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Publication numberUS20030213374 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/429,464
Publication dateNov 20, 2003
Filing dateMay 5, 2003
Priority dateOct 1, 2002
Also published asUS6889602, US20040182252
Publication number10429464, 429464, US 2003/0213374 A1, US 2003/213374 A1, US 20030213374 A1, US 20030213374A1, US 2003213374 A1, US 2003213374A1, US-A1-20030213374, US-A1-2003213374, US2003/0213374A1, US2003/213374A1, US20030213374 A1, US20030213374A1, US2003213374 A1, US2003213374A1
InventorsMartin Brady, Xiaogang Guo
Original AssigneeMartin Brady, Xiaogang Guo
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Grilling appliance
US 20030213374 A1
Abstract
A portable electric grilling appliance (20) for household use which has first and second heating units (22, 24) which, in use, overlie one another has substantially identical housing shells to make it evident to the user that the grilling appliance (20) can be used with either one of the heating units as the lower heating unit and provide support for the other heating unit. The two heating units (22, 24) have substantially the same exterior appearance and both are designed to function as either the top heating unit or the bottom heating unit. The two heating units (22, 24) are substantially symmetrical about a horizontal plane extending between them when the heating elements are arranged one on top of the other to indicate to the user of the appliance that either heating unit could be placed on top and the other on the bottom.
Images(6)
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Claims(6)
We claim:
1. A portable grilling appliance comprising:
a first heating unit comprising a first grill plate having a front surface and a back surface, a first electrically-operated heater for heating said first grill plate, and a first housing shell covering said back surface of said first grill plate and said first heater, said first housing shell having a first set of at least three feet for supporting said first heating unit in a generally horizontal orientation when said feet are placed on a horizontal support surface, such as a kitchen counter top; and
a second heating unit hinged to said first heating unit and comprising a second grill plate having a front surface and a back surface, a second electrically-operated heater for heating said second grill plate, and a second housing shell covering said back surface of said second grill plate and said second heater, said second housing shell having a second set of feet equal to the number of feet in said first set of feet, said second set of feet supporting said second heating unit in a generally horizontal orientation when said second set of feet are placed on a horizontal support surface, such as a kitchen counter top.
2. The grilling appliance of claim 1 wherein said second set of feet have the same shape as said first set of feet.
3. The appliance of claim 1 wherein said both said first grill plate and said second grill plate have a grids for grilling and shaping waffles.
4. The grilling appliance of claim 1 wherein said second set of feet are located on said second shell in the same position said first set of feet have on said first shell.
5. A portable grilling appliance comprising:
a first heating unit comprising a first grill plate having a front surface and a back surface, a first electrically-operated heater for heating said first grill plate, and a first housing shell covering said back surface of said first grill plate and said first heater, said first housing shell having a rear wall and a pair of projections extending from said rear wall for supporting said first heating unit in an upright orientation;
a second heating unit and comprising a second grill plate having a front surface and a back surface, a second electrically-operated heater for heating said second grill plate, and a second housing shell covering said back surface of said second grill plate and said second heater, said second housing shell having a rear wall and a pair of projections extending from said rear wall for supporting said second heating unit in an upright orientation; and
a hinge connecting said first heating unit to said second heating unit.
6. A portable waffle maker comprising:
a first heating unit comprising a grill having a front side provided with a first grid for shaping waffles, a first housing covering the sides and back of the grill, an electric heater located between the grill and the housing for heating the grill, and feet on said housing for supporting said first heating unit;
a second heating unit comprising a grill having a front side provided with a grid for shaping waffles, a housing covering the sides and back of the grill, an electric heater located between the grill and the housing for heating the grill, and feet on said housing for supporting said first heating unit; and
a hinge connecting said first heating unit to said second heating unit.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 10/130,090, filed Oct. 1, 2002, a national phase patent application of International application PCT/US00/25425, filed Sep. 15, 2000.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates to a grilling appliance and particularly to a portable electric grilling appliance for household use. More precisely, this invention relates to an electric household grilling appliance having two heating units provided with grill plates which, in use, lie one over the other and form between them a grilling chamber. The two heating units are pivotally connected to one another by a hinge that connects a back edge of both heating units. To open the grilling chamber, a handle attached to the uppermost heating chamber can be raised to pivot the uppermost heating chamber about the hinge, thereby separating all but the hinged back edges of the heating units from one another. The grilling appliance of this invention is primarily intended for use as a waffle maker, in which case the grill plates have mutually confronting front surfaces formed as waffle shaping grids. However, as will become apparent, this invention could be useful for other grilling appliances.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Steam irons often are provided with mechanisms for changing the rates at which steam exits from steam outlet ports in the sole plates. There are occasions during which steam irons are used when no steam is desired and other occasions during which a specific rate of steam production is desired. The rate varies with the fabric being ironed and with the preferences of the person using a steam iron.

[0004] Steam is usually produced in steam irons by dispensing small quantities of water from a water reservoir through a restricted orifice into a steam chamber formed by the top surface of the sole plate and a cover plate which covers and is sealed to a portion of the sole plate. In a domestic iron, typical steam production rates are on the order of 1 to 15 grams of steam per minute. Since small quantities of water are used to produce steam within the typical range of flow rates, small differences in the size of the orifice can make substantial differences in the steam flow rates. A substantial number of cooperating parts is typically required to achieve reliable adjustments to the steam production rates in prior iron constructions. The cost of the steam production control mechanism adds significantly to the overall cost of a steam iron.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] One object of this invention is to provide an improved portable electric grilling appliance for household use which has first and second heating units which, in use, overlie one another.

[0006] Another object of this invention is to provide such an improved portable electric grilling appliance with substantially identical housing shells to make it evident to the user that the grilling appliance can be used with either one of the heating units functioning as the lower heating unit and providing support for the other heating unit.

[0007] Yet another object of this invention is to provide an improved portable electric grilling appliance for household use which has first and second heating units which, in use, overlie one another, the exterior portions of the two heating units being substantially symmetrical about an imaginary plane extending between the two heating units when supported one on top of the other.

[0008] Still another object of this invention is to provide an improved portable electric grilling appliance for household use which has first and second heating units which, in use, overlie one another and which can be stood upright for storage on rearward faces of the heating units without the need for clamps or the like for holding the two heating units upright.

[0009] A grilling appliance in accordance with this invention comprises two heating units which are hinged together so that one of the heating units can overlie the other heating unit to provide a grilling chamber. The two heating units have substantially the same exterior appearance and both are designed to function as either the top heating unit or the bottom heating unit. In one aspect of this invention, the two heating units are substantially symmetrical about a horizontal plane extending between them when the heating elements are arranged one on top of the other. The user of the appliance is induced thereby to realize that either heating unit could be placed on top and other on the bottom.

[0010] In another aspect of this invention, the two heating elements are provided with plural feet, which may or may not include anti-slip foot pads, that project outwardly from the outer shell of each heating appliance. This provides another visual indication to the user that either one of the two heating units could be on the bottom and the other on the top.

[0011] In another aspect of this invention, the two heating units of a grilling appliance are each provided with a pair of projections that extend outwardly from the rearward edges of the two heating units. The projections are so located on the heating units that, when the grilling appliance is placed in a vertical orientation so that it is supported by such projections, the center of gravity of each of the heating units is located between the projections on one of the heating units and the projections on the other heating unit. Therefore, the heating units tend to pivot toward one another about the imaginary line extending through the points of engagement of their respective pair of projections. Accordingly, the two heating units tend to remain upright and not fall away from one another. Because of this construction, the grilling appliance may readily and safely be stored in a vertical orientation.

[0012] Other objects, advantages and features of this invention will become apparent from the following description and the drawings

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a waffle maker in accordance with this invention as viewed generally from the front, above and the right and showing one orientation of the waffle maker. The power cord for the waffle maker is shown broken or fragmented in several of the drawing figures.

[0014]FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the waffle maker of FIG. 1 as viewed generally from the front, above and the right, but with the waffle maker inverted so that it is oriented upside down from the orientation shown in FIG. 1.

[0015]FIG. 3 is a fragmented, partly exploded perspective view of the waffle maker of FIG. 1.

[0016]FIG. 4 is a cross-section view of the waffle maker taken on line 4-4 of FIG. 1.

[0017]FIG. 5 is a rear elevational view of the waffle maker indicated by arrows 5-5 of FIG. 4.

[0018]FIG. 6 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the portion of the waffle maker enclosed within the view circle 6 of FIG. 4.

[0019]FIG. 7 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the portion of the waffle maker enclosed within the view circle 7 of FIG. 4.

[0020]FIG. 8 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the portion of the waffle maker enclosed within the view circle 8 of FIG. 4.

[0021]FIG. 9 is a fragmentary, partly exploded perspective illustrating parts of the hinge that connects the two heating units together.

[0022]FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing the waffle maker of FIG. 1 open as it would to pour batter into the waffle maker or to remove a cooked waffle (not shown) from the waffle maker.

[0023]FIG. 11 is a side elevational view showing the waffle maker of FIG. 1 stored on a counter top

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0024] With reference to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, this invention is illustrated embodied in a waffle maker 20 which includes a first heating unit 22, a second heating unit 24, and a hinge 26 interconnecting the first and second heating units 22 and 24 together for rotation relative to one another about a hinge axis extending transversely along the rear of the two heating units 22 and 24.

[0025] With reference also to FIGS. 4 and 10, each heating unit 22 and 24 comprises a cast metal grill plate 28 having a front surface 30 that forms a grid 32 including a waffle-grilling and waffle-shaping center section 34 bounded by a peripheral wall 36 and divided by a center wall 38 into two waffle-grilling parts 40 and 42. Grid 32 also includes a relatively deep and wide peripheral trough 44 extending around the outside of the center section for waffle batter which spills over from the center section 34.

[0026] The grill plate 28 is heated by a calrod heater 46 lodged in an elongate, generally rectangular groove 48 on the back surface 50 of the grill plate 28, and supplied with household current by a power cord 52 and a wiring harness 54, in a manner conventional in the art.

[0027] A sheet metal heat shield 56 overlies the calrod heater 46 to limit the transmission of heat from the heater 46 away from the back of the grill plate 28. A housing shell, generally designated 58, affixed to the grill plate 28, overlies the back of the grill plate 28, the calrod heater 46, and the heat shield 56. A set of three feet, namely a front foot 60 and a pair of rear feet 62, are formed on the each housing shell 58 to provide a three point or tripod support for both heating units 22 and 24, regardless of which heating unit 22 or 24 overlies the other heating unit 22 or 24. The apexes of the feet 60 and 62 on each respective heating unit 22 and 24 are mutually coplanar so that, when the feet 60 and 62 are engaged with a horizontal support surface, such as a kitchen counter top, the lower heating unit 22 or 24 will be supported by its feet 60 and 62 in a horizontal orientation. The feet 60 and 62 are shown provided with small rubber or rubber-like foot pads 64 that frictionally resist any sliding motion along a support surface. Provision of the foot pads 64 is optional. The housing shell material forming the feet 60 and 62 could be a rubber or rubber-like friction producing material, in which event the foot pads 64 would be unnecessary.

[0028] As shown best in FIG. 3, each housing shell 58 comprises a center panel 66, a front panel 68, and a rear panel 70. These panels may each comprise a painted phenolic or other suitable heat-resistant material. Optionally, the center panel 66 could be made from a phenolic material and the front and rear panels 68 and 70 made from a rubber material, such as Santoprene. In the latter event, the foot pads 64 would not be needed.

[0029] Each center panel 66 preferably has a heat insulating reflective foil lining 72 which, in addition to the heat shield 56, maintains the temperature of the center panel reasonably low. The front and rear panels 68 and 70 have surfaces which overlap the center panel 66, as is evident from an inspection of FIGS. 4 and 6 through 8. Because of the overlapping relationship, and also because the front and rear panels 68 and 70 have air gaps, indicated at 74 and 76 in FIG. 4, separating significant parts of them from the grill plates 28, the front and rear panels 68 and 70 remain relatively cool to the touch when the waffle maker 20 is in use.

[0030] The front foot 60 of each heating unit 22 and 24 is formed by the front panel 68 thereof and extends outwardly from the rest of the front panel 68. Similarly, the rear feet 62 are formed by the rear panels 70 and extend outwardly from the rest of the rear panels 70 of each heating unit 22 and 24. Because the front panels 68 and the rear panels 70 remain cool to the touch during use of the waffle maker 20, the feet 60 and 62 remain cool during use of the waffle maker 20 so that either set of feet 60 and 62 could rest on a kitchen counter without concern for excessively heating the counter.

[0031] The front panels 68 are formed with loop handles 80 for carrying the waffle maker. In addition, the handles 80 can be used to turn the waffle maker 20 upside down after pouring a waffle batter into the grilling chamber 82 formed by and between the two grill plates 28. In use the waffle maker 20 is preheated to a desired operating temperature, and then opened, as shown in FIG. 10, so that a waffle batter can be poured onto the lower grill plate 28. The waffle maker 20 is then closed and shortly thereafter turned upside down to better spread the batter along both grill plates 28.

[0032] Lamp bulbs, such as small neon lamps, 84 can be located behind differently tinted lenses 86 and 88 located in the front panels for indicating operating conditions of the appliance 24. As an example, the lenses 86 could be tinted red and the lamp or lamps 84 behind the lenses 86 could indicate that the waffle maker 24 is plugged into house current. The lenses 88 could be tinted green and the lamp or lamps 84 behind the lenses 88 could indicate that a predetermined temperature has been reached so the batter can be poured onto the lower grilling plate 28 and the grilling process started.

[0033] In keeping with the symmetrical design of the exterior of the waffle maker 20, the lenses on the respective heating units 22 and 24 are mutually aligned, as evident from the drawings. It may be noted that, due to the alignment of the two sets of lenses 86 and 88, it is only necessary to use one lamp 84 behind one of the lenses 86 because the light from that lamp 84 will also shine through the other lens 86. Similarly, only one lamp 84 would necessarily be used to illuminate both lenses 88. Of course, brighter signals could be obtained by having a lamp 84 behind each of the four lenses 86 and 88.

[0034] Further in accordance with this invention, the waffle maker 20 may be stored in an upright orientation as viewed in FIG. 10. To overcome the tendency for one or both of the heating units 22 and 24 to pivot to an open position when they are upright, the rear walls, designated 90, of the heating units 22 and 24 are each provided with two small, rearwardly-extending projections 92 spaced apart such that the major portion of the weight of the two heating units 22 and 24 is located between the projections 92 on the heating unit 22 and the projections 92 on the heating unit 24. With this construction, the heating units 22 and 24 have a natural tendency to pivot toward one another about imaginary lines passing through the respective pairs of projections 92 on the two heating units 22 and 24 so that they tend remain erect in the upright orientation thereof shown in FIG. 10.

[0035] It will be observed from the drawings that the two heating units 22 and 24 are substantially symmetrical about the imaginary horizontal plane between their respective grill plates 28, when the heating units 22 and 24 with one overlying the other, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4. In fact, the two heating units 22 and 24 are so symmetrical on their outer surfaces on there respective top (or bottom) faces, their front faces, and their side faces. As shown best in FIG. 5, their respective rear walls 90 are not completely symmetrical because of differences between them in regard to the portions of the grill plates 28 that form the hinge 26. The rear walls 90 are relatively insignificant because mostly out of view so that, from the standpoint of the user of the waffle maker 20, the symmetry is complete. As also evident in the drawings, the formation of feet 60 and 62 on the front are rear panels is such that the feet 60 and 62 on both heating units 38 have the same appearance. When the heating units 22 and 24 are arranged one above the other as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 4 and 5, the two front feet 60 are coaxial or vertically aligned with one another. Similarly, each rear foot 62 of the heating unit 22 is coaxial or aligned with a rear foot 62 of the heating unit 24.

[0036] The drawings show one mode of constructing the two heating units 22 and 24 and the hinge 26. Those familiar with the art will be aware that other modes of construction may be used without departing from the present invention. An aspect of the grilling appliance 20 not mentioned above is the provision of finish plates 94 and 96 which cover concave parts of the front panels 68 so that batter is prevented from entering into the concave parts and so that the appliance will be easier to clean. The finish plates 94 and 96 preferably have baffles which prevent steam from exiting into the handle area of the front panels 68.

[0037] The electric circuit for controlling the operation of the waffle maker 20 can be entirely conventional, with parts of the wiring harness 54 going through part of the hinge 26, as is conventional, for supplying power to the heaters 46 associated with both grill plates 28. The “ready” light provided by the lamp or lamps 84 associated with the green-tinted lenses 88 can be controlled by a thermostat 98 on the back side of one of the grill plates 28.

[0038] While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to the preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various alterations in form and detail may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
WO2005074771A1 *Jan 3, 2005Aug 18, 2005Bouvier PierreHousehold electrical appliance of the waffle iron type
Classifications
U.S. Classification99/378, 99/385
International ClassificationA47J37/06
Cooperative ClassificationA47J37/0611
European ClassificationA47J37/06B