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Title:
A METHOD FOR DIVIDING THE ENERGY CONSUMED BY A SHARED UTILITY SHARED BY A PLURALITY OF USERS AND APPARATUS FOR CARRYING OUT THE METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/026001
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method for dividing the energy consumed by a shared utility shared by a plurality of users according to their relative ownership share rate; the method comprising the steps of a) providing a power supply line provided with the respective power meter for each user, at least a shared utility that can be activated both automatically and at the request of a user, at least one switch connected on one side to the shared utility and on the other side configured to selectively connect to one or the other user power supply for allocating on the respective user power meter the current power consumption of the shared utility, a control unit configured for controlling the switch; b) controlling the switch alternately in the following modes: when the shared utility is automatically activated, the control unit commands the progressive connection of the switch to one or the other user power supply according to the ownership share rate subdivisions, when the shared utility is activated on request by a particular user, the control unit commands the switch to the user power supply line of the particular user that requested the shared utility to be activated.

Inventors:
MANCINELLI, Andrea (Via Torino 66, Angera, 21021, IT)
BARANZINI, Roberto Adelio (Piazza Garibaldi 12, Angera, 21021, IT)
Application Number:
IB2018/055782
Publication Date:
February 07, 2019
Filing Date:
August 01, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MANCINELLI, Andrea (Via Torino 66, Angera, 21021, IT)
BARANZINI, Roberto Adelio (Piazza Garibaldi 12, Angera, 21021, IT)
International Classes:
H02J3/00; G01D4/00; G06Q50/06
Foreign References:
US20140279712A12014-09-18
US20150316945A12015-11-05
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARTINI, Gabriele et al. (Studio Torta S.p.A, Via Viotti 9, Torino, 10121, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method for dividing the energy consumed by a shared utility shared by a plurality of users according to their relative ownership share rate; the method comprising the steps of:

a) providing:

- a power supply line provided with the respective power meter for each user;

- at least a shared utility that can be activated both automatically and at the request of a particular user;

- at least one switch connected on one side to the shared utility and on the other side configured to selectively connect to one or the other user power supply for allocating on the respective user power meter the current power consumption of the shared utility;

- a control unit configured for controlling the switch;

b) controlling the switch alternately in the following modes:

- when the shared utility is automatically activated, the control unit commands the progressive connection of the switch to one or the other user power supply according to the ownership share rate subdivisions;

- when the shared utility is activated on request by a particular user, the control unit commands the switch to the user power supply line of the particular user that requested the shared utility to be activated.

2. A method as claimed in claim 1, when the switch is controlled according to the ownership share rate subdivisions among the users, wherein the step of controlling the switch comprises the steps of identifying a use time unit and divide that time unit between the users in a proportionate to the ownership share rates.

3. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein in case of interruption of the use of shared utility within the time unit, at subsequent restart a control unit controls the resumption of the switch from the point of the previous interruption .

4. A method as claimed in claim 2, wherein in case of common use beyond the unit of time, the control unit commands the repeat of the control cycle from the starting point.

5. A method as claimed in claim 1, when the switch is controlled by the requested activation of a particular user, wherein the method comprises the step of identifying the user who has activated the shared utility.

6. A method as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein step a) provides a plurality of shared utilities each having at least one switch for extracting multiple-line power for a single utility.

7. An apparatus for carrying out the method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the apparatus comprises : - a power supply line provided with the respective power meter for each user;

- at least a shared utility that can be activated both automatically and at the request of a particular user;

- at least one switch connected on one side to the shared utility and on the other side configured to selectively connect to one or the other user power supply for allocating on the respective user power meter the current power consumption of the shared utility;

- a control unit configured for controlling the switch;

wherein when the shared utility is automatically activated the control unit is configured to command the progressive connection of the switch to one or the other user power supply according to the ownership share rate subdivisions; when the shared utility is activated on request by a particular user, the control unit is configured to command the switch to the user power supply line of the particular user that requested the shared utility to be activated.

8. Apparatus as claimed in claim 7, when the switch is controlled according to the ownership share rate subdivisions among the users, wherein the control unit is connected to a database of ownership share rates.

9. Apparatus as claimed in claim 7, when the switch is controlled by the requested activation of a particular user, wherein the apparatus comprises at least one user identification device for identifying the user that activated the shared utility.

10. Apparatus as claimed in claim 7, wherein the apparatus comprises a plurality of shared utilities each having at least one switch for extracting in parallel multiple-line power for a single utility.

Description:
"A METHOD FOR DIVIDING THE ENERGY CONSUMED BY A SHARED UTILITY SHARED BY A PLURALITY OF USERS AND APPARATUS FOR CARRYING OUT THE METHOD" CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from Italian Patent Application No. 102017000088560 filed on August 1, 2017, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a method for dividing the energy consumed by a shared utility shared by a plurality of users according to relative ownership share rates.

In particular, by way of non-exhaustive explanatory example, the invention relates to the division of the energy consumed by a shared service utility shared by a plurality of flat-owners in a block of individually owned flats.

The invention further relates to an apparatus for carrying out the method.

As already mentioned above, the invention finds its main application in the field of the management of the absorption of electrical energy by shared utilities which can be activated by different users according to their needs. Examples of these shared service utilities in a block of flats can be the lights of stairwells, the lights of courtyards, the supply of power to intercoms, the supply of power to electric gates, elevators, etc. The costs for the management of these shared utilities must be properly divided among the users sharing them.

BACKGROUND ART

The currently most spread solution used to divide the energy consumed by said shared utilities consists in providing each shared utility, or a series of shared utilities, with a relative power meter for the sole purpose of recording the total energy consumption that can be assigned to that shared utility. Subsequently, the consumption data must be divided and this division usually is made by the manager of the block of flats, allocating single consumption share rates to the different users .

This prior art solution is affected by different drawbacks. Indeed, according to the prior art, the shared utility must be provided with a suitable power meter, with the consequent problems arising from the management thereof. Evidently, the absence of this power meter would reduce the number of components present in the apparatus. A second drawback is linked to the fact that the consumption division made afterwards for the allocation of consumption share rates to users can be affected by calculation mistakes, as it is in itself an operation that, though simple, is carried out through human control. Finally, last but not least among the drawbacks, the single consumption costs are currently not allocated based on the actual user using the shared utility. As a consequence, a user who does not use the shared utility is anyway forced to pay part of the consumption thereof. Therefore, nowadays, the need for a division based on the actual consumption of the single users is largely present.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

Starting from this prior art, the object of the invention is to provide an alternative method for the division of the energy consumed by a shared utility shared by a plurality of users, which is capable of overcoming the drawbacks of the prior art in a simple and economic fashion, both from the functional point of view and from the constructive point of view .

According to this object, the invention relates to a method for dividing the energy consumed by a shared utility shared by a plurality of users according to relative ownership share rates. The method comprises at least the steps of:

a) providing:

- a power supply line provided with the respective power meter for each user;

- a plurality of shared utilities that can be activated automatically and/or at the request of a user;

- at least one switch connected on one side to the shared utility and on the other side configured to selectively connect to one or the other user power supply for allocating on the respective user power meter the current power consumption of the shared utility;

- a control unit configured for controlling the switch.

The terms "power supply line provided with the respective power meter for each user" mean that the energy needed for the operation of the shared utility can be drawn in an independent manner by the single users by means of a power supply line. These power supply lines currently are already present in the systems of the different block of flats and the relative power meters can be the power meters currently installed.

By way of example, in a block of flats, the terms "shared utility" can identify the lights of stairwells, the lights of courtyards, the supply of power to intercoms, the supply of power to electric gates, elevators, etc. As it is known, some of these utilities are activated in an automatic and scheduled manner without a specific request, whereas others are activated at the request of a particular user, when they need it.

The term switch indicates a movable switch, or "switcher", suitable for being selectively connected to one or the other utility with the control of a control unit, or electronic control unit.

The general aspect of the invention concerns the control of the switch both during the automatic activation of the utilities and during their activation at the specific request of a particular user. In particular, the general aspect of the invention relates to the choice of the power supply line for the first contact as well as the choice and the time frame for the migration towards a different line during the use of the shared utility when it is activated by a particular user.

Starting to the above, according to the invention, the control unit is configured for controlling the switch in the following modes :

- when the shared utility is automatically activated, the control unit commands the progressive connection of the switch to one or the other user power supply according to the ownership share rate subdivisions;

- when the shared utility is activated on request by a particular user, the control unit commands the switch to the user power supply line of the particular user that requested the shared utility to be activated.

In order for this last phase to be carried out, the system needs to be able to identify the user who activated the shared utility .

Advantageously, according to the invention, the shared utility does not need any longer to be provided with a relative power meter. Indeed, the respective consumptions will be directly allocated to the power meter connected to the power supply line from which the energy for the use of the shared utility is drawn. Therefore, no calculations for the division of the relative consumptions must be made afterwards, thus eliminating the risk of calculation errors.

During the automatic activation of the utilities, the consumption division logic, namely the logic controlling the drawing of the energy, depends on the ownership share rate subdivisions among the users and, hence, the control unit controls the switch based on a shared utility use time unit, which is divided in a proportionate manner relative to the ownership share rates. Therefore, in this way, the control unit will command the connection of the switch to a particular power supply line depending on the ownership share rates owned by the user of that power supply line. In other words, the power supply lines owned by users with larger ownership share rates will be connected to the switch for a grater amount of time than the power supply lines owned by users with smaller ownership share rates. The control unit naturally is configured to store in a memory the time record of the position of the switch, so that, at the subsequent restart of the shared utility, the control unit forces the switch to start from the point in which it was at the moment of the previous interruption. In this way, within a reasonable time frame, like the one established by the due dates for the payment of common expenses in a block of flats, it is possible to complete a number of cycles sufficient to represent the correct division of shared consumptions per ownership share rate. During the activation of shared utility at the request of a user, the switch control logic depends on the identification of the user who activated the shared utility. The method comprises the preliminary step of identifying the user who activated the shared utility. This identification can take place in a very simple manner, providing personalized use keys, keypad codes different from user to user, remote controls with different frequencies, etc.

Advantageously, in this last configuration, not only the apparatus does not require a shared power meter and the allocation of costs is not subjected to calculation errors, but also, in addition, the cost for the use of the utility at the request of the user is exclusively allocated to the user who actually requested the performance, thus not burdening other users.

The presence of the identification devices does not exclude, per se, the possibility of allocating anyway the costs based on the ownership share rates. Indeed, there can be a key or a code to activate the switch based on the different ownership share rates or the power supply line of the user who activated the shared utility can simply be the first one to supply the power of a selection cycle. In this last case, the user who activated the shared utility will have a greater costs, though without having to bare alone the costs of the total consumption. In case of excessive drawing of energy from a utility relative to the respective ownership share rate, the system is provided with a memory capable of making up for this drawing in the subsequent cycles .

The apparatus can naturally comprise a plurality of shared utilities, each provided with its own switch. In this case, it is possible for more than one single shared utility to be connected to the same power supply line at the same time .

Alternatively, in order to face large requests of energy from particular shared utilities, the apparatus can comprise switches arranged in parallel and connected to same shared utility, so as to draw the energy requested at the same time by two or more users. In this case, again, an excessive drawing of energy by users with smaller ownership share rates or who did not request the activation of the utility will be compensated during the subsequent cycles.

So far the invention was described in terms of the method for controlling the switch. However, the invention also relates to the relative apparatus for carrying out the method.

The apparatus, in its nominal for, comprises:

- a power supply line provided with the respective power meter for each user;

- at least one shared utility which can be activated by users in an independent manner;

- at least one switch connected on one side to the shared utility and on the other side configured to selectively connect to one or the other user power supply for allocating on the respective user power meter the current power consumption of the shared utility;

- a control unit configured for controlling the switch.

The control unit is configured for controlling the switch in such a way that it is selectively connected to one or the other power supply line according to the modes described above .

As already mentioned above, the apparatus can comprise a plurality of shared utilities, each provided with the relative switch; each shared utility can be associated with a plurality of switches in parallel so as to face large power requests, which could not be fulfilled using one single line.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features and advantages of the invention will be best understood upon perusal of the following description of a non-limiting embodiment thereof, with reference to the accompanying drawing, wherein:

- figure 1 shows a diagram of a first application example of the invention;

- figure 2 shows a diagram of a second application example of the invention; and

- figure 3 shows a diagram of a third application example of the invention. BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

Figure 1 shows a first embodiment example of the invention. This figure shows a schematic diagram of an apparatus 1 for implementing the method according to the invention. This example comprises four power supply lines 2 owned by four different users. Each power supply line is provided with its own power meter 3 for counting the power consumption of the relative power supply line 2. Naturally, both the position and the representation of the power supply lines and of the power meters are schematic and aimed at describing the invention. Number 4 schematically indicates a shared utility, which can be activated after having established a communication with one of the four power supply lines 2. For this purpose there is provided a switch 5 which on one side is connected to the shared utility 4 and on the other side is provided with a switcher capable of being selectively connected to all four power supply lines 2. Anyway, even though not mentioned above, according to the invention, the switch preferably temporarily goes through an unloading condition 6 before shifting from one power supply line to another one.

The possible movement of the switcher is schematically shown in figure 1 with arrow F and is controlled by a suitable control unit 7, or electronic control unit. Said control unit 7 is further connected to database 8 containing the information concerning the division of the shared utility into ownership shared rate owned by the four users.

The database 8 can be used and/or changed remotely upon authorization. In particular, there can be at least two user profiles authorized to access the remotely processed data. A first profile could belong to the manager of the utilities according to the invention. The second profile could be the one of the energy provider powering the apparatus, which, having the correct consumptions available, could issue invoices for the single users already containing the share of consumption of the shared utility.

In this example, during the use of the shared utility, the control unit 4 controls the switch so that it shifts from a power supply unit to the another one depending on the aforesaid ownership share rates. The larger the ownership share rate owned by the user of a power supply line, the greater the time assigned to draw energy from that power supply line. At the end of the time granted to a user to draw energy from a power supply line, the control unit 4 controls the switch 5 so that it shifts to another power supply line 2. This procedure goes on until the switch 5 has been coupled to all power supply lines. The cycle is repeated in case the use of the utility goes on.

In case of interruption, the control unit 4 stores in a memory which power supply line was connected to the switch last, so that, upon subsequent use of the shared utility, it can couple to the switch to that very power supply line until the predetermined drawing time is reached.

Figure 2 shows a second application example of the invention. The only difference with respect to figure 1 is the presence of two shared utilities 4 provided with the respective switches 5. In the example of figure 2, the two shared utilities are drawing energy from two different power supply lines. However, the apparatus is configured so that the same power supply line can supply power to both shared utilities at the same time.

Figure 3 shows a third application example of the invention .

This example comprises an apparatus like the one figure 1, where a further series of devices were integrated. In particular, the control unit 7 communicates with a series of devices 9 capable of identifying which user wants to use the shared utility. For example, these identification devices can be a code, a key or a remote control or any other device personalized for each single user. Once the control unit 7 has received the indication of which user wants to activate the shared utility, it controls the switch 5 so that it gets coupled to the power supply line 2 owned by that user. The interested user can obtain a feedback on this operation by a suitable display, which can also provide in real time an indication of the consumptions. In this way the user can control the actual consumption being assigned to his/her power meter 3. However, the control unit 7 of figure 3 is capable of controlling the switch also in the mode described above, namely based on the ownership share rate and not solely based on the user who activated the shared utility. In order to shift from a control logic to the other, as well as to a hybrid form in which the user who activated the shared utility only is the first energy drawing point, the control unit 7 is connected to a display 11, which indicates the set control logic and a series of commands 12 to shift from a control logic to another one.

Finally, the utility 4 is coupled to a timer device 13 capable of deactivating the shared utility after a predetermined amount of time, thus avoiding excessive consumptions due, for example, to a shared utility accidentally left active.

Finally, according to an example which is not shown herein, the switch can physically be coupled to all power supply lines at the same time and draw energy from the different power supply lines depending on the logic described above based on the ownership share rates. This configuration is particularly efficient in case the shared utility requires an energy peak such that it can be borne only by the simultaneous supply of power from a plurality of power supply lines. According to this example, all power supply lines simultaneously supply power. The drawn quantity, however, is divided depending on the ownership share rates of the shared utility and the switch acts as a shutter.

Even though they are not shown herein, the invention envisages the presence of known safety devices and of a parallel structure where there are different switches connected to a shared utility and capable of powering it drawing energy from different users.

Finally, it is clear that the invention described herein can be subjected to changes and variations, without for this reason going beyond the scope of protection of the appended claims .