|Title of Invention||
A REFRIGERATED WATER DISPENSER FOR REFRIGERATOR DOORS
|Abstract||Refrigerated water dispenser for refrigerator doors, in which a water delivery port (10) is situated within a compartment being bounded by a structure (5, 9, 27) mounted on the outside of the door(3).|
|Full Text||This invention relates to a refrigerated water dispenser for refrigerator doors.
The most developed current domestic refrigerators comprise a system for producing refrigerated water which can be procured without having to gain access to the refrigerator interior. In practice, a connection to the domestic water supply is provided, together with a hydraulic circuit inside the refrigerator (positioned to cool the water passing through it and provided with a delivery port for the refrigerated water) and a valve member operated by the user to obtain the refrigerated water In these refrigerators it is normal to provide inside the refrigerator door a compartment open towards the refrigerator exterior and containing this delivery port and an underlying support surface for the glass or the like to be filled with the refrigerated water. The compartment is hence of appreciable depth. The electromagnetically controlled delivery valve member is opened by the user, who manually operates an electric switch.
This briefly described solution has certain drawbacks:
the door presenting the compartment has to be specially constructed, in the sense that being so different from conventional doors it demands its own production cycle and specific equipment; the presence of the compartment has considerable negative influence on the refrigerator appearance; the glass or container receiving the refrigerated water cannot be greater than a certain size given that for constructional and appearance reasons the compartment itself cannot exceed given dimensions; from the hygiene aspect the known solution can be highly criticized, being open to the air and as such accessible to insects, dust and dirt in general; and, in certain cases, the nuisance of having firstly to place the glass in the compartment and then open the delivery valve.
An object of this invention is to provide a refrigerated water dispenser which only modestly disturbs the visual impact of the refrigerator, which does not have an insect, dirt and dust accessible compartment in which to place the glass or container, which does not require two operations to deliver the refrigerated water, which does not require substantial production modifications for the door in which the dispenser is installed which is of simple construction, considerable functionality and ease of operation, and which enables the user to use glasses or containers of any dimensions.
This and further objects which will be apparent from the ensuing detailed description are attained by a dispenser in accordance with the teachings as mentioned herein.
Accordingly the present invention provides a refrigerated water dispenser for refrigerator doors, in which a water delivery port is situated within a compartment, characterised in that said compartment is bounded by a structure mounted on the outside of the door.
The invention will be better understood from the detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof given hereinafter by way of non-limiting example and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:
Figure 1 is a perspective view of a refrigerator provided with the dispenser of the
Figure 2 is a perspective view of the dispenser at the moment of use.
Figure 3 is a longitudinal section through the dispenser of the invention;
Figure 4 is a section through a detail relative to the snap-connection of parts of the
dispenser, and a particular shaping for adapting to the profile of one of these parts;
Figure 5 is a sectional detail relative to the hinging between two parts of the dispenser;
Figure 6 is a partial perspective view of a detail of the dispenser.
Before commencing the description it should be noted that the term "dispenser" as used herein identifies that component of a water feed, cooling and delivery system which performs the delivery function.
With reference to the drawings, the reference numeral 1 indicates a refrigerator presenting, in this example, a lower freezer compartment and an upper refrigerating compartment closed by respective double wall doors 2 and 3 with an interspaced in which the thermo insulating material is present.
The dispenser of the invention, indicated overall by 4, is applied against the outer wall 3a of the door 3, which can be of conventional type in its general structure.
The dispenser 4 forms a compartment and comprises a substantially plate-like base 5 preferably of plastic material which is directly applied to the door and fixed by conventional means, for example of screw type, only one of which is shown in Figure 3 in which it is indicated by 6, or by conventional plastic rivets. The base 5 has a surrounding wall 7 which can for example assume the configuration of Figure 3 or of Figure 4. In Figure 3 the wall has a continuous projection 8 to enable another component of the dispenser to be snap-fitted, this component being described in detail hereinafter and being indicated by 9. In the alternative of Figure 4 the wall 7" has a recess 8" to enable said component 9 to be snap-fitted. In both solutions the wall 7, 7" is provided peripherally with a flexible flange, rib or end 25, the purpose of which is described hereinafter.
The base 5 presents, preferably integral therewith, a projecting port 10 with a downwardly directed opening, through which the refrigerated water is delivered. Coinciding therewith on the inner side of the base 5, there is a connector 11 which extends
for a short distance inwards of the outer wall 3a of the door 3, to allow the connection, by conventional means, not shown, of a pipe 12 forming part of the water feed and cooling system (traditional and well known in this sector) comprising, by way of example, a heat exchanger 13, a solenoid valve 14 and a connector 15 for connection to the domestic water supply, and possibly an electrically powered pump.
In one embodiment of the invention, the base 5 presents a seat 16 in which a lever microswitch 17 is mounted to control the solenoid valve 14 (and the possible pump IS). The base also presents a projecting support 18 (Figures 3 and 6) provided with two side walls 19, 20 and an interconnecting crosspiece 21 to which there is fixed in any known manner a plate 22 (for example of a printed circuit) with which pushbuttons or the like 23 are associated, sealed projecting to the outside of the component 9. These pushbuttons can be used to prevent the use of the dispenser by a child (for example to prevent the valve 14 from being opened), to enable a gas (CO2) to be added to the refrigerated water (by connecting a relative vessel with valve to the hydraulic system of Figure 3), or to modify the water flow rate and hence its temperature (for example by not only allowing the valve 14 to be opened and closed by the action of the microswitch 17 but also be varied in its extent of opening by a command imparted by said pushbuttons). In a variant the printed circuit can be positioned on the top of the projecting support 18 as shown by dashed and dotted lines in Figure 3 in which it is indicated by 22", the pushbuttons 23 then being positioned in relation thereto. The microswitch 17 can also be mounted on the support 18.
The aforesaid component 9 is of shell shape, this term being used hereinafter for its identification. It is preferably constructed of plastic material and is snap-fitted to the base 5, for which purpose projections or recesses 24 are provided on its periphery, to cooperate with recesses or projections 8 provided on the base 5 (see the alternatives of Figures 3 and 4). This snap-fitting enables the shell 9 to be removed for maintenance and/or cleaning
As the face or outer wall 3a of the refrigerator door 3 may be arched, the periphery of the base 5, or the relative surrounding wall 7, 7", is provided with said flexible flange or end 25 which when fitted against the wall 3a conceals from view (and also acts as a seal gasket) the discontinuity or gap present between the (substantially flat) base and the (arched) wall 3a of the door 3.
The shell 9 presents frontally an aperture 26 of judiciously chosen shape and dimensions, intercepted by a cover 27.
The cover 27 has a central recess 28 (the function of which is stated hereinafter with reference to Figure 2), In one embodiment the cover 27 has on its inner side, integral therewith, an elastic profiled arm 29 dimensioned such as to bear against the base 5 and urge the cover 27 into a position in which it closes the aperture 26 in the shell 9.
In its lower part, the cover 27 defines a small closed compartment acting as a droplet collector. In a variant of the invention, the arm 29 is formed by the actual rear wall of the cover 27, which hence comprises side walls, the upper profile of which is represented by the dashed and dotted line indicated by A in Figure 3. The flexibility of the chosen material provides the closure thrust for the cover 27.
The cover 27 is hinged at its lower end (see Figures 3 and 5) to the shell 9. This hinging comprises a pair of slightly flattened coaxial pins 31 (see Figure 5) projecting from opposite sides of the cover 27 and inserted into respective narrow-mouth seats 32 present in parallel ribs 33 situated on the inner side of the shell 9.
When water is required (Figure 2), the user rests the glass against the cover 27 utilizing, for correct support, the recess 28 therein which facilitates its centering; he then presses against
the cover, which then rotates inwards, about the hinge 31, 32, against the reaction of the elastic arm 29 or (in the case of the variant) of the rear wall of the cover 27. After a certain extent of rotation, when the mouth of the glass lies below the port 10, the microswitch 17 is operated (by the arm 29 or by another part of the cover 27), to open the valve 14 with resultant delivery of the refrigerated water. When filled to the required extent, the user withdraws the glass from the cover 27. The cover moves towards its closure position under the thrust of the elastic arm 28 and the microswitch 17 interrupts delivery.
1. A refrigerated water dispenser for refrigerator doors, in which a water every port (10) is situated within a compartment, characterised in that said compartment is bounded by a structure (5, 9, 27) mounted on the outside of the door (3).
2. A dispenser as claimed in claim 1 wherein the structure (5, 9, 27) comprises a shell (9), an elastically loaded cover (27) supported by the shell and arranged to close within the shell (9) an aperture (25) giving access to the compartment, and a base (5) for connection to the door (3).
3. A dispenser as claimed in claim 2, wherein the cover (27) is hinged to the shell (9).
4. A dispenser as claimed in claim 2, wherein an electrical contact member (17) is present, supported by the base (5) and operated by the cover (27).
5. A dispenser as claimed in claim 4, wherein the electrical contact member is operated by the cover (27) via an elastic profiled arm (29) thereof
6. A dispenser as claimed in claims 2 and 5, wherein the appendix (29) elastically urges the cover (27) into the position in which it closes the aperture (25), and bears against the base (5).
7. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 6, wherein the appendix (29)
is integral with the cover (27).
8. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 7, wherein the base (5)
carries the delivery port (10).
9. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 8, wherein the cover (27)
presents a positioning recess (28).
10. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 9, wherein the base (5)
presents support means (18) for control circuit parts (22, 23).
11. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 10, wherein said circuit parts (22, 23) comprise pushbuttons or the like (23), operable through the shell (9).
12. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 11, wherein the shell (9) is snap-fitted to the base (5), in such a manner as to be removable.
13. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 12, wherein the shell or base (5) is provided with a surrounding flexible rib or part (25).
14. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 13, wherein the cover (27) defines a droplet collection compartment (30).
15. A dispenser as claimed in any one of the claims 1 to 14, wherein the cover (27)
presents lateral walls (A) connected to a rear wall which bears elastic ally against the
16. A refrigerated water dispenser for refrigerator doors, substantially as
hereinabove described and illustrated with reference to the accompanying drawings.
|Indian Patent Application Number||66/MAS/2001|
|PG Journal Number||35/2007|
|Date of Filing||23-Jan-2001|
|Name of Patentee||M/S. WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION|
|Applicant Address||2000 M 63, BENTON HARBOR MI 49022, USA|
|PCT International Classification Number||F25D 23/12|
|PCT International Application Number||N/A|
|PCT International Filing date|