Title:
ICE MAKER, REFRIGERATOR COMPRISING SAME, AND METHOD FOR CONTROLLING ICE MAKER HEATER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An ice maker enables a refrigerator to recognize the operation of an ice separation heater when the ice maker operates the ice separation heater. A refrigerator can reduce or stop the power supplied to electronic components when an ice maker notifies the operation of an ice separation heater. The ice maker includes a tray for receiving liquid, an ejector for discharging ice frozen in the tray, a first heater for providing heat to the tray, and an ice maker control unit. When the heater operates, the ice maker enables a main control unit of the refrigerator to recognize the completion of ice making or the initiation of the operation of the heater.



Inventors:
JI, Jun Dong (Gyeonggi-do, KR)
Lee, Jung Woo (Seoul, KR)
Application Number:
15/310885
Publication Date:
03/30/2017
Filing Date:
10/16/2014
Assignee:
DAE CHANG CO., LTD. (Jeollabuk-do, KR)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25C5/08; F25C1/24; F25C5/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DIAZ, MIGUEL ANGEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
The PL Law Group, PLLC (Herndon, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A method for controlling an ice separation heater of an ice maker, wherein the ice maker includes an ice making tray that accommodates ice making water; a motor that discharges ice of the ice making tray; and the ice separation heater that is attached to a part of the ice making tray, the method comprising one of the following steps: cross-managing and distributing power of the motor and the ice separation heater, or simultaneously managing and distributing power of some of the motor and the ice separation heater; and cross-managing and distributing power of the ice separation heater and some or all of electronic components mounted in the cooling chamber or mixedly managing and distributing power of some of the electronic components and the ice separation heater.

2. The method for controlling an ice separation heater of an ice maker of claim 1, wherein the ice separation heater receives full load power or power below the full load power.

3. The method for controlling an ice separation heater of an ice maker of claim 1, wherein the ice separation heater is any one of a film heater, a planar heater, a print heater, and a cord heater.

4. An ice maker comprising: an ice making tray that accommodates ice making water; an ice separation heater that is attached to at least a part of the ice making tray and constituted of a plurality of partial heaters; and a power control operating system that operates each of the partial heaters differently for each condition.

5. (canceled)

6. An ice maker comprising: an ice making tray that accommodates ice making water; a driving unit; and an ice separation heater that is attached to the ice making tray, wherein the ice maker has at least one of the following features: (i) DC power is supplied to the ice separation heater, (ii) a required amount of power is supplied to the ice separation heater by controlling an electronic component of the refrigerator during an ice separating operation of the ice maker; and (iii) power supplied to the ice separation heater is pulse width modulation (PWM)-controlled.

7. The ice maker of claim 6, wherein the ice separation heater is a planar heater.

8. The ice maker of claim 6, wherein the DC power is supplied to the ice separation heater while the ice maker performs an ice separating operation.

9. The ice maker of claim 6, wherein the required amount of power is supplied to the ice separation heater by controlling an electronic component of the refrigerator during an ice separating operation of the ice maker.

10. The ice maker of claim 6, wherein the ice maker transmits a signal indicating performance of an ice separating operation to a refrigerator.

11. An ice maker for a refrigerator comprising: a tray that accommodates a liquid; an ejector that discharges ice frozen in the tray; a first heater that provides heat to the tray; and an ice maker control unit, wherein the ice maker transmits, to a refrigerator, a signal indicating a completion of ice making or a start of an operation of the first heater when the first heater is operated.

12. The ice maker for a refrigerator of claim 11, wherein the ice maker control unit enables the main control unit to recognize the completion of ice making or the start of the operation of the first heater.

13. The ice maker for a refrigerator of claim 12, wherein the ice maker control unit enables the main control unit to recognize the completion of ice making or the start of the operation of the first heater through a power line for receiving power from the main control unit.

14. The ice maker for a refrigerator of claim 13, further comprising: a motor that supplies power to the ejector, wherein the ice maker control unit enables the main control unit to recognize an operation of the motor when the motor is operated.

15. The ice maker for a refrigerator of claim 14, wherein the ice maker control unit notifies the main control unit of the operation of the motor through the power line for receiving power from the main control unit.

16. The ice maker for a refrigerator of claim 11, further comprising: an ice making sensor that detects whether the liquid in the tray is frozen, wherein the ice maker control unit notifies the main control unit of the completion of ice making when the ice maker control unit receives a signal of the ice making sensor.

17. The ice maker for a refrigerator of claim 16, wherein the ice maker control unit notifies the main control unit of the completion of ice making through a power line for receiving power from the main control unit.

18. A refrigerator which includes the ice maker of claim 11, wherein the refrigerator includes a main control unit that measures or controls a current supplied to the ice maker.

19. The refrigerator of claim 18, wherein the main control unit reduces or shuts off power supplied to an electronic component of the refrigerator when the main control unit recognizes a start of an operation of the first heater by the ice maker control unit.

20. The refrigerator of claim 18, wherein the main control unit reduces or shuts off power supplied to an electronic component of the refrigerator when the main control unit recognizes an operation of a motor for supplying power to the ejector.

21. (canceled)

22. The refrigerator of claim 18, wherein the main control unit compares a magnitude of the measured current with a predetermined value and reduces or shuts off power supplied to an electronic component of the refrigerator when the magnitude is equal to or larger than the predetermined value.

23. The refrigerator of claim 18, wherein the electronic component is at least one of a compressor motor, a blowing fan for blowing cold air, and a second heater mounted in the refrigerator.

24. The ice maker of claim 6, wherein the power supplied to the ice separation heater is pulse width modulation (PWM)-controlled.

25. The method of claim 1, wherein the method comprises cross-managing and distributing power of the motor and the ice separation heater, or simultaneously managing and distributing power of some of the motor and the ice separation heater.

26. The method of claim 1, wherein the method comprises cross-managing and distributing power of the ice separation heater and some or all of electronic components mounted in the cooling chamber or mixedly managing and distributing power of some of the electronic components and the ice separation heater.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

Embodiments of the present disclosure relate to an ice maker, a refrigerator having the same, and a method for controlling an ice maker heater, and more particularly, to an ice maker which may notify a refrigerator of an operation of an ice separation heater, a refrigerator which may reduce or stop an operation of an electronic component during the operation of the ice separation heater, and a method for controlling use of electricity of other components to be limited or mixed during the operation of the ice separation heater in order to secure a DC current required during an operation of a heater of the ice maker.

BACKGROUND ART

Generally, a refrigerator includes a refrigerator compartment that keeps food refrigerated and a freezer compartment that keeps food frozen. At this point, an ice maker for producing ice is installed in the freezer compartment or the refrigerator compartment.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a conventional ice maker for a refrigerator, and FIG. 2 is a view showing a state in which a heater is formed in a lower portion of a conventional ice maker for a refrigerator.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a conventional ice maker 10 for a refrigerator includes an ice making tray 11, an ejector 13, a control unit 15, a side guide 17, an ice bank 19, a water supply pipe 21, a water supply cup 23, an ice full sensing lever 25, and a heater 27.

The conventional ice maker 10 for a refrigerator may supply water to an ice making space within the ice making tray 11 through the water supply pipe 21 and the water supply cup 23, and then start to perform an ice making operation on the supplied water. When the ice making operation is completed, the conventional ice maker 10 for a refrigerator may slightly dissolve ice firmly attached to an inner surface of the ice making tray 11 by operating the heater 27 installed at a lower portion of the ice making tray 11. At this point, the heater 27 is constituted of, for example, a sheath heater and is formed in a U-shape from the lower portion of the ice making tray 11. Next, when the conventional ice maker 10 for a refrigerator pushes ice within the ice making tray 11 up by rotating the ejector 13 in a clockwise direction, the ice slides downward on the side guide 17 formed at one side of the ice making tray 11 and is accommodated in an ice bank 19.

In addition, as shown in FIG. 3, in recent years, film heaters 106 and 108 have been mainly used as heaters in order to improve adhesion between the ice making tray 11 and the heaters, and the heaters are separated into a first heater and a second heater and installed on both side portions or lower portions of an ice making tray to effectively separate ice from the ice making tray in order to effectively perform ice separation.

However, in order to discharge the ice made in the ice making tray 11 to the ice bank 19 using the ejector 13 in the above-described structure, a motor (not shown) for rotating the ejector 13 and the ice separation heater installed in close contact with one side of the ice making tray 11 uses high power of 145 W using AC power and consumes much power, and when ice separation is performed by replacing the ice separation heater with a DC heater, a DC current required for the DC heater should be additionally secured from a DC power unit built into a refrigerator or the like with an ice maker installed therein resulting in an increase in a product price or the like.

In addition, generally, an ice maker may be mounted inside a refrigerator and receive a supply of water, and when water is frozen by cold air inside the refrigerator, the ice maker may automatically discharge the frozen water to an ice storage box using an ejector. At this point, the ice maker may apply heat to the tray using an ice separation heater so that the ice can be easily separated from the tray.

Meanwhile, a refrigerator may cool air inside the refrigerator using a refrigeration cycle including a compressor, a condenser, a decompressor, and an evaporator, and evenly spread the cooled air inside the refrigerator using a cooling fan disposed in the vicinity of the evaporator and a cold air blowing fan disposed in a refrigerator compartment or the like.

However, an operational timing of the ice separation heater of the ice maker is determined by a control unit of the ice maker which is operated independently of the refrigerator. That is, when it is determined that water stored in a tray of the ice maker is completely frozen and becomes ice using an ice making sensor or the like attached to the tray of the ice maker, the control unit of the ice maker may supply power to the ice separation heater and cause an increase in power consumption. That is, when the control unit of the ice maker operates the ice separation heater while a main control unit of the refrigerator operates a compressor motor, a cooling fan, or the like of the refrigeration cycle in order to lower a temperature inside the refrigerator, since an amount of current is increased and cold air is supplied to the tray, an effect of the ice separation heater applying heat to the tray may be halved.

DISCLOSURE

Technical Problem

The present disclosure is directed to providing an ice maker which may enable a refrigerator to recognize an operation of an ice separation heater when the ice maker operates the ice separation heater, and a refrigerator which may reduce or stop a supply of power to an electronic component when an ice maker notifies the refrigerator of an operation of an ice separation heater.

The present disclosure is also directed to providing a method for controlling an amount of current supplied to a motor, a heater, an electronic component, and the like using an amount of current of limited DC power to driving a DC heater in a cross-management method or a mixed-management method, and an ice maker operated using the method.

Technical Solution

One aspect of the present disclosure provides an ice maker for a refrigerator including: a tray that accommodates a liquid; an ejector that discharges ice frozen in the tray; a first heater that provides heat to the tray; and an ice maker control unit, wherein the ice maker enables a main control unit of the refrigerator to recognize a completion of ice making or a start of an operation of the first heater when the first heater is operated.

The ice maker control unit may enable the main control unit to recognize the completion of ice making or the start of the operation of the first heater.

The ice maker control unit may enable the main control unit to recognize the completion of ice making or the start of the operation of the first heater through a power line for receiving power from the main control unit.

The ice maker for a refrigerator may further include a motor that supplies power to the ejector, wherein the ice maker control unit enables the main control unit to recognize an operation of the motor when the motor is operated.

The ice maker control unit may enable the main control unit to recognize a supply of the liquid when the liquid is supplied to the tray.

The ice maker for the refrigerator may further include an ice making sensor that detects whether the liquid in the tray is frozen, wherein the ice maker control unit notifies the main control unit of the completion of ice making when the ice maker control unit receives a signal of the ice making sensor.

The ice maker control unit may notify the main control unit of the completion of ice making through a power line for receiving power from the main control unit.

Another aspect of the present disclosure provides a refrigerator which includes an ice maker for a refrigerator and a main control unit.

The main control unit may reduce or block power supplied to an electronic component of the refrigerator when the main control unit recognizes a start of an operation of the first heater by the ice maker control unit.

The main control unit may reduce or stop a supply of power to an electronic component of the refrigerator when the main control unit recognizes an operation of a motor for supplying power to the ejector.

The electronic component may be at least one of a compressor motor, a blowing fan for blowing cold air, and a second heater mounted in the refrigerator.

Still another aspect of the present disclosure provides a refrigerator including an ice maker, wherein the ice maker includes a tray that accommodates a liquid, an ejector that discharges ice frozen in the tray, a first heater that provides heat to the tray, and an ice maker control unit, the refrigerator including: a main control unit that measures or controls a current supplied to the ice maker.

The main control unit may compare a magnitude of the measured current with a predetermined value and reduce or stop a supply of power to an electronic component of the refrigerator when the magnitude is larger than the predetermined value.

The electronic component may be at least one of a compressor motor, a blowing fan for blowing cold air, and a second heater mounted in the refrigerator.

The ice separation heater may be a planar heater.

DC power may be supplied to the ice separation heater while the ice maker performs an ice separating operation.

Yet another aspect of the present disclosure provides an ice maker for a refrigerator including: an ice making tray that accommodates ice making water; a driving unit; and an ice separation heater that is attached to the ice making tray, wherein a required amount of power is supplied to the ice separation heater by controlling an electronic component of the refrigerator during an ice separating operation of the ice maker.

A further aspect of the present disclosure provides an ice maker that transmits a signal indicating performance of an ice separating operation to a refrigerator.

A further aspect of the present disclosure provides an ice maker including an ice making tray that accommodates ice making water, a driving unit, and an ice separation heater, wherein power supplied to the ice separation heater is pulse width modulation (PWM)-controlled.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a conventional ice maker for a refrigerator;

FIG. 2 is a view showing a state in which a heater is formed in a lower portion of a conventional ice maker for a refrigerator;

FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional view of a conventional ice maker;

FIG. 4 is a schematic view showing an inner structure of a cooling device which includes an ice maker according to the present invention and uses a method for controlling a heater of an ice maker according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view of an ice maker according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an ice maker according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a control block diagram of a refrigerator according to another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is a control block diagram of a refrigerator according to still another embodiment of the present invention.

MODES OF THE INVENTION

Hereinafter, specific embodiments of an ice maker according to the present invention will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings. However, the embodiments are merely exemplary embodiments, and the present invention is not limited thereto.

When it is determined that a detailed description of a known art related to the present invention may unnecessarily obscure the gist of the present invention while describing the present invention, the detailed description thereof will be omitted. Further, the terminology described below is defined in consideration of functions in the present invention and may vary according to a user's or operator's intention or usual practice. Thus, the meanings of the terminology should be interpreted based on the overall context of the present specification.

The technical idea of the present invention is determined by the claims, and the exemplary embodiments herein are provided so that the technical idea of the present invention will be efficiently explained to those skilled in the art to which the present invention pertains.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view showing an inner structure of a cooling device which includes an ice maker according to the present invention and uses a method for controlling a heater of an ice maker according to the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 4, the cooling device includes an ice maker 100 in an upper portion thereof that receives a supply of water or the like, freezes the water, and stores the frozen water; a cold air blowing fan 200 that is used to circulate cold air inside a cooler; and a compressor 300 that is used to compress a refrigerant of the cooling device.

In addition, in FIG. 4, the ice maker 100, the cold air blowing fan 200, and the compressor 300 are shown as electronic components of the cooling device, but it should be apparent to those skilled in the art that other electronic components may be included in the cooling device.

For example, the ice maker 100 may be made of PP (polypropylene) or aluminum.

FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view of an ice maker according to an embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 5, the ice maker 100 includes an ice making tray 11, an ejector 13, a first heater 121, a second heater 122, a temperature sensor 130, a position sensor 131, and a power control operating system 140 (see FIG. 6).

The ejector 13 includes a plurality of ejector fins 13-2 that are disposed to be spaced apart from one another along an axis perpendicular to the drawing in order to push ice of the ice making tray 11 during an ice separating operation; a shaft 13-1 that is disposed to be rotated together with the ejector fins 13-2; and a motor 110 (see FIG. 6) that rotates the shaft 13-1 during the ice separating operation.

The ice making tray 11 has an ice making space that may accommodate water therein. An inner space of the ice making tray 11 is divided into a plurality of ice making spaces by a plurality of partition walls. At this point, the divided ice making spaces inside the ice making tray 11 are formed to correspond to the ejector fins 13-2, respectively.

An ice separation heater for slightly dissolving ice frozen on an inner surface of the ice making tray 11 by heating the ice making tray 11 so that ice separation can smoothly proceed during the ice separating operation, that is, a first heater 121 and a second heater 122, are installed below the ice making tray 11 to be in close contact with the ice making tray 11. The first heater 121 and the second heater 122 are separately connected to the power control operating system 140 so as to receive a supply of a current from the power control operating system 140 (see FIG. 6). An amount of heat generated by the ice separation heater may vary depending on an amount of the supplied current. The power control operating system 140 may control power supplied to the first and second heaters 121 and 122, for example, with PWM (pulse width modulation).

In the present embodiment, two ice separation heaters 121 and 122 are provided, but, one or at least three ice separation heaters installed on a lower portion of the ice making tray 11 may be provided as necessary, and an attachment position of the ice separation heater may also be varied.

In addition, the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 may be constituted of one or more of a film heater, a sheath heater, a cartridge heater, a cord heater, a planar heater, and a coating heater.

The temperature sensor 130 for measuring a temperature of the ice making tray 11 is mounted at one side of the ice making tray 11. The temperature sensor 130 is connected to the power control operating system 140 to transmit a measured value thereto (see FIG. 6).

Gears for transmitting a driving force of the motor 110 to the shaft 13-1 of the ejector 13 are provided above the ice making tray 11, and the printed circuit board (PCB) position sensor 131 is inserted into any one gear of these gears and mounted thereat to detect a magnetic field of a magnet rotated together with the gear. The position sensor 131 is connected to the power control operating system 140 and transmits the measured value thereto (see FIG. 6).

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an ice maker according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Referring to FIG. 6, the ice maker according to the preferred embodiment of the present invention includes an A/D converter, a power control operating system 140, a motor 110 of an ejector 100, ice separation heaters 121 and 122, a temperature sensor 130, a position sensor 131, and a timer 132.

The power control operating system 140 receives a supply of a current from a DC power unit, for example, the A/D converter, a rectifier, a smoothing circuit, or the like.

The power control operating system 140 receives signals from the temperature sensor 130 that measures a temperature of an ice making tray 11 and transmits the measured value, the position sensor 131, which is inserted into a gear for transmitting a driving force from the motor 110 to an ejector shaft 13-1, detects a magnetic field of a magnet rotated together with the gear and transmits a measured signal, and the timer 132 notifies the power control operating system 140 of a time elapsed from the start of an ice separating operation.

The power control operating system 140 controls a current supplied to the motor 110 of the ejector 100, the first heater 121, the second heater 122, a compressor 300, and a blowing fan 200 based on the signals received from the temperature sensor 130, the position sensor 131, and the timer 132.

For example, the power control operating system 140 may start an ice separating operation for discharging frozen ice from the ice making tray 11 based on a signal measured by the temperature sensor 130, and then cross-manage and distribute power of the ice separation motor 110 of the ejector 100 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122. That is, a current is not supplied to the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 while a current is supplied to the ice separation motor 110 of the ejector 100, and a current is supplied to the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 when a current is not supplied to the ice separation motor 110. For example, a current is supplied only to the ice separation heater after starting the ice separating operation, and, after ice is dissolved to a certain extent, a current is supplied only to the ice separation motor 110 until ejector fins 13-2 approach the ice. Next, when the approach of the ejector fins 13-2 to the ice is completed, a current is supplied only to all of the ice separation heaters or the first heater 121. Next, a current is supplied only to the motor 110 in order to rotate the ejector fins 13-2 again, and when the ejector fins 13-2 arrive at the vicinity of a portion where the second heater 122 is installed, a current is supplied only to the second heater 122 again, and then a current is supplied only to the motor 110 again after a certain period of time has elapsed.

Alternatively, the power control operating system 140 may mixedly manage and distribute the power of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122. For example, the power control operating system 140 may increase or increase and then decrease the current supplied to the ice separation motor 110 while the fins 13-2 of the ejector 100 approach ice of the ice making tray 11, pass through the ice making tray 11, and make one revolution, and may decrease the current supplied to the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 in a stepwise or continuous manner from an initial maximum value.

Alternatively, the power control operating system 140 may simultaneously manage and distribute power of some of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122. For example, the power control operating system 140 may increase or increase and then decrease the current supplied to the ice separation motor 110 in a stepwise or continuous manner along each of steps including, for example, a step focusing on dissolving ice and a step focusing on discharging ice while the fins 13-2 of the ejector 100 approach the ice of the ice making tray 11, pass through the ice making tray 11, and make one revolution, and may decrease the current supplied to the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 in a stepwise or continuous manner from the initial maximum value or supply the current to the first heater 121 and the second heater 122 with a time difference therebetween.

In the above manner, by adjusting a current distribution amount between the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 throughout the ice separating operation or for each step, for example, according to a position of the ejector fins 13-2, it is possible to efficiently use a certain amount of current and prevent an increase in power consumption due to a large amount of current that simultaneously flows to the ice separation motor and the ice separation heaters. In addition, by such current management and distribution, a temperature of the ice making tray 11 immediately after ice is discharged from the ice making tray 11 may be kept low, and thereby the ice making tray 11 may be cooled again for subsequent ice-making within a shorter time.

Alternatively, the power control operating system 140 may initially supply a larger amount of current to the first heater 121 than the second heater 122 after starting the ice separating operation, and increase the amount of current supplied to the second heater 122 while gradually decreasing the amount of current supplied to the first heater 121, or may supply a current to the second heater 122 without supplying a current to the first heater 121, that is, by turning the first heater 121 off. That is, the power control operating system 140 may perform a supply of full load power and a supply of power below the full load power on the ice separation heaters for each condition.

By performing the supply of full load power and the supply of power below the full load power on the ice separation heaters for each condition, it is possible to further enhance the above-described effect.

Alternatively, the power control operating system 140 may receive a value of the position sensor 131 after starting the ice separating operation and estimate the position of the fins 13-2 of the ejector 13. The power control operating system 140 may cross-manage and distribute the power of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122, simultaneously manage and distribute power of some of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122, or mixedly manage and distribute the power of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 by using the estimated position of the fins 13-2 of the ejector 13.

Alternatively, after the start of the ice separating operation, the power control operating system 140 may use, for example, a signal from the timer 132 and cross-manage and distribute the power of the above-described ice separation motor 110 and ice separation heaters 121 and 122, simultaneously manage and distribute power of some of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122, or mixedly manage and distribute the power of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 based on this signal.

Alternatively, after starting the ice separating operation, the power control operating system 140 may use, for example, a signal from the temperature sensor 130 and cross-manage and distribute the power of the above-described ice separation motor 110 and ice separation heaters 121 and 122, simultaneously manage and distribute power of some of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122, or mixedly manage and distribute the power of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 based on this signal.

Alternatively, after starting the ice separating operation, the power control operating system 140 may more accurately estimate the position of the fins 13-2 using, for example, signals from any two or three of the temperature sensor 130, the position sensor 131, and the timer 132 and cross-manage and distribute the power of the above-described ice separation motor 110 and ice separation heaters 121 and 122, simultaneously manage and distribute power of some of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122, or mixedly manage and distribute the power of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 using the estimated position.

In addition, the power control operating system 140 may use a method of managing and distributing the power of the ice separation motor 110 and the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 in order to manage and distribute the power of the ice separation heater and electronic components of the cooling device, for example, the compressor 300 and the blowing fan 200. For example, by cross-managing and distributing the power of the ice separation heaters 121 and 122 and the compressor 300, it is possible to cut off and control a current supplied to the compressor 300 while a current is supplied to the ice separation heaters 121 and 122.

In the above manner, the power control operating system 140 may operate a DC heater at maximum capacity using a limited DC current by managing and distributing power of the electronic components of the cooling device such as the ice separation heaters 121 and 122, the compressor 300, and the like.

FIG. 7 is a control block diagram of a refrigerator according to another embodiment of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 7, a refrigerator 400 according to another embodiment of the present invention may include a power supply unit 421, a main control unit 420, electronic components 422, and an ice maker 415.

The electronic components 422 of the refrigerator may include at least one of a compressor motor 424 of a compressor (not shown) constituting a cooling cycle of refrigerator, a cold air blowing fan 423 disposed to be adjacent to an evaporator (not shown) constituting the cooling cycle, another cold air blowing fan (not shown) that is arranged inside the refrigerator to circulate cold air, and a heater that is arranged inside the refrigerator to remove, for example, frost.

The main control unit 420 of the refrigerator may receive a supply of a current from the power supply unit 421 and appropriately supply the received current to the electronic components 422 and the ice maker 415. Alternatively, the main control unit 420 may control power supplied directly from the power supply unit 421 to the electronic components 422 and the ice maker 415.

The ice maker 415 may include a tray (not shown) that receives a supply of liquid, an ejector (not shown) that discharges ice frozen in the tray, a motor 411 that provides a driving force to the ejector, an ice separation heater 412 that applies heat to the tray, an ice making sensor 413 that transmits a signal for determining a frozen state to a control unit 410, and the control unit 410 that receives the signal of the ice making sensor 413 and controls power supplied to the ice separation heater 412 and the motor 411.

The ice separation heater 412 may be any one of a planar heater, a cord heater, and a flexible heater. The planar heater may generate heat over a predetermined area. The planar heater may be manufactured in a thin form, for example, with a thickness of more than 0 and 1 mm or less. The planar heater may be manufactured in a thin form to reduce heat capacity thereof, and thereby quickly increase a temperature of the planar heater to a predetermined temperature. In this case, power consumption of the planar heater may be reduced. A positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heater may be used as the planar heater, but the present invention is not limited thereto.

In addition, the planar heater may include a heating body, a first insulating member that is provided to surround the heating body on one surface of the heating body, and a second insulating member that is provided to surround the heating body on the other surface of the heating body. For example, the heating body may be provided over the whole area of the planar heater in a zigzag form. A thin metal film such as a thin stainless film, a thin platinum film, a thin tungsten film, a thin nickel film, or the like may be used as the heating body, however, the heating body is not limited thereto. The heating body may be formed by performing thin film coating on carbon nano tubes, a carbon nano plate, or the like. A pad for receiving power from the outside may be provided at the heating body. The first insulating member and the second insulating member may be made of a polyimide or grapheme material. In this case, it is possible to stably protect the heating body even when a temperature of the heating body is increased to a high temperature or external shock is applied to the heating body. The first insulating member and the second insulating member may be provided in the form of a film. The first insulating member and the second insulating member may be respectively attached to one surface of the heating body and the other surface thereof.

Meanwhile, the flexible heater may include a heat generating portion and an insulating portion that is formed to surround the heat generating portion. The heat generating portion is a portion that generates heat when a voltage is applied thereto. In the heat generating portion, a general heating wire (for example, a nickel-chrome wire, a copper-nickel wire, or the like) may be used. However, the heat generating portion is not limited thereto and may be provided in a form in which a glass fiber is wound around the heating wire or the heating wire is wound around a glass fiber. The insulating portion is a portion that forms an outer shell of the flexible heater and serves to protect the heat generating portion. The insulating portion may be made of a soft insulating material or an insulating material having elasticity. In this case, the flexible heater has a flexible property, and therefore the flexible heater may be brought into close contact with an ice tray accommodating ice, or the flexible heater may be coupled to the tray in a zigzag form. A cord heater, for example, is an example of the flexible heater, but the type of flexible heater is not limited thereto.

The flexible heater includes the heat generating portion and the insulating portion, and therefore a diameter of the flexible heater may be formed to be smaller (for example, 2 to 4 mm) than that of a sheath heater. That is, the diameter of the flexible heater may be formed to be ⅓ to ½ the diameter of the sheath heater. The flexible heater has a small diameter and a flexible property, and therefore it is possible to increase an area in which the flexible heater comes into contact with the tray when the flexible heater is formed on an outer circumferential surface of the ice tray.

The cord heater includes a connector for a power connection, a heat-generating cord heater wire, an attachment surface to which the cord heater wire is attached, electrothermal tape that adheres the cord heater wire and the attachment surface, and a connection terminal that connects a power input wire and the cord heater wire. Here, the cord heater wire is provided in a form in which a heat generating wire is wound around a glass fiber and an insulator for electrical insulation is wrapped around the resultant object. The connection terminal is formed by pressurizing a copper tube from an outside thereof to an inside thereof so that a radius thereof is decreased except for at both distal ends of the connection terminal in which the power input wire and the cord heater wire may be inserted and at a central area of the connection terminal in which the power input wire and the cord heater wire may be connected to each other. The power input wire and the cord heater wire are respectively inserted into both distal ends of the connection terminal obtained by pressurizing the copper tube in the above manner and connected to each other at the central area of the connection terminal. Next, a waterproof connection tube is mounted on the outside of the connection terminal to prevent penetration of moisture from the outside. The power input wire connected with the connector for power connection and the cord heater wire are connected by the connection terminal, and thereby the cord heater receives power from the connector for power connection.

The control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 may receive a supply of a current through a power line from the main control unit 420 of the refrigerator 400. The control unit 410 may receive a signal of the ice making sensor 413 to determine whether ice making is completed. When the control unit 410 determines that ice making is completed, power may be supplied to the ice separation heater 412 to enable the ice separation heater 412 to apply heat to the tray. Meanwhile, when the control unit 410 determines that ice making is completed, power may be supplied to the motor 411 simultaneously with the supply of power to the ice separation heater 412 or after a certain period of time has elapsed. However, a method by which the control unit 410 controls the ice separation heater 412 and the motor 411 is not limited thereto and can be changed into various types. For example, the control unit 410 may perform PWM control on the power supplied to the ice separation heater 412.

In addition, when the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 determines that ice making is completed, the main control unit 420 of the refrigerator 400 may recognize the completion of ice making. For example, the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 transmits a signal to the main control unit 420 through the power line through which power is received from the main control unit 420 so that the main control unit 420 may recognize the completion of ice making while supplying power to the ice separation heater 412.

Alternatively, when a signal indicating the completion of ice making is received from the ice making sensor 413, the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 may transmit a signal to the main control unit 420 through the power line so that the main control unit 420 may recognize the completion of ice making.

As described above, the main control unit 420 that has received the signal from the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 may stop or reduce a supply of power to at least one of the electronic components 422, that is, the cold air blowing fan 423, the compressor motor 424, and the heater 425, or change a corresponding frequency.

By the main control unit 420 controlling the electronic components 422 in the above manner, cold air circulation inside the refrigerator 400 may be decreased or a drop in a temperature of the cold air may be suppressed, and thus heat applied to the tray by the ice separation heater 412 is not lost so that the ice separating operation may not be interrupted and the total power consumption of the refrigerator may be reduced or maintained at a constant level.

Hereinafter, the ice maker 415 having a structure according to the present embodiment and operations of the refrigerator 400 will be described.

First, when the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 determines that water accommodated in a tray is frozen using a signal from the ice making sensor 413, an ice separating operation is started. The control unit 410 may supply power to the ice separation heater 412 during the ice separating operation so that the ice separation heater 412 may provide heat to the tray. At this point, the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 may enable the main control unit 420 to recognize an operation of the ice separation heater 412. For example, when supplying power to the ice separation heater 412, the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 may generate an ice separation start signal and transmit the ice separation start signal to the main control unit 420 through a power line for supplying power from the main control unit 420 to the control unit 410. Alternatively, for example, the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 may transmit a signal indicating a completion of ice making received from the ice making sensor 413 to the main control unit 420.

In addition, during the ice separating operation, the control unit 410 may provide power to the motor 411 for providing a driving force to an ejector so that the ejector may pressurize ice frozen in the tray to discharge the ice from the tray. At this point, the control unit 410 of the ice maker 415 may enable the main control unit 420 of the refrigerator to recognize an operation of the motor 411. For example, when power is supplied to the motor 411, the control unit 410 may generate a signal indicating the supply of the power to the motor 411 and transmit the generated signal to the main control unit 420 of the refrigerator through the power line for supplying power from the main control unit 420 to the control unit 410.

The main control unit 420 may stop or reduce the supply of power to the electronic components 422 of the refrigerator or change the corresponding frequency when the main control unit 420 recognizes that ice making in the ice maker 415 is completed.

FIG. 8 is a control block diagram of a refrigerator according to still another embodiment of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 8, a refrigerator 400′ according to still another embodiment of the present invention is different from the refrigerator 400 according to another embodiment shown in FIG. 7 in that a main control unit 420 of the refrigerator 400′ may measure and control a current supplied to an ice maker 415.

Hereinafter, focusing on differences with the refrigerator 400 according to another embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the refrigerator 400′ according to still another embodiment will be described.

The main control unit 420 of the refrigerator measures a magnitude of a current of power supplied from the main control unit 420 to an ice maker 415. The main control unit 420 may compare the measured magnitude of the current with a predetermined value and determine that an ice separation heater 412 of the ice maker 415 is operated when the measured magnitude is equal to or larger than the predetermined value. Then, the main control unit 420 may reduce or stop a supply of power to electronic components 422 or change a corresponding frequency. For example, the main control unit 420 may reduce power supplied to a cold air blowing fan 423, thereby reducing power consumption. Alternatively, the main control unit 420 may reduce or stop a supply of power to a compressor motor 424 or reduce a corresponding frequency.

In the above manner, when the magnitude of the current measured in the main control unit 420 is equal to or larger than the predetermined value, the main control unit 420 of the refrigerator may determine that the ice separation heater 412 is operated and reduce or stop a supply of power to the cold air blowing fan 423 and the compressor motor 424 so that cold air circulation inside the refrigerator may be reduced or a drop in the temperature of the cold air may be suppressed. As a result, the heat applied to the tray by the ice separation heater 412 is not lost so that the ice separating operation may not be interrupted and the total power consumption of the refrigerator may be maintained at a constant level.

In addition, the main control unit 420 of the refrigerator may compare the measured magnitude of the current with a second predetermined value, and determine that the motor 411 for supplying a driving force to the ejector of the ice maker 415 is operated when the measured magnitude is equal to or larger than the second predetermined value. Then, the main control unit 420 may reduce or stop a supply of power to the electronic components 422, or change the corresponding frequency. For example, the main control unit 420 may reduce the power supplied to the cold air blowing fan 423, thereby reducing power consumption. Alternatively, the main control unit 420 may reduce or stop the supply of power to the compressor motor 424 or reduce the corresponding frequency.

In this manner, when the magnitude of the current measured in the main control unit 420 is equal to or larger than the second predetermined value, the main control unit 420 of the refrigerator may determine that the motor 411 of the ejector is operated, and reduce or stop the supply of power to the cold air blowing fan 423 and the compressor motor 424 so that cold air circulation inside the refrigerator may be decreased or a drop in a temperature of the cold air may be suppressed, and therefore an ice separating operation may not be interrupted and a total power consumption of the refrigerator may be maintained at a constant level.

Although a few embodiments of the present disclosure have been shown and described, those skilled in the art should appreciate that changes may be made to these embodiments without departing from the principles and spirit of the disclosure, the scope of which is defined in the claims and their equivalents.

[Description of reference numerals]
 10: Ice maker 11: Ice making tray
 13: Ejector 13-1: Ejector shaft
 13-2: Ejector fins 19: Ice bank
100: Ice maker121: First heater
122: Second heater130: Temperature sensor
131: Position sensor132: Timer
140: Power control operating system200: Blowing fan
300: Compressor410: Control unit
411: Motor412: Ice separation heater
413: Ice making sensor
415: Ice maker420: Main control unit
421: Power supply unit422: Electronic components
423: Cold air blowing fan424: Compressor motor
425: Heater400; 400′: Refrigerator