family, manufactured by Honeywell International, Inc. of Morristown, N.J., USA. The Model L7224U Aquastat® Controllers can provide electronic temperature sensing in a limit-rated control with a single sensing probe. Furthermore, the L7224U Aquastat® Controllers—which are intended for use in residential-type applications—are further capable of controlling a circulator, an oil burner and the boiler temperature.

Furthermore, the example control system shown in FIG. 3 includes an optional microcontroller 74 mounted to the control mounting surface 12. The optional microcontroller 74 includes additional control functionality and can be linked to the control device 72 by way of a wiring terminal strip 76. The wiring terminal strip can also link the control device 72 or the microcontroller 74 to the boiler 66, or to other electrical components associated with the boiler.

An example of a microcontroller 74 that is compatible with the control frame 10 and a boiler 66 is the Tekmar® Universal Reset Control 374 manufactured by Tekmar Control Systems, Ltd. of British Columbia, Canada. The Universal Reset Control 374 is a microprocessor-based control capable of providing a reset boiler supply temperature and two reset mixed supply temperatures based on outdoor air temperature.

Similarly, wires 78 or a wiring harness associated with the control device 72 or with the microcontroller 74 can pass through a conduit hole 80 in the boiler enclosure 82. For this purpose the boiler enclosure 82 can include knockout holes 84, such as those shown in FIG. 3 on the upper rear surface of the boiler jacket, or enclosure 82. Thus, a knockout hole cover can be easily removed from the boiler enclosure 82 in order to provide ready conduit holes 80 as required by the boiler control system.

The many features and advantages of the invention are apparent from the detailed specification, and thus, it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such features and advantages of the invention which fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and variations will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation illustrated and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.