Title:
Icemaker and refrigerator comprising the same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed herein is a refrigerator which comprises an icemaker. In the refrigerator, a printed circuit board for ice-making positioned in the icemaker shares some components with a main printed circuit board, or the main printed circuit board receives some components used for the icemaker in place of the printed circuit board for ice-making, thereby providing various effects. The refrigerator comprises an icemaker to perform automatic ice-making operation of freezing water supplied from an outside to produce ice cubes, a first printed circuit board to control a freezing operation for a freezing compartment of the refrigerator, and a power supply unit shared by the icemaker and the first printed circuit board.



Inventors:
Kwon, Young Woon (Gwangju, KR)
Kim, Jung Rae (Seoul, KR)
Jeong, Seong Ki (Yongin-si, KR)
Ji, Jun Dong (Suwon-Si, KR)
Park, Young Jun (Seongnam-Si, KR)
Application Number:
11/503160
Publication Date:
02/22/2007
Filing Date:
08/14/2006
Assignee:
Samsung Electronics Co.,Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/351
International Classes:
F25C1/00; F25C5/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ZEC, FILIP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STAAS & HALSEY LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A refrigerator, comprising: an icemaker comprising a heater to partially melt ice cubes produced in a mold section for a predetermined period of time such that the ice cubes can be discharged to an outside from the mold section, a motor to rotate an ejector at a predetermined angle, the ejector serving to discharge the ice cubes to the outside, an ejector sensor to detect a rotated position of the ejector, a temperature sensor to detect a temperature of the mold section, and an ice-filling detection sensor to detect a rotated position of an ice-filling detection lever; and a main printed circuit board to supply power to a freezing compartment and the icemaker.

2. The refrigerator according to claim 1, wherein the icemaker further comprises a printed circuit board for ice-making to control the heater and the motor in response to detection signals sent from the ejector sensor, the temperature sensor and the ice-filling detection sensor to the printed circuit board for ice-making while receiving the power supplied from the main printed circuit board.

3. The refrigerator according to claim 1, wherein the main printed circuit board controls at least one of the heater and the motor of the icemaker.

4. The refrigerator according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the heater, the motor, the ejector sensor, the temperature sensor, and the ice-filling sensor of the icemaker are connected with the main printed circuit board via a line.

5. The refrigerator according to claim 1, wherein the main printed circuit board further includes a microcomputer storing a program to delay, interlink and change an operation of the icemaker according to a condition table input as operation and control information of the refrigerator.

6. A refrigerator, comprising: an icemaker to perform automatic ice-making operation of freezing water supplied from an outside to produce ice cubes; a first printed circuit board to control a freezing operation for a freezing compartment of the refrigerator; and a power supply unit shared by the icemaker and the first printed circuit board.

7. The refrigerator according to claim 6, wherein the icemaker includes a group of sensors to detect information for the automatic ice-making operation.

8. The refrigerator according to claim 6, wherein the first printed circuit board includes a first microcomputer to control the freezing operation of the freezing compartment.

9. The refrigerator according to claim 8, wherein the first printed circuit board further comprises a driving unit to drive the icemaker, and the first microcomputer may drive the driving unit to control the automatic ice-making operation of the icemaker.

10. The refrigerator according to claim 8, wherein the first printed circuit board controls the automatic ice-making operation of the icemaker in response to the information for the automatic ice-making operation sent from the group of sensors positioned in the icemaker to the first microcomputer.

11. An icemaker of a refrigerator comprising a first printed circuit board to control a freezing operation for a freezing compartment of the refrigerator, the first printed circuit board comprising a power supply unit, wherein the icemaker performs an automatic ice-making operation after receiving power supplied from the power supply unit of the first printed circuit board.

12. The icemaker according to claim 11, wherein the icemaker further comprises a group of sensors to detect information for the automatic ice-making operation.

13. The icemaker according to claim 11, wherein the first printed circuit board includes a driving unit to drive the icemaker, and the automatic ice-making operation of the icemaker is controlled through driving of the driving unit by a first microcomputer.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of Korean Patent Application Nos. 10-2005-75630, filed on Aug. 18, 2005 and 10-2006-76691, filed on Aug. 14, 2006 in the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the disclosure of which are incorporated herein by references.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a refrigerator, and more particularly, to a refrigerator, which comprises an icemaker to produce and supply ice cubes, and is constructed to have component to drive the icemaker mounted on a separate printed circuit board.

2. Description of the Related Art

FIG. 1 shows a conventional refrigerator including an icemaker. Referring to FIG. 1, the refrigerator includes a main body 2 which is partitioned to form a freezing compartment and a refrigerating compartment by a barrier and has a cooling cycle system to maintain the freezing compartment and the refrigerating compartment at low temperatures, a freezing compartment door 4 hingably coupled with the main body 2 to open or close the freezing compartment, and a refrigerating compartment door 6 hingably coupled with the main body 2 to open or close the refrigerating compartment. The cooling cycle system includes a compressor (not shown) to compress gaseous refrigerant having a low temperature and a low pressure to have a high pressure, a condenser (not shown) to condense the compressed refrigerant via radiation with external air, an expansion unit (not shown) to reduce the pressure of the condensed refrigerant by adiabatically expanding the refrigerant, and an evaporator (not shown) to evaporate the refrigerant via thermal exchange.

Recently, the refrigerant is under an increasing tendency of including an automatic ice dispenser, which can make ice cubes using chilled air of the freezing compartment, and then allow the ice cubes to be dispensed to an outside of the refrigerator. The automatic ice dispenser includes an icemaker 10 mounted at an upper portion of the freezing compartment to freeze water using chilled air within the freezing compartment, an ice bank 30 positioned in the freezing compartment to contain the ice cubes transferred from the icemaker 10, a dispensing part 40 formed in a freezing compartment door 4 to allow the ice cubes to be dispensed to an outside without opening the freezing compartment door 4, and an ice chute 50 to guide the ice cubes contained in the ice bank 30 to drop into the dispensing part 40.

FIG. 2 shows a line connection between a main printed circuit board and the icemaker in the conventional refrigerator. As shown in FIG. 2, the conventional refrigerator includes a main printed circuit board 21 positioned at an upper portion of a main body 2 to control operations of the freezing compartment and the refrigerating compartment of the refrigerator, and a separate printed circuit board 19 for ice-making positioned in the icemaker 10 to control the icemaker 10. The main printed circuit board 21 and the printed circuit board 19 for ice-making include microcomputers and power supplies, respectively.

For the conventional refrigerator, since the icemaker is controlled by the separate printed circuit board for ice-making rather than the main printed circuit board, it becomes complicated and increases in size and manufacturing costs.

Furthermore, this structure requires a separate power source for the printed circuit board for ice-making to independently drive various circuits, causing an increase in power consumption.

Moreover, in the conventional refrigerator, the printed circuit board for ice-making occupies a relatively large volume in the icemaker so that utility of a mold section (ice-making region) of the icemaker is lowered by the size of the printed circuit board, causing a decrease in ice-making capacity.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an aspect of the present invention to provide a refrigerator, in which a printed circuit board for ice-making positioned in an icemaker shares some components with a main printed circuit board, or in which the main printed circuit board receives some components used for the icemaker in place of the printed circuit board for ice-making, thereby providing various effects.

Additional aspects and/or advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows and, in part, will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a refrigerator, including: an icemaker comprising a heater to partially melt ice cubes produced in a mold section for a predetermined period of time such that the ice cubes can be discharged to an outside from the mold section, a motor to rotate an ejector at a predetermined angle, the ejector serving to discharge the ice cubes to the outside, an ejector sensor to detect a rotated position of the ejector, a temperature sensor to detect a temperature of the mold section, and an ice-filling detection sensor to detect a rotated position of an ice-filling detection lever; and a main printed circuit board to supply power to a freezing compartment and the icemaker.

The icemaker may further include a printed circuit board for ice-making to control the heater and the motor in response to detection signals sent from the ejector sensor, the temperature sensor and the ice-filling detection sensor to the printed circuit board for ice-making while receiving the power supplied from the main printed circuit board.

The main printed circuit board may control at least one of the heater and the motor of the icemaker.

The heater, the motor, the ejector sensor, the temperature sensor, and the ice-filling sensor of the icemaker may be connected with the main printed circuit board via a line.

The main printed circuit board may further include a microcomputer storing a program to delay, interlink and change an operation of the icemaker according to a condition table input as operation and control information of the refrigerator.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a refrigerator, including: an icemaker to perform automatic ice-making operation of freezing water supplied from an outside to produce ice cubes; a first printed circuit board to control a freezing operation for a freezing compartment of the refrigerator; and a power supply unit shared by the icemaker and the first printed circuit board.

The icemaker may include a group of sensors to detect information for the automatic ice-making operation.

The first printed circuit board may include a first microcomputer to control the freezing operation of the freezing compartment.

The first printed circuit board may further include a driving unit to drive the icemaker, and the first microcomputer may drive the driving unit to control the automatic ice-making operation of the icemaker.

The first microcomputer may control the automatic ice-making operation of the icemaker in response to the information for the automatic ice-making operation sent from the group of sensors positioned in the icemaker to the first microcomputer.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, there is provided an icemaker of a refrigerator including a first printed circuit board to control a freezing operation for a freezing compartment of the refrigerator, the first printed circuit board including a power supply unit, wherein the icemaker performs an automatic ice-making operation after receiving power supplied from the power supply unit of the first printed circuit board.

The icemaker may further include a group of sensors to detect information for the automatic ice-making operation.

The first printed circuit board may further include a driving unit to drive the icemaker, and the automatic ice-making operation of the icemaker may be controlled through driving of the driving unit by a first microcomputer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and/or other aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent and more readily appreciated from the following description of the embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 shows a conventional refrigerator comprising an icemaker;

FIG. 2 shows a line connection between a main printed circuit board and the icemaker in the conventional refrigerator;

FIG. 3 shows an icemaker of a refrigerator according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 shows a line connection between a main printed circuit board and the icemaker of the refrigerator according to the embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating the configuration of a main printed circuit board and a printed circuit board for ice-making according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustrating the configuration of a main printed circuit board and a printed circuit board for ice-making according to another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to the embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. The embodiments are described below to explain the present invention while referring to the figures.

In FIG. 3, an icemaker of a refrigerator according to one embodiment of the present invention is shown. As shown in FIG. 3, a water container 311 contains water supplied through a water supplying valve 520 (see FIG. 5), and supplies the water to a mold section 312. The mold section 312 serves to freeze water supplied from the water container 311 by use of chilled air within a freezing compartment, thereby producing ice cubes. The mold section 312 is heated by a heater (not shown) such that the ice cubes are separated from the mold section 312 and then discharged to an outside. An ejector 314 is rotatably installed above the mold section 312 to scoop up the ice cubes to be discharged. Rotation of the ejector 314 is generated by a driving force of an ejector motor 315. The ice cubes scooped up by the ejector 314 are directed into an ice bank along a slider 316. The ice bank is provided with an ice-filling detection sensor 317 to detect whether or not the ice bank is filled with the ice cubes.

The mold section 312 has an ice-making space where water is frozen. The ice-making space is formed with a plurality of partitioning protrusions 312a to divide the ice-making space to a plurality of spaces so that a plurality of ice cubes can be made by the spaces. The mold section 312 is provided with connecting members 312b by which the mold section 312 is fixed to an upper rear side of the freezing compartment. The heater is disposed on a lower surface of the mold section 312 to heat the mold section 312 in order to allow the ice cubes to be separated from the mold section 312. The heater is a sheath heater, which locally heats only the lower surface of the mold section 312 rather than heating the overall outer surface of the mold section 312. The ejector 314 includes a shaft 314a positioned above the ice-making space and rotated in conjunction with the ejector motor 315. The shaft 314a of the ejector 314 is formed at a side surface with a plurality of pins 314b, of which number corresponds to the number of ice-making spaces divided by the plurality of partitioning protrusions 312a. The ejector motor 315 is mounted on a printed circuit board for ice-making (second printed circuit board) 319 positioned at one side of the mold section 312.

FIG. 4 shows a line connection between a main printed circuit board and the icemaker of the refrigerator according to the embodiment. Referring to FIG. 4, a refrigerator 410 has a main printed circuit board 421 (first printed circuit board) positioned in an electronic compartment at an upper end of the refrigerator 410 to control a refrigerating compartment and a freezing compartment while partially controlling the icemaker 310. The main printed circuit board 421 according to embodiment of the present invention shares or receives some components, which have been mounted on the printed circuit board for ice-making in a conventional icemaker, thereby enabling reduction in size of the printed circuit board for ice-making 319.

For example, with a control system for an ice-making operation remaining in the icemaker 310, the main printed circuit board 421 comprises a power supply unit which is to be shared with the printed circuit board for ice-making 319, thereby reducing the size of the printed circuit board for ice-making 319 all the more. With this construction, the main printed circuit board 421 may supply power to the icemaker 310 while controlling the refrigerating compartment and the freezing compartment of the refrigerator, and the printed circuit board for ice-making 319 may control the icemaker 310 which comprises the water supply valve 420 (as indicated by a solid line of FIG. 5). Alternatively, the main printed circuit board 421 further comprises components, such as a driving unit and a group of sensors, for the icemaker 310 excluding components for the icemaker 310 directly related to ice-making, so that the printed circuit board for ice-making 319 can be further reduced in size. At this point, the water supply valve 420 and the like are controlled by the main printed circuit board 421 (as indicated by a solid line of FIG. 5). Furthermore, a housing (not shown) may be installed between the main printed circuit board 421 and the icemaker 310 in order to firmly and neatly secure a wire for connection.

The main printed circuit board 421 may store a program which serves to delay, interlink and change an operation of the icemaker 310 according to a condition table input according to operation and control information of the refrigerator. In other words, since the icemaker 310 of the invention automatically produces the ice cubes using chilled air from the freezing compartment of the refrigerator, an ice-making speed can be changed according to a state of the refrigerator. Hence, it is preferable to control the icemaker 310 in conjunction with the state of the refrigerator.

A process for transferring the ice cubes from the icemaker 310 to the ice bank will be described hereinafter. It should be noted in the following description that control of the icemaker 310 is performed by one of the main printed circuit board 421 and the printed circuit board for ice-making 319.

First, the water supply valve 420 is controlled to allow water to be supplied from an outside to the mold section 312. The supplied water is frozen to form ice cubes within the mold section 312 by chilled air discharged from the freezing compartment of the refrigerator. After making the ice cubes, the heater is operated to heat the ice cubes in the mold section 312 to such a degree that the ice cubes can be separated from the mold section 312. When a predetermined period of time is elapsed after operating the heater, the motor 315 is operated to rotate the ejector 314 so as to allow the ice cubes to be transferred from the mold section 312 to the ice bank by the ejector 314. Then, while the ice cubes are continuously heated by the heater for the predetermined period of time, the motor 315 is driven for a predetermined period of time, thereby allowing the ice cubes to be transferred from the mold section 312 to the ice bank via rotation of the ejector 314. When the motor 315 is driven for the predetermined period of time, it is determined that the ejector 314 makes one rotation and returns to its original position through an interior of the mold section 312. Of course, a location of the ejector 314 can be more accurately detected by the ejector sensor.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating the configuration of the main printed circuit board and the printed circuit board for ice-making according to one embodiment of the present invention. Referring to FIG. 5, the main printed circuit board 412a comprises a power supply unit 502 and a first microcomputer 504 which controls basic components 506 (such as, compressor, fans, etc.) for the refrigerator. An icemaker 310a is not provided with a separated power supply unit, but shares the power supply unit 502 with the main printed circuit board 412a. Then, the icemaker 310a is operated in response to an input of power from the power supply unit 502 of the main printed circuit board 412a to the icemaker 310a. Hence, a printed circuit board for ice-making 319a of the icemaker 310a does not require a space for mounting a separate power supply unit for the icemaker 310a, so that the printed circuit board for ice-making 319a can be reduced in size and installation space.

In view of the construction of the icemaker 310a shown in FIG. 5, the printed circuit board for ice-making 319a includes a second microcomputer 508 mounted thereon to control general operation of the icemaker 310a. The second microcomputer 508 controls a heater driving unit 510, a valve driving unit 512 and an ejector motor driving unit 514 to drive and control a heater 524, a water supply valve 420a and an ejector motor 315a, respectively. The icemaker 310a is provided with a temperature sensor 516 to detect the temperature of the mold section 312 required for freezing water into ice cubes, an ejector sensor 518 to detect a rotating state of the ejector 314, and an ice-filling detection sensor 520 to detect filling of the ice bank with the ice cubes through detection of a rotated location of the ice-filling detection lever 317. Values detected by these sensors 516, 518 and 520 are converted into signals permitting recognition by the second microcomputer 508 via a sensor signal converter 522 on the printed circuit board for ice-making 319a, and are then sent to the second microcomputer 508. Then, the second microcomputer 508 controls the process of making the ice cubes by the icemaker 310a in response to the signals.

FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustrating the configuration of a main printed circuit board and a printed circuit board for ice-making according to another embodiment of the present invention. Referring to FIG. 6, the icemaker 310b is provided with a heater 624, a water supply valve 420b, an ejector motor 315b, and a group of sensors 616, 618 and 620, but is not provided with a printed circuit board. Instead, components, such as a power supply unit 602, a heater driving unit 610, a valve driving unit 612, an ejector motor driving unit 614 and a sensor signal converter 622, which require a printed circuit board, are mounted on a main printed circuit board 421b. In addition, a third microcomputer 604 is mounted on the main printed circuit board 421b to control the icemaker 310b as well as basic components 606 (such as, compressor, fans, etc.) of the refrigerator. In other words, the third microcomputer 604 of the main printed circuit board 421b controls the power supply unit 602, the heater driving unit 610, the valve driving unit 612 and the ejector motor driving unit 614 to drive and control the heater 624, the water supply valve 420b and the ejector motor 315b, respectively. In addition, after receiving signal values sent via the sensor signal converter 622 on the main printed circuit board 421b from a temperature sensor 516 to detect the temperature of the mold section 312 required for freezing water into ice cubes, an ejector sensor 518 to detect a rotating state of the ejector 314, and an ice-filling detection sensor 520 to detect filling of the ice bank with the ice cubes through detection of a rotated location of the ice-filling detection lever 317, the third microcomputer 604 of the main printed circuit board 421b controls the process of making the ice cubes by the icemaker 310a in response to these signals. Hence, it is not necessary to install the printed circuit board in the icemaker 310b, so that a space of the mold section 312 is further secured, thereby increasing capacity of ice making.

As in the embodiment of the present invention, it is desirable that the concept of allowing some components to be shared by two different printed circuit boards be applied not only to the main printed circuit board and the printed circuit board for ice-making, but also to other printed circuit boards for other independent components of the refrigerator. For example, some components are preferably shared by the main printed circuit board and a printed circuit board for a display unit.

As apparent from the above description, for the refrigerator according to the present invention, a printed circuit board for ice-making positioned in an icemaker shares some components with a main printed circuit board, or the main printed circuit board receives some components for the icemaker in place of the printed circuit board for ice-making, so that the printed circuit board for ice-making can be removed from the icemaker or can be reduced in size, thereby enabling an increase in utility of the mold section (ice-making space) of the icemaker.

As such, when the main printed circuit board receives the some components for the icemaker in place of the printed circuit board for ice-making, the microcomputer of the main printed circuit board controls the icemaker, thereby simplifying the structure of the icemaker while reducing manufacturing costs thereof.

Furthermore, the refrigerator according to the present invention minimizes power consumption of the icemaker via the structure wherein the main printed circuit board shares a single power supply unit with the printed circuit board for ice-making, so that overall power consumption of the refrigerator can be minimized.

Although a few embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it would be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes may be made in this embodiment without departing from the principles and spirit of the invention, the scope of which is defined in the claims and their equivalents.