Title:
Safety candleholder
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates to a “candleholder” containing one or more sensing devices that can detect any one or more unsafe conditions and generate a signal to activate an alarm when an unsafe condition is detected.



Inventors:
Platts, Deborah Ann (Allentown, PA, US)
Application Number:
10/900370
Publication Date:
02/02/2006
Filing Date:
07/28/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
431/289
International Classes:
F23N5/26
View Patent Images:
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20020119413Candle stand with audio and visual effectAugust, 2002Cheng
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Primary Examiner:
BASICHAS, ALFRED
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Thomas G. Ryder, Esq. (P.O. Box 716, Trexlertown, PA, 18087-0716, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A device for use with a candle which comprises (1) means for holding a candle, (2) means associated with the candle holding means for detecting an unsafe condition, (3) an alarm means (4) means responsive to the means for detecting an unsafe condition for activating the alarm means when the means for detecting an unsafe condition detects an unsafe condition, and (5) power supply means.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein the means for holding a candle comprises a base device selected from the group consisting of a plate, a cup, a spike, and a clamp.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein the means for detecting an unsafe condition is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a temperature sensing means: (b) a weight sensing means; (c) a weight change sensing means; (d) a light sensing means; (e) a motion sensing means; and (f) a proximity sensing means.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the power supply means is selected from: (a) a household electrical source; (b) a battery; (c) a solar power source; and (d) a fuel cell.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein the means for activating the alarm means is selected from the group consisting of an electronic circuit and an integrated circuit.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein the alarm means is selected from the group consisting of audible and visible means.

7. The device of claim 3 wherein the unsafe condition is the candle burning too low and the detection means is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a temperature sensing means; (b) a weight sensing means; (c) a weight change sensing means; and (d) a light sensing means.

8. The device of claim 3 wherein the unsafe condition is the candle or candleholder being disoriented and the detection means is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a temperature sensing means; (b) a weight sensing means; (c) a weight change sensing means: and (e) a motion sensing means.

9. The device of claim 3 wherein the unsafe condition is a hazard above the candleholder and the detection means is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a temperature sensing means; (e) a motion sensing means; and (f) a proximity sensing means.

10. A modular sensing device for use with a candleholder which comprises; (2) means for detecting an unsafe condition, (3) an alarm means (4) a means responsive to the means for detecting an unsafe condition for activating the alarm means when the means for detecting an unsafe condition detects an unsafe condition, and (5) a power supply means.

11. The modular device of claim 10 wherein the means for detecting an unsafe condition is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a temperature sensing means: (b) a weight sensing means; (c) a weight change sensing means; (d) a light sensing means; (e) a motion sensing means; and (f) a proximity sensing means.

12. The modular device of claim 10 wherein the power supply means is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a household electrical source; (b) a battery; (c) a solar power source; and (d) a fuel cell.

13. The modular device of claim 10 wherein the means for activating the alarm means is selected from the group consisting of an electronic circuit and an integrated circuit.

14. The modular device of claim 10-wherein the alarm means is selected from the group consisting of audible and visible means.

15. The modular device of claim 10 wherein the unsafe condition is a candle burning too low and the detection means is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a temperature sensing means; (b) a weight sensing means; (c) a weight change sensing means; and (d) a light sensing means.

16. The modular device of claim 10 wherein the unsafe condition is a candle or candleholder being disoriented and the detection means is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a temperature sensing means; (b) a weight sensing means; (c) a weight change sensing means: and (e) a motion sensing means.

17. The device of claim 10 wherein the unsafe condition is a hazard above the candleholder and the detection means is selected from the group consisting of: (a) a temperature sensing means; (e) a motion sensing means; and (f) a proximity sensing means.

18. The device of claim 1 wherein the candle holding means is designed to hold a plurality of candles and there is and a plurality of means for detecting an unsafe condition.

19. The device of claim 18 wherein the candle holding means is a flat plate and the means for detecting an unsafe condition are imbedded in the candle holding means.

Description:

This invention relates to a safety device for use with a candle, which device gives an alarm when an unsafe condition is detected. More specifically, this invention relates to a “candleholder” containing one or more detectors that can activate an alarm when various unsafe conditions are detected.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

According to the National Candle Association (NCA), retail candle sales in the United States alone are estimated to be 2.3 billion dollars per year. Since the early 1990s, overall candle sales have grown at a rate of 10 to 15 per cent each year. The NCA also reports that candles are used in seven out of ten households in the United States and that candles are no longer used only for the occasional dinner party. During the past 10 years, there has been a huge shift toward people using scented candles as part of everyday home life and families are lighting candles in their living rooms, family rooms, dens, kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms.

Along with the soaring popularity of candles has come a dramatic increase in the number of fires and resulting damage, injury and death caused by candle fires. A report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows that the estimated number of home candle fires jumped from 8,240 in 1980 to 15,040 in 1999. According to this report, in 1999, candle fires caused 1,473 injuries, up from 506 in 1980, and $278 million in direct property damage, up from $38.1 million in 1980. According to the Consumer Product Safety, during the same period deaths in the U.S. from fires caused by candles have increased more than 700 per cent.

Candle fires most often start when flames are left unattended or ignite nearby objects. Candle users don't seem to realize that they are dealing with fire. According to the NFPA, 38% of the home candle fires in 1999 occurred when candles were left unattended, abandoned or inadequately controlled. Twenty three percent (23%) of home candle fires started when some form of combustible material was left or came too close to the candle.

Unfortunately, there is no standardization in the production of candles. Different manufacturers employ different types and compositions of the “wax” or “paraffin” from which the candles are fabricated. Additionally, in many instances, the composition of the same style candle can vary from one batch to another from the same manufacturer. These differences cause the different composition candles to burn at different rates and at different temperatures.

Furthermore, candles are fabricated in different sizes and shapes and this has an impact on the rate at which candles burn. Thus, for example, two candles of the same height and composition, but of different diameters, will “burn down” at different rates. An illustration of this is the comparison between a candle for a birthday cake, which is about 2 inches high and about an eighth inch in diameter, and a votive candle, which is about 2 inches high and about an inch and a half in diameter. The birthday cake candle burns down in a matter of a few minutes, while the votive candle burns for several hours.

It has been previously suggested to provide a means for snuffing out a candle after a pre-set amount of time has elapsed. See for example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,572,365 to Byxbe, which describes a device with a timer for snuffing out a candle after a pre-set amount of time has elapsed. While this may be a step in the right direction and is better than nothing, it still does not address the problem when an unsafe condition arises before the time that the snuffing mechanism is activated. It clearly does not address the situations of the candle holder falling over, the candle being removed from the candle holder, the candle burning down to an unsafe level, the temperature in the area of the candle becoming too high, or the candle igniting combustible matter in the vicinity of the candle, all at a time prior to the pre-set snuffing time selected by the operator.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

My invention relates to a safety device for use with a candle. This device comprises a candleholder or means for holding or supporting a candle. Associated with the candleholder is another means or several different means for detecting an unsafe condition or several unsafe conditions. The device of my invention also includes an alarm means, which is responsive to the means for detecting an unsafe condition. The alarm is activated when an unsafe condition is detected.

The candleholder of my invention can be any means or device that is capable supporting a candle and can include any of the well-known devices currently in use. Examples of such devices include spikes (upon which a candle can be impaled), cups or sockets (into which the base of a candle can be inserted), clamps (for gripping a candle), containers (in which the entire candle is located), or flat plates (upon which the base of a candle rests).

My invention further relates to a modular device which comprises means for detecting an unsafe condition, an alarm means and a means for activating the alarm means when an unsafe condition is detected. This modular device is adapted to be included in a candleholder when it is being fabricated or added to a previously fabricated candleholder, thereby providing such candleholders with the ability to detect unsafe conditions and to sound an alarm when a unsafe condition is detected.

Some of the unsafe conditions that could exist in connection with the burning of a candle include the burning of the candle to an unsafely low level, the candle and/or candle holder tipping over, the removal of the candle from the candleholder, too high a temperature in the area of the candle or candleholder, or a foreign object or material in proximity to the candle or candleholder.

Generally, the means for detecting unsafe conditions include devices such as a means for sensing temperature, means for sensing weight, means for sensing weight change, means for sensing light, means for sensing motion and means for sensing proximity, such as a foreign object intruding into the space about a candleholder.

The means for detecting the unsafe condition of the candle burning too low can include a means for detecting or sensing the temperature in the area proximate the base of the candle, a means for detecting the weight of the candle or the rate of change of the weight of the candle, a means for detecting the level of the flame of a burning candle. or the distance of the candle flame from the candleholder.

The means for detecting the unsafe condition of the candle or candleholder tipping over can include a means for detecting the temperature proximate the candleholder, a means for detecting weight of the candle and/or the candleholder, a means for detecting motion in the vicinity of the candleholder, or a means for detecting the motion of the candle or candleholder.

The means for detecting the unsafe condition of a foreign object material in proximity to the candle or candleholder can be means for detecting ignition of foreign material or means for detecting the motion of a foreign body or material in proximity to the candle or candleholder.

A variety of the various means mentioned above are well known to the art and are readily available in the industry. Thus, for example, temperature sensing devices useful in my invention include thermistors (thermo resistive devices), thermocouples, pyroelectric devices (infrared thermal detectors), bimetallic cut out switches, and thermopile sensors.

Similarly, a selection of means for detecting weight or change of weight is also available commercially and include such devices as strain gauges, piezoresistive pressure sensors, mechanical switches, and spring actuated switches.

There are also available many motion detecting devices. Some of the more readily available devices of this nature include photo electric motion sensors (LED light beams), capacitive proximity sensors, photo voltaic sensors, ultra sonic proximity sensors, and several inductive devices,

The devices for the detection of flames or the location or position of flames are also known in the art and include, for example, photo resistive flame detectors, infra red pyro electric detectors and various heat sensing and detecting devices mentioned above.

It will be understood that many of the means and devices mentioned above can be used to detect more than one unsafe condition. Additionally, many of the devices can be calibrated so as to detect different unsafe conditions. Thus, for example, a temperature or heat sensing device, such as a thermocouple, can be used to detect either or both of the unsafe conditions of the candle burning too low and/or a candle tipping over.

Thus, for example, a variety of specific means exist for determining if a candle has burned too low or too hot. Some of the devices available for the detection of temperature at or near the base of the candle include a thermistor. In practice one or more thermistors, such as the Accu-curve brand available from RTI Electronics, can be positioned proximate the bottom of a candle. The thermistor can be attached mechanically or with and adhesive (e.g., epoxy) to the candle holder, or it can be incorporated into the candle holder, such as by molding the thermistor into the candle holder. If the candleholder is a flat plate, the thermistor can be positioned on either the upper or under surface of the candleholder. When a predetermined temperature is sensed or detected by the thermistor, a signal is transmitted by the thermistor to the alarm means, such as by an electronic circuit.

Another means for sensing or detecting temperature is a thermocouple and devices of this type can be obtained commercially from Newport Electronics or Watlow. In accordance with my invention, one or more thermocouples can be positioned on or in a candleholder so as to detect the temperature near the base of a candle. When a predetermined temperature is sensed or detected proximate the base of a candle, a signal is generated to activate the alarm means.

Alternatively, a bi-metal switch, such as those available from Cantherm can be positioned on or in the candle holder so as to sense or detect the temperature at the base of a candle so that when a predetermined temperature is sensed the bi-metal switch will change position and cause the activation of the alarm means.

In another embodiment of my invention, a thermopile sensor, such as the thin film type available from Dexter Research Center, Inc., can be used to sense or detect the temperature at or near the base of a candle. The thermopile sensor can be located on or in the candleholder proximate the base of a candle. When a predetermined temperature is sensed or detected, the out put voltage of the thermopile will activate the alarm means and sound an alarm.

It is also possible to employ a thermal detector, such as an IR pyroelectric detector available from InfraTec GmbH. The thermal detector can also be positioned on or in the candleholder so as to detect or sense the temperature near the base of the candle. When the temperature sensed or detected reaches or exceed a predetermined temperature, the output signal from the thermal detector will cause the activation of the alarm means.

In addition to temperature sensing devices, the unsafe condition of a candle burning too low can also determined by use of means for detecting the weight or the rate of weight change of a candle. Thus, for example, a strain gauge, such as a thin film strain gauge available from Advanced Custom Sensors, Inc., can be attached to the candle holder of this invention in such a manner as to sense the weight of a candle and/or the rate of change in the weight of a burning candle as it burns down. When the weight of the candle decreases or the rate of change in the weight of the candle increases to a predetermined level, which is indicative of the candle having burned to a low level, a signal from the strain gauge triggers the alarm means. While this means for detecting the weight or rate of change of weight of a candle is suitable for use with any of the various types of candle holders, including, for example, a spike, a clamp or a cup, it is particularly well suited for use in connection with a candle supporting surface, such as a flat plate.

Alternatively, a force sensor, such as an FS series Micro Switch available from Honeywell, can be mounted on the candle holder in a manner to sense the weight of a candle and/or the rate of change in weight of a burning candle. As a candle burns to the bottom, the weight of the candle diminishes or the rate of change in the weight loss of the candle INCREASES—? to a predetermined level, which is indicative of the candle having burned to a low level. At this point a signal from the force sensor activates the alarm means. As mentioned above, while this means for detecting the weight or rate of change of weight of a candle is suitable for use with any of the various types of candle holders, including, for example, spikes, clamps or cups, it is particularly well suited for use in connection with a candle supporting surface, such as a flat, horizontal plate.

Another type of means for detecting the unsafe condition of a candle having burned too low is a light detection means, including means for sensing when the flame of the candle approaches too closely to the candle holder. Yet another type device can be an LED beam that is connected or completed when the candle burns below a predetermined level.

A different unsafe condition that can occur is when a candle is knocked over or is unintentionally removed from the candleholder. This situation can occur when the candle is knocked over by an object impacting the candle or the candle is removed from the candle holder, such as by a child.

Suitable means for detection of this or these unsafe conditions include devices for detecting a weight change. An example of such device is a subminiature on-off switch, such as a ZX series switch from Honeywell Micro Switch division, which can be mounted in such a manner that when a candle is in position on/in the candle holder, of whatever type, the switch remains closed, but if/when the candle is tipped over or removed from the candleholder, the switch changes to the open position and the alarm means is activated. Thus, it will be seen that a mere tipping over of the candle will reduce the weight/pressure on the switch to cause the switch to change position. Similarly, the removal of the candle from the candleholder will also cause the switch to change position. The change in position of the switch results in activation of the alarm means. Devices of this nature can be used in connection with the various types of candle holders, such as spikes, clamps, cups or flat plates. It will be understood that a device of this type is also capable of detecting when a candle has burned to a predetermined low level.

Similarly, a force measuring device, such as a piezoresistive force sensor in the FS series available from Honeywell Micro Switch division, can be mounted in/on the candleholder in such a manner to sense the weight of a candle when positioned in/on the candleholder. In the event of the sudden change in the weight sensed by the device, such as, for example, by the candle tipping over or being removed from the candleholder, the sensing means will trigger the alarm means.

Another device that can be employed to detect a candle tipping over or a candle being removed from the candleholder is a strain gauge, such as those available from Omega, which can be attached to the candleholder to detect the presence of a candle. In the event the candle is tipped over or removed from the candleholder, the resulting change in the resistance of the strain gauge can be employed in an electric/electronic circuit to trigger the alarm means.

An alternative can be a combination strain gauge and temperature sensor, such as the Kyowa brand available from Soltec. The combination device can be installed in./on the candleholder so that the strain gauge can detect the tipping or removal of the candle and the detection of an abnormal temperature proximate the base of the candle holder by the temperature sensor is indicative of the candle tipping over. Either or both sensed phenomenon will activate the alarm means.

A heat flux sensor located proximate the base of the candleholder will react to the flame of a candle that has been tipped over and activate the alarm means.

Motion detecting devices can also be used as the means for detecting an unsafe condition in connection with a candle being unintentionally removed from the candleholder or the candle being knocked over. Thus, for example, an LED light beam, i.e., a visible light emitting and receiving device, such as the Sideview TLP series available from Vishay, can be set in a through beam manner to shine a light beam parallel to the candle supporting surface. When the candle is in proper position in/on the candleholder, the beam is broken. In the event the candle is removed from the candleholder or is tipped over, the beam will be completed and the alarm means will be triggered.

Another device that can be employed is a photoelectric cell or a photo diode, such as the typ available from Clairex Technologies, Inc. This type device can be located on the candleholder in such a manner that the visible light is blocked from the sensor when the candle is in proper position. If the candle is removed from the candleholder or is tipped from its proper position, the photodiode will sense the light and will activate the alarm means.

It is also possible to employ an ultra sonic sensor of the type available from Baumer Electric and positioned in/on the candleholder so that the sensor will recognize the presence of a candle and in the event that the candle is removed or is tipped from its proper position, the sensor will change its current output and trigger the alarm means.

Alternatively, a capacitive proximity sensor, such as the CFDM model available from Baumer Electric can be mounted relative to the candleholder so as to focus on the candle base while it is in the proper position. If the candle is removed or tipped out of proper position, the sensor output will change and the alarm means will be triggered.

In the situation wherein the unsafe condition results from the candleholder being removed from its proper resting place, such as on a table or other horizontal/flat surface. Typical of this situation is having the candleholder knocked over or removed from its resting place such s by the action of a passerby, and animal or a child.

Illustrative of such a means is a subminiature on-off switch, for example the D2F series snap action switches from Omron. This type of switch can be mounted to the base of a candleholder in such a manner that when the candleholder is resting on a table or other flat, horizontal surface, the switch is closed. If the candleholder is removed from the resting surface, the switch position changes and the electronic circuit activates the alarm mechanism,

Another such means is a peizoresistive force sensor, for example an LPM Micro Force Sensor device from Cooper Instruments. This kind of device is mounted on a candleholder housing so as to sense the weight of the candle holder as it rests on a table or other support. If the candleholder is knocked over, the change in signal from the force sensor will cause the electronic circuit to trigger the alarm means.

A strain gauge, such as one from the LQB series available from Cooper Instruments can be attached to the candleholder housing so as to measure the load while the candleholder is resting on a table or other supporting surface. In the event the candleholder is removed, a change in resistance will cause the electronic/integrated circuit to trigger the alarm.

Another device that can be employed is a membrane touch switch of the type available from Conductive Technologies, Inc. This type of device can be positioned in the candleholder housing so that an actuating arm can momentarily engage its touch switch if the candleholder is knocked off the table or supporting surface, thereby causing the electronic/integrated circuit to trigger the alarm.

Another means for detecting if a candleholder has been tipped over or removed from its proper resting place is a motion sensing means. Such means include devices such as a tilt sensor, particularly the wide angle series available from The Fredericks Company. This type of device can be mounted in the candleholder and, if the candleholder is knocked over or held out of level, the tilt sensor will send a signal to the electronic/integrated circuit to activate the alarm means. A similar device that acts in the same manner is an inclinometer, such as one from the SCA series available from VTI Technologies.

A visible light sensing device, such as a light sensitive photo diode from the Si series available from Hamamatsu Corporation, can be mounted on the underside of a candleholder so as not to receive any visible light. If the candle older is knocked over or removed from its supporting surface, the light sensing means will be exposed to room light and the output signal will change causing the electronic/integrated circuit to activate the alarm.

An accelerometer or inertia switch, such as those available from Dytran Instruments, Inc., can be mounted on the candleholder and if the candleholder is knocked over or removed from its supporting surface, the change in output signal will cause the integrated circuit to activate the alarm.

Another motion sensing device that can be employed is an electronic compass, such as a member of the HMR series available from Honeywell, can be mounted on a candleholder to sense any movement of the candleholder. The resulting output signal will cause the electronic circuit to activate the alarm.

Other unsafe conditions that can occur include problems arising in the area above the candle or candleholder and include such things as foreign objects intruding into the space above the candleholder or candle or items catching fire. Means for detecting the intrusion of objects above the candleholder include many of the motion sensing devices discussed previously, but in the present situation they operate in a manner somewhat opposite to mode of operation described previously. Thus, for example, a photo electric device such as a photo diode can be places in the candle holder such that it is exposed to available light. If a foreign object intrudes into the area above the candleholder the amount of light received by the photo diode is reduced and the variation is output to the electronic circuit causes the circuit to send a signal to activate the alarm. Similarly, ultra sonic sensors and capacitive type proximity sensors will react to the presence of foreign objects in their vicinity. Other well-known motion sensing devices can also be employed.

In connection with the unsafe condition of ignition of material around or above the candleholder, temperature sensing devices can be employed similar to those described previously. Further, temperature sensing means including an infrared pyroelectric detector, such as one selected from the LIE series available from Infra Tec, and a thermopile detector, such as one selected from the ZTP series manufactured by GE, can be used. Devices of this nature sense the ambient conditions near and around a candle held in a candleholder of this invention and ignition of a foreign object will change the output from the devices causing the electronic/integrated circuit to activate the alarm.

DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded view of an embodiment of this invention suitable for holding a candle on a flat plate.

FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of this invention wherein the candleholder if of the “spike” type.

FIG. 3 shows another embodiment of this invention wherein the candleholder is of the cup or container type.

FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of this invention wherein the candleholder is of the clamp type.

FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of this invention suitable for use with multiple candles.

FIG. 6 shows another embodiment of this invention wherein all of the sensing, computing, and alarm means are contained in a single module for inclusion in a candleholder.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows an exploded view of one embodiment of a device 10 in accordance with this invention. As shown in the drawing, there is a base plate 12 and a top plate 14. Disposed between the base plate 12 and the top plate 14 are three other components of the device 10, specifically, a candle holding or support plate 16, a battery 18, and a sensing device plate 20.

On sensing device plate 20 are mounted several sensing devices. As shown in FIG. 1, there are a temperature sensing device 22, a weight sensing device 24, a weight change sensing device 26, an audible alarm mechanism 28, and an electronic/integrated control circuit 30, all. mounted on plate 20. Also connected to plate 20 are a light sensing device 32, a motion sensing device 34, and a proximity sensing device 36. Plate 20 further has associated with it a visual alarm mechanism 38, an on-off switch 40 and a battery connector 42 for use with battery 18.

Sensing devices 22, 24, and 26 are designed to come in contact with the surface of plate 16, when the device 10 of this invention is assembled, and to detect, respectively, the temperature at or proximate to plate 16, the weight of any load on plate 16 (such as the weight of a candle), and the rate of change in weight of any load on plate 16 (such as the rate of weight change of a burning candle supported on plate 16).

The sensing and alarm devices 22, 24, 26, 28, 32, 34, 36, and 38 as well as on-off switch 40 and battery connector 42 described above are all electrically connected to electronic/integrated circuit 30 by means of a series of connecting wires, all designated by reference numeral 44. Each of these connecting wires is capable of conducting electrical power and/or signals to circuit member 30, which operates to activate the alarm means 28 and 38 in the event a phenomenon determined to be unsafe is detected by any one or more of the sensing devices 22, 24, 26, 32, 34 and 36.

As also shown in FIG. 1, top plate 14 is provided with a series of apertures there through and identified by reference numbers 46, 48, and 50. Aperture 46 is adapted to receive light sensing device 32 in a manner that sensing device 32 is capable of detecting the intensity of light in the area above candle holding or support plate 16 and top plate 14. Aperture 48 is adapted to receive motion sensing device 34 in a manner that sensing device 34 is capable of detecting motion of a body in the area above candle holding or support plate 16 and top plate 14. Similarly, aperture 50 is adapted to receive proximity sensing device 36 in a manner that sensing device 36 is capable of detecting the presence of a foreign body in the area above candle holding or support plate 16 and top plate 14.

It will be noted that base plate 12 has a notched opening 52 in its outer rim and an aperture 54 there through. The notched opening 52 is adapted to receive on-off switch 40 in a manner that switch 40 is operable from the exterior of the device of the invention 10 after the device 10 is assembled. Aperture 54 is adapted to receive visual alarm mechanism 38 in a manner that the visual alarm 38 is capable of being seen from the exterior of the device 10 after it is assembled.

In assembling the device of this invention 10, battery 18 is connected to battery connector 42 to provide power to the system and the ears 56 on sensing device plate 20 are received into the slots 58 in base plate 12 to provide support and stability. Candle holding plate 16 is placed on top of sensing device plate 20 and, if desired or required, in contact with sensing devices 22, 24, and 26. On-off switch 40 is positioned in notched opening 52 in base plate 12 and visual alarm means 38 is inserted through aperture 54 in base plate 12. Similarly, top plate 14 is placed over plates 16 and 20 so that on-off switch 40 is received in notched opening 60 in top plate 14 and sensing devices 32, 34 and 36 are disposed through apertures 46, 48 and 50, respectively. Plates 12 and 14 are fastened together, by means not shown, thereby securing in an integral structure, the device 10 of this invention.

In operation, one or more candles can be placed on the candle holding/support plate 16 the assembled device 10. In the event an unsafe condition occurs one or more of the sensing devices will detect the phenomenon(s) associated with such unsafe condition. Thus, for example, if a candle placed on plate 16 is removed from plate 16, then weight sensing device 24 will detect the removal of that load from plate 16 and send an appropriate signal to control circuit 30 which in turn will activate either or both of audible alarm mechanism 28 and visual alarm mechanism 38. Similarly, upon removal of the load from plate 16, weight change sensing device 26 will detect the abnormally rapid change in weight and send an appropriate signal to control circuit 30 which will activate either or both of the audible alarm 28 and the visual alarm 38.

In the unsafe condition of a candle falling over, not only will weight sensing device 24 and weight change sensing device 26 detect the phenomenon, but motion sensing device 34 will also detect the motion of the candle falling over. Additionally, if the candle falls over onto plate 16, then temperature sensing device 22 can also detect the high temperature of the flame of the candle on the plate. Thus, all of weight sensing device 24, weight change sensing device 26, motion sensing device 34 and temperature sensing device 22 will send signals to control circuit 30 to activate the alarm mechanisms 28 and 38.

In the unsafe condition of the candle burning too low, the temperature sensing device 22 will detect the temperature proximate plate 16 exceeding a predetermined maximum safe temperature. In this situation weight sensing device 24 can also detect the very low weight of the almost consumed candle, while weight change sensing device 26 can detect the change in the rate of weight change in a candle as the candle is almost totally consumed. As the candle burns low, light sensing device 32 can also detect the low elevation of the candle flame. Thus, any one or more of sensing devices 22, 24, 26, and 32 can send an appropriate signal to control circuit 30 which in turn will activate either or both of the alarm mechanisms 28 and 38.

In the unsafe condition of some object, especially a flammable object, intruding into the space above the plate 16 or a candle supported on plate 16, several of the sensing devices can detect the unsafe condition. For example, the motion sensing device 34 can detect the presence of a foreign object, such as a child, an animal or a careless person, moving into the vicinity of the device of this invention 10. If the device of this invention 10 has been moved from an original safe position, for example by a child, and animal or a careless adult, the proximity sensing device 36 can detect the newly created unsafe condition and send an appropriate signal to control circuit 30 to activate alarms 28 and 38.

Another unsafe condition that could occur is for the entire device of this invention 10 to be tipped over. In such situation, all of the temperature sensing device 22, the weight sensing device 24, the weight change sensing device 26 and the motion sensing device 34 would detect abnormal conditions, such as predetermined parameters, and transmit appropriate signals to control circuit 30 to activate alarms 28 and 38.

Although the embodiment of this invention illustrated in FIG. 1, is shown using a standard alkali battery as the source of power, it will be understood that other power sources can be employed with this invention. For example, the apparatus of this invention can be powered using standard household current, a rechargeable battery (Nickel-Cadmium), thin film batteries, and radiation driven electrical sources, such as photo voltaic cells (solar cells).

It will also be understood that it is not necessary to use all of the sensing devices described above in every embodiment of devices of this invention, since some of the sensing devices are duplicative in results. It is also possible that a user may not believe it necessary to use all of the sensing devices.

In FIG. 2 there is shown a different embodiment of the device of this invention where the candleholder is of the “spike” type. Thus, in this figure there is shown a support rod 210 on which is mounted a drip tray 212 and from which projects a spike 214. In this type of “candle holder” the center of the bottom of a candle 216 (shown in dotted lines) is impaled on the spike 214 and the bottom of the candle 216 rests on drip tray 212.

Shown imbedded in tray 212 are a light sensing device 218, a weight sensing device 220, a weight change sensing device 222, a temperature sensing device 224, a motion sensing device 226 and an audible alarm mechanism 228. Imbedded in the support rod 210 is electronic/integrated circuit 230. Also shown in FIG. 2 is electrical line 232 coming from a power supply, not shown, such as a standard household source of electric power.

Similar to the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, out put signals from each of the sensing devices 218, 220, 222, 224, and 226, if all are used, are routed to electronic/integrated circuit 230 which in turn sends signal to audible alarm mechanism 228 when any one of the such sensing devices detects a parameter other than a predetermined value, thus indicating an unsafe condition.

FIG. 3 illustrates another embodiment of this invention. In this figure there is shown supporting base 310 on which is mounted candle container 312 having an opening 314 for receiving a candle 316 (shown in dotted lines). Imbedded in container 312 are a light sensing device 318, a weight sensing device 320, a weight change sensing device 322, temperature sensing device 324, and motion sensing device 326. Also imbedded in container 312 is an audible alarm mechanism 328. An electronic/integrated circuit 330 is also shown imbedded in supporting base 310. Electrical lead 332 providing power for the operation of the device is shown connecting the device to a power supply, not shown.

As in the preceding embodiments of this invention illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the sensing devices 318, 320, 322, 324, and 326 (if all are used); the alarm mechanism 328; and the electronic/integrated circuit 330 are interconnected by appropriate wiring means so that the alarm mechanism 328 is activated when any unsafe condition is detected by any one or more of the sensing devices 318, 320, 322, 324, or 326 detects a parameter other than a predetermined norm. Thus, for example, if a candle burns too low or is tipped over, the alarm is activated. Similarly, if the entire device is tipped over or a foreign body come to close to a candle, the alarm is also activated.

FIG. 4 shows an embodiment of this invention wherein a candle is grasped by a clamp. In this figure can be seen a support arm 410 to which is attached a clamp mechanism 412 and support base 414 designed to support and clamp a candle 416 (shown in dotted lines). Imbedded in clamp 412 are a light sensing device 418, proximity sensing device 422, temperature sending device 424, and motion sensing device 426. There is also a weight sensing device 420 imbedded in support base 414. An alarm mechanism 428 is imbedded in clamp 412 and an electronic/integrated circuit 430 is imbedded in support arm 410. Also shown is an electrical line 432 connected to a power supply, not shown.

In the embodiment of FIG. 4, as in the previously described embodiments of this invention illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 3, the sensing devices 418, 420, 422, 424, and 426, if all are used, are interconnected with electronic/integrated circuit 430, alarm mechanism 428 and to a power supply, not shown, via electrical line 432. In operation, when an unsafe condition is detected by any of the sensing devices 418, 420, 422, 424, or 426 by registering a parameter other than a predetermined value, the alarm mechanism 428 is activated. Thus unsafe conditions, such as, the candle burning too low, tipping over or being removed from the clamp 412 can be detected and alarm mechanism 428 is activated.

FIG. 5 illustrates another embodiment of this invention, which is designed to accommodate multiple candles and is indicated by reference number 510. This embodiment includes a support platform 512. FIG. 5 illustrates an embodiment capable of supporting four candles 516. Because of this embodiment being larger that those illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 4, this embodiment shows multiple light sensing devices 518 located at a plurality of locations on support platform 512. The entire upper surface of platform 512 is covered with a thin film weight sensing device 520 which is capable of detecting changes in weight on the film, such as the candles 516 burning too low, tipping over or being removed from weight sensing device 520. Also located at multiple locations along the top surface of platform 512 are a plurality temperature sensing devices 524. Further there are multiple motion sensing devices 526 located at a plurality of locations along the top surface of platform 512. Sensing devices 518 and 526 extend above weight sensing device 520. Associated with platform 512 is an audible alarm mechanism 528. Positioned within platform 512 is an electronic/integrated circuit 530 designed to process signals from the sensing devices 518, 520, 524, and 526. There is also illustrated an electrical line 532 connecting the platform 512 to a power supply, not shown. As mentioned in connection with the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 4, the sensing devices 518, 520, 524, and 526, the electronic/integrated circuit 530 and the alarm mechanism 528 are all interconnected with appropriate wiring.

In operation, the phenomena detected by the sensing devices 518, 520, 524, and 526, if all are used, generate signals that are transmitted to electronic/integrated circuit 530 where they are processed and if there is a variation from any predetermined norm, a signal is sent from electronic/integrated circuit 530 to alarm mechanism 528 to activate it and sound an audible alarm indicating that an unsafe condition exists. Thus, if the temperature detected by temperature sensing device 524 is too high thus indicating that a candle 516 has burned too low or that a candle 516 has tipped over, the alarm will be sounded. On the other hand, if one of the motion sensing devices 526 detects movement proximate support platform 512 indicative of an object, animal or person coming too close to the platform 512, a signal will be sent to electronic/integrated circuit 530, which in turn will activate alarm 528. In another instance of unsafe conditions, if weight sensing device 520 detects a reduction in weight which can be indicative of a candle 516 burning too low, tipping over or being removed from platform 512, a signal will be sent to electronic/integrated circuit 530 where it will be determined if a predetermined norm has been exceeded. In such event, a signal will be sent from electronic/integrated circuit 530 to activate alarm 528. If a light sensing device 518 detects an amount of light that electronic/integrated circuit 530 determines exceeds a predetermined level, a signal will be sent to activate alarm mechanism 528. This can occur if a candle 516 burns too low, is tipped over or a foreign object above platform 512 catches fire.

In FIG. 6 there is illustrated a module in accordance with this invention. Within module housing 610 there are disposed a weight sensing device 612, a weight change sensing device 614, and a temperature sensing device 616. Also connected to modular housing 610 are a light sensing device 618, a motion sensing device 620, and a proximity sensing device 622. At an exterior surface of module 610 is located an alarm mechanism 624. Positioned within module housing 610 is an electronic/integrated circuit 626. As can also be seen in FIG. 6, the sensing devices 612, 614, 616, 618, 620 and 622 are all interconnected with electronic/integrated circuit 626 and alarm mechanism 624 by means of connecting wires 628. Electrical power to the module is supplied by means of electrical line 630, which leads to a power supply, not shown. The power supply can be a normal household electrical power supply, a battery, a photo-voltaic cell, or a fuel cell.

In operation, the module housing 610 can be installed in any of the many types of commercially available candleholders readily available on the market. Thus, for example, a module 610 of this invention can be incorporated into the body of a candleholder during fabrication of the candle holder so as to become an integral part of such candle holder. Alternatively, a module 610 of this invention can be added to a previously fabricated candleholder. In any event, the module 610, which includes all of the sensing means, calculating or computing means, and alarm means necessary to detect operating parameters, to determine if predetermined unsafe operating conditions prevail and alarm means to alert the user to the existence of an unsafe condition in order that corrective or remedial action can be taken.