News Column

Patent Issued for Mounting Plate Having Faceplate Grounding Means

August 27, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- Lutron Electronics Co., Inc. (Coopersburg, PA) has been issued patent number 8802980, according to news reporting originating out of Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews editors.

The patent's inventors are Shivell, William Taylor (Breinigsville, PA); Steiner, James P. (Royersford, PA).

This patent was filed on June 8, 2012 and was published online on August 12, 2014.

From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "The present invention relates to wall-mounted load control devices for control of the power delivered from an alternating-current (AC) power source to an electrical load, and more particularly, to a mounting plate for a load control device having a means for grounding a metal faceplate.

"Typical load control devices are operable to control the amount of power delivered to an electrical load, such as a lighting load or a motor load, from an alternating-current (AC) power source. Wall-mounted load control devices are adapted to be mounted to standard electrical wallboxes. A dimmer switch comprises a controllably conductive device (e.g., a bidirectional semiconductor switch, such as, a triac), which is coupled in series between the power source and the load. The controllably conductive device is controlled to be conductive and non-conductive for portions of a half-cycle of the AC power source to thus control the amount of power delivered to the load (e.g., using a phase-control dimming technique). A 'smart' dimmer switch (i.e., a digital dimmer switch) comprises a microprocessor (or similar controller) for controlling the semiconductor switch and a power supply for powering the microprocessor.

"An electronic switch (i.e., a digital switch) comprises a controllably conductive device (such as a relay or a bidirectional semiconductor switch), a microprocessor, and a power supply. In contrast to a smart dimmer switch, the controllably conductive device of an electronic switch is not controlled using the phase-controlled dimming technique to variably adjust the intensity of a lighting load, but is controlled to be either conductive or non-conductive during each half-cycle of the AC power source to simply toggle the electrical load on and off. Digital dimmers and switches may further comprise occupancy detection circuits such that the dimmers and switches are able to operate as occupancy sensors to automatically turn on lighting loads in response to the presence of an occupant (i.e., an occupancy condition) and automatically turn off the lighting loads in response to detecting the absence of an occupant (i.e., a vacancy condition).

"Such wall-mounted load control devices are typically installed with a faceplate. In the event that the faceplate is made of a conductive material (i.e., metal), the faceplate must be coupled to earth ground to comply with national electrical regulations. A prior art load control device typically comprises a yoke (or mounting plate) that is designed to be coupled to both the electrical wallbox and the faceplate. Typically, the yoke of such a prior art load control device is made of metal and further comprises a ground wire--coupled to the yoke--such that the metal yoke may be coupled to earth ground.

"When such a prior art load control device is installed with a metal faceplate, the faceplate is coupled to earth ground because the faceplate contacts the metal yoke (either directly or through a faceplate screw, and the yoke is coupled to earth ground via the ground wire. Thus, because the faceplate (being made of metal) is electrically as well as mechanically coupled to the grounded metal yoke, national electrical regulations are properly satisfied.

"However, metal yokes can be quite costly. Therefore, there exists a need for a load control device having a low cost grounding means for a metal faceplate--particularly, when the load control device comprises a yoke made of a non-conductive material."

Supplementing the background information on this patent, VerticalNews reporters also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "According to an embodiment of the present invention, a mounting plate system is operable to couple a control device (e.g., a load control device, a remote control device, etc) to an electrical wallbox and a faceplate. The mounting plate system includes a mounting plate comprising at least one faceplate screw opening. The mounting plate operable to be coupled to the electrical wallbox. The mounting plate system also includes a ground wire coupled to the mounting plate. The ground wire is positioned relative to the faceplate screw opening such that the ground wire is adapted to contact a faceplate screw when a faceplate screw is received through the faceplate screw opening.

"According to another embodiment of the present invention, a wall-mountable load control device is adapted to be coupled between an AC power source and an electrical load for controlling the power delivered to the load. The load control device comprises a non-conductive yoke for mounting the load control device into a standard electrical wallbox. The yoke has at least one faceplate screw opening. The load control device also comprises a metal conductor attached to the yoke, and the metal conductor is operable to be coupled to earth ground. The faceplate screw opening overlaps a portion of the metal conductor such that the metal conductor is adapted to contact a faceplate screw when the faceplate screw is received through the faceplate screw opening.

"According to another embodiment of the present invention, an adapter plate system is operable to couple a control device to an electrical wallbox and a faceplate. The adapter plate system comprises an adapter plate operable to be coupled to a control device and operable to be coupled to the electrical wallbox. The adapter plate comprises at least one faceplate screw opening. The adapter plate system comprises a ground wire coupled to the adapter plate. The ground wire is positioned relative to the faceplate screw opening such that a section of the ground wire partially overlaps the faceplate screw opening. Thus when a faceplate screw is received through the faceplate screw opening, the ground wire is adapted to contact the faceplate screw.

"Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention that refers to the accompanying drawings."

For the URL and additional information on this patent, see: Shivell, William Taylor; Steiner, James P.. Mounting Plate Having Faceplate Grounding Means. U.S. Patent Number 8802980, filed June 8, 2012, and published online on August 12, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8802980.PN.&OS=PN/8802980RS=PN/8802980

Keywords for this news article include: Semiconductor, Microprocessors, Lutron Electronics Co. Inc..

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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