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Publication numberUS3742189 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 26, 1973
Filing dateSep 20, 1971
Priority dateSep 20, 1971
Also published asDE2245861A1
Publication numberUS 3742189 A, US 3742189A, US-A-3742189, US3742189 A, US3742189A
InventorsR Conroy, B Hirsch, R Redel
Original AssigneeMeyer F Of California
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Simulated fireplace assembly
US 3742189 A
Abstract
A simulated fireplace assembly includes a housing having a fan located therein whose air flow axis is tilted upwardly, and a heating means. Air deflecting baffle plates are provided to divert the air stream from the fan into two streams, one generally vertical and the other horizontal; the horizontal stream passes the heating means and thence through an air-permeable front panel of the housing to heat the surrounding space, while the vertical air stream exists through an air-permeable top panel of the housing to activate portions of a flame simulator associated with an ornamental display of at least one log supported on the top of the housing.
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United States Patent [191 Conroy et al.

[111 3,742,189 June 26, 1973 SIMULATED FIREPLACE ASSEMBLY [75] Inventors: Robert Conroy, San Francisco;

Burton Hirsch, San Mateo; Ray Redel, Albany, all of Calif.

[73] Assignee: Fred Meyer of California,

Emeryville, Calif.

[22] Filed: Sept. 20, 1971 [21] App]. No.: 181,745

[52] U.S. Cl 219/367, D23/95, lo/106.54, 126/121, 219/344, 219/368, 219/370 [51] Int. Cl. 1105b U00, 6091' 13/34, F24h 3/04 [58] Field of Search 219/343, 344, 339, 219/342, 365-371, 377, 220; 40/106.52,

3/1926 Great Britain 40/106.54

Great Britain 219/369 Primary ExaminerA. Bartis Attorney-Manfred M. Warren, Herbert Rubin et a1.

[ ABSTRACT A simulated fireplace assembly includes a housing having a fan located therein whose air flow axis is tilted upwardly, and a heating means. Air deflecting baffle plates are provided to divert the air stream from the fan into two streams, one generally vertical and the other horizontal; the horizontal stream passes the heating means and thence through an air-permeable front panel of the housing to heat the surrounding space, while the vertical air stream exists through an airpermeable top panel of the housing to activate portions of a flame simulator associated with an ornamental display of at least one log supported on the top of the housing.

25 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures PAIENIEnwnzs ms 3.742.! 89

sum 2 or 2 68 H 3 mvsmom ROBERT CONROY I BURTON HIRSCH BY RAY REDEL SIMULATED FIREPLACE ASSEMBLY This invention relates to simulated fireplace assemblies, and more particularly to such an assembly which provides heat to the surrounding air space and at the same time creates a visual illusion of actual fire in and around the artificial logs displayed as part of the assembly.

Simulated or artificial fireplace assemblies are known in the industry. Such assemblies usually employ an electric heater and sometimes a fan blower to more efficiently dispense the hot air from heater elements to the surrounding room space. Often such fireplace assemblies are wall mounted, although they may be free standing; and artificial or imitation fire logs are included in the arrangement to give the visual illusion or appearance of an actual fireplace. Sometimes varied colored lights are added to further enhance the fire-like appearance of the entire arrangement. Indeed such cosmetic effects are believed to be as important, if not more important, than the heating capability of the unit itself. In fact, it is generally the case that simulated fireplace assemblies are utilized in rooms other than main rooms of a residence; for example, bedroom, dinette, den, or the like. Such artificial fireplace assemblies are also used in commercial establishments to enhance and give a pleasant atmosphere.

With most prior art simulated fireplace assemblies with which we are familiar, the general appearance and cosmetic aspect of the devices is disappointing. While imitation logs and some colored lights, even of the flickering type, are employed, the illusion that an actual fire is present in the assembly is almost always totally lacking.

Thus it is an object of the present invention to provide a simulated fireplace assembly which also gives the illusion of having an actual fire amongst the artificial logs which form a part of the arrangement.

It is a feature and an advantage of this invention that its realistic fireplace illusion creates a superior interior design for a simulated fireplace assembly.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a simulated fireplace assembly having selective lighting and flame creating illusions, thereby to establish a more convincing and interesting mood in rooms adorned by our device.

It is also an important object of our invention to provide the aforementioned ilusion of an actual fire by means of air currents playing upon certain reflective materials wherein such air currents are developed by the same fan source used .to blow warm air from the heating assembly into the space being heated. By such an arrangement our invention achieves significant economies in the fabrication of units which it embraces.

Further objects, features and advantages will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art upon a reading of the specification which follows and with reference to the FIGURES of the drawings which accompany this specification.

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 is a perspective blow-up" of the entire simulated fireplace assembly embracing our invention;

FIG. 2 is a side viw of an assembly utilizing our invention wherein the lower portion is shown as a partial section at about the transverse midplane, in order to more clearly reveal certain internal details; and

FIG. 3 is an electrical schematic diagram showing one wiring arrangement that may be utilized in a simulated fireplace embracing our invention.

The invention is best understood by turning first to the blow-up perspective of FIG. 1. There we illustrate'a simulated fireplace assembly at bracketed portion 12 including the ornamental display of artificial logs 14, 16 and 18 carried by grate assembly 20 having legs 21 which in turn rest upon upper exterior section 24 of housing assembly 22. Upper exterior section 24 is of composite fabrication comprising cover 25a and an artificial hearth-like covering 25b; cover 25a is secured by sheet metal screws 25c to housing side flanges 25a. The ornamental hearth covering 25b may merely slip over cover 25a and remain frictionally engaged therewith.

The rear section of assembly 20 is secured by conventional fasteners 21a to brackets 21b mounted at the outer face of open mesh housing panel 36. Housing assembly 22 primarily forms the interior fan chamber 26 which houses therein fan assembly 28 and the support housing for heating means 30. During normal operation of the simulated fireplace assembly embracing our invention, and as will be explained in somewhat greater detail hereinafter in connection with other aspects of our invention, fan assembly 28 upon being appropriately installed and energized, causes air to be circulated from the fan chamber through and past the electrical heating coils of assembly 30, and thence into the ambient spaces surrounding the unit to provide warmth in 'a known manner associated with electrical heaterblower units.

It is a feature and advantage of the present invention, however, that not only do we provide conventional blower heating as indicated above; but our invention also achieves a relatively realistic illusion of an actual fire-like phenomena in and amongst the artificial logs, thus enhancing the appearance while creating a convincing and interesting mood within a room adorned by our device.

Generally, the foregoing effect is achieved by means of baffle assembly 32 acting in cooperation with fan assembly 28, the use of open mesh, i.e., air-permeable, panel sections 34, 36 and ornamentation strips 38 which, in the embodiment shown, comprise thin and flexible reflective material, such as cellophane or the like, located in the air space between logs 18 and 16; and logs l6 and 14. More specifically, strips 38 are secured at their ends to and held in position by wire brackets 40, 42, which in turn are conventionally attached to grate end bars 44, 46 by means of opposing nut sets 40a, 42a.

Baffle assembly 32 comprises a shield of crosssectional shape and is mounted within housing 22 between heater assembly 30 and upper exterior section 24. Specifically, in the embodiment shown, baffle 32 comprises a first planar section 48 transverse to the interior cavity of housing 22, i.e., co-extensive with the area bounded by heater assembly 30, inner side walls 56a and 56b of the housing, and upper exterior section 24; a second planar section 50 which overlays heater assembly 30; and a third planar section 52 which is in generally normal alignment with the air-permeable front panel 34.

Upon energization of the unit, i.e., actuation of fan assembly 28 and heater coils 30a, an air stream is caused to flow as indicated by arrows 54a and 54b (FIG. 2). That is the portion of the air stream represented by arrows 54a is deflected by baffle assembly 32 so as to pass through and contact heater coils 30a, become warmed thereby, and thence pass outwardly through air-permeable panel 34 into the air space thereabout to be heated.

At the same time, another portion of the air stream caused to move by fan assembly 28 and represented by arrows 54b occurs above and away from the deflective influence of baffle assembly 32. Such portion of the air stream travels upwardly through air-permeable panels 36 located just below the assembly of grate assmbly 20, thereupon causing air currents to occur in and around artificial logs 14, i6, and 18. At the same time, these air currents cause ornamentation strips 38 to dance and play in the air, thus reflecting any light therefrom to resemble an actual fireplace flame flicker. In this manner, we achieve a relatively realistic illusion of an actual fire-like phenomenon in and amongst the artificial logs, thus enhancing the appearance of the entire device embracing our invention, while creating the convincing and interesting mood within a room adorned by our invention, as first we indicated above.

A particularly beneficial feature of our invention is that the foregoing combined function of blowing heated air and wafting cellophane strips 38 to create an illusion of flame flickers is achieved by a single fan assembly 28. In this way, significant economies in the overall preparation and fabrication of devices embracing our invention are achieved. More specifically we preferably achieve this salutary feature by the arrangement wherein fan chamber 26 is defined in part by a generally vertical wall portion 56 adjoining upper exterior section 24. Further,wall portion 56 having lip 56a and cover panel a having vertical flange 25e are assembled to form an overlapped corner edge 58 (FIG. 2). Additionally, baffle panel 48 is fabricated to form a transverse section which slopes upwardly from heater assembly with upper edge 60 thereof in common contact, or very nearly so, with the common edge of cover panel 25a and flange 25e along corner edge 58. In conjunction with the foregoing, fan assembly 28, which in the embodiment shown comprises electric motor and housing case and fan propeller 28b is mounted within fan chamber 26 so that the rotational axis 62 of the fan propeller substantially lies in the plane which bisects interior angle 64 defined by plane of wall portion 56 and baffle panel 48. Thus, the air stream established by rotation of fan 28b is divided into the two streams indicated, respectively, by arrows 54a and 54b; portion 54a being deflected by baffle assembly 32 past heater assembly 30, as explained hereinabove, and portion 54b upwardly through airpermeable panel 36 thence to waft cellophane strips 38. Thus, the beneficial and efficient dual function of fan assembly 28 is achieved.

We have found, after considerable experimentation, that a very satisfactory arrangement in accordance with the foregoing description is to provide an interior angle 64 of about 214. That is motor assembly 28 is mounted so that the transverse plane thereof is inclined at angle 66 of about 17 from the vertical. Using such values, and with the fan rotational axis very nearly directed 'through corner edge 58 we have achieved excellent blower and flame illusion results. In this connection it should be noted that motor assembly 28 may be mounted in any conventional manner. Such techniques are well known to those of ordinary skill in the art and are not shown in the accompanying drawing nor described herein.

It is also to be noted that although we have described a particular arrangement of baffle plate 48 with respect to its slope angle from heater assembly 30, other arrangements at or near such angle will function in accordance with the present invention. Similarly, the particular slope of the fan assembly axis may be varied somewhat, although we prefer the results achieved when the transverse plane angle 66 is at or about 17.

The general illusion of flame flicker and presence described hereinabove with respect to cellophane strips 38 may be further enhanced by the use of independent light sources therefore, especially when such sources are of various colors. This may be achieved in accordance with the present invention by the use of light bulbs 68 operatively mounted in appropriately wired receptacles 68a (FIG. 2). In addition, cellophane strips 38 may be cut to have a scallop-like shape resembling the flame elements of an actual fire. Thereupon when the strips are made to quiver by the air currents from fan assembly 28, the combination of reflected color lighting from sources 68 and moving strips 38 coact to produce an even more convincing illusion of an actual fireplace fire. The entire effect is even more accentuated when the room in which our invention is placed is otherwise darkened.

Electrical fan and heater assemblies are preferred by us in the practice of the present invention, although it is possible to use other forms of motive and heating power, particularly for the fan motor. One such electrical arrangement that we have found satisfactory is shown at FIG. 3. Main power, such as ordinary 110 VAC. current, is introduced at a main plug 70 and one conductor thereofis connected to one terminal ofa single pole switch 72 located at the side of housing 22 (FIG. 1). The other conductor of the main power line is connected to one terminal of electric motor 28a; one terminal of an auxiliary power plug 74 to be used to energize light sources 68; and one terminal of heater coil elements 30a, the entire bank of elements being connected in parallel. The other terminal of the aforementioned single pole switch 72 is connected to one terminal of thermostat 76; the second terminal of motor 28a; and the second terminal of receptacle 74. Thermostat 76 in turn is connected in series with thermodisc 78 and thence to the second terminal of the parallel heater elements 39 11. Thus the heater elements may be controlled for temperature by manual adjustment and a pre-determined temperature safety cut-off setting.

Various details of construction of our invention may be varied and yet be within the scope of the invention as exemplified by the appended claims. For example, our unit may be adopted for either wall or corner mounting, it being appreciated that the basic unit embracing our invention as shown in the accompanying drawings is itself adapted for mounting within a larger receptacle which in turn is then mounted to the wall of a room; the corner thereof, or indeed may be free standing.

In addition, to further enhance the illusion of an actual fireplace, an artificial coal bed 80 may be added and placed atop hearth cover 25b beneath the realistic grate assembly 20.

Various other relatively minor details have been shown in one manner and thus described, although other practices may be used. For example we illustrate baffle assembly 32 as fabricated of two sheet metal sections screwed together, although a single piece of metal properly formed could be used. Also, resister-heater elements 30a are shown mounted in one conventional manner known to those skilled in the art and have not further described nor specified herein, although other means and techniques could be used therefore.

Similarly, artificial logs 14, 16 and 18 are fabricated of a particularly light plastic material and in the embodiment shown are hollowed out, thus forming a convenient and useful place to mount light sources 68. Other materials could be used even actual logs and the light sources placed in other locations hidden from direct view by occupants where our elegant and useful invention adorns the premises.

We claim:

1. In a simulated fireplace assembly having an ornamental display of fuel material, heat exchange means for conditioning an air stream, and fan means to cause an air stream to be conditioned thereby and actuate said ornamental display, the improvement comprising:

housing means supporting said ornamental display on an upper exterior portion thereof and providing a fan chamber interiorly thereof, said housing means including an air-permeable front portion forwardly of said fan chamber and an air-permeable top portion proximate said ornamental display;

means mounting said fan means within said fan chamber to direct an air stream therefrom at an upwardly inclined angle from the horizontal;

deflector means mounted within said housing means and shaped to provide generally horizontal and vertical airdeflector surfaces forwardly of said fan means to cause an upwardly inclined air stream therefrom to be split into a generally vertical component directed through said air-permeable top portion and a horizontal component directed through said air-permeable front portion;

means mounting said heat exchange means within said housing means between said fan means and said air-permeable front portion; and

visual burning effect means associated with said ornamental display and activated by the air stream flowing from said air-permeable top portion for providing air-actuated visual effects emanating from said fuel material.

2. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim I and wherein further said housing has side walls and said deflector means comprises:

a shield having a first generally inclined planar section transverse to the side walls of said housing and coextensive with the area bounded by said heat exchange means, the inner side wall surfaces of said housing, and said upper exterior section of said housing means; and

a second generally horizontal planar section overlying said heat exchange means.

3. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 2 and wherein further said housing means carries an additional vertical air deflector surface forwardly of said fan means, said additional deflector located so that the upper edge of said first generally inclined planar section is located proximate the lower edge of the additional deflector surface, and said first planar section is positioned so that said section and surface define an exterior angle therebetween of about 214.

4. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 1 and wherein further said fan means comprises a fan with the rotational axis thereof inclined upwardly from the horizontal by about 17.

5. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 1 and wherein further said visual burning effect means is characterized as a flame simulator means and comprises at least one strip of thin and flexible reflective material, and means mounting said strip in a generally vertical orientation with respect to said fuel material display, said strip fabricated in a manner to undulate when an airstream is caused to flow through said air-permeable top portion past said fuel material.

6. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 5 and wherein said fuel material comprises at least one log member, and means mounting said log member proximate said air-permeable top portion.

7. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 5 and wherein said fuel material comprises at least two log members, and wherein further said flame simulator means comprises at least as many strips of thin and flexible reflective material as one less than the number of said log members, and means for mounting each of said strips in a generally vertical orientation adjacent said log members.

8. The assembly and combination therewith in accordance with claim 7 and wherein further a grate member shaped to attachably carry said log members thereon.

9. The assembly and combination therewith in accordance with claim 8 and wherein further at least one of said log members is shaped to form a hollow portion therebehind, and wherein said flame simulator means comprises at least one illumination source and means for operatively mounting such source in proximity to each of said strips of reflective material, whereby when each strip is caused to undulate under the influence of air currents each said strip will variously and randomly reflect the illumination of said source thereof and thus provide visual effects simulating actual flames within said fireplace assembly.

10. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 5 and wherein further said flame simulator means comprises at least one illumination source and means for operatively mounting such source in proximity to each of saidstrips of reflective material, whereby when each strip is caused to undulate under the influence of air currents each said strip will variously and randomly reflect the illumination of said source thereof and thus provide visual effects simulating actual flames within said fireplace assembly.

11. The assembly and combination therewith in accordance with claim 5 and wherein further said heat exchange means comprises an electric heater, and said means mounting said heat exchange means comprises means for mounting said electric heater and means for electrically connecting the latter to source of electrical energy therefor.

' 12. The assembly and combination therewith in accordance with claim 1 and wherein further said heat .ex-

change means comprises an electric heater, and said means for mounting said electric heater and means for electrically connecting the latter to source of electrical energy therefor.

13. The assembly and combination therewith in accordance with claim 1 and wherein further a simulated coal bed display located proximate said ornamental display of fuel material.

14. In a simulated fireplace assembly having an ornamental display of fuel material, heat exchange means for conditioning an air stream, and fan means to cause an air stream to be conditioned thereby and actuate said ornamental display, the improvement comprising:

housing means supporting said ornamental display on an upper exterior portion thereof and providing a fan chamber interiorly thereof, said housing means including an air-permeable front portion forwardly of said fan chamber and an air-permeable top portion proximate said ornamental display;

means mounting said fan means within said fan chamber to direct an air stream therefrom at an upwardly inclined angle from the horizontal,

said housing means shaped to provide generally horizontal and vertical air deflector surfaces forwardly of said fan means to cause an upwardly inclined air stream therefrom to be split into a generally vertical component directed through said air-permeable top portion and a horizontal component directed through said air-permeable front portion;

means mounting said heat exchange means within said housing means between said fan means and said air-permeable front portion; and

visual burning effect means associated with said ornamental display andactivated by the air stream flowing from said air-permeable top portion for providing air-actuated visual effects emanating from said fuel material.

15. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 14 and wherein further said fan means comprises a fan with the rotational axis thereof inclined upwardly from the horizontal by about 17.

16. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 14 and wherein further said visual burning effect means is characterized as a flame simulator means and comprises at least one strip of thin and flexible reflective material, and means mounting said strip in a generally vertical orientation with respect to said fuel material display, said strip fabricated in a manner to undulate when an airstream is caused to flow through said air-permeable top portion past said fuel material.

17. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 16 and wherein said fuel material comprises at least one log member, and means mounting said log member proximate said air-permeable top portion.

18. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 16 and wherein said fuel material comprises at least two log members, and wherein further said flame simulator means comprises at least as many strips of thin and flexible reflective material as one less than the number of said log members, and means for mounting each of said strips in a generally vertical orientation adjacent said log members.

19. The assembly and combination therewith as de fined in claim 18 and wherein further a grate member shaped to attachably carry said log members thereon.

20. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 14 and wherein further at least one of said log members is shaped to form a hollow portion therebehind, and wherein said flame simulator means comprises at least one illumination source and means for operatively mounting such source in proximity to each of said strips of reflective material, whereby when each strip is caused to undulate under the influence of air currents each said strip will variously and randomly reflect the illumination of said source thereof and thus provide visual effects simulating actual flames within said fireplace assembly.

21. The assembly and combination therewith a defined in claim 16 and wherein further said flame simulator means comprises at least one illumination source and means for operatively mounting such source in proximity to each of said strips of reflective material, whereby when each strip is caused to undulate under the influence of air currents each said strip will variously and randomly reflect the illumination of said source thereof and thus provide visual effects simulating actual flames within said fireplace assembly.

22. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 16 and wherein further said heat exchange means comprises an electric heater, and said means mounting said heat exchange means comprises means for mounting said electric heater and means for electrically connecting the latter to source of electrical energy therefor.

23. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 14 and wherein further said heat exchange means comprises an electric heater, and said means for mounting said electric heater and means for electrically connecting the latter to source of electrical energy therefor.

24. The assembly and combination therewith as defined in claim 20 and wherein further a simulated coal bed display located proximate said ornamental display of fuel material. v

25. The assembly and'combination therewith as defined in claim 14 and wherein further said generally horizontal air deflector surfaceincludes a downwardly inclined portion.

L k l UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3 ,742 189 Dated June 26 1973 Inventor(s) Robert Conroy, Burton Hirsch, Ray Redel It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

At Column 3, line 12, delete the word "assembly" where it appears first and substitute therefor the word -vicinity.

At Column 4, line 50, delete reference numerals "39a" and substitute therefor the numerals 30a.

At Claim 20, line 2, delete "claim 14" and insert -claim l9-.

At Claim 24, line 2, delete "claim 20" and insert claim l4.

Signed and sealed this 17th day of September 19 74.

(SEAL) Attest:

McCOY M. GIBSON JR. A C. MARSHALL DANN Attesting Officer Commissioner of Patents FORM PC3-1050 (10-69) USCOMM-DC 60376-P69 us GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1969 o3s6-334 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 3I742!l89 D t d June 26., 1973 I Robert Conroy; Burton Hirsch; Ray Redel Assigned to Fred Meyer of California It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

At Column 2, line .54, the symbol 'T is inserted between "of" and "cross-" Signed and sealed this 26th day of November 1974.

'(SEAL) Attest:

McCOY M. GIBSON JR. I C. MARSHALL DANN Attesting Officer Commissioner of Patents FoRM PO-1050 (10-69) uscoMM-Dc 60376-F'69 U.$. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: I969 0-366-334

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Classifications
U.S. Classification392/348, 40/428, 126/521, 392/368, D23/343
International ClassificationF24H3/04, F24C7/00
Cooperative ClassificationF24H3/0411, F24C7/004
European ClassificationF24C7/00A2, F24H3/04B2