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The present invention relates to a drawer element for a refrigeration device and a refrigeration device fitted with such a drawer.
It is known to provide domestic freezer appliances for storing and ordering frozen goods with pull-out drawers or drawers. These pull-out drawers can be gripped by a user by a grip area provided for this purpose and pulled fully or partially out of the appliance to put in, sort or remove frozen goods. These pull-out drawers are usually used at heights of up to ca. 1.4 m above the floor, since the pull-out drawers make access to the frozen goods in a high inbuilt position difficult.
Compartments of a freezer at a height of over 1.4 m are thus mostly closed by flaps, which are hinged to the inner container of the freezer and in the open state allow access to the compartment in behind in a horizontal direction.
Such flaps cannot be provided on all compartments of a refrigeration device, since in the case of low-lying compartments they compel a user to bend down in front of the appliance to access rear areas of the compartments and thus they make access considerably more difficult as compared to a pull-our drawer.
The height below which pull-out drawers should be used for comfortable access or respectively are more effective above the flaps, varies depending on body size and mobility of a user. With inbuilt refrigeration appliances in particular the height, at which a compartment is situated in the interior of such an appliance after installation, furthermore is not determined in advance, so that it is difficult for a refrigeration device manufacturer to establish in advance the optimal division of the interior of a refrigeration device into compartments with pull-out drawers and compartments with flaps.
U.S. Pat. No. 2,801,146 discloses a freezer with a pull-our drawer, whereof the front side is formed by a flap which can be pivoted to enable access to the contents of the drawer. The pivoting axis of the flap is located at half height of the drawer element. When the flap is open the free cross-section is substantially smaller than the surface of the flap itself, which makes loading and unloading the compartment difficult. The known drawer is thus recommended only for special cool goods, namely eggs.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,573 A1 discloses a drawer element for a refrigeration device, wherein a mobile front flap is hinged on an upper edge of the drawer. The flap opens automatically when the drawer is pulled out, since a jib is pressed down by a threshold on the ceiling of the interior of the refrigeration device. But the drawer cannot be pulled out far enough from the refrigeration device to allow access from above to its contents, because then the flap would fall back and its jib would hinder its being pushed back in. Furthermore, hinging the flap in the upper area of the drawer restricts the free cross-section available for loading and unloading items.
An object of the invention is to provide a drawer element for a refrigeration device, which allows comfortable loading and removal both from the front and from above.
This task is solved by a mobile front flap of the inventive drawer element having a pivoting axis at the level of the floor of the body. In this way, when in the open position the front flap does not restrict the free cross-section available for loading and unloading.
A further object of the invention is to provide a drawer element for a refrigeration device, which is suited both for access from the front and from above, and which is cost-effective to produce and is robust.
This further object is solved by front edges of walls of a body of the drawer element with its mobile front flap forming a tongue and groove connection at least in a closed position. Via this tongue and groove connection the front flap supports the side walls of the drawer element against lateral forces, without a one-piece permanent connection to the side walls being necessary.
Producing the drawer element is particularly simple, if a tongue of the tongue and groove connection is in each case formed by the front edges of the side walls which engage in a groove of the front flap.
Such a groove is delimited on the front flap effectively by two ribs projecting from an outside wall of the front flap. Groove and tongue are advantageously dimensioned such that in the open state of the flap the tongue and groove connection also remains on at least a part of its length. The tongue and groove connection remaining in this state stabilises the drawer element also in the open position of the front flap, and facilitates restoring the full engagement of groove and tongue when the front flap is closed.
To reinforce the body the front edges of the side walls can be connected in their upper area to one another by a cross brace. Since such a cross brace however hinders loading and unloading of cool goods from the drawer element via the front flap, in a preferred design the front edges of the side walls are not connected to one another in their upper area.
To stop the front flap in its closed position the front edges of the side walls and the front flap are preferably provided with complementary snap-in means.
To be able to make or respectively release the locking of the front flap it is preferably mounted on the body with a clearance in the longitudinal direction of the front edges.
Also, the front flap is advantageously provided with at least one snib, which is mobile between a position, in which it allows the front flap to be folded back, and a position, in which it blocks opening. Such a snib can be used by a user of the refrigeration device to block the front flap from pivoting with low-lying drawer elements, wherein the front flap is not supposed to pivot if it is pulled on, rather the entire drawer element is to be pulled out.
Such a snib is effectively stable in both positions, so that on the one hand the abovementioned blocking of the folding back is permanent, on the other hand the possibility for swinging back the front flap remains intact also when the front flap is swung back into the closed position in the case of a high drawer element.
The position of the snib is effectively visible on the outside of the front flap, so that a user can see immediately from a drawer element whether it can be pulled out or folded back.
A grip area for pulling on the drawer element or for pivoting the front flap is effectively formed on a region of the front flap distant from a pivoting axis of the front flap.
In addition, a second grip area can be formed on an area of the front flap near the pivoting axis. Such a grip area is suited in particular for pulling out the drawer element from the refrigeration device.
A further task of the invention is to provide a refrigeration device with an interior divided into several compartments, which, independently of body size and mobility and independently of the installation height of the refrigeration device, allows each user the type of access optimal to him/her to the individual compartments in each case, without inner parts of the refrigeration device having to be exchanged for this purpose.
This task is solved by a refrigeration device having the features of claim 15.
Because each compartment is fitted with a drawer element, which can be selectively pulled out or folded back at the front, such optimal access is possible. The drawer elements are preferably, and for the abovementioned reasons, drawer elements of the abovementioned type.
Further features and advantages of the invention will emerge from the following description of embodiments with reference to the attached figures, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a drawer element according to the present invention, with front flap in closed position;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the same drawer element with front flap in open position;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a second form of the drawer element, with front flap in closed position; and
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an inventive refrigeration device.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a drawer element according to a first configuration of the invention. A body 1 of the drawer element moulded in one piece from plastic comprises a floor 2, two side walls 3 and a rear wall 4. A front wall of the drawer element is formed by a front flap 5, which pivots about an axis lying approximately at the level of the floor 2. Its position is fixed by two trunnions 6, which in each case protrude outwards from the side walls 3 and engage in long holes 7, formed in side flanks 8 of the front flap 5 parallel to the den side walls 3.
Standing above the trunnions 6 from each side wall 3 is a snap-in pin 9, which engages in a notch 10 of each side flank 8 open at the edge obliquely downwards. The engagement between snap-in pin 9 and notch 10 holds the front flap 5 in its closed position. By lifting the front flap 5 in a vertical direction about the clearance fixed by the long holes 7 the engagement between snap-in pin and notch 10 can be cancelled and then the front flap 5 can pivot into the open position shown in FIG. 2. In this open position of the front flap 5 a user can access items stored in the inside of the drawer element, without having to pull the drawer element out of a refrigeration device, in which it is installed.
As evident from FIG. 2, the front edges 11 of the side walls 3 form two tongues, which can engage in complementary grooves 13 of the front flap 5, delimited by the side flanks 8 and walls 12 parallel to the latter. In the open position shown in FIG. 2 the engagement of the front edges 11 in the grooves 13 is restricted only on a short section near the lower end of the edges 11. When the front flap 5 is pivoted into its closed position however, this engagement is extended until it finally extends over the entire height of the edges 11. The advantage of continuance of the engagement in the open position of the flap 5 and its gradual lengthening with closing of the flap 5 is that in the case of deformation of the body 1, when the front edges 11 in their upper area are bent onto or away from one another, such deformation is eliminated by closing the front flap 5. Closing the front flap 5 never fails to have the edge of one of the side flanks 8 and the walls 12 collide with the front edge 11 of one of the side walls 3 assigned as tongue.
Positioned on the external surface of the front flap 5 are two slides 14, which can be pushed by a user in a horizontal direction. FIG. 1 shows the slides in each case in an outer stop position. As FIG. 2 shows the slides 14 are linked with snibs 15, which engage in the outer stop position of FIG. 1 via openings of the walls 12 in bores 16 of the side walls 3, and thus stop the front flap 5 in its closed position. To be able to fold back the front flap 5 as shown in FIG. 2, the slides 14 must first be pushed into an inner stop position, in which the snibs 15 disengage from the bores 16 of the side walls 3. Only then is it possible to raise the front flap 5 to release the engagement between snap-in pin 9 and notch 10 and top open the flap 5.
A grip area 17 is arranged centrally along the upper edge of the front flap 5.
The grip area 17 is formed by a recess open to the top, which enables a user to reach in behind an undercut wall piece 18 (marked out in FIG. 1 in dashed lines) with fingers and pull out the drawer element as a whole from the refrigeration device by pulling the wall piece 18 forward when the front flap 5 is locked or, when the front flap 5 is unlocked, pivoting the latter into its open position.
Due to the simplified configuration the slides 14 and the snib 15 are omitted. Here too it is possible for a user to pivot the front flap 5 back by pulling selectively on the grip area 15 or, in that at the same time it exerts pressure downwards onto the front flap 5, which prevents the front flap 5 from sliding up on the snap-in pin 9, pulling out the drawer element.
In the modification of the inventive drawer element shown in FIG. 3 an additional grip area 19 is formed on the lower edge of the front flap 5, at the level of the axis of rotation defined by the trunnions 6. This grip area 19 open downwards is particularly easy for a user to grip, if the drawer element is arranged below the chest height of the user. With such a drawer element it is also preferred for easy access to pull it out of the refrigeration device, instead of folding it back. By gripping the grip area 19 at the level of the axis practically no torque is exerted in the direction of opening of the front flap 5. With this configuration the locking of the front flap 5 in the closed position by the slides 14 and snib 15 can also be replaced for example by an effective spring element between body and front flap 5, throwing the front flap 5 downwards, whereof the strength is such that the torque exerted by pulling on the upper grip area 17 is sufficient to press the tongue back, lift the flap and release the snap-in pin 9 from the notches 10, whereas with pulling on the lower grip area 19 the tongue maintains engagement of the snap-in pin 9 with the notches 10, so that the drawer element is pulled out as a whole.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a freezer 21, whereof the interior is divided into a plurality of compartments, each of which accommodates a drawer element 22 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Depending on his/her own body size and, if the freezer 21 is an inbuilt model, according to installation height, a user can determine for each individual drawer element 22 by adjusting the slides 14 whether access to the drawer element 22 should be possible by pulling out the whole drawer or by pivoting the front flap. Standardised internal outfitting of the freezer 21 is therefore sufficient to satisfy the requirements of all users.