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 numberUSRE41628 E1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 11/600,966
Publication dateSep 7, 2010
Filing dateNov 16, 2006
Priority dateJun 20, 2001
Fee statusLapsed
Also published asCA2505668A1, CA2505668C, EP1716618A1, US6819080, US20030146735, WO2005048393A1
Publication number11600966, 600966, US RE41628 E1, US RE41628E1, US-E1-RE41628, USRE41628 E1, USRE41628E1
InventorsStefane E. Barbeau, Duane B. Smith, Donald E. Drumm
Original AssigneeHelen Of Troy Limited
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Autoilluminating lamp system
US RE41628 E1
Abstract
An autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system includes a set of one or more self-standing rechargeable lighting fixtures (luminaries) removably supported on a recharging and support member. The luminaries each include a light diffusor that may resemble a candle that turn on when removed from the recharging and support member. The luminaries may also turn on when power to the recharging and support member is turned off, turning the luminaries on automatically as during a power failure. The luminaries may each be inductively coupled to the recharging and support member, which enables to provide an aesthetically pleasing interface free of electrical contacts.
Images(14)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(44)
1. An autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system, comprising:
a wall mountable recharging base adapted to removably support a set of luminaries including a first circuit coupled to each luminary of said set of luminaries supported thereby operative in response to supplied AC power to provide a charge signal to each luminary of said set of luminaries; 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 said luminary of said set of luminaries is supported by said wall mountable recharging base and operative in another mode to activate said light emitting element in response to the absence of said charge signal, whereby, each said luminary of said set of luminaries lights if removed from said wall mountable recharging base and is turned “off” if received on said wall mountable recharging base.
2. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 1, wherein said first circuit includes a manually actuated switch, and wherein each said luminary of said set of luminaries lights if no AC power is supplied in response to turning off said manually actuated switch.
3. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 1, wherein each said luminary of said set of luminaries lights if no AC power is supplied in response to an AC power service failure.
4. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 1, wherein the set of luminaries includes one or more luminaries.
5. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 4, wherein each luminary of said set of luminaries is inductively coupled to said charge signal provided by said first circuit of said recharging platter.
6. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 1, wherein, each luminary of said set of luminaries is self-standing and includes a front face diffusor.
7. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 1, wherein said wall mountable charging base has at least one projection adapted to support a luminary and wherein each luminary of said set of luminaries has an opening adapted to be supported by each said at least one projection.
8. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 7, wherein each said projections and openings is generally cylindrically shaped.
9. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 8, wherein each said projection has a free end, and further including a diffuser mounted to said free end.
10. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 1, wherein said wall mountable charging base is a wall plug mountable charging base.
11. An autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system, comprising:
a charging base removably supporting a set of luminaries including a charge circuit providing a charge signal to each luminary of said set of luminaries supported by said base;
a set of luminaries each including a lamp and a rechargeable battery pack connected to said lamp; and
autoilluminating means coupled to each luminary of said set of luminaries and responsive to said charge signal for lighting said lamp of each luminary in response to non-detection of said charge signal, and for turning said lamp of each luminary “off” in response to detection of said charge signal, whereby, each said luminary of said set of luminaries lights if removed from said base and is turned “off” if supported thereby.
12. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 11, wherein said set includes one or more luminaries.
13. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 11, wherein said charging base is a wall mountable charging base.
14. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 13, wherein said wall mountable charging base is a wall plug mountable charging base.
15. An autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system, comprising:
a charging subassembly adapted to removably support a set of luminaries including a first circuit coupled to each luminary of said set of luminaries when supported thereon operative in response to supplied AC power to provide a charge signal to each luminary of said set of luminaries when supported thereon;
a sensor to provide a seat signal representative that each luminary of said set of luminaries is supported on said charging basesubassembly; and
a set of luminaries including one or more luminaries, each luminary 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 subassembly, does not light if no AC power is supplied to said charging subassembly when supported thereon, and does not light if there is no charge signal when supported thereon.
16. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 15, wherein said set includes one or more luminaries.
17. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 15, wherein said charging subassembly is a charging base, and the autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system further includes a cover removably mounted to said charging base.
18. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 17, further including a cover removably mounted to said charging base.
19. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 17, further including a handle mounted to said charging base.
20. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 15, further including a switch mounted to at least one said luminary of said set of luminaries to independently turn it on/off.
21. An autoilluminating lamp system, comprising:
a base member adapted to removably support at least one rechargeable lamp member receivable on and removable from said base member;
at least one lamp member each including a light having an “on” and an “off” state powered by a power source, each said at least one lamp member is adapted to be received on and removed from said base member; and
an autoilluminating circuit coupled to each said at least one lamp member operative in one mode in response to receipt of each said at least one lamp member on said base member adapted to removably support at least one lamp member each adapted to be received on and removed from said base member to place said light of each said at least one lamp member received on said base member in its “off” state, and operative in another mode in response to removal of each said at least one lamp member from said base member adapted to removably support at least one lamp member each adapted to be received on and removed from said base member to place said light of each said at least one lamp member removed from said base member in its “on” state; whereby, each said at least one lamp member lights if removed from said base member and de-lights if received on said base member.
22. The autoilluminating lamp system of claim 21, wherein each said at least one lamp member is a rechargeable lamp member; and wherein said power source of each said at least one rechargeable lamp member is a rechargeable battery.
23. The autoilluminating lamp system of claim 22, further including a charge circuit adapted to provide a charge signal in response to supplied AC power; and wherein said autoilluminating circuit operative in response to receipt of each said at least one lamp member on said base member is further operative in said one mode to apply said charge signal to said rechargeable battery of each said at least one rechargeable lamp member received on said base member.
24. An autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system comprising:
a set of luminaries each having a light emitting element connected to a rechargeable battery pack, the set of luminaries including one or more luminaries;
a recharging support, each of the set of luminaries being engagable with and supportable by the recharging support, the recharging support providing a charge to each of the set of luminaries engaged therewith in response to power supplied to the recharging support;
each of the set of luminaries including an auto-illuminating circuit electrically responsive to the charge of the recharging support for turning the luminary on or off.
25. The autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system of claim 24 wherein each luminary supported on the recharging support is inductively coupled by the presence of the power from the recharging support, the inductive coupling providing the charge for charging the battery pack, and the auto-illuminating circuit responsive to the inductive coupling for turning the luminary off and responsive to an absences of the inductive coupling to turn the luminary on.
26. A lamp system comprising:
a set of luminaries each having a light emitting element and a battery pack connected thereto, the set of luminaries including one or more luminaries;
a support for engaging and supporting the luminaries and providing an electrical signal to each of the luminaries engaged therewith, wherein the luminaries are electrically responsive to said electric signal to determine an “on” or “off” state for the light emitting element.
27. The lamp system of 26 wherein the support is wall mountable.
28. The lamp system of 26 wherein the support and each of the luminaries include respective electric contacts engagable when the luminary is engaged with the support, the support providing the electrical signal to each of said luminaries via the electric contacts.
29. The lamp system of 26 wherein the support provides the electrical signal to each of the luminaries via one or more induction circuits, the signal being provided when the luminary is engaged with the support.
30. The lamp system of 26 wherein the battery pack is rechargeable, and the support provides power to the battery pack when the luminary is engaged with the support.
31. A lamp system comprising:
a set of luminaries including one or more luminaries, each luminary having a light emitting element connected to a rechargeable battery pack;
a wall-mountable recharging support having a first portion positionable proximate to a wall and a second portion extending at least partially laterally to the first portion for supporting each of the luminaries, each of the set of luminaries being engagable with the recharging support to receive power from the recharging support for charging the battery pack thereof, the recharging support providing a charge to each of the set of luminaries engaged therewith in response to power supplied to the recharging support;
each of the set of luminaries including an auto-illuminating circuit responsive to the power from the recharging support for turning the luminary on or off.
32. The lamp system of claim 31 wherein each luminary is responsive to a presence of the power from the recharging support to turn off.
33. The lamp system of claim 31 wherein each luminary is responsive to an absence of the power from the recharging support to turn off.
34. The lamp system of claim 31 wherein each luminary includes a mechanically-responsive manually actuated switch, and, to turn the luminary on or off, the luminary responds via the electrically-responsive auto-illuminating circuit to a presence or an absence of the power from the recharging support and responds via the manually actuated switch.
35. The lamp system of claim 34 wherein the manually actuated switch has a first position opening a mechanically-activated circuit so that the luminary is off.
36. The lamp system of claim 35 wherein the manually actuated switch has a second position closing the mechanically-activated circuit, and, with the manually actuated switch in the second position, the luminary is turned on in the absence of the power from the recharging support and is turned off in the presence of power from the recharging support.
37. The lamp system of claim 31 wherein each luminary supported on the recharging support is inductively coupled by the presence of the power from the recharging support, the inductive coupling providing power for charging the battery pack, and the auto-illuminating circuit responsive to the inductive coupling for turning the luminary off.
38. An autoilluminating lamp system comprising:
a set of luminaries including one or more luminaries, each luminary having a first circuit, a light emitting element, a rechargeable battery pack connected to the light emitting element via the first circuit, and a second circuit for receiving electrical power for charging the battery pack;
a recharging support providing electrical power to the second circuit, wherein the recharging support is adapted to be mounted on a wall for receiving electrical current, the recharging support adapted to support each of the luminaries thereon, and the luminaries being responsive to the received power from the recharging support to open or close the first circuit to turn the luminary off or on, respectively.
39. The autoilluminating lamp system of claim 38 wherein the first circuit includes a non-mechanical switch, the non-mechanical switch being opened or closed by the second circuit in response to an absence or presence of electrical power being delivered by the recharging support.
40. The autoilluminating lamp system of claim 38 wherein the recharging support includes a first portion positionable against or proximate to a wall and a second portion extending at least partially laterally to the first portion for supporting each of the luminaries.
41. The autoilluminating lamp system of claim 38 wherein each luminary supported on the recharging support is inductively coupled by the presence of the power from the recharging support, the inductive coupling providing power for charging the battery pack, and the second circuit responsive to the inductive coupling for opening the first circuit to turn the luminary off.
42. The autoilluminating lamp system of claim 38 wherein the recharging support has at least one projection adapted to support a luminary and wherein each luminary of said set of luminaries has an opening adapted to be supported by each the at least one projection.
43. The autoilluminating lamp system of claim 42 wherein each projection and each opening are generally cylindrically shaped.
44. The autoilluminating lamp system of claim 43 wherein each said luminary has a free end including a diffuser.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

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.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is drawn to the field of illumination, and more particularly, to a novel rechargeable lamp system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

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.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

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.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, showing a charging stand and one lamp module;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the charging stand;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the charging stand;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the charging stand;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the charging stand, taken along line 55 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the charging stand, taken along line 66 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a circuit diagram of the charging stand circuit;

FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of a lamp module according to the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a front view of the lamp module;

FIG. 10 is a right side view of the lamp module;

FIG. 11 is a top view of the lamp module;

FIG. 12 is a bottom view of the lamp module;

FIG. 13 is a sectional view of the lamp module taken along line 1313 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 14 is a sectional view of the lamp module taken along line 1414 of FIG. 10.

FIG. 15 is a sectional view of the lamp module taken along line 1515 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 16 is an exemplary embodiment of a circuit diagram of the lamp module circuit board according to the present invention;

FIG. 17 is a pictorial view of another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, showing a wall mountable charging base and four lamp modules;

FIG. 18 is a pictorial view of another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, showing a wall plug mountable charging base and single lamp modules;

FIG. 19 is a pictorial view of another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, showing a carrier/charging base and eight lamp modules;

FIG. 20 is a pictorial view showing one module-to-carrier/charging base interface;

FIGS. 21 and 22 are block diagrams respectively of exemplary carrier/charging base and lamp module circuitry.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to FIG. 1, reference numeral 10 generally refers to the rechargeable lamp system of the present invention. Lamp system 10 comprises a charging stand 12 and a plurality of lamp modules 110, 111, 112 and 114.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, stand 12 comprises slots 16, 18, 20 and 22 which are each adapted to removably receive one of said lamp modules 110, 111, 112 and 114. Slots 16, 18, 20 and 22 each include a respective cylindrical wall 38, 40, 42, and 44 and a substantially planar floor 46, 48, 50 and 52.

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 FIGS. 3-4, stand 12 also includes an upper portion 30 and a lower portion 32. In an exemplary embodiment, upper portion 30 is ceramic. However, upper portion 30 may be made from other suitable materials, such as wood or plastic. In the interest of economy, lower portion 32 in the exemplary embodiment is formed of injection-molded plastic, but may as well be made of other suitable materials, such as steel or other metal or other material. In the exemplary embodiment, upper portion 30 and lower portion 32 snap together. However, any suitable means, such as bonding, screws, etc. could be used to secure upper portion 30 and lower portion 32.

As shown in FIGS. 2, 5 and 6, stand 12 further includes a circuit board 58 which is hard-wired to cord 24 and four primary induction coils (wired in parallel), one coil encircling each of walls 38, 40, 42 and 44, respectively. FIG. 5 shows a pair of primary induction coils 54 and 56 that encircle walls 44 and 42, respectively. Identical primary coils (not shown) encircle walls 38 and 40.

FIG. 7 shows the circuit formed by transformer 28, inline power switch 26, and primary induction coil 54. As shown in FIG. 7, transformer 28 converts 120 volts AC to 12 volts AC. The three other primary induction coils, not shown, are preferably wired in parallel with primary induction coil 54. In other embodiments, the transformer component can be replaced by the inductor coils (on the platter and luminaries), whose turn-ratios are selected to provide a stepped-down voltage to the lamps. As will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, an oscillator providing frequencies higher than line frequency may be employed to improve efficiency (inductor size and attendant cost).

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 FIGS. 8-16, module 114 comprises a diffuser 116, a light bulb 118, a battery pack 120, a circuit board 122, a secondary induction coil 124 and a base 126.

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 FIGS. 8, 13 and 14).

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 FIGS. 13 and 14, bulb 118 and battery pack 120 are preferably hard-wired to circuit board 122. As shown in FIG. 16, circuit board 122 comprises four primary circuits that control the charging of battery pack 120 and the lighting of bulb 118.

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 FIG. 17, reference numeral 200 generally refers to another exemplary embodiment of the rechargeable lamp system of the present invention. Lamp system 200 comprises a wall mountable charging base generally designated 202 and four lamp modules generally designated 204. The number of lamp modules shown in the preferred embodiment is intended to be merely exemplary. It should be understood that the lamp system 200 of the present invention may be constructed with any number of modules.

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 FIGS. 1-16, each lamp module 204 is designed to be charged by magnetic induction. Inductive magnetic coupling is provided by primary and secondary coils, not shown, carried on the projections 206 of the charging base and about the openings 208 of the lamp modules 204 when supported by a respective one of the projections 206. Other coupling means such as mating electrical contacts or other means could be employed without departing from the inventive concepts,

As in the embodiment described above in connection with the description of the FIGS. 1-16, modules 204 are each designed to illuminate when removed from projections 206, or when AC power is cut off to wall mountable charging base 202, The wall mountable recharging base includes a first charge circuit responsive to supplied AC power to provide a charge signal and each lamp module includes a light emitting element connected to a rechargeable battery pack via a second circuit operative in one mode to charge the rechargeable battery pack in response to the charge signal when each lamp module is supported by the wall mountable charging base and operative in another mode to activate the light emitting element in response to the absence of the charge signal, whereby, each lamp module lights if removed from the wall mountable recharging base and lights if no AC power is supplied to the wall mountable recharging base when supported thereon.

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 FIG. 18, reference numeral 230 generally refers to another exemplary embodiment of the rechargeable lamp system of the present invention. Lamp system 230 comprises a wall plug mountable charging base generally designated 232 and a single lamp module generally designated 234. The embodiment 230 is generally the same as the embodiment 200 described above in connection with the description of FIG. 17, except the wall plug mountable charging base 232 includes extending plug members 236 adapted to plug the base directly into a standard AC wall outlet.

Referring now to FIG. 19, reference numeral 250 generally refers to another exemplary embodiment of the rechargeable lamp system of the present invention. Lamp system 250 comprises a carrier/charging base generally designated 252 and ten lamp modules generally designated 254. A cover 256, preferably translucent, is removably mounted by any suitable means to the carrier/charging base 252 and a handle member 258, preferably of aluminum but which could be of other metal or material, is attached by any suitable means to be carrier/charging base 252. The cover member 256 protects the lamp modules during charging, storage and transit, and the handle member 258 provides for ease of transport. The number of lamp modules shown in the preferred embodiment is intended to be merely exemplary. It should be understood that the lamp system 250 of the present invention may be constructed with any number of modules.

Referring now to FIG. 20, reference numeral 270 generally shows a pictorial view of one module-to-carrier/charging base interface. Unlike inductive coupling employed for the hereinabove described embodiments, contacts 272 on carrier/charging base 252 cooperate with contacts 274 to provide the charge signal to each lamp module 254 when supported on the carrier/charging base 252. Spring-loaded arms 276 are provided to hold each lamp module 254 when seated in receptacles generally designated 278 provided therefore on the carrier/charging base 252. And on/off membrane switch 280 (or other suitable means) is provided on each lamp module 254 by which they may be independently turned on/off. A charging status LED 282 for each module is provided on the carrier/charging base 252 that lights when the associated lamp module 254 is fully charged. Seat sensor contacts 284, 286 provides a seat signal used by each lamp module in a manner to be described to inhibit lighting of each lamp module when supported on the carrier/charging base if no AC power is supplied. The seat signal is preferably at ground potential, although any suitable sensor contact or other means providing any signal representative of a lamp module being in supported condition could be employed without departing from the inventive concepts

Referring now to FIG. 21, reference numeral 270 generally shows a block diagram of the carrier/charging base circuitry. As shown, an AC/DC converter 272 responds to standard AC power to provide a charge signal output signal and the seat sensor 274 provides a seat signal at ground potential. The AC/DC converter 272 preferably includes a timer to turn off the charge signal after a predetermined time determined to provide a full charge for each rechargeable battery pack.

Referring now to FIG. 22, reference numeral 300 generally shows a block diagram of the lamp module circuitry. A charging circuit 302 regulates the voltage and current flowing to battery pack 304 (of each module) to prevent damage to battery pack 304. A latch circuit 306 cuts off current to each lamp when the voltage output of battery pack 304 drops below a predetermined value, thus preventing damage to battery pack 304 which could be caused by fully draining battery pack 304. Latch circuit 306 works in cooperation with a charge-sensing switch 308 to turn off current to each lamp when current is detected in charging circuit 302 or when the seat signal is detected. A constant current source circuit 310 provides a constant flow of current to each lamp. This enables the lamps to shine at a constant brightness despite fluctuations in the output current from battery pack 304. In alternate embodiments, a constant voltage source could be employed.

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.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3217224 *Dec 3, 1962Nov 9, 1965Sherwood George WFlashlight battery charging equipment
US3277358Sep 9, 1963Oct 4, 1966Thomas H NichollBattery charger
US3373274Oct 22, 1965Mar 12, 1968Skott Ind IncElectrical candle apparatus
US3418552Jun 8, 1965Dec 24, 1968Gen ElectricSeparable transformer battery charger
US3517185Jan 15, 1968Jun 23, 1970Bridgeport Metal Goods Mfg CoRechargeable flashlight and recharging stand
US3576990Sep 27, 1968May 4, 1971Wallace F JohnsonLighting system
US3641336Apr 5, 1971Feb 8, 1972Giovanni BoinElectric lamps for emergency and/or for duty under particular environment conditions, and relative improved lamps
US3746877Mar 8, 1971Jul 17, 1973Christensen CEmergency light unit
US3781631Feb 11, 1972Dec 25, 1973Heath CoAutomatic battery charger
US3809882Jan 20, 1971May 7, 1974Unique Devices Eng & ConsultinLighting device
US3840785Sep 27, 1973Oct 8, 1974Gen ElectricInsulative modular mounting panels for electrical switchboards
US3885211Sep 16, 1974May 20, 1975Statham Instrument IncRechargeable battery-operated illuminating device
US3976986Dec 20, 1974Aug 24, 1976Zabroski Stanley EEmergency lamp and solid state switching circuit therefor
US4029954Nov 10, 1975Jun 14, 1977Hms Associates, Inc.Portable lamp
US4150302Apr 25, 1977Apr 17, 1979Roche Thomas FEmergency light battery charger circuit
US4177500Sep 29, 1978Dec 4, 1979Thomas H. NichollPower failure light and circuit therefor
US4214185Oct 10, 1978Jul 22, 1980Breeze Alan GLight sources
US4223232May 31, 1978Sep 16, 1980Chloride IncorporatedBattery charging circuit for an emergency system
US4244011Aug 27, 1979Jan 6, 1981The Gates Rubber CompanyRechargeable flashlight
US4374354Jun 23, 1981Feb 15, 1983Teledyne Industries, Inc.Rechargeable electric portable appliance
US4383212Jul 14, 1980May 10, 1983Ballman Gray CBattery charger control device with D-C disconnect and A-C interrupt
US4463283Mar 26, 1982Jul 31, 1984Streamlight, Inc.Rechargeable lamp assembly, mounting unit, and circuit therefor
US4605993Dec 19, 1984Aug 12, 1986Lighting Systems, Inc.Recharging spot/flood lantern
US4647831Apr 4, 1986Mar 3, 1987John Zink CompanyRechargeable battery operated appliance system
US4716352Dec 26, 1984Dec 29, 1987Black & Decker, Inc.Charging base for a battery-powered appliance
US4739242May 8, 1986Apr 19, 1988Solid State Chargers Research And Development Limited PartnershipMultistation modular charging system for cordless units
US4754376Oct 27, 1987Jun 28, 1988Winslow Charles HAutomatic ice chest light
US4764853Jun 9, 1987Aug 16, 1988Thomas Stephen ERechargeable battery cafe table lamp
US4827245Feb 23, 1988May 2, 1989Falcor Group Inc.Portable strobe light system
US5010454Jul 12, 1989Apr 23, 1991Hopper Steven RPortable light assembly for an automobile
US5039929May 16, 1989Aug 13, 1991Aglo S.A.Automatic charger capable of charging several batteries
US5055986Oct 22, 1990Oct 8, 1991Johnson Mary BCombination light, radio and clock
US5124532Jul 9, 1990Jun 23, 1992Hafey Marilyn JOrganizer for cordless electrically energized hair salon utensils
US5233271Nov 29, 1991Aug 3, 1993Lung-Hsiang HuangStarting device and lamp base construction for a Philips lamp
US5365145Aug 9, 1993Nov 15, 1994Gael, Inc.Emergency lighting system
US5392162Oct 31, 1991Feb 21, 1995Glucksman; Dov Z.Illuminated travel make-up mirror
US5399089Aug 11, 1993Mar 21, 1995Teledyne Industries, Inc.Oral hygiene appliance
US5426347Mar 31, 1994Jun 20, 1995Nilssen; Ole K.Lighting system with emergency standby feature
US5471129Apr 2, 1993Nov 28, 1995Ivoclar AgRechargeable light curing apparatus
US5473517Jan 23, 1995Dec 5, 1995Blackman; Stephen E.Emergency safety light
US5535108Mar 3, 1995Jul 9, 1996Logsdon; Dana K.Fleet light
US5550452Jul 22, 1994Aug 27, 1996Nintendo Co., Ltd.Induction charging apparatus
US5558429Jun 13, 1994Sep 24, 1996Cain; ScottPortable lighting device
US5662406Feb 6, 1996Sep 2, 1997Mattice; Johnny M.Lighted baby bottle
US5734229Nov 29, 1995Mar 31, 1998Bavaro; Joseph P.Back-up electrical system for portable table lamps
US5748080Sep 30, 1996May 5, 1998Clay; Charles MatthewOverboard safety device
US5754124Nov 13, 1996May 19, 1998Pittco, Inc.Electrical hazard warning system
US5801513Dec 31, 1996Sep 1, 1998Motorola, Inc.Apparatus for charging batteries and supplying backup power
US5844474 *Jul 3, 1997Dec 1, 1998Saling; Brian JayVehicle overload sensor
US5900715Jul 29, 1997May 4, 1999Sportsound, Inc.Portable unit recharging rack
US5908233Nov 26, 1997Jun 1, 1999Heskett Bryon KennethAuto rechargeable flashlight
US6000811Mar 10, 1998Dec 14, 1999Bordak; John JosephHanging emergency light assembly
US6016046Jul 17, 1998Jan 18, 2000Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.Battery pack
US6034505May 20, 1998Mar 7, 2000Selfcharge Inc.Rechargeable charging cradle and night light
US6040680Jul 20, 1998Mar 21, 2000Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.Rechargeable battery pack and charging stand for charging the rechargeable battery pack by electromagnetic induction
US6040780Dec 9, 1998Mar 21, 2000Lucas; MichaelChild's personal security assistant
US6102549Mar 23, 1998Aug 15, 2000Thomas; Stephen E.Battery power pack and table lamp therefor
US6107744Nov 24, 1997Aug 22, 2000Bavaro; Joseph P.Back-up electrical systems
US6179438Jun 30, 1999Jan 30, 2001Pelican Products, Inc.Chargeable flashlight
US6186641Jun 30, 1999Feb 13, 2001Pelican Products, Inc.Flashlight and charging system
US6238061Jun 17, 1999May 29, 2001Mckenzie Roy L.Combination lighting system, alarm clock, radio and television having secondary power supply
US6243276May 7, 1999Jun 5, 2001S-B Power Tool CompanyPower supply system for battery operated devices
US6268027Nov 17, 2000Jul 31, 2001Li-Hsiung WuOrnament for placement
US6479965Jun 20, 2001Nov 12, 2002Vessel Inc.Autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system
US6536917Sep 11, 2000Mar 25, 2003Ray A. AperochoCombination flashlight and two-way radio
US6554445Jan 17, 2002Apr 29, 2003Joseph JacobyLamp body pouch
US6599001May 22, 2001Jul 29, 2003James E. JohnsonFuneral procession warning apparatus
US6605900Oct 17, 2001Aug 12, 2003Yung-Lin ChienRechargeable emergency lamp tube
US6633152Apr 26, 2001Oct 14, 2003Streamlight, Inc.Rechargeable flashlight and battery charger
US6634768May 29, 2001Oct 21, 2003Mckenzie Roy L.Emergency notification system
US6652115Oct 26, 2001Nov 25, 2003Streamlight, Inc.Battery charger structure and rechargeable flashlight system using the same
US6659621Mar 22, 2002Dec 9, 2003Streamlight, Inc.Flashlight with rotatable lamp head
US6819080Nov 9, 2002Nov 16, 2004Vessel Inc.Autoilluminating lamp system
US6851820Jun 26, 2002Feb 8, 2005Weber-Stephen Products CompanyBarbecue grill light
US6900595Oct 15, 2002May 31, 2005Impolight, LtdIllumination unit for normal and emergency operation
US6909260Apr 19, 2004Jun 21, 2005Pelican Products, Inc.Flashlight charger and rechargeable battery
US6911917Mar 27, 2001Jun 28, 2005Astucia (Uk) LimitedHazard warning device, particularly for highway use
US6945664Jun 16, 2004Sep 20, 2005Edward FrielingLight signal by inverting
US6986589Dec 13, 2003Jan 17, 2006Cyberlux CorporationApparatus and methods for providing an emergency lighting augmentation system
US7006002Mar 8, 2004Feb 28, 2006Eton CorporationCombination power failure light and FM/AM radio with a clock and alarm function
US7011426Sep 19, 2003Mar 14, 2006Lederer GaborModular electronic candle
US7029146Apr 22, 2002Apr 18, 2006Edward F. KitchenFlameless candle
US7071625Apr 8, 2003Jul 4, 2006Hsin-Hui ChengLED illuminator with capability of stable brightness
US7125145May 29, 2001Oct 24, 2006Taylor Cutlery LlcMulti-purpose equipment
US20020064041Nov 1, 2001May 30, 2002Pelican Products, Inc.Flashlight charger and rechargeable battery
US20030090892Nov 13, 2001May 15, 2003Chin-Lai SuDrinking vessel capable of emitting light and sound
US20030141819Oct 15, 2002Jul 31, 2003Mose CojocaryIllumination unit for normal and emergency operation
US20030142501Jan 31, 2002Jul 31, 2003Georges ExilienOrientation sensitive light for mounting on motorcycles and the like
US20040037069Aug 23, 2002Feb 26, 2004Blackbourn Leigh GeorgeElectronic candle
US20040160769Oct 8, 2003Aug 19, 2004Currie Robert M.Cordless LED light driving wall module and night light
US20040184273Mar 20, 2003Sep 23, 2004Reynolds Daniel A.Toilet night light
US20040252492Jun 12, 2003Dec 16, 2004Peterson Darlene A.Self-charging electric candle for window display
US20050194930Nov 15, 2004Sep 8, 2005Barbeau Stefane E.Autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system
US20050196716Mar 3, 2005Sep 8, 2005Haab Dan B.Artificial flame
US20050239007Apr 25, 2005Oct 27, 2005Dell Aquila LucaDevice for supporting and lighting votive candles
US20050264261Aug 12, 2005Dec 1, 2005Vessel, Inc.Autoilluminating rechargeable lamp system
US20050284856Jun 17, 2004Dec 29, 2005Helen Of Troy LimitedRechargeable hair styling appliances and charging stand
USD485390Dec 6, 2002Jan 13, 2004B. Cameron SmithCombined portable night light and recharging cradle
USD486787Apr 1, 2003Feb 17, 2004Vector Products, Inc.Charger base for rechargeable battery operated devices
USD495819Apr 7, 2003Sep 7, 2004Vector Products, Inc.Rechargeable battery operated candle light
USRE37092Jul 9, 1997Mar 13, 2001Streamlight, Inc.Flashlight and recharging system therefor
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8274258Oct 30, 2009Sep 25, 2012Matthew LloydPortable charging apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification320/107, 320/114
International ClassificationH02J7/00, F21V23/00, F21V23/02, F21L4/08, F21S9/02, F21V23/04, F21L2/00, H01M10/46
Cooperative ClassificationF21S9/022, F21V23/02, F21V23/0442, H02J9/02, H01M10/46, H01M10/441, F21L2/00, F21V23/04, F21L4/08
European ClassificationF21S9/02E, F21V23/04, H01M10/46, H01M10/44B, F21L4/08, F21L2/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 18, 2012LAPSLapse for failure to pay maintenance fees
Jul 2, 2012REMIMaintenance fee reminder mailed