US 3012762 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
J. w. NORRIS 3,012,762 MODULAR UNITS FOR AIR HEATING, COOLING AND VENTILATING SYST S Filed Aug. 18, 19
Dec. 12, 1961 ATTORNEYS.
3,012,762 Patented Dec. 12, 1961 ice Iowa
Filed Aug. 18, 1958, Ser. No. 755,735 3 Claims. (Cl. 257-295) This invention relates generally to modular units for air heating, cooling and ventilating systems, and more particularly to a novel vertical stacking of selected pluralities of such units with special means for insuring alignment and detachable interconnection thereof.
This invention contemplates an entirely new and basic concept for the construction of furnace and air conditioning installations, wherein completely self-contained and independent modular .uints of equal and constant cross section are adapted for selective choice and superposed stacked assembly.
In the past, combination air treating installations for heating, cooling, or both heating and cooling combined, have been achieved by one of three basic design approaches. First, all-weather air treatment has been provided by adding a cooling coil unit downstream of the air flow from a furnace unit designed primarily for forced warm air heating. Second, it has been common to mount a cooling coil unit having its own independent blower in parallel flow relation to a furnace unit designed primarily for forced warm air heating. This second approach has required interconnection of the respective plenum chambers above the furnace unit and the cooling unit, and the provision of automatic dampers at the spaces of the plenum chambers for selective switching from heating to cooling air flow. Third, it has been customary to construct a combination air treating unit within a single unitary cabinet containing a furnace heat exchanger, a cooling coil unit, a blower fan, and appropriate control devices.
All of these former approaches have necessarily required substantial design compromises, and have sacrificed the optimum eiiiciencies in either heating or cooling which might otherwise be obtained for each specifically different installation and its particular use demands. For example, a furnace that is designed primarily for warm air heating does not have sufficient air handling capacity to perform a good air cooling job. The ratio between heating and cooling requirements varies so greatly in buildings of various types and different occupancies that it is not possible to obtain an optimum combination of heating and cooling under the said first former method of adding a cooling coil downstream of the furnace.
Although the use of a separate blower-powered cooling coil in combination with a standard warm air furnace will provide both good heating and cooling performance, such structures have necessarily .been expensive and bulky. In many homes, the available space for utility installation has not been suflicient for such tandem arrangements. Still further, the use of flow selection dampers has necessarily introduced sources of air leakage, and such dampers are costly to install and to service. The said second former design approach has been, therefore, far short of a fully satisfactory and efiicient method.
The said third former approach of large and unitary combination structures has been unacceptable for domestic use, because, from the manufacturing and selling standpoint, it is a practical impossiblity to maintain an adequate inventory of the vast number of different combinations which would be required for various fuels and heating capacities, various cooling capacities, and various air handling rates. Still further, from the customers standpoint, it is necessary to initially purchase a complete combination unit rather than to first install heating and subsequently add cooling at some later date when the added expenses can be more easily assumed.
In order to fully appreciate the marked departure in basic design concept of the present invention over the former approaches reviewed above, it is important to first generally outline the recent history of the building construction and air treating fields. In this way, the existing problems and the novel solution offered by the present invention will be more particularly emphasized and clarified.
Central all-season air conditioning is rapidly approaching a standard status for new home construction, much in the same way as central heating has been standard in the past. The increasing demand for all-season air treatment is bringing about basic changes in home construction. In the Southern areas of the United States, houses have been built in the past with relatively loose materials and techniques, and little or no insulation has been employed. Heating requirements have not been severe in such areas and house construction practices and local building codes have accordingly not been strict. With the advent of central air conditioning, however, Southern home construction 'has been improving drastically. In order to be able to cool with equipment of reasonable size, and at reasonable installation and operating cost, Southern homes are now being built tightly with good insulation; fewer openable window sections are employed; unusually large glass surfaces are voided on Southern and Western exposures; windows and doors are weather stripped into their frames on factory assembly lines; and air'lcakage into and out of new houses is cut to a fraction of former levels.
In the Northern areas of the United States, home owners have begun to look forward to increased summer cooling, and substantially the same improvements in house construction as are taking place in the South are also present in the North, although the required magnitude of improvement has not been as great. Nevertheless, even in the North, new houses are characterized by more insulation, fewer openable windows, and more weather stripping.
The net result of this general trend in improvement in building construction nationwide is that heat losses in winter are now far less in ratio to building size than heretofore. When houses were poorly insulated and subject to substantial air leakage, there was a great deal of natural ventilation through the infiltration of air around doors and windows. ,Hot water, steam and radiant heating systems, which provide only heat and no ventilation, perform well under such conditions because of the complementary. elfect of the ventilation produced by natural infiltration into the house. As houses have tightened up, however, such natural ventilation has disappeared. Consequently, it has now becomenecessary to provide mechanical ventilation for air freshening in virtually all new home construction. Such mechanical ventilation is of increasing importance for odor and smoke removal and for general over-all living comfort. 7
As the nature of home construction has changedwit respect to scaling and insulation, there has been another and parallel trend of substantial importance.- During the building boom which followed World -War II, construction costs climbed extremely steeply to high levels.
Floor space became increasinglyexpensive, andbuilders demanded smaller and more compact furnace equipment.
reduction in blower size for the more compact furnaces which have been in demand. This has resulted in less Decreased furnace sizes havemade it necessary, for furnace manufacturers to effects corresponding must be operated at correspondingly higher and necessarily noiser speeds in order to push air at the required velocities through restricted cabinets. Where the primary interest has been in heating alone, such small but noisy units have been in widespread demand. With the new and increasing demand for all-season air conditioning, however, builders and home owners have recognized the importance of equipment which is capable of producing year around air comfort, and there is now a willingness by builders to provide the necessary space requircd for good equipment rather than to demand the smallest closet available. In addition, the all-season operation of blowers continuously throughout the entire year makes it extremely important to provide whisper quiet operation in a system of sufficiently low resistance to air travel so that proper air volumes can be handled quietly and at low power cost.
It is with the recognition of these trends and demands for domestic and light commercial all-season air conditioning, that the present invention is directed to a novel concept of separate cabinet units of uniform cross section adapted to be selectively stacked one above the other and in relatively interchangeable order for enabling full flexibility of choice and selection of the component elements of any desired air treating system. It is the primary object of this invention, therefore, to provide individual and separate modular units comprising blower, heating, and cooling coil cabinets of equal and constant cross section, each having centering, aligning and coupling means at the upper and lower facing ends thereof for interchangeable and detachable stacking in selected combinations.
It is another object of this invention to provide, in modular stackable units of the aforesaid type, threaded socket means adapted to removably receive a cooperating threaded plug member providing an extended aligning pin, whereby threaded insertion of the plug member in the socket means of a first modular cabinet unit enables aligned insertion of the extended pin thereof in the facing socket means of a second modular cabinet unit in stacked, coupled relation upon the first.
Further objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent as the following description proceeds, and the features of novelty which characterize this invention will be pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed to and forming part of this specification.
A preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in the accompanying drawing, in which:
FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of three separate modular air treating units of equal cross section adapted to be stacked in vertically superposed relation and in detachably interconnected alignment.
FIGURE 2 is a diagrammatic illustration of a stacked combination of modular units for all-season air conditioning, wherein air flow is effected in an upwardly directed straight-line pattern from a bottom blower unit through an intermediate furnace unit for discharge from a top cooling coil unit;
FIGURE 3 is another diagrammatic view similar to FIGURE 2, showing another stacked combination of modular units, wherein air flow is effected in a downwardly directed straight-line pattern from a top unit through an intermediate furnace unit for discharge from a bottom cooling coil unit;
FIGURE 4 is a fragmentary perspective view of a stacking end of a modular unit cabinet;
FIGURE 5 is a cross sectional view taken at the corner of a modular unit cabinet, and showing the coupling and aligning means for detachable stacking in combination with other and cooperating modular unit cabinets;
FIGURE 6 is a cross sectional view, similar to FIG- URE 5, showing the coupling and aligning means in cooperative relation with two stackingly engaged modular unit cabinets, the removable plug having its extended pin portion projecting upwardly from the lower cabinet 4 into the aligned and facing socket means of the upper cabinet; and
FIGURE 7 is a cross sectional view, similar to FIG- URE 6, wherein the removable plug has its extended pin portion projecting downwardly from the Upper cabinet into the aligned and facing socket means of the lower cabinet.
Referring now more particularly to the drawing, I have illustrated in FIGURE 1 a blower unit It! comprising a module or basic unit of a combination of stacked modular units for achieving a desired air treating installation in accordance with the present invention. The unit 1% is of generally block form, providing vertical side walls and a rectangular cross section. ljhe' blower unit 16 may comprise any suitable combination of fan, motor, and filter structure.
A furnace unit 12 provides a cabinet geometry correspondingly coordinated with that of the blower unit 10, and providing a substantially identical rectangular cross section. It will be apparent that the vertical height of the respective units 10 and 12 may differ, and it is essential only that the cross sectional shape and s ze of the respective units correspond substantially identically. The furnace unit 12 may embody either an oil or a gas fired combustion chamber and suitable heat exchange structure for elevating the temperature of a flow of arr directed therethrough by the cooperating blower unit 10.
A cooling coil unit 14 also provides the same corrisponding geometry as the units 10 and 12, and more particularly a substantially identical rectangular cross section. Again, the vertical height of the unit 14 may vary in accordance with the size and orientation of a suitable cooling coil unit to be mounted therein.
It will be understood that corresponding modular units having internal structures suitable for a heat pump type of combination heating and cooling operation may be adapted for use in accordance with the principles and features of the present invention. It will be understood that the furnace unit 12 and heating unit l t of the combination illustrated in FIGURE 1 may be replaced for such purposes by a suitable electrical strip heater and and a cooling coil unit of a heat pump system.
It will be apparent from FIGURE 1 of the drawing,- that the modular units 10, 12 and 14, or the pair 10 and 12. where heating only is desired, or the pair 10 and 14 where cooling only is desired, are geometrically coordinated for uniformly vertically aligned stacking, one above the other. Each modular unit is in effect a block" which may be interchangeably stacked in any desired order relative to the cooperating blocks of a desired air treating system.
For example, in FIGURE 2 of the drawing I have illustrated a stacked arrangement of the units of FIGURE 1, wherein the blower unit 10 comprises the bottom or base block, and the furnace unit 12 and cooling coil unit 14 are stacked, respectively, in vertically upward alignment upon the blower unit 10. Such an arrange ment provides an all-season air conditioner characterized by a uniformly vertically upward air flow path or pattern, as indicated by the flow arrows in FIGURE 2. A suitable source of room or outside air is drawn inwardly and upwardly through the blower unit 10, and is thereafter directed through the furnace unit 12 to receive heat therefrom. Each heating operation is called for by a suitable thermostatic control system, and the heated air thereafter passes upwardly through the then non-operative cooling coil unit 14 for discharge at the top thereof into a suitable distribution duct system for transmission to the various room spaces of a building. If cooling is called for by the thermostatic control of the system, the cooling coil within the unit 14 will be operative to withdraw heat from the air flowing upwardly through the then non-operative furnace unit 12 for lowering its temperature as desired. It will be understood that the heating function of the unit 12 and the cooling function of the unit 14 will be performed alternately as necessary, and the air flow through the stacked combination of units will be unaffected by the non-operative one of the two temperature controlling units.
In FIGURE 3 of the drawing, I have illustrated an alternative stacked combination of units again for allseason air conditioning, wherein a blower unit 19', a furnace unit 12, and an air cooling unit 14 are shown in reversed stacked orientation relative to the arrangement of FIGURE 2; that is, the blower unit is disposed at the top of the stack for directing the air flow pattern in a relatively straight and vertically downward path consecutively through the furnace unit 12' and the cooling coil unit 14 for discharge at the bottom of the latter into a suitable distribution duct system, as indicated by the flow arrows.
It will be apparent, therefore, that the respective modular units of any combination installation may be stacked with full freedom of selective choice and orientation, in accordance with the particular structural or architectural demands of each given installation. The furnace unit may be selected in an entirely independent manner relative to the blower and air cooling units with which it will be cooperatively installed. Similarly, the cooling coil unit is subject to this same freedom of choice and selection, and may be added to an initial installation of the basic heating combination at some later time. In practice, the blower unit will be of identical size and structure in all installations. For example, the unit 10 of FIGURE 2 and the unit Ill of FIGURE 3 are identical except for the direction in which they are faced relative to the other cooperating units. In order to provide the desired air flow capacity, it is merely necessary to select an appropriate motor and drive coupling for the blower structure so as to achieve the appropriately desired powering of the same size fan. For example, a relatively high powered, single speed drive may be desired for a cooling-only combination of units 10 and 14; a relatively low powered, single speed drive may be desired for a heating only combination of units 10 and 12; and a relatively high powered, multispeed operation may be desired for combination heating and cooling as in the three-unit stacks of FIGURES 2 and 3.
It is a highly important feature of the present invention to provide detachable coupling and aligning means for fixedly oriented stacking of the respective modular units in their desired combinations. In FIGURE 4 of the drawing, I have indicated generally at 20 the casing or cabinet of any of the modular units heretofore described. The cabinet 20 provides a peripheral side wall or wrapper 22, preferably of No. 20 gauge steel having molded corners and uniformly curved lines to provide an attractive symmetry and uniformity of appearance. A chamber space 24 is defined, within which the mechanical blower,
furnace or cooling coil structures of the various modular units may be fixedly mounted. A peripheral edge or face flange as is provided at the opposed horizontal ends of the cabinet 20, and serves to provide the engaging or supporting surface for unit stacking.
Corner gussets 28 and end pieces 30 may be employed in accordance with the particular cabinet design to provide mounting means for an inwardly projecting weld nut 32 having a threaded bore 34 which definesthe socket or receptacle means of the aligning and coupling structure. Weld nuts 32 are suitably welded at the inner face of either the gussets 28 or end pieces 30, at each of the four corners of the cabinet 20 and at'both ends thereof, with the bore 34 of each weld nut in alignment with a suitable opening 36 in the supporting gusset or end piece.
A plurality of plug members 38 each provide a threaded base portion 44 adapted to be received within the bore 34 of a corresponding weld nut 32. An extended pin 6 portion 42 of the plug member 38 extends a substantial distance outwardly of the casing edge flange 25 when the plug member 38 is cooperatively threaded into the weld nut 32. The free end of the extended pin 42 is formed with a cross slot 44 for reception of a suitable tool, such as a screwdriver, to facilitate insertion and removal of the plug member 38.
It will be apparent from FIGURES 6 and 7 that the stacking of one modular unit upon another results in the mated coupling of the facing weld nuts of the two units by means of the plug members 38. The identical parts of the lower and upper units have been designated by the same reference numerals as have been used in FIGURE 5 with added letters a and b to distinguish between the respective stacked units. The plug members may be threadedly inserted in the Weld nuts of either one of an opposed pair of stacked units, depending solely upon convenience, and the corresponding open weld nuts of the other or facing unit of such a stacked pair Will receive the extended pin portions of the plug members in the free socket means provided thereby. In this way, the cooperating weld nuts and plug members serve to effect and insure alignment of each modular unit with a cooperating unit upon which or below which it may be stacked. The uniform cross sectional size and shape of the respective modular units thereby achieves a uniformity and planar symmetry of the peripheral side walls of the respective stacked units so as to give the resulting combination the appearance of a single cabinet assembly of clean line and of minimum floor space and room volume.
In the practical manufacture of cabinet structures for the modular units of the present invention, the follow ing sequence of operations is preferred. The weld nuts 32 are first welded to the corresponding corner gussets 28 or end pieces 34 from which they are to project at the four corners of each end of a cabinet. The corner gussets with attached nuts are next located within the cabinet proper by means of locating pins in a suitable jig assembly, and are then welded to the cabinet side walls 22 or edge flanges 26. It has been found satisfactory to first introduce the bottom locating pins, by suitable pneumatic means, into the projecting weld nuts and attached cabinet parts at a lower end, and to then elevate the entire cabinet assembly so as to move the projecting weld nuts at the upper end thereof into a corresponding group of top locating pins. Thus aligned and centered, the cabinet parts may be welded together, and the internal mechanical structure fixedly mounted therein.
In this way, the weld nuts in the four corners of the opposite ends of each modular unit are uniformly located on the same centers and in vertical axial alignment. Upon insertion of the cooperating plug members 38, the units may be readily stacked for detachable interconnection in a manner which insures proper and uniform alignment of the stacked modules.
While there has been shown and described a particular embodiment of this invention, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the invention and, therefore, it is intended in the appended claims to'cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.
What I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States is:
1. In combination, a plurality of separate, modular cabinet units, each of said units being of equal external cross-section and having independent air treatment means enclosed and supported therein, said units when axially aligned in vertically stacked relation providing a vertical air treatment flow path consecutively therethrough, and
connector means at the axially opposite ends of each unit operative to center, align and detachably secure said units in a vertical, selectively interchangeable stack, said connector means comprising a plurality of threaded socket means fixedly disposed at predetermined peripherally spaced points at the axially opposite ends of each unit, and a corresponding plurality of cooperating threaded plug members each providing a coaxially extended aligning pin, whereby alternative threaded insertion of a plug member in axially fixed relation within the socket means of a first one of said modular cabinet units enables aligned insertion of the extended pin thereof in axially removable relation within the facing socket means of a second one of said modular cabinet units in stacked, detachably coupled relation upon said first one.
2. In combination, a plurality of separate, modular cabinet units of equal and uniform cross-section, one of said units having air impelling means enclosed and supported therein for air discharge from one axial end thereof, independent air treatment means enclosed and supported within the other of said plurality of units, said units when axially aligned in vertically stacked relation providing a vertical air treatment flow path consecutively therethrough, and connector means at the axially opposed ends of each unit operative to center, align and detachably secure said units in a vertical, selectively interchangeable stack, whereby said one of saiil" units may be reversibly oriented below and above tlf other of said units for alternative upward and downward air treatment flow paths, said connector means comprising a plurality of threaded socket means fixedy disposed at predetermined peripherally spaced points at the axially opposite ends of each unit, and a corresponding plurality of cooperating threaded plug members each providing a coaxially extended aligning pin, whereby alternative threaded insertion of a plug member in axially fixed relation within the socket means of said one of said modular cabinet units enables aligned insertion of the extended pin thereof in axially removable relation within the facing socket means of another one of said modular cabinet units in stacked, detachably coupled relation upon said one of said units.
3. In combination all-weather air treating equipment formed of a plurality of separate, modular cabinet units comprising a blower unit, a heating unit and a cooling unit, each of said units being of equal external cross-see tion and having corresponding independent air treatment means enclosed and supported therein, said units when axially aligned in vertically stacked relation providing a vertical air treatment flow path consecutively therethrough, and connector means at the axially opposed ends of each unit to center, align and detachably secure said units in a vertical, selectively interchangeable stack, whereby said blower unit may be reversibly oriented as the lowermost or uppermost unit of said stack for alternative upward and downward air treatment flow paths.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,220,594 Young et a1 Nov. 5, 1940 2,816,423 Brugler Dec. 17, 1957 FOREIGN PATENTS 787,825 Great Britain Dec. 18, 1957