1. In a water cooler of a type having a cabinet, a tank in said cabinet having an open upper end through the top wall of said cabinet for receiving the throated, open end of a large glass water bottle, refrigeration means to cool the water in said tank, a heater unit to receive and heat a portion of water received from said tank, a hot water nozzle and a cold water nozzle mounted exteriorly of said cabinet, and first and second conduit means respectively communicating said tank and said heater unit to said nozzles, the invention comprising an adapter for utilizing plastic bag type containers enclosed within a corrugated container in place of said bottle and said adapter comprising a plug member closing said open end of said tank, an outwardly extending peripheral edge about the upper surface of said plug forming with said upper surface, a platform for said box, and passageway means communicating the interior of said tank to the interior of said bag, wherein said passageway means extends through said plug member and a conduit connects the spout of said bag to said passageway means.
2. The invention of claim 1 wherein said heater unit is disposed below said tank and a vent tube extends upwardly from said unit to a point near the top of said container.
3. The invention of claim 2 wherein a heat-resistant tube communicates said tank to said unit and said vent tube is of a heat-resistant material in the vicinity of said heat unit.
4. The invention of claim 1 wherein sealing means are located between said plug member and said open end.
Because of the deterioration in purity of the water supply of many municipalities and because of a loss of freshness and flavor because of chemical bacteria killers, there is a growing demand for packaged, unadulterated water for home, office and industrial use. Much of this packaged water is used and dispensed from water coolers of the type constructed to receive its water supply from a large, unwieldy glass bottle. These bottles are normally of a type to hold approximately 5 gallons of water and terminate at their upper end by a throated section. The water cooler user must lift this unwieldy bottle and invert it into place. These bottles are difficult to wash and sanitize, they are difficult to deliver, and they are difficult for a user to handle in a sanitary manner.
It has become increasingly apparent in recent years that pure water supplies could best be packaged and delivered by way of a flexible, disposable bag within a corrugated paper container. Such packaging has long been used by the milk industry but has found little acceptance by the pure water industry. One of the primary reasons why the bag and box packaging art has not penetrated the pure water industry is that hundreds of thousands of water coolers are now in use throughout society that are constructed to receive only the aforementioned bottles. If the manufacturers of water coolers began making water coolers peculiarly adapted to receive bag and box type packaging, many inefficiencies would result. First of all, the delivery men of water would be required to adapt their trucks for both glass bottles and corrugated cardboard containers. Secondly, a hugh inventory of glass bottles would become obsolete. The U.S. Patents to Benua et al. Nos. 3,333,438, issued Aug. 1, 1967, and 3,060,703, issued Oct. 30, 1962, are directed toward the use of bag and box packaging but have never met with any appreciable commercial success.
The present invention relates primarily to an adapter for converting present-day, commonly used water coolers for use with bag-container packaging in a simple, inexpensive manner. In this way, entire routes can be converted without materially disturbing the capital investment the water cooler owners have made in their machines.
In addition to the main objective, the instant invention has many advantages over the glass containers of the prior art. First of all, since the flexible bag is collapsible, there is no requirement to permit air bubbles to enter the container as water is withdrawn therefrom. In many hospital and industrial areas, this intake of air can contaminate the water. Likewise, the water within the cardboard container is sheltered from light and is less likely to develop fungi and bacteria growth. Of course, the bag and box containers which can be used with the adapter of this invention are safer, they are disposable, they require much less storage space and they are easy to handle.
These and other objects of the invention will become more apparent to those skilled in the art by reference to the following detailed description when viewed in light of the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a partial cross-sectional view of a water cooler of the prior art;
FIG. 2 is a partial cross-sectional view of a water cooler employing the adapter of this invention; and
FIG. 3 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view of the adapter of this invention.
Referring now to the drawings wherein like numerals indicate like parts, a water cooler is indicated by the numeral 10. The cooler includes a cabinet portion 12 having an opening 14 at its upper end. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, this opening is also the opening of a cold water tank 16. In prior art devices as shown in FIG. 1, there is normally a grommet or annular support member 18 about the opening to support a glass water bottle 20 having a throated portion 22. In order to prevent a perfect seal between the bottle 20 and the grommet 18 the grommet is provided with slots or ridges so as to permit air to enter the top of tank 16 above the water level. There are many hundreds of thousands of such water coolers currently being used in many commercial, home, hospital, and industrial environments. This invention provides a means for substituting a bag and box package unit, such as that indicated by the numeral 24 in FIG. 2, in lieu of the bottle 20.
The grommet 18 of the prior art devices is removed from the cooler. An adapter member 26 having a lower plug member 28 and a supporting plate 30 is best seen in FIG. 3 and is the principal component of the instant invention. The plug portion is provided with a peripheral groove 30 to receive a sealing ring 32, the outer circumference of which is slightly greater than the circumference of the open end 14. The plug member 28 (and seal) isolate the interior of tank 16 from the surrounding atmosphere. Plug member 28 is provided with a circumferential lip 34 at the juncture 36 between the lip 34 and the downwardly depending portion of plug 28. A second seal 38 is provided to engage the periphery of the opening 18. A supporting plate 30 is secured to the upper surface of plug 28 by way of set screws 42.
The support plate 30 provides a base upon which the package 44 is supported. The package 44 is of a type having a corrugated paper carton 46 containing a flexible polyethylene bag 48. The water-filled bag 48 is equipped with a spout member 50. During transit, the tubular portion of the spout 50 is closed by way of a clip member 49 or is plugged at the end by a member not shown. The plate 30, near its periphery, is formed with a passageway 54 through which a plastic tube 56 is inserted. Tube 56 is adapted to mate with the outer end of spout 50. The tube's other end is adapted to mate with a passageway system 58 formed in plug member 28. Passageway 58 extends outwardly through the periphery of lip 34 and has its inner end in communication with the interior of water tank 16.
Referring now to FIG. 2 wherein the interior of the cabinet 12 is shown somewhat diagrammatically, it can be seen that the cold water tank 16 is communicated to the dispensing nozzle 60 by way of a tube 62. Coils 64 of conventional refrigerating type surround the tank 16 and are for purposes of keeping the water in tank 16 at a refreshing temperature. In those water coolers having a heating unit such as unit 65, a tubular vent stem 66 is utilized. The stem 66 is normally comprised of two parts; namely, a copper portion 68 adjoining the unit 65 and extending upwardly to a point where it is joined with a clear plastic tubular member 69. The two tubes are joined together by way of a conventional fitting 70. The copper portion 68 will normally extend upwardly to a point near the top surface 70 of the cabinet. Beyond this point, the water is sufficiently cool that it does not damage the clear and transparent tube 69. The tube 69 acts not only as a vent for unit 65 but also acts as a visual gauge indicating the amount of water remaining in the carton.
The hot water spigot is indicated by the numeral 72 and this spigot is communicated to the interior of the unit 65 by way of a copper tube 74.
As seen from the aforementioned description, this invention provides a quick, inexpensive and simple way of converting the prior art water coolers to a bag and box operation. The delivery man merely removes the grommet 18 and inserts the adapter member 26. The plate 30 provides a support for the container 24. The user lifts the carton 24 to plate 30 and arranges the spout 50 to a position near the upper end of the plastic tube 56 and inserts the spout 50 therein. The clip 49 is then removed and the unit is ready for operation. There are, of course, many convenient handle means available to carry a seven or eight gallon cardboard box which means are not available to the glass bottle field. Hand grip apertures such as those shown by the numeral 78 can be used or a handle 80 can be secured to the top of the box. In any event, handling difficulties are very much reduced because no inversion is necessary and the weight of the bottles is substantially eliminated.
In a general manner, while there have been disclosed effective and efficient embodiments of the invention, it should be well understood that the invention is not limited to such embodiments as there might be changes made in the arrangement, disposition, and form of the parts without departing from the principle of the present invention as comprehended within the scope of the accompanying claims.