|Publication number||US20070023032 A1|
|Application number||US 11/491,777|
|Publication date||Feb 1, 2007|
|Filing date||Jul 24, 2006|
|Priority date||Jul 22, 2005|
|Publication number||11491777, 491777, US 2007/0023032 A1, US 2007/023032 A1, US 20070023032 A1, US 20070023032A1, US 2007023032 A1, US 2007023032A1, US-A1-20070023032, US-A1-2007023032, US2007/0023032A1, US2007/023032A1, US20070023032 A1, US20070023032A1, US2007023032 A1, US2007023032A1|
|Original Assignee||Wheeler Jerry C|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Referenced by (3), Classifications (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/701,591, filed Jul. 22, 2005, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to a waterfall. Embodiments further generally relate to a fireplace.
2. Description of the Related Art
Fireplaces, including wood-burning and gas-burning fireplaces, have existed for several years. The fireplace typically includes an open recess in a wall for holding a fire (a firebox); fuel for the fire, such as gas or wood; a hearth or floor of a fireplace usually extending into a room and paved with brick, stone, or cement; a mantel (also a mantelpiece), including the ornamental facing and casing around the fireplace and the protruding shelf over a fireplace, both of which project from the wall around the fireplace.
The fireplace or hearth has traditionally been the gathering-place and center of the home, primarily due to its relaxing and romantic burning fire. However, use and enjoyment of the traditional fireplace is extremely limited and seasonal in nature because the added heat of a burning fire is unnecessary and unwanted during warm months of the year, such as during the hot summer. Use and enjoyment of the fireplace during the warm or hot times of the year is also undesirable because of the need for wood, gas, or other expensive and inconvenient fuels to produce the burning fire.
The high energy costs (e.g., gas) and fuel material costs (e.g., in the case of logs or wood) of operating the traditional fireplace may also discourage use of the fireplace even during the colder seasons of the year when the heat output from a fire would otherwise be desirable. The smoke, dirt, and outdoor creatures which may enter the home through the traditional fireplace may also discourage use or even installation of the fireplace.
Existing fireplaces also require complicated and expensive installation, as a significant portion of the wall of a house must be removed to install the firebox of a fireplace, the necessary fuel lines must be hooked up to the firebox, a chimney for venting fumes must be installed and connected to the firebox, and the mantel/hearth must be connected to the wall around the firebox by permanent connection means such as nails or glue. Because the connection of the mantel/hearth to the wall is relatively permanent and because a portion of the wall must literally be cut out to install the firebox, in addition to the installation costs, the fireplace is a generally permanent installation and is not easily moveable to other locations.
There is therefore a need for a hearth which is capable of use and enjoyment year-round.
There is also a need for a hearth which is relaxing and romantic with or without the use of a fire.
There is a further need for a hearth which is portable and easily moveable in location without the need to permanently install into the wall, cut into the wall, and wire components into the electrical or gas system.
There is yet a further need for a hearth which is easily, inexpensively, and efficiently installable at a location.
There is a further need for a hearth having relaxing and enjoyable qualities which does not require expensive fuel and material costs to operate and does not make the house susceptible to dirt, smoke, and outdoor creatures.
There is also a need for a hearth having the ambiance of a fireplace which is independent of a firebox.
It is therefore an object of embodiments of the present invention to provide a hearth which is capable of use and enjoyment year-round.
It is a further object of embodiments to provide a hearth which is relaxing and romantic with or without the use of a fire.
It is a still further object of embodiments to provide a hearth which is portable and easily moveable in location without the need to permanently install into the wall, cut into the wall, and wire components into the electrical or gas system.
It is a still further object of embodiments to provide a hearth which is easily, inexpensively, and efficiently installable at a location.
It is a still further object of embodiments to provide a hearth having relaxing and enjoyable qualities which does not require expensive fuel and material costs to operate and does not make the interior of the house (or other structure) susceptible to dirt, smoke, and outdoor creatures.
It is a still further object of embodiments to provide a hearth having the ambiance of a fireplace, where the hearth is operable independent of a firebox.
Toward the fulfillment of these and other objects and advantages, embodiments include a waterfall device resembling a fireplace hearth, comprising a mantel assembly comprising one or more mantel columns having a shelf thereupon; a base member operatively connected to a lower portion of the one or more mantel columns, wherein a hearth opening is framed by the base member and the mantel assembly; a first compartment within the base member; and a waterfall system disposed within at least one of the mantel columns for flowing and transporting water from the first compartment to a dispensing assembly, wherein a waterfall is flowable through the hearth opening from the dispensing assembly to the first compartment by operation of the waterfall system, wherein the waterfall device does not include means for making a fire therein. Embodiments also include a method of operating a waterfall device resembling a fireplace hearth without providing means for making a fire in the waterfall device, comprising providing the waterfall device, the waterfall device resembling a fireplace hearth and including a frame around a hearth opening; providing a waterfall plumbing system within the waterfall device, the waterfall plumbing system including a water dispensing system and a trough; transporting water through the waterfall device from the trough using the waterfall plumbing system; and
dispensing the water from the water dispensing system to form a waterfall through the hearth opening.
So that the manner in which the above-recited features of embodiments of the present invention operate may be understood in detail, a more particular description of the invention, briefly summarized above, may be had by reference to embodiments, some of which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is to be noted, however, that the appended drawings illustrate only typical embodiments of this invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope, for the invention may admit to other equally effective embodiments.
The waterfall device of embodiments has the appearance of a fireplace hearth/mantel; however, the waterfall device is independent of the fireplace and the waterfall device itself does not include a fireplace or firebox. The waterfall device may be either an alternative to or an accessory to a fireplace or firebox. Regardless of whether it is an alternative to or an accessory to a fireplace or firebox, the waterfall device is preferably entirely self-contained and an all-in-one freestanding unit. The waterfall device allows simple conversion of an existing fireplace or an area which is void of a fireplace to a rejuvenating, relaxing, and romantic setting, with the flowing water with or without lighting having similar ambiance to a fire burning in a fireplace. When used as an accessory to the fireplace or firebox as a fireplace enhancement, the waterfall device is easily retrofittable onto the fireplace chamber.
Two configurations of a waterfall device 5 are shown in
An optional front mantel plate 19 or “apron” is designed to conceal the waterfall system components (described in more detail below). The front mantel plate 19 may include generally perpendicularly-disposed panels 19A and 19B operably connected to one another, where the panel 19A is disposed generally parallel to the base member 21 and the panel 19B is disposed generally perpendicular to the base member 21. The columns 22, 23 preferably receive and are operably connected to the lower surface of the panel 19A, for example via notches (not shown) on the upward-facing surfaces of the side columns 22, 23 which are designed to receive corresponding protrusions (not shown) from the lower surface of the panel 19A of the front mantel plate 19. The apron may take a variety of configurations and shapes depending upon desired style or decor. In an alternative embodiment, the shelf 24 may instead be attached directly to the upward-facing surfaces of the side columns 22, 23, and the front mantel plate 19 may consist of the panel 19B only and may be attached to the surfaces of the columns 22, 23 which partially form a hearth opening 35. Regardless of the employed embodiment, instead of or in addition to the notches/protrusions mentioned above, the side columns 22, 23 and the front mantel plate 19 may be connected to one another by any connection means known to those skilled in the art, including but not limited to one or more connecting members such as bolts or nails.
Resting on top of the columns 22, 23 and optionally at least partially covering the waterfall system is the mantel shelf 24 (optionally, the panel 19A of the front mantel plate 19 may be located between the columns 22, 23 and the shelf 24. In one preferable embodiment, the mantel shelf 24 is rectangular in shape, at least approximately 1-inch thick (in height), and is sized in length and breadth (width) to cover at least substantially the entire top of the waterfall device 5. The mantel shelf 24 may optionally be utilized to display one or more items, such as decorative items, resting thereon.
The waterfall device 5 also includes the base member 21 operably connected to the side columns 22 and 23, preferably although not necessarily at the lower ends of the side columns 22 and 23. The base member 21 may either be formed of one continuous piece of material or instead may include multiple material pieces interconnected to one another. Regardless of the configuration, the base member 21 includes a platform 17 which forms its upward-facing surface and to which the side columns 22 and 23 may be operably connected. The platform 17 and mantel assembly 10 ultimately define the hearth opening 35 through which a waterfall 31 is flowable. The base member 21 has an appearance much like the hearth of the traditional fireplace.
In the embodiment shown in
The configuration shown in
The configuration shown in
Optionally, the waterfall system 40 may include built-in or external lighting means (not shown) at any location, for example in the trough 30 (and/or in an upper water dispenser 51, described below). Preferably, although not necessarily, the lighting is located underwater in the trough 30. When the lighting is located within the trough 30, the light(s) may be directed upward and into the waterfall 31 (and into the hearth opening 35), producing dancing light from the waterfall device 5. This lighting may optionally include one or more colored and/or patterned lens covers or lens adapters (not shown) for the light(s), which lens covers/adapters may be changeable to produce various colors and/or light patterns. Although any lens color is contemplated for use with the waterfall device 5, example colors include blue, red, yellow, or green. The use of the lighting in the water provides an ambiance of dancing lighting similar to the fire in a typical fireplace.
One or more screens (not shown) may optionally be positioned in the trough 30 to cover the water in the trough 30. The one or more screens help to protect the water from debris, discourage intrusion into and interference with the waterfall system 40 and water therein by pets, children, or other undesirable intruders, control overspray/splashing of the water, and reduce noise produced by the waterfall 31.
A pump compartment 41 may be disposed generally adjacent to the trough 30 within the base member 21 for housing one or more pumping mechanisms (not shown) for pumping the water upward from the trough 30 to the nozzles (not shown) from which the water falls. One or more dividing members may separate the trough 30 and the pump compartment 41, but water is flowable between the compartments 30 and 41, for example through one or more holes (not shown) in the dividing members. In the embodiment shown in
The trough 30, which may be a fluid-holding tank, is preferably a larger compartment in the middle (larger than the other compartment 41 and optional accessories compartment described below). The trough 30 operates as the receptacle for the water which falls from above, as well as serves as the container that supplies the re-circulating waterfall system 40 with water. The pumping compartment 41 is designed to hold a water pump. In one embodiment, the water capacity of these two compartments/tanks 30 and 41 (which may be connected by flow holes or tubes) ranges from approximately 4 gallons to approximately 8 gallons depending on the size of the waterfall device 5; however, any size or capacity compartments/tanks may be utilized in the waterfall device 5 of embodiments of the present invention.
Disposed generally above (and possibly partially within) the pumping compartment 41 is a water transport system 50.
The water flows through the water transport system 50 to the water dispenser 51, which may be located behind the front mantel plate portion 19B or below or within the front mantel plate portion 19A or mantel shelf 24. In the preferred embodiment, the front mantel plate portion 19B at least partially hides the water dispenser 41. The water dispenser 51 may include one or more nozzles for dispensing the water so that the water cascades downward into the trough 30 in a waterfall 31. The waterfall 31 and its cascading motion are produced by the force of gravity. The nozzle(s) may be angled to any degree desired to produce the cascading waterfall 31, such as is shown in
The waterfall system 40 advantageously may reduce considerable pressure developed by the pumping mechanisms in the delivery of a large volume of water per hour, for example in delivering as much as approximately 1200 or more gallons of water per hour and upwards. In one preferable embodiment, the water is distributed the full width of the waterfall system 40 by approximately ⅜-inch holes at regular intervals along a 1-inch pipe. In this preferable embodiment, the 1-inch pipe is housed inside an approximately 4-inch round housing that has an approximately 2-inch opening running the width of the desired waterfall, and attached to the lower edge of the 2-inch opening is a galvanized steel “blade” (or nozzle). The purpose of this blade is to develop and direct a perfect or near perfect sheet of water into the receiving tank below.
Optionally, a third compartment (not shown) similar to the compartment 41 may be located on the other side of the trough 30 (or adjacent to the compartment 41) for holding one or more accessories to the waterfall device 5, for example for holding light transformers, remote control devices, or other accessories. The compartment may include an access door (not shown) to allow the user to conceal the contents of the compartment by closing the access door but still permitting access to those contents by opening the access door when desired.
The following accessories may be utilized with and/or included with the waterfall device 5. A remote control may be used to control both the lighting (the presence, absence, or intensity of the lighting and/or the color or pattern of the lighting, for example by allowing the remote control to change lenses) and the water flow (the presence or absence of the water flow through the system and/or the pressure or velocity of the water flowing through the system). In the alternative, the remote control may only be used to control aspects of either the lighting or the water flow. In addition to lighting and/or water flow, the remote control may control the angle of the nozzles for directing water flow, amount of cleaning solution and/or aromatherapy solution (or other chemical solution) dispensed into the water, the color of the water (e.g., the color and amount food coloring added to the water), and/or the presence or absence of the back panel 32.
Other accessories which may be utilized with and/or included with the waterfall device 5 include aromatherapy formulas containing pleasing scents which may be added to the water of the waterfall 31 and/or one or more chemical solutions for maintaining the cleanliness of the water. An exemplary chemical solution for maintaining the water's cleanliness contains algaecide and clarifier, and this exemplary solution may be effective by adding approximately 1-2 drops of water treatment solution each week. The chemical solution(s) are formulated to prevent and kill algae and to keep the water clear or another desired color (e.g., food-colored water). In any event, the waterfall system 5 may include internal dispensers and dispensing mechanisms as well as tanks for storing and selectively and manually or automatically dispensing the formulas and/or chemical solutions at regular intervals or as desired.
Lighting accessories may also be included or used with the waterfall device 5, including (underwater) light bulb(s) and/or casing(s), as well as lens adapters for imparting colors and/or designs to the emitted light. The lighting may be configured and wired for receiving electrical power in any manner and using any lighting components known to those skilled in the art. Another accessory which is usable with the waterfall device 5 is an accent board. One or more accent boards, such as MuruStone tops that are cement boards looking like authentic stone, may be added to the top surfaces of the mantel shelf 24 and/or the platform 17 (and/or other surfaces of the waterfall device 5) to accent portions of the waterfall device 5 for aesthetic purposes. MuruStone is created through a special transfer process in which a high-resolution digital image of natural stone is impregnated into a coated cement board, and the resulting product is fire, scratch, mar, and stain resistant and has an appearance of stone.
Although the waterfall device 5 may possess any dimensions, in one embodiment the waterfall device 5 is approximately 48 inches wide, approximately 37 inches tall, and approximately 14 inches in depth. In another (more lightweight at approximately 50 pounds) embodiment, the waterfall device 5 has a height of approximately 40 inches, a width of approximately 52 inches, and a depth of approximately 16 inches. In an embodiment, the waterfall device 5 weighs approximately 150 pounds. In other embodiments, the lightweight waterfall device 5 may weigh approximately 50 pounds. Of course, embodiments of the waterfall device 5 may include any other dimensions and weights.
Preferably, the waterfall device 5 does not include a separate water system or waterline attachment thereto. The waterfall device 5 preferably does not require connection to any external plumbing system; however, if desired, it is possible to connect the waterfall device 5 to the plumbing system. The waterfall device 5 is fully self-contained and may be filled and refilled (e.g., at the trough 30) with a low-volume container, such as a small bucket or beverage pitcher. The waterfall device 5 preferably includes a self-contained water recirculation system which is an automatic fill system for maintaining the proper water level in the tanks or compartments to prevent overflow and for dispensing the optimal amount of chemical solution (cleaning solution), thereby ideally requiring no maintenance of the water system.
Also preferably, the waterfall device 5 does not require any external wiring and does not require wiring into an electrical system. In one embodiment, one or more electrical cords extending from and electrically connected to the waterfall device 5 are pluggable into any grounded electrical outlet, such as a grounded, three-prong electrical outlet. One or more electrical wires or cords may be electrically connected to the internal (or external) lighting of the waterfall device 5 and exit through the waterfall device 5, preferably from the back of the waterfall device for aesthetic purposes, for connection to an electrical outlet. However, in other embodiments, the waterfall device 5 and its electrical system may be electrically connected to an existing electrical system, for example by wiring the waterfall device thereto. Also in other embodiments, no cords or electrical wires are necessary, and the electrical power for the lighting may be provided by a wireless electrical transmission, connection, device, or unit.
One or more of the components of the waterfall device 5 (e.g., components such as the mantel assembly 10, base member 21, back panel 32, and/or front guard 33) are capable of being formed from various materials. These materials may include, but are not limited to, marble, marble blend, granite, wood, blue lapis, stone, rock, brick, aggregate(s), fiberglass, plastics, various materials that may be poured into molds, and/or any other material or combination of materials known to those skilled in the art, especially those materials known by those skilled in the art for forming hearths or mantels for fireplaces. A travertine-like material may be utilized when a lightweight waterfall device 5 is desired. Combinations of any of the materials may also be utilized to form the waterfall device 5. In some embodiments, these materials only form the exterior of the waterfall device 5, particularly the exterior of the mantel assembly 10, base member 21, back panel 32, and/or front guard 33. Manufacture of the waterfall device may be accomplished using various methods, including but not limited to injection molding, rotomolding, and/or any other plastic or fiberglass forming systems known to those skilled in the art. The waterfall device 5 may be of any color(s) or design(s) desired. Preferably, although not necessarily (especially if the unit is not being utilized in conjunction with a fire), the waterfall device 5 is constructed from a fire-proof material.
The waterfall device 5 is preferably relatively lightweight to allow for its portability and ease of installation and/or removal. In other aspects, the waterfall device is easily portable and installable/removable without requiring hooking up or removing of water supply equipment, water lines, or other water-conveying devices external to the waterfall device 5 itself and without requiring external lighting, wiring, or a chimney. The waterfall device 5 is preferably a lightweight, single-piece body with housings in the columns for the necessary pumps and electrical equipment and wires. (Of course, other embodiments of the waterfall device may include multiple-piece bodies and/or external pumps and electrical equipment/wires.) Preferably, the waterfall device 5 is totally self-contained so that no external water supply is necessary and no wiring of the waterfall device 5 into the electrical system is necessary for the waterfall device 5 to be fully operable. The portability, self-containment, and unitary aspects of the waterfall device advantageously allow it to be placed in any room (or other space or location) for a period of time and then either stored or moved to another room (or other space or location) with ease, as the time, skill, and labor required to move the waterfall device to another location is greatly minimized.
Although the above description refers to the device as a “waterfall device” and refers to the substance used in the waterfall as water, it is within the scope of embodiments of the present invention that any fluid may be flowed within the waterfall device. For example, food coloring may be added to water or another fluid, or another fluid altogether may be used.
In all of the above embodiments, preferably no firebox, fireplace, or fire-making device is included with the waterfall device 5. In this manner, the waterfall device 5 is completely independent from the fire-making function of a typical fireplace. The waterfall device 5 is crafted to not overflow or splash onto a surrounding floor and seldom if ever needs re-filling of the water because the waterfall system 40 recycles the water flow.
Installation and/or assembly of the waterfall device 5 is simple and time-effective. The average homeowner with moderate skill in product assembly is capable of installing the waterfall device 5 in less than an hour. The waterfall device 5 may require assembling of multiple pieces or may be shipped in one piece requiring no assembly. Installation may simply require only a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.
To install the waterfall device 5, position it at the desired location, electrically connect the waterfall device 5 (for example by plugging the electrical plug into an electrical outlet), fill the tank(s)/compartment(s) with water, and turn the waterfall device 5 on with a switch/button on the waterfall device 5 or using the remote. Of course, some units may require assembling of the waterfall device 5 prior to its installation.
In operation, water (or another fluid) is placed into one or more of the tanks or compartments, for example in the trough 30, and the waterfall device 5 is electrically connected to a power source. The water flows from the trough 30 into the pumping compartment 41, where the pumping mechanism(s) pump the water from the trough 30 and pumping compartment 41 upward through the water-carrying system 50, for example through the piping or tubing. Through the pressure provided by the pumping mechanism(s), the water is lifted to the water dispenser 51, and the water flows through the water dispenser 51 nozzle(s) or blade(s) at the desired angle to form the waterfall 31, as depicted in
Although the waterfall device 5 is essentially maintenance-free, it may be desirable or necessary to preserve optimal performance of the waterfall device 5 to fill the basin/tank/compartment with water periodically, use water treatment chemical(s), and occasionally clean the water pumping mechanism(s).
In any of the above embodiments, the trough 30 may include a heat-resistant tray, or one or more channels having one or more holes therethrough treated with a heat-resistant coating, either in lieu of or in addition to the first compartment. Furthermore, any of the other above-described components may be heat-treated to produce a heat-resistant coating on the component(s). Also in any of the above embodiments, the electrical wiring may be accomplished in any manner and using any materials known to those skilled in the art so that the wiring is capable of accommodating the remote control, lighting, and other features requiring electrical power of the waterfall device 5.
While the foregoing is directed to embodiments of the present invention, other and further embodiments of the invention may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof, and the scope thereof is determined by the claims that follow.
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US7922103||Jan 28, 2009||Apr 12, 2011||Houstoun David T||Decorative waterfall|
|US8403238 *||Oct 15, 2009||Mar 26, 2013||Araceli Martinez Hurtado||Portable decorative waterfall feature|
|US20110089254 *||Apr 21, 2011||Araceli Martinez Hurtado||Portable decorative waterfall feature|