Title:
Cooling system repair kit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An air conditioning unit repair kit includes a capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor, a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor, a filter dryer, and a fan capacitor.



Inventors:
Reilly Jr., John H. (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/211791
Publication Date:
03/01/2007
Filing Date:
08/25/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25D19/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ABDUR RAHIM, AZIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TROUTMAN PEPPER HAMILTON SANDERS LLP (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cooling system repair kit, comprising: a capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor; a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor; a filter dryer; and a fan capacitor.

2. The kit of claim 1, wherein the capacitor, filter dryer, contactor and capacitor are provided in a single package.

3. The kit of claim 1 further comprising an instruction booklet.

4. The kit of claim 1 further comprising one or more lengths of tubing.

5. The kit of claim 1 further comprising one or more tube couplings.

6. The kit of claim 1 further comprising a wiring harness.

7. The kit of claim 1 further comprising a test kit.

8. The kit of claim 1, wherein the capacitor, filter dryer, contactor and fan capacitor are provided in a single package, and the single package is contained within a compressor container.

9. The kit of claim 8, wherein the compressor container further contains at least one length of tubing.

10. The kit of claim 8, wherein the compressor container also contains the compressor.

11. A cooling system repair kit, comprising: a capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor; a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor; and a filter dryer wherein the capacitor, filter dryer, and contactor are provided in a single, sealed package.

12. The kit of claim 11 further comprising an instruction booklet.

13. The kit of claim 11 further comprising one or more tube couplings.

14. The kit of claim 11 further comprising a wiring harness.

15. The kit of claim 11 further comprising an acid test kit.

16. The kit of claim 11, wherein the sealed package is contained within a compressor container.

17. The kit of claim 16, wherein the compressor container also contains the compressor.

18. A method of supplying cooling system repair items, comprising supplying, in a single package, a capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor, a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor, a filter dryer; and a fan capacitor.

19. The method of claim 18 further comprising supplying an instruction booklet, compressor capacitor, or wiring harness in the package.

20. The method of claim 18 further comprising supplying the package within a compressor container, wherein the compressor container also contains the compressor.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the size or rating is provided by a manufacturer's compressor identification unit.

22. An instructional kit for cooling system maintenance comprising: a compressor capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor; a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor; and at least one additional cooling system equipment item that is recommended, but not required, when the compressor is serviced; wherein the capacitor, contactor, and additional item are provided in a single, sealed package.

23. The kit of claim 22 wherein the additional cooling system item comprises a fan capacitor, wiring harness, acid test kit, filter dryer, a tubing elbow, a tubing connector, or a length of tubing.

24. The kit of claim 22 further comprising an instructional document.

25. The kit of claim 22, wherein the package is contained within a compressor container that also contains the compressor.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The embodiments described herein relate to heating and cooling systems. In particular, the embodiments described herein relate to methods and systems relating to the repair of air conditioners, heat pumps and other heating and cooling systems.

Residential and commercial air conditioning systems control the temperature, humidity and total air quality in countless buildings around the world. These systems, which include air conditioners, heat pumps and other heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) systems require a significant amount of maintenance. Because they often operate under extreme conditions, HVAC failures are common. In addition, to prevent or minimize such failures, routine or preventive maintenance is required on most commercial and residential HVAC systems. Accordingly, the HVAC maintenance and repair business is significant. U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that in 2002, HVAC mechanics and installers held about 249,000 jobs in the United States alone, and about half of those worked for HVAC system contractors.

When a contractor visits a job site, the contractor must first perform an assessment of potential problems with the HVAC system. Common HVAC system problems include a burned out compressor, a system with leaves or other materials clogging the condenser and/or a system leak. Often, when a technician arrives at a job site, the technician will diagnose the problem, travel to a supply shop to obtain required parts and then return to the job site to fix the problem with the acquired parts. Occasionally, the contractor may have at least some of the parts available in his or her vehicle, but it is impractical for a contractor to keep all required parts for every possible system on the vehicle, let alone store them in a manner such that they may be easily located on the vehicle. In addition, after fixing the repair, most contractors simply finish the tasks required to remove the failure, without performing additional preventive maintenance that could prevent the same failure or different failures from happening in the near future.

Accordingly, an improved method and system that will improve contractor response time and help prevent future maintenance problems is desired. The embodiments described herein are directed to solving one or more of the problems described above.

The disclosure contained herein describes attempts to address one or more of the problems described above.

SUMMARY

In accordance with one embodiment, a cooling system repair kit includes a capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor, a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor, a filter dryer, and a fan capacitor. The capacitor, filter dryer, contactor and capacitor may be provided in a single package. The kit may also include one or more of the following: an instruction booklet, one or more lengths of tubing, one or more elbows, one or more tube couplings, a wiring harness, and an acid test kit. Optionally, the single package may contained within a compressor packaging unit, and the compressor packaging unit may contain at least one length of tubing.

In accordance with an alternate embodiment, a cooling system repair kit includes a capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor, a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor, and a filter dryer wherein the capacitor, filter dryer, and contactor are provided in a single, sealed package.

In accordance with an alternate embodiment, a method of supplying replacement parts for a cooling system may include supplying, in a single package, in a single, sealed container, a capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor, a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor, a filter dryer; and a fan capacitor. The method may also include supplying an instruction booklet, compressor capacitor, or wiring harness in the container. Optionally, the container may be supplied within a compressor container, wherein the compressor container also contains the compressor.

In an alternate embodiment, an instructional kit for cooling system maintenance includes a compressor capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor, a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor, and at least one additional cooling system equipment item that is recommended, but not required, when the compressor is serviced. The capacitor, contactor, and additional item are provided in a single, sealed package. The additional cooling system item may include, for example, any or all of the following: a fan capacitor, a wiring harness, an acid test kit, a filter dryer, a tubing elbow, a tubing connector, or a length of tubing. The kit may also include an instructional document. Optionally, the package may be contained within a compressor container that also contains the compressor

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing various component parts of a typical cooling system unit.

FIG. 2 is a diagram showing exemplary component parts of a cooling system repair kit.

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary cooling system repair kit, as arranged in exemplary packaging.

FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of a cooling system repair kit with compressor.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before the present methods, systems and materials are described, it is to be understood that this disclosure is not limited to the particular methodologies, systems and materials described, as these may vary. It is also to be understood that the terminology used in the description is for the purpose of describing the particular versions or embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope.

It must also be noted that as used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meanings as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. Although any methods, materials, and devices similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of embodiments of the invention, the preferred methods, materials, and devices are now described. All publications mentioned herein are incorporated by reference. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the invention is not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary air conditioning unit 10. As used herein, the term “cooling system,” as well as the terms “heating,” “air conditioning,” “ventilation” and “HVAC” in the context of a device or system, refers to any air heating, cooling and/or conditioning device or system that includes a compressor. The function of a compressor is to move liquid refrigerant material through the unit or elsewhere in one or more pipes, tubes, conduits or other channels. For example, the compressor may pump or force the liquid through a condenser such that the refrigerant is condensed from a vapor to a liquid state. Referring to FIG. 1, the exemplary air conditioning unit 10 includes a compressor 12 and a condenser 14. The compressor may be of any type, such as a scroll compressor or reciprocating compressor, operating on any appropriate power source, such as a single-phase power source or a three-phase power source. Tubing 26 carries refrigerant from the compressor 12 to condenser 14 and then through an evaporator 34 that may include or be provided with a fan 38 and motor 39. Outside air 40 may be either forced into the condenser 14 or drawn from condenser 14 by a fan 16 and motor 18.

The compressor may be connected to a power source 24 via an electrical contactor 22 that is selected based on the size of the compressor and type of power source (i.e., single-phase vs. three-phase). A compressor capacitor 20 may be used to provide a voltage boost on start up so that the compressor is not overly stressed during start up. Similarly, fan motor 18 may be connected to power source 24, with one or more fan capacitors 30 serving to provide a voltage boost to the start winding of the fan motor 18. The illustration in FIG. 1 shows only one embodiment of an air conditioning unit, and one skilled in the art will recognize that different configurations may be available.

As the air conditioning unit operates, significant moisture can develop in the system as a result of warm, moist air being cooled by the evaporator 34. Such moisture may be captured by an evaporation tray and automatically or manually removed from the system. Contaminants, including moisture, may build up inside of the refrigerant system 26. Such build-up can reduce the effectiveness of the refrigerant and/or corrode the compressor, condenser and/or tubing. Accordingly, a filter dryer 32 may be installed at some point along the refrigerant liquid line 26 in order to capture moisture from the system. Such dryers are commercially available and are generally rated for use with various refrigerants. They may contain a filter, such as a molecular sieve and activated alumna filter, that extracts contaminants from the refrigerant.

FIG. 2 illustrates exemplary components of a cooling system repair kit. Referring to FIG. 2, a compressor 112 may be included in the kit, or it may be separate from the kit. The kit contains at least some parts that are sized and/or otherwise selected based on the size, type and/or rating of the compressor. The size of the compressor may be based on a rating of the air conditioning unit, such as a tonnage, British Thermal Unit (“BTU”) rating or other rating. Exemplary size ratings may range, for example, from approximately 18,000 BTU/hour to approximately 61,000 BTU/hour. Other sizes and ratings are possible. The compressor may be a scroll-type compressor, rotary screw compressor, reciprocating (piston) compressor or any other type of compressor known to one skilled in the art at the present or in the future. In general, when a technician discovers that an air conditioning compressor must be replaced, the technician will select a compressor of size and type that is similar to that which previously failed. However, the present embodiments described herein are not limited to such conditions.

Additional components that may be included in a service kit may include a compressor capacitor 120 sized to operate with the compressor 112. The capacitor 120 may have a size that is selected to correspond to the compressor manufacturer's recommendation, or due to other design features known to those skilled in the art. Capacitor 120 is optional. For example a three-phase compressor may not require a compressor capacitor. Similarly, a compressor contactor 122 may be selected based on the voltage and/or current rating of compressor 112. The contactor 122 selected for the kit may also vary based on whether the compressor 112 is a single-phase compressor or a three-phase compressor. For example, most compressors may operate with a 30 amp rated contactor. However, some larger compressors in home air conditioning systems may require a 40 amp contactor. Commercial systems may require contactors that are even larger. In addition, the contactor may vary depending on the power system, such as a single-cavity or dual-cavity contactor for a single-phase power system and a three-cavity contactor for a three-phase system.

A wiring harness 124 may also be included so that the technician can replace the compressor power line and/or plug based on failure and/or preventive purposes. The size of the wire selected for the wiring harness 124 may vary according to the maximum current rating of the compressor 112. Alternatively, the kit may simply include a wiring harness 124 with wire size capable of handling any type of compressor for which kits are provided, such that the wire is selected to handle at least the largest expected current from all selected compressors.

Other components that may be included are one or more fan capacitors 128. In one embodiment, two, three or more fan capacitors 128 may be included because different air conditioning systems may use different fan motors, regardless of the compressor size. Typical capacitors that may be included in a test kit include, for example, a 5 μf capacitor, a 7.5 μf capacitor and/or a 10 μf capacitor. However, other capacitor sizes may be used within the scope of the invention described herein.

It can help maintain a unit if the liquid line filter drier is replaced any time the closed refrigerant system is exposed to moisture and/or other contaminants when a compressor is replaced. Accordingly, the kit may also include a replacement filter dryer 130 so that the contractor can either replace a defective filter dryer or provide routine maintenance by replacing a not-yet defective filter dryer while servicing the unit. Similarly, the kit may include an acid test kit 150 to enable the contractor to test the acidity of a sample of the refrigerant in the system. When a compressor overheats, it may turn refrigerants and/or oils acidic. Thus, the contractor may use the acid test kit 150 to determine whether the compressor is free or substantially free of acid contamination. While replacing a compressor, or for other maintenance reasons, a contractor may be required to replace one or more sections of the refrigerant tubing system. Accordingly, one or more pieces of copper, plastic and/or other tubing 126 may be provided, either in the kit or with the kit. The tubing may be selected for a typical size, such as approximately 16 inches in length, or different lengths of tubing may be provided to allow use in different applications. Along with tubing 126, one or more elbows 127 and/or couplings 125 may be provided to further permit replacements in the tubing system.

In some embodiments, a service booklet 152 may be provided as a reference guide for the contractor to receive instructions. The instructions may include, for example, general repair tips, common test procedures, information about specific parts included in the kit and information about selecting appropriate parts, material safety data sheets (MSDS) and/or other information.

FIG. 3 illustrates exemplary components that may be included in a cooling system repair kit 170. The repair kit may include, for example, packaging material 180 such as styrofoam, plastic, cardboard, foam, rubber and/or other material containing one or more cavities 182 and 184 to hold parts during storage and/or shipment. The packaging 180 may have open cavities, with plastic, shrink wrap or other material surrounding the packaging 180 to secure and/or seal the materials inside while permitting visibility of some or all of the materials from the exterior. Alternatively, the packaging 180 may be sealed or otherwise closed, such as through a wrapper, cover and/or second packaging piece so that the materials contained inside are not visible to the outside. As used herein, a “sealed” package may include any package with a mechanism for holding items within the package, such as a shrink-wrapped package, plastic-wrapped package, packaged that is taped or glued closed, a package with interlocking folds or tabs, or even a package in which parts are open to the outside air but held in place with wires, zip-ties, rubber bands, or press-fit interlocks. The kit may include, for example, a compressor capacitor 130, an acid test kit 150, a wiring harness 124, an elbow 127, one or more couplings 125, a compressor capacitor 120, a compressor contactor 122, an instruction booklet 152 and one or more fan capacitors 128A, 128B and 128C. The arrangement and layout of some or all of the items in the kit may vary. In addition, it is not a requirement that each item shown in FIG. 3 be included in the kit, as one or more items may be omitted. Further, the number of items shown, such as two couplings and three capacitors, is not essential, but rather represents one embodiment of the invention. Accordingly, the numbers of materials may vary so long as the kit contains a plurality of materials, at least some of which are selected based on the compressor, and all of which may be helpful for the technician when servicing an air conditioning unit or other cooling system.

Larger items, such as tubing 126 and/or compressor 112 may be provided in a separate container or otherwise apart from kit 170. For example, referring to FIG. 4, a compressor container 190 such as a box, crate, or other container may contain a compressor 112, repair kit 170 and/or one or more pieces of tubing 126.

Accordingly, in accordance with an alternate embodiment, a method of supplying replacement parts for a cooling system may include supplying, in a single, preferably sealed or otherwise closed package, a capacitor selected based on a size or rating of a compressor, a compressor contactor selected based on a size or rating of the compressor, a filter dryer; and a fan capacitor. The method may also include supplying an instruction booklet, compressor capacitor, or wiring harness in the package. Optionally, the package may be supplied within a compressor container, wherein the compressor container also contains the compressor. In some embodiments, the size of the kit may be selected to fit within a compressor container along with a compressor, where the compressor container and compressor are supplied by a third party. Thus, the kit may serve both as a housing for replacement or repair items, as well as packaging material that inhibits movement of the compressor within the container.

Some or all of the parts may be selected based on knowledge of a compressor manufacturer and manufacturer's identification unit, such as a part number, bar code, RFID tag or other identifier that the manufacturer uses to identify the compressor. For example, when preparing a kit, the compressor capacitor and contactor may be selected based on manufacturer's recommendations for those items. Thus, as used herein, a “size or rating” of a compressor may include a manufacturer's part number or other identifying feature of a compressor. Alternatively, a “universal repair kit” may be provided in which parts are based on a compressor rating, such as BTU rating, regardless of the manufacturer of the compressor.

In some embodiments, the repair kits described herein may function as instructional and/or marketing tools, as they may enable a service technician to better service a cooling system, educate the consumer about recommended service items, and market additional services beyond the specific services that may be required to fix a problem with the cooling system. For example, by supplying parts in a single package that have been pre-selected based on a rating of the compressor, the kit may provide the technician with a set of replacement parts that is more complete, or at least easier to find, than the technician may have kept in his or her vehicle. Thus, the kit may reduce use of mismatched components in the field.

In addition, by supplying a single package of pre-selected and/or recommended parts, the technician may have a tool that can help him or her recognize and explain to the consumer that comprehensive work is recommended. In such an embodiment, the kit optionally may include a photo, drawing, parts list or other visual guide that can help the technician explain to the consumer that additional services are recommended. For example, the visual aids and convenience of having a filter drier in the kit along with the compressor capacitor and/or contactor may help the technician recognize that filter drier replacement is recommended whenever the compressor is serviced, and it may also help the technician inform the consumer that the filter drier replacement is recommended.

Accordingly, the kit may include one or more parts or other equipment items that are not required, but for which replacement or use may be recommended as preventive maintenance whenever a compressor is repaired or replaced. Such parts may include, for example, a compressor capacitor; fan capacitor; acid test kit; compressor contactor; filter dryer; one or more tubing lengths, elbows or connectors; a wiring harness, or other items. The kit may also include an educational pamphlet, booklet, manual, or other written material that helps the technician understand one or more cooling system repair concepts.

It will be appreciated that various of the above-disclosed and other features and functions, or alternatives thereof, may be desirably combined into many other different systems or applications. Presently unforeseen or unanticipated alternatives, modifications, variations or improvements therein may be subsequently made by those skilled in the art which are also intended to be encompassed by the following claims.





 
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