Title:
Method and apparatus for controlling a burning candle flame
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus for controlling a candle flame. A candle flame may be provided in a controllable environment, e.g., an enclosed area formed at least in part by an air-tight cover. Air may be forced into the enclosed area by an air movement device (e.g., a fan) to keep the flame burning. The flame may be extinguished by reducing (e.g., stopping) air flow into the enclosed area.



Inventors:
Avelar, Victor (Pawtucket, RI, US)
Sears, Charles W. (Boxford, MA, US)
Susi, Michael A. (Marlborough, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/801998
Publication Date:
06/26/2008
Filing Date:
05/11/2007
Assignee:
Avelar, Victor (Pawtucket, RI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
431/351
International Classes:
F23C7/00; F23N5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NDUBIZU, CHUKA CLEMENT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WOLF GREENFIELD & SACKS, P.C. (600 ATLANTIC AVENUE, BOSTON, MA, 02210-2206, US)
Claims:
1. A candle flame control system comprising: an enclosure that defines an enclosed area in which a burning flame of a candle is positionable for an extended period, the burning flame being positioned in the enclosed area approximately at a vertical axis; a support constructed and arranged to support the candle with the burning flame positioned in the enclosed area; exhaust outlets that direct exhaust from the enclosed area in at least two different radial directions relative to the vertical axis; and an air movement device that causes air to be provided into the enclosed area for the burning flame and causes exhaust from the enclosed area to move in the exhaust outlets; wherein the enclosure and the enclosed area are arranged so that the flame of the candle continues to burn while the air movement device forces air to move into the enclosed area, and when the air movement device reduces a flow of air provided into the enclosed area below a threshold, the flame is extinguished within 5 minutes.

2. The system of claim 1, comprising six exhaust outlets that are equally spaced radially relative to the vertical axis.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein each exhaust outlet includes an exhaust duct, and wherein exhaust enters each exhaust duct in a generally vertical direction and is directed in a direction radially away from the vertical axis.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the support includes a central region that supports the candle and the exhaust outlets are at least partially formed by the support.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein the support includes a plurality of exhaust openings arranged around the central region that form at least part of the exhaust outlets.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the support includes a plurality of inlet openings that form inlets by which air is introduced into the enclosed area.

7. The system of claim 6, wherein the inlet openings and exhaust openings are alternately arranged around the central region.

8. The system of claim 5, wherein each of the exhaust openings leads to an exhaust outlet port that outlets exhaust in a horizontal direction.

9. The system of claim 5, wherein the exhaust openings are located below the burning flame.

10. A candle flame control system comprising: an enclosure that defines an enclosed area in which a burning flame of a candle is positionable for an extended period, the burning flame being positioned in the enclosed area approximately at a vertical axis; a support constructed and arranged to support the candle with the burning flame positioned in the enclosed area; an air inlet arranged to provide air into the enclosed area for combustion by the flame; and an air movement device that causes air to be provided into the enclosed area via the air inlet for the burning flame; wherein the enclosure and the enclosed area are arranged so that the flame of the candle continues to burn while the air movement device forces air to move into the enclosed area, and when the air movement device reduces a flow of air provided into the enclosed area below a threshold, the flame is extinguished within 5 minutes; and wherein the air inlet is constructed and arranged to introduce air into the enclosed area so that the burning flame remains generally aligned along the vertical axis while burning.

11. The system of claim 10, wherein the air inlet includes plurality of inlet ducts that direct air in a radial direction relative to the vertical axis into the enclosed area.

12. The system of claim 11, wherein the support includes a central region that supports the candle and the plurality of inlet ducts each lead to a respective inlet opening formed in the support.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein the inlet openings are arranged around the central region.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the inlet openings are alternately arranged with exhaust openings that exhaust gases from the enclosed area.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein at least three inlet openings are alternately arranged with at least three exhaust openings around the central region.

16. The system of claim 12, wherein air travels generally vertically in the inlet ducts and is directed in a radial direction to exit an inlet opening and enter the enclosed area.

17. The system of claim 11, wherein air introduced via the plurality of inlet ducts reflects off of the enclosure and is directed back generally toward the vertical axis.

18. The system of claim 11, wherein the inlet openings are located below the burning flame.

19. A candle flame control system comprising: an enclosure that defines an enclosed area in which a burning flame of a candle is positionable for an extended period, the burning flame being positioned in the enclosed area approximately at a vertical axis; a shield positioned around the enclosure and constructed and arranged to prevent human hand contact with the enclosure, the shield including vents to permit air to into a lower portion of the space between the shield and the enclosure and to permit air to exit an upper portion of the space; a support constructed and arranged to support the candle with the burning flame positioned in the enclosed area; and an air movement device that causes air to be provided into the enclosed area for the burning flame; wherein the enclosure and the enclosed area are arranged so that the flame of the candle continues to burn while the air movement device forces air to move into the enclosed area, and so that when the air movement device reduces a flow of air provided into the enclosed area below a threshold, the flame is extinguished within 5 minutes.

20. The system of claim 19, further comprising at least one exhaust outlet that exhausts gases from the enclosed area, wherein the exhaust from the enclosed area is directly vented to an area separate from the space between the shield and the enclosure.

21. The system of claim 19, wherein the support includes a central region that supports the candle and a plurality of inlet ducts that direct air into the enclosed area via a respective inlet opening and a plurality of outlet ducts that exhaust air out of the enclosed area via an outlet opening, wherein the inlet and outlet openings are alternately arranged around the central region.

22. The system of claim 21, wherein air in the inlet ducts moves vertically and is directed to enter the enclosed area in a radial direction relative to the vertical axis, and exhaust in the enclosed area enters the outlet ducts generally in a vertical direction and is directed in a radial direction away from the vertical axis.

23. The system of claim 22, wherein the air movement device includes a fan that moves air vertically into the inlet ducts.

24. The system of claim 23, wherein the fan is located below the central region.

25. The system of claim 24, wherein the enclosure includes a dome-shaped translucent member.

26. The system of claim 25, wherein the outlet ducts exhaust gases from the enclosed area to a position located below the burning flame.

Description:

This application is a continuation in part application of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/981,922, filed Nov. 5, 2004, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

This invention relates to controlling a burning flame, e.g., controlling the burning of a candle.

Safety is a typical concern when candles are burned in a house or otherwise where people or flammable objects are present. The open flame of a candle is capable of catching curtains, clothing or other objects on fire, or burning a person through even inadvertent contact.

Another consideration when burning candles is the tendency of high wind or other air movement to blow the flame out. As is known in the art, various devices, such as lanterns, shades, etc., have been developed to help prevent a candle flame from being extinguished by wind.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

Aspects of the invention provide methods and apparatus for controlling the burning of a candle. As used herein, a “candle” refers to any device or substance that may have an open flame or otherwise be burned, including stick candles, votive candles, jar candles, incense, oil lamps or any other device having a wick or similar element to burn a fuel, etc. In some aspects of the invention, a candle may be burned in an enclosed area so that people and objects around the candle's flame are prevented from contacting the flame. Air flow into the enclosed area may be controlled so that the flame is extinguished when air is no longer provided into the enclosed area. For example, a fan may move air into the enclosed area, providing air for combustion. If the fan stops moving air, the flame may not receive enough air for combustion and be extinguished, e.g., within 1-5 minutes or less.

In another aspect of the invention, the environment in which a candle may be burned may be enclosed so that wind and other external factors have little or no influence on the burning of the candle. Also, the presence of flammable gases, such as natural gas or gasoline vapors, may be detected, and the flame extinguished so as to reduce the likelihood of igniting the gases.

In one aspect of the invention, a flame control system for a candle includes a cover or enclosure that defines an enclosed area arranged to house a candle having a burning flame for an extended period. The cover may be air-tight in portions above the bottom, and may have an opening at a lower end to allow air to enter the enclosed area, and to allow combustion products from the flame to exit. An air supply may provide air into the enclosed area, and the flame may be extinguished when the supply of air into the enclosed area drops below a threshold level.

In another illustrative embodiment, a flame control system includes an enclosed area in which a burning flame of a candle is positionable, and an air movement device that causes air to be provided into the enclosed area for the burning flame. The enclosed area may be constructed and arranged so that when the air is not caused to be provided into the enclosed area by the air movement device, the flame is extinguished, e.g., within 5 minutes, 1-2 minutes or less.

In one aspect of the invention, a flame control system includes a radial exhaust feature, e.g., to help disperse the exhaust gases produced by a burning candle. If the candle is scented or otherwise produces materials that the user would like to spread about a room or other space, the radial exhaust feature may help to disperse the scent or other materials more evenly and/or quickly. As used herein, a radial direction is one that approximately originates at the axis and is oriented generally away from an axis. In the case that the axis is arranged in a vertical direction, radial directions may be oriented generally away from the axis and each other, and may be arranged in a horizontal direction and/or at an angle to the horizontal. The flame control system may include an enclosure that defines an enclosed area in which a burning flame of a candle is positionable approximately at a vertical axis. A support may be constructed and arranged to support the candle with the burning flame positioned in the enclosed area, and exhaust outlets may direct exhaust from the enclosed area in at least two different radial directions relative to the vertical axis. An air movement device may cause air to be provided into the enclosed area for the burning flame and cause exhaust from the enclosed area to move in the exhaust outlets. The enclosure and the enclosed area may be arranged so that when the air movement device reduces a flow of air provided into the enclosed area below a threshold, the flame is extinguished within 5 minutes, within 1-2 minutes or less.

In one embodiment, exhaust in the enclosed area may enter each exhaust outlet in a generally vertical direction and is directed in a direction radially away from the vertical axis. The support may include a central region that supports the candle and the exhaust outlets may be at least partially formed by the support, which may include a plurality of exhaust openings arranged around the central region. The support may also include a plurality of inlet openings that form inlets by which air is introduced into the enclosed area, and the inlet openings and exhaust openings may be alternately arranged around the central region and be positioned below the burning flame.

In another aspect of the invention, air may be introduced into the enclosed area so that the burning flame generally does not lean, is not “pushed” in one direction or another, and/or otherwise generally remains aligned with a vertical axis. In one embodiment, avoiding flame “push” may be achieved by introducing air into the enclosed embodiment from two or more radial directions into the enclosed area. The air may be balanced so that the candle flame generally remains vertical and is not “pushed.” Thus a flame control system may include an enclosure that defines an enclosed area in which a burning flame of a candle is positionable with the burning flame being positioned approximately at a vertical axis. A support may be constructed and arranged to support the candle with the burning flame positioned in the enclosed area, and an air inlet may be arranged to provide air into the enclosed area for combustion by the flame. An air movement device, such as a fan, may cause air to be provided into the enclosed area via the air inlet for the burning flame, and the enclosure and the enclosed area may be arranged so that when the air movement device reduces a flow of air provided into the enclosed area below a threshold, the flame is extinguished within 5 minutes. The air inlet may be constructed and arranged to introduce air into the enclosed area so that the burning flame remains generally aligned along the vertical axis while burning, e.g., the air inlet may include a plurality of ducts that direct air in a radial direction relative to the vertical axis into the enclosed area. Air inlet openings may be arranged around a central region of the support that supports the candle, and may be alternately arranged with exhaust openings that exhaust gases from the enclosed area. Air may travel generally vertically, e.g., under the force of a fan, in the ducts and be directed in a radial direction to exit an inlet opening and enter the enclosed area. In one embodiment, air introduced into the enclosed area may reflects off of the enclosure and be directed back generally toward the flame.

In another aspect of the invention, a shield may be provided around the enclosure, e.g., to prevent touching of the enclosure which, although generally cooler than the flame, may still be warm to the touch. In one embodiment, a flame control system may include an enclosure that defines an enclosed area in which a burning flame of a candle is positionable with the burning flame being positioned approximately at a vertical axis. A shield may be positioned around the enclosure and be arranged to prevent human hand contact with the enclosure. The shield may also include vents to permit air to into a lower portion of the space between the shield and the enclosure and to permit air to exit an upper portion of the space, e.g., to allow cooling air to circulate in the space. A support may be constructed and arranged to support the candle with the burning flame positioned in the enclosed area, and an air movement device may cause air to be provided into the enclosed area for the burning flame.

These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent and/or obvious from the following description and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Aspects of the invention are described with reference to the following drawings in which like numerals reference like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illustrative embodiment of a flame control system in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 shows a sectional side view of the FIG. 1 embodiment illustrating air inlet features of the system;

FIG. 3 shows a sectional side view of the FIG. 1 embodiment illustrating exhaust features of the system; and

FIG. 4 shows a bottom view of a portion of the support which defines portions of the inlet and exhaust ducts.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Various aspects of the invention are described below with reference to illustrative embodiments. However, it should be understood that aspects of the invention are not limited to those embodiments described below, but instead may be used in any suitable system or arrangement.

Aspects of the invention provide a controllable environment, e.g., an enclosed area, in which a candle flame may be housed and controlled. Thus, the candle flame may be housed in a cover or other enclosure and selectively permitted to burn for an extended period (e.g., 1 hour or more), have its burn rate adjusted, and/or be extinguished. The candle flame burn rate may be adjusted or the flame extinguished by controlling air flow into and/or out of the controllable environment. At least some aspects of the invention extinguish a candle flame by denying the flame air or other suitable gases in an amount needed for combustion. In addition, the cover may protect persons or flammable objects from contacting the flame.

FIG. 1 shows an illustrative embodiment of a flame control system 10 that incorporates various aspects of the invention. In this illustrative embodiment, a candle 1 is arranged within a cover 2 that defines an enclosed area in which the candle's flame may burn for an extended period, e.g., 1 minute, 10 minutes, 1 hour, or more. Although the cover 2 may be made in any suitable arrangement, in this embodiment the cover 2 is made of glass and has a hemispherical, bowl-like or dome-like shape. The cover 2 may be air-tight, e.g., include an upper portion with no holes or openings to allow air to pass. In one illustrative embodiment, the cover 2 defines a dome-shaped interior area having a volume larger than the enclosed candle with the bottom of the cover 2 having a diameter of approximately 2.5 inches and a height of approximately 3.5 inches. The candle 1, which may be a tealight candle, may be placed inside the enclosed area of the cover 2 on a support 3 that has an air inlet 4 that allows air to enter into the enclosed area. Air for combustion of the candle flame may be introduced into the enclosed area by way of an air movement device 5, e.g., a fan, moving air into the enclosed area. Exhaust gases generated by the candle flame may be exhausted via an exhaust outlet 7. The enclosed area may be arranged so that the candle flame extinguishes if the air movement device 5 reduces the amount of air supplied through the air inlet 4 into the enclosed area below a threshold. That is, the fan 5 moves air through the air inlet 4 at a rate to provide sufficient air to keep the flame burning and exhaust combustion products through the exhaust outlet 7. If the fan 5 slows sufficiently or is stopped, the candle flame will extinguish, e.g., within 5 minutes, 1-2 minutes, or less, as a result of insufficient air for combustion.

A controller 6 may be used to control the operation of the fan 5 and/or perform other functions. For example, the controller 6 may include one or more switches (as shown) to control the power provided to the fan 5, e.g., a toggle switch that may be operated by a user to turn the fan on and off. In other embodiments, the controller 6 may control the operation of the fan 5 based on detected environmental conditions or any other suitable criteria. For example, the controller 6 may have a timer that a user may set for a desired burn period, e.g., 1 hour. The controller 6 may then allow the fan 5 to run for one hour, at which time the fan 5 may be turned off and the candle flame extinguished.

FIG. 2 shows a cross-sectional side view of the FIG. 1 embodiment and depicts air flow into the enclosed area defined by the cover 2. FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional side view of the FIG. 1 embodiment, but shows exhaust flow out of the enclosed area. In this embodiment and as shown in FIG. 2, the fan 5 blows air upwardly toward a plurality of air inlet ducts 41, which each direct the air to move in a radial direction into the enclosed area of the cover 2 relative to a vertical axis 8 at which the candle flame is approximately located. Each of the air inlet ducts 41 leads to an inlet opening 42 though which the air enters into the enclosed area. As can be seen in FIG. 2, the air entering via the inlet openings 42 is directed radially away from the candle flame and toward the cover 2. The air may contact the cover 2 and be reflected back toward the candle flame, and may create a turbulent environment in the enclosed area. By introducing air into the enclosed area in two or more radial directions, the air may be introduced to the flame in a more balanced way, thereby avoiding “push” of the flame (causing the flame to lean in a direction away from vertical), avoiding substantial leaning of the flame and/or other deviation of the flame from a direction aligned with the vertical axis 8. As a result, the flame may burn the candle more evenly, creating less smoke and/or avoiding damage to the candle holder (i.e., a cup or other container in which the candle wax and wick are provided). In this embodiment, air is introduced into the enclosed area in radial directions that are close to the horizontal, but it should be understood that air may be introduced in any suitable direction relative to the horizontal.

As shown in FIG. 3, exhaust gases produced by the candle 1 exit the enclosed area via exhaust ducts 71 that extend between exhaust openings 72 in the enclosed area and exhaust outlet ports 73 which are positioned around a periphery of the support 3. Pressure created by the introduction of air into the enclosed area forces the exhaust through the exhaust openings 72 and out the exhaust outlet ports 73. As can be seen in FIG. 3, exhaust enters the exhaust openings 72 in a generally vertical direction and is directed into a radial direction away from the vertical axis 8. The exhaust is output from the ports 73 in a direction that is approximately horizontal, but the exhaust may be output in any suitable radial direction relative to the horizontal. As discussed above, radial exhaust output may help to disperse the scent or other materials produced by the candle 1.

Although the inlet and outlet openings 42 and 72 may be arranged in any suitable way, in this illustrative embodiment, the openings 42 and 72 are alternately arranged around a central region 31 of the support 3 as can be seen in FIG. 1. Such an alternate arrangement may aid in proper introduction of air into the enclosed area, mixing of gasses in the enclosed area or other features. Other arrangements are possible, such as having inlet openings 42 arranged in and/or near the cover 2 so that air is introduced into the enclosed area in a radial direction toward the vertical axis 8. Similarly, the outlet openings 72 may be arranged in or near the cover 2. Similarly, although in this embodiment the openings 42 and 72 are arranged below the candle flame, one or more of the openings may be arranged above the candle flame.

FIG. 4 shows a bottom perspective view of a portion 32 of the support 3 that forms part of the inlet and outlet ducts 41 and 71 and the inlet and outlet openings 42 and 72. Air movement caused by the fan 5, is generally upward initially and then the air is directed more horizontally and radially to exit the inlet openings 42. Air entering the outlet openings 72 is directed to move radially outwardly from the openings 72. This portion 32 of the support 3 may also form the central region 31 where the candle 1 is supported, i.e., on a side opposite that shown in FIG. 4.

As can be seen in FIG. 1, the flame control system 10 in this embodiment includes a shield 9 that is arranged to resist human or other touching of the cover 2. The shield 9 may have any suitable shape, and in this embodiment has an approximately hurricane shade shape. The shield 9 may be made of any suitable material, such as glass or plastic, may be translucent, opaque, transparent, etc. The space between the shield 9 and the cover 2 may be vented by vents 91 arranged at the lower end of the shield 9 and at the upper end of the shield 9. Suitable arrangement of the vents 91 may allow for convective flow of air through the space, helping to keep the cover 2 and/or the shield 9 cool. In this embodiment, the exhaust ducts 71 do not vent into the space between the shield 9 and the cover 2, and the vents 91 for the shield 9 are separate from the exhaust outlet ports 73. In some embodiments, if the exhaust is vented into the space between the shield 9 and the cover 2, convective flow may cause the candle to continue burning even after the fan 5 has been shut down, which may or may not be a desirable feature. The shield 9 and the cover 2 may be attached to form an integral piece that is removably received on the portion 32 of the support 3. Thus, the shield 9 and cover 2 may be lifted from the portion 32, e.g., to allow replacement and/or lighting of the candle 1, and then placed on the portion 32 to enclose the candle 1.

One potential advantage of a flame control system 10 having an air movement device, such as a fan, is that products from the combustion of the candle can be more readily spread throughout a room or space in which the system 10 is located. This may be desired, particularly where the candle gives off a fragrance or other odor. Another advantage that may be provided by various aspects of the invention is a relatively high resistance of the candle flame to being extinguished by high winds or other air movement outside of the enclosed area. Referring to the FIG. 1 embodiment as an example, high wind around the outside of the cover 2 and/or shield 9 cannot easily enter the enclosed area to affect the candle flame. Moreover, openings in the support 3 that allow outside air to enter (see FIGS. 2 and 3) may be baffled or otherwise arranged to resist air entering the support 3 at high velocity and/or at a high flow rate to further reduce the effect of high wind on the candle flame.

As is described in more detail below, the flame control system 10 may be arranged in many different ways while achieving desired flame control. In the illustrative embodiment of FIG. 1, the cover 2 is made of a translucent glass material that is air-tight, i.e., includes no holes or other openings other than an opening at the bottom of the cover 2. However, the cover 2 (as well as the support 3) may be made of any suitable material, such as a heat resistant plastic, ceramic or metal, may be transparent, translucent and/or opaque in all or some portions, and/or may have one or more openings in the portion above the cover bottom (e.g., to allow the light and/or scent of a burning candle to escape). If the cover 2 includes openings above the bottom in a configuration like that in FIG. 1, the openings may be sized, shaped or otherwise arranged so that the candle flame is extinguished when the fan 5 or other air supply reduces air flow into the enclosed space of the cover 2. In general, openings in the cover 2 may need to be sufficiently small so that the air flow into/out of the enclosed space can be controlled. It should also be appreciated that the cover 2 may be sized and/or shaped to accommodate any type of candle, such as jar candles, votive candles, stick candles, oil lamps, etc. Moreover, a candle holder, oil lamp reservoir, and/or wick support may be incorporated into the structure of the cover 2. For example, the cover 2 may be made of glass with an integral oil lamp reservoir and wick support molded into the cover 2.

The support 3 in this embodiment has a cylindrical shape, but may be arranged in any suitable way. For example, the support 3 may have a cylindrical shape with a diameter similar to that of the cover 2 (assuming the cover 2 has a cylindrical bottom portion as in FIG. 1). The support 3 may define a space to house the controller, air movement device and/or other components as desired. Also, the support 3 may be arranged to allow air flow into/out of a space defined by the support 3, e.g., to allow air to enter the enclosed space and allow combustion products to escape the space.

The cover 2 may include portions that have an optical effect on the candle light, such as coloring the light (e.g., by filtering), intensity enhancement (e.g., by using materials on the cover that emit light in response to being heated and/or illuminated by the candle flame), focusing or dispersing light (e.g., by using a Fresnel or other lens element or “frosting” portions of the cover 2, etc.).

The cover 2 may optionally include a well or other structure to support a substance to be heated, such as an incense, oil or other odor-producing material, either inside the enclosed space or on the cover exterior. The heat of the candle flame may heat the cover 2, which in turn may heat the substance. For example, the cover 2 in the FIG. 1 embodiment may have a depression or well formed in its top surface to hold an amount of incense. The incense may be heated by the candle flame, and give off a desired odor.

Although not shown in the FIG. 1 embodiment, the cover 2 may be selectively fixed to the support 3, e.g., so that a user cannot lift the cover 2 to expose the candle 1 without unlocking the cover 2 from the support 3. Cover 2 may be secured to the support 3 in any suitable way, such as by one or more clips, a screw-thread connection where a threaded portion of the cover at the bottom engages with a corresponding threaded portion on the support, by positioning a locking cage or other structure over the cover, etc. Also, although the FIG. 1 embodiment has the cover 2 resting on the support 3, the cover 2 may be hingedly engaged with the support so that the cover 2 can be “flipped” up to allow access to the candle 1 and “flipped” down to cover the candle. Other arrangements will be appreciated by those of skill in the art.

Alternately, the controller 6 may detect conditions around the cover 2 and control the fan 5 accordingly. For example, the controller 6 may include a sensor capable of detecting an object within a predetermined distance of the cover 2, e.g., by using an ultrasonic detector or other suitable device. If the object is detected to be too close to the cover 2, the controller 6 may extinguish the flame. The controller 6 may detect other conditions, such as movement or a lack of movement of a person in a vicinity of the cover 2 (e.g., using an infrared detector to detect that the candle is unattended), movement of the cover 2 to expose the candle flame, a temperature in or near the cover that is above a threshold, and/or the presence of a flammable gas or vapor (e.g., gasoline or natural gas). Based on the detected condition, a sensor may provide an electrical signal (in the form of a resistance, voltage, current level, break in continuity, digital bit or word, etc.) to the controller 6, which may control the candle flame accordingly. Detection of movement of the cover 2 may be movement of the cover 2 away from the support 3 and/or movement of the cover 2 with the support 3 (where the entire system is moved, e.g., tipped). Movement of the cover 2 apart from the support 3 may be detected by a switch associated with the support 3 that is closed when the cover 2 in place on the support 3, and opens when the cover 2 is removed. Of course, separation of the cover 2 from other portions of the control system 10 may be detected in other ways. Movement of the entire system may be detected, for example, by an accelerometer, mercury switch, etc. that changes state in response to movement of the support 3. Flammable gases and/or vapors may be detected using any suitable sensor as is known in the art.

The controller 6 may control air flow into the enclosed space by controlling the fan speed, by adjusting the number or size of openings into the enclosed space or otherwise adjusting the amount of air provided into the enclosed space. When controlling the operation of the fan, the controller 6 need not be only capable of stopping the fan, but rather may adjust the fan speed, e.g., slow the fan sufficiently to slow the candle burn or extinguish the flame. One or more openings into the enclosed space may be opened or closed or adjusted in size in any suitable way, such as by a movable damper element, one or more flow restrictors, etc. Adjustments to fan speed and/or opening size may be made by a user or by the controller 6. For example, the controller 6 may have an adjustment knob that may be used by an operator to adjust the fan speed, and thus the burn rate of the candle.

The controller 6 may also provide a visual and/or aural warning based on detected conditions or other system status information. For example, the controller 6 may display a flashing light or emit a warning tone when the cover 2 is moved or removed, the system is tipped, a high temperature condition exists, etc. The warning may prompt a user to correct a situation that if not corrected, causes the controller 6 to extinguish the flame.

The controller 6 may also include a remote control unit by which a user can provide operating instructions to the controller 6 from a distance. A user may use the remote control to extinguish a candle flame, adjust a burn timer setting, adjust a burn rate of the candle (e.g., to increase/decrease the light output or odor output of the candle), or even cause the controller 6 to automatically light the candle flame (where the controller 6 is suitably equipped). Such a remote control unit may be capable of communicating with multiple flame control systems 10, e.g., so a user could simultaneously ignite and/or extinguish the candle flames for multiple units, or may be capable of individually communicating with one or more flame control systems 10.

Although not shown in the illustrative embodiments, the controller 6 and/or air movement device may be powered by standard household electricity, batteries, solar power, etc. Another possibility is to power the air movement device and/or controller using the waste heat of the candle. For example, a Stirling engine may be powered by the heat of the candle flame and used to move air into/out of the enclosed area. The controller 6 may include any suitable electronic circuitry or other devices or components to perform desired functions. For example, the controller 6 may include a programmed microprocessor or other general purpose data processing device, user input/output devices, a visual display, speaker for producing audible signals or tones, a power supply, etc.

While aspects of the invention have been described with reference to illustrative embodiments, aspects of the invention are not limited to those embodiments described. Thus, the description herein of embodiments is intended to be illustrative, not limiting. Aspects of the invention may be used in any suitable arrangement.