US20100313584A1 - Water conservation system for evaporative cooler - Google Patents

Water conservation system for evaporative cooler Download PDF

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US20100313584A1
US20100313584A1 US12/488,561 US48856109A US2010313584A1 US 20100313584 A1 US20100313584 A1 US 20100313584A1 US 48856109 A US48856109 A US 48856109A US 2010313584 A1 US2010313584 A1 US 2010313584A1
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evaporative cooler
pad
moisture
controller
cooler pad
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US12/488,561
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Kermit D. Lopez
Luis M. Ortiz
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Individual
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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F28HEAT EXCHANGE IN GENERAL
    • F28FDETAILS OF HEAT-EXCHANGE AND HEAT-TRANSFER APPARATUS, OF GENERAL APPLICATION
    • F28F27/00Control arrangements or safety devices specially adapted for heat-exchange or heat-transfer apparatus
    • F28F27/003Control arrangements or safety devices specially adapted for heat-exchange or heat-transfer apparatus specially adapted for cooling towers
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F1/00Room units for air-conditioning, e.g. separate or self-contained units or units receiving primary air from a central station
    • F24F1/0007Indoor units, e.g. fan coil units
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F1/00Room units for air-conditioning, e.g. separate or self-contained units or units receiving primary air from a central station
    • F24F1/0007Indoor units, e.g. fan coil units
    • F24F1/0043Indoor units, e.g. fan coil units characterised by mounting arrangements
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F5/00Air-conditioning systems or apparatus not covered by F24F1/00 or F24F3/00, e.g. using solar heat or combined with household units such as an oven or water heater
    • F24F5/0007Air-conditioning systems or apparatus not covered by F24F1/00 or F24F3/00, e.g. using solar heat or combined with household units such as an oven or water heater cooling apparatus specially adapted for use in air-conditioning
    • F24F5/0035Air-conditioning systems or apparatus not covered by F24F1/00 or F24F3/00, e.g. using solar heat or combined with household units such as an oven or water heater cooling apparatus specially adapted for use in air-conditioning using evaporation
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F6/00Air-humidification, e.g. cooling by humidification
    • F24F6/02Air-humidification, e.g. cooling by humidification by evaporation of water in the air
    • F24F6/04Air-humidification, e.g. cooling by humidification by evaporation of water in the air using stationary unheated wet elements
    • F24F6/043Air-humidification, e.g. cooling by humidification by evaporation of water in the air using stationary unheated wet elements with self-sucking action, e.g. wicks
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02BCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO BUILDINGS, e.g. HOUSING, HOUSE APPLIANCES OR RELATED END-USER APPLICATIONS
    • Y02B30/00Energy efficient heating, ventilation or air conditioning [HVAC]
    • Y02B30/54Free-cooling systems

Definitions

  • Embodiments are generally related to the field of evaporative coolers. Embodiments are also related to the conservation of water usage in evaporative coolers.
  • Evaporative coolers are well know and used in warm dry climates to both raise the humidity and cool the air.
  • Evaporative coolers also known as swamp coolers function by drawing air from outside through a media soaked with water. As the air flows through the soaked media water is evaporated by the outside air thereby lowering the temperature of the air. The cooled air is then directed into the area to be cooled.
  • An evaporative cooler includes a number of elements all of which are stored in a housing. These elements typically include an air blower; a media pad; a water distribution system; and an electric motor. Evaporative coolers need to be maintained on a periodic basis to replace the media pads and to clean the water distribution system.
  • Evaporative cooler systems are commonly used in warm areas having relatively low humidity to produce cool air for use to cool the interior of houses, businesses and other structures at a relatively low cost.
  • Such systems employ an evaporative cooler having a cabinet-like housing with one or more cooler pads located on the outer edge(s) of the housing.
  • the evaporative cooler housing is typically located on or near the structure to pull warm air into the cooler, cool the air and deliver it through one or more vents located in the structure to distribute cool air in the structure's interior. Cooling of the warm air is achieved by pulling warm air across the wetted cooler pad or pads with the use of a fan or blower mounted inside the housing.
  • a water circulation system including a pump, source of water and a water distribution mechanism located inside the housing supplies water to the cooler pad to keep it in a wetted condition so that it can effectively cool the warm incoming air by evaporation.
  • the typical evaporative cooler housing is made into a square or rectangular shaped open frame, although other shapes are also suitable, that is configured to demountably hold a cooler pad containment structure at the open faces of the housing frame.
  • the cooler pad containment structure contains the cooler pad in an upright position so that water from the water circulation system flows down across and through the cooler pad to wet substantially the entire absorbent media in the cooler pad.
  • the cooler pad is sized and configured to fit inside the containment structure so as to completely fill the open faces of the housing frame.
  • a water conservation system for an evaporative cooler which includes one or more sensor located proximate to one or more evaporative cooler pads of an evaporative cooler.
  • the sensor(s) detects moisture levels associated with the evaporative cooler pad.
  • a controller can be provided, which communicates with the sensor and a pump for delivering water to the evaporative cooler pad, wherein the controller automatically turns the pump on or off, depending upon a moisture level of the evaporative cooler pad detected by the sensor in order to conserve water during operations of the evaporative cooler.
  • the disclosed system may also utilize a processor that communicates with the controller and the sensor, wherein the processor processes instructions for monitoring moisture levels of the evaporative cooler pad by the sensor. Additionally, the disclosed system includes a memory for storing instructions for monitoring moisture levels of the evaporative cooler pad by the sensor.
  • a power source can also be provided for delivery of power to the sensor(s) and the controller and associated electronic components. Such a power source may be, for example, a solar power device.
  • a water conservation system for an evaporative cooler includes one or more probes located proximate to one or more evaporative cooler pads of an evaporative cooler.
  • the probe(s) detects resistance levels associated with the evaporative cooler pad.
  • a controller communicates with the probe(s) and a valve for delivering water to the evaporative cooler pad, wherein the controller automatically turns the valve on or off, depending upon a moisture level of the evaporative cooler pad detected by the probe(s) in order to conserve water during operations of the evaporative cooler.
  • a sensor(s) may be configured to measure the resistance through the pad between different probes points on the pad using a controller. If resistance is above a certain threshold, then the pump is turned on, if the resistance is below a threshold, then the pump remains off.
  • the controller can cause a valve associated with each pad to open and close depending on if the particular pad needs moisture or not. This will result in further water savings by not wetting pads that are already sufficiently moist (which would be the case where the sun in the late afternoon is mostly drying out one side of the evaporative cooler), while the side without direct sun remains moist.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an evaporative cooler, which can be utilized in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of the evaporative cooler depicted in FIG. 1 , in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a side view of a cooling pad and one or more sensors, which can be implemented in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram of system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a block diagram of system, in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a flow chart of operations depicting logical operational steps of a method that can be implemented in accordance with an embodiment
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a block diagram of a system, in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a block diagram of the solar power source depicted in FIG. 7 , in accordance with an alternative embodiment.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an evaporative cooler 10 , which can be utilized in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of the evaporative cooler 10 depicted in FIG. 1 , in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Note that in FIGS. 1-2 , identical or similar parts or elements are generally indicated by identical reference numerals.
  • the evaporative cooler 10 depicted in FIG. 1 generally includes a housing 12 that surrounds a motor 38 and one or more evaporative cooling pads 40 , 41 , etc. In the side view of evaporative cooler 10 depicted in FIGS. 2 , only two evaporative cooling pads 40 , 41 are shown.
  • housing 12 also surrounds and maintains a recirculation pump 32 and a pump screen 30 .
  • a duct 26 leads to a home, facility or other area requiring cooling. The duct connects with and enters the evaporative cooler 10 through the housing 12 . Additionally, the housing 12 protects and surrounds a float 28 located near a blower 42 .
  • a blower motor 42 drives belts 44 , which in turn assists in driving the blower 42 .
  • One or more water distribution lines 36 specifically lines 14 , 15 and 17 are generally maintained within housing 12 and connect to the recirculation pump 32 .
  • the blower 42 draws air into the evaporative cooler 10 as indicated by arrows 16 , 18 and 20 , 22 through the pads 40 , 41 .
  • the pads 40 , 41 , etc retain water supplied via lines 14 , 15 , 17 and so on. Cool air is forced out of the evaporative cooler 10 through the duct 26 to the home, facility or other area requiring cooling.
  • the cooling pads 40 , 41 may be formed from, for example excelsior (wood wool) (aspen wood fiber) inside a containment net, but materials, such as some plastics and melamine paper, may be used as cooler-pad media. Wood absorbs some of the water, which allows the wood fibers to cool passing air to a lower temperature than some synthetic materials. The thickness of the padding media plays a large part in cooling efficiency, allowing longer air contact. For example, an eight-inch-thick pad with its increased surface area will be more efficient than a one-inch pad.
  • the evaporative cooler 10 may utilize direct evaporation and the housing 12 may be formed as an enclosed metal or plastic box with vented sides containing a centrifugal fan or blower 42 , electric motor 38 with pulleys and the water pump 32 to wet the evaporative cooling pads 40 , 41 .
  • the units can be mounted on a roof (down draft, or down flow), or exterior walls or windows (side draft, or horizontal flow) of buildings.
  • the blower 42 draws ambient air through vents on the sides of evaporative cooler 10 and through the damp pads 40 , 41 . Heat in the air evaporates water from the pads 40 , 41 (and the other two pads not shown in FIG. 2 ), which are constantly re-dampened to continue the cooling process.
  • moist air is then delivered to the building via the vent or duct 26 in the roof or wall.
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a side view of a system 50 for monitoring and conserving water with respect to the evaporative cooler 10 depicted in FIGS. 1-2 , in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • System 50 can be configured for use with the evaporative cooler 10 in order to conserve water.
  • cooling pad 40 may be located proximate one or more sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 .
  • the sensors 52 , 45 , 56 , 58 are located at strategic locations at various locations proximate to and/or on the cooling pad 40 in order to detect a particular moisture threshold associated with water present in the cooling pad 40 .
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram of system 50 , in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • System 50 can be configured to include a sub-system 60 composed of a controller 61 , a microprocessor 62 , and a memory 64 .
  • the sub-system 60 may be implemented as, for example, a computer chip or other device containing at least the controller 61 , CPU (Central Processing Unit) 62 and the memory 64 .
  • the sub-system 60 can communicate electrically with the pump 32 of the evaporative cooler 10 .
  • the sub-system 60 also can communicate with the sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , and 58 via an electrical bus or other electrical connection 63 .
  • the sub-system 60 may be provided in the form of an integrated circuit chip, or components on a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) or even in the context of standalone components linked electronically to one another.
  • PCB Print Circuit Board
  • the controller 61 may be, for example, a microcontroller, essentially a small computer configured on an integrated circuit chip that in association with the CPU 62 and the memory 64 , depending upon design considerations. Such a chip may be equipped with support functions such as, for example, a crystal oscillator, timers, watchdog, serial and analog I/O etc. Program memory in the form of NOR flash or OTP ROM may also be included on the chip (e.g., sub-system 60 ), as well as memory 64 , which may be a small, read/write memory component.
  • the controller 61 thus functions as a microcontroller, in contrast to microprocessors used in, for example, personal computers and other high-performance applications.
  • sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , and 58 are depicted in FIG. 3 , it can be appreciated that fewer or more sensors may be utilized with respect to pad 40 , depending upon design considerations. For example, in some situations only a single sensor may be required. In other situations five or more sensors may be desired. The use of four sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , and 58 is thus discussed herein for general illustrative purposes only. It can be further appreciated that the system 50 can be configured for use with pad 41 and other pads associated with the evaporative cooler 40 .
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a block diagram of system 50 , in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.
  • the configuration of system 50 depicted in FIG. 5 is similar to that illustrated in FIG. 4 , the difference being that the sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 are each respectively associated with antennas 53 , 55 , 57 , 59 .
  • the sub-system 60 is associated with an antenna 51 .
  • the sub-system 60 can thus communicate wirelessly with sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 .
  • the sub-system 60 includes controller 61 , microprocessor 62 , and memory 64 .
  • the sub-system 60 can communicate electrically with the pump 32 of the evaporative cooler 10 .
  • the system 50 may be implemented as a low power wireless sensor network that use motes, which are wireless transceivers with well defined I/O and standard antenna connectors, integrated with micro sensors such as sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 . Motes communicate with each other to pass the sensor data to an access point such as sub-system 60 .
  • the antennas 51 , 53 , 55 , 57 , 59 may be any transducer capable of converting electrical into wireless broadcast signals.
  • transducers include antennas, such as those typically used in wireless radio frequency (RF) communications; electrical-optical converters, such as light emitting diodes, lasers, photodiodes; and acoustic devices, such as piezoelectric transducers.
  • RF radio frequency
  • each of the antennas 51 , 53 , 55 , 57 , 59 may implemented as a microstrip patch antenna.
  • Microstrip patch antennas are relatively small compared with other resonant antennas, such as dipole antennas, operating over the same frequency range. Microstrip patch antennas are also rugged, easily designed and fabricated and relatively inexpensive.
  • each of the antennas 51 , 53 , 55 , 57 , 59 may functions as transceivers or in association with separate transmitters and receivers, depending upon design considerations.
  • the pad 40 and other pads associated with the evaporative cooler 10 retain a certain amount of moisture and/or water even after the pump 32 is turned off.
  • the evaporative cooler 10 can continue to operate effectively for a particular amount of time after the pump 32 is turned off.
  • sensors such as sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 detect this “dryness” and the data collected by sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 is transmitted to the sub-system 60 , which then determines to turn the pump 32 back on and deliver water to the pad 40 and other pads associated with the evaporative cooler 10 .
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a flow chart of operations depicting logical operational steps of a method 600 that can be implemented in accordance with an embodiment.
  • a cooler pad(s) such as, for example, pad 40
  • sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 can be monitored by one or more sensors, such as, for example, sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 .
  • sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , 58 are discussed herein for general illustrative purposes, more or fewer sensors may be employed, depending upon design goals and considerations.
  • a test can be performed to determine if the moisture associated with the pad is above a particular moisture threshold. If the answer is “no” then the operation depicted at block 74 is repeated followed by the operation depicted at block 76 . Assuming the answer with respect to block 76 is “yes” then the operation illustrated at block 78 is processed, wherein the pump 32 is automatically turned off. A test can then be performed as indicated at block 80 to determine if the moisture associated with the pad has fallen below a particular moisture threshold. If the moisture has dropped below the threshold, then as indicated at block 82 , the pump is automatically turned back on. Thereafter, as indicated blocks 84 , 86 , the process may continue or terminate.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a block diagram of a system 70 , in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention.
  • System 50 can be configured to include a sub-system 60 composed of a controller 61 , a microprocessor 62 , and a memory 64 .
  • the sub-system 60 may be implemented as, for example, a computer chip or other device containing at least the controller 61 , CPU 62 and the memory 64 .
  • the sub-system 60 can communicate electrically with the pump 32 of the evaporative cooler 10 .
  • the sub-system 60 also can communicate with the sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , and 58 via an electrical bus or other electrical connection 63 .
  • sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , and 58 are depicted in FIG. 7 , it can be appreciated that fewer or more sensors may be utilized with respect to pad 40 , depending upon design considerations. For example, in some situations only a single sensor may be required. In other situations five or more sensors may be desired. The use of four sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , and 58 is thus discussed herein for general illustrative purposes only. It can be further appreciated that the system 50 can be configured for use with pad 41 and other pads associated with the evaporative cooler 40 .
  • a solar power source 72 may be utilized to provide power to the system 70 , or even just a portion of system 50 , depending upon design considerations.
  • system may be deployed on, for example, a rooftop in association with an evaporative cooler such as evaporative cooler 10 to monitor the moisture content of pads, such as pads 40 , 41 and other associated cooler pads.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a block diagram of the solar power source 72 depicted in FIG. 7 , in accordance with an alternative embodiment.
  • the solar power source 72 may include one or more solar cells such as solar cell 82 , which is electrically coupled to a battery 84 .
  • Solar cell 82 is generally a photovoltaic cell or device that converts light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect. Note that the term solar cell may refer to devices intended specifically to capture energy from sunlight, while the term photovoltaic cell may be used when the light source is unspecified.
  • the terms solar cell and photovoltaic cell as utilized herein may be utilized interchangeably.
  • Evaporative cooler 10 may be implemented as different embodiments.
  • direct evaporative cooler the blower forces air through a permeable, water-soaked pad. As the air passes through the pad, it is filtered, cooled, and humidified.
  • An indirect evaporative cooler has a secondary heat exchanger which prevents humidity from being added to the airstream which enters the home.
  • Evaporative coolers can be used as a sole cooling system in a home, as an alternative cooling system to a conventional refrigerant air conditioner, or in combination with a refrigeration system.
  • conventional air conditioners should not be operated simultaneously with direct evaporative coolers, because air conditioners dehumidify while evaporative coolers humidify, and the two systems will work in opposition.
  • Evaporative coolers are sized based on cubic feet per minute (cfm) of airflow. Airflow for evaporative coolers is typically higher than conventional air conditioning systems. Two to three cfm per square foot or three to four cfm per square foot in hot desert climates is typical. Improperly sized evaporative coolers will waste water and energy and may cause excess humidity or other comfort problems. Two-speed coolers are available that can handle varying cooling loads. Unlike air conditioned rooms, windows or ceiling vents need to be open when an evaporative cooling system is operating. The large volume of fresh air added to the home replaces a significant amount of air that exits from the home.
  • bleed-off valve that purges water about every six hours. This leads to an additional five gallons of water used per hour, but may be necessary to avoid mineral build-up. Bleed-off valves are generally recommended.
  • Indirect, or two-stage, evaporative coolers do not add humidity to the air, but cost more than direct coolers and operate at a lower efficiency.
  • Two stage evaporative coolers combine indirect with direct evaporative cooling. This is accomplished by passing air inside a heat exchanger that is cooled by evaporation on the outside. In the second stage, the pre-cooled air passes through a water-soaked pad and picks up humidity as it cools. Because the air supply to the second stage evaporator is pre-cooled, less humidity is added to the air, whose affinity for moisture is directly related to temperature. The result, according to one manufacturer, is cool air with a relative humidity between 50 and 70 percent, dependent on the regional climate. A traditional system would produce about 80 percent relative humidity air.
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a side view of a pad 40 equipped with one or more probes 93 , 95 , 97 , 99 , 101 , 103 , 105 , 107 , in accordance with an alternative embodiment.
  • FIG. 10 illustrates a block diagram of a system 90 , which may be implemented in accordance with an alternative embodiment. Note again that identical or similar references numerals utilized herein refer generally to identical or similar parts or elements. Thus, system 90 depicted in FIG. 10 includes the use of at least one evaporative cooler pad 40 with respect to the sub-system 60 described earlier and pump 32 in the context of an evaporative cooling system such as, for example, evaporative cooler 10 .
  • a number of probes 93 , 95 , 97 , 99 , 101 , 103 , 105 , 107 can be positioned on or in the pad 40 to measure resistance through the pad 40 via varying probe points on the pad 40 utilizing controller 61 of the sub-system 60 .
  • Probe 93 is located one side of the pad and probe 95 located on the opposite side of the pad, and so on. Resistance can be measured between, for example, probes 93 and 95 , probes 97 and 99 , and so forth. Likewise, resistance may be measured between probes 93 and 99 , 105 and 103 , and so forth. It can be appreciated that fewer or more probes may be utilized depending upon design considerations.
  • the sub-system 60 may be, for example, an integrated circuit chip or components located on a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) or may simply be composed of standalone components that communicate with one another electronically.
  • the pump 32 may be turned on. Likewise, if the resistance is below a particular threshold, then the pump 32 remains off.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates a block diagram of a system 110 , in accordance with an alternative embodiment.
  • the system 110 depicted in FIG. 11 is similar to that of system 90 depicted in FIG. 10 , with the exception that the system 110 operates primarily from the management of controller 61 .
  • the configuration depicted in FIG. 11 thus represents a simplified version of the design shown in FIG. 10 .
  • FIG. 12 illustrates a block diagram of a system 112 , in accordance with an alternative embodiment.
  • the system 112 can be configured as a variation to the other embodiments disclosed herein.
  • the controller 61 (alone or a part of sub-system 60 not shown in FIG. 12 ) can cause a valve 120 associated with pad 40 (e.g., each pad may be associated with its own valve or a single valve may be associated with all pads of, for example, evaporative cooler 10 ) to open or close depending on if the particular pad, such as pad 40 , needs moisture or not.
  • the controller 61 can function as a valve controller.
  • evaporative cooler 10 For example, four evaporative cooler pads are employed. Each pad may be associated with its own valve, which is connected to pump 32 for the delivery through each valve of water to the respective pads.
  • the sub-system 60 may be utilized in association with system 112 , and that system 112 may be driven by a solar power source such as, for example, solar power source 72 discussed earlier and/or can be modified with wireless capabilities such as that depicted in FIG. 5 .
  • FIG. 13 illustrates a flow chart of operations depicting a method 130 for water conservation with respect to evaporative cooler 10 based on a measured resistance threshold, in accordance with an alternative embodiment.
  • the process begins. Thereafter, as indicated at block 134 , the resistance of an evaporative cooler pad, such as, for example, pad 40 , utilizing controller 61 and pads 93 , 95 , 97 , 99 , 101 , 103 , 105 , 107 can be monitored.
  • a test may be performed to determine if the monitored resistance is above a particular threshold. If so, then as indicated at block 138 , the pump is turned on.
  • a test can be performed to determine if the resistance is below a particular threshold. If so, then as indicated at block 142 , the pump 32 is turned off. Thereafter, as illustrated at blocks 144 , 146 , the process may then end.
  • FIG. 14 illustrates a flow chart of operations depicting a method 140 for water conservation with respect to evaporative cooler 10 based on a measured resistance threshold, in accordance with an alternative embodiment.
  • the methodology disclosed in FIG. 14 is similar to that depicted in FIG. 13 , the difference being that one or more valves, such as, for example, valve 120 , or others, may be controlled via controller 61 .
  • the process begins.
  • the resistance of an evaporative cooler pad such as, for example, pad 40 ; utilizing controller 61 and pads 93 , 95 , 97 , 99 101 , 103 , 105 , 107 can be monitored.
  • a test may be performed to determine if the monitored resistance is above a particular threshold. If so, then as indicated at block 138 , a particular valve, such as, valve 120 may be turned on, and water delivered to the pad, such as pad 40 . Next, as indicated at block 140 , a test can be performed to determine if the resistance is below a particular threshold. If so, then as indicated at block 142 , the valve 120 is turned off. Thereafter, as illustrated at blocks 144 , 146 , the process may then end.
  • the methodology depicted in FIG. 14 instructs the controller 61 to cause the particular valves respectively associated with each pad to open or close depending on if the particular pad requires moisture or not. This will result in further water savings by not wetting pads that are already sufficiently moist (e.g., which would be the case where the sun in the late afternoon is mostly drying out one side of the evaporative cooler), while the side without direct sun remains moist.
  • evaporative cooler 10 An alternative version of evaporative cooler 10 is disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 7,100,906, entitled “Evaporative Cooler Water Distribution System,” which issued on Sep. 5, 2006 and is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • Another example of an evaporative cooler, which may be utilized as evaporative cooler 10 is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,014,174, entitled “Evaporative Cooling System,” which issued on Mar. 21, 2006 and is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • the cooling pads utilized in the evaporative coolers shown in U.S. Pat. No. 7,100,906 and U.S. Pat. No. 7,014,174 may be monitored for humidity/moisture utilizing the disclosed system and/or method.
  • a number of different types of humidity or moisture sensing devices and/or components may be utilized to implement the sensors disclosed herein.
  • One type of sensor, for example, that may be utilized as sensors 52 , 54 , 56 , and/or 58 is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,369,995, entitled “Humidity Sensor,” which issued on Dec. 6, 1994 and is incorporated herein by reference.
  • Another type of sensor that may be utilized, for example, as sensors 52 , 54 , 56 and/or 58 is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,615,654, entitled “Sensor Having Accelerated Moisture Formation Means,” which issued on Sep. 9, 2003 and is incorporated herein by reference.
  • sensors 52 , 54 , 56 and/or 58 A further example of a sensor that may be utilized as sensors 52 , 54 , 56 and/or 58 is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,129,713, entitled “Capacitive Sensor,” which issued on Oct. 31, 2006 and is incorporated herein by reference. It can be appreciated that these non-limiting types sensors represent merely examples of potential types of sensors that can be configured for use with the disclosed embodiments. Other types of sensors may function equally as well, depending upon design considerations.

Abstract

A water conservation system for an evaporative cooler includes one or more probes located proximate to one or more evaporative cooler pads of an evaporative cooler. The probe(s) can detect a resistance level, a humidity level, and or a moisture level associated with the evaporative cooler pad. A controller communicates with the probe(s) and a valve for delivering water to the evaporative cooler pad, wherein the controller automatically turns the valve on or off, depending upon the moisture, resistance and/or humidity detected by the probe(s) in order to conserve water during operations of the evaporative cooler. Sensors can thus be utilized to detect the moisture level, humidity and/or resistance of the pad(s) to control the operation of a water pump for the delivery of water to the pads(s).

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/187,622 filed on Jun. 16, 2009, entitled “Water Conservation System for Evaporative Cooler,” which is hereby incorporated by reference. The present application further claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/218,141 filed on Jun. 18, 2009, entitled “Water Conservation System for Evaporative Cooler,” which is hereby incorporated by reference.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • Embodiments are generally related to the field of evaporative coolers. Embodiments are also related to the conservation of water usage in evaporative coolers.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Evaporative coolers are well know and used in warm dry climates to both raise the humidity and cool the air. Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers function by drawing air from outside through a media soaked with water. As the air flows through the soaked media water is evaporated by the outside air thereby lowering the temperature of the air. The cooled air is then directed into the area to be cooled.
  • An evaporative cooler includes a number of elements all of which are stored in a housing. These elements typically include an air blower; a media pad; a water distribution system; and an electric motor. Evaporative coolers need to be maintained on a periodic basis to replace the media pads and to clean the water distribution system.
  • Evaporative cooler systems are commonly used in warm areas having relatively low humidity to produce cool air for use to cool the interior of houses, businesses and other structures at a relatively low cost. Such systems employ an evaporative cooler having a cabinet-like housing with one or more cooler pads located on the outer edge(s) of the housing. The evaporative cooler housing is typically located on or near the structure to pull warm air into the cooler, cool the air and deliver it through one or more vents located in the structure to distribute cool air in the structure's interior. Cooling of the warm air is achieved by pulling warm air across the wetted cooler pad or pads with the use of a fan or blower mounted inside the housing. A water circulation system including a pump, source of water and a water distribution mechanism located inside the housing supplies water to the cooler pad to keep it in a wetted condition so that it can effectively cool the warm incoming air by evaporation.
  • The typical evaporative cooler housing is made into a square or rectangular shaped open frame, although other shapes are also suitable, that is configured to demountably hold a cooler pad containment structure at the open faces of the housing frame. Typically, the cooler pad containment structure contains the cooler pad in an upright position so that water from the water circulation system flows down across and through the cooler pad to wet substantially the entire absorbent media in the cooler pad. In general, the cooler pad is sized and configured to fit inside the containment structure so as to completely fill the open faces of the housing frame.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY
  • The following summary is provided to facilitate an understanding of some of the innovative features unique to the embodiments disclosed and is not intended to be a full description. A full appreciation of the various aspects of the embodiments can be gained by taking the entire specification, claims, drawings, and abstract as a whole.
  • It is, therefore, one aspect of the present invention to provide for an improved evaporative cooler system and method thereof.
  • It is another aspect of the present invention to provide for a water conservation system for an evaporative cooler
  • It is further aspect of the present invention to provide for the use of one or more sensors for monitoring the moisture and/or humidity content of evaporative cooling pads for water conservation thereof.
  • It is yet a further aspect of the present invention to provide for the use of probes for measuring the resistance of evaporative cooling pads for water conservation thereof.
  • The aforementioned aspects and other objectives and advantages can now be achieved as described herein. A water conservation system for an evaporative cooler is disclosed, which includes one or more sensor located proximate to one or more evaporative cooler pads of an evaporative cooler. The sensor(s) detects moisture levels associated with the evaporative cooler pad. A controller can be provided, which communicates with the sensor and a pump for delivering water to the evaporative cooler pad, wherein the controller automatically turns the pump on or off, depending upon a moisture level of the evaporative cooler pad detected by the sensor in order to conserve water during operations of the evaporative cooler. The disclosed system may also utilize a processor that communicates with the controller and the sensor, wherein the processor processes instructions for monitoring moisture levels of the evaporative cooler pad by the sensor. Additionally, the disclosed system includes a memory for storing instructions for monitoring moisture levels of the evaporative cooler pad by the sensor. A power source can also be provided for delivery of power to the sensor(s) and the controller and associated electronic components. Such a power source may be, for example, a solar power device.
  • Additionally, a water conservation system for an evaporative cooler includes one or more probes located proximate to one or more evaporative cooler pads of an evaporative cooler. The probe(s) detects resistance levels associated with the evaporative cooler pad. A controller communicates with the probe(s) and a valve for delivering water to the evaporative cooler pad, wherein the controller automatically turns the valve on or off, depending upon a moisture level of the evaporative cooler pad detected by the probe(s) in order to conserve water during operations of the evaporative cooler.
  • Thus, a sensor(s) may be configured to measure the resistance through the pad between different probes points on the pad using a controller. If resistance is above a certain threshold, then the pump is turned on, if the resistance is below a threshold, then the pump remains off. Another aspect is that the controller can cause a valve associated with each pad to open and close depending on if the particular pad needs moisture or not. This will result in further water savings by not wetting pads that are already sufficiently moist (which would be the case where the sun in the late afternoon is mostly drying out one side of the evaporative cooler), while the side without direct sun remains moist.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying figures, in which like reference numerals refer to identical or functionally-similar elements throughout the separate views and which are incorporated in and form a part of the specification, further illustrate the embodiments and, together with the detailed description, serve to explain the embodiments disclosed herein.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an evaporative cooler, which can be utilized in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of the evaporative cooler depicted in FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a side view of a cooling pad and one or more sensors, which can be implemented in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram of system, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a block diagram of system, in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a flow chart of operations depicting logical operational steps of a method that can be implemented in accordance with an embodiment;
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a block diagram of a system, in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a block diagram of the solar power source depicted in FIG. 7, in accordance with an alternative embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The particular values and configurations discussed in these non-limiting examples can be varied and are cited merely to illustrate at least one embodiment and are not intended to limit the scope thereof.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an evaporative cooler 10, which can be utilized in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of the evaporative cooler 10 depicted in FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. Note that in FIGS. 1-2, identical or similar parts or elements are generally indicated by identical reference numerals. The evaporative cooler 10 depicted in FIG. 1 generally includes a housing 12 that surrounds a motor 38 and one or more evaporative cooling pads 40, 41, etc. In the side view of evaporative cooler 10 depicted in FIGS. 2, only two evaporative cooling pads 40, 41 are shown.
  • It can be appreciated that at least two other evaporative cooling pads are utilized in association with the box-shaped or rectangular-shaped evaporative cooler 10 for a total of four cooling pads. Housing 12 also surrounds and maintains a recirculation pump 32 and a pump screen 30. A duct 26 leads to a home, facility or other area requiring cooling. The duct connects with and enters the evaporative cooler 10 through the housing 12. Additionally, the housing 12 protects and surrounds a float 28 located near a blower 42.
  • A blower motor 42 drives belts 44, which in turn assists in driving the blower 42. One or more water distribution lines 36, specifically lines 14, 15 and 17 are generally maintained within housing 12 and connect to the recirculation pump 32. The blower 42 draws air into the evaporative cooler 10 as indicated by arrows 16, 18 and 20, 22 through the pads 40, 41. The pads 40, 41, etc retain water supplied via lines 14, 15, 17 and so on. Cool air is forced out of the evaporative cooler 10 through the duct 26 to the home, facility or other area requiring cooling.
  • The cooling pads 40, 41 may be formed from, for example excelsior (wood wool) (aspen wood fiber) inside a containment net, but materials, such as some plastics and melamine paper, may be used as cooler-pad media. Wood absorbs some of the water, which allows the wood fibers to cool passing air to a lower temperature than some synthetic materials. The thickness of the padding media plays a large part in cooling efficiency, allowing longer air contact. For example, an eight-inch-thick pad with its increased surface area will be more efficient than a one-inch pad.
  • In the context of residential and industrial evaporative cooling, the evaporative cooler 10 may utilize direct evaporation and the housing 12 may be formed as an enclosed metal or plastic box with vented sides containing a centrifugal fan or blower 42, electric motor 38 with pulleys and the water pump 32 to wet the evaporative cooling pads 40, 41. The units can be mounted on a roof (down draft, or down flow), or exterior walls or windows (side draft, or horizontal flow) of buildings. To cool, the blower 42 draws ambient air through vents on the sides of evaporative cooler 10 and through the damp pads 40, 41. Heat in the air evaporates water from the pads 40, 41 (and the other two pads not shown in FIG. 2), which are constantly re-dampened to continue the cooling process. Thus cooled, moist air is then delivered to the building via the vent or duct 26 in the roof or wall.
  • Because the cooling air originates outside the building upon which the evaporative cooler 10 is located, one or more large vents must exist to allow air to move from inside to outside. Air should only be allowed to pass once through the evaporative cooler 10, or the cooling effect will decrease. This is due to the air reaching the saturation point. Often 15 or so air changes per hour (ACHS) occur in spaces served by evaporative coolers.
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a side view of a system 50 for monitoring and conserving water with respect to the evaporative cooler 10 depicted in FIGS. 1-2, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. System 50 can be configured for use with the evaporative cooler 10 in order to conserve water. As indicated in FIG. 3, cooling pad 40 may be located proximate one or more sensors 52, 54, 56, 58. The sensors 52, 45, 56, 58 are located at strategic locations at various locations proximate to and/or on the cooling pad 40 in order to detect a particular moisture threshold associated with water present in the cooling pad 40.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram of system 50, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. System 50 can be configured to include a sub-system 60 composed of a controller 61, a microprocessor 62, and a memory 64. The sub-system 60 may be implemented as, for example, a computer chip or other device containing at least the controller 61, CPU (Central Processing Unit) 62 and the memory 64. The sub-system 60 can communicate electrically with the pump 32 of the evaporative cooler 10. The sub-system 60 also can communicate with the sensors 52, 54, 56, and 58 via an electrical bus or other electrical connection 63. The sub-system 60 may be provided in the form of an integrated circuit chip, or components on a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) or even in the context of standalone components linked electronically to one another.
  • The controller 61, may be, for example, a microcontroller, essentially a small computer configured on an integrated circuit chip that in association with the CPU 62 and the memory 64, depending upon design considerations. Such a chip may be equipped with support functions such as, for example, a crystal oscillator, timers, watchdog, serial and analog I/O etc. Program memory in the form of NOR flash or OTP ROM may also be included on the chip (e.g., sub-system 60), as well as memory 64, which may be a small, read/write memory component. The controller 61 thus functions as a microcontroller, in contrast to microprocessors used in, for example, personal computers and other high-performance applications.
  • Note that although four sensors 52, 54, 56, and 58 are depicted in FIG. 3, it can be appreciated that fewer or more sensors may be utilized with respect to pad 40, depending upon design considerations. For example, in some situations only a single sensor may be required. In other situations five or more sensors may be desired. The use of four sensors 52, 54, 56, and 58 is thus discussed herein for general illustrative purposes only. It can be further appreciated that the system 50 can be configured for use with pad 41 and other pads associated with the evaporative cooler 40.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a block diagram of system 50, in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention. The configuration of system 50 depicted in FIG. 5 is similar to that illustrated in FIG. 4, the difference being that the sensors 52, 54, 56, 58 are each respectively associated with antennas 53, 55, 57, 59. The sub-system 60 is associated with an antenna 51. The sub-system 60 can thus communicate wirelessly with sensors 52, 54, 56, 58. The sub-system 60 includes controller 61, microprocessor 62, and memory 64. The sub-system 60 can communicate electrically with the pump 32 of the evaporative cooler 10.
  • In the alternative embodiment depicted in FIG. 5, the system 50 may be implemented as a low power wireless sensor network that use motes, which are wireless transceivers with well defined I/O and standard antenna connectors, integrated with micro sensors such as sensors 52, 54, 56, 58. Motes communicate with each other to pass the sensor data to an access point such as sub-system 60. In general, the antennas 51, 53, 55, 57, 59 may be any transducer capable of converting electrical into wireless broadcast signals. Examples of transducers include antennas, such as those typically used in wireless radio frequency (RF) communications; electrical-optical converters, such as light emitting diodes, lasers, photodiodes; and acoustic devices, such as piezoelectric transducers.
  • In a particular embodiment, each of the antennas 51, 53, 55, 57, 59 may implemented as a microstrip patch antenna. Microstrip patch antennas are relatively small compared with other resonant antennas, such as dipole antennas, operating over the same frequency range. Microstrip patch antennas are also rugged, easily designed and fabricated and relatively inexpensive. In other embodiments, each of the antennas 51, 53, 55, 57, 59 may functions as transceivers or in association with separate transmitters and receivers, depending upon design considerations.
  • In the configurations depicted in FIGS. 3-5, when a particular moisture (or humidity) threshold is attained, instructions stored in memory 64 are processed by the CPU 62 and sent to the controller 61 to turn the pump 32 on or off, depending upon the threshold value. The sensors 52, 54, 56, 58 monitor the amount of water in the pad 40. Assuming the pump 40 is operating and delivering water to the pad 40, if the sensors 52, 54, 56, 58 detect a particular amount of water in the pad 40 above a particular threshold value, then the controller 61 turns the pump 32 off. When the moisture level in pad 40 detected by sensors 52, 54, 56, 58 drops below the particular threshold value, the controller 61 is instructed to turn the pump 32 back on. In this manner, water usage with respect to the evaporative cooler 10 is conserved.
  • The pad 40 and other pads associated with the evaporative cooler 10 retain a certain amount of moisture and/or water even after the pump 32 is turned off. The evaporative cooler 10 can continue to operate effectively for a particular amount of time after the pump 32 is turned off. When the pads become too dry, sensors such as sensors 52, 54, 56, 58 detect this “dryness” and the data collected by sensors 52, 54, 56, 58 is transmitted to the sub-system 60, which then determines to turn the pump 32 back on and deliver water to the pad 40 and other pads associated with the evaporative cooler 10.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a flow chart of operations depicting logical operational steps of a method 600 that can be implemented in accordance with an embodiment. As indicated at block 602, the process begins. Next, as indicated at block 604, a cooler pad(s), such as, for example, pad 40, can be monitored by one or more sensors, such as, for example, sensors 52, 54, 56, 58. Note that although four sensors 52, 54, 56, 58 are discussed herein for general illustrative purposes, more or fewer sensors may be employed, depending upon design goals and considerations.
  • Thereafter, as illustrated at block 76, a test can be performed to determine if the moisture associated with the pad is above a particular moisture threshold. If the answer is “no” then the operation depicted at block 74 is repeated followed by the operation depicted at block 76. Assuming the answer with respect to block 76 is “yes” then the operation illustrated at block 78 is processed, wherein the pump 32 is automatically turned off. A test can then be performed as indicated at block 80 to determine if the moisture associated with the pad has fallen below a particular moisture threshold. If the moisture has dropped below the threshold, then as indicated at block 82, the pump is automatically turned back on. Thereafter, as indicated blocks 84, 86, the process may continue or terminate.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a block diagram of a system 70, in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention. Note that as indicated earlier, identical or similar parts or elements are generally indicated by identical reference numerals. System 50 can be configured to include a sub-system 60 composed of a controller 61, a microprocessor 62, and a memory 64. The sub-system 60 may be implemented as, for example, a computer chip or other device containing at least the controller 61, CPU 62 and the memory 64. The sub-system 60 can communicate electrically with the pump 32 of the evaporative cooler 10. The sub-system 60 also can communicate with the sensors 52, 54, 56, and 58 via an electrical bus or other electrical connection 63.
  • Note that although four sensors 52, 54, 56, and 58 are depicted in FIG. 7, it can be appreciated that fewer or more sensors may be utilized with respect to pad 40, depending upon design considerations. For example, in some situations only a single sensor may be required. In other situations five or more sensors may be desired. The use of four sensors 52, 54, 56, and 58 is thus discussed herein for general illustrative purposes only. It can be further appreciated that the system 50 can be configured for use with pad 41 and other pads associated with the evaporative cooler 40.
  • In the alternative embodiment depicted in FIG. 7, a solar power source 72 may be utilized to provide power to the system 70, or even just a portion of system 50, depending upon design considerations. In this manner, system may be deployed on, for example, a rooftop in association with an evaporative cooler such as evaporative cooler 10 to monitor the moisture content of pads, such as pads 40, 41 and other associated cooler pads.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a block diagram of the solar power source 72 depicted in FIG. 7, in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The solar power source 72 may include one or more solar cells such as solar cell 82, which is electrically coupled to a battery 84. Solar cell 82 is generally a photovoltaic cell or device that converts light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect. Note that the term solar cell may refer to devices intended specifically to capture energy from sunlight, while the term photovoltaic cell may be used when the light source is unspecified. The terms solar cell and photovoltaic cell as utilized herein may be utilized interchangeably.
  • Note that the disclosed systems and method may be utilized with different types of evaporative coolers. Evaporative cooler 10, for example, may be implemented as different embodiments. There are two types of evaporative coolers: direct and indirect (all called two-stage). In a direct evaporative cooler, the blower forces air through a permeable, water-soaked pad. As the air passes through the pad, it is filtered, cooled, and humidified. An indirect evaporative cooler has a secondary heat exchanger which prevents humidity from being added to the airstream which enters the home. Evaporative coolers can be used as a sole cooling system in a home, as an alternative cooling system to a conventional refrigerant air conditioner, or in combination with a refrigeration system. However, conventional air conditioners should not be operated simultaneously with direct evaporative coolers, because air conditioners dehumidify while evaporative coolers humidify, and the two systems will work in opposition.
  • Evaporative coolers are sized based on cubic feet per minute (cfm) of airflow. Airflow for evaporative coolers is typically higher than conventional air conditioning systems. Two to three cfm per square foot or three to four cfm per square foot in hot desert climates is typical. Improperly sized evaporative coolers will waste water and energy and may cause excess humidity or other comfort problems. Two-speed coolers are available that can handle varying cooling loads. Unlike air conditioned rooms, windows or ceiling vents need to be open when an evaporative cooling system is operating. The large volume of fresh air added to the home replaces a significant amount of air that exits from the home.
  • Many systems incorporate bleed-off valve that purges water about every six hours. This leads to an additional five gallons of water used per hour, but may be necessary to avoid mineral build-up. Bleed-off valves are generally recommended.
  • Indirect, or two-stage, evaporative coolers do not add humidity to the air, but cost more than direct coolers and operate at a lower efficiency. Two stage evaporative coolers combine indirect with direct evaporative cooling. This is accomplished by passing air inside a heat exchanger that is cooled by evaporation on the outside. In the second stage, the pre-cooled air passes through a water-soaked pad and picks up humidity as it cools. Because the air supply to the second stage evaporator is pre-cooled, less humidity is added to the air, whose affinity for moisture is directly related to temperature. The result, according to one manufacturer, is cool air with a relative humidity between 50 and 70 percent, dependent on the regional climate. A traditional system would produce about 80 percent relative humidity air.
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a side view of a pad 40 equipped with one or more probes 93, 95, 97, 99, 101, 103, 105, 107, in accordance with an alternative embodiment. FIG. 10 illustrates a block diagram of a system 90, which may be implemented in accordance with an alternative embodiment. Note again that identical or similar references numerals utilized herein refer generally to identical or similar parts or elements. Thus, system 90 depicted in FIG. 10 includes the use of at least one evaporative cooler pad 40 with respect to the sub-system 60 described earlier and pump 32 in the context of an evaporative cooling system such as, for example, evaporative cooler 10.
  • A number of probes 93, 95, 97, 99, 101, 103, 105, 107 can be positioned on or in the pad 40 to measure resistance through the pad 40 via varying probe points on the pad 40 utilizing controller 61 of the sub-system 60. Probe 93 is located one side of the pad and probe 95 located on the opposite side of the pad, and so on. Resistance can be measured between, for example, probes 93 and 95, probes 97 and 99, and so forth. Likewise, resistance may be measured between probes 93 and 99, 105 and 103, and so forth. It can be appreciated that fewer or more probes may be utilized depending upon design considerations. In some instances, for example, only two probes may be needed depending on the size of the pad, wherein one probe is located one side of the pad and the other probe is located on the opposite side of the pad. Note that the sub-system 60 may be, for example, an integrated circuit chip or components located on a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) or may simply be composed of standalone components that communicate with one another electronically. In the configuration depicted in FIGS. 9-10, if resistance is above a certain threshold, then the pump 32 may be turned on. Likewise, if the resistance is below a particular threshold, then the pump 32 remains off.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates a block diagram of a system 110, in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The system 110 depicted in FIG. 11 is similar to that of system 90 depicted in FIG. 10, with the exception that the system 110 operates primarily from the management of controller 61. The configuration depicted in FIG. 11 thus represents a simplified version of the design shown in FIG. 10.
  • FIG. 12 illustrates a block diagram of a system 112, in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The system 112 can be configured as a variation to the other embodiments disclosed herein. In the configuration shown in FIG. 12, the controller 61 (alone or a part of sub-system 60 not shown in FIG. 12) can cause a valve 120 associated with pad 40 (e.g., each pad may be associated with its own valve or a single valve may be associated with all pads of, for example, evaporative cooler 10) to open or close depending on if the particular pad, such as pad 40, needs moisture or not. In this context, the controller 61 can function as a valve controller. This will result in further water savings by not wetting pads that are already sufficiently moist, which would be the case, for example, where the sun in the late afternoon is mostly drying out one side of the evaporative cooler 10, while the side without direct sun remains moist. In a typical evaporative cooler, such as evaporative cooler 10, for example, four evaporative cooler pads are employed. Each pad may be associated with its own valve, which is connected to pump 32 for the delivery through each valve of water to the respective pads. It can be appreciated that the sub-system 60 may be utilized in association with system 112, and that system 112 may be driven by a solar power source such as, for example, solar power source 72 discussed earlier and/or can be modified with wireless capabilities such as that depicted in FIG. 5.
  • FIG. 13 illustrates a flow chart of operations depicting a method 130 for water conservation with respect to evaporative cooler 10 based on a measured resistance threshold, in accordance with an alternative embodiment. As indicated at block 132, the process begins. Thereafter, as indicated at block 134, the resistance of an evaporative cooler pad, such as, for example, pad 40, utilizing controller 61 and pads 93, 95, 97, 99, 101, 103, 105, 107 can be monitored. Next, as illustrated at block 136, a test may be performed to determine if the monitored resistance is above a particular threshold. If so, then as indicated at block 138, the pump is turned on. Next, as indicated at block 140, a test can be performed to determine if the resistance is below a particular threshold. If so, then as indicated at block 142, the pump 32 is turned off. Thereafter, as illustrated at blocks 144, 146, the process may then end.
  • FIG. 14 illustrates a flow chart of operations depicting a method 140 for water conservation with respect to evaporative cooler 10 based on a measured resistance threshold, in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The methodology disclosed in FIG. 14 is similar to that depicted in FIG. 13, the difference being that one or more valves, such as, for example, valve 120, or others, may be controlled via controller 61. As indicated at block 132, the process begins. Thereafter, as indicated at block 134, the resistance of an evaporative cooler pad, such as, for example, pad 40; utilizing controller 61 and pads 93, 95, 97, 99 101, 103, 105, 107 can be monitored. Next, as illustrated at block 136, a test may be performed to determine if the monitored resistance is above a particular threshold. If so, then as indicated at block 138, a particular valve, such as, valve 120 may be turned on, and water delivered to the pad, such as pad 40. Next, as indicated at block 140, a test can be performed to determine if the resistance is below a particular threshold. If so, then as indicated at block 142, the valve 120 is turned off. Thereafter, as illustrated at blocks 144, 146, the process may then end. Thus, the methodology depicted in FIG. 14 instructs the controller 61 to cause the particular valves respectively associated with each pad to open or close depending on if the particular pad requires moisture or not. This will result in further water savings by not wetting pads that are already sufficiently moist (e.g., which would be the case where the sun in the late afternoon is mostly drying out one side of the evaporative cooler), while the side without direct sun remains moist.
  • An alternative version of evaporative cooler 10 is disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 7,100,906, entitled “Evaporative Cooler Water Distribution System,” which issued on Sep. 5, 2006 and is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. Another example of an evaporative cooler, which may be utilized as evaporative cooler 10, is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,014,174, entitled “Evaporative Cooling System,” which issued on Mar. 21, 2006 and is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. The cooling pads utilized in the evaporative coolers shown in U.S. Pat. No. 7,100,906 and U.S. Pat. No. 7,014,174 may be monitored for humidity/moisture utilizing the disclosed system and/or method.
  • A number of different types of humidity or moisture sensing devices and/or components may be utilized to implement the sensors disclosed herein. One type of sensor, for example, that may be utilized as sensors 52, 54, 56, and/or 58 is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,369,995, entitled “Humidity Sensor,” which issued on Dec. 6, 1994 and is incorporated herein by reference. Another type of sensor that may be utilized, for example, as sensors 52, 54, 56 and/or 58 is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,615,654, entitled “Sensor Having Accelerated Moisture Formation Means,” which issued on Sep. 9, 2003 and is incorporated herein by reference. A further example of a sensor that may be utilized as sensors 52, 54, 56 and/or 58 is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,129,713, entitled “Capacitive Sensor,” which issued on Oct. 31, 2006 and is incorporated herein by reference. It can be appreciated that these non-limiting types sensors represent merely examples of potential types of sensors that can be configured for use with the disclosed embodiments. Other types of sensors may function equally as well, depending upon design considerations.
  • With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, to include variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention.
  • Additionally, it will also be appreciated that variations of the above-disclosed and other features and functions, or alternatives thereof, may be desirably combined into many other different systems or applications. Also that various presently unforeseen or unanticipated alternatives, modifications, variations or improvements therein may be subsequently made by those skilled in the art which are also intended to be encompassed by the following claims.

Claims (20)

1. A water conservation system for an evaporative cooler, said system comprising:
at least one probe located proximate to an evaporative cooler pad of an evaporative cooler, wherein said probe detects at least one of: resistance associated with moisture of said evaporative cooler pad, moisture of said evaporative cooler pad, and humidity within said evaporative cooler pad; and
a controller that communicates with said at least one probe and a valve for delivering water to said evaporative cooler pad, wherein said controller automatically turns said valve on or off, depending upon a particular resistance threshold of said evaporative cooler pad detected by said sensor in order to conserve water during operations of said evaporative cooler.
2. The system of claim 1 further comprising a processor that communicates with said controller, wherein said processor processes instructions for monitoring said resistance of said evaporative cooler pad between at least two probes.
3. The system of claim 2 further comprising a memory for storing instructions for monitoring said resistance of said evaporative cooler pad by said at least two probes.
4. The system of claim 1 further comprising a power source for delivering power to said controller and associated electronic components.
5. The system of claim 1 wherein said power source comprises a solar power device.
6. A water conservation system for an evaporative cooler, said system comprising:
a moisture sensor located proximate to an evaporative cooler pad of an evaporative cooler, wherein said moisture sensor detects moisture levels associated with said evaporative cooler pad; and
a controller that communicates with said moisture sensor and a pump for delivering water to said evaporative cooler pad, wherein said controller automatically turns said pump on or off, depending upon a moisture level of said evaporative cooler pad detected by said moisture sensor in order to conserve water during operations of said evaporative cooler.
7. The system of claim 6 further comprising a processor that communicates with said controller and said moisture sensor, wherein said processor processes instructions for monitoring moisture levels of said evaporative cooler pad by said moisture sensor.
8. The system of claim 7 further comprising a memory for storing instructions for monitoring moisture levels of said evaporative cooler pad by said moisture sensor.
9. The system of claim 6 further comprising a power source for delivering power to said moisture sensor and said controller and associated electronic components.
10. The system of claim 6 wherein said power source comprises a solar power device.
11. The system of claim 6 wherein said moisture sensor includes at least one probe located proximate to an evaporative cooler pad of an evaporative cooler, wherein said probe detects at least one of: resistance associated with moisture of said evaporative cooler pad, moisture of said evaporative cooler pad, and humidity within said evaporative cooler pad.
12. The system of claim 6 further comprising a processor that communicates with said controller, wherein said processor processes instructions for monitoring said resistance of said evaporative cooler pad between at least two probes.
13. The system of claim 12 further comprising a memory for storing instructions for monitoring said resistance of said evaporative cooler pad by said at least two probes.
14. The system of claim 10 further comprising a power source for delivering power to said controller and associated electronic components.
15. The system of claim 10 wherein said power source comprises a solar power device.
16. The system of claim 11 further comprising a power source for delivering power to said controller and associated electronic components.
17. The system of claim 11 wherein said power source comprises a solar power device.
18. An evaporative cooler system, comprising:
at least two probes located on an evaporative cooler pad of an evaporative cooler, wherein said at least two probes detect at least one of: a resistance between said at least two probes, a moisture of said evaporative cooler pad, and a humidity within said evaporative cooler pad; and
a controller that communicates with said at least one probe and a valve for delivering water to said evaporative cooler pad, wherein said controller automatically turns said valve on or off, depending upon a particular resistance threshold of said evaporative cooler pad detected by said sensor and/or said moisture of said evaporative cooler pad, and/or said humidity within said evaporative cooler pad detected by said at least two probes, thereby conserving water during operations of said evaporative cooler.
19. The system of claim 18 further comprising:
a processor that communicates with said controller, wherein said processor processes instructions for monitoring said resistance of said evaporative cooler pad between at least two probes and/or said moisture and/or said humidity; and
a memory for storing instructions for monitoring said resistance of said evaporative cooler pad and/or said moisture and/or said humidity by said at least two probes.
20. An evaporative cooler system, comprising:
at least two probes located on an evaporative cooler pad of an evaporative cooler, wherein said at least two probes detect a resistance between said at least two probes associated with said evaporative cooler pad; and
a controller that communicates with said at least one probe and a valve for delivering water to said evaporative cooler pad;
a processor that communicates with said controller, wherein said processor processes instructions for monitoring said resistance of said evaporative cooler pad between at least two probes;
a memory for storing instructions for monitoring said resistance of said evaporative cooler pad by said at least two probes, wherein said controller automatically turns said valve on or off, depending upon a particular resistance threshold of said evaporative cooler pad detected by said sensor in order to conserve water during operations of said evaporative cooler.
US12/488,561 2009-06-16 2009-06-21 Water conservation system for evaporative cooler Abandoned US20100313584A1 (en)

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JP2014137201A (en) * 2013-01-18 2014-07-28 Mitsubishi Electric Corp Humidifier
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US10864346B2 (en) 2015-03-05 2020-12-15 ResMed Pty Ltd Humidifier for a respiratory therapy device
EP3936811A1 (en) * 2020-07-07 2022-01-12 Yokogawa Electric Corporation Monitoring apparatus, non-transitory computer readable medium, and monitoring method
US20220236011A1 (en) * 2020-04-13 2022-07-28 Anthony Staniulis, Jr. Indirect-direct evaporative cooling and direct evaporative cooling units and method of controlling

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JP2014137201A (en) * 2013-01-18 2014-07-28 Mitsubishi Electric Corp Humidifier
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EP3936811A1 (en) * 2020-07-07 2022-01-12 Yokogawa Electric Corporation Monitoring apparatus, non-transitory computer readable medium, and monitoring method

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