Title:
SELF-CONTAINED CLIMATE CONTROL SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-contained climate control system includes a housing having an interior defined as the space between the top, base and walls of the housing. In the interior of the housing are a refrigeration circuit, a conditioned air path, an exhaust air path and an electronic control circuit. The conditioned air path and the exhaust air path are separated by a housing partition, and the electronic control circuit is separated from both the conditioned air path and the exhaust air path by at least one electronics partition.



Inventors:
Tregaskis, Fred B. (Falls Village, CT, US)
Application Number:
12/356250
Publication Date:
07/23/2009
Filing Date:
01/20/2009
Assignee:
Cellar Mate LLC (Falls Village, CT, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/426
International Classes:
F25D23/00; F24F1/02; F25D17/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
ACEVEDO TORRES, ALEXANDRO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
McCormick, Paulding & Huber, PLLC (Hartford, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A self-contained climate control system comprising: a housing defining a conditioned air path and an exhaust air path; a refrigeration circuit disposed within the housing; an electronic control circuit for controlling the refrigeration circuit; and an at least one electronics partition; wherein the at least one electronics partition separates the electronic control circuit from the conditioned air path and the exhaust air path.

2. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 1, wherein an at least one housing partition separates the conditioned air path and the exhaust air path.

3. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 1, wherein the width of the housing fits between standard wall studs.

4. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 1, wherein the housing is 14.5 inches wide.

5. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 1, wherein the housing includes an electronic access panel allowing access to the electronic control circuit from the exterior of the housing.

6. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 5, wherein the electronic access panel is coupled to the housing.

7. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 5, wherein the electronic control circuit is fixedly mounted to the electronic access panel.

8. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 1, wherein the exhaust air path includes a blower guard.

9. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 1, wherein the condenser fan is an impeller blower.

10. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 1, wherein the evaporator fan is an impeller blower.

11. A self-contained climate control system comprising: a housing defining a conditioned air path and an exhaust air path; a refrigeration circuit disposed within the housing; an electronic control circuit for controlling the refrigeration circuit; and an electronic access panel; wherein the electronic control circuit is fixedly mounted to the electronic access panel.

12. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 11, wherein an at least one housing partition separates the conditioned air path and the exhaust air path.

13. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 11, wherein the width of the housing fits between standard wall studs.

14. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 11, wherein the housing is 14.5 inches wide.

15. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 11, wherein the exhaust air path additionally comprises a blower guard.

16. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 11, wherein the condenser fan is an impeller blower.

17. The self-contained climate control system according to claim 11, wherein the evaporator fan is an impeller blower.

18. A method of making a self-contained climate control system comprising the steps of: providing a housing defining a conditioned air path and an exhaust air path; installing a refrigeration circuit within the housing; partitioning the conditioned air path from the exhaust air path; installing an electronic control circuit for controlling the refrigeration circuit; and partitioning the electronic control circuit from both the conditioned air path and the exhaust air path.

19. The method according to claim 18, additionally comprising the step of installing an electronic access panel in the housing for providing access to the electronic control circuit from the exterior of the housing.

20. The method according to claim 19, additionally comprising the step of fixedly mounting the electronic control circuit to the electronic access panel.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from and incorporates in its entirety U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/022,468, filed Jan. 21, 2008, entitled “Self-Contained Climate Control System.”

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates to climate control systems and, more particularly, to self-contained climate control systems.

2. Background Art

Typical climate control systems include an evaporator section and a condenser section. Conventionally, only the evaporator system is mounted indoors, while the condenser section is a separate outdoor unit. This arrangement is referred to as a split system. A split system is advantageous because the exhaust air in the condenser section is separated from the conditioned air in the evaporator section. There also exists a self-contained climate control system that incorporates both the evaporator section and the condenser section into a single housing. In such a configuration, the evaporator section is typically isolated from the condenser section so that the conditioned air in the evaporator section is isolated from the exhaust air in the condenser section. Climate control systems can be used to heat and cool air, as well as control humidity.

When a self-contained climate control system is built, the electronic circuits of each component, as well as electronics to control the climate control system, are typically contained within the unit. This can make repairs to the system difficult and expensive, as the interior of the housing must be accessed. This can be exceptionally difficult for installed self-contained climate control systems.

When an exhaust blowing means is employed in the unit to assist in venting, there is an increased risk of injury to a repair technician from contact with the blowing means.

Therefore, there is a need for an improved self-contained climate control system.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, a self-contained climate control system includes a housing that defines a conditioned air path and an exhaust air path. A refrigeration circuit is disposed within the housing and includes all necessary elements so that the system can provide conditioned air. The self-contained climate control system also includes an electronic control circuit that controls the operation of the refrigeration circuit. The electronic control circuit is separated from both the conditioned air path and the exhaust air path by one or more electronics partitions.

The interior of the housing may also be configured such that one or more housing partitions separate the conditioned air path from the exhaust air path.

When the electronic components are housed in a compartment separate from the conditioned and exhaust air paths, an electrical fire can be effectively contained in the separate compartment. The partitions, therefore, retard or prevent the spread of an electrical fire through either the conditioned air path or the exhaust air path. Another advantage of the present invention is repair difficulty and cost may be reduced by allowing access to this electronics compartment from outside the housing. A further advantage of the present invention is that risk of injury to a technician from air path components can be reduced.

These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent in light of the detailed description on the best mode embodiment thereof, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective front, top and left side view of a self-contained climate control system according to a representative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is another perspective view of the rear, right and top of the self-contained climate control system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the self-contained climate control system of FIG. 1 showing the housing with panels removed;

FIG. 4 is a partially exploded perspective view of the front, top and left side of the self-contained climate control system of FIG. 1 showing panel installation;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the interior of the self-contained climate control system of FIG. 2 showing a refrigeration circuit;

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of the refrigeration circuit of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a partially exploded perspective view of the self-contained climate control system of FIG. 2 showing a condenser fan, an evaporator fan, an electronic control circuit and a housing partition;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the self-contained climate control system of FIG. 3 showing a conditioned air path and an exhaust air path;

FIG. 9, is a partially exploded perspective view of the self-contained climate control system of FIG. 8; and

FIG. 10 is a perspective rear, left and top view of the self-contained climate control system shown in FIG. 2 with the housing top and sides removed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIG. 1, a self-contained climate control system 10 includes a housing 12 having a base 14, a top 16, a first end wall 18, a second end wall 20, a first side wall 22 and a second side wall 24. The housing 12 has an interior 26, bounded by the base 14, the top 16, the first and second end walls 18 and 20 and the first and second side walls 22 and 24. The system can be used where a local environment has to be held to strict air quality conditions, such as a wine cellar, a cigar shop, a florist or any other environment where conditioned air is desired.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, a first opening 27 in end wall 20 forms a conditioned air intake 28, allowing intake air 30 to pass through the housing 12 and be drawn into the interior 26 so that intake air 30 may be conditioned. Referring to FIG. 3, the housing 12 includes three conditioned air exits 34, 36 and 38, which allow the conditioned air 32 to be expelled from the interior 26 and exit the housing 12.

Still Referring to FIG. 3, a second opening 39 in end wall 18 forms an exhaust air intake 40, allowing intake air 30 to pass through the housing 12 and be drawn into the interior 26 so that it may be converted into exhaust air 42. The housing 12 also includes three exhaust air exits 44, 46 and 48, which allow the exhaust air 42 to be expelled from the interior 26 and exit the housing 12.

Referring to FIG. 4, panels 50 and 52 can optionally be used to cover one or more conditioned air exits 34, 36 or 38 so that the conditioned air 32 is expelled from the interior 26 through only one or more desired conditioned air exits 34, 36 or 38. Similarly, panels 54 and 56 can optionally be attached to the housing 12 to cover one or more exhaust air exits 44, 46 or 48 so that the exhaust air 42 may be expelled from the interior 26 through only one or more desired exhaust air exits 44, 46, or 48.

Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, a refrigeration circuit 58 is disposed within the interior 26. The refrigeration circuit 58 is similar to refrigeration circuits known in the art and includes a compressor 60, a condenser coil 62 and an evaporator coil 64. Piping 66 connects the compressor 60, the condenser coil 62 and the evaporator coil 64 to complete the refrigeration circuit 58. Optionally, the refrigeration circuit 58 may also include a filter dryer 68 and a thermal expansion valve 70 connected with piping 66 between the condenser coil 62 and the evaporator coil 64. The refrigeration circuit 58 may also include an automatic high pressure shut-off valve 71 connected with piping 66 between the compressor 60 and the condenser coil 62. The automatic high pressure shut-off valve 71 shuts down the climate control system 10 if refrigerant pressure from the compressor 60 exceeds a preset threshold. The automatic high pressure shut-off valve 71 then automatically resets when the refrigerant pressure decreases below the predetermined threshold. A drain pan 72 is disposed below the evaporator coil 64 to collect condensation. Referring to FIG. 7, a drainpipe 74 connects the drain pan 72 to a condensate drain 76.

Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, the interior 26 includes a conditioned air path 78, which allows intake air 30 that is drawn through the conditioned air intake 28 to be conditioned and expelled from the interior 26 through one or more conditioned air exits 34, 36 and 38. Starting at the conditioned air intake 28, the conditioned air path 78 passes through the evaporator coil 64, which is where the intake air 30 is converted into conditioned air 32. The conditioned air path 78 then passes through an evaporator fan 96, which is preferably an impeller blower with a direct drive motor. The conditioned air path 78 then passes through the interior 26 to the conditioned air exits 34, 36 and 38.

The interior 26 also includes an exhaust air path 80, which is isolated from the conditioned air path by a housing partition 82. The exhaust air path 80 allows intake air 30 that is drawn through the exhaust air intake 40 to be converted into exhaust air and expelled from the interior 26 through one or more exhaust air exits 44, 46 and 48. Starting at the exhaust air intake 40, the exhaust air path 80 passes through the condenser coil 62, which is where the intake air 30 is converted into exhaust air 42. The exhaust air path 80 then passes through a condenser fan 98, shown in FIG. 7, which is preferably an impeller blower with a direct drive motor. The exhaust air path 80 then passes through the interior 26 to the exhaust air exits 44, 46 and 48. Preferably, the exhaust air path 80 also passes through a blower guard 100 positioned between the condenser fan 98 and the exhaust air exits 44, 46 and 48.

Referring to FIG. 10, the interior 26 also includes an electronic control circuit 84. The electronic control circuit 84 is isolated from the conditioned air path 78 and the exhaust air path 80 by electronics partitions 86 and 88. Referring back to FIG. 7, the electronic control circuit 84 controls the operation of self-contained climate control system 10 and includes a compressor control 90, an evaporator fan control 92 and a condenser fan control 94. The electronic control circuit 84 should not be limited to compressor, evaporator fan and condenser fan controls, but may also have electronics for additional components such as a climate control system incorporating a dehumidifying means or a heating means. The electronic control circuit 84 serves to group all electronic components of the self-contained climate control system together.

Referring back to FIG. 1, to facilitate access to the electronic control circuit 84, the housing 12 may be equipped with an electronic access panel 102 that allows access to the electronic control circuit 84 from the exterior of the housing 12. Preferably, the electronic access panel 102 is coupled to the housing 12 using a coupling means 104. The coupling means 104 is illustrated as hinges, but it should be understood by those skilled in the art that the hinges could be replaced by other coupling means to achieve a similar outcome. Even more preferably, the electronic control circuit 84 is fixedly mounted to the electronic access panel 102, as seen in FIG. 7.

The self-contained climate control system 10 is preferably mounted through a wall of the conditioned environment, so that intake air 30 can be directly drawn from the environment through conditioned air intake 28. In such a configuration the width of the housing 12, or the distance between the first side wall 22 and the second side wall 24, is such that it is less than the spacing between standard wall studs, such that the housing 12 can be mounted through the wall, between studs, without necessitating alterations to the wall studs. Preferably, the width of the housing 12 is 14.5 inches. This mounting system allows the conditioned air intake 28 to be fed directly with intake air 30 from the conditioned environment.

An alternative preferred mounting means exists to accommodate a self-contained climate control system 10 with a larger housing 12, which may be necessary to provide greater climate control capability, or if the unit cannot be mounted through a wall. In this embodiment, air is transported to and from the conditioned air path 78 and the exhaust air path 80 through the use of air ducts (not shown). The ducting of climate control systems is known in the art and will not be discussed in further detail. It should be noted that the installation is not limited to solely direct or ducted configurations, but that any combination of direct and ducted air supply and return can be employed as desired.

In operation, the electronic control circuit 84 initiates operation of the compressor 60, the evaporator fan 96 and the condenser fan 98 simultaneously through compressor control 90, evaporator fan control 92 and condenser fan control 94, respectively. The initiation of the compressor 60 begins operation of the refrigeration circuit 58, which is well known in the art.

The operation of the evaporator fan 96 draws intake air 30 into the conditioned air path 78 through conditioned air intake 28. The intake air 30 travels through the evaporator coil 64, where it is conditioned, becoming conditioned air 32. The conditioned air 32 then travels into the evaporator fan 96. The conditioned air 32 is then expelled from the conditioned air path 78 by the evaporator fan 96 through one or more conditioned air exits 34, 36 or 38.

The operation of the condenser fan 98 draws intake air 30 into the exhaust air path 80 through exhaust air intake 40. The intake air 30 travels through the condenser coil 62, where it is converted into exhaust air 42. The exhaust air 42 then travels into the condenser fan 98. The exhaust air 42 is then expelled from the exhaust air path 80 by the condenser fan 98 through one or more exhaust air exits 44, 46 or 48. Optionally, the blower guard 100 may be positioned between the condenser fan 98 and the exhaust air exits 44, 46 and 48, such that the exhaust air 42 passes through the blower guard 100 prior to exiting the exhaust air path 80 through one or more exhaust air exits 44, 46 or 48.

One advantage of the present invention is that the electronic control circuit 84 is isolated from the conditioned air path 78 and the exhaust air path 80 by electronics partitions 86 and 88, so that if an electrical fire occurs during operation, the fire is contained within the space defined by the electronics partitions 86 and 88. Therefore, the fire is prevented from entering the conditioned air path 78 or the exhaust air path 80 where the evaporator fan 96 or the condenser fan 98, respectively, would facilitate the fires growth and expel it from the housing 12 through the conditioned air exits 34, 36 or 38 or through the exhaust air exits 44, 46 or 48.

Another advantage of the present invention is to allow easy access for repair of the self-contained climate control system 10 after the system has been installed, through the electronic access panel 102. The electronic access panel 102 drastically reduces the repair difficulty and cost by providing easy access to the electronic control circuit 84.

An additional advantage of the present invention is that the electronics partitions 86 and 88 provide a safety barrier during repair so that a technician is not injured by components of the conditioned air path 78 or the exhaust air path 80.

A further advantage of the present invention is that the blower guard 100 also serves to protect a technician during repair from contact with the condenser fan 98.

Although this invention has been shown and described with respect to the detailed embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail thereof may be made without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention. For example, although conditioned air exits 34, 36 and 38 and exhaust air exits 44, 46 and 48 have been shown as rectangular openings, these exits can have various shapes to accommodate a variety of ducting.