Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3570266 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 16, 1971
Filing dateJun 2, 1969
Priority dateJun 2, 1969
Also published asDE2026503A1
Publication numberUS 3570266 A, US 3570266A, US-A-3570266, US3570266 A, US3570266A
InventorsRobert J Alvarez, Julius B Horvay
Original AssigneeGen Electric
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Refrigerator including ice maker water reservoir
US 3570266 A
Images(1)
Previous page
Next page
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 16, 1971 J. ALVAREZ ETAL 3,5

REFRIGERATOR INCLUDING ICE MAKER WATER RESERVOIR Filed June 2, 1969 INVENTORS ROBERT I ALVAREZ BY6p3'UL\US B. HORVAY THE\R ATTORNEY United States Patent 3,570,266 REFRIGERATOR INCLUDING ICE MAKER WATER RESERVOIR Robert J. Alvarez and Julius B. Horvay, Louisville, Ky., assiguors to General Electric Company Filed June 2, 1969, Ser. No. 829,361 Int. Cl. F25c 1/00 U.S. Cl. 62-338 7 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A refrigerator containing an automatic ice maker includes a water storage tank in the fresh food compartment and means for conducting water from the tank to the ice maker.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Household refrigerators including automatic ice makers introduced in recent years have met with wide spread customer acceptance. All of the presently available refrigerators require connection directly to the household water system to provide water for the automatic ice maker. The cost of this service has caused some prospective automatic ice maker service refrigerator customers to decide against this service. Other potential customers have found it difficult or impossible to install the necessary plumbing for structural and other reasons. Accordingly there is a need for an alternate method of providing water for the automatic ice maker.

It has been previously been proposed, as for example in Pats. 2,471,655, Rundell and 2,767,557, Hubacker, to provide water storage tanks or reservoirs for supplying water to an automatic ice maker. The water supply means disclosed in these patents are either integrally connected to the ice maker, and are immovable, or must be mounted in a specific position in order to be operable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The primary object of the present invention is to provide in a household refrigerator including an automatic ice maker an improved water storage and supply means which is of simple and low cost construction, which permits some selection in the positioning thereof within the refrigerator, which can be easily removed from the refrigerator cabinet for cleaning or filling purposes and which can be easily refilled without removal from the cabinet. A more specific object of the invention is to provide a water storage tank or receptacle having the above advantages which also serves as a source of cooled drinking water.

In accordance with the illustrated embodiment of the invention, there is provided a household refrigerator including a freezer compartment containing an automatic ice maker and a fresh food compartment having a slidable means, such as a sliding shelf, for supporting a water storage tank or reservoir for supplying water to the ice maker. A water supply line to the ice maker has its inlet in the rear wall of the fresh food compartment. The tank is connected to this inlet by means of a flexible conduit of a length sufficient to connect the tank to the inlet in both the normal and extended positions of the shelf supporting the tank. The tank includes a recess formed in the bottom Wall thereof for automatically storing the excess conduit when the tank is in its normal position, that is when the shelf is in its recessed position.

Preferably the tank is also provided with a water spigot so that water cooled to the fresh food compartment temperature is available for drinking purposes.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING In the accompanying drawing: FIG. 1 is a side elevational view, in section, of a household refrigerator incorporating the present invention;

3,576,266 Patented Mar. 16, 1971 ice FIG. 2 is a side View, in section, of the water storage tank of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a transverse sectional view of the tank shown in FIG. 2 taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 is a horizontal sectional view of the tank taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 2.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT While the invention is applicable to any combination refrigerator including both a fresh food compartment and a freezer compartment, it will be particularly described with reference to a refrigerator of the type shown in FIG. 1 of the clawing including a cabinet structure divided by a longitudinal partition 1 into an upper freezer compartment 2 and a lower fresh food compartment 3 which are maintained at their respective operating temperatures by circulating air from the two compartments over an evaporator 4 mounted within the partition 1.

The freezer compartment 2 contains an automatic ice maker generally indicated by the numeral 5 from which ice pieces are periodically discharged into a storage receptacle 6. The ice maker 5 may be any of the well known commercially available types, all of which have in common an operating sequence which includes the steps of introducing water into a plurality of mold cavities, freezing this water into ice, discharging the ice pieces to a storage receptacle, followed by the supplying of a fresh charge of water to the ice maker mold.

As has been previously indicated, the household refrigerators presently avaliable with automatic ice makers, are designed to be plumbed in or in other words connected to the high pressure household water supply line.

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a new and improved Water storage tank or reservoir for storing the water supplied to an automatic ice maker. This water supply reservoir generally indicated by the numeral 8 in FIG. 1 of the drawing is designed to be supported within the fresh food compartment 3 on a sliding shelf structure 9. Preferably the tank 8 is of a length such that it occupies substantially the full depth of the shelf 9 while its width and height are determined by the desired storage capacity thereof.

The means for conveying water from the reservoir or tank 8 to the ice maker comprises a fixed water supply line 10 having its inlet 11 in the rear wall of the fresh food compartment 3. This line 10 extends from the inlet downwardly along the rear outer surface of the cabinet to a selfpriming pump 12 mounted within the machinery or unit compartment 14 of the refrigerator and then upwardly as indicated by the numeral 15 along the rear outer wall of the cabinet and into the freezer compartment for discharge of water from its outlet 16 into the ice maker 5. The tank 8 is connected to the inlet 11 by a flexible conduit or tubing 17 using a suitable quick disconnect fitting 18.

For a more detailed description of the tank, reference is made to FIGS. 2, 3 and 4 of the drawing. The tank is preferably molded of a transparent or translucent plastic material such as polyethylene so that the water level within the tank may be easily noted.

The illustrated tank is of a blow molded construction and of rectangular shape with a fill opening 20' in the front portion of the top wall 21 closed by a cap 22. The bottom wall 23 of the tank is formed to include a recess 24 formed in part by a top wall 25, a front wall 26 and a rear wall 27. A channel 29 extends from the recess 24 through the rear wall 30 of the tank. The recess 24 is designed to store a portion 31 of the conduit 17 connecting the tank to a water supply line 10. More specifically the inlet end of the conduit 17 is connected at 33 through the rear wall 27 of the recess to the tank 8 and, as shown particularly in FIG. 4 of the drawing,

the conduit extends forwardly from this point along the adjacent side wall 34 of the recess and then loops as indicated at 35 through a return bend and thereafter extends along and in partial contact with the opposed wall 36 of the recess and through the passage or channel 29.

The conduit is confined Within the recess 24 by means of a plate 40 secured to the top wall 25 of the recess by means of pins 41, the plate 40 being supported in spaced relationship with the top wall 25 a distance slightly greater than the diameter of the conduit 17.

When the tank 8 is supported on the shelf 9 and the shelf is in its recessed position, the portion 31 of the tubing is in its full line position as shown in FIG. 4 with the parallel portions thereof generally in engagement with the opposed recessed side walls 34 and 36. As the tank is moved forwardly as for example by sliding the shelf 9 to its forward or access position, the tubing plays through the channel 29 to move, for example, to its dotted line position as illustrated in FIG. 4 of the drawing. The tubing is preferably made of a material such as polyethylene and has a Wall thickness such that it is sufficiently stiff so as the shelf 9 moves between its two positions, the tubing will automatically slide in and out of the channel 29 for storage of the excess length within the recess 24. When the shelf is in its extended position, the cap 22 is readily accessible and can be removed for introducing water into the tank 8.

Preferably the forward end of the tank includes the portion extending forwardly from the front edge 46 of the shelf and is provided with a spigot 47 of any suitable design including an actuating handle 48 for providing drinking water at fresh food compartment temperatures.

By employing a quick connect coupling 18 to connect the outlet end of the conduit 17 to the water supply line 10, the tank may also be completely removed from the fresh food compartment 3 for cleaning purposes or for filling.

It will be obvious of course that the control circuitry for controlling the automatic operation of the ice maker '5 is identical to the control circuitry normally employed for operating such an ice maker when connected directly to a household water supply line except that the energization of the self-priming pump 12 rather than the usual solenoid valve is employed for controlling the introduction of Water into the ice maker mold. In other words, each time the ice maker control calls for the introduction of a fresh charge of water in the mold, the self-priming pump 12 is energized for a period of time sufficient to introduce into the ice maker mold the required volume of water. Of course in refrigerators in which fresh food compartment is above the freezer compartment, a solenoid valve can be used and line 10 is arranged so that gravity feed can be employed in place of pump 12 for transferring the water to the mold.

While there has been shown and described a specific embodiment of the present invention, it is to be understood that it is not limited thereto and it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.

What we claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. In combination, a refrigerator comprising a fresh food storage compartment and a freezer compartment containing an automatic ice maker,

a water supply line for supplying water to said ice 4 maker having its inlet on one wall of said fresh food compartment;

a water storage tank and means for supporting said tank in said fresh food compartment for movement between a normal position adjacent said inlet and a position removed from said inlet;

a conduit connecting said tank and inlet and having a length sufficient to connect said tank to said inlet in both positions of said tank;

said tank including a recess in the bottom wall of said tank for automatically storing excess conduit when said tank is in its normal position.

2. The combination of claim 1 in which said excess conduit is stored in the form of a loop within said recess.

3. The combination of claim 1 in which said tank includes an opening from said recess through an outer wall of said tank facing said inlet and said conduit slidably passes through said opening.

4. The combination of claim 3 in which the end of said conduit connected to said tank is connected to a recess -Wall adjacent said outer wall.

5. In combination, a refrigerator cabinet comprising a fresh food storage compartment having a front access opening, a freezer compartment above said fresh food compartment and containing an automatic ice maker,

a water supply line for supplying water to said ice maker having its inlet in the back wall of said fresh food compartment and including a pumping means in a non-refrigerated portion of said cabinet;

a water storage tank and means for supporting said tank in said fresh food compartment for movement between a normal position adjacent said inlet and a position removed from said inlet;

a flexible conduit connecting said tank and conduit and being of a length sufiicient to connect said tank to said inlet in both positions of said shelf;

said tank including a recess in the bottom surface thereof for automatically storing excess conduit length when said tank is in its normal position;

said tank including a channel extending from the rear wall of said recess through the rear wall of said tank;

the connection of said conduit to said tank being in the rear wall of said recess, said conduit extending from said connection forwardly along one side wall of said recess and being return bent to extend along the opposite side of said recess and through said channel.

6. The combination of claim 5 in which said cabinet includes a unit compartment below said fresh food and said pumping means is mounted in said unit compartment.

7. The combination of claim 5 in which said tank includes a spigot adjacent the front end thereof for dispensing drinking water from said tank.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,471,655 5/1949 Rundell 62353X 2,963,885 12/1960 Loe Wenthal 62-344 3,024,621 3/1962 Parker 62389X 2,767,557 10/1956 Hubacker 62344 WILLIAM E. WAYNER, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 62-389

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3914957 *Oct 24, 1974Oct 28, 1975Gen Motors CorpFast cooling liquid dispensing container accessory for refrigerators
US4739629 *Mar 18, 1987Apr 26, 1988General Electric CompanyWater storage tank for use in the fresh food compartment of a refrigerator
US4790290 *Sep 28, 1987Dec 13, 1988A. O. Smith CorporationTank assembly
US5156021 *Aug 5, 1991Oct 20, 1992St Gelais GinoRefrigerator shelf-like water tank
US5228311 *Aug 15, 1991Jul 20, 1993The Coca-Cola CompanyCooling apparatus
US5768905 *Nov 18, 1996Jun 23, 1998Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Refrigerator having a water dispenser and a water sterilizer
US6079221 *Aug 12, 1998Jun 27, 2000Maytag CorporationRefrigerator water tank
US6973803Apr 21, 2004Dec 13, 2005Olive Bentley JRefrigerator water supply systems
US7188486Dec 9, 2005Mar 13, 2007Olive Bentley JRefrigerator water supply systems
US8353179 *Sep 12, 2007Jan 15, 2013Lg Electronics Inc.Refrigerator
US20100192613 *Sep 12, 2007Aug 5, 2010Sung-Jae KimRefrigerator
EP2181297A2 *Nov 4, 2008May 5, 2010Lg Electronics Inc.Refrigerator
WO2007009784A1 *Jul 19, 2006Jan 25, 2007Liebherr Hausgeraete LienzRefrigerator and/or freezer
Classifications
U.S. Classification62/338, 62/389
International ClassificationF25D23/12, F25C1/00
Cooperative ClassificationF25C2400/10, F25D23/126, F25D2400/04, F25C1/00
European ClassificationF25C1/00, F25D23/12B