Title:
CLADDING FOR AIR HANDLING UNIT ACCESS PANELS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cladding system for access panels of an air handling unit having a cladding body configured for attachment to access panels of an air handling unit. A first removable portion is configured to detachably engage the cladding body. A second removable portion is configured to detachably engage the first removable portion. The cladding system provides an opening through the access panel of the air handling unit when the second removable portion is removed. The opening exposed by removal of the second removable portion having a geometry to provide access to components within the air handling unit or to provide visibility of components within the air handling unit.



Inventors:
Harrod, Gregory R. (Wichita, KS, US)
Application Number:
11/380447
Publication Date:
11/01/2007
Filing Date:
04/27/2006
Assignee:
JOHNSON CONTROLS TECHNOLOGY COMPANY (Holland, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B77/08; A47F3/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMITH, MATTHEW J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCNEES WALLACE & NURICK LLC (HARRISBURG, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A cladding system for access panels of an air handling unit comprising: a cladding body configured for attachment to access panels of an air handling unit; a first removable portion configured to detachably engage the cladding body; a second removable portion configured to detachably engage the first removable portion; and wherein an opening through the access panel of the air handling unit is exposed when the second removable portion is removed, the opening having a geometry sufficient to provide access to components within the air handling unit and to provide visibility of components within the air handling unit.

2. The cladding system of claim 1, wherein first removable portion comprises a first display surface having a single vertical orientation.

3. The cladding system of claim 2, wherein the first display surface comprises readable text.

4. The cladding system of claim 1, wherein the first display surface comprises a logo.

5. The cladding system of claim 1, wherein the second removable portion is configured to cover a component of the air handling unit when engaged with the first removable portion.

6. The cladding system of claim 1, wherein second removable portion comprises a second display surface having a single vertical orientation.

7. The cladding system of claim 6, wherein the second display surface comprises readable text.

8. The cladding system of claim 1, wherein the second display surface comprises a logo.

9. The cladding system of claim 1, wherein one or both of the first removable portion and second removable portions comprise a surface having a surface appearance substantially identical to a surface of the cladding body.

10. An access panel for an air handling unit comprising: a base member; a cladding system attached to the base member, the cladding system comprising: a cladding body configured for attachment to base member; a first removable portion configured to detachably engage the cladding body; a second removable portion configured to detachably engage the first removable portion; and wherein an opening in the access panel of the air handling unit is exposed when the second removable portion is removed, the opening having a geometry sufficient to provide access to components within the air handling unit and to provide visibility of components within the air handling unit.

11. The cladding system of claim 10, wherein first removable portion comprises a first display surface having a single vertical orientation.

12. The cladding system of claim 11, wherein the first display surface comprises readable text.

13. The cladding system of claim 10, wherein the first display surface comprises a logo.

14. The cladding system of claim 10, wherein the second removable portion is configured to cover a component of the air handling unit when engaged with the first removable portion.

15. The cladding system of claim 10, wherein second removable portion comprises a second display surface having a single vertical orientation.

16. The cladding system of claim 15, wherein the second display surface comprises readable text.

17. The cladding system of claim 10, wherein the second display surface comprises a logo.

18. The cladding system of claim 10, wherein one or both of the first removable portion and second removable portions comprise a surface having a surface appearance substantially identical to a surface of the cladding body.

19. A cladded air handling unit comprising: a first cladding system comprising a first removable portion, the first cladding system being attached to a first access panel of an air handling unit; a second cladding system comprising a second removable portion, the second cladding system being attached to a second access panel of the air handling unit; the first removable portion and the second removable portion having geometries permitting the attachment of the first removable portion in the second cladding system and the attachment of the second removable portion in the first cladding system; and at least one of the first and second removable portions including a display surface.

20. The cladded air handling unit of claim 19, wherein the first removable portion includes a display surface having a single vertical orientation.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed generally to an air-moving HVAC component access panel and door and specifically to a cladding for use with access panels and doors of an air-moving HVAC component.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

HVAC systems usually include an air-handling unit. The air handling unit utilizes equipment, such as a fan or blower, that provides conditioned air to a conditioned space, such as a room or area within a building. The conditioning of the air may include, but is not limited to, cooling, heating, humidity control, filtering, ventilating, and combinations thereof. The structure of the air handling units may include an enclosure, typically fabricated from sheet metal, which contains components, such as blowers, filters, heat exchangers, and controls. The air handling unit may be installed in a variety of orientations, including an orientation wherein the flow of air is vertically upward, hereinafter referred to as an upflow orientation and an orientation, which involves rotating the air handling unit 180 degress from the upflow orientation, wherein the flow of air is vertically downward, hereinafter referred to as a downflow orientation.

In order to repair or service an air handling unit, a hinged door or a removable access panel covering an opening in the enclosure may provide access to the various components inside of the air handling unit. The access panels or doors may be hinged, clipped or otherwise held in place during operation of the air handling unit. These doors may remain attached to the unit, or may be removed temporarily when the unit is being repaired or serviced.

Known air handling unit access doors suffer from the drawback that the air handling unit access doors are not aesthetically pleasing and must be labeled, with logos or other identifying information, according to the size and orientation of the intended air handling unit. Any decorative cladding provided on the surface of an air handling unit is customized to the particular panel, including any markings, logos or text placed thereon. For example, the labeling in the known units must be customized in each unit according to the orientation, such as upflow orientation or downflow orientation, in order to maintain the logos or other identifying information in a single vertical orientation and at locations on the unit that are desirable for viewing. Alternatively, logos or other identifying information may be applied after the installation of the air handling unit. The individualized labeling and orienting of the cladding system components provides increased manufacturing costs for individualized markings on units having different orientations because each size of unit and each orientation of unit must be individually labeled. Further, the assembly is more complex due to the increased number of labeled parts, which may lead to logos or labels being installed upside down or in unreadable locations because of incorrect selection of the labeled door parts. Further still, the individualized markings, if labeled in the field, suffer from increased mislabeling or non-labeling by installers after the installation of the air handling unit.

Furnaces have been furnished with decorative panels in order to improve the visual appearance of the furnace unit. The use of decorative panels in furnace applications allows additional branding opportunities and provides distinguishing features. However, the furnace door cladding is manufactured in a single integrated component that does not permit the orientation of the panel to be modified. Further, the furnace access door does not provide the required function of the air handling unit door, including the air handling unit door's requirement of being substantially airtight.

What is needed is an aesthetically pleasing door panel covering that permits the operation of the air-moving HVAC component, while providing a single vertical orientation when the air-moving HVAC component is installed in one of a plurality of orientations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention includes a cladding, for attachment to an air handling unit access door to provide a desirable visual appearance in a variety of configurations and orientations of the access door. The cladding can be attached to the air handling unit access panels in any suitable manner so long as the operation of the air handling unit is substantially unaffected. In addition to being visually appealing, the cladding of the present invention must provide access to components within the air handling unit or provide visibility of the components (e.g., circuit breakers) when visibility and/or access is desired or required. Further, the cladding of the present invention should be capable of fitting both the varying heights and widths of air handling units, while maintaining the desirable visual appearance.

One embodiment of the present invention includes a cladding system for access panels of an air handling unit having a cladding body configured for attachment to access panels of an air handling unit. A first removable portion is configured to detachably engage the cladding body. A second removable portion is configured to detachably engage the first removable portion. The cladding system exposes an opening through the access panel of the air handling unit when the second removable portion is removed. The opening formed has a geometry sufficient to provide access to components within the air handling unit and/or to provide visibility of components within the air handling unit.

Another embodiment of the present invention includes an access panel for an air handling unit having a base member configured to receive a cladding system and a cladding system attached to the base member. The cladding system includes a cladding body configured for attachment to base member. A first removable portion is configured to detachably engage the cladding body. A second removable portion is configured to detachably engage the first removable portion. The cladding system exposes an opening through the access panel of the air handling unit when the second removable portion is removed. The opening has a geometry sufficient to provide access to components within the air handling unit and/or to provide visibility of components within the air handling unit..

Another embodiment of the present invention includes a cladded air handling unit having a first and second cladding system. The first cladding system is attached to a first access panel of an air handling unit. The second cladding system is attached to a second access panel of the air handling unit. The first cladding system includes a first removable portion. The second cladding system includes a second removable portion. The first removable portion and the second removable portion have geometries permitting the attachment of the first removable portion in the second cladding system and the attachment of the second removable portion in the first cladding system. At least one of the first and second removable portions includes a display surface.

One advantage of the present invention includes the ability to remove inserts having decorative or identifying information, from the cladding body and reinstall the inserts in other cladding systems attached to the air handler, as necessary, depending on the configuration/orientation of the air handling unit.

Another advantage of the present invention includes the ability of the cladding system to be configured in a manner that permits assembly so that any logo or other information that has a single vertical orientation (i.e., having a “right-side” up to facilitate easy viewing and/or reading) may be installed in the desired vertical direction.

Still another advantage of the preset invention is that access to components within the air handling unit is permitted by removal of one or more of the removable inserts from the cladding body. For example, a removable insert may allow access to a circuit breaker for the air handling unit.

Still another advantage of the preset invention is that air handling units can be customized for particular customers or installation sites by using unique inserts. For example, these inserts could have special textures, colors, logos, or similar indicia.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following more detailed description of the preferred embodiment, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a schematic view of an assembled cladding system according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows a schematic view of the cladding system of FIG. 1 disassembled.

FIG. 3 shows a schematic view of an assembled cladding system according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows a schematic view of the cladding system of FIG. 3 disassembled.

FIG. 5 shows a schematic view of an assembled cladding system according to still another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows a schematic view of the cladding system of FIG. 5 disassembled.

FIG. 7 shows an air handling unit utilizing a cladding system according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 shows an alternate embodiment of an air handling unit utilizing a cladding system according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows an assembled cladding system according to an embodiment of the present invention. Cladding, cladding material and grammatical variations thereof are defined as a covering or structure, which provides surface decoration and/or protection to a surface and may be fabricated from any suitable material having the aesthetic and mechanical properties that provide the surface covering that may be visually pleasing. Further, the cladding should permit the function of the air handling unit or, stated differently, not interfere with the operation of the air handling unit. The cladding system preferably attaches to an air handling unit access panel, air handling unit door or similar component of the air handling unit (not shown in FIG. 1). The cladding system may be attached by any suitable attachment method, including, but not limited to, attachment by adhesive, clips, or other retention device. One preferred type of attachment method includes use of Christmas tree type connectors. In one embodiment, cylinders may be fabricated into the cladding body 101 and Christmas tree type connectors may be inserted into the cylinders. The cylinders and fasteners are arranged to fit tightly in the cylinder molded into the cladding body and less tightly in a cylinder molded in the first removable insert 103. This arrangement allows the fastener to stay captured in the cladding body when the first removable insert 103 section is pulled away from it. The removable component cover 105 fits snugly into opening 203 formed in the cladding body 101. The cladding system includes a cladding body 101, which is configured to receive a removal insert 103. The insert 103 is configured to receive a removable component cover 105. The component cover 105 is preferably removable to provide access through the access door to components, such as circuit breakers, within the air handling unit. In addition, as required by some local building codes, the configuration of the component cover 105 permits visibility of the components (e.g., circuit breaker) within the air handling unit. The geometry of the opening 203 formed by the removed component cover 105 is sufficiently large and having a shape suitable for providing access and visibility. Each of the components of the cladding system may be formed from any suitable material that is aesthetically pleasing and is formable into the components of the cladding system. Suitable materials for forming the components of the cladding system include, but are not limited to, polymer or metal. In one embodiment of the invention, the insert 103 and/or the component cover 105 includes a display surface. In a preferred embodiment, at least one of the display surfaces includes a logo, identifying information, coloring and/or text. In another embodiment, the display surface can be configured to receive a sticker or label having markings, such as text, having a single vertical orientation. Single vertical orientation or “right-side up” is defined as a direction with respect to horizontal that permits viewing and/or reading of a logo, text, identifiers and/or markings without difficulty for a person viewing the air handling unit. In another embodiment of the invention, the insert 103 and component cover 105 may have the color and texture of the surface of the cladding body 101. In the embodiment wherein the insert 103 and the component cover 105 have the color and texture of the surface of the cladding body, the surface across the cladding body appear substantially continuous, wherein the cladding body 101, the insert 103 and the component cover 105 have the appearance of a single integrated component. The cladding body 101 may also include additional features, including, but not limited to handles or recessed portion or area for removing one or more of the cladding components.

FIG. 2 shows the cladding system of FIG. 1 having the insert 103 and component cover disassembled from the cladding body 101. The cladding body 101 includes an insert recess 201 having a geometry to receive the insert 103. The insert recess 201 includes a component opening 203, which extends through the cladding body 101 and permits access to components within the air handling unit, such as circuit breakers. The insert recess 201 further includes slots 205, which receive connector posts 207 of the insert 103. To assemble the insert 103 and the cladding body 101 together, the connector posts 207 of the insert 103 are inserted into the slots 205 and the insert 103 is engaged with the cladding body 101. The insert may be held in place by any suitable means, including, but not limited to adhesive, clips, or other retention devices. As discussed above with respect to FIG. 1, a preferred attachment device includes Christmas tree type connectors. Although FIG. 2 is shown with connector posts 207 and slots 205, the cladding system does not require connector posts 207 and slots 205 and may be connected to the cladding body 101 directly by adhesive, clip or other retention device. Insert 103 further includes insert opening 209, which is configured to receive the component connector 211 of component cover 105, which retains the component cover 105 in place when the component cover 105 is engaged with the insert 103 and the cladding body 101. The insert opening 209 also permits access through the insert 103 to the component opening 203 and the components within the air handling unit. The component cover 105 is easily removable and permits access to components within the air handling unit, such as circuit breakers. Likewise, when the component cover 105 is removed, components within the air handling unit are visible through opening 203 to an extent that provides ease of viewing of the components. In particular, the visibility is such that the viewing of the components is sufficient to comply with local building ordinances that require visibility of the circuit breaker or other internal components.

FIG. 3 shows an alternate embodiment of the present invention having an alternate geometry for the insert 103. As in FIG. 1, the cladding system includes a cladding body 101, which is configured to receive insert 103. The insert 103 is configured to receive a component cover 105. The component cover 105 is preferably removable to provide access through the access door to components, such as circuit breakers, within the air handling unit.

FIG. 4 shows the cladding system of FIG. 3 having the insert 103 and component cover 105 disassembled from the cladding body 101. As shown in FIG. 2, cladding body 101 includes an insert recess 201 having a geometry to receive the insert 103. The insert recess 201 includes a component opening 203, which extends through the cladding body 101 and permits access to components within the air handling unit, such as circuit breakers. The insert recess 201 further includes a slot 205, which receives connector post 207 of the insert 103.

The embodiment shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 is non-symmetrical and includes a display surface that permits a logo, marking and/or text to be displayed on the insert 103 and/or the component cover 105. A logo and/or text having a single vertical orientation may be displayed by providing the display surface of the insert 103 with a logo and/or text. Alternatively, if it is not desirable to display a logo or text, an insert 103 and a component cover 105 having a surface appearance substantially identical to the surface appearance of the cladding body 101 to provide a substantially continuous surface.

FIG. 5 shows an alternate embodiment of the present invention having an alternate geometry for the insert 103. As in FIGS. 1 and 3, the cladding system includes a cladding body 101, which is configured to receive insert 103. The insert 103 is configured to receive a component cover 105. The component cover 105 is preferably removable to provide access through the access door to components, such as circuit breakers, within the air handling unit.

FIG. 6 shows the cladding system of FIG. 5 having the insert 103 and component cover 105 disassembled from the cladding body 101. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, cladding body 101 includes an insert recess 201 having a geometry to receive the insert 103. The insert recess 201 includes a component opening 203, which extends through the cladding body 101 and permits access to components within the air handling unit, such as circuit breakers. Unlike FIGS. 2 and 4, the insert 103 of FIG. 6 does not include a connector post 207, but is permitted to be attached to the cladding body in any of 360 degrees. For example the cladding may be clipped or adhered in any orientation within the rotational positionability of the insert 103.

The embodiment shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 includes a symmetrical insert. The symmetrical insert permits a logo and/or text to be displayed on the insert 103 and/or the component cover 105 in any vertical orientation that the air handling unit may be installed, including angular orientations, wherein the air handling unit is angled with respect to horizontal at an angle other than 90 degrees.

FIG. 7 shows an air handling unit having a cladding system according to an embodiment of the present invention. The air handling unit is in an upflow orientation, wherein the flow of air through the unit is substantially upwards with respect to vertical. The air handling unit includes a first cladding system 701 and a second cladding system 703. Each of the first cladding system 701 and the second cladding system 703 include a cladding body 101, an insert 103 and a component cover 105. However, the first cladding system 701 includes an insert 103 and a component cover 105, having a surface appearance that desirably contrasts the surface appearance of the cladding body 101. In addition, the insert 103 of the first cladding system 701 includes display surface having a logo 705, which has a single vertical orientation. The second cladding system 703 includes an insert 103 and a component cover 105 having a surface appearance substantially identical to the surface appearance of the cladding body 101. The use of an insert 103 and a component cover 105 having a surface appearance substantially identical to the surface appearance of the cladding body 101 permits the second cladding system 703 to appear as a single integrated component. In a preferred embodiment, the engagement of the insert 103 and the component cover 105 is such that the seams 707 between the components (i.e., the seam between the cladding body 101 and the insert 103, and the seam between the insert 103 and the component cover 105) are substantially invisible.

FIG. 8 shows the air handling unit shown in FIG. 7 installed with the flow of air going in the opposite direction as shown in FIG. 7. Specifically, the air handling unit in FIG. 8 is in a downflow orientation, wherein the flow of air is downward through the unit with respect to vertical. As in FIG. 7, the air handling unit includes a first cladding system 701 and a second cladding system 703. Each of the first cladding system 701 and the second cladding system 703 include a cladding body 101, an insert 103 and a component cover 105. However, the first cladding system 701 includes an insert 103 and a component cover 105 having a surface appearance that desirably contrasts the surface appearance of the cladding body 101. In addition, the insert 103 of the first cladding system 701 includes a logo 705, which has a single vertical orientation. Single vertical orientation is defined as a direction with respect to horizontal that permits easy viewing and/or reading of a logo, instructions, identifiers and/or warnings for a person in an upright position. The second cladding system 703 includes an insert 103 and a component cover 105 having a surface appearance substantially identical to the surface appearance of the cladding body 101. The use of an insert 103 and a component cover 105 having a surface appearance substantially identical to the surface appearance of the cladding body 101 permits the second cladding system 703 to appear as a single integrated component. Although the air flow in the air handling unit in FIG. 8 is in the opposite direction with respect to the unit shown in FIG. 7, the cladding systems have a substantially identical appearance with the logo 705 oriented in the single vertical orientation adjacent to the top of the unit.

While FIGS. 7 and 8 show the cladding systems attached to the access panels of the air handling unit, the cladding systems may be used on any surface of the air handling unit. Preferably, the cladding system is utilized on surfaces of the air handling unit where decorative cladding is desired and the cladding includes logos, labeling or other markings having a single vertical orientation.

To convert from the upflow orientation to the downflow orientation (i.e., to convert from FIG. 7 to FIG. 8), the chassis of the air handling unit of FIG. 7 may be rotated 180 degrees and installed such that the components facilitate flow of air downward through the unit. The panels or door panels attached to the air handling unit may or may not rotate with the air handling unit. The insert 103 and component cover 105 bearing the logo 705 in the first cladding system 701 may be removed. The insert 103 and component cover 105 having the surface appearance of the cladding body 101 in the second cladding system 703 may also be removed. The insert 103 and the component cover 105 having the logo 705 is inserted into the second cladding system 703. The insert 103 and component cover 105 having the surface appearance of the cladding body 101 is inserted into the first cladding system 701.

Although FIGS. 2, 4 and 6 are shown as having the component cover 105, fitting into the insert 103, which is fit into the cladding body 101, the arrangement of insert and component cover may be any arrangement that engages the cladding body 101 and allows access to the components of the air handling unit. In another embodiment, the component cover 105 engages the cladding body 101 and the insert 103 is engages the cladding body 101 and the component cover 105, providing additional retention for the component cover 105.

Although the above has been described with respect to air handling units, the present invention is suitable for use with any HVAC air-moving unit, including but not limited to furnaces, heaters, and air filtering devices.

While the invention has been described with reference to a preferred embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.