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Publication numberUS20050040682 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/878,217
Publication dateFeb 24, 2005
Filing dateJun 28, 2004
Priority dateJun 30, 2003
Publication number10878217, 878217, US 2005/0040682 A1, US 2005/040682 A1, US 20050040682 A1, US 20050040682A1, US 2005040682 A1, US 2005040682A1, US-A1-20050040682, US-A1-2005040682, US2005/0040682A1, US2005/040682A1, US20050040682 A1, US20050040682A1, US2005040682 A1, US2005040682A1
InventorsThomas Ulbrich
Original AssigneeThomas Ulbrich
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Heating system and method of controlling a heating system
US 20050040682 A1
Abstract
A method of controlling an electric heating system for a motor vehicle seat, in which a target time (tsoll) for a heating duration is varied as a function of a difference between a measured outside temperature (TA) and a measured inside temperature (TI). A control device for a heating mechanism (20) is also provided having an outside temperature (10) and an inside temperature sensor or seat temperature sensor (12), and having a control circuit for preassigning and/or varying a target time (tsoll) for a heat duration, as a function of a difference between a measured outside temperature (TA) and a measured inside or seat temperature (TI or TS).
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Claims(23)
1. A method of controlling a heating mechanism for a vehicle seat comprising:
receiving an outside temperature value (TA) indicative of the ambient temperature outside the vehicle;
receiving an inside temperature value (TI) indicative of the vehicle interior temperature;
determining a target time (tsoll) for a heat duration as a function of a difference between said outside and inside temperature values; and
operating said heating mechanism for said target time.
2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the inside temperature is a measured temperature proximate a seat (TS).
3. A method according to claim 1, wherein the difference between the outside temperature (TA) and the inside temperature (TI) is derived from a determination of a sensory temperature (TE) value.
4. A method according to claim 3, wherein the sensory temperature (TE) is derived from the following relationship:

T E =f[T A, (T A −T I)]
5. A method according to claim 1, wherein the heating mechanism comprises at least two predetermined heating stages, each with a different target time (tsoll), each referenced to the same difference value between the inside and outside temperatures (TI, TA).
6. A method according to claim 4, wherein the heating mechanism comprises at least two predetermined heating stages, each with a different target time (tsoll), each referenced to the same difference value between the inside and outside temperatures (TI, TA).
7. A method according to claim 1, wherein the outside temperature (TA) is acquired by way of a data bus (18).
8. A method according to claim 4, wherein the outside temperature (TA) is acquired by way of a data bus (18).
9. A method according to claim 1, wherein the inside temperature value (TI) is acquired and determined by way of an inside temperature sensor (11).
10. A method according to claim 9, wherein said inside temperature sensor is a seat temperature sensor (12).
11. A method according to claim 9, wherein the inside temperature sensor is an NTC sensor.
12. A method according to claim 5 comprising varying a preassigned target time (tsoll) for the heat duration according to the selected heating stage.
13. A method according to claim 12, wherein the target times (tsoll) for the heat durations are derived from a vehicle-specific or seat-specific diagram.
14. A method according to claim 5, wherein a time sequence of at least two heating stages are provided.
15. A control system for vehicle seat heating element (20) comprising:
an outside temperature input for receiving an outside temperature value (TA) from an outside temperature sensor (10);
an inside temperature input for receiving an inside temperature value (TI) from an inside temperature sensor (12);
a control circuit (14) programmed to vary a target time (tsoll) for a heating duration of the heating element (20) as a function of a difference between said outside and inside temperature values (TA, TI).
16. A control system according to claim 15, wherein the control circuit comprises at least two fixedly set heating stages, each with different target times (tsoll-1, tsoll-2) and each referenced to a like difference between said inside and outside temperature values (TI, TA).
17. A control system according to claim 15, wherein the inside temperature sensor (12) is an NTC sensor.
18. A control system according to claim 16, wherein the control circuit (14) varies a correction of a preassigned target time (tsoll) for the heating duration according to the stage selected.
19. A control system according to claim 15, wherein the control circuit includes memory storing a time sequence of at least two heat stages.
20. A vehicle seat system comprising:
a heating element (20) disposed in at least one cushion of the vehicle seat;
an outside temperature sensor (12) providing an outside temperature value (TA);
an inside temperature sensor (11) providing an inside temperature value (TI);
a control circuit (14) communicating within said inside and outside temperature sensors, said control circuit programmed to provide a target time (tsoll) for a heating duration of said heating element as a function of a difference between said outside and inside temperature values (TA, TI).
21. A system according to claim 20, wherein said inside temperature sensor is a seat temperature sensor (12) disposed within or proximate said vehicle seat.
22. A system according to claim 20, wherein said outside temperature sensor (10) is located remotely from said seat.
23. A system according to claim 20, wherein at least one of said inside or outside temperature values (TI, TA) is communicated to said control circuit by way of a vehicle communication bus (18).
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a heating system and a method of controlling a heating system. The heating system may be advantageously used as part of a vehicle seat heating system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are known methods and systems for controlling electric seat heaters in which the heating mechanism is operated by a control of temperature as a function of a user input. Such control systems are suitable for setting an optimal comfort temperature, but respecting their control they require a comparatively large structural outlay. There are also simpler controls based on a timer function. Here, at the start of seat heating, a target time is assigned, after transgression of which the seat heating is switched off. The disadvantage of such a timer based control is that the timer times are either not variable, or comprise a variability only to the effect that the on-duration depends on the seat temperature.

DE 101 06 152 A1 discloses a method of controlling a stationary ventilator in a motor vehicle. A timer assigns a target time for an on-duration of the ventilator when the inside temperature exceeds a preassigned limit. The ventilator is switched on and off with an on-duration and an on-frequency so long as the inside temperature is above the preassigned limit. On-duration and on-frequency of the ventilator are determined as a function of the inside temperature of the vehicle.

DE 100 58 434 A1 describes a method and device for control of the heating of an outside mirror, the heating output being controlled as a function of a variation of the outside temperature per unit time.

JP 58194612 A, lastly, describes a control device for a vehicle heater that is part of a vehicle air conditioning system. To control the seat heating, various input quantities, such as an outside temperature, a battery voltage and a water temperature of a vehicle cooling system are processed.

Accordingly, there exists a need for an improved vehicle seat heating system and a control method for the same.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a simple method of controlling a heating mechanism, and a control device of simple structure for a heating mechanism, in which a demand control of the heat output is made possible.

In one embodiment, a method of controlling a heating mechanism, in particular an electric seat heater for a motor vehicle, provides a variation of a target time for a duration of heating as a function of a difference between a measured outside temperature and a measured inside temperature. The inside temperature may be a measured temperature in or on a seat of a motor vehicle. The method according to this embodiment has the advantage of a very low circuitry and structural outlay, yet a demand control of the heat output is made possible. This is accomplished in that for variation of a target time for an on-duration of the heater, not only is the outside temperature taken into account, but in like manner the inner or seat temperature influences the on-time of the heating. According to measured seat temperatures, a shorter or longer heat duration may be appropriate. The known methods, in contrast, take only an outside temperature to preassign or vary on on-duration or output of the heater.

The difference of the outside temperature (TA) and inside temperature (TI) may in particular be derived by determination of a quantity called the sensory temperature (TE) and calculated. The sensory temperature may be derived from a function of the outside temperature and the difference between the outside temperature and the seat or inside temperature, and may be represented in principle by the following formula:
T E =f[T A, (T A −T I)]  (1)
where TE is the sensory temperature, TA the outside temperature and TI is the inside temperature which may be the seat temperature, TS. In this way, the human sensation of temperature differences is better taken into account, so that the measured difference of outside and inside, or seat temperature, is not converted linearly into the variation of target time for the duration of heating. Instead, a function is formed that leads to a demand or sensory variation of the heat duration, as a function of the difference between inside and outside temperatures.

One embodiment of the method according to the invention provides at least two fixedly set heating stages, each with a different target time, referred in each instance to one and the same difference between an inside and an outside temperature, or to the same sensory temperature. Alternatively, however, a plurality of heating stages may be provided. Further, an additional variation of the heat output, stepwise or continuous, may be provided.

The outside temperature may advantageously be queried and determined by way of a data bus. Normally, in a conventional vehicle outfit, the outside temperature is already available, so that the values of the outside temperature sensor can be queried by way of central control electronics or by way of a data bus in the vehicle (e.g. “CAN-Bus”). The inside temperature, or seat temperature, can then be queried by way of an inside temperature sensor or by way of a seat temperature sensor. For this purpose, in particular, a negative temperature coefficient (NTC) sensor may be used. The inside or seat temperature may be queried likewise by way of an inside temperature sensor used as part of an air conditioning system of the vehicle. The signal for the inside temperature can likewise be made available by way of the same data bus as the outside temperature.

The preassigned target time for the duration of heat may be converted according to the selected heat stage into a corresponding correction factor, so that for a greater adjusted heating stage, a different correction of the target time for the on-duration of the heating is assigned than for a smaller adjusted heating stage.

The target times for the heat duration and their corrections may be derived in particular from a vehicle-specific and/or a seat-specific characteristic. For example, the seat may include a fan which may dictate a different heating profile than a non-ventilated seat. In this way, an optimal coordination of various sensory temperatures with corresponding target times for the on-duration can be set up. The heat output for the heating mechanism may in particular be adjusted by variation of voltages and/or by way of a pulse-width modulated signal. The characteristic curves may be stored, according to vehicle type or seat variant, as play-back software in the control unit or in the control circuit. In this way, like control circuits may be employed for the several vehicle and seat variants. The characteristic curves may be played back e.g. by way of so-called “flashes.” Here, the control unit is suitably programmed by playing the correspondingly provided software over programmable memory circuits.

A heating system according to the invention for a heating mechanism, in particular for an electric heating device of a vehicle seat, provides an outside temperature sensor and an inside or seat temperature sensor as well as a way of preassigning and/or varying a target time for a heating duration as a function of a difference between a measured outside temperature and a measured inside temperature. The heating mechanism may in particular comprise at least two fixedly adjusted heating stages, each with a different target time, referred in each instance to a like difference between inside and outside temperature.

Other features, embodiments and advantages of the control device according to the invention have already been mentioned in terms of the several variants of the method previously described.

The present invention itself, together with further objects and attendant advantages, will be best understood by reference to the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of this invention reference should now be had to the embodiments illustrated in greater detail in the accompanying figures and described below by way of examples of the invention wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a schematic diagram of a control device according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 shows an example of a characteristic diagram for controlling a target time as a function of measured temperatures in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 shows a running diagram of a method according to an embodiment the invention; and

FIG. 4 shows an exemplary environment of the present heating system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In the following figures, the same reference numerals will be used to refer to the same components. While the present invention is described with respect to an apparatus for a vehicle seat heating system, the present invention may be adapted and applied to various systems including: electrical systems, heating systems, seating systems, vehicle systems, or other systems known in the art.

In the following description, various operating parameters and components are described for one constructed embodiment. These specific parameters and components are included as examples and are not meant to be limiting.

FIG. 1 illustrates, in a schematic diagram, the structure of a heat system according to one embodiment of the invention. The outside temperature TA is acquired by way of an outside temperature sensor 10. The seat temperature TS is acquired by way of a seat temperature sensor 12. The two sensor signals are processed in a control circuit 14 to adapt a target time tsoll in a target time transmitter 16 to the on-time and/or the heat output of the heating mechanism 20.

The heating mechanism 20 may be a resistive heating element comprising conductive wires, filaments or fabric. It can be an areal heating element, for example, disposed proximate a vehicle seat cushion surface such as the seating surface or back rest. Other types of heating elements may also be employed.

The controller 14 may be implemented in hardware or software. For example, it can be a control circuit or it can be implemented in a controller comprising a CPU, inputs, outputs and associated memory. The controller can be stand-alone controller or be part of another vehicle controller such as the HVAC system controller. Also, although the controller 14 and target time transmitter 16 are shown as separate components, they could be integrated into a single unit.

The outside temperature TA may be part of an existing vehicle sensor outfit, so that the sensory value is already available in a data bus of the vehicle (for example, CAN-Bus 18). For example, many vehicle HVAC systems include or make use of an outside temperature sensor for vehicle interior climate control.

The seat temperature sensor 12 may in particular be an NTC sensor on or near the seat. For example, it may be located underneath the seating surface to provide a seat surface temperature. It could also be located underneath the seat or near a surface away from the occupant to provide an ambient temperature output. Alternatively, or in addition to seat sensor 12, an inside temperature sensor 11 may be employed to provide a temperature signal indicative of the ambient vehicle interior temperature (TI). Again, such inside temperature sensors 11 are typically employed in vehicle HVAC systems. In such a case, its data signal may be made available to the controller 14 by way of a vehicle data bus 18.

FIG. 2 shows an example of a characteristic diagram for variation of a target time tsoll for the on-time of the heating as a function of a difference between seat (TS) or inside (TI) and outside temperature (TA). Here, it becomes clear that in a first heating stage (“Low”), a shorter on-time tsoll-1 is provided for given temperature difference, whereas on a second heating stage (“High”), a longer on-time is provided for given temperature difference. According to temperature difference or sensory temperature TE, the on-time varies continuously in both stages.

From the diagram, it becomes clear that with increasing sensory temperature (TE), a continuous decrease of the on-time of the heating mechanism is provided. This decrease in on-time takes account of the fact that when the seat is already warmer, a shorter heating time of the seat is required to reach a given temperature. For a correspondingly colder seat, a longer heating time is desirable.

The anterior portion of the curves represents a maximum on-time for both heating stages. The sensory temperature TE-0 is lowest here, and in the example of the sketch is equal to −40 C. The on-time tsoll-1 at the lower heating stage (“Low”) may here for example be about 10 minutes. The on-time tsoll-2 at the higher heat stage (“High”) may for example be about 20 minutes.

The intermediate range of the curves represents an intermediate on-time for both heating stages. The sensory temperature TE-1 is located at the so-called working point, and in the embodiment sketched by way of example is 0 C. The on-time tsoll-1 at the lower heat stage (“Low”) may here for example be about 4 to 5 minutes. The on-time tsoll-2 at the higher heating stage (“High”) may for example be about 8 to 10 minutes.

The posterior range of the curve represents a minimal on-time for both stages. The sensory temperature TE-2 is here greatest, and in the example of the sketch is about +40 C. The on-time tsoll-1 at the lower heat stage (“Low”) may here be about 1 to 2 minutes. The on-time tsoll-2 at the higher heat stage (“High”) may here be about 3 to 5 minutes.

Intermediate values can be determined by continuous shifts of the given values for the temperatures. The characteristic field of FIG. 2 may be stored in memory within the control circuit 14 or in the target time transmitter 16. Optionally also, a simplified control may be provided, in which there is no continuous adjustment of target times, but adjustment in a number of steps.

FIG. 3 shows a flow diagram to illustrate the mode of operation of one method according to the invention. After the start, it is queried in a first step S1 whether the heating device is switched on or off (On?). If the answer is affirmative (Y), then in a second step S2 the preassigned heating stage is queried. In the case of two heating stages, these may for example be a “Low” stage and a “High” stage. In a third step S3, an outside temperature TA is queried. As noted above, the outside temperature TA can be provided by way of the vehicle communication bus 18 from an outside temperature sensor 10. In a fourth step S4, a seat temperature TS or an inside temperature Ti is queried. These values are provided, for example, from the seat temperature sensor 12 or vehicle interior temperature sensor 11, and may be communicated directly or by way of the vehicle communication bus 18. From the two temperature values TA and TS, or TA and TI, in a following step S5 a sensory temperature TE is computed. From the calculated sensory temperature and the preassigned heat stage, in a following step S6 a target time tsoll is computed for an on-time of the heating mechanism 20, and forwarded to the heating controller 14. This ensures that the heating mechanism 20 is being operated at a preselected heating stage during the calculated time.

It is contemplated further that a time sequence of a plurality of different heat stages may be provided. For example, with very low outside temperature, this may be first a stage with short, vigorous heating, following by a longer lasting stage with reduced heating. On the other hand, if the outside temperature is not so low, for example a heating stage with intense heating may be followed first by a pause and then by a shorter heating stage with reduced heating compared to the warm-up phase.

FIG. 4 shows a schematic diagram of one exemplary embodiment of the present heating system and control method in a vehicle seat application. In this example, at least one vehicle seat 24 of the vehicle 22 includes one or more heating elements 20. The heating elements 20 are shown in both the seat and backrest cushions of the vehicle seat 24, but could be in one or the other as desired. The controller 14, as shown, is disposed within the vehicle seat 24, but could also be located elsewhere in the vehicle as described above. The controller 14 is in electronic communication with the heating elements 20, either directly or by way of the target time transmitter 16 or vehicle communication bus 18. The controller 14 receives outside (TA), inside (TI) and seat (TS) temperature values from the respective sensors 10, 11, 12, either directly or by way of the communication bus 18. Also, although both seat sensor 12 and interior sensor 11 are shown, only one or the other may be desired for the particular vehicle application.

While the invention has been described in connection with one or more embodiments, it is to be understood that the specific mechanisms and techniques which have been described are merely illustrative of the principles of the invention, numerous modifications may be made to the apparatus described without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7183519 *Jun 30, 2005Feb 27, 2007Honda Motor Co., Ltd.Electrically heated seat apparatus for a vehicle, vehicle incorporating same, and method of using same
US7240962 *Aug 4, 2004Jul 10, 2007Hyundai Motor CompanyHeating apparatus for automobile seats
US7477969 *Sep 23, 2004Jan 13, 2009W.E.T. Automotive Systems AgTemperature conditioned assembly having a controller in communication with a temperature sensor
US9045066 *Nov 14, 2012Jun 2, 2015Toyota Boshoku Kabushiki KaishaHeater control unit and vehicle seat heater
US20050085968 *Sep 23, 2004Apr 21, 2005W.E.T. Automotive Systems AgTemperature conditioned assembly having a controller in communication with a temperature sensor
US20050099043 *Aug 4, 2004May 12, 2005Kim Hyo S.Heating apparatus for automobile seats
US20120234815 *Mar 13, 2012Sep 20, 2012GM Global Technology Operations LLCTime sensitive heated seat control
US20130134150 *May 30, 2013Toyota Boshoku Kabushiki KaishaHeater control unit and vehicle seat heater
Classifications
U.S. Classification297/180.12
International ClassificationH05B1/02, B60N2/56, H05B3/34
Cooperative ClassificationH05B2203/029, H05B3/34, H05B1/0238, B60N2/5678, H05B2203/014
European ClassificationH05B1/02B1B1, H05B3/34, B60N2/56E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 4, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: W.E.T. AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS AG, GERMANY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ULBRICH, THOMAS;REEL/FRAME:015216/0636
Effective date: 20040708