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Publication numberUS20120048955 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/856,773
Publication date1 Mar 2012
Filing date27 Aug 2010
Priority date27 Aug 2010
Also published asCN102401449A
Publication number12856773, 856773, US 2012/0048955 A1, US 2012/048955 A1, US 20120048955 A1, US 20120048955A1, US 2012048955 A1, US 2012048955A1, US-A1-20120048955, US-A1-2012048955, US2012/0048955A1, US2012/048955A1, US20120048955 A1, US20120048955A1, US2012048955 A1, US2012048955A1
InventorsAndy Lin, Erich Schroeder, Nicole Moody
Original AssigneeHunter Fan Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Thermostat
US 20120048955 A1
Abstract
A thermostat (10) includes a housing (11) having a control panel (13) with a plurality of manually selectable input elements or input keys (15) and a display panel (17) for displaying various functions of the programmable thermostat. The programmable thermostat also includes a temperature sensor (18), a microprocessor (19) having memory for storing a schedule program set which includes a number of schedule time periods. Each schedule time period includes a start time, end time and temperature. The manual programming of select schedule time periods may automatically set the start and end times of another schedule time period.
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Claims(10)
1. A programmable thermostat for controlling space conditioning equipment comprising:
a temperature sensor;
a display panel;
a clock;
a processor;
memory coupled to said processor for receiving a schedule program set for at least one of a heating and cooling mode, said schedule program set defined by a plurality of schedule time periods, each schedule time period having a temperature setting for at least one of a heating and cooling mode and a time value set including a start time value and an end time value;
said processor enabling the manual entry of at least one said time value set for at least one said schedule time period, said processor automatically entering at least one said time value set for another said schedule time period in response to the manual entry of the at least one said time value set of said schedule time period.
2. The programmable thermostat of claim 1 wherein upon the manual entry of said time value set for a first schedule time period and a second schedule time period said processor automatically enters at least one time value set for a third schedule time period.
3. The programmable thermostat of claim 2 wherein said processor automatically enters two time value sets for a third schedule time period.
4. A programmable thermostat for controlling space conditioning equipment comprising:
a temperature sensor;
a display panel;
a clock;
a processor;
memory coupled to said processor for receiving a schedule program set for at least one of a heating and cooling mode, said schedule program set including a first schedule time period, a second schedule time period, and a third schedule time period;
said first schedule time period including a first time value set which includes a first start time setting and a first end time setting, and a first temperature setting;
said second schedule time period including a second time value set which includes a second start time setting and a second end time setting, and a second temperature setting;
said third schedule time period including at least one third time value set which includes a third start time setting and a third end time setting, and at least one third temperature setting;
said processor automatically enters a time value into memory for said third time value set in response to the manual entry of a time value into memory for either said first time value set or said second time value set.
5. The programmable thermostat of claim 4 wherein said third schedule time period may include two third sub-schedule time periods, and wherein each of said third sub-schedule time periods includes a sub-third start time setting and a sub-third end time setting.
6. A programmable thermostat for controlling space conditioning equipment comprising:
a temperature sensor;
a display panel;
a clock;
a processor;
memory coupled to said processor for receiving a schedule program set for at least one of a heating and cooling mode, said schedule program set including a first schedule time period, a second schedule time period, and a third schedule time period;
said first schedule time period including a first start time setting and a first end time setting;
said second schedule time period including a second start time setting and a second end time setting;
said third schedule time period including a third start time setting, a third end time setting, a fourth start time setting, and a fourth end time setting;
said processor automatically enters a value into memory for either said third start time setting, said third end time setting, said fourth start time setting, or said fourth end time setting in response to the manual entry of a value into memory for either said first start time setting, said first end time setting, said second start time setting, or said second end time setting.
7. The programmable thermostat of claim 6 wherein said third schedule time period may include two third sub-schedule time periods, and wherein each of said third sub-schedule time periods includes a sub-third start time setting and a sub-third end time setting.
8. A programmable thermostat for controlling space conditioning equipment comprising:
a temperature sensor;
a display panel;
a clock;
a processor;
memory coupled to said processor for receiving a schedule program set for at least one of a heating and cooling mode, said schedule program set including a first schedule time period, a second schedule time period, and a third schedule time period;
said first schedule time period including a first start time setting and a first end time setting;
said second schedule time period including a second start time setting and a second end time setting;
said third schedule time period;
said processor automatically creates two third sub-schedule time periods associated with said third schedule time period upon entry into memory of a time value associated with said second start time setting which is spaced in time from the time value associated with said first end time setting or upon entry into memory of a time value associated with said second end time setting which is spaced in time from the time value associated with said first start time setting.
9. The programmable thermostat of claim 8 wherein said first schedule time period includes a first temperature setting, said second schedule time period includes a second temperature setting, and said third schedule time period includes a third temperature setting.
10. The programmable thermostat of claim 8 wherein each of said two third sub-schedule time periods includes a third sub-start time setting and a third sub-end time setting.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to thermostats, and specifically to programmable electronic thermostats.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Thermostats have existed for many years. Recently, programmable thermostats have been designed to include programmable capabilities that include multiple “time periods” associated with each day so that a user may select different times to start and stop each “time period” and different temperatures (both heating and cooling) associated with each “time period”. The thermostat then controls a heating and/or cooling system (HVAC system) according to the programmed times and temperatures for each “time period” throughout the day. The use of these select “time periods” decrease the energy expenses associated with the running of the HVAC system by running the system at different temperatures when the homeowner is “away” from the home, i.e., the thermostat is programmed to operate the heating system at a cooler temperature setting and operates the cooling system at a higher temperature setting when the owner is suppose to be “away” according to the day and time programmed in the thermostat.

However, the programming of each of the multiple “time periods” can become very tedious. Furthermore, it may be possible to program the thermostat so that an overlapping of time occurs between two concurrent time periods.

Accordingly, it is seen that a need remains for a thermostat that is capable of reducing the number of entries a person must manually operate when programming a thermostat. It is to the provision of such therefore that the present invention is primarily directed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a preferred form of the invention a programmable thermostat for controlling space conditioning equipment comprises a temperature sensor, a display panel, a clock, a processor, and memory coupled to the processor for receiving a schedule program set for at least one of a heating and cooling mode. The schedule program set including a first schedule time period, a second schedule time period, and a third schedule time period. The first schedule time period includes a first time value set which includes a first start time setting and a first end time setting, and a first temperature setting. The second schedule time period includes a second time value set which includes a second start time setting and a second end time setting, and a second temperature setting. The third schedule time period includes at least one third time value set which includes a third start time setting and a third end time setting, and at least one third temperature setting. The processor automatically enters a time value into memory for the third time value set in response to the manual entry of a time value into memory for either the first time value set or the second time value set.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1-7 are a series of schematic views of a thermostat embodying principles of the invention in a preferred form, showing different stages of the programming sequence.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference next to the drawings, there is shown a thermostat 10 embodying principles of the invention in a preferred form. The thermostat 10 includes a housing 11 having a control panel 13 with a plurality of manually selectable input elements or input keys 15 and a display panel 17 for displaying various functions of the programmable thermostat, as depicted schematically in FIGS. 1-7. The design of the thermostat control panel 13 of the present invention may be of various sizes, shapes and configurations. The programmable thermostat 10 may include many different computer architectures, but generally requires a temperature sensor 18, a microprocessor or central processing unit (CPU) 19 having a permanent memory such as a read only memory (ROM) 20 for storing the schedule program set or instructions for operation and control of the thermostat, a working memory or random access memory (RAM) 21 that retains or receives at least the particular schedule program set for that day, and a clock 23. The program set, whether that be a default program set or a desired program set as is known in the art, includes a plurality of schedule time periods which each include times and temperatures over a given day associated with both a heating mode and a cooling mode. The microprocessor keeps track of the current day and the present time of day and determines which program of the various program sets the thermostat should be set in, when in its program mode, and then sets the temperature value and controls heating and/or cooling units 22 (HVAC space conditioning equipment) for the appropriate heating or cooling mode through relays, for example, as is well known in the art.

Programmable thermostats that include the present invention may be pre-programmed to enable the operator or user of the thermostat to create or program the thermostat to provide a default program set in the working memory, in accordance with an instruction manual that the user receives with the thermostat or in accordance with prompts that are displayed on the display panel 17. Alternatively, the default program set may be stored in the permanent memory by the thermostat manufacturer and this default program set may be automatically transferred into the working memory upon initialization of the thermostat.

The control panel 13 includes a plus “+” input key 24, a minus “−” input key 25, a “schedule” input key 26, a “home” input key 27, a “cancel” input key 28, a “back” input key 29, a “next” input key 30, a “done” input key 31 and a “menu” input key 32. The “schedule” input key 26 is associated with an “Away” input key 38, and “Asleep” input key 39, and an “At home” input key 40. The “Away” input key 38 is intended to be associated with a “schedule time period” during which the operator/homeowner is away from the home. The “Asleep” input key 39 is intended to be associated with a “schedule time period” during which the operator is asleep within the home. The “At home” input indicator 40 is intended to be associated with a “schedule time period” during which the operator is awake and in the home. While only three “schedule time periods” are shown in the preferred embodiment, it should be understood that the thermostat may include any number of multiple schedule time periods associated with each day. The control panel 13 also includes a “cool” indicator 33, a “heat” indicator 35, a “copy whole day.”, and an “energy saving” bar graph indicator 37. The thermostat may also includes unshown conventionally known cool/heat/auto switches or button and refresh/auto/on switches or button to control the function of the thermostat. The functions of most of these keys and indicators are conventional and well known in the art.

The display panel 17 of the control panel 13 includes a number of display indicia that appears at different times upon the display, as best illustrated in the drawings and description of the programming method described herein. The display indicia includes a days of the week display 41, temperature display 42, time period start time display 43, time period end time display 44, and operating and programming instructions display 46. Additional indicia that can be displayed are current temperature, current time, fan symbols, and other commonly used nomenclature associated with thermostats.

In use, the system is initially set up by entering the day, date and time by utilizing the “+” input key 24 or “−” input key 25 until the appropriate date and time appear. If the user initially skips the schedule set-up process, then the default program set (pre-programmed) or schedule will go into effect. The default schedule provides for a fairly standard time schedule with temperature settings which provide comfort yet are high enough on the cool setting (cooling mode) and low enough on the heat setting (heating mode) to provide a very efficient mode of operation of the HVAC unit.

If the user wishes to program the thermostat with his or her own schedule (a desired program set) the user presses the Schedule input key 26, as shown in FIG. 2. With the actuation of the “schedule” indicator 26, the system then prompts the user to select a day of the week (Monday through Sunday) through the use of the “+” and “−” input keys or by depressing upon the day when used with a touchscreen, which turns the indicator arrow (triangle) on the display on or off accordingly, highlights the selected day, or otherwise indicated the chosen day. With the selection of the day (example, Tuesday in FIG. 3), the thermostat displays the three schedule time periods “Away”, “Asleep” and “At home” associated with the corresponding Away input key 38, Asleep input key 39, and “At home” input key 30. In other words, a desired schedule program set of custom “schedule time periods” or modes (“Away” associated with the Away input indicator 38, “Asleep” associated with the Asleep input indicator 39, and “At home” associated with the “At home” input indicator 40) which are associated with a plurality of desired “schedule time period” time and temperature programs is displayed. The display includes the entry of a desired temperature value and desired time values (start time value and end time value), indicated by a change in appearance of the display directly adjacent the “Schedule” input key 26, as shown in FIG. 4 wherein a small triangle appears adjacent the Away input indicator 38. However, other methods of indicating may be utilized such as blinking, the reverse of background and foreground appearances or other commonly known methods.

The thermostat preferably commences with the “Away” time period as indicated by the triangle adjacent the Away input key 38. The thermostat automatically displays the “Away” time period pre-selected time (08:00 AM) and temperature (60 F) associated with the start time display 43, end time display 44 and temperature display 42. Again, the user may then utilize the “+” and “−” input keys 24 and 25 to change the value or setting entered into the desired start time for the “Away” time period to a desired time, as shown by the change to 08:15 AM in FIG. 5. The user enters the desired start time value with the depression of the “next” input key 30. The thermostat then highlights the end time on the end time display 44. The user may then again utilize the “+” and “−” input keys 24 and 25 to change the desired end time value for the “Away” time period to a desired time. The user enters the desired end time value in the same manner as previously described in reference to the start time value.

Next, the thermostat displays a pre-selected temperature value associated with the heat mode of operation on the temperature display 42. Again, the user may then utilize the “+” and “−” input keys 24 and 25 to change the desired temperature value for the “Away” mode to a desired temperature value. The heat mode temperature value is entered with the depression of the “next” input key. The thermostat then displays a pre-selected temperature value associated with the cool mode of operation on the temperature display 42. Once again, the user uses input keys 24 and 25 to change the temperature value to a desired temperature setting and enters such with the depression of the “next” input key 30, thus concluding the customizing of the time and temperature settings of the “Away” time period.

The thermostat then automatically moves the programming sequence to the “Asleep” time period, as indicated by the highlighting of the Asleep input indicator 39 shown in FIG. 6. The thermostat automatically displays an “Asleep” time period pre-selected time value and temperature value associated with the start time display 43, end time display 44 and temperature display 42. Again, the user may then utilize the “+” and “−” input keys 24 and 25 to change the desired start time value for the “Asleep” mode to a desired time value. The user enters the desired start time value with the depression of the “next” input key 30. The thermostat then highlights the end time value on the end time display 44. The user may then again utilize the “+” and “−” input keys 24 and 25 to change the desired end time value for the “Asleep” time period to a desired time. The user enters the desired end time value in the same manner as previously described in reference to the start time. As used herein, the terms time value, time setting, and time may be used interchangeably, similarly, the terms temperature value, temperature setting, and temperature may be used interchangeably.

Next, the thermostat displays a pre-selected temperature value associated with the heat mode of operation on the temperature display 42. Again, the user may then utilize the “+” and “−” input keys 24 and 25 to change the desired temperature value for the “Asleep” mode to a desired temperature. The heat mode temperature value is entered with the depression of the “next” input key. The thermostat then displays a pre-selected temperature value associated with the cool mode of operation on the temperature display 42. Once again, the user uses input keys 24 and 25 to change the temperature value to a desired temperature setting or value and enters such with the depression of the “next” input key 30, thus concluding the customizing of the time and temperature settings of the “Asleep” time period.

The thermostat then automatically moves the programming sequence to the “At home” time period, which is the last of the three time periods, as indicated by the highlighting of the “At home” input indicator 40 in FIG. 7. It should be noted that the thermostat does not display an “At home” time period start time display 43 or end time display 44, instead only showing the temperature display 42. The thermostat displays a pre-selected temperature associated with the heat mode of operation on the temperature display 42. Again, the user may then utilize the “+” and “−” input keys 24 and 25 to change the desired temperature value for the “Asleep” mode to a desired temperature, shown as 70 F. The heat mode temperature is entered with the depression of the “next” input key. The thermostat then displays a pre-selected temperature value associated with the cool mode of operation on the temperature display 42. Once again, the user uses input keys 24 and 25 to change the temperature to a desired temperature setting or value and enters such with the depression of the “next” input key 30, thus concluding the customizing of the time and temperature settings of the “At home” time period. The operator depresses the Done entry key 31 to conclude the customized programming.

The reason the thermostat does not display the start and end times associated with the “At home” time period is that the “Away” time period and “Asleep” time period have already been entered, and their corresponding start and end times. Through the selection of the start and end times of these sequentially prior or later schedule time periods the remaining times or time frames of the complete day are automatically assigned to the “At home” time period, i.e., the remaining time or times (time period(s)) are already established as being the time remaining between the already entered “Away” and “Asleep” time periods. For example, should the “Away” time period have a start time of 8:15 a.m. and an end time of 4 p.m. and the “Asleep” time period have a start time of 11 p.m. and an end time of 6:30 a.m., then this establishes two separate “At home” time periods (two sub-schedule time periods). The first “At home” time period has a start time of 4 p.m. and an end time of 11 p.m. The second “At home” time period has a start time of 6:30 a.m. and an end time of 8:15 a.m. Thus, any time outside the time spans associated with the already programmed time periods of “Away” time period and “Asleep” time period, automatically are designated time periods associated with the remaining “At home” time period. The “Away” and “Asleep” time periods in this example may be thought of as first and second schedule time periods while the “At home” time, period is thought of as a third schedule time period having two sub-schedule time periods.

The elimination or reduction of having to physically set time periods associated with multiple time period thermostats greatly improves the ease of programming. Additionally, one can automatically establish multiple time periods and the temperature associated with such, through programming other time periods, i.e., by separating the “Away” and “Asleep” time periods one automatically creates two different “At home” time periods (sub-periods). As such, the thermostat not only reduces the four commonly associated time periods associated with thermostats (“Asleep”, “Away”, “At home” and Return) to only three time periods (“Asleep”, “Away” and “At home”) and the programming associated with each, but the thermostat also reduces the physical programming of the start time and end time to only those associated with two of the time periods (“Asleep” and “Away”). This eliminates fifty percent of the programming steps when compared to four time periods each having a separate start time and end time, thus greatly decreasing the time and frustration associated with programming thermostats.

It should be understood that the present invention may include more schedule time periods than that shown in the preferred embodiment. For example, the thermostat may include four named schedule time periods, rather than the three previously described, wherein the “At home” schedule time period may be automatically programmed in the same manner through the programming of the other three schedule time periods.

It thus is seen that a thermostat is now provided which overcomes problems with those of the prior art. While this invention has been described in detail with particular references to the preferred embodiments thereof, it should be understood that many modifications, additions and deletions, in addition to those expressly recited, may be made thereto without departure from the spirit and scope of the invention as described by the following claims.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4460125 *27 Aug 198217 Jul 1984Robertshaw Controls CompanyWall thermostat and the like
Classifications
U.S. Classification236/46.00R
International ClassificationF23N5/20
Cooperative ClassificationF23N5/203, F23N2025/12, F24F2011/0072, F24F11/0012, G05D23/1904
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
12 Feb 2013ASAssignment
Free format text: PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT (FIRST LIEN);ASSIGNOR:HUNTER FAN COMPANY;REEL/FRAME:029795/0222
Owner name: GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION, CONNECTICUT
Free format text: PATENT SECURITY AGREEMENT (SECOND LIEN);ASSIGNOR:HUNTER FAN COMPANY;REEL/FRAME:029795/0405
Effective date: 20121220
Owner name: GUGGENHEIM CORPORATE FUNDING, LLC, NEW YORK
16 Aug 2010ASAssignment
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LIN, ANDY;SCHROEDER, ERICH;MOODY, NICOLE;REEL/FRAME:024839/0798
Effective date: 20100813
Owner name: HUNTER FAN COMPANY, TENNESSEE