Systems and methods for automating the operation of solenoid valves to prevent overheating of solenoid elements
Patent number: 8925568
Embodiments of the invention are directed to systems and methods for automating the operation of a solenoid valve to prevent overheating of solenoid elements. The solenoid valve controls the flow of a fluid, such as gas, and may be automatically interrupted, or shut-off, of power upon the occurrence of fluctuating currents or other events. Once the problem has been removed or repaired, the flow of fluid through the solenoid valve may resume.
CLAIM OF PRIORITY
This non-provisional United States (U.S.) Patent Application is a continuation-in-part application of, and claims priority on, non-provisional U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/271,151 entitled “System and Methods of Solenoid Valve Automation to Open and Close Position”, filed on Oct. 11, 2011, the contents of which is hereby incorporated by reference, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/344,837 entitled “System and Methods of Solenoid Valve Automation to Open and Closed Position”, filed Oct. 21, 2010, and hereby expressly incorporated by reference herein.
The present invention relates to the field of automated safety capabilities for appliances or other devices, in particular, to systems and methods for interrupting the source of power supplied to a solenoid valve to prevent overheating of the solenoid elements.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Solenoid valves are electromechanically operated valves that are commonly used in devices, such as appliances, to control liquid or the flow of gas from a gas supply. For example, most households have a gas stove, heater and/or dryer that utilize solenoid valves to control the flow of gas to these appliances. The valves use an electrical current (i.e. a source of energy/power) applied to a solenoid valve to create a magnetic field causing a plunger inside the coil to move. The plunger will either open or close the valve depending on the design of the valve. When electrical current is removed from the coil, the valve will return to its original, de-energized state.
When used with appliances, an electrical current is continually supplied to the valve allowing the valve to maintain either an open or closed position. However, continually supplying an electrical current to the valves can result in the solenoid valves receiving fluctuating currents which in turn can cause the valves to overheat. Overheating of the valves can result in the plunger being welded to the overheated coil which locks the valve to an open position. Having the valve in a constant open position can result in gas leaks which in turn can result in dangerous fires and explosions.
To avoid the overheating of solenoid valves caused by the continuous supply of an electrical current, the electrical current must be interrupted or shut-off from the source. However, current systems and methods fail to provide an automatic interruption, or shut-off, of power to the valve to prevent overheating of solenoid elements. Consequently, systems and methods for providing an automatic interruption, or shut-off, of power to prevent overheating of solenoid elements are needed.
One feature of the present invention provides a solenoid valve is provided. The solenoid valve has a valve body having a fluid inlet port and fluid outlet port; a fluid inlet passage having a first inlet end and a second inlet end, the first inlet end connected to the fluid inlet port and the second inlet end terminating having a “Y” configuration with a first leg connected to an orifice and a second leg connected to a safety mechanism; a fluid outlet passage having a first outlet end and a second outlet end, the first outlet end connected to the outlet port and the second outlet end connected to the orifice; a plunger slidably disposed within the valve body and movable between a closed position, where the plunger engages the orifice to block the flow of fluid through the outlet fluid passage, and an open position, where the plunger is distanced from the orifice to permit the flow of fluid through outlet fluid passage; a first solenoid coil surrounding the plunger and a first spring connected to the plunger; and a second solenoid coil surrounding a second spring connected to a locking pin mechanism for holding the plunger in the first, open position.
Another feature of the present invention provides for a system for operating a solenoid valve. The system includes a remote control module for encoding a radio frequency (RF) signal for programming the valve to open and closed positions; a wireless receiver module for receiving and decoding the encoded signal from the remote control module; and a relay switch control module for interrupting power to the solenoid valve when activated by a command from the wireless receiver module, the command transmitted to the relay switch control module upon communication between a transmitter in the remote control module and a receiver in the wireless receiver module.