Title:
Multiple laundry treating machine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multiple laundry treating machine having an auxiliary laundry treating space that is capable of performing a drying operation and a refreshing operation using an auxiliary space serving as a base is disclosed. The multiple laundry treating machine includes a laundry treating machine including a main laundry treating unit for performing various laundry treating operations by the rotation of a drum and an auxiliary laundry treating unit, separated from the main laundry treating unit, for performing a laundry treating operation using circulating air or steam, and a monitor device for remotely controlling and monitoring the operation of the main laundry treating unit and the auxiliary laundry treating unit through a data communication with the laundry treating machine.



Inventors:
Park, Sang Ho (Changwon-si, KR)
Lee, Phal Jin (Jinhae-si, KR)
Application Number:
11/896773
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
09/05/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D06F29/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WALDBAUM, SAMUEL A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dentons US LLP (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A multiple laundry treating machine comprising: a laundry treating machine including a main laundry treating unit for performing various laundry treating operations by the rotation of a drum and an auxiliary laundry treating unit, separated from the main laundry treating unit, for performing a laundry treating operation using circulating air or steam; and a monitor device for remotely controlling and monitoring the operation of the main laundry treating unit and the auxiliary laundry treating unit through a data communication with the laundry treating machine.

2. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 1, wherein the monitor device includes a communication unit for communicating with the laundry treating machine to transmit a control command for the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit to the laundry treating machine or receive the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit from the laundry treating machine, an image output unit for displaying the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit received through the communication unit, a sound output unit for outputting a sound signal corresponding to the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit received through the communication unit, and a monitor control unit for controlling the driving of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit through the communication with the laundry treating machine or controlling the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit received from the laundry treating machine to be outputted through the image output unit or the sound output unit.

3. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 2, wherein the communication unit includes a communication module that performs a power line communication and/or a wireless communication.

4. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 2, wherein the monitor device further includes a first manipulation unit for allowing a user to input a command for controlling the operation and monitoring of the main laundry treating unit, and a second manipulation unit for allowing the user to input a command for controlling the operation and monitoring of the auxiliary laundry treating unit.

5. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 2, wherein the image output unit includes a first display part for displaying the operation state of the main laundry treating unit, and a second display part for displaying the operation state of the auxiliary laundry treating unit.

6. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 1, wherein the laundry treating machine includes a drum defining a laundry treating space of the main laundry treating unit, a laundry receiving part defining a laundry treating space of the auxiliary laundry treating unit, a first drive unit for generating a drive force necessary to rotate the drum, a second drive unit for supplying circulating air or steam to the laundry receiving part, a communication unit for performing a data communication with the monitor device, a manipulation unit for allowing a user to input a command for the main laundry treating unit and the auxiliary laundry treating unit, and a main body control unit for controlling the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit to be transmitted to the monitor device through the communication unit or controlling the first drive unit or the second drive unit under the control of the monitor device or the manipulation unit.

7. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 6, wherein the second drive unit includes an air supply unit for supplying air to the laundry receiving part.

8. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 7, wherein the second drive unit further includes a heater for heating the air supplied by the air supply unit.

9. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 7, wherein the second drive unit further includes a steam supply unit for supplying high-temperature steam to the laundry receiving part.

10. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 9, wherein the second drive unit further includes a temperature sensor for sensing the temperature in the laundry receiving part and/or a humidity sensor for sensing the humidity in the laundry receiving part.

11. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 7, wherein the air supply unit includes a blowing fan for introducing external air into the laundry receiving part.

12. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 1, wherein the laundry treating machine includes a drum defining a laundry treating space of the main laundry treating unit, a laundry receiving part defining a laundry treating space of the auxiliary laundry treating unit, a first drive unit for generating a drive force necessary to rotate the drum, a second drive unit for supplying circulating air or steam to the drum or the laundry receiving part, a communication unit for performing a data communication with the monitor device, a manipulation unit for allowing a user to input a command for the main laundry treating unit and the auxiliary laundry treating unit, and a main body control unit for controlling the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit to be transmitted to the monitor device through the communication unit or controlling the first drive unit or the second drive unit under the control of the monitor device or the manipulation unit.

13. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 12, wherein the second drive unit includes an air supply unit for supplying air to the drum or the laundry receiving part.

14. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 13, wherein the second drive unit further includes a heater for heating the air supplied by the air supply unit.

15. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 13, wherein the second drive unit further includes temperature sensors mounted in the drum and the laundry receiving part for sensing the temperature in the drum and the laundry receiving part and/or humidity sensors mounted in the drum and the laundry receiving part for sensing the humidity in the drum and the laundry receiving part.

16. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 13, wherein the air supply unit includes a blowing fan for introducing external air into the drum or the laundry receiving part.

17. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 13, wherein the second drive unit further includes a main introduction channel for guiding the air, circulated by the air supply unit, to the drum, and an auxiliary introduction channel for guiding the air, circulated by the air supply unit, to the laundry receiving part.

18. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 17, wherein the auxiliary introduction channel diverges from the main introduction channel.

19. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 17, wherein the main introduction channel and the auxiliary introduction channel have dampers mounted therein for opening and closing the main introduction channel and the auxiliary introduction channel under the control of the main body control unit to selectively control the introduction of the circulating air into the drum or the laundry receiving part.

20. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 12, wherein the second drive unit further includes a steam supply unit for supplying high-temperature steam to the drum or the laundry receiving part.

21. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 20, wherein the second drive unit further includes temperature sensors mounted in the drum and the laundry receiving part for sensing the temperature in the drum and the laundry receiving part and/or humidity sensors mounted in the drum and the laundry receiving part for sensing the humidity in the drum and the laundry receiving part.

22. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 20, wherein the steam supply unit includes a tank for storing wash water, a heater for heating the wash water stored in the tank, a main hose and an auxiliary hose for guiding steam, generated from the wash water heated by the heater, to the drum and the laundry receiving part, respectively, and steam spray ports connected to the ends of the main hose and the auxiliary hose for spraying the steam.

23. The multiple laundry treating machine according to claim 1, wherein the auxiliary laundry treating unit is mounted to one side of the main laundry treating unit, and the auxiliary laundry treating unit has a volume and height less than that of the main laundry treating unit.

24. A multiple laundry treating machine comprising: a laundry treating machine including a main laundry treating unit for performing various laundry treating operations by the rotation of a drum and an auxiliary laundry treating unit, separated from the main laundry treating unit, for performing a laundry treating operation using circulating air or steam; a monitor device for remotely controlling and monitoring the operation of the main laundry treating unit and the auxiliary laundry treating unit; and communication units mounted in the laundry treating machine and the monitor device for enabling a data communication between the laundry treating machine and the monitor device.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of Korean Patent Application No. 10-2006-0085187, filed on Sep. 5, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety as if fully set forth herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a laundry treating machine, and more particularly, to a multiple laundry treating machine having a monitor device for remote monitoring and control.

2. Discussion of the Related Art

Generally, laundry treating machines are electric home appliances that are capable of washing and/or drying laundry. Specifically, the respective laundry treating machines perform a washing operation, a drying operation, or a washing-and-drying operation. Recently, there has been increasingly used a laundry treating machine, including a steam supply unit, which is capable of performing a refreshing operation to remove wrinkles, smells, and static electricity from laundry.

Based on the direction in which laundry is removed, the conventional laundry treating machines may be classified into a front loading type laundry treating machine and a top loading type laundry treating machine. Based on the laundry treating method, on the other hand, the conventional laundry treating machines may be classified into a vertical-shaft type laundry treating machine, in which a pulsator or a laundry treating tub is rotated, and a horizontal type laundry treating machine. A representative example of the horizontal type laundry treating machine is a drum type washing machine or a drum type drying machine.

The sizes of the laundry treating machines have been gradually increased to satisfy consumers' demand. Specifically, the exterior sizes of the laundry treating machines for home use have been gradually increased.

On the other hand, there is a washing machine having no drying function among the conventional laundry treating machines. In this case, it is required for a user to have an additional drying machine, when the user wishes to dry laundry. Alternatively, it is required for the user to have a washing machine including a drying function. Consequently, the expense that consumers must bear to perform both the washing operation and the drying operation is increased.

For laundry treating machines having drying functions, the sizes of the laundry treating machines have been gradually increased. However, the large-sized laundry treating machines are operated even to dry a small quantity of laundry, with the result that energy consumption is excessively increased. For the drum type drying machine, on the other hand, it is difficult to dry shoes or hats. Of course, a rack may be mounted in the drum, such that shoes are placed on the rack, and the rack may be maintained horizontally during the rotation of the drum to dry the shoes. In this case, however, the user must separate the rack from the drum, if necessary, and this is very troublesome.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a conventional laundry treating machine 10.

As shown in FIG. 1, the conventional laundry treating machine 10 includes a main body forming the external appearance of the laundry treating machine and a control panel 11 mounted at the front or the top of the main body. Here, the control panel 11 may include a control unit for controlling the operation of the laundry treating machine. Consequently, a user manipulates the control panel for the laundry treating machine to perform a laundry treating operation, such as washing or drying.

Here, the laundry treating machine may be a washing machine, a drying machine, or a washing-and-drying machine.

On the other hand, the conventional laundry treating machine may further include a base 20 for supporting the main body of the laundry treating machine 10 on the floor. The main body of the laundry treating machine 10 is mounted on the base 20.

The base 20 has a predetermined space defined therein. The space may be constructed in the form of a drawer 21 that can be withdrawn outward from the front of the base. In addition to the function for supporting the laundry treating machine 10, the base 20 serves as a storage box for storing detergent or laundry.

Consequently, the conventional base 20 does not perform any function for laundry treatment.

Meanwhile, the living space of housing has become larger, and therefore, a laundry treating machine, such as a washing machine or a drying machine, is installed in a specific area, such as a space outside the house or a basement of the house, remote from the lift space. As a result, it is difficult for a user to recognize the operation state of the laundry treating machine.

Specifically, the user must frequently access the place where the laundry treating machine is installed to confirm the operation state of the laundry treating machine in detail, and this is very inconvenient.

Furthermore, the main body of the laundry treating machine outputs a buzzer sound when an error occur during a specific operation or when the specific operation is completed; however, the user may not hear the buzzer sound, with the result that laundry may be left in the laundry treating machine for a long period of time although the laundry has been completely treated.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a multiple laundry treating machine that substantially obviates one or more problems due to limitations and disadvantages of the related art.

An object of the present invention is to provide a multiple laundry treating machine that is capable of performing a drying operation and a refreshing operation using an auxiliary space defined in a base for supporting a conventional laundry treating machine.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a multiple laundry treating machine that is capable of easily drying small-sized laundry articles, such as shoes or hats, which are difficult to be washed or dried through the conventional laundry treating machine, in a separate space.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a monitor device that is capable of positively informing a user of the operation state of a multiple laundry treating machine having an auxiliary laundry treating unit, such as the occurrence of an error during a specific operation or the completion of the specific operation, and allowing the user to use the multiple laundry treating machine more conveniently.

Additional advantages, objects, and features of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows and in part will become apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art upon examination of the following or may be learned from practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by the structure particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings.

To achieve these objects and other advantages and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, a multiple laundry treating machine includes a laundry treating machine including a main laundry treating unit for performing various laundry treating operations by the rotation of a drum and an auxiliary laundry treating unit, separated from the main laundry treating unit, for performing a laundry treating operation using circulating air or steam, and a monitor device for remotely controlling and monitoring the operation of the main laundry treating unit and the auxiliary laundry treating unit through a data communication with the laundry treating machine.

Preferably, the monitor device includes a communication unit for communicating with the laundry treating machine to transmit a control command for the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit to the laundry treating machine or receive the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit from the laundry treating machine, an image output unit for displaying the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit received through the communication unit, a sound output unit for outputting a sound signal corresponding to the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit received through the communication unit, and a monitor control unit for controlling the driving of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit through the communication with the laundry treating machine or controlling the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit received from the laundry treating machine to be outputted through the image output unit or the sound output unit.

Preferably, the laundry treating machine includes a drum defining a laundry treating space of the main laundry treating unit, a laundry receiving part defining a laundry treating space of the auxiliary laundry treating unit, a first drive unit for generating a drive force necessary to rotate the drum, a second drive unit for supplying circulating air or steam to the laundry receiving part, a communication unit for performing a data communication with the monitor device, a manipulation unit for allowing a user to input a command for the main laundry treating unit and the auxiliary laundry treating unit, and a main body control unit for controlling the operation state of the main laundry treating unit or the auxiliary laundry treating unit to be transmitted to the monitor device through the communication unit or controlling the first drive unit or the second drive unit under the control of the monitor device or the manipulation unit.

Preferably, the second drive unit includes an air supply unit for forcibly supplying air to the laundry receiving part.

Alternatively, the second drive unit may include an air supply unit for forcibly supplying air to the laundry receiving part and a heater for heating the air supplied by the air supply unit.

Alternatively, the second drive unit may include a steam supply unit for supplying high-temperature steam to the laundry receiving part.

In this case, the second drive unit includes an air supply unit for forcibly supplying air to the drum or the laundry receiving part, a main introduction channel for guiding the air, supplied by the air supply unit, to the drum, an auxiliary introduction channel diverging from the main introduction channel for guiding the air, supplied by the air supply unit, to the laundry receiving part, dampers mounted in the main introduction channel and the auxiliary introduction channel for opening and closing the main introduction channel and the auxiliary introduction channel under the control of the main body control unit to selectively control the introduction of the circulating air into the drum or the laundry receiving part, and a heater mounted in the main introduction channel, at a position where the auxiliary introduction channel does not diverge from the main introduction channel, for heating the air to be introduced into the drum and the laundry receiving part.

Also, the second drive unit includes a steam supply unit for supplying high-temperature steam to the drum or the laundry receiving part, and, in addition, the second drive unit further includes temperature sensors mounted in the drum and the laundry receiving part for sensing the temperature in the drum and the laundry receiving part and/or humidity sensors mounted in the drum and the laundry receiving part for sensing the humidity in the drum and the laundry receiving part.

Preferably, the steam supply unit includes a tank for storing wash water, a heater for heating the wash water stored in the tank, a main hose and an auxiliary hose for guiding steam, generated from the wash water heated by the heater, to the drum and the laundry receiving part, respectively, and steam spray ports connected to the ends of the main hose and the auxiliary hose for spraying the steam.

Preferably, the communication unit includes a communication module that performs a power line communication and/or a wireless communication.

Preferably, the monitor device further includes a first manipulation unit for allowing a user to input a command for controlling the operation and monitoring of the main laundry treating unit, and a second manipulation unit for allowing the user to input a command for controlling the operation and monitoring of the auxiliary laundry treating unit.

Preferably, the image output unit includes a first display part for displaying the operation state of the main laundry treating unit, and a second display part for displaying the operation state of the auxiliary laundry treating unit.

Consequently, the present invention provides a multiple laundry treating machine including an auxiliary laundry treating unit that is capable of performing a drying operation or a refreshing operation to a small amount of laundry to be treated. In addition, the present invention also provides a multiple laundry treating machine including a monitor device that is capable of remotely controlling and monitoring the multiple laundry treating machine.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description of the present invention are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this application, illustrate embodiment(s) of the invention and together with the description serve to explain the principle of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating a conventional laundry treating machine including a base;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating a multiple laundry treating machine according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating the overall construction of the multiple laundry treating machine according to the present invention and a monitor device for remotely controlling and monitoring the multiple laundry treating machine;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view illustrating the construction of an auxiliary laundry treating unit according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view illustrating the construction of a main laundry treating unit and an auxiliary laundry treating unit of a condensation type laundry treating machine having an air supply unit;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view illustrating the construction of a main laundry treating unit and an auxiliary laundry treating unit of an exhaust type laundry treating machine having an air supply unit and a steam supply unit; and

FIG. 7 is a sectional view illustrating the construction of the steam supply unit.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

Hereinafter, a multiple laundry treating machine according to the present invention will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings.

As shown in FIG. 2, the multiple laundry treating machine according to the present invention includes a laundry treating machine 100 including a main laundry treating unit 210 for performing various laundry treating operations by the rotation of a drum and an auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, separated from the main laundry treating unit 210, for performing a laundry treating operation using circulating air or steam, and a monitor device 500 for remotely controlling and monitoring the operation of the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 through a data communication with the laundry treating machine 100.

The laundry treating machine 100 is installed in a specific space, such as an area outside a house or a basement of the house, apart from the living space of a user. Accordingly, the monitor device 500 is preferably installed in the living space of the user such that the user can easily control or monitor the laundry treating machine 100.

Hereinafter, the construction of the laundry treating machine 100 and the monitor device 500 according to the present invention will be described in detail.

First, as shown in FIG. 3, the monitor device 500 includes a communication unit 540 for communicating with the laundry treating machine 100 to transmit a control command for the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 to the laundry treating machine 100 or receive the operation state of the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 from the laundry treating machine 100, an image output unit 510 for displaying the operation state of the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 received through the communication unit 540, a sound output unit 530 for outputting a sound signal corresponding to the operation state of the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 received through the communication unit 540, and a monitor control unit 550 for controlling the driving of the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 through the communication with the laundry treating machine 100 or controlling the operation state of the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 received from the laundry treating machine 100 to be outputted through the image output unit 510 or the sound output unit 530.

Preferably, the monitor device 500 further includes a first manipulation unit for allowing a user to input a command for controlling the operation and monitoring of the main laundry treating unit 210 and a second manipulation unit for allowing the user to input a command for controlling the operation and monitoring of the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310.

The image output unit 510 of the monitor device 500 serves to display the control environment, such as a user menu for controlling the laundry treating machine 100, thereby guiding the user. Also, the image output unit 510 serves to display the operation state received from the laundry treating machine 100, e.g., remaining operation time, currently progressing operation information, operation errors, and the completion of laundry treating.

The image output unit 510 may be a display device, such as a liquid crystal display (LCD) or a light emitting diode (LED). The image output unit 510 includes a first display part for displaying a user menu and state information of the main laundry treating unit 210 and a second display part for displaying a user menu and state information of the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310.

The first display part and the second display part of the image output unit 510 may be constructed using a single display device such that the first display part and the second display part are functionally divided from each other. Alternatively, the first display part and the second display part of the image output unit 510 may be constructed separately using different display devices.

The communication unit 540 includes a communication module that performs a power line communication and/or a wireless communication. Consequently, a data communication between the communication unit 540 and the laundry treating machine 100 is accomplished without using an additional communication network, such as Internet.

The monitor control unit 550 of the monitor device 500 with the above-stated construction performs system control under an operation system that is capable of remotely controlling and monitoring the laundry treating machine 100.

Meanwhile, the multiple laundry treating machine according to the present invention may have the same external appearance as the laundry treating machine having the base 20 as shown in FIG. 1. However, the multiple laundry treating machine according to the present invention is different from the conventional laundry treating machine in that the base performs an auxiliary laundry treating operation in addition to the function to support the laundry treating machine, as shown in FIG. 2. Preferably, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 is stably fixed to the main laundry treating unit 210 by fixing members 130.

According to the present invention, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 is mounted to one side of the main laundry treating unit 210. Specifically, as shown in FIG. 2, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 may be mounted to the bottom of the main laundry treating unit 210. Alternatively, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 may be mounted to the top of the main laundry treating unit 210. In other words, the present invention is characterized in that the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, which performs a drying operation or refreshing operation, is added to the existing laundry treating machine 100 only having the main laundry treating unit 210.

The auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 may be added to any laundry treating machine having a drying function and a steam supply function as well as a simple washing machine.

The laundry treating machine 100, which is controlled by the monitor device 500, includes a drum defining a laundry treating space of the main laundry treating unit 210, a laundry receiving part 121 defining a laundry treating space of the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, a first drive unit 250 for generating a drive force necessary to rotate the drum, a second drive unit 320 for supplying circulating air or steam to the drum or the laundry receiving part 121, a communication unit 230 for performing a data communication with the monitor device 500, a manipulation unit 220 for allowing a user to input a control command for the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, and a main body control unit 260 for controlling the operation state of the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 to be transmitted to the monitor device 500 through the communication unit 230 or controlling the first drive unit 250 or the second drive unit 320 under the control of the monitor device 500 or the manipulation unit 220.

Preferably, the first drive unit 250 includes a motor.

The communication unit 230 includes a communication module that performs a power line communication and/or a wireless communication. Preferably, the communication unit 230 includes a communication module having the same communication system as the communication unit 540 of the monitor device 500.

The manipulation unit 220 includes a manipulation panel for controlling the main laundry treating unit 210 and a manipulation panel for controlling the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310.

The laundry treating machine 100 further includes a display unit 240 for displaying the operation state of the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 as well as the main laundry treating unit 210.

Especially, the laundry treating machine 100 according to the present invention may be constructed in a structure in which the second drive unit 320 is exclusively used for the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 such that circulating air or steam is supplied into only the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 (Example 1), or circulating air or steam is supplied into both the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 (Example 2).

EXAMPLE 1

The second drive unit 320, which is exclusively used for the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, will be described with reference to FIG. 4.

The auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 includes a laundry receiving part 121, which is a space for receiving laundry, defined therein. The laundry receiving part 121 may be constructed in various forms. Preferably, the laundry receiving part 121 is constructed in the form of a drawer that can be withdrawn outward from the front of the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310.

In addition, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 may include various drive units for drying or refreshing laundry articles, such as clothes or shoes, received in the laundry receiving part 121.

As the second drive unit 320, an air supply unit 140 for forcibly supplying air into the laundry receiving part 121 and/or a steam supply unit 150 for supplying high-temperature steam into the laundry receiving part 121 may be used.

The air supply unit 140 includes a blowing fan 141 for blowing air and a heater 142 for heating the air, circulated by the blowing fan 141.

The air supply unit 140 is constructed in a structure in which, external air is suctioned by the blowing fan 141, the suctioned air is heated by the heater 142, and the heated air is introduced into the laundry receiving part and then discharged to the outside.

The auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 and the laundry receiving part 121 are preferably provided at the upper part of the rear wall thereof with an inlet port 171, through which external air is introduced. Also, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 and the laundry receiving part 121 are preferably provided at the lower part of the rear wall thereof with an outlet port 172, through which the air is discharged.

Consequently, when only the blowing fan 141 is driven, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 may perform a deodorizing function to remove a smell from laundry. On the other hand, when both the blowing fan 141 and the heater 142 are driven, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 may perform drying, wrinkle removing, and smell removing functions.

The steam supply unit 150 may be located above or behind the laundry receiving part 121. Although not shown in detail, the steam supply unit 150 preferably includes a tank for storing wash water, a heater for heating the wash water stored in the tank, and a spray member for spraying steam, generated by heating the wash water, into the laundry receiving part 121.

Consequently, the steam supply unit 150 is capable of performing a refreshing function, such as sterilization, by spraying high-temperature steam into the laundry receiving part 121.

In addition to the air supply unit 140 and/or the steam supply unit 150, the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 may include a sensor 180 for sensing the temperature in the laundry receiving part 121 and/or the humidity in the laundry receiving part 121, e.g., a temperature sensor for sensing the temperature in the laundry receiving part 121 and/or a humidity sensor for sensing the humidity in the laundry receiving part 121. Consequently, when a drying function or a refreshing function is performed using the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, the temperature or humidity in the laundry receiving part 121 is sensed by the sensor 180 to properly control operation conditions.

The auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 may further include a shelf 160, on which laundry 162 is placed. The shelf 160 divides the inner space of the laundry receiving part 121 into upper and lower spaces such that the upper and lower spaces communicate with each other. The shelf 160 is provided to smoothly discharge air supplied to the laundry 162 out of the laundry receiving part 121.

Preferably, the shelf 160 is provided with a plurality of through-holes 160a, through which air smoothly circulates in the laundry receiving part 121.

Preferably, the laundry receiving part 121 is provided at the upper part of the rear wall thereof with an air guide 161. The air guide 161 serves to guide air such that the air can be smoothly supplied toward the front of the laundry receiving part 121, and, at the same time, to divide the air introduction channel and the air discharge channel from each other.

EXAMPLE 2

This example is characterized in that the main laundry treating unit 210 includes an air supply unit and/or a steam supply unit, and circulating air and/or steam, generated by the air supply unit and/or the steam supply unit of the main laundry treating unit 210 is shared by the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310.

FIG. 5 illustrates a condensation type laundry treating machine having an air supply unit, and FIG. 6 illustrates an exhaust type laundry treating machine having an air supply unit. FIGS. 5 and 6 are reference views illustrating a multiple laundry treating machine that is capable of supplying circulating air to the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 using a single air supply unit.

In addition, the multiple laundry treating machine of FIG. 6 further includes a steam supply unit, by which steam is supplied to both the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310.

As shown in FIG. 5, the condensation type laundry treating machine 100 includes an air circulation channel having introduction channels 44 and 45 and discharge channels 80 and 81, a blowing fan 60 for circulating air in the air circulation channel, a heater 90 for heating the air circulated by the blowing fan 60, and a condensing unit 292, having a condensation channel 290 connected to the discharge channels 80 and 81 and a condenser 291, for removing moisture from the air.

The introduction channels include a main introduction channel 44 for guiding air to a drum 40 and an auxiliary introduction channel 45 diverging from the main introduction channel 44 for guiding air to the laundry receiving part 121. The discharge channels include a main discharge channel 80 for guiding the air, discharged from the drum 40, to the condensing channel 290 and an auxiliary discharge channel 81 for guiding the air, discharged from the laundry receiving part 121, to the condensing channel 290.

Also, as shown in the drawing, the laundry receiving part 121 is provided with an inlet port 129 and an outlet port 128, and the main laundry treating unit 210 is provided at the bottom thereof with through-holes 272 and 271 communicating with the inlet port 129 and the outlet port 128, respectively, such that the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 communicate with each other through the auxiliary introduction channel 45 and the auxiliary discharge channel 81.

In this structure, the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 share circulating air. To this end, it is required that the inlet port 129 be aligned with the through-hole 272, and the outlet port 128 be aligned with the through-hole 271, when the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 are coupled to each other.

In the main introduction channel 44 and the auxiliary introduction channel 45 are mounted dampers 280 for selectively opening and closing the main introduction channel 44 and the auxiliary introduction channel 45 under the control of the main body control unit 260. In the main discharge channel 80 and the auxiliary discharge channel 81 are mounted dampers 281 for selectively opening and closing the main discharge channel 80 and the auxiliary discharge channel 81 under the control of the main body control unit 260.

In this structure, circulating air, supplied from the air supply unit 140 through the air circulation channels 44, 45, 80, and 81 in the laundry treating machine 100, is shared by the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310. Specifically, it is possible to selectively supply circulating air to the drum 40 or the laundry receiving part 121 by controlling the opening and closing of the dampers 280 and 281 under the control of the main body control unit 260.

On the other hand, the exhaust type laundry treating machine shown in FIG. 6 is constructed in a structure in which the main discharge channel 80 and the auxiliary discharge channel 81, among the air circulation channels 44, 45, 80, and 81, communicate with the outside such that external air is introduced into the drum 50 and the laundry receiving part 121, is circulated, and is then discharged to the outside.

In the exhaust type laundry treating machine, as shown in the drawing, the main introduction channel 44 is formed to guide external air to the rear of the drum 40, and the auxiliary introduction channel 45 diverges from the main introduction channel 44 such that the air is introduced into the laundry receiving part 121 through the inlet port 129.

Also, as shown in the drawing, the main discharge channel 80 is formed to exhaust the air, discharged from the drum 40, to the outside, and the auxiliary discharge channel 81 is connected between the outlet port 128 and the main discharge channel 80 such that the air, discharged from the laundry receiving part 121, is exhausted to the outside.

Furthermore, the exhaust type laundry treating machine may be constructed such that steam, generated by the steam supply unit 150, is shared by the drum 40 and the laundry receiving part 121.

As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the steam supply unit 150 includes a tank 156 for storing wash water supplied from a water supply hose 155, a heater 157 for heating the wash water stored in the tank 156, a main hose 151 and an auxiliary hose 153 for guiding the wash water, heated by the heater 157, to the drum 40 and the laundry receiving part 121, respectively, and steam spray ports 152 and 154 connected to the ends of the main hose 151 and the auxiliary hose 153 for spraying the heated wash water in the form of steam.

The steam supply unit 150 further includes a water level sensor 159 for sensing the water level of the wash water stored in the tank 156 and a temperature sensor 158 for sensing the temperature of the wash water heated by the heater 157.

In this structure, the auxiliary hose 153 for spraying steam into the laundry receiving part 121 is further included in addition to the main hose 151 for spraying steam into the drum 40. Consequently, it is possible to perform a steam-based laundry treating operation in the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 as well as the main laundry treating unit 210 using the above-described single steam supply unit 150.

When the steam-based laundry treating operation is performed in the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, it is possible to perform various refreshing functions, such as the removal of wrinkles, the sterilization, the prevention of static electricity in laundry, and the removal of a smell.

The multiple laundry treating machine according to Example 1 and Example 2 is capable of selectively controlling the operation of the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 under the control of the main body control unit 260.

Especially, the main body control unit 260 transmits periodically state information of the main laundry treating unit 210 and the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 to the monitor device 500 through a data communication. Also, the main body control unit 260 determines whether there is a control command transmitted from the monitor device 500. When it is determined that there is a control command for the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, transmitted from the monitor device 500, the main body control unit 260 controls the first drive unit 250 or the second drive unit 320 of the laundry treating machine 100 to perform an operation corresponding to the control command.

When a user inputs a command for controlling the operation of the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310 through the manipulation unit 220, the monitor control unit 550 of the monitor device 500 transmits the control command, inputted through the manipulation unit 220, to the laundry treating machine 100.

On the other hand, when the user inputs a command for monitoring the laundry treating machine 100 through the manipulation unit 220, the monitor control unit 550 of the monitor device 500 displays the operation state of the laundry treating machine 100, received through the communication unit 540, through the image output unit 510.

At this time, one of the operation state information received from the laundry treating machine 100, e.g., the operation state of the main laundry treating unit 210, is displayed on the first display part, and the other operation state information received from the laundry treating machine 100, e.g., the operation state of the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, is displayed on the second display part.

Consequently, the monitor device 500 is installed in the living space more conveniently accessible to a user for controlling the operation of the laundry treating machine 100, specifically the main laundry treating unit 210 or the auxiliary laundry treating unit 310, remote from the monitor device 500. Also, the monitor device 500 receives periodically the operation state of the laundry treating machine 100 to inform the user of various information, such as remaining operation time, the completion of laundry treating, operation errors, or the like.

As apparent from the above description, the multiple laundry treating machine is constructed in a structure in which the auxiliary laundry treating unit for treating a small amount of laundry is added to the main laundry treating unit. Consequently, the present invention has the effect of increasing the applicability of the laundry treating machine and reducing energy consumption.

Also, the multiple laundry treating machine further includes the monitor device, in addition to the auxiliary laundry treating unit, such that the communication between the laundry treating machine and the monitor device is possible at a distance from each other. Consequently, the present invention has the effect of remotely controlling and monitoring the main laundry treating unit and the auxiliary laundry treating unit.

Furthermore, the monitor device is installed in the living space of a user such that the user can easily and conveniently control and monitor the operation of the laundry treating machine. Consequently, the present invention has the effect of improving a user's convenience. Also, the user can more rapidly recognize the laundry treating state and promptly respond to it.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the inventions. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.