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Publication numberUS20060011194 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/120,320
Publication dateJan 19, 2006
Filing dateApr 10, 2002
Priority dateApr 10, 2002
Publication number10120320, 120320, US 2006/0011194 A1, US 2006/011194 A1, US 20060011194 A1, US 20060011194A1, US 2006011194 A1, US 2006011194A1, US-A1-20060011194, US-A1-2006011194, US2006/0011194A1, US2006/011194A1, US20060011194 A1, US20060011194A1, US2006011194 A1, US2006011194A1
InventorsRaymond Hensley, Alberto Amura
Original AssigneeRaymond Hensley, Alberto Amura
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Solar energy collection device and associated methods
US 20060011194 A1
Abstract
A decorative solar energy collector includes tubular elements extending from the base at a bottom end. The tubular elements extend closely adjacent each other along a middle section to form a trunk-like appearance, and then diverge at a top section, so that each tubular element forms a branch-like appearance. Solar panels are provided, with one solar panel affixable adjacent a top end of a tubular element. Each solar panel collects solar energy and converts the solar energy into electricity. The solar panel includes a connector and circuitry for transmitting electricity to the connector. The number of solar panels is no greater than the number of tubular elements. Cables are also provided, one cable extending through a lumen of each tubular element in connecting relation between a solar panel connector at the cable's top end and the base at the cable's bottom end.
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Claims(41)
1. A solar energy collection device comprising:
a base;
a plurality of tubular elements extend from the base at a bottom end, the tubular elements closely adjacent each other along a middle section to form a trunk appearance, the tubular elements diverging at a top section, each tubular element thereby forming a branch appearance;
a plurality of solar panels, each solar panel comprising means for collecting solar energy and for converting solar energy into electricity, a connector, and circuitry for transmitting electricity from the collecting and converting means to the connector, a number of solar panels comprising no more than a number of tubular elements, each solar panel affixable adjacent a top end of a tubular element to form a leaf appearance; and
a plurality of cables, one cable extending through a lumen of each tubular element in connecting relation between a solar panel connector at a cable top end and the base at a cable bottom end.
2. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 1, further comprising a coupler for receiving the cable bottom ends and for outputting a unitary power cable.
3. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 1, further comprising a plurality of leaf elements affixed along at least some of the tubular elements.
4. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 1, further comprising a vine element affixed along one of the middle section and the top section.
5. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 1, wherein the tubular elements flare outward along a bottom section, the tubular elements thereby forming a root appearance.
6. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 1, wherein the base comprises:
a placement base;
a rotating base rotatably affixed atop the placement base having an interior space, an opening at a top end, and a cable opening extending from the interior space to the exterior for passing the power cable therethrough; and
a platform having a plurality of holes therethrough for admitting the cable bottom ends into the rotating base interior space, the platform affixable atop the rotating base.
7. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 6, wherein the placement base comprises means for being affixed to a surface.
8. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 6, further comprising:
a solar sensor affixed to a tubular element and comprising means for sensing a directionality of incoming solar energy; and
means for rotating the rotating base responsive to a directionality signal from the solar sensor, for optimizing a collection of solar energy by the solar panels.
9. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 1, wherein the solar panels are arrayed for optimizing solar energy collection.
10. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 9, wherein the solar panels are arrayed in substantially nonoverlapping fashion when viewed along an incoming solar ray vector.
11. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 9, wherein the solar panels are arrayed in substantially nonoverlapping fashion when viewed from a position approximately above the device.
12. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 9, wherein a first set of solar panels extend farther outward from the tubular element middle section than a second set of solar panels positioned farther from the base than the first set of solar panels.
13. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 12, wherein the solar panels form a substantially dome-shaped aspect when viewed from a side thereof.
14. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 1, wherein the tubular elements extend in substantially vertical fashion along the middle section.
15. The solar energy collection device recited in claim 1, wherein the tubular elements are twisted about one another along the middle section.
16. A method for collecting solar energy comprising the steps of:
extending a plurality of tubular elements substantially vertically upward along a middle section to form a trunk appearance;
extending the tubular elements to diverge at a top section to form a branch appearance; and
permitting a plurality of solar panels to collect solar energy and convert the solar energy into electricity, the solar panels affixed to the tubular elements to form a leaf appearance.
17. The method recited in claim 16, further comprising extending the tubular elements to flare outward along a bottom section to form a root appearance.
18. The method recited in claim 16, further comprising the step of rotating the solar panels to optimize solar energy collection.
19. The method recited in claim 18, further comprising the step of sensing a directionality of incoming solar energy, and wherein the rotating step comprises rotating the solar panels responsive to a directionality signal from the solar sensor.
20. The method recited in claim 16, wherein the permitting step comprises arraying the solar panels for optimizing solar energy collection.
21. The method recited in claim 20, wherein the arraying step comprises arraying the solar panels in substantially nonoverlapping fashion when viewed along an incoming solar ray vector.
22. The method recited in claim 20, wherein the Arraying step comprises arraying the solar panels in substantially nonoverlapping fashion when viewed from a position approximately above the device.
23. The method recited in claim 20, wherein the arraying step comprising positioning a first set of solar panels to extend farther outward from the tubular element middle section than a second set of solar panels positioned lower than the first set of solar panels.
24. The method recited in claim 23, wherein the solar panels are positioned to form a substantially dome-shaped aspect when viewed from a side thereof.
25. The method recited in claim 16, wherein the tubular elements extend in substantially vertical fashion along the middle section.
26. The method recited in claim 16, wherein the tubular elements are twisted about one another along the middle section.
27. A method of constructing a solar energy collection device comprising the steps of:
positioning a plurality of tubular elements adjacent a base at a bottom end, the tubular elements positioned closely adjacent each other along a middle section to form a trunk appearance;
extending the tubular elements to diverge at a top section, each tubular element thereby forming a branch appearance;
affixing a plurality of solar panels adjacent a top end of a tubular element to form a leaf appearance; and
extending a cable through a lumen of each tubular element in connecting relation between a solar panel and the base.
28. The method recited in claim 27, further comprising the step of coupling bottom ends of the cable and outputting a unitary power cable.
29. The method recited in claim 27, further comprising the step of affixing a plurality of leaf elements along at least some of the tubular elements.
30. The method recited in claim 27, further comprising the step of affixing a vine element along one of a middle section and a top section.
31. The method recited in claim 27, wherein the tubular element positioning step comprises flaring the tubular elements outward along a bottom section to form a root appearance.
32. The method recited in claim 27, wherein an upper section of the base is rotatable.
33. The method recited in claim 32, wherein a lower section of the base is affixable to a surface.
34. The method recited in claim 32, further comprising the steps of:
affixing a solar sensor to a tubular element, the solar sensor comprising means for sensing a directionality of incoming solar energy; and
providing means for rotating the rotating base responsive to a directionality signal from the solar sensor, for optimizing a collection of solar energy by the solar panels.
35. The method recited in claim 27, wherein the solar panel affixing step comprises arraying the solar panels for optimizing solar energy collection.
36. The method recited in claim 35, wherein the solar panel affixing step comprises arraying the solar panels in substantially nonoverlapping fashion when viewed along an incoming solar ray vector.
37. The method recited in claim 35, wherein the solar panel affixing step comprises arraying the solar panels in substantially nonoverlapping fashion when viewed from a position approximately above the device.
38. The method recited in claim 35, wherein the solar panel affixing step comprise extending a first set of solar panels farther outward from the tubular element middle section than a second set of solar panels positioned lower than the first set of solar panels.
39. The method recited in claim 38, wherein the solar panels form a substantially dome-shaped aspect when viewed from a side thereof.
40. The method recited in claim 27, wherein the tubular element positioning step comprises positioning the tubular elements in substantially vertical fashion along the middle section.
41. The method recited in claim 27, wherein the tubular element positioning step comprises positioning the tubular elements in twisted fashion about one another along the middle section.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to solar energy collection devices and, more particularly, to such devices that are ornamental.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of Related Art
  • [0004]
    Solar panels are known for converting solar energy into dc electricity. Such panels are known to be placed on, for example, roof structures, and are typically not particularly attractive.
  • [0005]
    Artistic uses have been made of solar panels in landscaping applications, such as the “Solarscaping®” products of Amelia Amon (Alt.Technica, New York, N.Y.), including a fountain incorporating solar panels. G. Curci has also created sculptures that are solar-powered and kinetic. In his “Solar Flower Blossom” sculptures, the flower portion opens and closes under solar power.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0006]
    It is an object of the present invention to provide a decorative device for collecting solar energy for conversion into electricity.
  • [0007]
    It is a further object to provide such a decorative device that is environmentally mimetic.
  • [0008]
    It is another object to provide such a decorative device that is environmentally adaptive.
  • [0009]
    It is an additional object to provide such a decorative device that is phototactic.
  • [0010]
    It is yet a further object to provide such a decorative device that is environmentally coherent.
  • [0011]
    It is yet another object to provide a method of constructing such a decorative device.
  • [0012]
    It is yet an additional object to provide a method of collecting solar energy.
  • [0013]
    These and other objects are achieved by the present invention, a decorative solar energy collection device. The device comprises a base and a plurality of tubular elements affixed at a bottom end to the base. The tubular elements extend closely adjacent each other along a middle section to form a trunk-like appearance, and then diverge at a top section, so that each tubular element forms a branch-like appearance.
  • [0014]
    A plurality of solar panels are provided, with one solar panel affixable adjacent a top end of a tubular element. Each solar panel comprises means for collecting solar energy and for converting solar energy into electricity. The solar panel further comprises a connector and circuitry for transmitting electricity from the collecting and converting means to the connector. The number of solar panels comprises no more than the number of tubular elements.
  • [0015]
    The device further comprises a plurality of cables. One cable extends through a lumen of each tubular element in connecting relation between a solar panel connector at the cable's top end and the base at the cable's bottom end.
  • [0016]
    The features that characterize the invention, both as to organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following description used in conjunction with the accompanying drawing. It is to be expressly understood that the drawing is for the purpose of illustration and description and is not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. These and other objects attained, and advantages offered, by the present invention will become more fully apparent as the description that now follows is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0017]
    FIG. 1 is a side front perspective view of a first embodiment of the solar energy collection device.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 2 is an exploded view of a nonrotating embodiment of a base.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 3 is an exploded view of a rotating embodiment of a base.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 4 is a top/side front perspective view of a second embodiment of the solar energy collection device.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 5 is a side rear perspective view of the first embodiment.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 6 is a top/side perspective view of the second embodiment illustrating the solar panel levels.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the solar panels of FIG. 6.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 8 is a side view of the solar panel levels.
  • [0025]
    FIG. 9 is a rear view of a solar panel with a solar sensor thereon.
  • [0026]
    FIG. 10 is a side view of a tracking rotor.
  • [0027]
    FIG. 11 is a top-side, partially cutaway view of a third embodiment of a base.
  • [0028]
    FIG. 12 is a top-side view of the assembled base of FIG. 11.
  • [0029]
    FIG. 13 is a side perspective view of a first embodiment of the solar energy collection device, with added foliage.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0030]
    A description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be presented with reference to FIGS. 1-13.
  • [0031]
    The solar energy collection device 10 of the present invention is designed to resemble a tree. The device 10 comprises a base, which in a first embodiment (FIG. 2) includes a placement base 11 having bolt or screw holes 12 for permitting the placement base 11 to be affixed to a surface 90. Alternatively, the placement base 11 may simply rest on a surface 90. Above the placement base 11 is affixed a trunk platform 13 having a plurality of holes 14 through a top end 15 thereof and a cable opening 16 through a side wall 17 thereof. Alternatively, this base embodiment could comprise a unitary element comprising the placement base and trunk platform.
  • [0032]
    A second embodiment of the base (FIGS. 1 and 3) comprises a placement base 21 having bolt or screw holes 22 for permitting the placement base 21 to be affixed to a surface 90. Alternatively, as above, the placement base 21 may simply rest on a surface 90.
  • [0033]
    Atop the placement base 21 is rotatably affixed a rotating base 23 that has an interior space 24. The rotating base 23 has a plurality of openings 25 at a top end 26 extending into the interior space 24 and a cable opening 27 that extends from the interior space 24 to the exterior for passing a power cable 28 therethrough. Preferably the rotating base 23 is adapted to rotate through approximately 180°.
  • [0034]
    A plurality of tubular elements 30 extend from the base at their bottom ends 31. The tubular elements 30 extend closely adjacent each other along a middle section 32 to form a trunk-like appearance. The tubular elements 30 diverge at a top section 33 to form a branch-like appearance. In a particular embodiment, the tubular elements 30 flare outward along a bottom section 34 to form a root-like appearance.
  • [0035]
    In one embodiment (FIG. 1), the tubular elements 30 extend in substantially vertical fashion along the middle section 32. In another embodiment 10′ (FIG. 4), the tubular elements 30′ are twisted about one another along the middle section 32′.
  • [0036]
    A plurality of solar panels 40 are provided (FIGS. 1 and 5), in a particular embodiment KC-series solar panels of Kyocera (Japan). Each solar panel 40 comprises at least one solar cell 41 housed in a frame 42. The solar cell 41 is adapted to collect solar energy and convert the collected solar energy into electricity. Each solar panel 40 further comprises a connector 43 and circuitry 44 for transmitting electricity from the solar cell 41 to the connector 43. Each solar panel 40 is affixable adjacent a tubular element's top end 35, at most preferably one solar panel 40 per tubular element 30. Thus there are at least as many tubular elements 30 as there are solar panels 40.
  • [0037]
    Preferably the solar panels 40 are arrayed for optimizing solar energy collection. For example, preferably the solar panels 40 are arrayed in substantially nonoverlapping fashion when viewed along an incoming solar ray vector, such as when viewed from a position approximately above the device 10. As an example, the device 10 of FIG. 6 is shown in top projection in FIG. 7, wherein the solar panel levels 1-5 are shown as extending increasingly farther out from the “trunk” as one proceeds upward. Thus a first set of solar panels 40 in a preferred embodiment extend farther outward from the tubular element middle section 32 than a second set of solar panels 40 positioned farther from the base than the first set of solar panels 40. In particular, the solar panels 40 are arrayed to form a substantially dome-shaped aspect when viewed from the side (FIG. 8).
  • [0038]
    The device 10 additionally comprises a plurality of cables 50 (FIG. 3). Each cable 50 extends through a lumen 36 of each tubular element 30 in connecting relation between a solar panel connector 43 at the cable's top end 51 and the base at the cable's bottom end 52. The base's holes 25 are for admitting the cable's bottom ends 52 into the rotating base interior space 24.
  • [0039]
    The device 10 also comprises a coupler 53 that receives the cable's bottom ends 52 and outputs a unitary power cable 28. The coupler 53 is housed in the interior space 24, and the power cable 28 extends to the exterior through the cable opening 27.
  • [0040]
    In order to enhance the tree-like appearance of the device 10, a plurality of leaf elements 61 are affixed along at least some of the tubular elements 30, either or both along the middle section 32 or the top section 33. In addition, an ivy-like element 62 can be added along the middle section 32 and/or the top section 33, as depicted in FIG. 13, to further enhance the tree-like appearance of the device 10.
  • [0041]
    In a third embodiment (FIGS. 9-12), the device 10 additionally comprises a solar sensor 54 (FIG. 9) that is affixed to a tubular element 30 and is adapted to sense a directionality of incoming solar energy. A motor (not shown) is also provided in the interior space 57 for rotating the rotating base 58 responsive to a directionality signal transmitted by a signal cable 56 from the solar sensor 54 through the tubular element 30 to which the sensor 54 is affixed. The tracking rotor 55 is shown in FIG. 10, as encased in a third embodiment of the base 59 (FIGS. 11 and 12), the interior space 57 to which is accessed via access lid 60. This embodiment optimizes a collection of solar energy by the solar panels 40 by turning the device 10 to position the solar panels 40 to face the sun optimally.
  • [0042]
    The solar energy collection device 10 of the present invention is thus designed to resemble a tree, which permits the device 10 to appear coherent with the environment as well as to portray an aspect of simulated form and function. Thus the “leaves,” i.e., solar panels, of the “tree” collect solar energy and convert it to useful electrical energy. The “trunk” and “branches” of the tree support the energy-gathering elements, the solar panel “leaves,” and also serve as conduits between the “roots” and the “leaves.” It may be appreciated by one skilled in the art that additional embodiments may be contemplated, including other environmentally suggestive sculptures such as bushes and shrubbery.
  • [0043]
    In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clarity, and understanding, but no unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirements of the prior art, because such words are used for description purposes herein and are intended to be broadly construed. Moreover, the embodiments of the apparatus illustrated and described herein are by way of example, and the scope of the invention is not limited to the exact details of construction.
  • [0044]
    Having now described the invention, the construction, the operation and use of preferred embodiments thereof, and the advantageous new and useful results obtained thereby, the new and useful constructions, and reasonable mechanical equivalents thereof obvious to those skilled in the art, are set forth in the appended claims.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4365106 *Mar 4, 1980Dec 21, 1982Pulvari Charles FEfficient method and apparatus for converting solar energy to electrical energy
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8104203Jan 31, 2012Solaire Generation, Inc.Solar power generation display assembly and method for providing same
US9103567 *Apr 12, 2012Aug 11, 2015Sequence Design Ltd.Photovoltaic array utilizing phyllotaxic architecture
US9202396Jul 2, 2009Dec 1, 2015Solaire Generation, Inc.Solar power generation assembly and method for providing same
US20100000134 *Jul 2, 2009Jan 7, 2010Laurence MacklerSolar Power Generation Display Assembly and Method for Providing Same
US20100000596 *Jan 7, 2010Laurence MacklerSolar Power Generation Assembly and Method for Providing Same
US20120260967 *Oct 18, 2012Sequence Design Ltd.Photovoltaic array utilizing phyllotaxic architecture
US20130240024 *Dec 2, 2011Sep 19, 2013Han Sik KimTree-shaped solar cell module
USD751976Aug 5, 2013Mar 22, 2016Sunpower CorporationSolar power generation assembly
USD754064Aug 5, 2013Apr 19, 2016Sunpower CorporationSolar power generation assembly
DE102006054531A1 *Nov 15, 2006May 29, 2008Hahn-Meitner-Institut Berlin GmbhPalm-shaped temperature stable photovoltaic system, has blade unit arranged at branch units, where blade unit is rotatably arranged indirectly over vertical and two horizontal rotation axis by strong wind that blows in wind direction
DE102006054531B4 *Nov 15, 2006Dec 15, 2011Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin Für Materialien Und Energie GmbhTemperaturstabile Photovoltaikanlage in palmenähnlichem Erscheinungsbild
DE102014100506A1Jan 17, 2014Jul 24, 2014HW Industry products Ltd. & Co.KGDevice for converting solar energy into heat or electricity, has stem element with multiple shell-like sections made of glass fiber concrete, where branch elements extend away from stem element for accommodating solar conversion elements
WO2012142316A2 *Apr 12, 2012Oct 18, 2012Sequence Design Ltd.Photovoltaic array utilizing phyllotaxic architecture
WO2012142316A3 *Apr 12, 2012Mar 14, 2013Sequence Design Ltd.Photovoltaic array utilizing phyllotaxic architecture
WO2013052921A2 *Oct 5, 2012Apr 11, 2013Sahin NedimInfrastructure for solar power installations
WO2013052921A3 *Oct 5, 2012Jul 4, 2013Sahin NedimInfrastructure for solar power installations
Classifications
U.S. Classification126/655
International ClassificationF24J2/24
Cooperative ClassificationH02S20/32, H02S20/10, H02S20/30, F24J2/523, Y02B10/20, H01L31/02008, H01L31/042, Y02E10/50, Y02E10/47
European ClassificationF24J2/00, H01L31/02E2B, H01L31/042
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 10, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: DHARMA HOLDINGS, LTD., NEW MEXICO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HENSLEY, RAYMOND;AMURA, ALBERTO;REEL/FRAME:012787/0275
Effective date: 20020405
Apr 23, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: IASIS, LTD., MINNESOTA
Free format text: CORRECTIVE ASSIGNMENT TO CORRECT THE ASSIGNEE S NAME, PREVIOUSLY RECORDED AT REEL 012787 FRAME 0275;ASSIGNORS:HENSLEY, RAYMOND;AMURA, ALBERTO;REEL/FRAME:013600/0085;SIGNING DATES FROM 20020405 TO 20030405