Title:
COOLED-AIR CIRCULATION STRUCTURE OF REFRIGERATOR AND METHOD FOR CONTROLLING THE SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a refrigerator comprising a main body comprising a refrigerating compartment and a freezing compartment, an ice machine installed in the refrigerating compartment, a cooled-air inlet duct configured to supply cooled air from the freezing compartment into the ice machine of the refrigerating compartment, a cooled-air outlet duct configured to return the cooled air, used in the ice machine, from the ice machine to the freezing compartment, a first fan installed between an end of the cooled-air inlet duct and the ice machine; and a second fan installed between an end of the cooled-air outlet duct and the ice machine.



Inventors:
Koo, Min Bon (Seoul, KR)
Application Number:
14/828324
Publication Date:
12/22/2016
Filing Date:
08/17/2015
Assignee:
Dongbu Daewoo Electronics Corporation (Seoul, KR)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25D17/06; F25C1/00; F25C5/00; F25D23/00; F25D23/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ALI, MOHAMMAD M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DONGBU DAEWOO c/o Murabito, Hao & Barnes (San Jose, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A refrigerator, comprising: a main body comprising a refrigerating compartment and a freezing compartment; an ice machine installed in the refrigerating compartment; a cooled-air inlet duct configured to supply cooled air from the freezing compartment into the ice machine of the refrigerating compartment; a cooled-air outlet duct configured to return the cooled air, used in the ice machine, from the ice machine to the freezing compartment; a first fan installed between an end of the cooled-air inlet duct and the ice machine; and a second fan installed between an end of the cooled-air outlet duct and the ice machine.

2. The refrigerator of claim 1, comprising a bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator in which the refrigerating compartment is disposed above the freezing compartment.

3. The refrigerator of claim 1, wherein an RPM of a rotor of a first fan and an RPM of a rotor of a second fan are controlled depending on a temperature in the ice machine.

4. The refrigerator of claim 3, wherein when the temperature in the ice machine is higher than a threshold, the RPM of the rotor of the first fan is controlled to be increased, and when temperature in the ice machine is lower than the threshold, the RPM of the rotor of the first fan is controlled to be reduced.

5. The refrigerator of claim 1, wherein an RPM of a rotor of the first fan and an RPM of a rotor of a second fan are controlled depending on an operational mode of the refrigerator.

6. The refrigerator of claim 1, wherein the ice machine comprises: a cooled-air inlet port through which cooled air is supplied from the cooled-air inlet duct into the ice machine; and a cooled-air outlet port through which the cooled air used in the ice machine is discharged out of the ice machine, wherein the cooled-air inlet port is aligned with the first fan, and the cooled-air outlet port is aligned with the second fan.

7. A method for controlling circulation of cooled air in a refrigerator, the method comprising repeatedly conducting operations of: supplying cooled air through a cooled-air inlet duct from a freezing compartment into an ice machine installed in a refrigerating compartment; producing ice in the ice machine using the cooled air supplied thereinto; returning the cooled air used to produce the ice from the ice machine to the freezing compartment through a cooled-air outlet duct, wherein the cooled air is supplied into the ice machine via a first fan installed between an end of the cooled-air inlet duct and the ice machine, and wherein the cooled air is discharged out of the ice machine via a second fan installed between an end of the cooled-air outlet duct and the ice machine.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein an RPM of a rotor of a first fan and an RPM of a rotor of a second fan are controlled depending on a temperature in the ice machine.

9. The method of claim 7, wherein an RPM of a rotor of is the first fan and an RPM of a rotor of a second fan controlled depending on an operational mode of the refrigerator.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to Korean Patent

Application No. 10-2015-0085278, filed June 16, 2015, hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

Embodiments according to the present invention relate to a refrigerator and a method for controlling circulation of cooled air in the refrigerator.

BACKGROUND

As is well known, refrigerators are apparatuses which store food at a temperature below the ambient temperature of the room. Refrigerators are configured such that food can be stored in a cold or frozen state according to the kind of food.

The internal space of such a refrigerator is cooled by low-temperature air (cooled air) that is continuously supplied thereinto. Cooled air is continuously generated by heat exchange of refrigerant through a cooling cycle including compression, condensation, expansion, and evaporation. Cooled air supplied into the refrigerator is uniformly applied to the internal space of the refrigerator by convection, whereby food in the refrigerator can be stored at a desired temperature.

Generally, a main body of the refrigerator has a rectangular parallel-piped structure that is open on a front surface thereof. A refrigerating compartment and a freezing compartment are provided in the main body. A refrigerating compartment door and a freezing compartment door are provided on the front surface of the main body so as to selectively open or close the refrigerator. A plurality of drawers, trays, and storage boxes may be provided in the internal space formed in the refrigerator so that different kinds of foods can be stored under optimal conditions.

Hitherto, top mount refrigerators, in which a freezing compartment is disposed above a refrigerating compartment, have been mainly used. Recently, bottom-freezing compartment refrigerators, in which a freezing compartment is disposed below a refrigerating compartment, were introduced to improve user convenience. The bottom-freezing compartment refrigerators are advantageous in that users can more conveniently use the refrigerating compartment because the refrigerating compartment, which is comparatively frequently used, is disposed in an upper portion of the refrigerator, while the freezing compartment, which is used less often than the refrigerating compartment, is disposed below the refrigerating compartment. However, the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerators make a user bend his/her body when drawing ice out of the freezing compartment because the freezing compartment is disposed in a lower portion of the refrigerator, thus inconveniencing the user.

In an effort to overcome the above problem, a refrigerator in which an ice dispenser is provided in a door of a refrigerating compartment disposed in an upper portion of the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator was recently proposed. In this case, an ice machine for producing ice may be provided in the refrigerating compartment door or in the refrigerating compartment.

SUMMARY

Such a bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator should be configured such that cooled air can be supplied from a freezing compartment disposed below the refrigerating compartment to the ice machine installed in the refrigerating compartment. In view of this, embodiments of the present invention provide a refrigerator configured such that circulation of cooled air in the refrigerator is more efficient, whereby the power efficiency and the ice-making performance of the refrigerator can be enhanced. Further, the present invention provides a method for controlling circulation of cooled air in the refrigerator.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of embodiments given in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an example of a bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator in accordance with an example embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating an example of an internal structure of the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator in accordance with the example embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a plan view illustrating the example of the internal structure of the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator in accordance with the example embodiment; and

FIG. 4 is a flowchart of a method for controlling circulation of controlled air in a refrigerator.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Hereinafter, an example embodiment of the present invention will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof. In describing the embodiments of the present invention, a detailed description of known functions or constructions related to the present invention will be omitted if it is deemed that such description would make the gist of the present invention unnecessarily vague.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an example of a bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator in accordance with an example embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 1, the refrigerator in accordance with the present embodiment includes a main body 10. Provided in the main body 10 are a refrigerating compartment 111, which stores food or the like in a cold state at a temperature higher than the freezing temperature of water, and a freezing compartment 112, which is disposed below the refrigerating compartment 111 and stores food or the like in a frozen state.

To open and close the refrigerating compartment 111, a door 20 is rotatably installed on an upper portion of the main body 10. In the present embodiment, although the door 20 which opens and closes the refrigerating compartment 111 is illustrated as comprising two doors, the present invention is not limited to this embodiment. For example, a single door or three or more doors may be used.

A handle 22 is provided on each door 20 so as to enable a user to rotate (open and close) the door 20. The shape or structure of the handle 22 is not limited to that illustrated in the drawing. In other words, the handle 22 can have a variety of shapes or structures.

A dispenser 30 may be provided in either of the doors 20 so as to easily provide water or ice to the user. For instance, the dispenser 30 is connected to at least one of an ice machine and a water tank that are installed in the refrigerating compartment, thus supplying water or ice to the user. Another door 20a, which opens and closes the freezing compartment 112, may be installed on a lower portion of the main body 10.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating an example of the internal structure of the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator in accordance with the present example embodiment. FIG. 3 is a plan view schematically illustrating the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator of FIG. 2. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, an ice machine 50 is installed in an upper end of the refrigerating compartment 111. However, the position at which the ice machine 50 is installed is not limited to the upper end of the refrigerating compartment 111. Depending on the design of the refrigerator, the ice machine 50 may be installed at a variety of positions, e.g., on a side surface or lower end of the refrigerating compartment 111.

A cooled-air inlet duct 120 and a cooled-air outlet duct 130 are installed in a sidewall of the main body 10 of the refrigerator. The cooled-air inlet duct 120 functions to supply cooled air from the freezing compartment 112 disposed in the lower portion of the main body 10 to the ice machine 50. Cooled air that has been used to produce ice by the ice machine 50 is returned to the freezing compartment 112 through the cooled-air outlet duct 130.

In the above-mentioned construction, air cooled while passing through an evaporator 180 of the freezing compartment 112 is drawn into the cooled-air inlet duct 120 through a freezing compartment-side end 120b of the cooled-air inlet duct 120 and then supplied from the cooled-air inlet duct 120 into the ice machine 50 through a cooled-air inlet port 123 of the ice machine 50. The ice machine 50 uses the supplied cooled air to freeze water, thus producing ice. Cooled air that has been used to produce ice is drawn into the cooled-air outlet duct 130 through a cooled-air outlet port 133 of the ice machine 50 before returning to the evaporator 180 of the freezing compartment 112 via a freezing compartment-side end 130b of the cooled-air outlet duct 130.

As such, the refrigerator in accordance with the present example embodiment is configured such that the ice machine 50 can produce ice using cooled air supplied from the freezing compartment 112 without the need of a separate cooling path or system that includes a cooling unit including a compressor, a condenser, an expansion valve, an evaporator, etc.

In the present example embodiment, a cooled-air suction fan 121 is disposed on an end 120a of the cooled-air inlet duct 120, that is, between the cooled-air inlet duct 120 and the cooled-air inlet port 123 of the ice machine 50, so that cooled air can be reliably supplied from the freezing compartment 112 into the ice machine 50. Furthermore, a cooled-air discharge fan 131 is disposed on an end 130a of the cooled-air outlet duct 130, that is, between the cooled-air outlet duct 130 and the cooled-air outlet port 133 of the ice machine 50, so that cooled air that has been used to produce ice can be reliably returned to the freezing compartment 112.

In the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator in accordance with the present example embodiment, the cooled-air inlet duct 120 and the cooled-air outlet duct 130 are separately provided. The fans 121 and 131 are respectively installed on the ends 120a and 130a of the cooled-air inlet duct 120 and the cooled-air outlet duct 130, respectively. Thereby, ice can be made without the need of a separate cooling system in the ice machine 50. Here, a comparatively small fan may be used for each of the cooled-air suction fan 121 and the cooled-air discharge fan 131. Thereby, the power efficiency of the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator can be enhanced.

In accordance with the present example embodiment, a control system of the refrigerator can appropriately and independently control the RPM (revolutions per minute) of a rotor of the cooled-air suction fan 121 and the RPM of a rotor of the cooled-air discharge fan 131. For instance, the ice machine 50 may be provided with a temperature sensor. Thus, when the temperature in the ice machine 50 is higher than a threshold, the RPM of the rotor of the cooled-air suction fan 121 is increased so that the rate at which cooled air is supplied from the freezing compartment 112 to the ice machine 50 can be increased. When the temperature in the ice machine 50 is lower than a threshold, the RPM of the rotor of the cooled-air suction fan 121 is reduced so that the rate at which cooled air is supplied to the ice machine 50 can be reduced. Alternatively, the cooled-air suction fan 121 and the cooled-air discharge fan 131 of the ice machine 50 may be controlled such that the RPMs thereof differ from each other so that the supply or discharge of cooled air can be controlled by a difference in pressure between the inside and the outside of the ice machine 50.

Furthermore, in accordance with the present example embodiment, the control system of the refrigerator may control the cooled-air suction fan 121 and the cooled-air discharge fan 131 such that, depending on the operational mode of the refrigerator, both are operated, only one of them is operated, or neither of them is operated. For example, when the refrigerator is operated in an energy-saving mode, the cooled-air suction fan 121 and the cooled-air discharge fan 131 are controlled such that neither of them is operated. When the refrigerator is operated in a rapid cooling mode, the cooled-air suction fan 121 and the cooled-air discharge fan 131 are appropriately controlled depending on the temperature in the ice machine 50.

In this way, the control system of the refrigerator in accordance with the present example embodiment can appropriately control the cooled-air suction fan 121 and the cooled-air discharge fan 131 and thereby enhance the ice-making performance of the ice machine 50 and the power efficiency of the refrigerator.

Furthermore, the present example embodiment may be configured such that the ice-generator-side end 120a of the cooled-air inlet duct 120 and the cooled-air suction fan 121 are respectively disposed above the ice-generator-side end 130a of the cooled-air outlet duct 130 and the cooled-air discharge fan 131. In this case, cooled air drawn into the ice machine 50 is used to produce ice in an ice-making chamber 150 formed in an upper end of the ice machine 50. The cooled air that has been used can be easily discharged out of the ice machine 50 through the cooled-air outlet port 133 formed in a lower end of the ice machine 50.

The ice machine 50 may include the ice-making chamber 150, the cooled-air inlet port 123, the cooled-air outlet port 133, a cooled-air guide 140, and an ice bucket 170, but the construction thereof is not limited to this.

The ice-making chamber 150 is an internal space of the ice machine 50 that uses cooled air supplied from the freezing compartment and freezes water to produce ice. Cooled air is supplied into the ice-making chamber 150 from the cooled-air inlet port 123. Although it is not shown in the drawings, an ice tray which can contain water therein may be installed in the ice-making chamber 150. The ice tray may be configured such that after ice has been produced by cooled air guided by the cooled-air guide 140 into the ice-making chamber 150, a rotating unit rotates the ice tray so that the ice that is present in the ice tray falls down onto the ice bucket 170. Although it is not illustrated in detail in the drawings, the ice bucket 170 may communicate with the dispenser (30 of FIG. 1) and be configured such that ice can be transferred from the ice bucket 170 to the dispenser by a transfer assembly depending on the selection of the user. Cooled air that has been used to produce ice is discharged out of the ice-making chamber 150 through the cooled-air outlet port 133 and then drawn into the cooled-air outlet duct 130.

In accordance with the present example embodiment, in order to circulate cooled air between the freezing compartment 112 of the refrigerator and the ice machine 50 in the refrigerating compartment 111, the following processes are repeatedly conducted: cooled air is supplied from the freezing compartment 112 into the ice machine 50 installed in the refrigerating compartment 111 through the cooled-air inlet port 123 (block 402 of FIG. 4); ice is produced in the ice machine 50 using the supplied cooled air (block 404); and then the cooled air that has been used to produce ice is returned from the ice machine 50 to the freezing compartment 112 through the cooled-air outlet duct 130 (block 406). Here, cooled air is supplied into the ice machine 50 via the cooled-air suction fan 121 installed between the end 120a of the cooled-air inlet duct 120 and the ice machine 50. Furthermore, cooled air is discharged from the ice machine 50 via the cooled-air discharge fan 131 installed between the end 130a of the cooled-air outlet duct 130 and the ice machine 50.

In this way, circulation of cooled air in the bottom-freezing compartment refrigerator is controlled, whereby the ice-making performance of the ice machine 50 and the power efficiency of the refrigerator can be enhanced.

As described above, the present invention can provide a refrigerator configured such that cooled air can effectively circulate in the refrigerator, more specifically between a freezing compartment and an ice machine, thus improving the power efficiency and the ice-making performance of the refrigerator. Furthermore, the present invention can provide a method for controlling circulation of cooled air in the refrigerator.

While a cooled-air circulation structure of a refrigerator and a method for controlling the circulation structure in accordance with the invention have been shown and described with respect to the example embodiments, the present invention is not limited thereto. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the following claims.

Accordingly, the scope of the present invention should be interpreted based on the following appended claims, and all technical spirits within an equivalent range thereof should be construed as being included in the scope of the present invention.