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 numberUS3686534 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 22, 1972
Filing dateApr 21, 1971
Priority dateApr 21, 1971
Publication numberUS 3686534 A, US 3686534A, US-A-3686534, US3686534 A, US3686534A
InventorsCook Vernon W Jr
Original AssigneeCook Vernon W Jr
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Float controlled circuit breaker means
US 3686534 A
Abstract
A float controlled circuit breaker means operatively associated with an electrical cord capable of conducting electrical current to an electrically operable utilization means wherein the float controlled circuit breaker means is operable for interrupting a flow of current through the cord in response to the liquid level in an area reaching a predetermined elevation. The electrical cord includes circuit means supported therein for conducting an electrical current therethrough and having connector means on one end of the cord whereby the cord can be easily connected to an electrical power supply source. A float control means is affixed to the cord at a predetermined spacing there along and includes a float element operatively associated with a switch means supported in the connector means. The float element being operable for moving the switch means to an inoperable position to interrupt the flow of current in response to the liquid level in an area reaching a predetermined elevation. The switch means includes reset means operatively associated therewith for returning the switch means to an on current conducting position.
Images(1)
Previous page
Next page
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Cook, Jr.

[151 3,686,534 45 Aug. 22, 1972 [s41 FLOAT CONTROLLED CIRCUIT BREAKER MEANS [72] Inventor: Vernon W. Cook, Jr., PO. Box 266,

Pearson, Ga. 31642 [22] Filed: April 21, 1971 [21] -Appl. No.: 136,098

[52] US. Cl. ..317/123, ZOO/61.04, 317/18 R, 317/DlG. 3, 340/244 R [51] Int. Cl. ..HOlh 47/22 [58] Field of Search.3l7/9 R, 9 A, 13 R, 18 R, 18 A, 317/44, 45, 57, DIG. 3, DIG. 9; ZOO/61.04, 61.05, 84 R, 51 R; 340/244 R, 244 A, 244 B [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,185,789 5/1965 Gunther .."200/51 R 2,688,734 9/1954 Welling... ..200/51 R Primary Examiner-J. D. Miller Assistant Examiner-l-larry E. Moose, Jr. Att0mey-Newton, Hopkins & Ormsby 57 ABSTRACT A float controlled circuit breaker means operatively associated with an electrical cord capable of conductcurrent through the cord in response to the liquid level in an area reaching a predeterminedelevation. The electrical cord includes circuit means supported therein for conducting an electrical current therethrough and having connector means on one end of thecord whereby the cord can be easily connected to an electrical power supply source. A float control means is affixed to the cord at a predetermined spacing there along and includes a float element operatively associated with a switch means supported in the connector means. The float element being operable for moving the switch means to an inoperable position to interrupt the flow of current in response to the liquid level in an area reaching a predetermined elevation. The switch means includes reset means operatively associated therewith for returning the switch means to an on current conducting position.

I 1 1 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures Patented Aug. 22, 1972 3,686,534

INVENTOR. Vim/0N W (001: JP. BY

M, iii 6% WW4;

FLOAT CONTROLLED CIRCUIT BREAKER MEANS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION electrical current to electrically operable appliances and/or electrically operable power tools which may be located in an area, such as the basement of a house,

wherein the water level in the basement may unexpectedly rise to an elevation which would render the operation of the appliances and power tools unsafe.

A common usage of most houses having basements is to provide an area for maintaining a number of household appliances such aswashing machines, dryers, and freezers. Further, the basement is often used to provide a workshop for the home owner wherein a number of electrically operable power tools are located therein to be used in performing a wide variety of household tasks.

Still another function of the basement of a house is to provide an area for containing the electrically operable heating unit. One of the major disadvantages of locating electrically operable appliances and power tools within a basement area is the unsafe conditions created around these appliances and power tools due to an unexpected flow of water into the basement.

Thunderstorms and prolonged raining periods often create drainage problems around the surrounding area of a house causing seepage of water into the basement area. The seepage of water is often sufficient to cause the water level in the basement to rise several inches or sometimes even several feet.

The unexpected rising of the water level in a basement would create unsafe conditions for occupants of the house and will further cause considerable damage to the appliances and power tools due to short circuit- 5 and safe for conducting electrical current to an electriing the electrical operable motor means within the appliances and power tools.

A number of attempts have been made to devise circuit breaker means which will interrupt the flow of current to appliances and power tools should a sudden unexpected rise of the water level in the area surrounding these appliances and tools occur. However, the prior art circuit breaker means designed for operation by rising water levels are complex in construction, uneconomical to manufacture and unreliable in perforrnance.

Another problem of the prior art water control circuit breaker means is attributed to their complex nature in that they are not easily installed or used by a home owner. Further, the prior art water controlled circuit breaker means are not easily reset to an operable electrical conducting position once the water level has subsided and it is again safe to operate the appliances and power tools.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The above disadvantages of the prior art have been overcome by the present invention which basically includes an electrical cord having circuit means for conducting a flow of current therethrough to a suitable electrically operable means. The electrical cord includes conventional connector elements for connecting the cord to a suitable power supply means. One feature of the present invention is the provision of a relay operated switch means contained within the cord connector element wherein the switch means is movable between an on current conducting position and an off current interrupting position, with the relay means operatively associated with the switch means for moving the switch to an off current interrupting position. Another feature of the present invention is the provision of a reset means for moving the switch means to an on current conducting position. Operation of the relay means to effect movement of the switch to an off current interrupting position is controlled by a flotation element affixed to the electrical cord at a predetermined distance therealong. The flotation element is housed within a perforated supporting structure. The flotation element is electrically wired to the circuit means and operable to conduct an electrical pulse to the relay means in response to flotation of the float element.

It is therefore a primary object of this invention to provide an electrical cord which is electrically operable cal operable utilization means.

A further object of this invention is to provide an electrical cord having switch means associated therewith for interrupting a flow of current therethrough and wherein the switch means is operated by a flotation element operatively associated therewith.

Another object of this invention is to provide an elec trical cord having circuit breaker means for interrupting a flow of current therethrough and including reset means for resetting the circuit means to an electrically operable current conducting condition.

A still further object of this invention is to provide an electrical cord having switch means operable between an on current conducting position and an off current interrupting position and wherein the switch is moved to an off current interrupting position by an operable relay means.

Still another object of this invention is to provide an electrical cord having operable switch means with a manually operable reset element for moving the switch means to an on current conducting position.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide float means adapted to be affixed to an electrical cord and having a float element operable for conducting an electrical pulse in response to flotation of the float element.

Another object of this invention is to provide a support means for supporting a flotation element in an electrically non-conducting position when affixed to an electrical cord.

A still further object of this invention is to provide a float means operable for interrupting the flow of current in an electrical cord and wherein the float means is operable when oriented in any position.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a by a flotation element which is simple in construction and operation, economical to manufacture and reliable in performance.

Still other objects and advantages of the details-of construction will become apparent upon reading the following description of the illustrative embodiments, with reference to the attached drawings wherein like reference numerals have been used to refer to like parts throughout the drawings, and wherein:

' BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS Referring now to the drawings, the present invention will be described with reference to an electrical cord represented generally by the reference numeral and wherein the electrical cord 10 is provided with a connector means 20 and float means 40. The electrical cord 10 is operable for conducting an electrical current therethrough to an electrically operable utilization means 100 such as a washing machine or power operable tool means. The electrical cord 10 is provided with a conventional three wire construction wherein two of the wires 11, 12 are connected to positive electrical supply means and a third wire 13 connected to a ground source. The electrical cord 10 of the present invention is also provided with a fourth wire 14 for effecting operation of a relay operating switch means which will be described in more detail herein below. Each of the individual wires 11-14 are provided with insulating means 15 for insulating the individual wires with respect to each other and with the group of wires 11-14 being provided with additional insulated means 16 for further insulating these wires from outside conditions and for maintaining the wires 11-14 in an assembled array.

Referring now particularly to FIGS. 1 and 2, the electrical cord 10 is adapted to be connected to an electrical supply source by means of a connector means 20. The connector means 20 is provided with a pair of conventional positive electrical connector elements 21, 22 and a ground connector element 23. The connector elements 21-23 are detailed in design to be easily inserted within a conventional electrical receiving socket for supplying an electrical power source thereto. As shown in FIG. 2, the connector means 20 is provided with a housing structure having an internal cavity area 26. Connector elements 21, 22 are supported within the housing 25 and present switch contacts 27, 27a, respectively, adjacent one surface portion of the internal cavity 26.

Current is conducted from the connector elements 21, 22 by means of a pair of operable switch members 29, 30, respectively. The switch members 29, are pivotally supported within the cavity 26 of the housing 25. Switches 29, 30 are supported for movement from an on current conducting position wherein the switch members 29, 30 are in abutting engagement with the connector element contacts 27a, 27. The switch members 29, 30 include conventional over-center spring biasing means (not shown) for biasing the switch members 29, 30 either in an on position with the switch members 29, 30 in abutting engagement with the connector element contacts 27a, 27 or in an off displaced position relative to the contacts 27a. When the switch members 29, 30 are moved to a displaced position, the flow of current'therethrough will be interrupted. The switch members 29,30 are electrically connected to the two positive supply lines 11, 12, respectively, as shown in FIG. 2.

As shown in FIG. 2, a pair of conventional relay members 31, 32 are supported within the housing 25 and operatively associated with switch members 29, 30 whereby energization of the relay means 31, 32 will effect movement of the switch members 29, 30 to an off current interrupting position. When the switch members 29, 30 are moved to an off current interrupting position by relay members 31, 32 the conventional over-center spring biasing means (not shown) will maintain the switch members 29, 30 in their displaced inoperable position. Relays 31, 32 include leads 33, 34 which are electrically connected to positive electrical supply line 12. Relay members 31, 32 also include a pair of second leads 35, 36 which are electrically connected to pulse line 14. An electrical pulse transmitted through line 14 will effect operation of relays 31, 32 to move the switch members 29, 30 to their displaced off current interrupting position. An electrical pulse is transmitted through line 14 by operation of a float control switch means 40 as will be described in more detail hereinbelow.

As shown in FIG. 2, a reset button 37 is provided for moving the switch members 29, 30 from an off current interrupting position to an on current conducting position. The reset button 37 is reciprocally supported within housing 25 and includes an internal end 39, detailed in position between relay members 31, 32 and operative for contacting the switch members 29, 30 when they are moved to an ofl current interrupting position. Reset button 37 is spring biased outwardly to an inoperable position by means of a compression spring 39 surrounding the reset button 37 and located within the housing 25. The reset button 37 is slidably supported within housing 25 and detailed for having an effective length of depressed movement to return the switch members 29, 30 past and over-center position wherein the spring biasing means (not shown) will continue movement of the switch members 29, 30 to their own current conducting position.

Referring now particularly to FIGS. 1 and 3, operation of the relay members 31, 32 is effected by means of an operable float means 40. The float 40 is detailed in design and adapted to be affixed to the cord 10 at a predetermined location therealong. The float means 40 includes a housing support structure 41 and a flotation element 42. The housing 41 is constructed of a substantially spherical shaped member having a number of Iongitudinally and transversely oriented rib members 42, 43, respectively, detailed in location relative to each other to provide a number of apertures 44 extending therethrough into the internal cavity area of the housing member 41. The internal surface of the rib members 42, 43 are provided with a conductor material 45 capable of conducting an electrical current therethrough.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, the housing 41 is provided with a pair of socket members 46, 47. Socket members 46, 47 are detailed for receiving and supporting the electrical cord 10.

As shown in FIG. 3, the float means 40 is provided with a flotation element 42 supported within the internal cavity area of housing 41. The float element 42 is supported within housing 41 by a pair of tension springs 51, 52. Each of the tension springs 51, 52 are connected at one end to eyelets 53, 54 which are fixed to the float element 42. Opposite ends of springs 51, 52 are connected to internal projections 55, 56, respectively, provided within an internal area of the housing sockets 46, 47. The springs 51, 52 are detailed for suspending float element 42 in a spring biased relationship substantially concentrically within housing 41. Float element 42 is detailed in size such that when the float element is suspended concentrically within housing 41 a space will be provided between float element 42 and the internal surface 45 of housing 41.

As shown in FIG. 3, the float element 42 is provided with a conducting material 58. Conducting material 58 is detailed for permitting an electrical current to be conducted therethrough. The conducting material 58 on float 42 is connected by means of a lead line 59 to the pulse line 14. As shown in FIG. 3 the internal conducting surface 45 of housing41 is electrically connected by a lead line 60 to the electrical cord ground line 13. Flotation element 42 is constructed of a conventional material which will effectively float in a liquid medium such as water. will be floated within housing 41 by liquid medium passing through openings 44 into the internal cavity of housing 41. The springs 51,52 are also effective for returning the float to a concentrically supported position after the liquid floating medium has been removed from within the cavity area of housing 41.

OPERATION In utilizing the electrical cord of the present invention, the connector means 20 is placed in an operable position relative to a supply receptacle by inserting the connector elements 21, 22, 23 within conventional complementary receiving sockets provided on the supply receptacle. With the connector means 20 properly associated with an electrical supply receptacle, depression of the reset button 37 will ensure that the switch members 29, 30 are moved to their on current conducting position. With the switch members 29, 30 in their on current conducting positions, a positive current will be conducted from the connector elements 21, 22 through switches 29, 30 and along supply lines 11, 12 to the electrically operable utilization means 100.

In operation of the safety electrical cord 10, the float means 40 is positioned at the lowest possible elevation relative to the electrical utilization means 100 and the connector means 20 whereby a rise of the water level adjacent to the utilization means 100 and connector means 20 will first reach the float means 40. Should the water surrounding the connector means 20 and utilization means 100 rise, the water will flow through openings 44 into the internal cavity of housing 41. Movement of water into the internal cavity of housing 41 will effect a flotation of float element 42. Flotation of float element 42 will displace the float conductor surface 58 a sufficient distance to contact the housing internal conducting surface 45 to complete the circuit from the positive supply line 12 to the relay means 31, 32 and to the ground line 13. With the surface 58 of flotation element 42 in abutting contact with internal surface 45 of the housing 41, a current will be transmitted from the positive supply line 12 along lead lines 33, 34 to the relay members 31, 32 and will be further transmitted along lead lines 35, 36 to the pulse line 14. A flow of current along pulse line 14 will be transmitted along lead line 59 to the conducting surface 58 of flotation element 42. The current transmitted to the surface 58 of flotation element 42 will be transmitted through the conductor surface 45 along lead lines to the ground line 13.

An electrical pulse transmitted by flotation of float element 42 will energize relays 31, 32 as indicated above causing the switch members 29, 30 to be displaced to an over-center off current interrupting position. With the switch members 29, 30 moved to an over-center current interrupting position, the overcenter spring biasing means (not shown) will hold the switch members 29, 30 in their displaced 011' current interrupting position.

After the switch members 29, 30 have been moved to their displaced off current interrupting position by relays 31, 32 the current will no longer be transmitted to the positive supply line 11, 12. Thus, the flow of current to the electrical utilization means will be interrupted thereby preventing damage to the electrical utilization means and rendering the areas therearound safe. After the water level surrounding the electrical utilization means 100, float means 40 and connector means 20 has been reduced to a safe operating level, the current to the electrical utilization means 100 can be again rendered operable by merely pressing the reset button 37. Depression of reset button 37 will move end portion 38 into contact with the switch members 29, 30. A continued movement of end portion 38 will advance the switch members 29, 30 past the overcenter position wherein the over-center spring biasing means will continue movement of the switch members 29, 30 until they come into abutting engagement with conductor contacts 270, 27 thereby again completing the circuit within the electrical cord 10.

The electrical cord 10 connector means 20 and float means 40 are provided with conventional insulated material to permit a safe utilization thereof by an operator. Even though the relay members 31, 32 have been illustrated as being electrically connected between a positive supply line 12 and the flotation element 42, it is obvious that the relay members 31, 32 could be electrically connected between the ground line 13 and flotation element 42 with the internal surface 45 of housing 41. being electrically connected to the positive-supply line 12.

The above described configuration of the float means 40 is detailed to permit operation of the relay means 31, 32 due to flotation of float element 42 in any position of orientation of the float means 40. Movement of float element 42 along any radial line extending from the center of housing 41 will effect a contact between the conducting surface 58 of float element 42 and conducting surface 45 of housing 41. The buoyancy of flotation element 42 is detailed in design to overcome the tension in springs 51, 52. However, the weight of the float element 42 is detailed such that tension springs 51, 52 will maintain the float element 42 in a concentric position relative to housing 41, when not induced to flotation. With the float element 42 supported in a concentric position within housing 41, the conducting surface 58 thereof will be displaced relative to the conducting surface 45 of the housing 41.

It now becomes apparent that the above described illustrative embodiments of the safety electrical cord 10 is capable of obtaining the above stated objects and advantages. It is obvious that those skilled in the art may make modifications in the details of construction without departing from the spirit of the invention which is to be limited only by the scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. A float control circuit breaker means for interrupting a flow of current in response to the liquid level in an area reaching a predetermined elevation comprising, in combination:

a. an electrical circuit capable of conducting an electrical current therethrough: b. switch means electrically associated with said electrical circuit, said switch means detailed to be operable between an on-current conducting position and an off-current interrupting position, and wherein relay means is operatively associated with said switch means for effecting movement of said switch means to said off position; float control means operatively associated with said switch means for conducting an electrical pulse through said relay means in response to flotation of said float means whereby operation of said relay means will effect movement of said switch means to said off position; and

reset means operatively associated with said switch means for effecting movement of said switch means from said off position to said on position.

2. A float controlled circuit breaker means as described in claim 1 further characterized in that said switch means includes spring means operatively associated therewith for spring biasing said switch means to said on position and to said off position, said relay means being operatively associated with said switch means to overcome said spring biasing means biasing said switch means to said on position and to move said switch means to said off position, and wherein said reset means is detailed for overcoming said spring biasing force biasing said switch means in said off position to effect movement of said switch means to said on position.

3. A float controlled circuit breaker means as described in claim 1 further characterized in that said float control means includes a float element suspended by a pair of tension spring means and wherein said float control element is capable of being moved to a circuit interrupting position in response to a flotation of said float element.

4. A float controlled circuit breaker means as described in claim 3 further characterized in that said float element is suspended in an inoperable position by said spring tension means, said float element detailed to conduct an electrical pulse and wherein said float element is operable to conduct an electrical pulse to said relay means in response to flotation of said float element.

5. A float controlled circuit breaker means as described in claim 4 further characterized in that said float element is provided with an electrical conducting surface means, said float element being supported by said spring tension means within a housing element,

said housing element including an internal surface area having electrical conducting means thereon, whereby flotation of said float element will effect movement of said float element conducting surface into contact with said housing conducting surface to conduct an electrical pulse to said relay means, and wherein said housing includes a number of perforations formed therein to allow liquid to enter said housing to effect flotation of said float element.

6. An electrical cord means for use in conducting current to an electrically operable means comprising, in combination:

a. an electrical circuit means supported in said cord for conducting an electrical current therethrough; b. connector means fixed to one end of said cord,

' said connector means including a number of connector elements capable of electrically connecting said cord to an electrical power supply means, and wherein said connector means includes switch means detailed to be operable between an on-current conducting and an off-current interrupting position and wherein relay means is operatively associated with said switch means for effecting movement of said switch means to said off position;

. float control means fixed to said cord in axially spaced relationship with said connector means, said float control means being operatively associated with said switch means for conducting an electrical pulse through said relay means in response to flotation of said float means, whereby operation of said relay means will effect movement of said switch means to said off position; and

d. reset means operatively associated with said switch means for effecting movement of said switch means from said off position to said on position.

7. An electrical cord means as described in claim 6 further characterized in that said switch means includes means operatively associated therewith for biasing said switch means to said on position and to said off position, said relay means operatively associated with said switch means and operable to overcome said means biasing said switch means to said on position and operable to move said switch means to said off position, and wherein said reset means is detailed for overcoming said means biasing said switch means in said off position and operable to effect movement of said switch means to said on position.

8. An electrical cord means as described in claim 7 further characterized in that said float control means includes a float element and a pair of tension spring means with said float element suspended by said tension springmeans and wherein said float control .ele-

' ment is capable of being moved to a circuit interrupting position in response to a flotation of said float element.

9. An electrical cord means as described in claim 8 further characterized in that said float element is suspended in an inoperable position by said spring tension means, said float element detailed to conduct an electrical pulse and wherein said float element is operable to conduct said electrical pulse to said relay means in response to flotation of said float element.

10. An electrical cord means asdescribed in claim 9 further characterized in that said float element is provided with an electrical conducting surface means, a housing means operatively associated with said electrical cord, said float element being supported by said spring tension means within said housing means, said housing means including an internal surface area having electrical conducting means thereon, with flotation of said float element operable to effect movement of said float element conducting surface into contact with said housing conducting surface and operable to conduct an electrical pulse to said relay means, and

wherein said housing includes a number of perforations formed therein to allow liquid to enter said housing to effect flotation of said float element.

11. A float control circuit breaker means for interrupting a flow of current in response to'the liquid level in an area reaching a predetermined elevation comprising, in combination: r

a. an electrical circuit capable of conducting an electrical current therethrough:

b. means electrically associated with said electrical circuit for interrupting current flow therethrough float control means operatively associated with said electrical circuit for effecting operation of said circuit interrupting means in response to flotation of said float means and wherein said float control means includes a spherical shaped float element having a conducting surface, suspended by a pair of tension spring means in a spherical shaped housing having a conducting surface, with said circuit interrupting means operable in response to flotation of said float element into contact with said housing.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2688734 *Jun 12, 1950Sep 7, 1954Welling Conrad GElectrically releasable electric connector
US3185789 *Sep 26, 1962May 25, 1965Lawrence Gunther PhilipFluid overflow switch apparatus
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3873951 *Oct 29, 1973Mar 25, 1975Blake William SElectrical safety device
US4032733 *Oct 6, 1975Jun 28, 1977Meisenheimer Jr Daniel ThomasOmnidirectional inertia switch
US4039789 *Sep 8, 1975Aug 2, 1977Daiko Electronics Co., Ltd.Theft protection sensor switch
US5102345 *Jun 10, 1991Apr 7, 1992University Of ManitobaSafety device for electrical cord sockets
Classifications
U.S. Classification361/178, 361/62, 200/61.4, 200/61.48, 340/623, 200/61.51
International ClassificationH01R13/70, H01H35/18, H01R13/713
Cooperative ClassificationH01R13/713, H01H35/18
European ClassificationH01R13/713, H01H35/18