Title:
Stackable spa for above-ground swimming pool
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spa for an above-ground pool, the spa comprising a shell adapted to receive water therein and including a perimeter wall, an opening in the perimeter wall, a support structure adapted to support the shell so that the opening corresponds with a pool opening to define a passage providing fluid communication between the pool and the spa, and a removable partition for closing the passage. Also, a spa comprising a shell including an enclosure for receiving water therein, at least one bench defining a seating surface at an adequate height, a top coping defining a top end of the shell, and an outer wall extending downwardly from the top coping and having a bottom end which is lower than the seating surface, such that the shell is stackable onto a similar shell with the bottom end of the outer wall resting on the top coping of the similar shell.



Inventors:
Foy, Jerome (Orford, CA)
Application Number:
11/479500
Publication Date:
02/22/2007
Filing Date:
06/30/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LE, HUYEN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KILPATRICK TOWNSEND & STOCKTON LLP (MAILSTOP: IP DOCKETING - 22 1100 PEACHTREE STREET SUITE 2800, ATLANTA, GA, 30309, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A spa for an above-ground swimming pool having a first opening in a wall panel thereof, the spa comprising: a shell adapted to receive water therein, the shell including a perimeter wall; a second opening in the perimeter wall; a support structure adapted to support the shell adjacent to the swimming pool so that the first opening corresponds with the second opening, thereby defining a passage providing fluid communication between the swimming pool and the spa; and a removable partition for closing the passage such that the spa becomes an independent body of water from the swimming pool.

2. The spa according to claim 1, wherein the shell is integrally molded.

3. The spa according to claim 1, wherein the shell is sized so as to be stackable over a second similar shell.

4. The spa according to claim 3, wherein the perimeter wall is a double wall including an inner wall extending from a top coping to a floor surface of the shell and an outer wall extending downwards from the top coping and having a bottom end which is higher than the floor surface, and the shell is stackable over a second similar shell such that the bottom end of the outer wall rests against the top coping of the second similar shell.

5. The spa according to claim 4, wherein a first height defined between the top coping and the bottom end of the outer wall is less than one half of a second height defined between the top coping and the floor surface.

6. The spa according to claim 1, wherein the removable partition is slidably mounted into grooves in the shell provided in vertical sides of the second opening.

7. The spa according to claim 1, wherein the spa also comprises a retractable protective covering.

8. The spa according to claim 7, wherein the shell has an at least partly circular section, and the retractable protective covering is a dome defined by a plurality of semi-circular ribs covered by a flexible material, the semi-circular ribs being mounted on two hinges located in a diametrically opposed fashion with respect to the shell.

9. The spa according to claim 8, wherein the flexible material is a translucent UV-proof material.

10. A spa comprising a shell, the shell including: an enclosure for receiving water therein, the enclosure defining a floor surface; at least one bench defining a seating surface at an adequate height for receiving a user in a seated position such as to be comfortably immersed when the enclosure is filled with water; a top coping defining a top end of the shell; and an outer wall extending downwardly from the top coping, the outer wall having a bottom end which is lower than the seating surface and higher than the floor surface, such that the shell is stackable onto a similar shell with the bottom end of the outer wall resting on the top coping of the similar shell.

11. The spa according to claim 10, wherein the shell is a single integrally molded shell.

12. The spa according to claim 10, wherein the spa is adapted to be in fluid communication with an above-ground swimming pool.

13. The spa according to claim 12, wherein the fluid communication between the spa and the swimming pool can be interrupted by a removable partition.

14. The spa according to claim 10, wherein the spa also comprises a retractable protective covering.

15. The spa according to claim 14, wherein the top coping is at least partly annular, and the retractable protective covering is a dome defined by a plurality of semi-circular ribs covered by a flexible material, the semi-circular ribs being mounted on two hinges located in a diametrically opposed fashion on the top coping.

16. The spa according to claim 15, wherein the flexible material is a translucent UV-proof material.

17. An enclosure adapted to receive water therein and having a height of H, the enclosure having an outer wall extending downwardly from a top thereof for a height of HW, HW being smaller than H, and the enclosure being stackable on similar enclosures such that a stack height is defined by H+(n-1)*HW, where n is the number of enclosures in the stack.

18. A combined above-ground swimming pool and spa assembly comprising: a. an above-ground swimming pool comprising a wall and an upper ledge; b. a spa comprising a wall and an upper ledge, the upper ledge of the spa abutting the upper ledge of the above-ground swimming pool, the wall of the spa having an opening aligned with an opening of the above-ground swimming pool so as to allow fluid communication between the spa and the above-ground swimming pool; c. an insertable, removable partition configured, when inserted, to close the aligned openings of the walls of the spa and the above-ground swimming pool; and d. an upper ledge portion configured to connect to either or both of the upper ledges of the spa and above-ground swimming pool above the aligned openings.

19. A combined above-ground swimming pool and spa assembly according to claim 18 further comprising at least one seat connected to the spa external to the wall of the spa.

20. A ladder for use in connection with a swimming pool or spa, the ladder comprising: a. spaced rails; b. a plurality of rungs; and c. a cover moveable along the spaced rails from a first position covering the plurality of rungs and rendering them inaccessible for climbing to a second position in which one or more of the plurality of rungs is uncovered and accessible for climbing.

21. A combined above-ground swimming pool and spa assembly comprising: a. an above-ground swimming pool comprising a wall and an upper ledge; b. a spa comprising a wall and an upper ledge, the upper ledge of the spa abutting the upper ledge of the above-ground swimming pool, the wall of the spa having an opening aligned with an opening of the above-ground swimming pool so as to allow fluid communication between the spa and the above-ground swimming pool; c. an insertable, removable partition configured, when inserted, to close the aligned openings of the walls of the spa and the above-ground swimming pool; and d. a water spillway configured to cause water to spillover from the spa to the above-ground swimming pool.

Description:

REFERENCE TO PROVISIONAL APPLICATION

This application is based on and hereby refers to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/695,534, filed Jul. 1, 2005, having the same title as appears above, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by this reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to above-ground swimming pools, particularly to spas attached to such pools.

2. Background Art

Exterior spas, or hot tubs, have steadily grown in popularity in recent years. More and more new pool purchasers are choosing to include a spa unit with their swimming pool. While combined swimming pool and spa assemblies are not new, most known prior art describes spas combined with in-ground pools.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,240,165 issued Dec. 23, 1980 to Kyrias, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,930,168 issued Jan. 5, 1990 to Ferlise, both disclose a removable partition to be installed in a pool to define a space to be used as a spa. However, the usable pool space is considerably reduced when the spa partition is in place.

Some patents, like U.S. Pat. No. 4,238,859 issued Dec. 16, 1980 to Badon, teach spill-over type spas without direct access between the spa and the swimming pool. This patent provides for a spa which is adjacent to a swimming pool, with a transition section between the two resting on the upper peripheral edge of the swimming pool and permitting water to spill over from the spa into the pool. The spa remains a completely separate body of water otherwise.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,727,264 issued Mar. 17, 1998 to Craig et al., discloses a pre-fabricated in-ground swimming pool with the ability to readily permit the addition of an add-on spa. The spa is devised to be entered from the outside, not from the swimming pool, as there is no passageway between the swimming pool and the added spa.

In addition, spas are usually fabricated as a single rigid shell, and as such take a considerable amount of storage space which greatly increases transport costs.

Therefore, there exists a need for a spa designed to be attached to an above-ground swimming pool which can be easily mass transported, and act both as an independent body of water from the pool and as a continuation of the pool when not in function.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

It is therefore an aim of the present invention to provide an improved spa for attachment to an above-ground swimming pool.

Therefore, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a spa for an above-ground swimming pool having a first opening in a wall panel thereof, the spa comprising a shell adapted to receive water therein, the shell including a perimeter wall, a second opening in the perimeter wall, a support structure adapted to support the shell adjacent to the swimming pool so that the first opening corresponds with the second opening, thereby defining a passage providing fluid communication between the swimming pool and the spa, and a removable partition for closing the passage such that the spa becomes an independent body of water from the swimming pool.

Further in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a spa comprising a shell, the shell including an enclosure for receiving water therein, the enclosure defining a floor surface, at least one bench defining a seating surface at an adequate height for receiving a user in a seated position such as to be comfortably immersed when the enclosure is filled with water, a top coping defining a top end of the shell, and an outer wall extending downwardly from the top coping, the outer wall having a bottom end which is lower than the seating surface and higher than the floor surface, such that the shell is stackable onto a similar shell with the bottom end of the outer wall resting on the top coping of the similar shell.

Also in accordance with the present invention, there is provided an enclosure adapted to receive water therein and having a height of H, the enclosure having an outer wall extending downwardly from a top thereof for a height of HW, HW being smaller than H, and the enclosure being stackable on similar enclosures such that a stack height is defined by H+(n-1)*HW, where n is the number of enclosures in the stack.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Having thus generally described the nature of the invention, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, showing by way of illustration a preferred embodiment thereof and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an above-ground swimming pool and spa assembly according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the spa of the assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of the spa of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a perspective partial view showing a removable door panel of the assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing the installation of a pool top ledge over an opening of the spa of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a support structure supporting the spa of FIG. 2 on the ground;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of exterior spiral steps installed on a spa according to the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a pool an spa assembly including a dome-shaped cover on the spa, according to the present invention; and

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a stack of spas similar to the spa of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 10A-B are views of an alternate version of the spa of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 11-12 are views of another alternate version of the spa of FIG. 2.

FIGS. 13A-C are views of a ladder assembly useful in connection with the assembly of FIG. 1 and alternate spas.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to FIG. 1, an above-ground swimming pool and spa assembly 10 includes a pool 12 and a spa 14. The pool 12 is preferably circular and can be substantially similar to that disclosed by Dallaire et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 5,054,135 or by Shaanan et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 5,875,500, which are both incorporated herein by reference. In a preferred embodiment, the pool 12 generally comprises a wall panel 11 retained by a plurality of vertical posts 17 extending between an annular base or rail member 15 and an annular top ledge 19. The pool 12 has a flat floor surface 20 which is generally leveled with the ground.

Referring to FIGS. 1 to 3, the circular spa 14 has a smaller diameter than the pool 12, and is integrated therewith such that the two circular elements meet at a common point. A common rectangular opening 24 in the wall panel 11 of the pool 12 allows access between the pool and the spa. The spa 14 is formed as a one-piece integrally molded resin shell. A double wall 26 defines a spa perimeter and includes an inner wall 28 and an outer wall 30. The inner wall 28 is molded such as to include a series of steps 44 for entering the spa as well as circumferential benches 42. Head rests (not shown) can be provided on a top edge of the inner wall 28 for added comfort. The inner wall 28 flows into a floor surface 31, which preferably includes a lower step 22. The inner and outer walls 28, 30 are interrupted by the opening 24 which is preferably located opposite of the steps 44. The inner and outer walls 28, 30 are bridged at a top end thereof by a top annular coping 36, with a space between the walls 28, 30 defining an annular cavity 34. The annular cavity 34 provides space for the necessary spa plumbing, such as a water return pipe, a drain, and a hot water inlet (not shown). A plurality of cup holders 41 are provided in or near the top annular coping 36.

As shown in FIG. 6, it is also considered to include other user convenience details in the top annular coping 36 such as storage trays 37, additional cup holders 41, and a control panel 39 for water temperature and air inlet regulation. A curved towel rack 54 is also provided at the rear of the spa element 14 on the outer wall 30.

Referring to FIG. 4, a removable partition or access door panel 16, which is slightly wider than and at least as high as the opening 24, can block the opening 24 such as to provide isolation of the spa 14 from the pool 12, thereby allowing heating of the spa water without much heat loss to the cooler pool water. When the access door panel 16 is removed, the unheated spa area becomes part of the swimming pool. In a preferred embodiment, the access door panel 16 slides down into vertical grooves 32 located in the spa wall 26 on each side of the opening 24. FIG. 5 shows the installation of a pool top ledge 19 over the opening 24, when the panel 16 is closed. The top ledge 19 thus retains the panel 16 in the closed position.

As the depth of the spa 14 is less than that of the pool 12, and the top annular coping 36 of the spa 14 and the top ledge 19 of the pool 12 are level, the spa 14 has to be elevated with respect to the flat floor surface 20 of the pool 12. Therefore, support is necessary for maintaining the spa 14 leveled at the desired height. Referring to FIG. 6, this support is provided by a base support structure 66 combined with a wall reinforcing structure 72. The base support structure 66 comprises a plurality of vertical tubular support members 68 extending from a bottom of the spa 12 and connected at their lower end to shorter horizontal base support members 70 which rest on the ground. The wall reinforcing structure 72 comprises an horizontal T-shaped base member 76 made of square section tubing which rests on the ground. Vertical steel tubes 74, also having a square section, extend upwardly from end-points of the base member 76. A thin, roughly semicircular steel wall section 64 extends downwardly from the outer wall 30 and is supported by the vertical tubes 74. The wall section 64 is easily removable for access to the enclosed spa piping and support structures.

Referring to FIG. 7, exterior spiral steps 48 with an integrated spiral handrail 52 can be provided for entrance into the spa from ground level. The exterior spiral steps 48 are molded as a single piece resin shell. A space beneath the steps can serve as a convenient location for the pool pump and filtration system. The exterior spiral steps 48 include a top landing 50 which extends to the top annular coping 36 of the spa wall 26, and which is preferably aligned with the interior spa steps 44. It is also considered to provide an additional handrail (not shown) inside the spa 14 such as to facilitate getting in and out thereof safely.

Referring to FIG. 8, a retractable dome shaped cover 18 serves to provide protection to the spa occupants from the sun and wind. The cover 18 comprises a plurality of semicircular rib members 56 which rotate about two common hinges 58. A flexible cover 60 is fixed over the ribs 56. The flexible cover 60 can be made of any protective material, but is preferably made of a translucent UV-proof material for aesthetic purposes and to preserve visibility. Rib locking means (not shown) are provided such as to permit the spa cover 18 to be fixed in various stages of closure, between fully enclosing the spa and being left fully open. When not in use, the cover 18 can be completely opened by folding it down so that all the rib members 56 are aligned with the top coping 36 of the spa.

Referring to FIG. 9, the integrally molded shell of the spa 14 is such as to be stackable for easy mass transport. When two spas 14 are stacked, a bottom end of the outer wall 30 of the top spa will rest against the top coping 34 of the bottom spa. Thus, the outer wall 30 needs to be generally vertical (i.e. not inclined) so that the bottom end of the outer wall 30 can be vertically aligned with the top coping 34 of a second spa. The shape of the spa 14 is designed so as to be able to insert one spa into another without interference at a depth of HW, which is the height of the outer wall 30. In particular, the benches 42 are set so that their underside is less than HW from the top landing 50. In other words, the sum of the distance from the top landing 30 to the seating surface of the benches 50 and the thickness of the wall of this seating surface is less than HW. The opening 24 also needs to be sufficiently large toward a top end thereof so that the step 22 of another spa can be lowered into it at a depth of at least HW without interference.

According to this design, and as illustrated in FIG. 9, a stack of n spas each having a spa height of H will have a total height of H+(n-1)HW. In other words, each spa which is stacked on another will only increase the total height of the stack by HW. The spa is preferably designed such as to have a value of HW which is at most one half (½) of the value of H. Accordingly, a stack of 3 spas can be as short as 7.5 feet in height, which allows for a significant number of spas to be transported in a limited container space.

Illustrated in FIGS. 10A-B is alternate spa 100 for use with pool 12 as part of assembly 10. Spa 100 may generally be similar to spa 14; preferably, however, spa 100 includes a tapered common opening 104 (i.e. having cross-section like that of a truncated cone) with pool 12 into which a removable door panel may be fitted. Removable top ledge portion 108 may be used to retain the door panel in place. Alternatively, top ledge portion 108 may be employed even when the door panel is removed so as to maintain upper definition of the spa 100. Yet alternatively, spa 100 may comprise a water spillway, so that water may spillover from spa 100 into pool 12 whether or not top ledge portion 108 and the door panel are present.

FIGS. 10A-B additionally illustrate hand rails 112, one or more of which optionally may be incorporated into annular coping 116 of spa 100. Rails 112, if present, are configured to facilitate entry into spa 100 by persons climbing ladder 180 (see FIGS. 13A-C). Rails 112 thus are generally aligned with steps 44, so as to permit persons entering the spa 100 easily to do so via the steps 44. As shown in FIGS. 10A-B, rails 112 need not be identical in appearance, but instead may differ as appropriate or desired.

Depicted in FIGS. 11-12 are additional optional aspects of assembly 10 with pool 12 and another alternate spa 120. Illustrated especially in these figures are optional head rests 124 aligned with curved recesses 128 in inner wall 132, creating a comfortable area for the back and head of an occupant of spa 120. Head rests 124 may be molded into or otherwise formed as part of top annular coping 136; alternatively, they may be attached to coping 136 or inner wall 132 (or both).

Also optionally connected to copying 136 (or to outer wall 140) are one or more support bars 144 to which seats 148 are attached externally of outer wall 140. Seats 148, if present, permit persons to sit outside spa 120 yet converse with persons within spa 120, utilize coping 136 as a platform for food, beverages, or other items, or use cup holders or other features of spa 120. In the versions illustrated in FIGS. 11-12, each seat 148 may comprise base 152 and footrest 156. Those skilled in the art will, however, recognize that other configurations of seats 148 may be employed instead.

Detailed particularly in FIGS. 13A-C is optional ladder assembly 160 of the present invention. Ladder assembly 160 may comprise spaced rails 164, each of which rails 164 is generally U-shaped and connected to the other rail via bar 166. One leg 168 of each rail 164 preferably is configured to contact the ground (or whatever base is used for ladder assembly 160), while the other leg 172 of each rail may, but need not, contact the ground (as shown in FIGS. 13A-C). Connector 176 may connect each leg 172 to ladder 180, whereas connector 184 may connect ladder 180 to each of legs 168 and 172. Ladder 180, further, may include one or more rungs 188.

Also shown in FIGS. 13A-C is cover 192. Cover 192 preferably is fitted into slots 196 in rails 164 so that some frictional interference occurs, but so that cover 192 remains able to slide within the slots 196. FIG. 13A depicts cover 192 in an “open” position, in which rungs 188 are uncovered and available for use. In FIG. 13B, cover 192 is shown as having been moved so that its leading edge 200 covers (only) top rung 188A. FIG. 13C illustrates cover 192 having been moved so as to cover all rungs 188, rendering the rungs 188 inaccessible for use. This latter illustration is thus of cover 192 in its “closed” position.

The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary. Those skilled in the art will therefore appreciate that the forgoing description is illustrative only, and that various alternatives and modifications can be devised without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variances which fall within the scope of the appended claims.