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Publication numberUS20070057078 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/224,764
Publication dateMar 15, 2007
Filing dateSep 13, 2005
Priority dateSep 13, 2005
Publication number11224764, 224764, US 2007/0057078 A1, US 2007/057078 A1, US 20070057078 A1, US 20070057078A1, US 2007057078 A1, US 2007057078A1, US-A1-20070057078, US-A1-2007057078, US2007/0057078A1, US2007/057078A1, US20070057078 A1, US20070057078A1, US2007057078 A1, US2007057078A1
InventorsWilliam Martin
Original AssigneeMartin William J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Closed air handling system with integrated damper for whole-building ventilation
US 20070057078 A1
Abstract
A closed air handling system for heating and/or cooling has an integrated damper mechanism for diverting discharge air into the attic or crawl space of a house, apartment, or other building, and for facilitating the introduction of fresh air into such building.
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Claims(5)
1. A closed air handling system installed in a dwelling having a discharge plenum, a blower, and a damper, wherein the damper serves to preferentially direct airflow outside of the closed air handling system and into an attic or crawl space of the dwelling.
2. The closed air handling system of claim 1 wherein the damper is actuated by electromechanical means.
3. The closed air handling system of claim 1 wherein the damper is actuated by an electric screw drive.
4. A method for operating the closed air handling system of claim 1, comprising:
a. selectively adjusting the damper from a closed position to an open position; and
b. activating the blower, thereby drawing air through the return air vent into the closed air handling system, bypassing airflow from the plurality of ducts, and directing airflow outside of the closed air handling system.
5. A method for operating the central air handling system of claim 1, comprising:
a. selectively adjusting the damper from a closed position to an open position;
b. activating the blower, thereby drawing air through the return air vent into the closed air handling system, bypassing airflow from the plurality of ducts, and directing airflow outside of the closed air handling system; and performing automatically or remotely the steps comprising the selective adjustment of the damper and/or the activation of the blower.
Description
CROSS REFERENCES

None.

GOVERNMENTAL RIGHTS

None.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Before the advent of evaporative air cooling systems, now commonly known as air conditioning, many homes were cooled by the movement of air via fans. Even today, the high cost of heating and cooling indoor living spaces makes moderating indoor air temperatures using fresh air highly desirable when outdoor temperatures allow. Not only can fresh air be used to moderate temperature, the simple movement of air can create a cooling sensation on the human skin.

Attic fans are capable of both creating air movement and bringing fresh air into a dwelling. Attic ventilations systems date back to at least 1938, when U.S. Pat. No. 2,130,660 issued on such a system. However, the prior art relating to attic ventilation systems is deficient as applied to contemporary dwellings for several reasons. Many structures may not be designed such that installation of an attic fan is feasible. Attic fans may not be aesthetically pleasing to builders, owners, and potential purchasers of modern homes as such devices require a large opening inside the dwelling. Attic fans are typically very noisy. Finally, when not in use, an attic fan usually does not form a sufficient protective barrier between the hot, cold, or dusty attic and the living spaces of the dwelling in which the fan is installed.

Other attempts to improve the attic fan have not remedied the above-listed deficiencies of the prior art. U.S. Pat. No. 2,337,382 (the '382 patent) issued on an attic fan that contains auxiliary ducts to transmit air not only into the attic, but also into other rooms of the dwelling. Because this design necessarily includes an attic fan, it is deficient for the similar reasons as an attic fan, including unsuitability for installation in modern dwellings, noise, and unpleasing aesthetics. The '382 patent relies solely upon ambient temperatures outdoor for cooling and separate sources (such as fireplaces or wood-burning stoves) for heating.

Central heating and/or air conditioning systems are ubiquitous for most new construction of dwelling houses in the continental United States. These systems rely upon a closed system of ducts to transfer heated or cooled air from a central location to all rooms within a dwelling. However, central heating and/or air conditioning systems have one major deficiency in that such systems merely circulate air already inside the dwelling. That is, central heating and/or air conditioning systems have no means by which to facilitate the introduction fresh air to the dwelling. Certainly an inhabitant can open the windows to a home to allow entry of fresh air, but the central heating and/or air conditioning system of such a home does nothing to speed such entry. There exists a clear need to unify the old technology of attic fan units with current closed system central heating and/or air conditioning systems. Indeed, many scientific studies demonstrate that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air even in the most heavily populated and industrialized cities. These studies conclude that the poor ventilation rates provided by central heating and/or air conditioning systems are unsatisfactory. High moisture and dust content of air continually recycled by central heating and/or air conditioning systems may be a contributing factor to indoor air pollution.

Bearing in mind the deficiencies of the prior art, it is an object of the present invention to provide a semi-closed central heating and/or air conditioning system that facilitates the entry of fresh air into a dwelling.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a central heating and/or air conditioning system that increases the ventilation rate for dwellings in which it is installed.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide ventilation for the removal of smoke or other undesirable odors wherein the semi-closed system pulls fresh air from outside the system to refresh ambient room conditions.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a semi-closed system for introducing fresh air into a dwelling that is quiet and substantially hidden, with the exception of the grilles and diffusers typical of a central heating and/or air conditioning system of the prior art.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a semi-closed system that operates similarly to an attic fan but requires a much smaller area of exposure to the attic that is necessary to seal and insulate.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide an automated semi-closed system for introducing a predetermined amount of fresh air into a dwelling's central heating and/or air conditioning system.

The apparatus in accordance with the present invention provides a substantially quiet, hidden, and automatic semi-closed system that is integrated with a central heating and/or air conditioning system and facilitates the entry of fresh air into a dwelling.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A semi-closed central heating and/or air conditioning system is provided in which the system further facilitates the entry of fresh air into a dwelling. A typical central heating and/or air conditioning system has a central air handler that is comprised of a return air vent, a discharge plenum, and a plurality of ducts coupled to the plenum for distributing air to a plurality of areas in the building. For heating, the system has a blower and a heat exchanger for heating interior air. For cooling, the system has an inside evaporator coil coupled to the air handler and an outside condenser unit for cooling interior air.

In the present invention, the discharge plenum contains an integrated damper mechanism. The damper, when closed, allows the system to operate as a normal central heating and/or air conditioning system. When opened, the damper allows the air to be discharged into the attic or crawl space, and further discharged through attic or crawl space vents into the atmosphere. The discharge of air from the damper creates suction by which the central air system pulls air from outside the dwelling via windows or door, which increases the ventilation rate for the dwelling.

These and other advantages will become apparent from the following detailed description which, when viewed in light of the accompanying drawings, disclose the embodiments of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a depiction of a dwelling with an up-flow central heating and/or air conditioning system that operates in the mode of the prior art. Air is drawn into the blower through a return air duct/vent, forced through the heat exchanger and/or air-cooling coils and into the discharge plenum, and ultimately diverted into the duct system servicing the various rooms in the dwelling.

FIG. 2 is a depiction of the same system as in FIG. 1 where the discharge plenum is open to the attic space. Air is drawn into the return air duct/vent and forced through the heat exchanger and/or air-cooling coils and into the discharge plenum. Instead of being circulated back into the rooms of the dwelling as is done with the closed heating and/or air conditioning systems of the prior art, the new system exhausts air into the attic and outside through the attic vents.

FIG. 3 is a depiction of a dwelling with a down-flow central heating and/or air conditioning system that operates in the mode of the prior art. Air is drawn into the blower through a return air duct/vent, forced through the heat exchanger and/or air-cooling coils and into the discharge plenum, and diverted into the duct system servicing the various rooms in the dwelling.

FIG. 4 is a depiction of the same system as in FIG. 3 where the discharge plenum is open to the crawl space. Air is drawn into the return air duct/vent and forced through the heat exchanger and/or air-cooling coils and into the discharge plenum. Instead of being circulated back into the rooms of the dwelling as is done with the closed heating and/or air conditioning systems of the prior art, the new system exhausts air into the crawl space and outside through wall vents.

FIG. 5 is a depiction of a dwelling with a central heating and/or air conditioning system situated in an attic space that operates in the mode of the prior art. Air is drawn into the blower through a return air duct/vent, forced through the heat exchanger and/or air-cooling coils and into the discharge plenum, and diverted into the duct system servicing the various rooms in the dwelling.

FIG. 6 is a depiction of the same system as in FIG. 5 where the discharge plenum is open to the attic space. Air is drawn into the return air duct/vent and forced through the heat exchanger and/or air-cooling coils and into the discharge plenum. Instead of being circulated back into the rooms of the dwelling as is done with the closed heating and/or air conditioning systems of the prior art, the new system exhausts air into the attic and outside through attic vents.

FIG. 7 is a depiction of a dwelling with a central heating and/or air conditioning system situated in a floor crawl space that operates in the mode of the prior art. Air is drawn into the blower through a return air duct/vent, forced through the heat exchanger and/or air-cooling coils and into the discharge plenum, and diverted into the duct system servicing the various rooms in the dwelling.

FIG. 8 is a depiction of the same system shown in FIG. 7 where the discharge plenum is open to the crawl space. Air is drawn into the return air duct/vent and forced through the heat exchanger and/or air-cooling coils and into the discharge plenum. Instead of being circulated back into the rooms of the dwelling as is done with the closed heating and/or air conditioning systems of the prior art, the new system exhausts air into the crawl space and outside through wall vents.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 8 of the drawings, a central heating and/or air conditioning system for a dwelling is disclosed that additionally provides a ventilation mode. The modified central heating and/or air conditioning system has a central air handler 11 which is positioned within a building and includes a heat exchanger 13 and/or evaporator cooling coils 15 and blower 17 for transferring air from a return air duct/vent 19 through heat exchanger 13 and/or evaporator cooling coils 15 and into the discharge plenum 21. Discharge plenum 21 then delivers the air through a plurality of ducts 23 to vent the air into different areas of a dwelling. As shown by the arrows, the air normally passes directly from the interior air space 25 through the return air duct/vent 19 into the central air handler 11. The system in accordance with the present invention adds an integrated damper 27 to discharge plenum 21 for air discharge into an attic space 29 or crawl space 39.

As seen in FIG. 1, the invention in the previously-known operating mode has discharge plenum damper 27 closed so that central air handler 11 acts as a conventional up-flowing heating and/or air conditioning system by taking return air via return air duct/vent 19 from interior air space 25 and forcing return air with blower 17 through the heat exchanger 13 and/or evaporator cooling coils 15 for distribution throughout the dwelling via ducts 23 in the ceiling.

As shown in FIG. 2, the invention provides that fresh air is drawn into interior air space 25 through a window 31 or door (not shown). Stale air is drawn into return air duct/vent 19 and forced with blower 17 through central air handler 11 and into discharge plenum 21. Discharge plenum damper 27 is open to allow the free-flow of stale air into the attic space 29. Blower 17 forces stale air from interior air space 25 into attic space 29, and the stale air is expelled through soffit vents 33, roof vents 35, ridge vents 37, or gable openings (not shown).

As seen in FIG. 3, the invention in the previously-known operating mode has discharge plenum damper 27 closed so that central air handler 11 acts as a conventional down-flowing heating and/or air conditioning system by taking return air via return air duct/vent 19 from interior air space 25 and forcing return air with blower 17 through the heat exchanger 13 and/or evaporator cooling coils 15 for distribution throughout the dwelling via ducts 23 in the floor.

As shown in FIG. 4, the invention provides that fresh air is drawn into interior air space 25 through a window 31 or door (not shown). Stale air is drawn into return air duct/vent 19 and forced with blower 17 through central air handler 11 and into discharge plenum 21. Discharge plenum damper 27 is open to allow the free-flow of stale air into crawl space 39. Blower 17 forces stale air from interior air space 25 into crawl space 39, and the stale air is expelled through wall vents 41.

As seen in FIG. 5, the invention in the previously-known operating mode has discharge plenum damper 27 closed so that central air handler 11 acts as a conventional horizontally-flowing heating and/or air conditioning system by taking return air via return air duct/vent 19 from interior air space 25 and forcing return air with blower 17 through the heat exchanger 13 and/or evaporator cooling coils 15 for distribution throughout the dwelling via ducts 23 in the ceiling. In this case, central air handler 11 resides in attic space 29.

As shown in FIG. 6, the invention provides that fresh air is drawn into interior air space 25 through a window 31 or door (not shown). Stale air is drawn into return air duct/vent 19 and forced with blower 17 through central air handler 11 and into discharge plenum 21. Discharge plenum damper 27 is open to allow the free-flow of stale air into attic space 29. Blower 17 forces stale air from interior air space 25 into attic space 29, and the stale air is expelled through soffit vents 33, roof vents 35, ridge vents 37, or gable openings (not shown).

As seen in FIG. 7, the invention in the previously-known operating mode has discharge plenum damper 27 closed so that central air handler 11 acts as a conventional horizontally-flowing heating and/or air conditioning system by taking return air via return air duct/vent 19 from interior air space 25 and forcing return air with blower 17 through the heat exchanger 13 and/or evaporator cooling coils 15 for distribution throughout the dwelling via ducts 23 in the ceiling. In this case, central air handler 11 resides in crawl space 39.

As shown in FIG. 8, the invention provides that fresh air is drawn into interior air space 25 through a window 31 or door (not shown). Stale air is drawn into return air duct/vent 19 and forced with blower 17 through central air handler 11 and into discharge plenum 21. Discharge plenum damper 27 is open to allow the free-flow of stale air into crawl space 39. Blower 17 forces stale air from interior air space 25 into crawl space 39, and the stale air is expelled through wall vents 41.

Opening and closing integrated damper 27 may be accomplished with an electric motor and screw drive, as seen in FIGS. 1-8. The inventor contemplates other methods of opening and closing integrated damper 27 such as other electro-mechanically driven methods utilizing hydraulic pistons, springs, ball bearings, or the like. Whatever the drive mechanism, opening and closing integrated damper 27 operates to change the system from normal mode to vent mode. The inventor contemplates both manual and automatic methods of opening and closing integrated damper 27. As an example of suggested operation, integrated damper 27 can be opened by turning central air handler 11 to the off position, energizing the drive mechanism to open or close integrated damper 27 until integrated damper 27 is fully open, and turning central air handler 11 to a “vent mode” that energizes blower 17 without activating either heat exchanger 13 or evaporator cooling coils 15.

In accordance with the present invention, a central air handling system can be conveniently converted to a central ventilation system using outside fresh air for ventilating an entire dwelling when the outside conditions and temperature are such that the cooling or heating system is not needed. However, it should be clear that the present invention is not to be construed as limited to the forms shown, which are to be considered illustrative rather than restrictive.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7357440 *Apr 3, 2007Apr 15, 2008Peter CalandruccioCamper
US8543244 *Dec 18, 2009Sep 24, 2013Oliver Joe KeelingHeating and cooling control methods and systems
US20080242216 *Mar 28, 2008Oct 2, 2008Gilles SerinetAir-conditioning system for a room
US20090186570 *Jan 17, 2008Jul 23, 2009Riggins William PAir Handling System
US20100211224 *Dec 18, 2009Aug 19, 2010EnaGea LLCHeating and cooling control methods and systems
US20110207391 *May 4, 2011Aug 25, 2011Exaflop LlcControlled Warm Air Capture
Classifications
U.S. Classification236/49.3, 62/186
International ClassificationF24F7/00, F25D17/04
Cooperative ClassificationF24F2011/0002, F24F3/0442
European ClassificationF24F3/044B