US20150204571A1 - Ventilation Control System and Method - Google Patents

Ventilation Control System and Method Download PDF

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Publication number
US20150204571A1
US20150204571A1 US14/161,272 US201414161272A US2015204571A1 US 20150204571 A1 US20150204571 A1 US 20150204571A1 US 201414161272 A US201414161272 A US 201414161272A US 2015204571 A1 US2015204571 A1 US 2015204571A1
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US
United States
Prior art keywords
air
damper
conditioning system
method
accordance
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US14/161,272
Inventor
Craig Messmer
Phillip G. Langhorst
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Unico Inc
Original Assignee
Unico Inc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Unico Inc filed Critical Unico Inc
Priority to US14/161,272 priority Critical patent/US20150204571A1/en
Assigned to UNICO, INC. reassignment UNICO, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: LANGHORST, PHILLIP G., MESSMER, CRAIG
Publication of US20150204571A1 publication Critical patent/US20150204571A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • F24F11/047
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F13/00Details common to, or for air-conditioning, air-humidification, ventilation or use of air currents for screening
    • F24F13/08Air-flow control members, e.g. louvres, grilles, flaps or guide plates
    • F24F13/10Air-flow control members, e.g. louvres, grilles, flaps or guide plates movable, e.g. dampers
    • F24F11/006
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/30Control or safety arrangements for purposes related to the operation of the system, e.g. for safety or monitoring
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/62Control or safety arrangements characterised by the type of control or by internal processing, e.g. using fuzzy logic, adaptive control or estimation of values
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/70Control systems characterised by their outputs; Constructional details thereof
    • F24F11/72Control systems characterised by their outputs; Constructional details thereof for controlling the supply of treated air, e.g. its pressure
    • F24F11/74Control systems characterised by their outputs; Constructional details thereof for controlling the supply of treated air, e.g. its pressure for controlling air flow rate or air velocity
    • F24F11/75Control systems characterised by their outputs; Constructional details thereof for controlling the supply of treated air, e.g. its pressure for controlling air flow rate or air velocity for maintaining constant air flow rate or air velocity
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F11/00Control or safety arrangements
    • F24F11/30Control or safety arrangements for purposes related to the operation of the system, e.g. for safety or monitoring
    • F24F11/46Improving electric energy efficiency or saving
    • F24F2011/0075

Abstract

An air-conditioning system comprises a fan and a ventilation damper for drawing fresh air into a living space. The damper is able to open and close. The air-conditioning system is adapted and configured to store data indicative of air flow output of the fan over time, and to close the damper based on said data.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • Not applicable.
  • STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
  • Not applicable.
  • APPENDIX
  • Not applicable.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention pertains to air-conditioning systems and methods of operating air-conditioning systems. More specifically, the invention pertains to an air-conditioning system that is configured to adjust the duration and timing of opening and closing a ventilation damper so as to maximize the efficiency and/or comfort provided by said air-conditioning system. Preferably the air-conditioning system can operate in at least two modes of operation that include an energy savings mode and a maximum comfort mode.
  • 2. General Background
  • Modern homes and buildings have increasingly been made more weather tight so as to minimize the energy required to condition the air within such structures. However, such improvements have led to the need to forcibly ventilate such structures to avoid the depletion of oxygen and/or buildup of carbon dioxide and other contaminants within the living spaces of the structures. To this end, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has established standards for the amount of fresh air that should be drawn into a structure to maintain sufficient levels of oxygen and avoid buildup of carbon dioxide. The standards take into account the volume or floor space, the quantity of bedrooms, and the number of occupants of such structures. More specifically, ASHRAE 62.2 sets forth the amount of fresh air that must be drawn into a residential structure as a function of how frequently said air is drawn in. Under that standard, if one sixth or more of the required daily fresh air ventilation is brought into a structure every four hour period, only a minimum amount of fresh air is required to be brought in. Conversely, if the structure is ventilated less often than every four hours, more fresh air per day is required to be brought in than would otherwise be required. Thus, if a structure is not ventilated continuously, it is advantageous to ventilate the structure at least once every four hours. That being said, ventilating a structure has disadvantages. Assuming there is an appreciable temperature differential between indoors and outdoors, ventilating counteracts the air-conditioning, thereby requiring additional energy to heat or cool. Moreover, ventilating a structure when the air-conditioning system is not also heating or cooling air can cause discomfort.
  • To provide ventilation, it is known to provide a fresh air damper that is controlled by an air-conditioning system for drawing or forcing fresh air directly into the air-conditioning system. It is also known to configure such air-conditioning systems to periodically open the damper for fixed intervals of time in an effort to ensure adequate ventilation. Still further, it is known to operatively connect the damper upstream of the air-conditioner's primary blower fan such that the primary blower fan can be used to draw in the fresh air. In an air-conditioning system having variable speed fan, the blower fan may draw in fresh air at different rates depending upon the operating speed of the fan. Thus, such an air-conditioning system may draw in more fresh air than is needed.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • An air-conditioning system in accordance with the present invention preferably can be operated in at least two modes. One mode seeks to minimize the total amount of fresh air being brought into a structure so as to minimize the amount of energy used to condition (heat or cool) fresh air. Another mode seeks to minimize the time in which the air-conditioning system draws in fresh air while the system is not heating or cooling air so as to minimize periods of discomfort associate with blowing unconditioned air into living spaces.
  • One aspect of the invention pertains to a method of operating an air-conditioning system. The air-conditioning system comprises a fan and a ventilation damper for drawing fresh air into a living space. The damper is able to open and close. The method comprises storing data indicative of air flow output of the fan over time. The method further comprises closing the damper based on said data.
  • In another aspect of the invention, an air-conditioning system comprises a fan and a ventilation damper for drawing fresh air into a living space. The damper is able to open and close. The air-conditioning system is adapted and configured to store data indicative of air flow output of the fan over time, and to close the damper based on said data.
  • Further features and advantages of the present invention, as well as the operation of the invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 depicts a simplified flowchart of the energy savings mode of a preferred embodiment of an air-conditioning system in accordance with the invention.
  • FIG. 2 depicts a simplified flowchart of the maximum comfort mode of the preferred embodiment of an air-conditioning system.
  • FIG. 3 depicts a schematic representation of the preferred embodiment of an air-conditioning system.
  • Reference numerals in the written specification and in the drawing figures indicate corresponding items.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • A preferred embodiment of air-conditioning system 10 in accordance with the invention is shown in FIG. 3. The air-conditioning system comprises a primary fan/blower 12, a ventilation damper 14, and an electronic control circuit 16. The fan 12 is configured and adapted to draw air from within a living space and from the external environment. The fan 12 then pushes said air through ducts into the living space. The damper 14 is electronically controlled and is configured and adapted to selectively prevent (close) and, alternatively, allow (open) the fan 12 to draw in air from the external environment. The electronic control circuit 16 is programed to control the operation of the fan 12 and of the damper 14. Preferably, the fan 12 is configured to operate at different speeds and the air-conditioning system 10 is preferably configured to alternatively heat, cool, or simply recirculate the air within the living space. Like many existing systems, the air-conditioning system 10 of the present invention is preferably a multi-stage system (meaning it can operate at different flow rates based on demand or personal preferences). Preferably, the electronic control circuit 16 is configured and adapted such that some or all of said flow rates can be set by an individual to customize the operation of the air-conditioning system for a particular living space.
  • As mentioned above, ASHRAE 62.2 sets forth standards for the amount of fresh air that should be drawn into a living space per day (herein referred to as ventilation). The amount increases if one sixth of the amount is not drawn in each four hour period. The amount is also dependent upon the size of the living space and the number of occupants. The electronic control circuit 16 of the preferred embodiment is configured and adapted such that information indicative of the size of the living space (volume or preferably square footage), the number of bedrooms, the number of occupants (preferably defaults to one person per bedroom plus one extra person), and the percentage of fresh air drawn in as compared to the total fan output when the damper is open can be input by an installer or other person. The percentage of fresh air drawn in as compared to the total fan output is preferably measured by the installer using any of the well-known methods of measuring the same (the fan output is specified and therefore only the ventilation air flow rate has to be measured). Preferably the percentage is measured at maximum blower output or whatever other blower speed draws in the least ventilation air as a percentage. By default, the electronic control circuit 16 is configured and adapted to operate the damper 14 and the fan 12 in manner such that at least one sixth of the required daily amount of fresh air is drawn in every four hour period. However, in accordance with the ASHRAE standards, the electronic control circuit 16 is preferably adapted and configured to allow someone to set the air-conditioning system 10 to ventilate less often. Of course, doing so may be less efficient since more ventilation air would be required. Still, it could reduce the number of times the system ventilates when neither heating nor cooling.
  • Preferably, the control circuit 16 is configured to allow an occupant to operate the air-conditioning system 10 in at least two primary modes. For purposes of describing the invention, one such mode shall be referred to as an “energy savings mode” and another as a “maximum comfort mode.” A flowchart of the energy savings mode is shown in FIG. 1. The energy savings mode is configured and adapted to draw in only the minimum amount of fresh air required (so as to minimize the energy required to condition the air). The energy savings mode is configured such that the control circuit 16 opens the damper 14 once every four hours to draw in one sixth of the required daily fresh air (herein referred to as the four hour minimum inventory of fresh air). It is also configured to close the damper 14 after such fresh air has been drawn in. While the damper 14 is open, the control circuit 16 keeps track of the fan's 12 operating speed/output (or data indicative thereof) to track how much fresh air is being drawn in based on the percentage ratio. When the control circuit 16 determines that the “inventory” of fresh air has reached the four hour minimum inventory (the amount required for a four hour period), the control circuit 16 closes the damper 14 to prevent additional fresh air from being drawn in. With a rare exception, the damper is preferably maintained closed thereafter during the particular four hour period. It should be appreciated that, while the damper 14 is open, the fan 12 may operate at different speeds based on other temperature settings, user input (e.g., switching the system to forced recirculation), or demand. Such different speeds are controlled by the control circuit 16 in a conventional manner. Thus, the duration in which the damper 14 is open may vary from a given four hour period to the next, but in each case the four hour minimum inventory of fresh air would be drawn in. If there is no call for heating, cooling, or recirculation at any time during ventilation, the control circuit 16 will operate the fan 12 at a “continuous ventilation rate,” which is the speed at which the fan would need to run continuously for 24 hours with damper 14 open in order to bring in the minimum daily amount of fresh air. Obviously, the continuous ventilation rate is lower than the rate at which the fan 12 operates when the air-conditioning system is heating or cooling. Thus, logically, the control circuit 16 is will open the damper 14 and operate the fan 12 continuously during a four hour period in which there has been no call for heating or cooling (which is a rare event). Assuming the system fully operational, during such rare events, it should be appreciated that the outside and inside air temperatures are close to the same. Hence, the air-conditioning system 10 will continue to ventilate until the thermostat calls for heating or cooling, at which point the control circuit 16 will operate the fan 12 and damper 14 as initially described.
  • The maximum comfort mode of operation is configured and adapted to avoid or reduce periods of ventilating when the air-condition system 10 is not also heating or cooling. In the maximum comfort mode, the control circuit 16 is configured and adapted to open the damper 14 each time there is a call for heating or cooling and to maintain the damper open while the air-conditioning system is heating or cooling, unless the inventory (which is tracked by the control circuit 16), reaches a particular value, which is preferably in excess of a four hour inventory. Preferably that particular value is approximately twice the value of a four hour inventory. The control circuit 16 is configured to close the damper 14 when the heating or cooling terminates. However, if the tracked excess inventory reaches or nears zero (a rare event), the control circuit 16 is configured to open the damper 14 and operate the fan 12 at its continuous ventilation rate until there is a call for heating or cooling. Thus, in the maximum comfort mode, the control circuit 16 opens the damper 14 when the air-conditioning system 10 is heating or cooling, and only rarely is the damper open when air-conditioning system is not heating or cooling.
  • In addition to the forgoing modes of operation, the control circuit 16 may also be configured to operate the damper 14 in a more conventional manner such as opening and closing the damper 14 on fixed intervals. Thus, it should be appreciated that the air-condition system 10 could have additional modes of operation.
  • In view of the foregoing, it should be appreciated that the invention has several advantages over the prior art.
  • As various modifications could be made in the constructions and methods herein described and illustrated without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the foregoing description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative rather than limiting. Thus, the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims appended hereto and their equivalents.
  • It should also be understood that when introducing elements of the present invention in the claims or in the above description of exemplary embodiments of the invention, the terms “comprising,” “including,” and “having” are intended to be open-ended and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements. Additionally, the term “portion” should be construed as meaning some or all of the item or element that it qualifies. Moreover, use of identifiers such as first, second, and third should not be construed in a manner imposing any relative position or time sequence between limitations. Still further, the order in which the steps of any method claim that follows are presented should not be construed in a manner limiting the order in which such steps must be performed, unless such an order is inherent.

Claims (15)

What is claimed is:
1. A method of operating an air-conditioning system, the air-conditioning system comprising a fan and a ventilation damper for drawing fresh air into a living space, the damper being able to open and close, the method comprising:
storing data indicative of air flow output of the fan over time;
closing the damper based on said data.
2. A method in accordance with claim 1 wherein the fan operates at different speeds resulting in different air flow output levels and the data is indicative of a summation of the output levels.
3. A method in accordance with claim 2 wherein said data is indicative of a summation of output levels during periods of time while the damper is open as compared to a duration of time during which the damper is closed.
4. A method in accordance with claim 2 comprising opening the damper periodically only once every set period of time.
5. A method in accordance with claim 4 comprising closing the damper in response to the data being indicative of achieving a minimum required amount of fresh air drawn in through the damper during and for the particular period of time.
6. A method in accordance with claim 5 wherein the method further comprises operating the fan at the air flow output levels while the damper is open, and the closing of the damper is indicative of the summation of said output levels.
7. A method in accordance with claim 4 wherein the damper remains open for different durations over the course of several of said set periods of time.
8. A method in accordance with claim 2 comprising opening the damper based on said data.
9. A method in accordance with claim 2 comprising operating the air-conditioning system in a manner that heats or cools air, and opening the damper in response to commencing such heating or cooling.
10. A method in accordance with claim 9 comprising closing the damper in response to the data.
11. A method in accordance with claim 10 comprising operating the fan during periods of time in which the air-conditioning system is not heating or cooling air, and, based on the data, attempting to minimize the periods of operating the fan during time in which the air-conditioning system is not heating or cooling and the damper is open.
12. A method in accordance with claim 10 comprising opening the damper based on said data.
13. An air-conditioning system comprising a fan and a ventilation damper for drawing fresh air into a living space, the damper being able to open and close, the air-conditioning system being adapted and configured to store data indicative of air flow output of the fan over time, and to close the damper based on said data.
14. An air-conditioning system in accordance with claim 13 wherein the air-conditioning system is adapted and configured to close the damper based on the data.
15. An air-conditioning system in accordance with claim 13 wherein the fan is configured to operate at different speeds resulting in different air flow output levels and the air-conditioning system is adapted and configured such that the data will be indicative of a summation of a function of said output levels and time intervals.
US14/161,272 2014-01-22 2014-01-22 Ventilation Control System and Method Abandoned US20150204571A1 (en)

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Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US6223543B1 (en) * 1999-06-17 2001-05-01 Heat-Timer Corporation Effective temperature controller and method of effective temperature control
US20100198411A1 (en) * 2009-01-30 2010-08-05 Jason Wolfson Ventilation system
US20130180700A1 (en) * 2010-10-07 2013-07-18 James L. Aycock Whole House Ventilation System
US20140277759A1 (en) * 2013-03-15 2014-09-18 Transformative Wave Technologies Llc System and method of advanced digital economization

Patent Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US6223543B1 (en) * 1999-06-17 2001-05-01 Heat-Timer Corporation Effective temperature controller and method of effective temperature control
US20100198411A1 (en) * 2009-01-30 2010-08-05 Jason Wolfson Ventilation system
US20130180700A1 (en) * 2010-10-07 2013-07-18 James L. Aycock Whole House Ventilation System
US20140277759A1 (en) * 2013-03-15 2014-09-18 Transformative Wave Technologies Llc System and method of advanced digital economization

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Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
AS Assignment

Owner name: UNICO, INC., MISSOURI

Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:MESSMER, CRAIG;LANGHORST, PHILLIP G.;REEL/FRAME:032339/0073

Effective date: 20140218

STCB Information on status: application discontinuation

Free format text: ABANDONED -- FAILURE TO RESPOND TO AN OFFICE ACTION