Title:
Method for Controlling a Heating Device and System for Carrying Out Said Method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for controlling a warming device includes: providing a system including the warming device and a household appliance, the system configured to at least one of process and prepare at least one of a beverage and a food; and automatically turning on a heating element of the warming device by a selection of a future activation time at which the household appliance is switched from a standby state to an ON state, the selection being made using the household appliance.



Inventors:
Erdmann, Torsten (Beckum, DE)
Liemke, Frank (Guetersloh, DE)
Mueller, Diana (Guetersloh, DE)
Nattkemper, Joerg (Hamm, DE)
Niehaus, Detlef (Hamm, DE)
Pohlmann, Verena (Brussels, BE)
Van Pels, Ulrich (Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, DE)
Application Number:
12/065576
Publication Date:
10/23/2008
Filing Date:
08/26/2006
Assignee:
Miele & Cie. KG (Guetersloh, DE)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24D19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALEXANDER, REGINALD
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leydig, Voit & Mayer, Ltd. (Frankfurt office) (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
1. 1-8. (canceled)

9. A method for controlling a warming device, the method comprising: providing a system including the warming device and a household appliance, the system configured to at least one of process and prepare at least one of a beverage and a food; and automatically turning on a heating element of the warming device by a selection of a future activation time at which the household appliance is switched from a standby state to an ON state, the selection being made using the household appliance.

10. The method as recited in claim 9, wherein the automatically turning on the heating element is performed so as to turn on the heating element at a point in time subsequent to the selection of the activation time of the household appliance and prior to the activation time.

11. The method as recited in claim 9, wherein the automatically turning off the heating element is performed so as to turn off the heating element at a point in time subsequent to a selection of a future deactivation time of the household appliance and prior to the deactivation time.

12. The method as recited in claim 10, further comprising automatically turning off the heating element using the household appliance at a point in time subsequent to a selection of a future deactivation time of the household appliance and prior to the deactivation time.

13. A system configured to at least one of process and prepare at least one of beverages and foods, the system comprising: a household appliance configured to select a future activation time at which the household appliance is switched from a standby state to an ON state; and a warming device including a heating element configured to be automatically turned on by the selection of the future activation time.

14. The system as recited in claim 13, wherein at least one of the household appliance and the warming device is configured to preset a time interval between the activation of the heating element and the activation of the household appliance.

15. The system as recited in claim 13, wherein at least one of the household appliance and the warming device is configured to preset a time interval between a deactivation of the heating element and a deactivation time of the household appliance.

16. The system as recited in claim 14, wherein at least one of the household appliance and the warming device is configured to preset a time interval between a deactivation of the heating element and a deactivation time of the household appliance.

17. The system as recited in claim 13, wherein the warming device includes a control element configured to turn off the heating element independently of settings made using the household appliance prior to the turning off.

18. The system as recited in claims 14, wherein the warming device includes a control element configured to turn off the heating element independently of settings made using the household appliance prior to the turning off.

19. The system as recited in claims 15, wherein the warming device includes a control element configured to turn off the heating element independently of settings made using the household appliance prior to the turning off.

20. The system as recited in claim 13, wherein the household appliance includes a control element configured to turn off the household appliance manually and independently of settings made using the household appliance prior to the turning off.

21. The system as recited in claim 14, wherein the household appliance includes a control element configured to turn off the household appliance manually and independently of settings made using the household appliance prior to the turning off.

22. The system as recited in claim 15, wherein the household appliance includes a control element configured to turn off the household appliance manually and independently of settings made using the household appliance prior to the turning off.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a U.S. national phase application under 35 U.S.C. ยง 371 of International Patent Application No. PCT/EP2006/008392, filed Aug. 26, 2006, and claims benefit of German Patent Application No. 10 2005 041 776.0, filed Sep. 1, 2005. The International Application was published in German on Mar. 8, 2007 as WO 2007/025688 A1 under PCT Article 21(2).

FIELD

The present invention relates to a method for controlling a warming device for warming dishes, glasses, or the like, and to a system for carrying out said method.

BACKGROUND

U.S. Pat. No. 6,191,391 B1. describes a system that includes a cooking range and a warming drawer integrated therein. The heating element of the known warming drawer is manually turned on as needed, using a rotary knob provided on the range. Once the range is in pyrolytic mode, the heating element of the warming drawer is automatically turned off.

Moreover, German Patent DE 41 39 804 C1 describes a method for controlling a warming device for warming coffee cups of a coffee maker, the warming device and the coffeemaker together forming one system. The warming device is controlled as a function of the operating state of the coffee maker, a heating element of the warming device being automatically turned on as a function of the activation of the coffee machine.

SUMMARY

It is an aspect of the present invention to provide a method for controlling a warming device, which will enhance the ease-of-use.

In an embodiment, the present invention provides a method for controlling a warming device. The method includes: providing a system including the warming device and a household appliance, the system configured to at least one of process and prepare at least one of a beverage and a food; and automatically turning on a heating element of the warming device by a selection of a future activation time at which the household appliance is switched from a standby state to an ON state, the selection being made using the household appliance.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Aspects of the present invention will now be described by way of exemplary embodiments with reference to the following drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a second exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a third exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In addition to enhancing the ease-of-use, an advantage offered by the present invention is that it improves the quality of the beverages and foods served. This is advantageous when there is a relatively long period of time between the preparation and consumption of the beverages or foods.

A future activation time at which the household appliance is switched from a standby state to an ON state can be selected on the household appliance. Since the heating element of the warming device is automatically turned on by such a selection, it is possible to turn on the warming device before the household appliance is fully operational, so that the warming device can already be used when the household appliance is switched on.

According to an aspect of the aforementioned exemplary embodiment, the heating element of the warming device is turned on at a point in time subsequent to the selection of the activation time of the household appliance and prior to this activation time. This is advantageous, for example, when it is desired to pre-warm dishes, such as cups or the like, so as to prevent hot beverages or foods from cooling down before they are consumed.

In another embodiment according to the present invention, the heating element of the warming device is automatically turned off at a point in time subsequent to the selection of a future deactivation time of the household appliance on the household appliance and prior to this deactivation time. This makes it easier for the user to control the warming device, thus further improving the ease-of-use.

In an embodiment according to the present invention, the time interval between the activation of the heating element of the warming device and the activation time of the household appliance can be preset on the household appliance or on the warming device. This further improves the ease-of-use. Thus, the user can easily control the level of heating of the warming device according to his/her subjective perception.

In another embodiment, the time interval between the deactivation of the heating element of the warming device and the deactivation time of the household appliance can be preset on the household appliance or on the warming device. This additionally allows the user to set this time interval according to his/her subjective perception. The user is thus also able to influence the energy consumption of the warming device as desired.

Since the heating element of the warming device can be turned off by a control element of the warming device independently of the settings made on the household appliance prior to manipulating the control element, the user is able to disable the automatism of the present invention, if desired.

The same objective underlies an embodiment of the system, in which the household appliance has a control element which allows the household appliance to be completely turned off manually independently of the settings made on the household appliance prior to manipulating the control element. This allows the warming device to be turned off indirectly.

FIG. 1 is a schematic view showing a first exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The system according to the present invention includes a household appliance 2 in the form of a beverage preparing device and a warming device 4 in the form of a warming drawer. Beverage preparing device 2 is an automatic coffee maker which is designed as a built-in unit. Warming drawer 4 is also designed as a built-in unit and serves to warm, or keep warm, dishes, particularly coffee cups. In this embodiment, household appliance 2 has an electrical receptacle which can be switched by controller 2.1 of household appliance 2 and is connected to the electrical mains 6. Heating element 4.1 of warming device 4 is designed as a radiant heating element and is connected to the switchable receptacle of household appliance 2 via a power cord 8. Warming device 4 also has an externally manipulatable control element 4.2 which can also be used to interrupt the supply of power to heating element 4.1. In the figure, both the switch of the switchable receptacle and switch 4.3, which can be operated by control element 4.2, are shown in their rest positions, in which power supply from electrical mains 6 via power cord 8 to heating element 4.1 is interrupted.

The present exemplary embodiment is a system in which, in addition to an OFF state in which household appliance 2 is completely turned off, and an ON state in which household appliance 2 is completely turned on so that all functions of household appliance 2 are available, household appliance 2 can also be switched to a standby state, either automatically or manually. In this standby state, not all the functions of household appliance 2 are available. In particular, the main functions for making coffee are not available in this mode. In the ON state, the user can select a future activation time at which household appliance 2 will be returned to the ON state after it has previously been switched to the standby state. To this end, controller 2.1 has integrated therein a generally known timer which produces a control signal for switching household appliance 2 to the ON state, said control signal being produced on a daily basis at the specified activation time.

The operation of the present exemplary embodiment will now be explained in greater detail with reference to FIG. 1.

Household appliance 2, which is in the form of a beverage preparing device, and warming device 4, which in the form of a warming drawer, are OFF and switch 4.3, which can be operated by control element 4.2, is in the rest position shown in FIG. 1. The user turns on household appliance 2 using a control element 4.2 which is takes the form of a main switch and is provided on the household appliance. Controller 2.1 of household appliance 2 is designed such that when household appliance 2 is turned on, the switch of the switchable receptacle is simultaneously moved from the rest position shown in FIG. 1 to the closed position, so that heating element 4.1 of warming device 4 is connected to electrical mains 6. Heating element 4.1 heats the interior of warming device 4, so that dishes placed therein are pre-warmed. Once beverage preparing device 2 is ready to operate, the user may tap coffee into a pre-warmed cup.

This beverage preparing device 2 is provided with controls and indicators which also allow the user to select and set a future activation time at which beverage preparing device 2 will be turned on again after it has previously been switched to the standby state. To this end, the controls and indicators are connected in signal communication with the controller of beverage preparing device 2 in a manner known per se. In addition, the user can use the controls and indicators to select and set a time interval by which the activation of heating element 4.1 of warming device 4 is to precede the activation of beverage preparing device 2.

Similar to the activation time, the user can also select and set a future deactivation time for beverage preparing device 2 using the controls and indicators. As with the activation of heating element 4.1 of warming device 4, the user can use the controls and indicators to select and set a time interval by which the deactivation of heating element 4.1 is to precede the deactivation of beverage preparing device 2.

The aforementioned settings with respect to the activation and deactivation times of beverage preparing device 2 and with respect to the activation and deactivation of heating element 4.1 of warming device 4, which have been made by the user using the controls and indicators of beverage preparing device 2, are stored in a memory of controller 2.1 and are used by controller 2.1 of beverage preparing device 2 until they are changed by the user.

When beverage preparing device 2 and heating element 4.1 of warming device 4 are ON, the user can disable the above-mentioned automatism by manipulating control element 4.2 and manually turn off heating element 4.1 independently of the settings previously made on beverage preparing device 2. Once the deactivation time specified for beverage preparing device 2 and stored in controller 2.1 is reached, the beverage preparing device is switched from the ON state to the standby state. In this manner, switch 4.3, which can be operated by control element 4.2, is returned to its rest position, see FIG. 1. When the activation time for beverage preparing device 2 is reached again, the beverage preparing device is automatically switched from the standby state to the ON state. If, as explained earlier, the user has selected and specified a time interval by which the activation of heating element 4.1 is to precede the activation of beverage preparing device 2, warming device 4 is heated accordingly and dishes placed therein are already pre-warmed. If the user has not specified any such time interval, heating element 4.1 will be automatically turned on when beverage preparing device 2 is switched from the standby state to the ON state.

If, contrary to the above, the user turns beverage preparing device 2 completely off using main switch 2.2, then both beverage preparing device 2 and heating element 4.1 of warming device 4 will not be automatically turned on again. Beverage preparing device 2 and heating element 4.1 will not be turned again until main switch 2.2 is operated again. Since the settings previously made on beverage preparing device 2 with respect to the daily activation and deactivation times of beverage preparing device 2 are stored in a memory of controller 2.1, these settings are used again once beverage preparing device 2 is returned to the standby state.

The present exemplary embodiment requires the use of a special switch 4.3, because this switch automatically moves to the rest position after beverage preparing device 2 is switched from the ON state to the standby state. However, in principle, switch 4.3 can also be a conventional switch. In this case, however, it would be necessary to manually return switch 4.3 to the rest position by manipulating control element 4.2. This allows an otherwise conventional warming device 4 to be turned on automatically as a function of the operating state of beverage preparing device 2.

Furthermore, warming device 4, in addition to being supplied with power via beverage preparing device 2, could be connected directly to another power supply. Thus, heating element 4.1 of warming device 4 would be able to be turned on both depending on beverage preparing device 2 and independently of beverage preparing device 2.

FIG. 2 shows a second exemplary embodiment. In contrast to the first exemplary embodiment, heating element 4.1 of warming device 4 is controlled by two household appliances 2, namely a beverage preparing device and a cooking range. Controllers 2.1 of household appliances 2 are each connected in signal communication with a controller 4.4. of warming device 4 via safety low voltage lines 10. Moreover, control element 4.2 is connected in signal communication with controller 4.4. Controller 4.4 operates switch 4.3 as a function of the signals from household appliances 2 and control element 4.2, so that heating element 4.1 is or is not electrically conductively connected to electrical mains 6. The safety low voltage lines 10 used here facilitate the wiring between household appliances 2 and warming devices 4 in the second exemplary embodiment. Apart from that, this exemplary embodiment is similar to the first exemplary embodiment.

It would also be possible to use line voltage in place of safety low voltage.

A third exemplary embodiment is shown in FIG. 3. Contrary to the second exemplary embodiment, in this exemplary embodiment, an electrical power supply line 10 is used for signal transfer in a generally known manner in place of the safety low voltage lines between household appliances 2 and warming device 4. Thus, a system provided in appliances 2 and 4 for signal transmission via electrical power supply line 10 can also be used for the method of the present invention, thereby further reducing the wiring complexity and thus the cost of manufacture.

The present invention is not limited to the exemplary embodiments described herein. For example, the method of the present invention can also be used in other suitable household appliances for processing or preparing beverages or foods and warming devices, in particular food warmers. Moreover, it is also possible to use other suitable heating elements.