|Publication number||USRE41628 E1|
|Application number||US 11/600,966|
|Publication date||Sep 7, 2010|
|Filing date||Nov 16, 2006|
|Priority date||Jun 20, 2001|
|Also published as||CA2505668A1, CA2505668C, EP1716618A1, US6819080, US20030146735, WO2005048393A1|
|Publication number||11600966, 600966, US RE41628 E1, US RE41628E1, US-E1-RE41628, USRE41628 E1, USRE41628E1|
|Inventors||Stefane E. Barbeau, Duane B. Smith, Donald E. Drumm|
|Original Assignee||Helen Of Troy Limited|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (111), Referenced by (2), Classifications (25), Legal Events (2)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention is a continuation-in-part of allowed U.S. utility patent application Ser. No. 09/885,848 filed Jun. 20, 2001 of the same inventive entity as herein, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,479,965, incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention is drawn to the field of illumination, and more particularly, to a novel rechargeable lamp system.
Candles may be moved and placed to provide illumination and/or ambience. While their utilitarian and aesthetic advantages are well-known, candles suffer from an undesirable self-consumption, needing to be replaced when used-up; produce smoke especially when snuffed, which may foul the air; require vigilant attendance to mitigate an ever-present fire hazard; are susceptible to being extinguished by gusts of air when used outdoors or moved around; and may give rise to undesirable wax build-up, which in many instances needs removed from candle support members or underlying structures.
There is thus a need to provide a rechargeable lamp system that enjoys the many utilitarian and aesthetic advantages of candles but is not subject to their disadvantages.
It is accordingly a general object of the present invention to disclose a rechargeable lamp system that provides candle-like lighting for indoor or outdoor use that avoids the problems associated with candles.
In accordance therewith, the autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of the present invention includes a recharging platter adapted to receive a set of luminaries including a first circuit coupled to each luminary of said set of luminaries received thereon operative in response to supplied AC power to provide a charge signal to each luminary of said set of luminaries received thereon; and a set of luminaries each having a light emitting element connected to a rechargeable battery pack via a second circuit operative in one mode to charge said rechargeable battery pack in response to said charge signal when each luminary of said set of luminaries is received on said recharging platter and operative in another mode to activate said light emitting element in response to the absence of said signal, whereby, each said luminary lights if removed from said recharging platter and lights if no AC power is supplied to said recharging platter when received therein.
In the presently preferred embodiments, the set of luminaries includes one or more luminaries each of which is inductively coupled to the first circuit of the recharging platter. The inductive coupling provides automatic, hands-free recharging of the rechargeable battery pack of a luminary upon its receipt by the recharging platter, and provides automatic, hands-free actuation of a luminary when it is removed therefrom.
In the presently preferred embodiments, each luminary of the set of luminaries is self-standing and includes a diffusor that may be shaped to resemble a candle releasably mounted to a base member supporting said light emitting element therewithin.
In further accordance therewith, the autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of the present invention includes a wall mountable charging base adapted to support a set of luminaries including a first circuit coupled to each luminary of said set of luminaries supported thereon operative in response to supplied AC power to provide a charge signal to each luminary of said set of luminaries supported thereon; and a set of luminaries each having a light emitting element connected to a rechargeable battery pack via a second circuit operative in one mode to charge said rechargeable battery pack in response to said charge signal when each luminary of said set of luminaries is supported thereon and operative in another mode to activate said light emitting element in response to the absence of said signal, whereby, each said luminary lights if removed from said wall mountable charging base and lights if no AC power is supplied to said wall mountable charging base when supported thereon.
In the presently preferred embodiments, the wall mountable charging base may be plugged directly into an AC wall outlet and/or mounted adjacent an AC wall outlet by any suitable mounting hardware.
In further accordance therewith, the autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of the present invention includes a charging base adapted to support a set of luminaries including a first circuit coupled to each luminary of said set of luminaries supported thereon operative in response to supplied AC power to provide a charge signal to each luminary of said set of luminaries supported thereon; a sensor to provide a seat signal representative that each luminary of said set of luminaries is supported on said charging base; and a set of luminaries each having a light emitting element connected to a rechargeable battery pack via a second circuit operative in one mode to charge said rechargeable battery pack in response to said charge signal when each luminary of said set of luminaries is supported thereon and operative in another mode to activate said light emitting element in response to the absence of said seat signal, whereby, each said luminary lights if removed from said charging base and does not light if no AC power is supplied to said charging base when supported thereon.
In the presently preferred embodiments, the charging base maybe provided with a removable cover that protects the luminaries during charging, storage, and a handle that aids in transit.
These and other objects, advantageous features and inventive aspects of the present invention will be more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:
Referring now to
As shown in
A power cord 24 having an inline power switch 26 and a “wall-block” style transformer provides power to charging stand 12 via ordinary 120-volt household current. In alternate embodiments, the transformer may be dispensed with.
As will be described in greater detail herein, each of modules 110, 111, 112 and 114 is battery-powered and designed to be charged by magnetic induction when placed in a respective one of slots 16, 18, 20 and 22. Modules 110, 111, 112 and 114 are each designed to illuminate when removed from slots 16, 18, 20 and 22, or when AC power is cut off to charging stand 12.
The number of lamp modules (and a corresponding slot for each module) shown in the preferred embodiment is intended to be merely exemplary. It should be understood that the lamp system 10 of the present invention maybe constructed with any number of modules.
Referring now to
As shown in
Modules 110, 111 and 112 are identical to module 114. Thus, it will only be necessary to describe module 114 in detail.
As shown in
Diffuser 116 in the exemplary embodiment is formed of blow-molded plastic (or glass) having a frosted outer surface 142. It could also be injection-molded plastic with a frosted, translucent finish. In the exemplary embodiment, diffuser 116 is slender and elongated in shape and includes a mid-section 146 that tapers upwardly to a tip 144 and tapers slightly to a tail 148. This shape is chosen to provide optimal light color and transmission, as well as even diffusion of light from bulb 118. Obviously, numerous alternative shapes for diffuser 116 are possible. However, the internal volume created by diffuser 116 must be sufficient to envelop bulb 118, battery pack 120 and circuit board 122. In addition, because of the heat generated by bulb 118, it is desirable to provide air space between bulb 118 and diffuser 116 to prevent diffuser 118 from melting or deforming.
Base 126 comprises a lower portion 128 that provides stable support for module 114 when placed on a level surface or within slot 16. Nick 130 is adapted to removably receive diffuser 116 (to enable access to bulb 118 and battery pack 120). Neck 130 includes tabs 134, 136, 138 and 140 and a lip 135 that cooperate to secure tail 148 of module 114 to neck 130 (see
Battery pack 120 in the exemplary embodiment comprises three “AA” Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cad) cells wrapped in PVC shrink-wrap and having a total output of 3.6 Vdc and 500-800 mA. Of course, other types and sizes of rechargeable cells, such as Nickel-Metal-Hydride or Lithium cells, could be substituted for the Ni-Cad cells. Such cells would provide more power, and charge more quickly than Ni-Cads, but are substantially more expensive.
The power requirements for bulb 118 are, of course, chosen to match the power output of battery pack 120. In the exemplary embodiment, bulb 118 is a conventional miniature incandescent bulb, such as Chicago Miniature Lamp, Inc. part #CM1738, having an output of 1 candela and having design power requirements of 2.80V and 60 mA and an expected life of 6,000 hours. Of course, other lamps and types of light sources, such as a light-emitting diode (L.E.D.) may be substituted for bulb 118. The incandescent bulb shown is preferred because of its balance of cost, heat generation, power consumption, expected service life and brightness characteristics.
As shown in
A charging circuit 150 regulates the voltage and current flowing to battery pack 120 from secondary induction coil 124 to prevent damage to battery pack 120. A latch circuit 154 cuts off current to bulb 118 when the voltage output of battery pack 120 drops below 3.1 volts, thus preventing damage to battery pack 120 which could be caused by fully draining battery pack 120. A charge-sensing switch 156 works in cooperation with latch circuit 154 to turn off current to bulb 118 when current is detected in charging circuit 150. A constant current source circuit 152 provides a constant flow of current (65 mA in the exemplary embodiment) to bulb 118. This enables bulb 118 to shine at a constant brightness despite fluctuations in the output current from battery pack 120. In alternate embodiments, a constant voltage source could be employed.
As described above, battery pack 120 is charged by magnetic induction. The magnetic field created by primary induction coil 54 (when current is applied) induces a current in secondary induction coil 124 when secondary induction coil 124 is concentrically located relative to primary induction coil 54. In the present invention, this occurs when module 114 is placed within slot 16 (see FIG. 1).
It is preferable to ship battery pack 120 fully charged, as this will increase the shelf life of the Ni-Cad cells. However, shipping battery pack 120 fully charged requires the inclusion of means for electrically isolating battery pack 120 from lamp 118 between the time battery pack 120 is charged and when module 114 is first used by an end consumer. Such means could comprise a Mylar tab (not shown) inserted between two electrical contacts after the initial charging which would be removed by the consumer before first use. Alternatively, such means could comprise a fusible link (not shown). The fusible link would be adapted to close current regulating circuit 152 when current is sensed in charging circuit 150 (i.e., the first time the consumer plugs in charging stand 12).
Operation of lamp system 10 is elegantly straightforward. As described above, bulb 118 is designed to illuminate when no current is sensed in charging circuit 150. Thus, bulb 118 will automatically turn on when module 114 is removed from slot 16. Charging stand 12 and module 114 can also function as a table lamp by leaving module 114 in slot 16 and switching off inline power switch 26. Module 114 also functions as an emergency light—automatically turning on during a power failure.
Referring now to
As shown, the wall mountable charging base 202 comprises projections 206 spaced laterally apart a distance larger than the width of each lamp module 204, and each lamp module 204 comprises an opening thereinthrough generally designated 208 adjacent to its top surface. The projections 206 cooperate with the openings 208 to removably support the lamp modules 204 on the wall mountable charging base 202. Projections 206 and openings 208 are each of generally cylindrical geometry, although projections and openings of another geometry or other removable supporting means may be employed without departing from the inventive concepts.
Each projection has a free end, and a diffuser 210 is removably or fixedly mounted to the free end over an LED and ambient light sensor mounted thereon not shown, that switches the LED “on” in response to a condition of ambient darkness, Each lamp module 204 has a flat base 212 and a front face diffuser 214 that extends from top to bottom and surrounds the opening 208. The flat base 212 enables to place each lamp module 204 on a shelf or table and the opening 208 allows it to be carried about or hung on a hook to provide illumination in a wide variety of situations.
A power cord 216 having an inline power switch, not shown, provides power to wall mountable charging base 202 via ordinary 120-volt household current. The base 202 may be wall mounted over or spaced in relation to the AC wall outlet by any suitable mounting means, and a recess and/or power cord wrap or other means may be employed to stow any excess cord within the wall mountable charging base 202. In alternate embodiments, the power switch may be dispensed with.
As in the embodiment described above in connection with the description of the
As in the embodiment described above in connection with the description of the
A switch, not shown, may be provided to independently turn each lamp module 204 on/off to conserve charge or to use the light as needed.
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
The present invention in its broader aspects is not limited to the described embodiments, and departures may be made therefrom without departing from the principles of the invention and without sacrificing its primary advantages. Obviously, numerous modifications may be made to the present invention. Thus, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. One feature of one embodiment may be employed in another disclosed embodiment. The power cord may be made removable to base placement without cord limitations. Other modifications will be readily apparent to one of skill in the art without departing from the scope of the present invention.
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|U.S. Classification||320/107, 320/114|
|International Classification||H02J7/00, F21V23/00, F21V23/02, F21L4/08, F21S9/02, F21V23/04, F21L2/00, H01M10/46|
|Cooperative Classification||F21S9/022, F21V23/02, F21V23/0442, H02J9/02, H01M10/46, H01M10/441, F21L2/00, F21V23/04, F21L4/08|
|European Classification||F21S9/02E, F21V23/04, H01M10/46, H01M10/44B, F21L4/08, F21L2/00|
|Jul 2, 2012||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Nov 18, 2012||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|