US 20080110214 A1
A mount (110) is configured to mount a laundry water treatment device (102, 104) or other appliance to a washing machine, clothes dryer, or other laundry appliance. The mount (110) includes a frame (202), magnet supports (204, 504) and magnets (206). The mount is configurable for removable attachment to a vertical or horizontal surface of the washing machine or clothes dryer.
1. A method comprising:
attaching a laundry water treatment device to a mount;
magnetically attaching the mount to a washing machine or a clothes dryer.
2. The method of
3. The method of
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10. The method of
11. The method of
12. An apparatus comprising:
a first portion which attaches to a laundry water treatment device;
a magnet in operative mechanical communication with the first portion for magnetically attaching the laundry water treatment device to a ferromagnetic material.
13. The mount of
14. The apparatus of
15. The apparatus of
16. The apparatus of
17. The apparatus of
18. The apparatus of
19. The apparatus of
20. The apparatus of
21. The apparatus of
22. A kit comprising:
a first component which receives a laundry water treatment device;
a second component for removably attaching the first component to a vertical surface of a washing machine.
a third component for removably attaching the first component to a horizontal surface of a washing machine.
23. The kit of
24. The kit of
25. The kit of
26. An apparatus comprising:
means for receiving a laundry water treatment device;
means for removably attaching the laundry water treatment device to an exterior of a washing machine.
The present application relates to laundry appliance mounts. While it finds particular application to the magnetic mounts for mounting laundry water treatment devices to washing machines, it also finds application to other situations in which it is desirable to mount items to laundry appliances such as washers and dryers.
Washers and dryers are ubiquitous in homes, apartment buildings, dormitories, and other locations in the United States and throughout the world. One recent study found that, in the United States alone, some 81 million households own a washing machine, and about 7 million of these households purchase a washing machine in a given year.
According to the California Energy Commission Consumer Energy Center, a typical American household does some 400 loads of laundry per year. Doing the math, this corresponds to some 32 billion loads of laundry per year in the United States alone. The Mar. 10, 2003 issue of Time magazine cites detergent giant Proctor & Gamble as finding that the average American generates a quarter ton of dirty laundry over the course of a year, with Americans in the aggregate generating some 35 billion loads of laundry.
All of this laundry requires untold amounts of detergent, not to mention hot water.
One response to this problem has been the LaundryPure™ laundry water treatment device manufactured by EcoQuest International of Greenville, Tenn. The LaundryPure device connects to the incoming cold water line of a washing machine and treats the incoming water with a combination of silver ions and ultraviolet (UV). According to its manufacturer, the LaundryPure device eliminates the need for detergent and hot water cycles, although the use of a laundry pretreatment/soil remover material is recommended in some situations.
The LaundryPure device, which has dimensions of 28.5×9.5×4.0 inches (743×241×101 mm), weighs about 13 pounds (5.9 Kg), and receives electrical power from a standard electrical outlet, is intended to be mounted to a wall in the vicinity of the washer. To this end, the device is provided with a mounting bracket which is ordinarily attached to the wall studs using 1.25 in (3.5 cm) screws. The LaundryPure device is in turn attached to the bracket. In certain situations, the manufacturer recommends that a carbon water filter be used to filter the water supplied to the LaundryPure device.
While wall mounting can be effective, it has various drawbacks. For example, some buyers are reluctant to drill the holes needed to mount the bracket to the wall, while others may lack the tools or technical proficiency for doing so. Moreover, it is often desirable to demonstrate the LaundryPure device to potential buyers, for example in their homes or at trade shows. In addition, the LaundryPure device is sometimes sold on approval, in which case the user is typically afforded an opportunity to use the device with his or her washing machine and laundry before making a final purchase decision. In these and other situations, wall mounting can be relatively unattractive. Still further, neither the LaundryPure nor the bracket include provisions for the water filter, which must be mounted separately.
The use of screws to attach a mounting bracket to the washing machine has also been proposed. Such an approach has many of the same drawbacks associated with wall mounting, and is in many cases even more complicated. Moreover, the device cannot be readily removed from the washing machine, and manufacturers generally discourage users or other third parties from drilling holes in or otherwise modifying the washing machine as needed to accommodate the screws.
A floor mounted “LaundryPure Demo Display Stand” has also been developed and marketed, especially for use as a trade show display rack or for in-home demonstrations. The stand, which is intended to be placed on the floor behind the washing machine, supports the LaundryPure device generally above and behind the washing machine. However, the stand is relatively bulky. To provide the necessary stability, the stand's floor-supported feet also extend forward from the stand's vertical risers, with brackets extending between the feet and the risers. Unfortunately, the feet and brackets often prevent the washing machine from being placed near the wall, so that the front of the washing machine sticks out into the laundry room. Users may find this undesirable, especially where a user has a matching washer and dryer or where space is limited.
Aspects of the present invention address these matters, and others.
According to a first aspect of the present application, a method includes attaching a laundry water treatment device to a mount and magnetically attaching the mount to a washing machine or a clothes dryer.
According to another aspect, an apparatus includes a first portion which attaches to a laundry water treatment device and a magnet in operative magnetic communication with the first portion for magnetically attaching the laundry water treatment device to a ferromagnetic material.
According to another aspect, a kit includes a first component which receives a laundry water treatment device, a second component for removably attaching the first component to a vertical surface of a washing machine, and a third component for removably attaching the first component to a horizontal surface of a washing machine.
According to another aspect, an apparatus includes means for receiving a laundry water treatment device and means for removably attaching the laundry water treatment device to an exterior surface of a domestic laundry appliance.
Those skilled in the art will appreciate still other aspects of the present invention upon reading an understanding the attached figures and description.
The present invention is illustrated by way of example and not limitation in the figures of the accompanying drawings, in which like references indicate similar elements and in which:
With reference to
As illustrated, the washing machine 108 is a front loading domestic washing machine. Front loading machines, which are sometimes referred to as horizontal axis machines, typically include a generally horizontal, planar top surface 106 formed from a ferromagnetic material such as steel. The treatment devices 102, 104 advantageously include standard threaded hose fittings and are connected fluidly in series between a water source such as a cold water line and a water inlet of the washing machine using standard laundry hose 112. As a result, incoming laundry water is treated by the treatment devices 102, 104 prior to being received by the washing machine 108.
Turning now to
As illustrated, the frame 202 includes a first vertical member 208 1, a second vertical member 208 2, an upper horizontal member 210 1, and a lower horizontal member 210 2. The lower horizontal member 210 2 includes material free regions 230 such as slots, the purpose of which will be explained below. To facilitate assembly and disassembly of the magnet mount 110, the various members and supports 204, 208, 210 are fastened using fasteners such as carriage bolts 212 and wing nuts 214.
In the exemplary case of a water filter used in conjunction with the LaundryPure device, the vertical location of the lower horizontal member 210 1 and the lengths of the vertical support members 208 are selected to accommodate a filter which extends generally below the horizontal support member 210 1. Note that a storage device such as a wire rack or shelf for storing stain pretreatment or other item(s) typically found in the laundry room environment may also be placed to the front of the frame 202 in the region generally below the upper horizontal member 210 1 and above the magnets 206. In the case of a mount 110 which is not designed to incorporate the treatment device 104, the upper horizontal member 210 1 may be omitted and the lengths of the vertical supports 208 adjusted accordingly. In such a case, the bracket 216 may be attached to the lower horizontal member 210 2.
Turning briefly to
Turning now to
As illustrated, the washing machine 402 is a top loading domestic washing machine. Top loading machines, which are sometimes referred to as vertical axis machines, typically include a generally vertical rear surface 410 which is typically fabricated from ferromagnetic material. While the rear surfaces 410 tend to be generally planar, they often have irregularities such as various protrusions, depressions, material free regions, and the like. The number, location, and size of these irregularities tend to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and from model to model.
With reference to
The first 504 1 and second 504 2 magnet supports, which contain a plurality of material free regions 506 or slots, are adjustably attached to the frame 202 using carriage bolts and wing nuts or other suitable fasteners. More specifically, the fasteners extend through respective slots in the magnet supports 504 so that the magnet supports 504 are pivotally and translationally positionable with respect to the frame 202. The various magnets 206 may be selectively positioned in the desired slots 506. Magnets 206 may also be selectively positioned in the slots 230 of the lower member 210 2. The spacers 224 increase the distance between the major plane of the frame 202 and the back 410 of the washing machine 408. In case of a treatment device such as the LaundryPure device 102 having bottom-mounted inlet and/or outlet ports, the distance is advantageously selected to provide clearance for the various hoses 112. One suitable distance between the mounting plane and the front of the frame 202 is on the order of about 2.25 inches (5.7 cm). As various hot and/or cold water hoses, drain lines, and the like are ordinarily part of a washing machine installation, it will be appreciated that the described arrangement does not substantially increase the distance between the washing machine 408 and the wall.
The floor support 502, which attaches to the lower member 210 2 using suitable fasteners, extends downwardly from the frame 202. The floor support 502 includes a foot 512 which ordinarily rests on the floor. To this end, the floor support 502 is selectively adjustable in the direction 514. A hand operated clamp 516 allows the user to secure the floor support 502 at the desired length.
The frame 202, magnet supports 204, 504, and the floor support 502 are fabricated from powder coated steel, with the vertical members 208, the lower support 210 2, and the magnet supports 204 being fabricated from angle bracket. Other materials are also contemplated. For example, the various members may be fabricated from other metals such as aluminum, suitable polymers, wood, or the like.
As will be appreciated, the magnet mount 110 can be selectively configured for use with top load 108 or front load 408 washing machines by selecting the appropriate magnet supports 204, 504 and positioning the magnets 206 as appropriate. Turning now to
Variations are contemplated.
While the above discussion has focused on a magnetic mount 110 which is user-configurable for use with both top load and front load washers, separate top load and front load versions may be provided. Moreover, magnet mounts 110 may be provided in various models which are configured for use with certain brand(s) or model(s) of washers. The magnet supports 504 may be fixed or semi-fixed; the magnet supports 204 may likewise be adjustable.
Clips, clamps, latches, interference fits, or other suitable fastening and/or adjustment techniques may also be used. Moreover, some or all of the magnetic mount 110 may be supplied as a unitary component, for example with the various components being spot or tack welded, heat staked, glued or bonded, or otherwise more permanently fastened. Some or all of the magnetic mount 110 may also be fabricated as a unitary assembly, for example by stamping or forming the desired component(s) from a single metal piece, vacuum forming or injection molding the desired component(s), or the like.
It will also be appreciated that the dimensions and configuration of the magnetic mount 110 may be adjusted based on the requirements of a particular treatment device or devices. While a particular advantage of the 3 inch (7.62 cm) ceramic cup magnets 206 is that they tend to be suitable for attaching the LaundryPure device in both front and top load applications, different numbers, sizes, and types of magnets 206 may also be used. The magnets 206 may also be differently located. In the case of cup magnets, the mount 110 may also be provided with a protective materials such as 0.030 inch (0.0762) thick vinyl magnet material, which can be placed underneath the magnets 206 so as to minimize the likelihood of scratching the surface of the washing machine or clothes dryer. Suitable protective materials may also be disposed on the magnets 206.
Other water treatment devices are also contemplated. Thus, for example, the magnet mount may be used to attach water heater or chillers, water softeners, strainers, water conditioners, or the like. Moreover, one or more of the treatment devices may be located on the drain or outlet side of the washer.
The magnet mount 110 may also be used to attach other appliances, either alone or in combination treatment devices 102, 104. For example, the magnet mount may be used to support radios, television or computer screens, clocks or clock radios, lighting devices, and the like. The magnet mount 111 may also be provided with or otherwise used to attach, either alone or in combination with other appliances, suitable storage components such as one or more drawers or shelves for storing cleaning or other supplies of the sort typically encountered in a laundry room environment. In one such embodiment, the shelves are implemented using vinyl coated wire racks.
Operation will now be described in relation to
At 702, the mount 110 is assembled as required by the installer, demonstrator, or other user. Thus, for example the user may assemble the various components which form the frame 202. To facilitate product demonstrations, a user such as a product demonstrator may wish to attach the treatment devices 102, 104 and some or all of the associated hoses 112 to the frame 202 on a substantially permanent or otherwise relatively long term basis. The user also determines whether the mount 110 is to be attached to a front loading or top loading machine (or otherwise to a generally horizontal or vertical surface) and also assembles the desired magnet supports 204, 504 and magnets 206 as required.
At step 704, the mount 110 is attached to the washing machine. In this regard, it should be noted that the mount 110 may also be attached to the sides or front of the washing machine, or to a clothes dryer. Where the magnetic support 110 is adjustable, the user adjusts the positions of magnets 202 and/or the floor support 502 as desired, for example to accommodate irregularities in the mounting surface. The required fluid and electrical connections are also provided. Depending on the requirements of a particular situation, the user may also attach the mount to the washing machine before attaching one or both of the treatment devices 102, 104 to the mount 110.
At step 706, the washing machine and/or the treatments devices 102, 104 are operated as desired. In the case of a product demonstration, the demonstrator demonstrates the operation of the treatment devices 102, 104 to a potential purchaser.
At step 708, the mount 110 is detached from the washer. Note that the mount may remain attached to the washing machine on a substantially permanent basis, for example for the service life of the treatment device 102, 104 or the washing machine. In the case of a product demonstration or trial, the mount may be removed after a relatively short period.
At step 710, the mount 110 is disassembled as desired.
Of course, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding the preceding description. It is intended that the invention be construed as including all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.