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Publication numberUS3676830 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 11, 1972
Filing dateSep 16, 1970
Priority dateSep 16, 1970
Also published asCA941039A1, DE2130695A1
Publication numberUS 3676830 A, US 3676830A, US-A-3676830, US3676830 A, US3676830A
InventorsAnthony C Donato
Original AssigneeLightolier Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multiple access electric power distribution assembly
US 3676830 A
Abstract
An elongated electrical distribution assembly in the nature of a channel or track and connectors therefor, adapted to be incorporated in a ceiling structure and providing access for readily effecting electrical connection from both above and below the supported ceiling structure at multiple displaced positions along the length thereof.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

O United States Patent 1151 3,676,830 Donato [4 1 July 11, 1972 [54] MULTIPLE ACCESS ELECTRIC POWER 3,559,146 1/1971 Valtonen ..339/14 DISTRIBUTION ASSEMBLY 2,977,566 3/1961 Neumann et al 339/ l 19 [72] Inventor: Anthony C. Donato, Westfield, NJ. FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS [73] Assignee: Lightolier Incorporated, New York, NY. 1,144,353 3/1969 Great Britain ..339/21 R [22] Filed: Sept 1970 7 Primary Examiner-Marvin A. Champion 2 App] 72, Assistant Examiner-Robert A. Hafer Arrorney-Arthur B. Colvin [52] US. Cl. ..339/21 R 57 ABSTRACT 51 lm. c1 ..I-I0lr 9/00 58 Field of Search ..339/ 24- 174/48 elmgated elecmca' dlsmbumn assembly the nature 174/61. 240/9 R 73 CF 78 R 78 D A 76 a channel or track and connectors therefor, adapted to be in- 1 corporated in a ceiling structure and providing access for [56] References Cited readily effecting electrical connection from both above and below the supported ceiling structure at multiple displaced UNITED STATES PATENTS positions along the length thereof. 3,504,172 3/ l 970 Liberman ..240/78 11 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures l \5/ IT I l 60 1f 6 56 {V48 ID I I "in, M11.

Patented July 11, 1972 2 Sheets-Sheet l A/VTl/ON/C. DO/VA 70 ATTORNEY Patented July 11, 1972 3,676,830

2 Sheets-Sheet 2 5 MI: h l

C 34 53 ll/ m'ExmR.

A/YTl/O/VYC. DOA/A70 BY r ATTORNEY MULTIPLE ACCESS ELECTRIC POWER DISTRIBUTION ASSEMBLY This invention is in the field of electrical distribution assemblies and more particularly, elongated, ceiling mounted assemblies which may function as a mounting for electrical fixtures, which fixtures are provided or associated with plug members readily connected in power deriving relation with the assembly.

It is known to provide an electric power distribution assembly in the nature of a track or channel mountable in the ceiling or the like in combination with electrical fixtures, such as spotlights, flood lights, canopy lights, etc., the track and lights including interconnecting mechanisms which at once ermit the light fixtures to be secured in depending relation to the track at any position along the length thereof, and at the same time electrically connect fixtures to the track.

By way of example, reference may be made to U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,286,052 and 3,295,093 wherein there are illustrated various examples of assemblies of the type described.

In the patented assemblies, the track is mounted to a ceiling, or to a fixture which is in turn supported on the ceiling. The track includes a downwardly open slot providing access to the interior. Supported within the interior of the track or channel are two or more electrical conductors or mains in suitably insulated carriers or sheaths. An electrical fixture may be physically and electrically connected to the track by inserting a specially formed connector and mounting plug into the vertical access slot of the track at any point along the length thereof, and shifting the plug in such manner that it supports the fixture to the track and effects an electrical connectionof the conductors to the conductor components of the fixture.

Assemblies of the sort set forth in said patents provide a considerable advance, particularly by way of flexibility, in that the number and position of lighting fixtures may be readily varied to suit any particular lighting requirement. By way of example, in an art gallery, an assembly of the type described enables the lighting configuration to be readily modified whenever a changed arrangement of paintings or sculptures suggests the need therefor. Heretofore electrical distribution assemblies of the type described have been regarded asadjuncts or auxiliaries to the main lighting system.

Such distribution assemblies have been considered as convenient installations for providing specialized lighting, supplementing the principal lighting provided by the permanently installed fixtures. Obviously, such an arrangement involves duplication of wiring.

Further, it is often highly desirable to vary the location not only of the track supported fixtures but also of the basic lighting fixtures. Electrical distribution systems heretofore known provide no means of effecting such relocation short of a complete removal of the permanent fixture and their supportive components and rewiring the latter in the new, desired location.

The present invention relates to an electric distribution assembly including an elongated track adapted to be fixed to or, preferably, provide a support for, a removable ceiling structure, such as a hung ceiling. The distribution track is characterized by permitting electric connections to be effected from both beneath and above the track assembly. The track is recessed into the ceiling in such manner that portions of the track or conductor carrier above the ceiling are concealed from view from below. Electrical fixtures, such as spotlights, flood lights or the like, may be removably connected to the undersurface of the track essentially in the manner set forth in the above noted patents.

In addition, the track provides a plurality of longitudinally spaced-apart access apertures accessible from above the ceiling, any one of which access apertures forms a receiver for an electric plug or tap connected to permanent or semi-permanent conventional lighting fixtures, providing a main lighting source. The wires above the ceiling level are, of course, concealed from view from below.

The assembly is particularly adapted for use with tile ceilings including a tile support arrangement which permits tiles adjacent the electrical distribution assembly to be removed and replaced without permanent mechanical alteration.

It will thus be seen that if it is desired to effect a subsequent connection between a permanent or main lighting fixture and the track, it is merely necessary to remove, by lifting, a tile adjacent the track whereupon, by reason of the access afforded to the upper surface of the track, the main lighting fixture may be electrically connected to or disconnected from the track.

More particularly, the invention relates to an elongated electrical distribution assembly in the nature of a track or channel having a continuously open depending slot for the electrical and mechanical attachment of fixtures beneath the track, the track or channel having at its upper surface intermittent openings whereat the electrical connections may be Accordingly, it isan object of the invention to provide an improved electrical power distribution track assembly.

It is a further object of the invention to provide an assembly of the type described wherein electrical fixtures, such as lights, may be mechanically and electrically connected to the track at any position below the track along the length thereof, and wherein connections may be effected from above the track through a series of spaced access apertures formed in the track for such purpose.

It is a further object of the invention to provide an assembly of the type described which, in addition, functions as support means for the ceiling structure.

A further object of the invention is the provision of a device of the type described wherein the track at one edge directly supports removable ceiling tiles, the other edge or side of the track providing support for a ceiling tile hanger member whereby the tiles and hanger member may be bodily removed to provide access to the upper surface of the track without removing or otherwise disturbing the track proper.

To attain these objects and such further objects as may appear herein or be hereinafter pointed out, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, forming a part hereof, in which:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of a ceiling in which has been installed a track assembly of the type described;

FIG. 2 is a magnified vertical section taken on the line 22 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a magnified plan view taken in the direction of the arrows 33 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a section taken on the line 44 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view of a hanger section as may be employed in conjunction with the track removably to support ceiling tiles; and

FIGS. "6a and 6b comprise perspective views of alternate forms of insulator supports for the conductors carried by the track.

Referring particularly to FIG. I, there is shown a ceiling construction C of the so-called hung ceiling type comprised of a plurality of interconnected ceiling tiles T. The ceiling C, tiles T and the manner of their interconnection, as well as the manner in which the tile supports are connected to the building structure, form no part of this invention and are so well known as to require no detailed discussion herein.

The track assembly, which is the subject of the present invention, is numbered 10. As will be clear from the ensuing description, the tiles along one side of the assembly 10 are directly supported on a flange or extension 11 projecting horizontally from the track or channel 10. The tiles located adjacent the side 12 of the track or channel 10 are removable by an upwardly pivoting movement, as will be set forth more fully hereinafter.

The track or distribution channel 10 preferably comprises an elongated aluminum extrusion which may be described as generally H-shaped in section, including side portions 12, 13 connected by a central bridge 14. The length of the completed track will preferably be co-extensive with the length of the room or partition in which it is to be located.

As a matter of convenience, the extruded track may be stocked in sections of predetermined length. Where a track in length exceeding the length of a section is desired, a pair of tracks are disposed in end abutting relation.

The opposed side walls 12, 13 of the track incorporate integral spline receiver channels 15, 16, respectively, which are generally in the configuration of outwardly facing Cs." Where adjacent track sections are to be connected, rectangular bridging splines (not shown) may be inserted in the C shaped receiver channels. The splines lie within the channels to either side of the butt connection to interlock the abutting sections.

As best seen in FIG. 2, the side walls l2, 13 of the track include outwardly extending horizontal flanges 17, 18, respectively, from which the track is hung. By way of example, a length of track is secured to the usual laterally directed rigid ceiling supports 19 by a C-clip 20.

The clip 20 includes a back portion 21 disposed atop and angularly oriented relative to the ceiling supports 19, the clip including a pair of depending legs 22, 23, terminating in inwardly turned support fingers 24, 25, respectively. The fingers 24, 25 lie immediately under the flanges 17, 18 of the track.

As will be observed from a consideration of FIGS. 2 and 3, once the C clip is connected with the track in the manner set forth, there is substantially no likelihood of its becoming accidentally dislodged. In this connection and with particular reference to FIG. 3, the clip cannot be bodily rotated in a clockwise direction by reason of the engagement of the depending legs 22, 23 against opposite faces of the ceiling supports 19. After installation of the track, it will be observed that anti-clockwise movement of the clip relative to the track is prevented by engagement of the fingers 24, 25 of the clip against portions of the track proper.

It is of course understood that, in the usual manner, the ceiling will include a plurality of regularly spaced-apart ceiling support members 19, with clip connections being effected between the track at each intersection of the track and a support.

The interior of the track 10 is divided essentially into an upper compartment 26 and a lower compartment 27 by the bridge 14. The lower compartment 27 forms a housing or enclosure for the conductor support elements 28, 29.

As best shown in FIGS. 60 and 6b, the insulating conductor support assembly may be comprised of two separate insulator members, such as the members 28, 29, or the same may be formed in a single U-shaped assemblage 30 (FIG. 6b), including a connector branch 31 integral with the legs 28, 29'.

Where a U-shaped assembly 30 is employed, the same includes a plurality of longitudinally spaced-apart, generally oval apertures or cutouts 32 which, in the installed position, register with the spaced cutouts 33, (see FIGS. 3 and 4), in the bridge member 14 to provide access to the interior from above.

The conductor support assembly (whether of one or two piece construction) is comprised of an insulating plastic material, which material supports three electrical conductors 34, 35, 36, which are connected via a splice box (not shown) to the electrical mains. It will be readily recognized that while the device has been illustrated in connection with a three wire assembly to provide additional capacity, the unit is equally adaptable for use with a two wire circuit.

Preferably, the conductor support assemblies are coextensive with the track sections, short free lengths of conductors extending for a length beyond the track to permit the conductors of adjacent track sections to be spliced together.

In FIG. 2 there is shown a light assembly 40 which has been mechanically and electrically connected to the track assembly H). The light assembly includes an attachment fitting 41 linking the yoke 42 of the light to the track assembly.

Details of the attachment fitting 41 are shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,246,074 and per se, form no part of the present invention. Accordingly, a detailed description thereof need not be made herein. It should be further appreciated that other fittings may be adapted for use with the track assembly of the present invention.

Briefly, there is shown at 43 a locking knob which mechanically interlocks the attachment portion 41 to the track assembly 10. The attachment includes, in addition, a rotatable central plug member 44 of insulating material carrying electrical tapping fingers 45, 46. As fully described in said U.S. Pat. No. 3,246,074, electrical connection is effected by rotating the plug by means of the control lever 47 from the dot and dash to the solid line position shown in FIG. 2, whereupon the conductors 34, 35 are contacted by the fingers 45, 46, respectively.

It will be further understood that the position and configuration of the contact fingers must be varied in accordance with which two of the conductors 34, 35, 36 are to be contacted in each instance.

As shown in FIG. 1, the device of the present invention provides means for effecting an electrical connection to the main or permanent lighting fixtures 48. The fixtures 48 are hung in the usual manner from the overhead support structure and are provided with conductor leads 49, terminating in an upper tapping plug assembly 50.

The upper plug assembly 50 may be passed downwardly through anY of the slots or cutouts 33 formed in the bridge member 14 of the extrusion defining the track assembly. Unlike the connections which are effected beneath the track, the upper plug assemblies 50 need provide no mechanical hanging function. Accordingly, the plug may comprise an insulating body portion 51 having a knurled connector head 52. A pair of connector fingers 53, 54 project laterally from the body 51, it being understood that the fingers 53, 54 are electrically connected to a pair of conduits extending upwardly through the body 51 and through the conductor lead 49 to the fixture 48.

The body portion 51 includes a laterally directed retainer cam finger 55 adapted to secure the plug 50 in a desired position by engagement within a laterally offset retainer channel 56 formed integrally with the extrusion defining the track assembly 10. The retainer cam finger 55 includes a beveled cam face 57.

It will be understood that the conductor finger 53 and the retainer cam finger 55 are located substantially 180 apart relative to the periphery of the plug 50, the finger 54 being aligned with the retainer finger.

The plug is inserted into position by aligning the projecting finger with the lengthwise dimension of the cutouts or slots 33 and thereafter pressing the plug downwardly until the shoulder defined by the undersurface 58 of the connector head 52 abuts against the ledges 59, 60 defining the uppermost edges of the sides 12, 13 of the track assembly 10.

The plug is locked into position by rotating the same approximately so as to dispose the fingers 53, 54, 55 perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the track. It will be observed that in this position the finger 53 contacts conductor 34, and that finger 54 contacts conductor 36 to effect electrical connection of the permanent fixture 48. By reason of the beveled edge portion 57, a wedging action of the locking finger 55 within the channel 56 occurs, so as positively to locate and maintain polarity of the plug in the circuit.

There is shown in FIG. 5, a tile hanger clip 61 adapted to support ceiling tiles adjacent the side 12 of the track assembly. It will be understood that a series of clips 61 longitudinally spaced is provided, to effect the desired support of the tiles.

The clip 61 includes an outwardly directed tile support shoulder 62, an upwardly directed web 63, and a plurality of spaced, track engaging shoulders 64. The web 63 is notched, as at 65, to define in the areas between the shoulders 64 a plurality of clearance cutouts 66, which cutouts are spaced to coincide with the sPacing of the access slots or cutouts 33.

It will be understood that the hangers or clips 61 are installed by inserting the shoulders 62 into the tile member and thereafter laying the support shoulders 64 over the ledge of the track assembly, with the clearance cutouts 66 aligned with the slots 33 (see FIG. 2). By reason of the provision of the clearance cutouts 66, it will be observed that an upward pivotal pressure on a tile T supported by the clip 61 will permit the tile to be shifted clear of the track, the tile carrying with it the clip 61. In this manner, after the ceiling has been completed, access may readily be obtained to the upper surface of the track for effecting additional electrical connections or for relocation of existing fixtures.

From the foregoing, it will be seen that there is provided by the present invention a track assembly for supporting electrical conductors which, in the installed position in a ceiling, provides access both from above and below the ceiling for effecting electrical connections. The track assembly permits a great deal of flexibility in the location and relocation of spotlights or the like on the undersurface of the track or conduit, and additionally provides means for effecting electrical connection to the upper surface of the track at any of a multiplicity of lengthwisely spaced apart positions.

In addition to functioning as an electrical distribution mechanism, the track also functions to support the ceiling proper adjacent the track.

The ceiling conceals the upper portions of the track from view from below and, thus, wiring leading from ceiling fixtures to the track is likewise concealed from view.

Having thus described my invention, what I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A power distribution track assembly comprising an elongated, rigid channel having generally vertically directed side wall portions connected by a transversely extending bridging web portion, the lower terminal edges of said wall portions defining a continuous access slot, a plurality of electrical conductors supported within said channel and extending longitudinally thereof, said conductors being insulated from each other and a plurality of spaced apart access cutouts formed in said bridging member and providing a means of direct access to said electrical conductors for a tapping plug.

2. An assembly in accordance with claim 1 in which an elongated insulating strip is positioned within said channel between said side wall portions and extends the length thereof, said strip being substantially U-shaped in cross section and having a base with a pair of spaced side walls each carrying at least one of said electrical conductors extending longitudinally thereof, said electrical conductors being accessible from the interior of said channel, the base of said U-shaped insulating strip being positioned in juxtaposition to said bridging web portion, said base having a plurality of longitudinally spaced access cutouts aligned with the access cutouts in said bridging portion.

3. An assembly in accordance with claim 1 in which a pair of elongated substantially vertically disposed insulating strips are provided positioned in said channel adjacent each of the wall portions thereof and retained in juxtaposition thereto, each of said strips carrying at least one of said conductors extending longitudinally thereof, said electrical conductors being accessible from the interior of said channel.

4. A power distribution track assembly comprising an elongated, rigid channel having generally vertically directed side wall portions connected by a transversely extending bridging web portion, the lower terminal edges of said wall portions defining a continuous access slot, a plurality of spaced apart access cutouts formed in said bridging member, said cutouts being elongated in the direction of the longitudinal axis of said channel, a plurality of electrical conductors supported within said channel and extending longitudinally thereof, said conductors being insulated from each other, a first tapping plug assembly positioned in said slot and extending upwardly into the interior of said channel into connected relation to said conductors, and a second tapping plug assembly positioned in at least one of said access cutouts into the interior of said LII channel from above, said second plug assembly including tapping finger portions positioned to be electrically connected to said conductors responsive to rotation of said second plug assembly about an axis normal to the longitudinal axis of said channel.

5. An assembly in accordance with claim 4 wherein said tapping finger portions extend diametrically in opposite directions from said plug assembly and terminate in free portions adapted to contact said conductors, the spacing of said free portions of said fingers being greater than the transverse dimension of said access cutouts but smaller than the longitudinal dimension of said cutouts.

6. An assembly in accordance with claim 5 wherein said channel includes a longitudinally extending locking groove and said second plug member includes a locking finger vertically offset from said tapping fingers, said locking finger being dimensioned to be received snugly in said locking groove in said rotated position of said second plug assembly.

7. An assembly in accordance with claim 4 wherein said channel includes at one side a laterally offset ceiling tile support flange adapted to provide vertical support for ceiling tiles adjacent said side, the assembly including a tile support clip including a vertically directed web arranged to lie adjacent the opposite side of said channel, said web including spaced support tabs overlying the uppermost edge of said channel adjacent said opposite side to support said clip, said web including at the lower edge an outwardly directed tile support shoulder adapted to engage and vertically support tiles disposed adjacent said opposite side of said channel.

8. An assembly in accordance with claim 7 wherein the spaces defined between said support tabs register with said access cutouts in said bridging member.

9. A power distribution track assembly comprising an elongated, rigid channel having generally vertically directed side wall portions and having a transversely extending bridging web portion connecting said wall portions, the lower terminal edges of said wall portions providing a continuous access slot, a plurality of regularly spaced apart access cutouts formed in said bridging member, a plurality of electrical conductors extending longitudinally of said channel and electrically insulated from each other, said conductors being disposed between said slot and said bridging member, first plug means positioned in said slot and extending upwardly into electrical connection with said conductors, second plug means positioned in at least one of said access cutouts and extending downwardly from a position above said channel into electrically connected relation with said conductors.

10. A device in accordance with claim 9 wherein said channel is generally l-l-shaped in vertical section, said bridging member defining the connector branch of said H.

11. A ceiling assembly comprising, in combination, a power distribution track including an elongated, rigid channel having generally vertically directed side wall portions and having a transversely extending bridging web portion connecting said side wall portions, the lower terminal edges of said wall portions defining a slot providing access to the portions interiorly of said channel between said edges and said bridging web, a plurality of longitudinally spaced apart access cutouts formed in said bridging web, a plurality of electrical conductors extending longitudinally of said channel in the area between said edges and said web, a longitudinally extending tile support flange projecting laterally outwardly from one side wall of said channel, a first series of tiles having edge portions abutting against said one side of said channel, the tiles of said first series being supported by said flange, a second series of tiles having edge portions abutting against the opposite side wall of said channel, a plurality of support clip means for supporting said second series of tiles adjacent said opposite side, said clip means including horizontal leg portions engaging said tiles of said second series, vertically directed web portions and support tabs at the edges of said web portions remote from said leg portions, said tabs being disposed in overlapping relation of a portion of said channel members, said tabs being disman means extending downwardly through one of said access cutouts electrically connecting said fixture to said conductors within said channel, said lead wires being disposed above and hidden by the tiles of said ceiling.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2977566 *Jun 14, 1957Mar 28, 1961Lightolier IncLighting assembly
US3504172 *Jun 15, 1967Mar 31, 1970Milton LibermanLighting fixture supporting and wiring channels
US3559146 *Oct 25, 1968Jan 26, 1971Nokia Oy AbCurrent supply rail arrangement and a connection plug
GB1144353A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3910667 *Jul 13, 1973Oct 7, 1975Rotaflex LtdElectrical supply installations
US5154641 *Apr 30, 1991Oct 13, 1992Lucifer Lighting CompanyAdapter to energize a light rail
US6827592Aug 16, 2002Dec 7, 2004Pent Technologies, Inc.Track-type electrical distribution system
Classifications
U.S. Classification439/118
International ClassificationH01R25/14, F21V21/34
Cooperative ClassificationF21V21/34, E04B9/064, H01R25/14
European ClassificationE04B9/06E, F21V21/34, H01R25/14