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Air conditioner

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Title: Air conditioner.
Abstract: An air conditioner is provided with a refrigerant circuit, refrigerant stagnation judging means, and an operation controller. The refrigerant circuit is a circuit that includes a heat source unit, a refrigerant communication pipe, an expansion mechanism, and a utilization unit. A heat source unit and a utilization unit are connected to the refrigerant fluid communication pipes. The heat source unit has a compression mechanism and a heat source side heat exchanger. The refrigerant stagnation judging means can judge whether the refrigerant has stagnated inside the compression mechanism. The operation controller performs a refrigerant de-stagnation operation for eliminating stagnation of the refrigerant in the case that the refrigerant stagnation judging means has judged in advance that the refrigerant inside the compression mechanism has stagnated when a refrigerant quantity judging operation is carried out for judging the refrigerant quantity inside the refrigerant circuit. ...


USPTO Applicaton #: #20090314017 - Class: 62149 (USPTO) -
Refrigeration > Automatic Control >Withdrawing Or Adding Refrigerant From Or To Normally Closed System

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20090314017, Air conditioner.

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TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a refrigerant circuit of an air conditioner and an air conditioner provided therewith.

BACKGROUND ART

An example of a conventional refrigerant leak detector of a refrigeration apparatus is disclosed in Patent Document 1. In this refrigerant leak detector, a condensation refrigerant temperature and an evaporative refrigerant temperature are keep at a fixed value by using condensation refrigerant temperature adjustment means and evaporative refrigerant temperature adjustment means, and a refrigerant leak detection operation for detecting refrigerant leaks in a refrigerating cycle is carried out using temperature difference calculation means for comparing output signals of a discharge refrigerant temperature detector and set values and calculating a temperature difference. Therefore, the temperature of the condensation refrigerant that flows through a condenser and the temperature of the evaporative refrigerant that flow through an evaporator are kept at a fixed value, whereby the discharge refrigerant temperature under a suitable refrigerant quantity is set to the set value. The set value and the output signal of the discharge refrigerant temperature detector are compared, a judgment is made that a refrigerant leak has not occurred when the value is less than the set value, and a judgment is made that a refrigerant leak has occurred when the value is higher than the set value.

<Patent Document 1>

Japanese Patent Application Publication No. H11-211292

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

Problems that the Invention is to Solve

However, with the technique of Patent Document 1, a risk is presented that the predicted error of the refrigerant quantity will increase because the refrigerant quantity that dissolves into the refrigerating machine oil inside the compression mechanism increases when the outside temperature is low. The refrigerant leak detection error increases when the internal oil temperature is low immediately after the compressor has started up and when only a portion of the compressors are driven during a refrigerant leak detection operation when a plurality of compressors are present.

An object of the present invention is to solve the stagnation of refrigerant in refrigeration machine oil inside a compressor, and to minimize the prediction error of the refrigerant quantity produced by the difference of solubility of the refrigerant into the oil.

Means of Solving the Problems

The air conditioner according to a first aspect is provided with a refrigerant circuit, a refrigerant stagnation judging means, and an operation controller. The refrigerant circuit is a circuit that includes a heat source unit, refrigerant communication pipes, expansion mechanisms, and a utilization unit. The heat source unit has a compression mechanism and a heat source side heat exchanger. A heat source unit is connected to the refrigerant communication pipes. The utilization unit has a utilization side heat source exchanger and is connected to the refrigerant communication pipe. The refrigerant stagnation judging means can judge whether the refrigerant is stagnant inside the compression mechanism. The operation controller performs a refrigerant de-stagnation operation for eliminating stagnation of the refrigerant in the case that the refrigerant stagnation judging means has judged in advance that the refrigerant is stagnant inside the compression mechanism when a refrigerant quantity judging operation is carried out for judging the refrigerant quantity inside the refrigerant circuit.

In the air conditioner, the refrigerant stagnation judging means makes a judgment in advance whether refrigerant is stagnant in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism when the refrigerant quantity judgment operation is carried out. The operation controller performs the refrigerant de-stagnation operation when the refrigerant stagnation judging means judges that refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism.

Therefore, in the air conditioner, the refrigerant quantity judgment operation can be performed after refrigerant stagnation has been eliminated in refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism. For this reason, the quantity of refrigerant that dissolves into the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism can be dramatically reduced and error in predicting the refrigerant quantity can be reduced during the refrigerant quantity judgment operation. A more precise refrigerant quantity judgment operation is made possible because the refrigerant stagnation can be eliminated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism during the refrigerant quantity judgment operation.

The air conditioner according to a second aspect is the air conditioner according to the first aspect, wherein the refrigerant stagnation judging means makes a judgment on the basis of the temperature inside the compression mechanism.

In the air conditioner, the judgment of the refrigerant stagnation judgment means is performed based on the temperature inside the compression mechanism. Refrigerant more readily stagnates in the refrigeration machine oil when the temperature inside the compression mechanism is low. Therefore, it is possible to determine that refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism when the temperature inside the compression mechanism is low. For this reason, it is possible to judge whether refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism on the basis of the temperature inside the compression mechanism. The air conditioner according to a third aspect is the air conditioner according to the first aspect, wherein the refrigerant stagnation judging means makes a judgment on the basis of the outside air temperature.

In the air conditioner, the refrigerant stagnation judging means judges based on the temperature of the outside air. The refrigerant readily becomes stagnant in the refrigeration machine oil when the temperature inside the compression mechanism is low. Therefore, the temperature inside the compression mechanism can be predicted because the temperature of the outside air can be measured. For this reason, the judgment that refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism is made possible when the temperature inside the compression mechanism can be predicted to be low. Judgment as to whether the refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism is thereby made possible.

The air conditioner according to a fourth aspect is the air conditioner according to the first aspect, wherein the refrigerant stagnation judging means makes a judgment on the basis of weather information.

In the air conditioner, the refrigerant stagnation judging means makes a judgment based on weather information obtained via a network connected to the refrigerant stagnation judgment means. Therefore, the outside temperature can be acquired from the weather information, and the temperature inside the compression mechanism can be predicted. It is accordingly possible to determine that the refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism when the temperature inside the compression mechanism can be predicted to be low. Judgment as to whether refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism is thereby made possible.

The air conditioner according to a fifth aspect is the air conditioner according to the first aspect, wherein the refrigerant stagnation judgment means makes judgment on the basis of a refrigerant stagnation interval in which the refrigerant is predicted to readily stagnate inside the compression mechanism.

In the air conditioner, the refrigerant stagnation judging means makes a judgment based on a time interval that has been set in advance. The refrigerant readily stagnates in the refrigeration machine oil when the temperature inside the compression mechanism is low. The judgment is made by establishing a time interval in which the temperature inside the compression mechanism is predicted to be low. Therefore, the user sets the time interval in which the temperature inside the compression mechanism is predicted to be low, whereby the refrigerant stagnation can be predicted without measuring the temperature inside the compression mechanism. It is thereby possible to judge whether the refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism. Also, production costs can be reduced because a temperature sensor or the like no longer needs to be installed.

The air conditioner according to a sixth aspect is the air conditioner according to any of the first to fifth aspects, wherein the operation controller performs a control for driving the compression mechanism for a first prescribed time as the refrigerant de-stagnation operation. In the air conditioner, the refrigerant de-stagnation operation is a warm-up operation that is performed by driving a compressor for a first prescribed length of time. Therefore, in the refrigerant de-stagnation operation, a compressor is operated for a first prescribed length of time, whereby the interior of the compression mechanism can be warmed up. For this reason, refrigerant stagnation in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism can be eliminated.

The air conditioner according to a seventh aspect is the air conditioner according to any of the first to sixth aspects, wherein a plurality of the heat source units is present.

In the air conditioner, a plurality of heat source units is present. Therefore, the service life of the entire system can be extended without placing the load exclusively on a single unit even during low-load operation, because the heat source units in the system can be placed in a rotation and driven at fixed intervals of time one unit at a time.

The air conditioner according to an eighth aspect is the air conditioner according to any of the first to seventh aspects, wherein the compression mechanism has a plurality of compressors. In the air conditioner, the compression mechanism has a plurality of compressors. Therefore, all of the heat source units can be continuously operated and the pooling of refrigerant and oil in the refrigerant circuit can be prevented to the extent possible even when the operating load of the utilization unit has been reduced because the capacity of the compression mechanism can be varied by controlling the number of compressors. The remaining compressors can handle the load even if one of the compressors malfunctions. For this reason, a complete stoppage of the air conditioner can be avoided.

The air conditioner according to a ninth aspect is the air conditioner according to the eighth aspect, wherein the refrigerant de-stagnation operation is an operation for driving at least a compressor that is not driven during the refrigerant quantity judgment operation.

In the air conditioner, in relation to the compressors that are used during pre-operation, at least a compressor that is not driven when the refrigerant quantity judging is driven because the compressors that are driven to judge the refrigerant quantity can be sufficiently warmed at the time of the refrigerant quantity judging operation when a plurality of compressor is present.

Therefore, the energy that is used can be reduced because all of the compressors are not required to operate. Also, the time required for the refrigerant de-stagnation operation can be reduced.

The air conditioner according to a tenth aspect is the air conditioner according to the eighth aspect, wherein the refrigerant de-stagnation operation is an operation in which the operation controller operates all of the compressors one at a time in sequence for a second prescribed time interval.

In the air conditioner, all of the compressors are driven for a second prescribed time period in a single-unit rotation when a plurality of compressors is present. It is difficult to cause all of the compressors to operate at the same time at the time of the refrigerant de-stagnation operation due to a low load because the refrigeration operation is carried out when the outside temperature is low. For this reason, the units are operated one at a time for a second prescribed time interval, whereby all of the compressors can be operated in advance.

The air conditioner according to an eleventh aspect is the air conditioner according to the first aspect, further comprising a heater for warming the compression mechanism. The refrigerant de-stagnation operation is an operation for warming the compression mechanism using the heater.

In the air conditioner, the refrigerant de-stagnation operation can be performed by warming the compression mechanism using a heater. Therefore, refrigerant stagnation can be eliminated without driving a compressor. For this reason, the time that a compressor is driven can be reduced and the service life of a compressor can be extended because a compressor is not required to be driven during the refrigerant de-stagnation operation.

The air conditioner according to a twelfth aspect is the air conditioner according to any of the first to eleventh aspects, wherein the operation controller further performs an oil-return operation immediately after the refrigerant de-stagnation operation. The oil-return operation is an operation for returning oil pooled in the refrigerant circuit to the compression mechanism.

In the air conditioner, an oil-return operation is further carried out after the refrigerant de-stagnation operation. Therefore, oil that is pooled in the refrigerant circuit can be returned to the compression mechanism by further carrying out an oil-return operation. The refrigerant quantity judgment operation can accordingly be carried out with greater precision. The air conditioner according to a thirteenth aspect is the air conditioner according to the twelfth aspect, wherein the oil-return operation is an operation for controlling the refrigerant that flows through the refrigerant circuit so that the refrigerant flows inside the pipes at or above a prescribed rate.

In the air conditioner, the oil-return operation is an operation for controlling the refrigerant so that the refrigerant flows inside the pipes at or above a prescribed rate. Therefore, oil pooled in the refrigerant circuit can be reliably returned to the compression mechanism. The refrigerant quantity judgment operation can accordingly be carried out with greater precision.

EFFECT OF THE INVENTION

In the air conditioner according to the first aspect, the refrigerant quantity judging operation can be carried out after the stagnation of refrigerant has been eliminated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism. The quantity of refrigerant that has dissolved in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism can accordingly be reduced to the extent possible at the time of the refrigerant quantity judging operation, and the prediction error of the refrigerant quantity can be reduced. A more precise refrigerant quantity judgment operation is made possible because the refrigerant stagnation can be eliminated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism during the refrigerant quantity judgment operation.

In the air conditioner according to the second aspect, the refrigerant can be judged to have stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism when the temperature inside the compression mechanism is low. For this reason, the decision as to whether the refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism can be made on the basis of the temperature inside the compression mechanism. In the air conditioner according to the third aspect, the temperature inside the compression mechanism can be predicted because the temperature of the outside air can be measured. Accordingly, it can be judged that the refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism when the temperature inside the compression mechanism can be predicted to be low. It can thereby be judged whether the refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism.

In the air conditioner according to the fourth aspect, the temperature of the outside air can be acquired from weather information and the temperature inside the compression mechanism can be predicted. Accordingly, it can be judged that the refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism when the temperature inside the compression mechanism can be predicted to be low. It can thereby be judged whether the refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism. In the air conditioner according to the fifth aspect, a user sets a length of time in which the temperature inside the compression mechanism is predicted to be low, whereby refrigerant stagnation can be predicted without measuring the temperature inside the compression mechanism. It is thereby possible to judge whether refrigerant has stagnated in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism. Production costs can be reduced because there is no longer a need to install a temperature sensor or the like. In the air conditioner according to the sixth aspect, the interior of the compression mechanism can be warmed by operating a compressor for a first prescribed length of time. For this reason, refrigerant stagnation in the refrigeration machine oil inside the compression mechanism can be eliminated.

In the air conditioner according to the seventh aspect, the service life of the entire system can be extended without placing the load exclusively on a single unit even during low-load operation because the heat source units in the system can be placed in a rotation and driven at fixed intervals of time one unit at a time.

In the air conditioner according to the eighth aspect, all of the heat source units can be operated continuously and the pooling of refrigerant and oil in the refrigerant circuit can be prevented to the extent possible even when the operating load of the utilization units is low, because the capacity of the compression mechanism can be varied by controlling the number of compressors. The remaining compressors can handle the load even if one of the compressors malfunctions. For this reason, a complete stoppage of the air conditioner can be avoided.

In the air conditioner according to the ninth aspect, the energy that is used can be reduced because all of the compressors are not required to operate. Also, the time required for the refrigerant de-stagnation operation can be reduced.

In the air conditioner according to the tenth aspect, all of the compressors can be driven in advance by operating the compressors for a second prescribed time interval one unit at a time. In the air conditioner according to the eleventh aspect, stagnation of the refrigerant can be eliminated without driving a compressor. The time a compressor is driven can be reduced and the service life of the compressors can be extended because a compressor is not required to be driven during the refrigerant de-stagnation operation.

In the air conditioner according to the twelfth aspect, oil that has pooled in the refrigerant circuit can be returned to the compression mechanism by further performing an oil-return operation. The refrigerant quantity judging operation can accordingly be carried out with greater precision.

In the air conditioner according to the thirteenth aspect, oil that has pooled inside the refrigerant circuit can be reliably returned to the compression mechanism. The refrigerant quantity judging operation can accordingly be carried out with greater precision.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a refrigerant circuit of an air conditioner related to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a flowchart showing the flow of a refrigerant leak detection operation related to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a flowchart showing the flow of an automatic refrigerant charging operation related to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a flowchart showing the flow of a refrigerant quantity judging preparatory operation related to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart showing the flow of a refrigerant de-stagnation operation related to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a flowchart showing the flow of an oil-return operation related to an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a weather information acquisition network of an air conditioner related a modified example (E) of an embodiment of the present invention.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20090314017 A1
Publish Date
12/24/2009
Document #
12096967
File Date
12/13/2006
USPTO Class
62149
Other USPTO Classes
62468
International Class
/
Drawings
7


Agnate
Conditioner
Refrigerant


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