|Publication number||USRE37642 E1|
|Application number||US 08/941,408|
|Publication date||Apr 9, 2002|
|Filing date||Sep 30, 1997|
|Priority date||Jun 8, 1994|
|Also published as||US5513296|
|Publication number||08941408, 941408, US RE37642 E1, US RE37642E1, US-E1-RE37642, USRE37642 E1, USRE37642E1|
|Inventors||Andrew M. Goldstein|
|Original Assignee||The Holmes Group, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (42), Non-Patent Citations (2), Referenced by (18), Classifications (15), Legal Events (10)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates generally to electric heaters and more specifically to positive temperature coefficient (PTC) electric heaters.
Two well-known types of electric heaters are the resistance-wire heater and the positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heater. In a resistance-wire heater, heat is produced by passing current through an electric wire. In a PTC heater, heat is produced by passing current through a plurality of electrically interconnected PTC (ceramic)pellets. The primary drawback of the resistance-wire heater is its propensity for overheating, which can often result in a fire if there are flammable items within the heater's immediate vicinity. More specifically, the heat source in a resistance-wire heater can often reach temperatures as high as 1600 degrees fahrenheit, well above the limit of combustible materials. Without installing a an effective safety mechanism in the resistance-wire heaters, the possibility of overheating and fire is present.
In contrast to the resistance-wire type heaters, the possibility of overheating and fire in a PTC heater is not present. This is a result of the self-limiting characteristic of the PTC element's temperature. Due to the physical chemistry of the doped ceramic material of which the PTC elements are made in a PTC heater, the PTC elements effectively shut off at a relatively low temperature. Typically, once a PTC element's temperature rises to approximately 340 degrees fahrenheit, the resistance of the element rises to a point to completely eliminate the flow of current through it, thereby preventing any further rising of the FTC element's temperature. This physical characteristic of a ceramic FTC heater element prevents overheating and eliminates the possibility of fire.
In addition, FTC heaters are more durable than resistance-wire heaters. A limitation of PTC heaters, however, is that the heat produced is directed over a relatively small area. This is due primarily to the size and shape of the heater assembly containing the ceramic pellets.
Some pertinent patents include U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,245,692, 5,197,112, 4,965,432, 4,737,616, 4,703,153, 4,518,847, and 4,459,466.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved PTC heater.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a PTC heater which is small in volume and which can generate a large amount of heat.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide a PTC heater which disperses the heat emitted over a large area.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a PTC heater which can be mass produced, has a minimal number of parts, and can be easily assembled.
In furtherance of the objects broadly set forth above, a positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heater is provided which comprises a housing having a front and a rear, the front and rear each having at least one opening therein, a fan mounted within the housing for producing a flow of air in from the opening in the rear and out through the opening in the front, a pair of positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heater assemblies disposed in the housing in front of the fan in side by side relationship and angled relative to each other, and a plenum mounted in the housing for directing the air flow produced by the fan toward the PTC heater assemblies.
Additional objects, as well as features and advantages, of the present invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will be obvious from the description or may be learned by practice of the invention. In the description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part thereof and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments for practicing the invention. These embodiments will be described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present invention is best defined by the appended claims.
The accompanying drawings, which are hereby incorporated into and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate various embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings wherein like reference numerals represent like parts:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heater constructed according to this invention;
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the heater shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic top section view of the heater shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is an electrical schematic of the heater shown in FIG. 1; and
FIG. 5 is a top sectional view of the heater shown in FIG. 1, the path of the air flow being indicated by arrows.
Referring now to the drawings and more particularly to FIGS. 1 and 2, there is shown one embodiment of a positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heater constructed according to the teachings of the present inventor, the PTC heater being represented generally by reference numeral 11.
Heater 11 includes a housing 13 comprising a front portion 15 and a rear portion 17. Front portion 15 and rear portion 17 are attached together by means of screws 19 threaded through holes 21, or by any similar connective means to define a structure having a left side 23, a right side 25, a front 26-1, and a rear 26-2. Rear portion 17 includes an opening 27 through which air enters heater 11 and front portion 15 includes a pair of opening 29-1 and 29-2 through which air exits heater 11.
An electric fan 31 is fixedly mounted inside housing 13. Electric fan 31 comprises a motor 33 and a set of fan blades 35. Activating electric fan 31 by means of main switch 32 creates a flow of air from opening 27 into heater 11 and out through the pair of openings 29-1 and 29-2.
A pair of positive temperature coefficient (PTC) heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2 are mounted on a PTC heater assembly housing 38 disposed inside housing 13, in front of electric fan 31 and in a side-by-side relationship. PTC heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2 are rectangular in cross-section and each comprise a plurality of ceramic PTC pellets 39 held in a grid of conductive material 41. By activating main switch 32, an electric current is supplied to PTC heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2 through prongs 45 causing ceramic pellets 39 to heat up. The heat produced by ceramic pellets 39 is then efficiently radiated forward by an air flow produced by electric fan 31.
A plenum 43 is mounted in the front portion of rear portion 17, situated immediately in front of fan 35 and immediately behind PTC heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2. Once electric fan 31 is activated by main switch 32, thereby producing a flow of air through heater 11 originating from rear air inlet 27, plenum 43 serves the function of directing the flow of air through PTC heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2, thereby ensuring that the flow of air passes through the PTC heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2 and does not recirculate throughout heater 11.
Referring now to FIG. 3, PTC heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2 are shown orientated inside housing 13 in an angular fashion in order to provide a diverging column of heated air. As can be seen, heater assembly 37-1 is disposed on left side 23 of housing 13 and heater assembly 37-2 is disposed on right side 25 of housing 13. A left grille 47 and a right grille 49 are mounted on front portion 15 of housing 13, left grille 25 47 being aligned in parallel with heater assembly 37-1 and right grille 49 being aligned with heater assembly 37-2. Housing 13 has a longitudinal axis 51 and heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2 are each disposed at an angle a from the normal 53 of longitudinal axis 51. In the present embodiment, angle α is approximately 7.5 degrees, which results in a diverging column of heated air, diverging at about 7.5 degrees on each side of axis 51; however, it should be noted that the present invention is not limited to an angle α of exactly 7.5 degrees since angle α may be increased or decreased to create different dispersion patterns of heated air. It should also be noted that the present invention is not limited to using only two heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2. More than two heater assemblies 37-1 and 37-2 may be situated in heater 11 and be angularly orientated relative to each other.
Referring now to FIG. 4, there is shown a schematic of heater 11. The circuit diagram for heater 11 comprises a pair of high temperature heating elements 55, a pair or low temperature heating elements 57, a fan motor 33, a main switch 32, a power indicator lamp 59, a temperature indicator lamp 61, an adjustable thermostat 63, a left manual reset switch 65, and a right manual reset switch 67.
The embodiments of the present invention described above are intended to be merely exemplary and those skilled in the art shall be able to make numerous variations and modifications to it without departing from the spirit of the present invention. All such variations and modifications are intended to be within the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims.
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|U.S. Classification||392/367, 392/368, D23/335|
|International Classification||H05B3/14, F24H3/04, H05B3/16|
|Cooperative Classification||F24H9/1872, H05B2203/02, H05B3/148, F24H3/0417, H05B3/16|
|European Classification||H05B3/14S, F24H9/18B2A, H05B3/16, F24H3/04B2B|
|Dec 8, 1997||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BANKBOSTON, N.A., MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:HOLMES PRODUCT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:008848/0325
Effective date: 19971126
|Sep 25, 2000||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: HOLMES GROUP, INC., THE, MASSACHUSETTS
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:HOLMES PRODUCTS CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:011114/0696
Effective date: 20000912
|Dec 31, 2002||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Apr 30, 2003||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Sep 2, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION, AS COLLATERA
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