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United States Patent  [li] Patent Number: 4,655,520
Cummings  Date of Patent: Apr. 7, 1987
 ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM AND CONNECTOR THEREFOR
 Inventor: John H. Cummings, Santa Ana, Calif.
 Assignee: Luma Lighting Industries, Inc., Santa Ana, Calif.
 Appl. No.: 828,761
 Filed: Feb. 11,1986
 Int. H01R9/07
 U.S. CI 339/21 R; 339/22 R
 Field of Search 339/20, 21 R, 21 S,
339/22 R, 22 B, 22 T, 23, 24, 97 R, 97 P, 98, 99
 References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
1,131,724 3/1915 Mills 339/99 L
1,287,542 12/1918 Whitney 339/99 L
2,162,545 6/1939 Benander et al 173/340
2,274,136 2/1942 Frank et al 173/334.1
3,130,921 4/1964 Morgan 240/8.2
3,225,185 12/1965 Bertolini et al 240/8.2
3,231,731 1/1966 McDonald 240/3
3,248,576 4/1966 Russell 307/147
3,321,731 5/1967 Goldbaum 339/21
3,341,802 9/1967 Baldwin et al 339/21
3,391,377 7/1968 Corl et al 339/21
3,451,035 6/1969 Baldwin 339/21
3,474,381 10/1969 Baldwin 339/21
3,489,981 1/1970 Corl et al 339/21
4,099,817 7/1978 Booty 339/22 B
FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS
0089223 9/1983 European Pat. Off. 339/97 R
Primary Examiner—Gil Weidenfeld
Assistant Examiner—Gary F. Paumen
Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Gausewitz, Carr &
An electrical distribution system for lighting and the like including a generally C-shaped channel forming a track having guide shoulders on the exterior of the bight portion thereof, and inwardly extending lip portions adjacent the opening thereof for receiving and captively retaining a multiple conductor insulated cable within the channel. A first channel-shaped connector member is provided with inwardly extending guide portions configured for slidably engaging the shoulders of said channel member, the depth of the first connector member being sufficient for receiving therein a second connector member. The second connector member has a body portion with shoulders thereon spaced a distance less than the distance between adjacent edges of the lips of the open end of the channel member. Conductive barbs extend in generally perpendicular relation to the surface of the body portion intermediate the shoulders thereof, the barbs being at positions corresponding to the position of the conductors to be engaged. A pair of tapered leg portions extend from the body portion at positions for abutting the side walls of the channel member. A sliding coaction between the first and second connector members with the second connector member positioned with the shoulders thereof between the lips of the opening urges the barbs into piercing engagement with the insulation therebeneath for establishing electrical contact between the barbs and the conductors.
40 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures
ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM AND
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 5
The background of the invention will be discussed in two parts.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to electrical distribution systems, and more particularly, to a lighting system having 10 lighting fixtures selectively attachable to a track-like conductor assembly, and the connector devices used in such systems.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Electrical distribution systems, and the lighting fix- 15 tures used therewith have typically been of a fixed nature. Numerous attempts have been made to provide a measure of flexibility in electrical distribution systems, and particularly with reference to placement of lighting devices. Some of these attempts have utilized specially 20 configured insulated conductor members, positioned or retained in specially configured housings or channels, with plug members or lamp fixture assemblies having prongs or piercing members adapted for penetrating the insulation layer of the conductors upon assembly. 25
In more recent years, electrical distribution systems for lighting have been developed utilizing a "track" arrangement in which a conductor assembly, enclosed in or formed in a track, enables the placement of any number of a plurality of fixtures at any one of a number 30 of locations along the track. Such systems are referred to as track lighting systems and have the advantage of being able to place illumination where needed, as needed, without complete rewiring behind fixed partitions, walls and ceilings. Such systems have been 35 adopted in commercial, office, manufacturing and retail establishments where flexibility of positioning of lighting sources is important as the need arises for relocation of displays, equipment or walls. In more recent years, such systems have found their way into residential light- 40 ing, as functional or decor illumination.
One such early light fixture mounting arrangement is shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 1,131,724, entitled "Electric Lamp Socket", issued March 6,1915, to Mills, the socket including a pair of spaced pin members ex- 45 tending from the end thereof opposite the lamp engaging opening, the pins being bent at an angle to the end surface for piercing a two conductor cable at an angle to thus make electrical connection while retaining the socket relative to the cable. 50
Another mounting arrangement is shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 1,287,542, entitled "Lamp Mounting" issued to Whitney on December 10, 1918, the mounting including a lamp fixture for attachment to a pair of parallel insulated wire strands. The mounting 55 includes hook shaped edges for engaging the conductors with first and second pin portions adapted for piercing the insulation of each conductor for providing electrical connection thereto.
U.S. Pat. No. 2,162,545, entitled "Electric Fixture", 60 issued June 13, 1939 to Benander et al, the device including an electrical plug arrangement with the housing thereof configured for a dual purpose. One configuration includes blade receiving openings with the receptacle being attachable to a conductor cable for use as an 65 extension, with the second configuration including contact arrangments which enable the same contacts to serve as blades for being received within a plug as well
as contacts for the blades of another plug. Electrical connection of a cable to the blade contacts is by means of pins for piercing the insulation layer of the cable.
U.S. Pat. No. 2,274,136, entitled "Continuous Outlet Construction" issued Feb. 24, 1942 to Frank et al, and depicts another arrangement for providing some flexibility to an electrical distribution system. An electrical conductor is formed as a generally C-shaped channel member with electrical conductors or bus bars embedded at the bent portions thereof, with a plug member having a pair of coplanar blades adapted for being received within the open slot portion for engaging the bus bars.
Another lamp mounting arrangement is shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,130,921, entitled "Vehicle Lamp Mounting", issued April 28,1964 to Morgan. The mounting system includes an electrically conductive channel member attachable to a vehicle with a first channel portion receiving a single conductor strip. A lamp assembly is insertable within the channel member with a first conductor thereof configured and positioned for piercing the insulation of the conductor carried by the strip, with the second conductor of the lamp assembly spring biased for electrically contacting a portion of the channel member.
Another such vehicle lamp mounting arrangement is shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,225,185, entitled "Mounting for Marker Light", issued to Bertolini et al on Dec. 21, 1965. An insulated single conductor is carried within a plastic channel strip inserted into a trough of a structural member. A lamp assembly includes a pointed portion for piercing the conductor to establish a first electrical connection with the ground connection being effected by means of screw members mounting the lamp to the quarter panel.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,231,731, was issued to McDonald on Jan. 25, 1966, and is entitled "Low Voltage Electrical Connector". The patent discloses a system of low volatge outdoor lighting using a two conductor cable with the lamp fixtures provided with a rear surface having portions of the lamp conductors thereon, each conductor portion having a bent corner for forming a prong, with each prong at a position for penetrating the insulation of one of the conductors. Clamping and piercing is effected by a clamp member configured for engaging side walls attached to the fixture for enabling tilting and attachment of the clamp while exerting force to urge the cable against the prongs.
In U.S. Pat. No. 3,248,576, entitled "Electrical Wiring and Conduit Assembly", issued to Russell on Apr. 26, 1966, there is disclosed an electrical distribution system for providing 120 volt and 240 volt power throughout a residence by the use of multiple conductors within a conduit configured as a baseboard, with electrical receptacles attachable thereto.
Another vehicle system is shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,321,732, entitled "Marker Lamp Adapted for Mounting on an automotive Vehicle, and Connection into an Electrical Circuit, Without Use of Tools", which was issued to Goldbaum on May 23, 1967. In accordance with the disclosure, quarter panel of the vehicle is configured with a channel including an electrical conductor with the lamp base configured for engaging a lip formed within the channel, which then enables pivoting of the lamp. A pointed conductive member on the lamp pierces the conductor for establish