Title:
Stand-Alone Ice Making Appliances
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Stand-alone ice making appliances are provided. An appliance includes a container defining a first storage volume for receipt of ice, and a water tank, the water tank defining a second storage volume for receipt of water, and a pump in fluid communication with the second storage volume for actively flowing water from the water tank. The appliance further includes a reservoir defining a third storage volume, the third storage volume in fluid communication with the pump for receiving water that is actively flowed from the water tank, and an ice maker. The ice maker includes a sealed refrigeration system, the sealed refrigeration system including a compressor, a condenser, a throttling device, an evaporator, and a bypass valve, the bypass valve configured to selectively direct refrigerant to bypass the throttling device and flow from the condenser through the bypass valve to the evaporator.



Inventors:
Hitzelberger, Joel Erik (Louisville, KY, US)
Junge, Brent Alden (Evansville, IN, US)
Gardner, William Everette (Louisville, KY, US)
Application Number:
14/950300
Publication Date:
05/25/2017
Filing Date:
11/24/2015
Assignee:
General Electric Company (Schenectady, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25C1/00; F25D23/00; F25C5/18
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



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 stand-alone ice making appliance, comprising: a container defining a first storage volume for receipt of ice; a water tank, the water tank defining a second storage volume for receipt of water; a pump in fluid communication with the second storage volume for actively flowing water from the water tank; a reservoir defining a third storage volume, the third storage volume in fluid communication with the pump for receiving water that is actively flowed from the water tank; and an ice maker, the ice maker comprising a sealed refrigeration system, the sealed refrigeration system comprising a compressor, a condenser, a throttling device, an evaporator, and a bypass valve, the bypass valve configured to selectively direct refrigerant to bypass the throttling device and flow from the condenser through the bypass valve to the evaporator.

2. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, wherein the bypass valve is a two-way valve.

3. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, wherein the bypass valve is selectively movable between a first position and a second position, wherein in the first position refrigerant from the condenser flows through the throttling device and does not flow through the bypass valve, and wherein in the second position refrigerant from the condenser flows through the throttling device and through the bypass valve.

4. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, wherein the bypass valve is a three-way valve.

5. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, wherein the bypass valve is selectively movable between a first position and a second position, wherein in the first position refrigerant from the condenser flows through the bypass valve to the throttling device, and wherein in the second position refrigerant from the condenser flows through the bypass valve and not through the throttling device.

6. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, wherein the container is removable.

7. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 6, further comprising a sensor configured to detect when the container is removed.

8. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 7, further comprising a controller, the controller in operative communication with the sensor and the bypass valve, the controller configured to operate the bypass valve based on signals from the sensor.

9. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, wherein the ice maker further comprises an auger at least partially surrounded by a casing.

10. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 9, wherein the evaporator at least partially surrounds the casing.

11. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, wherein the ice maker further comprises an extruder.

12. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, further comprising a chute extending between the ice maker and the container for directing ice produced by the ice maker towards the first storage volume.

13. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 1, wherein ice within the first storage volume is maintained at a temperature greater than thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit.

14. A stand-alone ice making appliance, comprising: a container defining a first storage volume for receipt of ice; a water tank, the water tank defining a second storage volume for receipt of water; a pump in fluid communication with the second storage volume for actively flowing water from the water tank; a reservoir defining a third storage volume, the third storage volume in fluid communication with the pump for receiving water that is actively flowed from the water tank; and an ice maker, the ice maker comprising a sealed refrigeration system, the sealed refrigeration system comprising a compressor, a condenser, a throttling device, an evaporator, and a start capacitor, the start capacitor connected to the compressor.

15. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 14, wherein the container is removable.

16. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 15, further comprising a sensor configured to detect when the container is removed.

17. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 16, further comprising a controller, the controller in operative communication with the sensor, the compressor, and the start capacitor, the controller configured to operate the compressor and the start capacitor based on signals from the sensor.

18. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 14, wherein the ice maker further comprises an auger at least partially surrounded by a casing.

19. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 18, wherein the evaporator at least partially surrounds the casing.

20. The stand-alone ice making appliance of claim 14, wherein ice within the first storage volume is maintained at a temperature greater than thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present subject matter relates generally to stand-alone ice making appliances, and in exemplary embodiments to stand-alone ice making appliances which produce nugget ice.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Ice makers generally produce ice for the use of consumers, such as in drinks being consumed, for cooling foods or drinks to be consumed and/or for other various purposes. Certain refrigerator appliances include ice makers for producing ice. The ice maker can be positioned within the appliances' freezer chamber and direct ice into an ice bucket where it can be stored within the freezer chamber. Such refrigerator appliances can also include a dispensing system for assisting a user with accessing ice produced by the refrigerator appliances' ice maker. However, the incorporation of ice makers into refrigerator appliance can have drawbacks, such as limits on the amount of ice that can be produced and the reliance on the refrigeration system of the refrigerator appliance to form the ice.

Recently, stand-alone ice makers have been developed. These ice makers are separate from refrigerator appliances and provide independent ice supplies. However, many stand-alone ice makers require a connection to the plumbing of the dwelling where the ice maker resides, in order to have access to a water supply. Additionally, many stand-alone ice makers do not allow for removal of the ice bucket, instead requiring that ice be scooped from the bucket for use. Further, typical stand-alone ice makers are expensive, to the point of being cost-prohibitive to the typical consumer.

Accordingly, improved stand-alone ice makers are desired in the art. In particular, cost-effective stand-alone ice makers which address various of the above issues would be advantageous.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

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 accordance with one embodiment, a stand-alone ice making appliance is provided. The appliance includes a container defining a first storage volume for receipt of ice, and a water tank, the water tank defining a second storage volume for receipt of water, and a pump in fluid communication with the second storage volume for actively flowing water from the water tank. The appliance further includes a reservoir defining a third storage volume, the third storage volume in fluid communication with the pump for receiving water that is actively flowed from the water tank, and an ice maker. The ice maker includes a sealed refrigeration system, the sealed refrigeration system including a compressor, a condenser, a throttling device, an evaporator, and a bypass valve, the bypass valve configured to selectively direct refrigerant to bypass the throttling device and flow from the condenser through the bypass valve to the evaporator.

In accordance with another embodiment, a stand-alone ice making appliance is provided. The appliance includes a container defining a first storage volume for receipt of ice, and a water tank, the water tank defining a second storage volume for receipt of water, and a pump in fluid communication with the second storage volume for actively flowing water from the water tank. The appliance further includes a reservoir defining a third storage volume, the third storage volume in fluid communication with the pump for receiving water that is actively flowed from the water tank, and an ice maker. The ice maker includes a sealed refrigeration system, the sealed refrigeration system including a compressor, a condenser, a throttling device, an evaporator, and a start capacitor, the start capacitor connected to the compressor.

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 is a perspective view of a stand-alone ice making appliance in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a perspective sectional view of a stand-alone ice making appliance in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view (with a casing removed) of a stand-alone ice making appliance in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 4 is a rear sectional view of a stand-alone ice making appliance in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of a stand-alone ice making appliance in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of a stand-alone ice making appliance in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure; and

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a stand-alone ice making appliance in accordance with another embodiment of the present disclosure.

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.

Referring now to FIG. 1, one embodiment of a stand-alone ice making appliance 10 in accordance with the present disclosure is illustrated. As shown, appliance 10 includes an outer casing 12 which generally at least partially houses various other components of the appliance therein 10. A container 14 is also illustrated. Container 14 defines a first storage volume 16 for the receipt and storage of ice 18 therein. A user of the appliance 10 may access ice 18 within the container 14 for consumption or other uses. Container 14 may include one or more sidewalls 20 and a base wall 22 (see FIG. 2), which may together define the first storage volume 16. In exemplary embodiments, at least one sidewall 20 may be formed from a clear, see-through (i.e. transparent or translucent) material, such as a clear glass or plastic, such that a user can see into the first storage volume 16 and thus view ice 18 therein. Further, in exemplary embodiments, container 14 may be removable, such as from the outer casing 12, by a user. This facilitates easy access by the user to ice within the container 14 and further, for example, may provide access to a water tank 24 (see FIG. 2) of the appliance 10.

Appliances 10 in accordance with the present disclosure are advantageously stand-alone appliances, and thus are not connected to refrigerators or other appliances. Additionally, in exemplary embodiments, such appliances are not connected to plumbing or another water source that is external to the appliance 10, such as a refrigerator water source. Rather, in exemplary embodiments, water is initially supplied to the appliance 10 manually by a user, such as by pouring water into water tank 24.

Notably, appliances 10 as discussed herein include various features which allow the appliances 10 to be affordable and desirable to typical consumers. For example, the stand-alone feature reduces the cost associated with the appliance 10 and allows the consumer to position the appliance 10 at any suitable desired location, with the only requirement in some embodiments being access to an electrical source. The removable container 14 allows easy access to ice and allows the container 14 to be moved to a different position from the remainder of the appliance 10 for ice usage purposes. Additionally, in exemplary embodiments as discussed herein, appliance 10 is configured to make nugget ice (as discussed herein) which is becoming increasingly popular with consumers.

Referring to FIGS. 2 through 7, various other components of appliances 10 in accordance with the present disclosure are illustrated. For example, as mentioned, appliance 10 includes a water tank 24. The water tank 24 defines a second storage volume 26 for the receipt and holding of water. Water tank 24 may include one or more sidewalls 28 and a base wall 30 which may together define the second storage volume 26. In exemplary embodiments, the water tank 24 may be disposed below the container 14 along a vertical direction V defined for the appliance 10, as shown.

As discussed, in exemplary embodiments, water is provided to the water tank 24 for use in forming ice. Accordingly, appliance 10 may further include a pump 32. Pump 32 may be in fluid communication with the second storage volume 26. For example, water may be flowable from the second storage volume 26 through an opening 31 defined in the water tank 24, such as in a sidewall 28 thereof, and may flow through a conduit to and through pump 32. Pump 32 may, when activated, actively flow water from the second storage volume 26 therethrough and from the pump 32.

Water actively flowed from the pump 32 may be flowed (for example through a suitable conduit) to a reservoir 34. For example, reservoir 34 may define a third storage volume 36, which may be defined by one or more sidewalls 38 and a base wall 40. Third storage volume 36 may, for example, be in fluid communication with the pump 32 and may thus receive water that is actively flowed from the water tank 24, such as through the pump 32. For example, water may be flowed into the third storage volume 36 through an opening 42 defined in the reservoir 34.

Reservoir 34 and third storage volume 36 thereof may receive and contain water to be provided to an ice maker 50 for the production of ice. Accordingly, third storage volume 36 may be in fluid communication with ice maker 50. For example, water may be flowed, such as through opening 44 and through suitable conduits, from third storage volume 36 to ice maker 50.

Ice maker 50 generally receives water, such as from reservoir, and freezes the water to form ice 18. While any suitable style of ice maker is within the scope and spirit of the present disclosure, in exemplary embodiments, ice maker 50 is a nugget ice maker, and in particular is an auger-style ice maker. As shown, ice maker 50 may include a casing 52 into which water from third storage volume 36 is flowed. Casing 52 is thus in fluid communication with third storage volume 36. For example, casing 52 may include one or more sidewalls 54 which may define an interior volume 56, and an opening 58 may be defined in a sidewall 54. Water may be flowed from third storage volume 36 through the opening 58 (such as via a suitable conduit) into the interior volume 56.

As illustrated, an auger 60 may be disposed at least partially within the casing 52. During operation, the auger 60 may rotate. Water within the casing 52 may at least partially freeze due to heat exchange, such as with a refrigeration system as discussed herein. The at least partially frozen water may be lifted by the auger 60 from casing 52. Further, in exemplary embodiments, the at least partially frozen water may be directed by auger 60 to and through an extruder 62. The extruder 62 may extrude the at least partially frozen water to form ice, such as nuggets of ice 18.

Formed ice 18 may be provided by the ice maker 50 to container 14, and may be received in the first storage volume 16 thereof. For example, ice 18 formed by auger 60 and/or extruder 62 may be provide to the container 14. In exemplary embodiments, appliance 10 may include a chute 70 for directing ice 18 produced by the ice maker 50 towards the first storage volume 16. For example, as shown, chute 70 is generally positioned above container 14 along the vertical direction V. Thus, ice can slide off of chute 70 and drop into storage volume 16 of container 14. Chute 70 may, as shown, extend between ice maker 50 and container 14, and may include a body 72 which defines a passage 74 therethrough. Ice 18 may be directed from the ice maker 50 (such as from the auger 60 and/or extruder 62) through the passage 74 to the container 14. In some embodiments, for example, a sweep 64, which may for example be connected to and rotate with the auger, may contact the ice emerging through the extruder 62 from the auger 60 and direct the ice through the passage 74 to the container 14.

As discussed, water within the casing 52 may at least partially freeze due to heat exchange, such as with a refrigeration system. In exemplary embodiments, ice maker 50 may include a sealed refrigeration system 80. The sealed refrigeration system 80 may be in thermal communication with the casing 52 to remove heat from the casing 52 and interior volume 56 thereof, thus facilitating freezing of water therein to form ice. Sealed refrigeration system 80 may, for example, include a compressor 82, a condenser 84, a throttling device 86 and an evaporator 88. Evaporator 88 may, for example, be in thermal communication with the casing 52 in order to remove heat from the interior volume 56 and water therein during operation of sealed system 80. For example, evaporator 88 may at least partially surround the casing 52. In particular, evaporator 88 may be a conduit coiled around and in contact with casing 52, such as the sidewall(s) 54 thereof. During operation of sealed system 80, refrigerant exits evaporator 88 as a fluid in the form of a superheated vapor and/or vapor mixture. Upon exiting evaporator 88, the refrigerant enters compressor 82 wherein the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant are increased such that the refrigerant becomes a superheated vapor. The superheated vapor from compressor 82 enters condenser 84 wherein energy is transferred therefrom and condenses into a saturated liquid and/or liquid vapor mixture. This fluid exits condenser 84 and travels through throttling device 86 that is configured for regulating a flow rate of refrigerant therethrough. Upon exiting throttling device 86, the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant drop at which time the refrigerant enters evaporator 88 and the cycle repeats itself. In certain exemplary embodiments as illustrated in FIGS. 5 through 7, throttling device 86 may be a capillary tube. Notably, in some embodiments, sealed system 80 may additionally include fans (not shown) for facilitating heat transfer to/from the condenser 84 and evaporator 88.

As discussed, in exemplary embodiments, ice 18 may be nugget ice. Nugget ice is ice that that is maintained or stored (i.e. in first storage volume 16 of container 14) at a temperature greater than the melting point of water or greater than about thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit. Accordingly, the ambient temperature of the environment surrounding the container 14 may be at a temperature greater than the melting point of water or greater than about thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit. In some embodiments, such temperature may be greater than forty degrees Fahrenheit, greater than fifty degrees Fahrenheit, or greater than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ice 18 held within the first storage volume 16 may gradually melt. The melting speed is increased for nugget ice due to the increased maintenance/storage temperature. Accordingly, drain features may advantageously be provided in the container for draining such melt water. Additionally, and advantageously, the melt water may in exemplary embodiments be reused by appliance 10 to form ice.

For example, in some embodiments as illustrated in FIGS. 5 through 7, a drain aperture 90 may be defined in the base wall 22. Drain aperture 90 may allow water to flow from the first storage volume 16 and container 14 generally. Further, in exemplary embodiments, water flowing from the first storage volume 16 and container 14 may, due to gravity and the vertical alignment of the container 14 of water tank 24, flow into the second storage volume 26.

Referring still to FIGS. 5 through 7 and returning to the ice maker 50 and sealed system 80 thereof, it may be desirable for the ice maker 50 components to be quickly and easily activated and deactivated during use of an appliance 10. For example, in particular embodiments wherein the container 14 is removable, it may be desirable for the ice maker 50 components to be quickly deactivated to prevent further ice from being formed. Accordingly, it may be desirable to deactivate the auger 60 and/or the sealed system 80 when the container 14 is removed. It may further be desirable to activate the ice maker 50 components, such as the auger 60 and/or sealed system 80, when the container 14 is returned.

To facilitate quick activation of the sealed system 80 after a brief period of deactivation, the pressure differential within the compressor 82 when the system 80 is deactivated must be addressed. The present disclosure is thus further directed to apparatus for addressing issue with the pressure differential in order to facilitate improved sealed system 80 start times.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, in some embodiments, sealed system 80 may include a bypass valve 100. Bypass valve 100 may selectively direct refrigerant to bypass the throttling device 86 and flow from the condenser 84 through the bypass valve 100 to the evaporator 88. Accordingly, when the bypass valve 100 is selectively moved to and positioned in a particular position (as discussed herein), refrigerant flowed from the condenser 84 may not flow through the throttling device 86 before flowing through the evaporator 88. Use of a bypass valve 100 in accordance with the present disclosure may advantageously allow for the pressure differential in the compressor 82 to be reduced, thus facilitating improved sealed system 80 start times.

In some embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 5, the bypass valve 100 may be a two-way valve, and may thus include an inlet 102 and only a single outlet 104. In these embodiments, valve 100 may be moved between a first position wherein the outlet 104 is closed (and refrigerant thus does not flow from the outlet 104 and through the valve 100) and a second position wherein the outlet 104 is open (and refrigerant thus does flow from the outlet 104 and through the valve 100). Alternatively, as illustrated in FIG. 6, the bypass valve 100 may be a three-way valve, and may thus include an inlet 102 and two outlets 104, 106. In these embodiments, valve 100 may be moved between a first position wherein first outlet 104 is open and second outlet 106 is closed (and refrigerant thus flows from the outlet 104 and through valve 100) and a second position wherein second outlet 106 is open and first outlet 104 is closed (and refrigerant thus flows from the outlet 106 and through valve 100).

Accordingly, bypass valve 100 may be selectively movable between a first position and a second position to selectively direct refrigerant to bypass the throttling device 86. For example, when the bypass valve 100 is in the first position in some embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 5, refrigerant from the condenser 84 may flow through the throttling device 86 may not flow through the bypass valve 100. (Notably, refrigerant may flow into the bypass valve 100, such as through open inlet 102, but may not flow through the bypass valve 100 due to not being exhausted from an outlet, such as outlet 104, of the bypass valve 100). Accordingly, in the first position, refrigerant may flow from the condenser 84 through the throttling device 86 and from the throttling device 86 to the evaporator 88. When the bypass valve is in the second position in some embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 5, refrigerant from the condenser 84 may flow through the throttling device 85 and through the bypass valve 100. Accordingly, a portion of the refrigerant that would, in the first position, flow through the throttling device 86 may instead bypass the throttling device 86 and flow through the bypass valve 100. This refrigerant in the second position may thus flow from the condenser 84 through the bypass valve 100, and from the bypass valve 100 to the evaporator 88.

When the bypass valve 100 is in the first position in other embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 6, refrigerant from the condenser 84 may flow through the bypass valve 100, such as through the first outlet 104, to the throttling device 86. The refrigerant may then flow through the throttling device 86, and from the throttling device 86 to the evaporator 88. When the bypass valve 100 is in the second position in some embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 6, refrigerant from the condenser 84 may flow through the bypass valve 100, such as through the second outlet 106, and not through the throttling device 86. Accordingly, the refrigerant that would, in the first position, flow through the throttling device 86 may instead bypass the throttling device 86. This refrigerant in the second position may thus flow from the condenser 84 through the bypass valve 100, and from the bypass valve 100 to the evaporator 88.

Bypass valves 100 in accordance with the present disclosure thus advantageously selectively direct refrigerant to bypass the throttling device 86. As discussed, bypass valves 100 may thus be selectively movable to first positions for normal operation, i.e. during active operation of the system 80 and, optionally, for system 80 start-up when the pressure differential in the compressor 82 is sufficiently low to allow activation of the compressor 82. Bypass valves 100 may be selectively movable to the second positions for bypass start-up operation, to reduce the pressure differential in the compressor 82 to allow activation of the compressor 82.

Referring now to FIG. 7, in other embodiments, sealed system 80 may include a start capacitor 110. Start capacitor 110 may be connected, such as electrically connected, to the compressor 82. Start capacitor 110 may be activated to assist in activating the compressor 82 when the pressure differential in the compressor 82 is sufficiently high such that normal activation of the compressor 82 is prevented. When activated, the start capacitor 110 provides additional electrical power to the compressor 82 to assist the compressor 82 in overcoming the pressure differential and activating. Use of a start capacitor 110 in accordance with the present disclosure may thus advantageously facilitate improved sealed system 80 start times in spite of potentially high compressor 82 pressure differentials.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 through 7, in some embodiments, a sensor 112 may be provided in the appliance 10. Sensor 112 may be configured to detect when the container 14 is removed and when the container 14 is replaced. For example, sensor 112 may be a weight sensor which may detect whether the container 14 is present or removed due to changes in detected weight (i.e. lighter weight equals container 14 removed, heavier weight equals container 14 present). Alternatively, sensor 112 may be a proximity sensor which may detect whether the container 14 is present or removed due to changes in a signal that is emitted by the sensor 112 and then potentially received by the sensor 112 after reflecting off of another surface. For example, sensor 112 may emit signals, such as radiation signals in any suitable class(es) along electromagnetic spectrum (i.e. infrared, visible, ultraviolet, etc.) or acoustic signals. Sensor 112 may in these embodiments detect whether the container 14 is present or removed due to changes in the time after emission that a signal is received or the strength of signal received (i.e. longer time or lower strength equals container 14 removed, shorter time or higher strength equals container 14 present).

Appliance 10 may further, in exemplary embodiments, include a controller 120. Controller 120 may for example, be configured to operate the appliance 10 based on, for example, user inputs to the appliance 10 (such as to a user interface thereof), inputs from various sensors disposed within the appliance 10, and/or other suitable inputs. Controller 120 may for example include one or more memory devices and one or more microprocessors, such as general or special purpose microprocessors operable to execute programming instructions or micro-control code associated with appliance 10 operation. 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.

In exemplary embodiments, controller 120 may be in operative communication with the sensor 112. Controller 120 may further be in operative communication with the bypass valve 100 and/or start capacitor 110. Controller 120 may further be in operative communication with the compressor 82. Controller 120 may further be in operative communication with the auger 60. Controller 120 may further be in operative communication with the pump 32. Such operative communications may be via wired or wireless connections, and may facilitate the transmittal and/or receipt of signals by the controller 120 and various components as discussed.

In exemplary embodiments, for example, controller 120 may be configured to operate the bypass valve 100 and/or start capacitor 110 based on signals from the sensor 112. For example, the controller 120 may move the bypass valve 100 between the first position and second position and/or activate and deactivate the start capacitor 110 based on signals from the sensor 112. In one embodiment, controller 120 may move the bypass valve 100 from the first position to the second position when the sensor 112 senses that the container 14 is removed. Controller 120 may then move the bypass valve 100 from the second position to the first position when the sensor 112 senses that the container 14, after removal, is replaced and thus present. Such movement may be immediate or after a predetermined delay time period. In another embodiment, controller 120 may activate the start capacitor 110 when the sensor 112 senses that the container 14, after removal, is replaced and thus present. Such movement may be immediate or after a predetermined delay time period.

Controller 120 may additionally be configured to operate the compressor 82 based on signals from the sensor 112. For example, the controller 120 may activate and deactivate the compressor 82 based on signals from the sensor 112. In one embodiment, controller 120 may deactivate the compressor 82 when the sensor 112 senses that the container 14 is removed. Controller 120 may then activate the compressor 82 when the sensor 112 senses that the container 14, after removal, is replaced and thus present. Such movement may be immediate or after a predetermined delay time period. Notably, activation of the compressor 82 after deactivation may correspond with activation of the start capacitor 110 and/or the bypass valve 100 being in the second position. For example, the start capacitor 110 may be activated at the same time as or before activation of the compressor 82. The bypass valve 100 may be held in the second position until after activation of the compressor 82, at which time the bypass valve 100 may be moved to the first position.

Controller 120 may additionally be configured to operate the auger 60 based on signals from the sensor 112. For example, the controller 120 may activate and deactivate the auger 60 based on signals from the sensor 112. In one embodiment, controller 120 may deactivate the auger 60 when the sensor 112 senses that the container 14 is removed. Controller 120 may then activate the auger 60 when the sensor 112 senses that the container 14, after removal, is replaced and thus present. Such movement may be immediate or after a predetermined delay time period. Notably, activation of the auger 60 after deactivation may correspond with activation of the compressor 82. For example, the auger 60 may be activated at the same time as, before, or after activation of the compressor 82.

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.