Title:
METHOD FOR OPERATING A REFRIGERATOR APPLIANCE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for operating a refrigerator appliance is provided. The method includes selecting a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting. A fan of the refrigerator appliance is operated in a first manner if the higher humidity setting is selected, and the fresh food fan is operated in a second, different manner if the lower humidity setting is selected. The method can assist with regulating humidity within a chilled chamber of the refrigerator appliance.



Inventors:
Vijayan, Vineeth (Louisville, KY, US)
Kyriacou, Stephanos (Louisville, KY, US)
Application Number:
14/056156
Publication Date:
04/23/2015
Filing Date:
10/17/2013
Assignee:
General Electric Company (Schenectady, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25D17/06; F25B49/02
View Patent Images:
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Foreign References:
WO2013037176A12013-03-21
Other References:
Machine Translation of Fang et al. (WO 2013/037176), Fang et al., 3/2013
Primary Examiner:
TADESSE, MARTHA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dority & Manning, P.A. and Haier US Appliance (Greenville, SC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for operating a refrigerator appliance, comprising: selecting a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting; operating a fresh food fan of the refrigerator appliance at a first speed if the higher humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting; and working the fresh food fan at a second speed if the lower humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, the second speed being less than the first speed.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising directing air from the fresh food fan across a fresh food evaporator of the refrigerator appliance during said step of operating and during said step of working

3. The method of claim 2, wherein: said step of operating comprises operating the fresh food fan at the first speed if the higher humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, the first speed maintaining the fresh food evaporator at a first temperature during said step of operating; and said step of working comprises working the fresh food fan at the second speed if the lower humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, the second speed maintaining the fresh food evaporator at a second temperature during said step of operating, the first temperature being greater than the second temperature.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising condensing or desublimating water vapor onto a fresh food evaporator of the refrigerator appliance during said step of operating and during said step of working.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein: said step of operating comprises operating the fresh food fan at the first speed if the higher humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, a first volume of water condensing or desublimating onto the fresh food evaporator during said step of operating; and said step of working comprises working the fresh food fan at the second speed if the lower humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, a second volume of water condensing or desublimating onto the fresh food evaporator during said step of working, the first volume of water being greater than the second volume of water.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein said step of selecting comprises utilizing a control panel of the refrigeration appliance to select the higher humidity setting or the lower humidity setting.

7. The method of claim 1, further comprising directing refrigerant through a fresh food evaporator of the refrigerator appliance during said step of operating and during said step of working.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein a humidity within a fresh food chamber of the refrigerator appliance is greater after said step of operating than after said working.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein: said step of operating comprises operating the fresh food fan at the first speed for a first time interval if the higher humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting; and said step of working comprises working the fresh food fan at the second speed for a second time interval if the lower humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, the second time interval being less than the first time interval.

10. A method for operating a refrigerator appliance, comprising: selecting a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting; operating a fresh food fan of the refrigerator appliance for a first time interval if the higher humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting; and working the fresh food fan for a second time interval if the lower humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, the second time interval being less than the first time interval.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising directing air from the fresh food fan across a fresh food evaporator of the refrigerator appliance during said step of operating and during said step of working.

12. The method of claim 11, further comprising stopping a flow of refrigerant through the fresh food evaporator during said step of operating and during said step of working.

13. The method of claim 10, further comprising vaporizing or sublimating water on a fresh food evaporator of the refrigerator appliance during said step of operating and during said step of working.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein: said step of operating comprises operating the fresh food fan for the first time interval if the higher humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, a first volume of water vaporizing or sublimating from the fresh food evaporator during said step of operating; and said step of working comprises working the fresh food fan for the second time interval if the lower humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, a second volume of water vaporizing or sublimating from the fresh food evaporator during said step of working, the first volume of water being greater than the second volume of water.

15. The method of claim 10, wherein said step of selecting comprises utilizing a control panel of the refrigeration appliance to select the higher humidity setting or the lower humidity setting.

16. The method of claim 10, wherein a humidity within a fresh food chamber of the refrigerator appliance is greater after said step of operating than after said working.

17. The method of claim 10, wherein: said step of operating comprises operating the fresh food fan at a first speed during the first time interval if the higher humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting; and said step of working comprises working the fresh food fan at a second speed during the second time interval if the lower humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting, the second speed being less than the first speed.

18. A method for operating a refrigerator appliance, comprising: selecting a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting; and step for adjusting a humidity within a fresh food chamber of the refrigerator appliance to a higher humidity level if the higher humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting or a lower humidity level if the lower humidity setting is selected at said step of selecting.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein said step for adjusting comprises changing a speed or an on time interval of a fan of the refrigerator appliance.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present subject matter relates generally to refrigerator appliances, such refrigerator appliances with dual evaporators, and methods for operating the same.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Generally, refrigerator appliances include a cabinet that defines a chilled chamber, such as a fresh food chamber, for receipt of food items for storage. Certain conditions within the chilled chamber can affect a shelf life of food items therein. In particular, a humidity level of an atmosphere within the chilled chamber can affect the shelf life of food items within the chilled chamber.

Regulating humidity within the chilled chamber can extend the shelf life of food items stored therein. However, regulating the humidity of the atmosphere within the chilled chamber can be difficult. For example, the atmosphere within the chilled chamber is often relatively dry, e.g., due to condensation of water vapor on an evaporator of the refrigerator's cooling system. Thus, water within the food items can evaporate rapidly within the chilled chamber. Such evaporation can spoil the food items or otherwise render them unusable. Certain refrigerator appliances include humidity sensors and humidifiers for regulating the humidity of the atmosphere within the chilled chamber. However, such components are expensive and can be difficult to operate.

Accordingly, a method operating a refrigerator appliance in order to improve storage of food items would be useful. In particular, a method for operating a refrigerator appliance that permits adjusting of a humidity level within a chilled chamber of the refrigerator appliance would be useful. Further, a method for operating a refrigerator appliance that permits adjusting of a humidity level within a chilled chamber of the refrigerator appliance without requiring a humidity sensor or a humidifier would be useful.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present subject matter provides a method for operating a refrigerator appliance. The method includes selecting a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting. A fan of the refrigerator appliance is operated in a first manner if the higher humidity setting is selected, and the fresh food fan is operated in a second, different manner if the lower humidity setting is selected. The method can assist with regulating humidity within a chilled chamber of the refrigerator appliance. Additional aspects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description, or may be apparent from the description, or may be learned through practice of the invention.

In a first exemplary embodiment, a method for operating a refrigerator appliance is provided. The method includes selecting a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting, operating a fresh food fan of the refrigerator appliance at a first speed if the higher humidity setting is selected at the step of selecting, and working the fresh food fan at a second speed if the lower humidity setting is selected at the step of selecting. The second speed is less than the first speed.

In a second exemplary embodiment, a method for operating a refrigerator appliance is provided. The method includes selecting a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting, operating a fresh food fan of the refrigerator appliance for a first time interval if the higher humidity setting is selected at the step of selecting, and working the fresh food fan for a second time interval if the lower humidity setting is selected at the step of selecting. The second time interval is less than the first time interval.

In a third exemplary embodiment a method for operating a refrigerator appliance is provided. The method includes selecting a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting and a step for adjusting a humidity within a fresh food chamber of the refrigerator appliance to a higher humidity level if the higher humidity setting is selected at the step of selecting or a lower humidity level if the lower humidity setting is selected at the step of selecting.

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description and appended claims. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth in the specification, which makes reference to the appended figures.

FIG. 1 provides a front, elevation view of a refrigerator appliance according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter.

FIG. 2 provides a front, elevation view of the exemplary refrigerator appliance of FIG. 1 with refrigerator doors of the exemplary refrigerator appliance shown in an open position in order to reveal a fresh food chamber of the exemplary refrigerator appliance.

FIG. 3 provides a schematic view of a sealed system for an appliance according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter.

FIG. 4 illustrates a method for operating a refrigerator appliance according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter.

FIG. 5 illustrates a method for operating a refrigerator appliance according to another exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference now will be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, not limitation of the invention. In fact, 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 scope or spirit of the invention. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

FIG. 1 provides a front, elevation view of a refrigerator appliance 100 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter with refrigerator doors 128 of the refrigerator appliance 100 shown in a closed position. FIG. 2 provides a front view of refrigerator appliance 100 with refrigerator doors 128 shown in an open position to reveal a fresh food chamber 122 of refrigerator appliance 100.

Refrigerator appliance 100 includes a cabinet or housing 120 that extends between a top 101 and a bottom 102 along a vertical direction V. Housing 120 defines chilled chambers for receipt of food items for storage. In particular, housing 120 defines fresh food chamber 122 positioned at or adjacent top 101 of housing 120 and a freezer chamber 124 arranged at or adjacent bottom 102 of housing 120. As such, refrigerator appliance 100 is generally referred to as a bottom mount refrigerator. It is recognized, however, that the benefits of the present disclosure apply to other types and styles of refrigerator appliances such as, e.g., a top mount refrigerator appliance or a side-by-side style refrigerator appliance. Consequently, the description set forth herein is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to be limiting in any aspect to any particular refrigerator chamber configuration.

Refrigerator doors 128 are rotatably hinged to an edge of housing 120 for selectively accessing fresh food chamber 122. In addition, a freezer door 130 is arranged below refrigerator doors 128 for selectively accessing freezer chamber 124. Freezer door 130 is coupled to a freezer drawer (not shown) slidably mounted within freezer chamber 124. As discussed above, refrigerator doors 128 and freezer door 130 are shown in the closed configuration in FIG. 1, and refrigerator doors 128 are shown in the open position in FIG. 2.

Turning now to FIG. 2, various storage components are mounted within fresh food chamber 122 to facilitate storage of food items therein as will be understood by those skilled in the art. In particular, the storage components include bins 140, drawers 142, and shelves 144 that are mounted within fresh food chamber 122. Bins 140, drawers 142, and shelves 144 are configured for receipt of food items (e.g., beverages and/or solid food items) and may assist with organizing such food items. As an example, drawers 142 can receive fresh food items (e.g., vegetables, fruits, and/or cheeses) and increase the useful life of such fresh food items.

FIG. 3 provides a schematic view of a sealed system 200 for an appliance according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter. Sealed system 200 can be used in any suitable refrigerator appliance. For example, sealed system 200 may be used in refrigerator appliance 100, e.g., to cool fresh food chamber 122 and/or freezer chamber 124. Components of sealed system 200 may be positioned within a machinery compartment 150, e.g., at bottom 102 of housing 120.

Sealed system 200 contains components for executing a vapor compression cycle for cooling air and/or liquid. The components include a compressor 210, a condenser 220, a control valve 230, a first expansion device 232, a second expansion device 234, a fresh food chamber or first evaporator 240 and a freezer chamber or second evaporator 250 connected in series and charged with a refrigerant. First evaporator 240 may be positioned within fresh food chamber 122 and cool air therein. Conversely, second evaporator 250 may be positioned within freezer chamber 124 and cool air therein. Thus, sealed system 200 is commonly referred to as a parallel dual evaporator sealed system. However, it should be understood that the present subject matter is not limited to use with parallel dual evaporator sealed systems and may be implemented in a serial dual evaporator sealed systems, a hybrid dual evaporator sealed system or a single evaporator sealed system.

Within sealed system 200, gaseous refrigerant flows into compressor 210, which operates to increase the pressure of the refrigerant. This compression of the refrigerant raises its temperature, which is lowered by passing the gaseous refrigerant through condenser 220. Within condenser 220, heat exchange with ambient air takes place so as to cool the refrigerant and cause the refrigerant to condense to a liquid state. A condenser fan 222 is used to pull air across condenser 220 so as to provide forced convection for a more rapid and efficient heat exchange between the refrigerant within condenser 220 and the ambient air. Thus, as will be understood by those skilled in the art, increasing air flow across condenser 220 can, e.g., increase the efficiency of condenser 220 by improving cooling of the refrigerant contained therein.

Control valve 230 regulates flows of refrigerant from condenser 220 to first and second expansion devices 232 and 234. For example, control valve 230 can selectively terminate and initiate flows of refrigerant from condenser 220 to first expansion device 232 and/or second expansion device 234. Thus, first and second expansion devices 232 and 234 (e.g., valves, capillary tubes, or other restriction devices) receive liquid refrigerant from condenser 220 depending upon the configuration of control valve 230.

From first expansion device 232, liquid refrigerant enters first evaporator 240. Upon exiting first expansion device 232 and entering first evaporator 240, the liquid refrigerant drops in pressure and vaporizes. Due to the pressure drop and phase change of the refrigerant, first evaporator 240 is cool relative to fresh food chamber 122 of refrigerator appliance 100. As such, cooled air is produced and configured to refrigerate fresh food chamber 122 of refrigerator appliance 100. Thus, first evaporator 240 is a type of heat exchanger which transfers heat from air passing over first evaporator 240 to refrigerant flowing through first evaporator 240.

Similarly, liquid refrigerant enters second evaporator 250 from second expansion device 234. Upon exiting second expansion device 234 and entering second evaporator 250, the liquid refrigerant drops in pressure and vaporizes. Due to the pressure drop and phase change of the refrigerant, second evaporator 250 is cool relative to freezer chamber 124 of refrigerator appliance 100. As such, cooled air is produced and configured to refrigerate freezer 124 of refrigerator appliance 100. Thus, second evaporator 250 is a type of heat exchanger which transfers heat from air passing over second evaporator 250 to refrigerant flowing through second evaporator 250.

Sealed system 200 also includes a fresh food or first fan 242 and a freezer of second fan 252. First fan 242 is positioned at or adjacent first evaporator 240, e.g., within fresh food chamber 122. When activated, first fan 242 directs or urges air over first evaporator 240, e.g., and circulates such air within fresh food chamber 122. Similarly, second fan 252 is positioned at or adjacent second evaporator 250, e.g., within freezer chamber 124. When activated, second fan 252 directs or urges air over second evaporator 250, e.g., and circulates such air within freezer chamber 124.

Operation of sealed system 200 is controlled by a processing device or controller 260, e.g., that may be operatively coupled to a control panel (not shown) for user manipulation to select refrigeration features of sealed system 200. Controller 260 can operates various components of sealed system 200 to execute selected system cycles and features. For example, controller 260 is in operative communication with compressor 210, condenser fan 222, control valve 230, first and second expansion devices 232 and 234, and first and second fans 242 and 252. Thus, controller 260 can selectively activate and operate compressor 210, condenser fan 222, control valve 230, first and second expansion devices 232 and 234, and first and second fans 242 and 252.

Controller 260 may include a memory and microprocessor, such as a general or special purpose microprocessor operable to execute programming instructions or micro-control code associated with operation of sealed system 200. The memory may represent random access memory such as DRAM, or read only memory such as ROM or FLASH. In one embodiment, the processor executes programming instructions stored in memory. The memory may be a separate component from the processor or may be included onboard within the processor. Alternatively, controller 260 may be constructed without using a microprocessor, e.g., using a combination of discrete analog and/or digital logic circuitry (such as switches, amplifiers, integrators, comparators, flip-flops, AND gates, and the like) to perform control functionality instead of relying upon software. Compressor 210, condenser fan 222, control valve 230, first and second expansion devices 232 and 234, and first and second fans 242 and 252 may be in communication with controller 260 via one or more signal lines or shared communication busses.

Sealed system 200 depicted in FIG. 3 is provided by way of example only. Thus, it is within the scope of the present subject matter for other configurations of the sealed system to be used as well. As will be understood by those skilled in the art, sealed system 200 may include additional components, e.g., at least one additional evaporator, compressor, expansion device, and/or condenser.

FIG. 4 illustrates a method 400 for operating a refrigerator appliance according to an exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter. Method 400 can be used to operate any suitable refrigerator appliance. For example, method 400 may be used to operate refrigerator appliance 100 (FIG. 1) and/or sealed system 200 (FIG. 2). In particular, controller 260 of sealed system 200 may be programmed or configured to implement method 400, e.g., in refrigerator appliance 100. Utilizing method 400, humidity within fresh food chamber 122 can be adjusted or modified, e.g., without requiring a humidity sensor or humidifier.

At step 410, a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting is selected. As an example, a user of refrigerator appliance 100 and/or sealed system 200 can utilize a control panel of refrigeration appliance 100 to select the higher humidity setting or the lower humidity setting at step 410. At step 415, controller 260 determines whether the higher humidity setting or the lower humidity setting was selected during step 410.

If the higher humidity setting was selected at step 410, refrigerant is directed through first evaporator 240 of sealed system 200 at step 420. As an example, controller 260 can operate compressor 210 and control valve 230 in order to direct compressed, liquid refrigerant to first evaporator 240 at step 420. Thus, at step 420, first evaporator 240 is operating to provide cooled air, e.g., within fresh food chamber 122.

At step 425, controller 260 operates first fan 242 at a first speed. In particular, controller 260 operates first fan 242 at the first speed during step 425 when refrigerant is flowing through first evaporator 240. With first fan 242 operating at the first speed, air from first fan 242 is directed across first evaporator 240 at step 430. Thus, at step 430, air from first fan 242 flows across first evaporator 240 and refrigerant is flowing through first evaporator 240. In such conditions, water vapor, e.g., from an atmosphere within fresh food chamber 122, condenses or desublimates onto first evaporator 240, e.g., within fresh food chamber 122, at step 435. In such a manner, first evaporator 240 can remove water vapor from the atmosphere within fresh food chamber 122 and adjust the humidity within fresh food chamber 122. In particular, a first volume of water can condense or desublimate onto first evaporator 240 during step 435, e.g., due to air from first fan 242 flowing across first evaporator 240 and refrigerant flowing through first evaporator 240 to cool first evaporator 240.

If the lower humidity setting was selected at step 410, refrigerant is directed through first evaporator 240 of sealed system 200 at step 440. As an example, controller 260 can operate compressor 210 and control valve 230 in order to direct compressed, liquid refrigerant to first evaporator 240 at step 440. Thus, at step 440, first evaporator 240 is operating to provide cooled air, e.g., within fresh food chamber 122.

At step 445, controller 260 works or operates first fan 242 at a second speed. In particular, controller 260 operates first fan 242 at the second speed during step 445 when refrigerant is flowing through first evaporator 240. With first fan 242 operating at the second speed, air from first fan 242 is directed across first evaporator 240 at step 450. Thus, at step 450, air from first fan 242 flows across first evaporator 240 and refrigerant is flowing through first evaporator 240. In such conditions, water vapor, e.g., from an atmosphere within fresh food chamber 122, condenses or desublimates onto first evaporator 240, e.g., within fresh food chamber 122, at step 455. In such a manner, first evaporator 240 can remove water vapor from the atmosphere within fresh food chamber 122 and adjust the humidity within fresh food chamber 122. In particular, a second volume of water can condense or desublimate onto first evaporator 240 during step 455, e.g., due to air from first fan 242 flowing across first evaporator 240 and refrigerant flowing through first evaporator 240 to cool first evaporator 240. The second volume of water condensed or desublimated onto first evaporator 240 during step 455 can be less than the first volume of water condensed or desublimated onto first evaporator 240 during step 435.

The first speed and the second speed of first fan 242 can be any suitable angular velocity. Relative to each other, the second speed is less than the first speed. Thus, first fan 242 can direct more air across first evaporator 240 at step 425 or 430 relative to step 445 or 450.

Without wishing to be bound to any particular theory, air from fresh food chamber 122 flowing across first evaporator 240 can raise a temperature of first evaporator 240, e.g., during steps 330 and/or 350. Because more air flows across first evaporator 240 during step 435 relative to step 455 due to the greater speed of first fan 242 during step 435 relative to step 455, a temperature of first evaporator 240 can be greater during step 435 relative to step 455. As will be understood by those skilled in the art, the temperature of first evaporator 240 can be directly proportional to a volume of water that condenses or desublimates onto first evaporator 240 during steps 435 and/or 455. Thus, more water can condense or desublimate onto first evaporator 240 during step 435 relative to step 455 because the temperature of first evaporator 240 is greater during step 435 relative to step 455. In such a manner, the humidity within fresh food chamber 122 can be modified or regulated by adjusting a speed or angular velocity of first fan 242. In particular, the humidity within fresh food chamber 122 can be greater after step 435 relative to step 455.

It should be understood that a duty cycle of first fan 242 can be modified, e.g., decreased, to maintain a temperature of fresh food chamber 122. In particular, such modification can be necessary to permit higher fan speeds in the lower humidity setting while maintaining the temperature of fresh food chamber 122.

Method 400 can also include controller 260 operating first fan 242 at the first speed for a first time interval during step 425. Similarly, method 400 can also include controller 260 operating first fan 242 at the second speed for a second time interval during step 445. The second time interval can be less than the first time interval.

FIG. 5 illustrates a method 500 for operating a refrigerator appliance according to another exemplary embodiment of the present subject matter. Method 500 can be used to operate any suitable refrigerator appliance. For example, method 500 may be used to operate refrigerator appliance 100 (FIG. 1) and/or sealed system 200 (FIG. 2). In particular, controller 260 of sealed system 200 may be programmed or configured to implement method 500, e.g., in refrigerator appliance 100. Utilizing method 500, humidity within fresh food chamber 122 can be adjusted or modified, e.g., without requiring a humidity sensor or humidifier. It should be understood that, portions of methods 400 (FIG. 4) and method 500 may be used simultaneously or concurrently to adjust or modify the humidity level within fresh food chamber 122.

At step 510, a higher humidity setting or a lower humidity setting is selected. As an example, a user of refrigerator appliance 100 and/or sealed system 200 can utilize a control panel of refrigeration appliance 100 to select the higher humidity setting or the lower humidity setting at step 510. At step 515, controller 260 determines whether the higher humidity setting or the lower humidity setting was selected during step 510.

If the higher humidity setting is selected at step 510, a flow of refrigerant through first evaporator 240 of sealed system 200 is stopped or terminated at step 520. As an example, controller 260 can deactivate compressor 210 and/or adjust control valve 230 in order to terminate the flow of compressed, liquid refrigerant to first evaporator 240 at step 520 when a temperature of fresh food chamber 122 is a set temperature of fresh food chamber 122 (e.g., between about thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit and about forty degrees Fahrenheit). Thus, at step 520, first evaporator 240 may not be operating to provide cooled air, e.g., within fresh food chamber 122.

At step 525, controller 260 operates first fan 242 for a first time period or first time interval. In particular, controller 260 operates first fan 242 for the first time interval during step 525 when refrigerant is not flowing through first evaporator 240. With first fan 242 operating for the first time interval, air from first fan 242 is directed across first evaporator 240 at step 530. Thus, at step 530, air from first fan 242 flows across first evaporator 240 but refrigerant is not flowing through first evaporator 240. In such conditions, water (e.g., ice or frost) on first evaporator 240 vaporizes or sublimates from first evaporator 240, e.g., to the atmosphere within fresh food chamber 122, at step 535. In such a manner, first evaporator 240 can add water vapor to the atmosphere within fresh food chamber 122 and adjust the humidity within fresh food chamber 122. In particular, a first volume of water can vaporize or sublimate from first evaporator 240 during step 535, e.g., due to air from first fan 242 flowing across first evaporator 240 while refrigerant is not flowing through first evaporator 240 to cool first evaporator 240.

If the lower humidity setting is selected at step 510, a flow of refrigerant through first evaporator 240 of sealed system 200 is stopped or terminated at step 540. As an example, controller 260 can deactivate compressor 210 and/or adjust control valve 230 in order to terminate the flow of compressed, liquid refrigerant to first evaporator 240 at step 540 when the temperature of fresh food chamber 122 is the set temperature. Thus, at step 540, first evaporator 240 may not be operating to provide cooled air, e.g., within fresh food chamber 122.

At step 545, controller 260 operates first fan 242 for a second time period or second time interval. In particular, controller 260 operates first fan 242 for the second time interval during step 545 when refrigerant is not flowing through first evaporator 240. With first fan 242 operating for the second time interval, air from first fan 242 is directed across first evaporator 240 at step 550. Thus, at step 550, air from first fan 242 flows across first evaporator 240 but refrigerant is not flowing through first evaporator 240. In such conditions, water (e.g., ice or frost) on first evaporator 240 vaporizes or sublimates from first evaporator 240, e.g., to the atmosphere within fresh food chamber 122, at step 535. In such a manner, first evaporator 240 can add water vapor to the atmosphere within fresh food chamber 122 and adjust the humidity within fresh food chamber 122. In particular, a second volume of water can vaporize or sublimate from first evaporator 240 during step 555, e.g., due to air from first fan 242 flowing across first evaporator 240 while refrigerant is not flowing through first evaporator 240 to cool first evaporator 240. The second volume of water vaporized or sublimated from first evaporator 240 during step 555 can be less than the first volume of water vaporized or sublimated from first evaporator 240 during step 535.

The first time interval and the second time interval of first fan 242 can be any suitable time interval or period. Relative to each other, the second time interval is less than the first time interval. Thus, first fan 242 can direct more air across first evaporator 240 at step 525 or 530 relative to step 545 or 550.

Without wishing to be bound to any particular theory, air from fresh food chamber 122 flowing across first evaporator 240 can raise a temperature of first evaporator 240, e.g., during steps 530 and/or 550. Because more air flows across first evaporator 240 during step 535 relative to step 555 due to the longer time interval of first fan 242 during step 535 relative to step 555, a temperature of first evaporator 240 can be greater during step 535 relative to step 555. As will be understood by those skilled in the art, the temperature of first evaporator 240 can be directly proportional to a volume of water that vaporizes or sublimates from first evaporator 240 during steps 535 and/or 555. Thus, more water can vaporize or sublimate from first evaporator 240 during step 535 relative to step 555 because the temperature of first evaporator 240 is greater during step 535 relative to step 555. In addition, more water can vaporize or sublimate from first evaporator 240 during step 535 relative to step 555 because due to the longer time interval of first fan 242 during step 535 relative to step 555. In such a manner, the humidity within fresh food chamber 122 can be modified or regulated by adjusting an on time or time interval of first fan 242. In particular, the humidity within fresh food chamber 122 can be greater after step 535 relative to step 555.

Method 500 can also include controller 260 operating first fan 242 at a first speed for the first time interval during step 525. Similarly, method 500 can also include controller 260 operating first fan 242 at a second speed for the second time interval during step 545. The second speed can be less than the first speed. It should be understood that methods 400 and 500 can also include additional humidity level settings. For example, method 400 and/or method 500 can include three, four, five or more humidity level settings. Each humidity level setting can have an associated time interval and/or an associated fan speed.

This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the invention, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art. Such other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if they include structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if they include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal languages of the claims.