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1. (WO2017098346) OIL LEVEL SIGNALLING DEVICE FOR COMPRESSOR AND OIL MANAGEMENT APPARATUS, WITH REMOVABLE DETECTION AND CONTROL UNIT
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Claims

1. Oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) for an oil-lubricated compressor (10), said oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) being associable to a compressor crankcase (11), and comprising:

- a main body (2) in which a detection chamber (4) is made and a fluidic communication path (420), said detection chamber (4) being connectable in fluidic communication with the compressor crankcase by means of said fluidic communication path (420) and being suitable to receive at least partially the oil or the refrigerant;

- a floating element (6), enclosed in the detection chamber (4) ;

- a detection and control unit (7), suitable to detect a position of the floating element and to generate a signal of the oil/refrigerant level depending on the position of the floating element (6) ;

said detection and control unit (7) being removably anchored to the main body (2) in the vicinity of the detection chamber (4) .

2. Device according to claim 1, wherein the detection and control unit (7) is anchored externally to the main body (2) and is suitable to be removed from the main body (2) when said main body (2) is operatively connected to the pressurised compressor.

3. Device (1) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the detection and control unit (7) is suitable to be removed from the main body (2) without depressurising the compressor (10) and/or the refrigeration system and/or the detection chamber (4) .

4. Device (1) according to claim 2 or 3, in which the detection and control unit (7) is not fluidically connected to the detection chamber (4) or to the compressor crankcase (11) .

5. Device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, in which the detection and control unit (7) is anchored around the detection chamber (4) .

6. Device (1) according to claim 5, wherein the detection and control unit (7) is anchored around the detection chamber (4) by means of two anchoring portions (71, 72), externally embracing the main body (2) in the vicinity of the detection chamber (4) .

7. Device (1) according to any of the previous claims, wherein the main body (2) is made in one piece.

8. Device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, in which the detection and control unit (7) comprises a magnetic field sensor, such as a Hall effect sensor.

9. Device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, in which the detection and control unit (7) comprises an orientation detection sensor, suitable for detecting the orientation of the oil/refrigerant level signalling device .

10. Device (1) according to claim 9, wherein the orientation detection sensor is an accelerometer , suitable for detecting the orientation of the oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) with respect to the direction of the force of gravity.

11. Device (1) according to claim 9, wherein the orientation detection sensor is a rollover sensor (or mechanical tilt switch) or a mercury switch.

12. Device (1) according to any of the claims from 9 to 11, wherein the orientation detection sensor is configured to detect two main orientation positions inclined to each other by an angle substantially equal to 180°.

13. Device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, in which the detection and control unit (7) comprises an electronic circuit board on which at least a microprocessor and a magnetic field sensor are housed. 14. Device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, in which the detection and control unit (7) comprises one or more of the following components: a magnetic field sensor, a voltage sensor, a temperature sensor, an orientation sensor, control switches, indicator lights, and a data storage device.

15. Device (1) according to claim 14, wherein the detection and control unit (7) is configured to store in the data storage device a multitude of operating parameters selected from the group comprising: average/minimum/maximum temperature and/or voltage, number of hours of operation, average/minimum/maximum duration and oil level alarms count.

16. Device (1) according to any of the preceding claims, in which the detection and control unit (7) is entirely closed by an airtight casing (7a) .

17. Device (1) according to claim 16, wherein the casing is made from at least two half-shells (7b, 7c) sealingly coupled together.

18. Device (1) according to claim 17, wherein at least one of the half-shells (7b, 7c) is made of a material comprising polycarbonate and said half-shells (7b, 7c) are sealed using a gasket in silicone rubber (VMQ) .

19. Device (1) according to claim 17, wherein at least one of the half-shells (7b, 7c) is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and said half-shells (7b, 7c) are over-moulded with each other.

20. Device (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the floating element (6) is free from mechanical constraints with the detection chamber (4) and is suitable to vary its position as a function of the amount of oil or refrigerant in the detection chamber (4) .

21. Oil or refrigerant management apparatus (1') for an oil-lubricated compressor, said oil management apparatus (1') being associable to a compressor crankcase (11) and to an oil/refrigerant supply system (23), and comprising

- an oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) according to any of the claims from 1 to 20, wherein an oil/refrigerant supply path (3) is made in the main body (2), suitable for placing the oil/refrigerant supply system (23) in fluidic communication with the compressor crankcase (11);

- a regulation device (5), operating along the oil supply path (3) and suitable to regulate the flow of oil/refrigerant from the oil/refrigerant supply system (23) to the compressor crankcase (11);

and wherein the detection and control unit (7) is suitable to generate a control signal for the regulation device (5) depending on the position of the floating element (6) .

22. Apparatus (1') according to claim 21, wherein the processing and control unit (7) is not fluidically connected to the oil/refrigerant supply path (3) .

23. Detection and control unit (7) for an oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) of an oil- lubricated compressor (10), said oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) being associable to a compressor crankcase (11), and comprising:

- a main body (2) in which a detection chamber (4) is made in fluidic communication with the compressor crankcase (11) and suitable to receive at least partially the oil or the refrigerant;

- a floating element (6), enclosed in the detection chamber ( 4 ) ;

wherein said detection and control unit (7) is suitable to detect a position of the floating element (6) and to generate a signal of the oil or refrigerant level depending on the position of the floating element (6) and wherein said detection and control unit (7) is removably attachable to the main body (2) of the oil or refrigerant level signalling device in the vicinity of the detection chamber (4) .

24. Oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) for an oil-lubricated compressor (10), said oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) being associable to a compressor crankcase (11), and comprising:

- a main body (2) in which is made a detection chamber (4) and a fluidic communication path (420), said detection chamber (4) being connectable in fluidic communication with the compressor crankcase (11) by means of said fluidic communication path (420) and being suitable to receive at least partially the oil or the refrigerant;

- a floating element (6), enclosed in the detection chamber (4) and suitable to float in the oil or in the refrigerant ;

- a detection and control unit (7), suitable to detect a position of the floating element (6) and to generate a signal of the oil/refrigerant level depending on the position of the floating element (6) ; said floating element (6) being free from mechanical constraints with the detection chamber (4) and being suitable to vary its position as a function of the amount of oil or refrigerant in the detection chamber (4) .

25. Device (1) according to claim 24, wherein the floating element (6) comprises a portion made of magnetic material (62) and a portion made of polymeric material (61) that carries said portion made of magnetic material (62) .

26. Device according to claim 25, wherein the portion made of magnetic material (62) is totally embedded in the portion made of polymeric material (61) .

27. Device (1) according to any of claims 24 to 26, wherein the main body (2) is made in one piece.

28. Device (1) according to any of claims 24 to 27, wherein the floating element (6) has an oblong shape extending mainly along a determined direction (Y) and comprising an outer surface (63) that surrounds the floating element (6), on said outer surface (63) being formed at least one protuberance (64a) projecting towards the outside of the floating element (6), to reduce the adhesion between the floating element (6) and the detection chamber (4) when the floating element (6) is housed in the detection chamber (4) .

29. Device (1) according to any of claims 24 to 28, wherein, between the detection chamber (4) and the compressor crankcase (11), at least one filter chamber (42' ',43'') is interposed for filtering impurities from the oil .

30. Device (1) according to any of claims 24 to 29, wherein the detection chamber (4) is connectable in fluidic communication with the compressor crankcase (11) by means of a first channel (42a) and a second channel (43a) , wherein said first channel and second channel extend along respective main directions (Wl, W2) separate from, and parallel to, each other.

31. Oil or refrigerant management apparatus (1') for an oil-lubricated compressor, said oil or refrigerant management apparatus (1') being associable to a compressor crankcase (11) and to an oil or refrigerant supply system (23), and comprising

- an oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) according to any of claims 24 to 30, wherein an oil/refrigerant supply path (3) is made in the main body (2), suitable for placing the oil/refrigerant supply system (23) in fluidic communication with the compressor crankcase (11);

- a regulation device (5), operating along the oil/refrigerant supply path (3) and suitable to regulate the flow of oil/refrigerant from the oil/refrigerant supply system (23) to the compressor crankcase (11);

and wherein the detection and control unit (7) is suitable to generate a control signal for the regulation device (5) depending on the position of the floating element (6) .

32. Apparatus (1') according to claim 31, wherein the oil/refrigerant supply path (3) comprises an oil/refrigerant inlet mouth (31) connectable in fluidic communication with the oil/refrigerant supply system (23) and an oil/refrigerant outlet mouth (36) connectable in fluidic communication with the compressor crankcase (11), said oil/refrigerant inlet mouth (31) being disposed in a manner substantially coaxial with the oil/refrigerant outlet mouth (36) .

33. Apparatus (1') according to any of claims 31 to 32, wherein, from the oil/refrigerant inlet mouth (31), an oil/refrigerant inlet duct (32) branches off that leads to a regulation chamber (33), said regulation chamber (33) comprising a threaded seat (51) formed in the main body (2) and suitable to be coupled with the regulation device (5) .

34. Apparatus (1') according to any of claims 31 to 33, wherein, in the oil/refrigerant supply (3) a supply filter (39) is inserted to filter the oil/refrigerant coming from the oil/refrigerant supply system (23) .

35. Floating element (6) for an oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) for an oil-lubricated compressor (10), said oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) comprising a detection chamber (4) connectable in fluidic communication with the compressor (10), wherein said floating element (6) is suitable to be housed free from constraints in the detection chamber (4) and wherein said floating element (6) has a density suitable for the floating of the floating element (6) in the oil or in the refrigerant and comprises a portion made of magnetic material (62) and a portion made of polymeric material

(61) which carries said portion made of magnetic material

(62) .

36. Floating element according to claim 35, wherein the portion made of magnetic material (62) is totally embedded in the portion made of polymeric material (61) .

37. Floating element according to claim 36, wherein the polymeric material is at least partially an expanded polymeric material.

38. Floating element according to any of claims 35 to 37, having an oblong shape extending mainly along a determined direction (Y) and comprising an outer surface

(63) that surrounds the floating element (6), on said outer surface (63) being formed at least one protuberance

(64a) projecting towards the outside of the floating element (6), to reduce the adhesion between the floating element (6) and the detection chamber (4) when the floating element (6) is housed in the detection chamber

(4) .

39. Compressor unit for a refrigeration system comprising a compressor (10) associated with an oil or refrigerant level signalling device (1) according to any of claims 1 to 20 or 24 to 30 and an oil or refrigerant management apparatus (1') according to any of claims 21 to 22 or 31 to 34.