US 20060150966 A1
Fireplaces including antireflective screens are provided. The antireflective screens can include a glass sheet with an antireflective agent attached to or forming a surface of at least a portion of the glass sheet. A low-emissivity agent can also be attached to or form a surface of at least a portion of the glass. In addition, light diffusing screens for displaying simulated flames in simulated fireplaces are provided. The light diffusing screens can include an antireflective agent attached to or forming a surface of at least a portion of the light diffusing screens.
1. A fireplace assembly, comprising:
a firebox, wherein said firebox defines a firebox interior and an opening to the firebox interior;
a substantially transparent screen disposed in said opening, wherein said screen includes a first side and a second side opposite said first side; and
an anti-reflective agent attached to or forming a surface of at least a side portion of one or both of said first side and said second side of said transparent screen.
2. The fireplace assembly of
3. The fireplace assembly of
4. The fireplace assembly of
5. The fireplace assembly of
6. The fireplace assembly of
7. The fireplace assembly of
8. The fireplace assembly of
9. The fireplace assembly of
10. The fireplace assembly of
11. The fireplace assembly of
12. The fireplace assembly of
13. The fireplace assembly of
14. The fireplace assembly of
15. The fireplace assembly of
16. The fireplace assembly of
17. The fireplace assembly of
18. A light-diffusing screen for displaying a simulated flame in a simulated fireplace having a flame-simulating assembly, comprising:
a light-transmitting member having a first side and an opposed second side; and
an antireflective agent attached to or forming a surface of at least a portion of said first side of said light-transmitting member.
19. The light-diffusing screen of
20. The light-diffusing screen of
21. The light-diffusing screen of
22. The light-diffusing screen of
23. The light-diffusing screen of
24. The light-diffusing screen of
25. The light-diffusing screen of
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/643,272, filed Jan. 12, 2005.
The subject invention relates to fireplaces that include an antireflective screen through which to view the interior of the fireplace. The subject invention also relates to simulated fireplaces that include an antireflective light-diffusing screen for displaying simulated flames.
Fireplaces, including wood-burning, gas-burning, and electric simulated fireplaces are installed in most homes in at least the United States and Canada, and, indeed, many other areas of the world. In addition, portable fuel-burning and electric fireplaces are widely used to provide portable heat sources that can be used both outdoors and indoors, provided that the portable fuel-burning fireplace uses a clean-burning fuel such as propane or kerosene.
Historically, the fireplace functioned primarily to heat the room or home in which it was installed, and thus the appearance of the fireplace interior was unimportant, if not generally considered unsightly due to the accumulation of ash and soot therein. With respect to simulated fireplaces, relatively unimpeded viewing of the fireplace's interior was considered undesirable due to the poor quality of the simulated logs and ember bed installed within the simulated fireplace. As such, with the advent of glass screens on the front of fireplaces, efforts were undertaken by fireplace manufacturers to obscure relatively unobstructed viewing of the fireplace's interior to minimize the undesirable aesthetics of ash and soot, or conspicuously artificial logs and embers. Such obscuring was often times accomplished by tinting the glass so that the real or simulated fire and embers within the fireplace were only vaguely discernable from the outside.
Lately, with advances in producing realistic simulated logs and embers, and with the growing popularity of clean-burning wood and gas fireplaces, it has become desirable to provide a clear view of the interior of the fireplace. One problem encountered, however, is that the cost-effective glass used to construct the front screen has an unacceptably high amount of glare and reflection from the ambient light in the environment in which the fireplace is installed. Examples of such environments include interior locations—including rooms of a dwelling—and exterior locations—including patio or garden locations.
Some fireplace manufacturers have attempted to solve the reflection and glare problem by using ceramic glass, which inherently inhibits reflection and glare. Compared with other types of glass suitable for use in connection with fireplaces, however, ceramic glass is expensive, thereby increasing the overall price of the fireplace unit and, by extension, decreasing the ability of the fireplace manufacturer to compete in the market for affordable fireplaces. In addition, use of ceramic glass alone still results in a certain amount of undesirable reflection and glare, and thus it is not itself a satisfactory solution to the reflection and glare problem. Moreover, ceramic glass does not have a smooth and even surface, and thus images viewed through ceramic glass tend to be distorted.
It is known that at least one manufacturer has reduced some of the glare on a fireplace glass screen by directly attaching a mesh or woven wire screen to the glass screen. These glass screens with mesh or woven wire are intended to simulate the appearance of woven fireplace screens commonly found in many home fireplaces, while reducing reflection and glare off of the glass screen by providing an opaque matrix on the exterior surface of the glass. This approach is disadvantageous in that the opaque layer attached onto the front surface of the glass screen blocks the visibility of the interior of the fireplace. Also, the addition of an additional opaque layer to the surface of the glass screen introduces another costly and cumbersome step to the process of manufacturing the fireplace, and, therefore, raises the price of the fireplace.
Certain simulated fireplaces have light-diffusing screens installed in the rear of the firebox through which images of simulated flames are projected. At the same time, typical simulated fireplaces are intended to illuminate simulated ember beds and logs within the firebox. Such illumination of the simulated embers and logs creates glare and reflection on the diffusing screen that interferes with the image of the projected simulated flames. In the past, the problem was addressed by painting areas of the diffusing screen that were not critical to displaying the simulated flames with, for example, matte black paint. However, this treatment was not aesthetically pleasing, and it required yet another step in the process of manufacturing the simulated fireplace.
There is a demand, therefore, for a cost-effective, substantially transparent screen that permits the largely unhindered view of the interior of a fireplace by reducing the amount of reflection and glare caused by ambient light outside the fireplace. There also exists a demand for a light diffusing screen for use in simulated fireplaces that reduces the amount of reflection and glare caused by the light reflected from the simulated embers. The present invention satisfies the demand.
The present invention is directed to a fireplace having a substantially transparent antireflective screen. For purposes of this application, the term “fireplace” means any interior or exterior or portable unit by which heat may be generated for environmental control purposes, including fuel-burning and electric fireplaces. For the purposes of this application, the term “antireflective screen” means a substantially transparent antireflective element or combination of elements through or by which the view that a viewer external to the fireplace has of the interior elements of the fireplace is generally not hindered by glare or reflection. For the purposes of this application, the term “light-transmitting member” means any transparent or translucent material capable of transmitting light therethrough, and to portions of which an antireflective agent can be attached.
In preferred aspects, the present invention includes a fireplace assembly that includes a firebox. The firebox includes a top wall, bottom wall, back wall, and two side walls. The walls of the firebox define a firebox interior and an opening to the firebox interior. A substantially transparent screen that includes a first side and an opposed second side is disposed in the opening. In addition, an anti-reflective agent is attached to at least a portion of the first side of the screen.
In other preferred aspects, a light-diffusing screen for displaying a simulated flame in a simulated fireplace that has a flame-simulating assembly is disclosed. The light-diffusing screen includes a light-transmitting member that includes a first side and an opposed second side. In addition, an antireflective agent is attached to or forms a surface of at least a portion of the first side.
The present invention relates generally to a wide range of fireplaces including therewith substantially transparent front screens. The present invention will find application in all types of fireplaces without regard to the substances intended to be burned therein, and without regard to whether the fireplace is fuel-burning or electric. Without limiting the application of the scope of the invention, the following will describe certain preferred embodiments used in conjunction with wood-burning and simulated fireplaces.
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There exist numerous antireflective agents suitable for inclusion in embodiments of a fireplace assembly having an antireflective screen. For example, antireflective agent 525 can be magnesium fluoride or silicone dioxide. However, one skilled in the art will readily recognize that other types of antireflective agents can be attached to or form a surface of the glass 523 so long as the antireflective agent 525 is substantially transparent and reduces the reflection of ambient light off of the glass 523 onto which it is attached or forms a surface. The antireflective agent 525 may be attached to or form a surface of the glass 523 by sputter coating the antireflective agent 525 onto the glass 523; dipping the glass 523 into a pool of antireflective agent 525; or spraying the antireflective agent 525 onto the glass 523.
The antireflective agent 525 can further be attached to or form an outer surface of some or all of a surface of the glass 523 depending on how much and which areas of embodiments of the screen 522 are determined to require an antireflective property. In addition, a protective layer of silicon dioxide (not shown) can be attached over the antireflective agent 525 to the screen 522 to increase the durability and longevity of the antireflective agent. The antireflective screen 522, as well as the other embodiments of antireflective screens discussed herein, may be obtained directly from the glass manufacturer, and thus do not require additional manufacturing steps beyond what was previously required by fireplace manufacturers to install a glass screen within a fireplace assembly.
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In this embodiment, the firebox 34 is the chamber in which wood 36 or other combustible fuel is burned during operation of the fireplace 10. The firebox generally includes a top wall 28, bottom wall 32, a rear wall 30 and two side walls (not shown), all of which are disposed within the housing of the fireplace assembly 10. The firebox 34 is further attached to an air intake vent 27 for providing oxygen to the burning fuel 36, and an exhaust vent 40 for exhausting the smoke and gasses from the firebox 34. The exhaust travels through exhaust vent 40, into plenum 42, and out exhaust 26 into a chimney (not shown) for release outside the building.
As previously described, the antireflective screen 22 can be constructed of glass with an antireflective agent attached to or forming a surface of the exterior surface 97 of the glass, as is shown in, for example,
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An artificial log and ember set 126 is positioned in the bottom of the simulated firebox 134. As best seen in
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An additional source of light 150 can be provided to illuminate the upper side of the artificial log and ember set 126. As best seen in
As previously discussed, embodiments of the simulated fireplace 110 can include a light diffuser screen 130 positioned at the back of the simulated firebox 134. The function of the light diffuser screen 130 is to create the appearance of realistic looking flames 138 arising or emanating from the artificial log and ember set 126. The light diffuser screen 130 can be translucent, or partially or wholly transparent, so that the simulated flames projected onto the back of the light diffuser 130 are visible from the front of the fireplace 110. The light diffuser screen 130 is positioned against the back of the log and ember set 126 so that the simulated flames 138 appear to be emanating from the artificial logs 140. The light diffuser screen 130 of the preferred embodiment is comprised of a bronze-tinted, transparent, acrylic panel that has been treated or combined with a light-diffusing material, such as a light-diffusing ink that can be silk-screened onto the acrylic panel. The diffusing material provides the surface on which the projected flames 138 become visible. In addition to the light diffuser screen 130, the flame simulation assembly comprises a light source 148, a light randomizer 152, a reflective panel 154, and a light filter screen 156.
In operation, the light from the light source 148 is directed upwardly through the light randomizer 152 in a direction generally indicated by line D in
Light can emanate from the light randomizer 152 in a direction generally indicated by line E. Such light thereafter passes through a light filter screen 156, which extends across the width of the fireplace 110. Such light emanating from the light randomizer 152 and passing through the light filter screen 156 will generally move upwardly along the back of the light diffuser screen 130, simulating the movement of flames.
Similarly, light may emanate from the light randomizer in a direction generally indicated by line F and strike reflective panel 154, which deflects the light through the light filter screen 156 and onto the light diffuser screen 130, thereby multiplying the amount of light reflected and flame patterns 138 present on the light diffuser screen 130. The light filter screen 156 is preferably constructed of polycarbonate that includes opaque paint or the like applied in areas to affect the amount and pattern of randomized light passing through the light filter screen 156 to the light diffuser screen 130; however, one skilled in the art will readily recognize that other suitably light-transmitting materials positioned adjacent masking agents, such as fabric or paper, can also be used to form the light filter screen 156.
As previously explained, during operation of an embodiment of the fireplace 110, light is shined into the firebox 134 to illuminate the artificial log and ember set 126 and to illuminate the sidewalls 136 of the firebox 134. This light in the firebox 134 can be reflected onto the light diffuser screen 130, thereby reducing the realism of the simulated flames 138 projected thereon. As such, as best shown in
While endeavoring in the foregoing specification to draw attention to those features of the invention believed to be of particular importance it should be understood that the Applicants claim protection in respect of any patentable feature or combination of features hereinbefore referred to and/or shown in the drawings whether or not particular emphasis has been placed thereon. While the apparatus and method herein disclosed forms a preferred embodiment of this invention, this invention is not limited to that specific apparatus and method, and changes can be made therein without departing from the scope of this invention, which is defined in the appended claims.