(19)
(11)EP 2 686 730 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
06.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/19

(21)Application number: 12758250.0

(22)Date of filing:  06.03.2012
(51)Int. Cl.: 
E06B 3/67  (2006.01)
G02F 1/163  (2006.01)
E06B 9/24  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2012/027909
(87)International publication number:
WO 2012/125348 (20.09.2012 Gazette  2012/38)

(54)

INSULATED GLASS UNIT COMPRISING AN ELECTROCHROMIC DEVICE AND AN ONBOARD CONTROLLER THEREFOR

ISOLIERGLASEINHEIT MIT EINER ELEKTROCHROMEN VORRICHTUNG UND EINEM EINGEBAUTEN CONTROLLER DAFÜR

UNITÉ DE VERRE ISOLÉE À DISPOSITIF ÉLECTROCHROME AVEC DISPOSITIF DE COMMANDE À BORD


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 16.03.2011 US 201113049750

(43)Date of publication of application:
22.01.2014 Bulletin 2014/04

(60)Divisional application:
19188907.0 / 3587723

(73)Proprietor: View, Inc.
Milpitas, CA 95035 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • SHRIVASTAVA, Dhairya
    Los Altos, California 94024 (US)
  • PRADHAN, Anshu
    Collierville, Tennessee 38017 (US)
  • BROWN, Stephen, C.
    San Mateo, California 94402 (US)
  • GROECHEL, David, Walter
    Sunnyvale, California 94087 (US)

(74)Representative: Haseltine Lake Kempner LLP 
Redcliff Quay 120 Redcliff Street
Bristol BS1 6HU
Bristol BS1 6HU (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 0 586 121
KR-A- 20080 022 319
US-A- 6 055 089
JP-A- 5 178 645
KR-A- 20110 003 698
US-A1- 2006 018 000
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    FIELD



    [0001] The invention relates generally to electrochromic devices, more particularly to controllers for electrochromic windows.

    BACKGROUND



    [0002] Electrochromism is a phenomenon in which a material exhibits a reversible electrochemically-mediated change in an optical property when placed in a different electronic state, typically by being subjected to a voltage change. The optical property is typically one or more of color, transmittance, absorbance, and reflectance. One well known electrochromic material is tungsten oxide (WO3). Tungsten oxide is a cathodic electrochromic material in which a coloration transition, transparent to blue, occurs by electrochemical reduction.

    [0003] Electrochromic materials may be incorporated into, for example, windows for home, commercial and other uses. The color, transmittance, absorbance, and/or reflectance of such windows may be changed by inducing a change in the electrochromic material, that is, electrochromic windows are windows that can be darkened or lightened electronically. A small voltage applied to an electrochromic device (EC) of the window will cause them to darken; reversing the voltage causes them to lighten. This capability allows control of the amount of light that passes through the windows, and presents an opportunity for electrochromic windows to be used as energy-saving devices.

    [0004] While electrochromism was discovered in the 1960's, EC devices, and particularly EC windows, still unfortunately suffer various problems and have not begun to realize their full commercial potential despite many recent advancements in EC technology, apparatus and related methods of making and/or using EC devices.

    [0005] Us-A-6055089 describes a sealed insulated glass unit provided with an electrochromic device for modulating light passing through the unit. The electrochromic device is controlled from outside the unit by a remote control electrically unconnected to the device. Circuitry within the unit may be magnetically controlled from outside. The electrochromic device is powered by a photovoltaic cells. The photovoltaic cells may be positioned so that at least a part of the light incident on the cell passes through the electrochromic device, providing a form of feedback control. A variable resistance placed in parallel with the electrochromic element is used to control the response of the electrochromic element to changes in output of the photovoltaic cell.

    SUMMARY



    [0006] "Localized" controllers for EC windows are described. A localized controller is an "onboard" or "in situ" controller, where the window controller is part of an insulated glass unit (IGU) and thus does not have to be matched with a window and installed in the field. The window controllers have a number of advantages because they are matched to the IGU containing one or more EC devices. Localized controllers eliminate the problematic issue of varying wire length from EC window to controller in conventional systems. An in situ controller is incorporated into the IGU prior to installation. As discussed in more detail below, a number of advantages and synergies are realized by localized EC window controllers, in particular, where the controller is part of an IGU.

    [0007] According to the invention, there is provided an insulated glass unit according to appended claim 1. Preferred embodiments are defined in the dependent claims.

    [0008] These and other features and advantages will be described in further detail below, with reference to the associated drawings.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0009] The following detailed description can be more fully understood when considered in conjunction with the drawings in which:

    Figure 1A depicts conventional fabrication of an IGU including an EC pane and incorporation into a window assembly.

    Figure 1B depicts a conventional wiring scheme for EC window controllers.

    Figure 2A is a schematic of a window assembly with an IGU having an onboard controller.

    Figure 2B is a schematic of an onboard window controller.

    Figure 3 depicts a wiring scheme including EC windows with onboard window controllers.

    Figure 4 depicts a distributed network of EC window controllers with conventional end or leaf controllers as compared to a distributed network with EC windows having onboard controllers

    Figure 5A is a schematic of an onboard window controller.

    Figure 5B depicts a user interface for localized controllers described herein.

    Figures 6A and 6B depict automated and non-automated daisy chain configurations for EC windows and controllers, respectively.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0010] A "localized" controller, as described herein, is a window controller that is associated with, and controls, a single EC window. An EC window may include one, two, three or more individual EC panes (an EC device on a transparent substrate). The window controller is an "in situ" controller; that is, the controller is part of a window assembly, which includes an IGU having one or more EC panes, and thus does not have to be matched with the EC window, and installed, in the field. The controller is part of the IGU and at least partially mounted between panes of the IGU.

    [0011] The window controllers described herein have a number of advantages because they are matched to the IGU containing one or more EC devices. In one embodiment, the controller is incorporated into the IGU prior to installation of the EC window. In one embodiment, the controller is incorporated into the IGU prior to leaving the manufacturing facility. In one embodiment, the controller is substantially within the secondary seal. Having the controller as part of an IGU, the IGU can be characterized using logic and features of the controller that travels with the IGU. For example, when a controller is part of the IGU assembly, in the event the characteristics of the EC device(s) change over time, this characterization function can be used, for example, to redirect into which product the IGU will be incorporated. In another example, if already installed in an EC window unit, the logic and features of the controller can be used to calibrate the control parameters to match the intended installation, and for example if already installed, the control parameters can be recalibrated to match the performance characteristics of the EC pane(s).

    [0012] In this application, an "IGU" includes two substantially transparent substrates, for example, two panes of glass, where at least one substrate includes an EC device disposed thereon, and the panes have a separator disposed between them. An IGU is typically hermetically sealed, having an interior region that is isolated from the ambient environment. A "window assembly" includes an IGU, and may include electrical leads for connecting the IGU's one or more EC devices to a voltage source, switches and the like, as well as a frame that supports the IGU and related wiring.

    [0013] For context, a discussion of conventional window controller technology follows. Figure 1A depicts an EC window fabrication and control scheme, 100. An EC pane, 105, having an EC device (not shown, but for example on surface A) and bus bars, 110, which power the EC device, is matched with another glass pane, 115. During fabrication of IGU, 125, a separator, 120, is sandwiched in between and registered with substrates 105 and 115. The IGU 125 has an associated interior space defined by the faces of the substrates in contact with separator 120 and the interior surfaces of the separator. Separator 110 is typically a sealing separator, that is, includes a spacer and sealing between the spacer and each substrate where they adjoin in order to hermetically seal the interior region and thus protect the interior from moisture and the like. Typically, once the glass panes are sealed to the separator, secondary sealing may be applied around the perimeter edges of the IGU in order to impart further sealing from the ambient, as well as further structural rigidity to the IGU. The IGU 125 must be wired to a controller via wires, 130. The IGU is supported by a frame to create a window assembly, 135. Window assembly 135 is connected, via wires 130, to a controller, 140. Controller 140 may also be connected to one or more sensors in the frame via communication lines 145.

    [0014] As depicted in Figure 1A, conventional EC window controllers are not part of the window assembly itself and thus it is required that the controllers are installed outside of the IGU and/or window assembly. Also, conventional window controllers are calibrated to the EC window they control at the installation site, putting more burden on the installer. Consequently, there are more parts to ship from the manufacturer to the installation site, and this has associated tracking pitfalls, for example, mismatching of window and associated controller. Mismatched controller and window can cause installation delays as well as damage to the controller and/or IGU. All these factors contribute to higher cost of EC windows. Also, since conventional controllers are remotely located, long and differing lengths of low voltage (e.g. less than 10v DC) wiring and thus are wired to one or more EC windows as part of the installation of the EC windows. For example, referring to Figure 1B, controllers 140 each control an EC window 135. Typically the controllers are located proximate to a single location and so low voltage wiring 130 is of varying length. This is true even if there is only one controller that controls multiple windows. There are associated current drop offs and losses due to this long wiring. Also, since the controller is located remotely, any control feedback or diagnostic sensors mounted in the window assembly require separate wiring to be run to the controller - increasing cost and complexity of installation. Also, any identification numbers on the IGU are hidden by the frame and may not be easily accessible, which makes it problematic to check IGU information, for example, checking warranty or other vendor information.

    [0015] In one embodiment, the controller includes control logic for directing electrochromic device to switch between three or more optical states. In one embodiment, the controller is configured to prevent the electrochromic device from being connected to in a reverse polarity mode to an external power source. In one embodiment, the controller is configured to be powered by a source delivering between about 2 and 10 volts. There can be included in the window assembly, supply lines for delivering both power and communications to the controller or only power where the controller includes wireless communication capability.

    [0016] The window controller is configured to control the at least one EC pane of the IGU of the window assembly. Preferably, but not necessarily, the window controller is not positioned within the viewable area of the IGU. According to the invention, the window controller is positioned outside of the primary seal of the IGU. The controller is in between the panes of the IGU. The IGU, which includes a "window unit" including two (or more) panes and a separator, also includes the window controller. According to the invention, the window controller is positioned at least partially between the individual panes of the IGU, outside of the primary seal. In one embodiment, the window controller may span a distance from a point between the two panes of the IGU and a point beyond the panes, for example, so that the portion that extends beyond the panes resides in, at least partially, the frame of the window assembly.

    [0017] In one embodiment, the window controller is in between and does not extend beyond the individual panes of the IGU. This configuration is desirable because the window controller can be, for example, wired to the EC device(s) of the EC panes of the IGU and included in the secondary sealing of the IGU. This incorporates the window controller into the secondary seal; although it may be partially exposed to the ambient for wiring purposes. In one embodiment, the controller may only need a power socket exposed, and thus be "plugged in" to a low voltage source (for example a 24v source) because the controller communicates otherwise via wireless technology and/or through the power lines (e.g. like Ethernet over power lines). The wiring from the controller to the EC device, for example between 2v and 10v, is minimized due to the proximity of the controller to the EC device.

    [0018] Electrochromic windows which are suitable for use with controllers described herein include, but are not limited to, EC windows having one, two or more electrochromic panes. Windows having EC panes with EC devices thereon that are all solid state and inorganic EC devices are particularly well suited for controllers described herein due to their excellent switching and transition characteristics as well as low defectivity. Such windows are described in the following US patent applications: US-A-20100243427 (serial number 12/645,111, entitled, "Fabrication of Low-Defectivity Electrochromic Devices," filed on December 22, 2009 and naming Mark Kozlowski et al. as inventors); US-A-20100245973 (serial number 12/645,159, entitled, "Electrochromic Devices," filed on December 22, 2009 and naming Zhongchun Wang et al. as inventors); US-A-20110267674 and US-A-20110367675 (serial numbers 12/772,055 and 12/772,075, each filed on April 30, 2010), and in U.S. Patent Applications, US-20110266137 and US-A-20110266138 (serial numbers 12/814,277 and 12/814,279, each filed on June 11, 2010) - each of the latter four applications is entitled "Electrochromic Devices," each names Zhongchun Wang et al. as inventors; US-A-20120033287 (serial number 12/851,514, filed on August 5, 2010, and entitled "Multipane Electrochromic Windows").

    [0019] In certain embodiments, the EC device or devices of the EC windows face the interior region of the IGU to protect them from the ambient. In one embodiment, the EC window includes a two-state EC device. In one embodiment, the EC window has only one EC pane, the pane may have a two-state (optical) EC device (colored or bleached states) or a device that has variable transitions. In one embodiment, the window includes two EC panes, each of which includes a two-state device thereon and the IGU has two optical states, in another embodiment, the IGU has four optical states. In one embodiment, the four optical states are: i) overall transmittance of between about 60% and about 90%; ii) overall transmittance of between about 15% and about 30%; iii) overall transmittance of between about 5% and about 10%; and iv) overall transmittance of between about 0.1% and about 5%. In one embodiment, the EC window has one pane with an EC device having two states and another pane with an EC device with variable optical state capability. In one embodiment, the EC window has two EC panes, each having an EC device with variable optical state capability. In one embodiment, the EC window includes three or more EC panes.

    [0020] In certain embodiments, the EC windows are low-defectivity windows. In one embodiment, the total number of visible defects, pinholes and short-related pinholes created from isolating visible short-related defects in an EC device of the EC window is less than about 0.1 defects per square centimeter, in another embodiment, less than about 0.045 defects per square centimeter.

    [0021] Figure 2A depicts a window assembly, 200, including a window frame, 205. The viewable area of the window unit is indicated on the figure, inside the perimeter of frame 205. As indicated by dotted lines, inside frame 205, is an IGU, 210, which includes two glass panes separated by a sealing separator, 215, shaded in gray. Window controller, 220, is between the glass panes of IGU 210 and, in this example, does not extend beyond the perimeter of the glass panes of the IGU. The window controller need not be incorporated into a single enclosure as depicted, and need not be along a single edge of the IGU. For example, in one embodiment, the controller resides along two, three or four edges of the IGU, in some instances, all within the secondary seal zone. In some embodiments, the window controller can extend beyond the perimeter of the IGU and into the frame of the window assembly.

    [0022] There are advantages to having the window controller positioned in the frame of the window assembly, particularly in the secondary seal zone of an IGU, some of these include: 1) wiring from the controller to one or more EC devices of the IGU panes is very short, and consistent from window to window for a given installation, 2) any custom pairing and tuning of controller and IGU can be done at the factory without chances of mis-pairing controller and window in the field, 3) even if there are no mismatches, there are fewer parts to ship, track and install, 4) there is no need for a separate housing and installation for the controller, because the components of the controller can be incorporated into the secondary seal of the IGU, 5) wiring coming to the window can be higher voltage wiring, for example 24V or 48V, and thus line losses seen in lower voltage lines (e.g. less than 10V DC) are obviated, 6) this configuration allows in-situ connection to control feedback and diagnostic sensors, obviating the need for long wiring to remote controllers, and 7) the controller can store pertinent information about the IGU, for example using an RFID tag and/or memory such as solid state serial memory (e.g. I2C or SPI) which may optionally be programmable. Stored information may include, for example, the manufacturing date, batch ID, window size, warranty information, EC device cycle count, current detected window condition (e.g., applied voltage, temperature, %Tvis), window drive configuration parameters, controller zone membership, and like information, which will be further described below. These benefits save time, money and installation downtime, as well as providing more design flexibility for control and feedback sensing. More details of the window controller are described below.

    [0023] In one embodiment, the window controller includes: a power converter configured to convert a low voltage, for example 24V, to the power requirements of said at least one EC device, for example between 2V and 10V; a communication circuit for receiving and sending commands to and from a remote controller, and receiving and sending input to and from; a microcontroller comprising a logic for controlling said at least one EC device based at least in part by input received from one or more sensors; and a driver circuit for powering said at least one EC device.

    [0024] Figure 2B, depicts an example window controller 220 in some detail. Controller 220 includes a power converter configured to convert a low voltage to the power requirements of an EC device of an EC pane of an IGU. This power is typically fed to the EC device via a driver circuit (power driver). In one embodiment, controller 220 has a redundant power driver so that in the event one fails, there is a back up and the controller need not be replaced or repaired.

    [0025] Controller 220 also includes a communication circuit (labeled "communication" in Figure 2B) for receiving and sending commands to and from a remote controller (depicted in Figure 2B as "master controller"). The communication circuit also serves to receive and send input to and from a microcontroller. In one embodiment, the power lines are also used to send and receive communications, for example, via protocols such as ethernet. The microcontroller includes a logic for controlling the at least one EC pane based, at least in part, by input received from one or more sensors. In this example sensors 1-3 are, for example, external to controller 220, for example in the window frame or proximate the window frame. In one embodiment, the controller has at least one or more internal sensors. For example, controller 220 may also, or in the alternative, have "onboard" sensors 4 and 5. In one embodiment, the controller uses the EC device as a sensor, for example, by using current-voltage (I/V) data obtained from sending one or more electrical pulses through the EC device and analyzing the feedback. This type of sensing capability is described in U.S. Patent application, US-A-20120239209 (serial number 13/049,756, naming Brown et al. as inventors, titled "Multipurpose Controller for Multistate Windows" and filed on March 16, 2011).

    [0026] In one embodiment, the controller includes a chip, a card or a board which includes appropriate logic, programmed and/or hard coded, for performing one or more control functions. Power and communication functions of controller 220 may be combined in a single chip, for example, a programmable logic device (PLD) chip, field programmable gate array (FPGA) or similar device. Such integrated circuits can combine logic, control and power functions in a single programmable chip. In one embodiment, where the EC window (or IGU) has two EC panes, the logic is configured to independently control each of the two EC panes. In one embodiment, the function of each of the two EC panes is controlled in a synergistic fashion, that is, so that each device is controlled in order to complement the other. For example, the desired level of light transmission, thermal insulative effect, and/or other property are controlled via combination of states for each of the individual devices. For example, one EC device may have a colored state while the other is used for resistive heating, for example, via a transparent electrode of the device. In another example, the two EC device's colored states are controlled so that the combined transmissivity is a desired outcome.

    [0027] Controller 220 may also have wireless capabilities, such as control and powering functions. For example, wireless controls, such as Rf and/or IR can be used as well as wireless communication such as Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigbee, EnOcean and the like to send instructions to the microcontroller and for the microcontroller to send data out to, for example, other window controllers and/or a building management system (BMS). Wireless communication can be used in the window controller for at least one of programming and/or operating the EC window, collecting data from the EC window from sensors as well as using the EC window as a relay point for wireless communication. Data collected from EC windows also may include count data such as number of times an EC device has been activated (cycled), efficiency of the EC device over time, and the like. Each of these wireless communication features is described in U.S. Patent application, US-A-20120239209 (serial number 13/049,756, naming Brown et al. as inventors, titled "Multipurpose Controller for Multistate Windows" and filed on March 16, 2011).

    [0028] Also, controller 220 may have wireless power function. That is, controller 220 may have one or more wireless power receivers, that receive transmissions from one or more wireless power transmitters and thus controller 220 can power the EC window via wireless power transmission. Wireless power transmission includes, for example but not limited to, induction, resonance induction, radio frequency power transfer, microwave power transfer and laser power transfer. In one embodiment, power is transmitted to a receiver via radio frequency, and the receiver converts the power into electrical current utilizing polarized waves, for example circularly polarized, elliptically polarized and/or dual polarized waves, and/or various frequencies and vectors. In another embodiment, power is wirelessly transferred via inductive coupling of magnetic fields. Exemplary wireless power functions of electrochromic windows is described in U.S. Patent application, US-A-20110148218 (serial number 12/971,576, filed December 17, 2010, titled "Wireless Powered Electrochromic Windows", and naming Robert Rozbicki as inventor).

    [0029] Controller 220 may also include an RFID tag and/or memory such as solid state serial memory (e.g. I2C or SPI) which may optionally be a programmable memory. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) involves interrogators (or readers), and tags (or labels). RFID tags use communication via electromagnetic waves to exchange data between a terminal and an object, for example, for the purpose of identification and tracking of the object. Some RFID tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.

    [0030] Most RFID tags contain at least two parts. One is an integrated circuit for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating a radio-frequency (Rf) signal, and other specialized functions. The other is an antenna for receiving and transmitting the signal.

    [0031] There are three types of RFID tags: passive RFID tags, which have no power source and require an external electromagnetic field to initiate a signal transmission, active RFID tags, which contain a battery and can transmit signals once a reader has been successfully identified, and battery assisted passive (BAP) RFID tags, which require an external source to wake up but have significant higher forward link capability providing greater range. RFID has many applications; for example, it is used in enterprise supply chain management to improve the efficiency of inventory tracking and management.

    [0032] In one embodiment, the RFID tag or other memory is programmed with at least one of the following types of data: warranty information, installation information, vendor information, batch/inventory information, EC device/IGU characteristics, EC device cycling information and customer information. Examples of EC device characteristics and IGU characteristics include, for example, window voltage (VW), window current (IW), EC coating temperature (TEC), glass visible transmission (%Tvis), %tint command (external analog input from BMS), digital input states, and controller status. Each of these represents upstream information that may be provided from the controller to a BMS or window management system or other building device. The window voltage, window current, window temperature, and/or visible transmission level may be detected directly from sensors on the windows. The %tint command may be provided to the BMS or other building device indicating that the controller has in fact taken action to implement a tint change, which change may have been requested by the building device. This can be important because other building systems such as HVAC systems might not recognize that a tint action is being taken, as a window may require a few minutes (e.g., 10 minutes) to change state after a tint action is initiated. Thus, an HVAC action may be deferred for an appropriate period of time to ensure that the tinting action has sufficient time to impact the building environment. The digital input states information may tell a BMS or other system that a manual action relevant to the smart window has been taken. See block 504 in Figure 5A. Finally, the controller status may inform the BMS or other system that the controller in question is operational, or not, or has some other status relevant to its overall functioning.

    [0033] Examples of downstream data from a BMS or other building system that may be provided to the controller include window drive configuration parameters, zone membership (e.g. what zone within the building is this controller part of), % tint value, digital output states, and digital control (tint, bleach, auto, reboot, etc.). The window drive parameters may define a control sequence (effectively an algorithm) for changing a window state. Examples of window drive configuration parameters include bleach to color transition ramp rate, bleach to color transition voltage, initial coloration ramp rate, initial coloration voltage, initial coloration current limit, coloration hold voltage, coloration hold current limit, color to bleach transition ramp rate, color to bleach transition voltage, initial bleach ramp rate, initial bleach voltage, initial bleach current limit, bleach hold voltage, bleach hold current limit. Examples of the application of such window drive parameters are presented in U.S. Patent application, US-A-20120062975 (serial number 13/049,623, naming Pradhan, Mehtani, and Jack as inventors, titled "Controlling Transitions In Optically Switchable Devices" and filed on the March 16, 2011).

    [0034] The %tint value may be an analog or digital signal sent from the BMS or other management device instructing the onboard controller to place its window in a state corresponding to the %tint value. The digital output state is a signal in which the controller indicates that it has taken action to begin tinting. The digital control signal indicates that the controller has received a manual command such as would be received from an interface 504 as shown in Figure 5B. This information can be used by the BMS to, for example, log manual actions on a per window basis.

    [0035] In one embodiment, a programmable memory is used in controllers described herein. This programmable memory can be used in lieu of, or in conjunction with, RFID technology. Programmable memory has the advantage of increased flexibility for storing data related to the IGU to which the controller is matched.

    [0036] Advantages of "localized" controllers, particularly "in situ" or "onboard" controllers, described herein are further described in relation to Figures 3 and 4. Figure 3 depicts an arrangement, 300, including EC windows, 305, each with an associated localized or onboard window controller (not shown). Figure 3 illustrates that with onboard controllers, wiring, for example for powering and controlling the windows, is very simplified versus, for example, conventional wiring as depicted in Figure 1B. In this example, a single power source, for example low voltage 24V, can be wired throughout a building which includes windows 305. There is no need to calibrate various controllers to compensate for variable wiring lengths and associated lower voltage (e.g. less than 10V DC) to each of many distant windows. Because there are not long runs of lower voltage wiring, losses due to wiring length are reduced or avoided, and installation is much easier and modular. If the window controller has wireless communication and control, or uses the power lines for communication functions, for example ethernet, then only a single voltage power wiring need be strung through the building. If the controller also has wireless power transmission capabilities, then no wiring is necessary, since each window has its own controller.

    [0037] Figure 4 depicts a distributed network, 400, of EC window controllers with conventional end or leaf controllers as compared to a distributed network, 420, with EC windows having onboard controllers. Such networks are typical in large commercial buildings that may include smart windows.

    [0038] In network 400, a master controller controls a number of intermediate controllers, 405a and 405b. Each of the intermediate controllers in turn controls a number of end or leaf controllers, 410. Each of controllers 410 controls an EC window. Network 400 includes the long spans of lower DC voltage, for example a few volts, wiring and communication cables from each of leaf controllers 410 to each window 430. In comparison, by using onboard controllers as described herein, network 420 eliminates huge amounts of lower DC voltage wiring between each end controller and its respective window. Also this saves an enormous amount of space that would otherwise house leaf controllers 410. A single low voltage, e.g. from a 24v source, is provided to all windows in the building, and there is no need for additional lower voltage wiring or calibration of many windows with their respective controllers. Also, if the onboard controllers have wireless communication function or capability of using the power wires, for example as in ethernet technology, there is no need for extra communication lines between intermediate controllers 405a and 405b and the windows.

    [0039] Figure 5A is a schematic depiction of an onboard window controller configuration, 500, including interface for integration of EC windows into, for example, a residential system or a building management system. A voltage regulator accepts power from a standard 24v AC/DC source. The voltage regulator is used to power a microprocessor (µP) as well as a pulse width modulated (PWM) amplifier which can generate current at high and low output levels, for example, to power an associated smart window. A communications interface allows, for example, wireless communication with the controller's microprocessor. In one embodiment, the communication interface is based on established interface standards, for example, in one embodiment the controller's communication interface uses a serial communication bus which may be the CAN 2.0 physical layer standard introduced by Bosch widely used today for automotive and industrial applications. "CAN" is a linear bus topology allowing for 64 nodes (window controllers) per network, with data rates of 10kbps to 1Mbps, and distances of up to 2500m. Other hard wired embodiments include MODBUS, LonWorks™, power over Ethernet, BACnet MS/TP, etc. The bus could also employ wireless technology (e.g. Zigbee, Bluetooth, etc.).

    [0040] In the depicted embodiment, the controller includes a discrete input/output (DIO) function, where a number of inputs, digital and/or analog, are received, for example, tint levels, temperature of EC device(s), % transmittance, device temperature (for example from a thermistor), light intensity (for example from a LUX sensor) and the like. Output includes tint levels for the EC device(s). The configuration depicted in Figure 5A is particularly useful for automated systems, for example, where an advanced BMS is used in conjunction with EC windows having EC controllers as described herein. For example, the bus can be used for communication between a BMS gateway and the EC window controller communication interface. The BMS gateway also communicates with a BMS server.

    [0041] Some of the functions of the discrete I/O will now be described.

    [0042] DI-TINT Level bit 0 and DI-TINT Level bit 1: These two inputs together make a binary input (2 bits or 22= 4 combinations; 00, 01, 10 and 11) to allow an external device (switch or relay contacts) to select one of the four discrete tint states for each EC window pane of an IGU. In other words, this embodiment assumes that the EC device on a window pane has four separate tint states that can be set. For IGUs containing two window panes, each with its own four-state TINT Level, there may be as many as eight combinations of binary input. See U.S. Patent Application, serial number 12/851,514, filed on August 5, 2010 and previously incorporated by reference. In some embodiments, these inputs allow users to override the BMS controls (e.g. untint a window for more light even though the BMS wants it tinted to reduce heat gain).

    [0043] AI-EC Temperature: This analog input allows a sensor (thermocouple, thermister, RTD) to be connected directly to the controller for the purpose of determining the temperature of the EC coating. Thus temperature can be determined directly without measuring current and/or voltage at the window. This allows the controller to set the voltage and current parameters of the controller output, as appropriate for the temperature.

    [0044] AI-Transmittance: This analog input allows the controller to measure percent transmittance of the EC coating directly. This is useful for the purpose of matching multiple windows that might be adjacent to each other to ensure consistent visual appearance, or it can be used to determine the actual state of the window when the control algorithm needs to make a correction or state change. Using this analog input, the transmittance can be measured directly without inferring transmittance using voltage and current feedback.

    [0045] AI-Temp/Light Intensity: This analog input is connected to an interior room or exterior (to the building) light level or temperature sensor. This input may be used to control the desired state of the EC coating several ways including the following: using exterior light levels, tint the window (e.g. bright outside, tint the window or vice versa); using and exterior temperature sensor, tint the window (e.g. cold outside day in Minneapolis, untint the window to induce heat gain into the room or vice versa, warm day in Phoenix, tint the widow to lower heat gain and reduce air conditioning load).

    [0046] AI-%Tint: This analog input may be used to interface to legacy BMS or other devices using 0-10 volt signaling to tell the window controller what tint level it should take. The controller may choose to attempt to continuously tint the window (shades of tint proportionate to the 0-10 volt signal, zero volts being fully untinted, 10 volts being fully tinted) or to quantize the signal (0-0.99 volt means untint the window, 1-2.99 volts means tint the window 5%, 3-4.99 volts equals 40% tint, and above 5 volts is fully tinted). When a signal is present on this interface it can still be overridden by a command on the serial communication bus instructing a different value.

    [0047] DO-TINT LEVEL bit 0 and bit 1: This digital input is similar to DI-TINT Level bit 0 and DI-TINT Level bit 1. Above, these are digital outputs indicating which of the four states of tint a window is in, or being commanded to. For example if a window were fully tinted and a user walks into a room and wants them clear, the user could depress one of the switches mentioned and cause the controller to begin untinting the window. Since this transition is not instantaneous, these digital outputs will be alternately turned on and off signaling a change in process and then held at a fixed state when the window reaches its commanded value.

    [0048] Figure 5B depicts an onboard controller configuration 502 having a user interface. For example where automation is not required, the EC window controller, for example as depicted in Figure 5A, can be populated without the PWM components and function as I/O controller for an end user where, for example, a keypad, 504, or other user controlled interface is available to the end user to control the EC window functions. The EC window controller and optionally I/O controllers can be daisy chained together to create networks of EC windows, for automated and non-automated EC window applications.

    [0049] Figures 6A and 6B depict automated and non-automated daisy chain configurations for EC windows and EC window controllers described herein. Where automation is desired (see Figure 6A), for example, a bus allows setting and monitoring individual window parameters and relaying that information though the network controller directly to a BMS via, for example, an Ethernet gateway. In one embodiment, a network controller contains an embedded web server for local control via Ethernet from, for example, a PC or smart phone. In one embodiment, network commissioning is done via a controller's web server and a window scheduler, for example, where HVAC and lighting programs execute locally on the controller. In one embodiment, network controllers can wirelessly connect to each other via, for example, a Zigbee mesh network, allowing for expansion for large numbers of windows or to create control zones within a building using sets of windows. As depicted in Figure 6B, when no automation is required, window control is accomplished through an I/O controller as described above. In one embodiment, there is also a master override included. In one embodiment, a network, for example a daisy chain network as depicted in Figure 6A or 6B, is constructed onsite (field wired). In another embodiment, commercially available cabling products (no tooling required) are used to construct a network of window controllers, for example, interconnects, cable assemblies, tees, hubs and the like are widely available from commercial suppliers.

    [0050] Although the foregoing invention has been described in some detail to facilitate understanding, the described embodiments are to be considered illustrative and not limiting. It will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that certain changes and modifications can be practiced within the scope of the appended claims.


    Claims

    1. An insulated glass unit (210) comprising:

    an electrochromic pane comprising a transparent substrate and an electrochromic device disposed thereon;

    an additional pane comprising a further transparent substrate;

    a sealing separator (215) between said additional pane and the electrochromic pane, and

    a window controller (220) configured to control said electrochromic device of the insulated glass unit (210), the window controller (220) being mounted at least partially between the panes,

    characterized in that

    the sealing separator (215) comprises a spacer and a primary seal between the spacer and each pane of the insulated glass unit (210), in that the insulated glass unit (210) further comprises a secondary seal applied around perimeter edges of the insulated glass unit (210), in that the window controller (220) is mounted at least partially within the secondary seal of the insulated glass unit (210), and in that the window controller (220) is positioned outside of the primary seal of the insulated glass unit (210).


     
    2. The insulated glass unit (210) of claim 1, wherein the window controller (220) extends beyond the perimeter of the insulated glass unit (210).
     
    3. The insulated glass unit (210) of claim 1, wherein the window controller (220) comprises:

    a power converter configured to convert a low voltage to the power requirements of said electrochromic device;

    a communication circuit for receiving and sending commands to and from a remote controller, and receiving and sending input to and from;

    a microcontroller comprising a logic for controlling said electrochromic device based at least in part by input received from one or more sensors; and

    a driver circuit for powering said electrochromic device.


     
    4. The insulated glass unit (210) of claim 3, wherein the communication circuit comprises wireless capability or wherein the window controller (220) further comprises a redundant driver circuit.
     
    5. The insulated glass unit (210) of claim 1, wherein the additional pane comprises a further electrochromic device disposed on the further transparent substrate, and wherein the window controller (220) comprises logic configured to independently control each of the two electrochromic devices, optionally wherein each of the two electrochromic devices are all solid state and inorganic.
     
    6. The insulated glass unit (210) of claim 1, further comprising a sensor coupled to said window controller (220), optionally wherein the sensor is a thermal or optical sensor.
     
    7. A window assembly (200) comprising a window frame (205) and the insulated glass unit (210) of claim 1, wherein the insulating glass unit (210) is arranged inside the window frame (205), and the window controller (220) is positioned partially between the panes of the insulated glass unit (210) and extends beyond the perimeter of the insulating glass unit (210) and into the window frame (205).
     
    8. A network (420) comprising a plurality of window assemblies (430) each comprising an insulated glass unit (210) as recited in claim 1, wherein the window controllers (220) of the plurality of window assemblies (430) are communicatively coupled on said network.
     
    9. The network (420) of claim 8, further comprising a network controller communicatively coupled to the window controllers (220) and an electrical path connecting the window controllers (220) in a daisy chain.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Isolierglaseinheit (210), Folgendes umfassend:

    eine elektrochrome Scheibe, umfassend ein transparentes Substrat und eine darauf eingerichtete elektrochrome Vorrichtung;

    eine zusätzliche Scheibe, umfassend ein weiteres transparentes Substrat;

    einen abdichtenden Abstandshalter (215) zwischen der zusätzlichen Scheibe und der elektrochromen Scheibe, und

    eine Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220), die konfiguriert ist, um die elektrochrome Vorrichtung der Isolierglaseinheit (210) zu steuern, wobei die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) wenigstens teilweise zwischen den Scheiben befestigt ist, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

    der abdichtende Abstandshalter (215) ein Distanzstück und

    eine primäre Abdichtung zwischen dem Distanzstück und jeder Scheibe der Isolierglaseinheit (210) umfasst, dadurch, dass die Isolierglaseinheit (210) ferner

    eine sekundäre Abdichtung umfasst, die um Umfangskanten der Isolierglaseinheit (210) herum angebracht ist, dadurch, dass

    die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) wenigstens teilweise innerhalb der sekundären Abdichtung der Isolierglaseinheit (210) befestigt ist, und dadurch, dass die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) außerhalb der primären Abdichtung der Isolierglaseinheit (210) positioniert ist.


     
    2. Isolierglaseinheit (210) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) sich über den Umfang der Isolierglaseinheit (210) hinaus erstreckt.
     
    3. Isolierglaseinheit (210) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) Folgendes umfasst:

    einen Stromrichter, der konfiguriert ist, um eine Niederspannung für die Strombedarfe der elektrochromen Vorrichtung umzuwandeln;

    eine Kommunikationsschaltung zum Empfangen und Senden von Befehlen zu und von einer Fernsteuervorrichtung und zum Empfangen und Senden von Eingaben zu und von;

    einem Mikrocontroller, umfassend eine Logik zum Steuern der elektrochromen Vorrichtung, teilweise basierend auf Eingaben, die von einem oder mehreren Sensoren empfangen werden; und

    eine Treiberschaltung zum Versorgen der elektrochromen Vorrichtung mit Strom.


     
    4. Isolierglaseinheit (210) nach Anspruch 3, wobei die Kommunikationsschaltung eine drahtlose Leistungsfähigkeit umfasst oder wobei die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) ferner eine redundante Treiberschaltung umfasst.
     
    5. Isolierglaseinheit (210) nach Anspruch 1, wobei
    die zusätzliche Scheibe eine auf dem weiteren transparenten Substrat eingerichtete weitere elektrochrome Vorrichtung umfasst, und wobei die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) eine Logik umfasst, die konfiguriert ist, um jede der zwei elektrochromen Vorrichtungen unabhängig zu steuern, wobei optional jede der zwei elektrochromen Vorrichtungen alle in einem festen Zustand und anorganisch sind.
     
    6. Isolierglaseinheit (210) nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend einen Sensor, der mit der Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) gekoppelt ist, wobei der Sensor optional ein thermischer oder ein optischer Sensor ist.
     
    7. Fensteranordnung (200), umfassend einen Fensterrahmen (205) und die Isolierglaseinheit (210) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Isolierglaseinheit (210) innerhalb des Fensterrahmens (205) angeordnet ist und die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) teilweise zwischen den Scheiben der Isolierglaseinheit (210) positioniert ist und sich über den Umfang der Isolierglaseinheit (210) hinaus und in den Fensterrahmen (205) hinein erstreckt.
     
    8. Netzwerk (420), umfassend mehrere Fensteranordnungen (430), jede umfassend eine Isolierglaseinheit (210) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Fenstersteuervorrichtungen (220) aus den mehreren Fensteranordnungen (430) kommunikativ auf dem Netzwerk gekoppelt sind.
     
    9. Netzwerk (420) nach Anspruch 8, ferner umfassend eine Netzwerksteuervorrichtung, die kommunikativ mit der Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) gekoppelt ist, und einen elektrischen Pfad, der die Fenstersteuervorrichtung (220) in einer Daisy Chain verbindet.
     


    Revendications

    1. Unité de vitrage isolant (210), comprenant :

    une vitre électrochromique comprenant un substrat transparent et un dispositif électrochromique disposé sur celle-ci ;

    une vitre supplémentaire comprenant un autre substrat transparent ;

    un séparateur d'étanchéité (215) entre ladite vitre supplémentaire et la vitre électrochromique, et

    un dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) conçu pour commander ledit dispositif électrochromique de l'unité de vitrage isolant (210), le dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) étant monté au moins partiellement entre les vitres, caractérisé en ce que le séparateur d'étanchéité (215) comprend une entretoise et

    un joint d'étanchéité primaire entre l'entretoise et chaque vitre de l'unité de vitrage isolant (210), et en ce que l'unité de vitrage isolant (210) comprend en outre

    un joint d'étanchéité secondaire appliqué autour des bords périmétriques de l'unité de vitrage isolant (210), et en ce que

    le dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) est monté au moins partiellement à l'intérieur du joint d'étanchéité secondaire de l'unité de vitrage isolant (210), et en ce que le dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) est positionné à l'extérieur du joint d'étanchéité primaire de l'unité de vitrage isolant (210).


     
    2. Unité de vitrage isolant (210) selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle le dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) s'étend au-delà du périmètre de l'unité de vitrage isolant (210).
     
    3. Unité de vitrage isolant (210) selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle le dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) comprend :

    un convertisseur de puissance configuré pour convertir une basse tension en besoins de puissance dudit dispositif électrochromique ;

    un circuit de communication pour recevoir et envoyer des commandes vers et depuis une télécommande, et pour recevoir et envoyer une entrée vers et depuis celui-ci ;

    un micro dispositif de commande comprenant une logique pour commander ledit dispositif électrochromique sur la base au moins en partie d'une entrée reçue d'un ou de plusieurs capteurs ; et

    un circuit d'attaque pour alimenter ledit dispositif électrochromique.


     
    4. Unité de vitrage isolant (210) selon la revendication 3, dans laquelle le circuit de communication comprend une capacité sans fil ou dans laquelle le dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) comprend en outre un circuit d'attaque redondant.
     
    5. Unité de vitrage isolant (210) selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle
    la vitre supplémentaire comprend un autre dispositif électrochromique disposé sur l'autre substrat transparent, et dans laquelle le dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) comprend une logique conçue pour commander indépendamment chacun des deux dispositifs électrochromiques, éventuellement dans laquelle chacun des deux dispositifs électrochromiques sont tous à l'état solide et inorganique.
     
    6. Unité de vitrage isolant (210) selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un capteur accouplé audit dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220), le capteur étant éventuellement un capteur thermique ou optique.
     
    7. Ensemble de fenêtre (200) comprenant un cadre de fenêtre (205) et l'unité de vitrage isolant (210) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'unité de vitrage isolant (210) est agencée à l'intérieur du cadre de fenêtre (205) et le dispositif de commande de fenêtre (220) est positionné partiellement entre les vitres de l'unité de vitrage isolant (210) et s'étend au-delà du périmètre de l'unité de vitrage isolant (210) et dans le cadre de fenêtre (205).
     
    8. Réseau (420) comprenant une pluralité d'ensembles de fenêtres (430) comprenant chacun une unité de vitrage isolant (210) tel que mentionné dans la revendication 1, dans lequel les dispositifs de commande de fenêtre (220) de la pluralité d'ensembles de fenêtres (430) sont accouplés en communication sur ledit réseau.
     
    9. Réseau (420) selon la revendication 8, comprenant en outre un dispositif de commande de réseau accouplé en communication aux dispositifs de commande de fenêtre (220) et un trajet électrique connectant les dispositifs de commande de fenêtre (220) en chaîne.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description