Title:
Utility meter shield and method of installation
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A utility meter shield for protecting the utility meter from the weight of snow, fallen tree limbs and the like. The shield has a plurality of arched support members held in a spaced relationship by transverse cross members. An arched cover spans between the arched members, extending over the upper portions and most of the side portions of the arched members. The legs of the arched members rest on the ground on opposite sides of the utility meter. An optional auxiliary cover is secured to the arched cover extending between the arched cover and the building structure for protecting conduits leading from the utility to the structure. A screen can be secured to the front arched member for further protection.



Inventors:
Allen, Mark A. (Lake Charles, LA, US)
Application Number:
12/220737
Publication Date:
02/05/2009
Filing Date:
07/28/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/741.3
International Classes:
E04H9/00; E04B1/32
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, CHI Q
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Keaty Professional, Law Corporation Thomas Keaty S. (2 CANAL STREET, 2140 WORLD TRADE CENTER, NEW ORLEANS, LA, 70130, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A protective shield device for a utility meter, comprising: a plurality of arched support members configured for installation over the utility meter, said arched members being retained in a spaced-apart relationship to each other by a plurality of spaced cross members extending between and secured to the arched support members; and an arched cover detachably secured over the arched support members and extending over upper portions and side portions of the arched support members, while following configuration of the arched support members; said cover having an aspect capable of supporting weight while spanning between the arched members.

2. The device of claim 1, further comprising an auxiliary cover detachably securable to the arched cover, said auxiliary cover being selectively adjustably movable in relation to the arched cover.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein said auxiliary cover is configured to extend over a utility conduit extending between the utility meter and a building structure.

4. The device of claim 2, wherein said auxiliary cover is adjustably secured for movement along a tangent line to an upper portion of the arched cover.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein said arched members comprises a front arched member.

6. The device of claim 5, further comprising a screen detachably secured to an arched member and configured to substantially follow configuration of the arched member.

7. The device of claim 6, wherein said screen has a vertical aspect substantially equal to a vertical aspect of the arched cover.

8. The device of claim 6, wherein said front arched member is provided with a plurality of push lock pins secured on a front surface thereof, and wherein said screen is provided with a matching plurality of grommets secured along a peripheral edge of the screen, said push lock pins being adapted for engaging with said grommets for securing said screen to said front arched member.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein each of said arched members comprises a curved upper portion and a pair of opposing leg members, each of said leg members comprising a bottom part.

10. The device of claim 9, wherein the bottom part of each leg is formed hollow.

11. The device of claim 10, further comprising a footing member for positioning the bottom part of each leg on a support surface.

12. The device of claim 11, wherein the footing member comprises a base plate and an upright insert secured to said base plate, and wherein the bottom part of each of said leg is configured for receiving the insert therein.

13. A protective shield device for a utility meter, comprising: a plurality of arched support members configured for installation over the utility meter, said arched members being retained in a spaced-apart relationship to each other by a plurality of spaced cross members extending between and secured to the arched support members; a main arched cover detachably secured over the arched support members and extending over upper portions and side portions of the arched support members, while following configuration of the arched support members; said cover having an aspect capable of supporting weight while spanning between the arched members; and an auxiliary cover detachably securable to the main arched cover, said auxiliary cover being selectively adjustably movable in relation to the main cover extending toward and away from an upper portion of the main arched cover.

14. The device of claim 13, wherein said auxiliary cover is adjustably secured for movement along a tangent line to an upper portion of the arched cover.

15. The device of claim 13, further comprising a screen detachably secured to a front arched member and configured to substantially follow configuration of the front arched member.

16. The device of claim 15, wherein said front arched member is provided with a plurality of push lock pins secured on a front surface thereof, and wherein said screen is provided with a matching plurality of grommets secured along a peripheral edge of the screen, said push lock pins being adapted for engaging with said grommets for securing said screen to said front arched member.

17. A method of protecting a utility meter positioned adjacent a building structure, comprising the following steps: providing a plurality of arched support members configured for installation over the utility meter, said arched members being retained in a spaced-apart relationship to each other by a plurality of spaced cross members extending between and secured to the arched support members, each of said arched members having an upper portion and a pair of opposing side portions; providing an arched cover having a configural aspect substantially following a configural aspect of the arched members; detachably securing the arched cover to one of side portions of each of said arched member; detachably securing the arched cover to another one of the side portions of each of said arched members; and then detachably securing the arched cover to the upper portion of each of said arched members.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein said cover has an aspect capable of supporting weight while spanning between the arched members.

19. The method of claim 17, further comprising a step of providing an auxiliary cover detachably securable to the arched cover, said auxiliary cover being selectively adjustably movable in relation to the arched cover.

20. The method of claim 17, further comprising a step of providing a screen detachably secured to an arched member and configured to substantially follow configuration of the arched member.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TOR RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of my co-pending application Ser. No. 10/424,256 filed on Apr. 25, 2003, entitled “utility Meter Cover,” the priority of which is hereby claimed, and the full disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to protective coverings for utility meters, and more particularly protective structures for utility meters installed outdoors and exposed to the environment.

Gas and electric utility meters are conventionally installed outdoors; with gas meters installed on the ground and the electric meters usually mounted on a vertical wall of a building. The utility meters are vulnerable to impact damage from falling tree branches, snow and ice accumulation, winds and other calamities. The conventional utility meters are not usually protected by any shelter or cover.

The present invention contemplates provision of a protective shield constructed of relatively strong impact resistant material and designed to provide a barrier between the impact force of an outdoor environment to thereby to protect the meter and avoid interruption of services to the building structure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a protective cover shield for an outdoor utility meter.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a utility meter cover that does not interfere with the normal operation of the meter, being an independent structure.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide an inexpensive and easily installed shield cover for a utility meter.

It is still a further object of the invention to provide a standardized shelter that allows modification from it intended form.

These and other objects of the present invention are achieved through a provision of a utility meter shield for protecting the utility meter from the weight of snow, or the encroachment of advancing snow, fallen tree limbs and the like. The shield has a plurality of arched support members held in a spaced relationship by transverse cross members. An arched cover spans between the arched members, extending over the upper portions and most of the side portions of the arched members. The legs of the arched members rest on the ground on opposite sides of the utility meter.

An optional auxiliary cover is secured to the arched cover extending between the arched cover and the building structure for protecting conduits leading from the utility to the structure and for keeping snow and ice from entering the shelter. The auxiliary cover protects conduit pipes and prevents snow and ice from between the wall and shelter.

A screen can be secured to the front or back of the arched member for further protection. The screen can be configured to various openings, the sides and back of the shield structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will now be made to the drawings, wherein like parts are designated by like numerals and wherein

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the first embodiment of the utility meter cover in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the second embodiment of the utility meter cover in accordance with the present invention particularly adapted for positioning on a cement or asphalt support surface.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the embodiment of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is perspective view of the shield of the present invention, with the access cover partially open.

FIG. 5 is a detail view showing the main arcuate roof of the shield structure with an auxiliary shield member.

FIG. 6 is a detail view showing footing for the second embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a detail view showing closure members for the access cover.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the shield device of the present invention with an auxiliary cover.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Turning now to the drawings in more detail, FIG. 1 illustrates the first embodiment of the utility meter shield in accordance with the present invention. This embodiment is particularly adapted for protection of a utility meter against top loads, such as snow accumulation, rain, and other weather-related phenomena.

The utility meter shield 10 is a freestanding structure of a dome-shape configuration that has a height at the top point to extend above the top of a utility meter, such as a gas meter. The cover is formed as a framework of horizontal and arched members that support an arched shield.

The framework comprises two or more arched members 12 and 14 adapted for positioning on the ground on opposite sides of a meter 18 that is to be protected. The arched member 12 has an arcuate upper portion 20 and a pair of opposing leg portions 22, 24. The arched member 14 is similar in construction to the arched member 12 and is also provided with an arched upper portion 26 and a pair of opposing leg portions 28, 30. The bottom ends 32, 34, 36, and 38 of the leg portions 22, 24, 28, and 30, respectively, are adapted for embedment into the soil adjacent the meter 18. The leg portions 22, 24, 28 and 30 can be made telescoping so as to adapt the shield 10 to uneven ground conditions. The arched members 12 and 14 can be made of non-corrosive metal or other suitable material.

A plurality of horizontal cross members 42 is secured between parallel leg portions 22 and 28, arched upper portions 20, 26 and leg portions 24, 30. The horizontal supports 42 retain the arched member 12 and 14 in a spaced apart stable relationship, providing structural rigidity to the shield 10.

An arcuate cover 50 is secured over the arched members 12 and 14. The cover may be a semi-cylindrical structure, as shown in FIG. 5, or other curved structure capable of supporting weight while spanning between the arched members 12 and 14. The cover 50 comprises opposing side members 52, 54 that extend at least slightly below the arched upper portions 20, 26. The cover may be made of a plurality of materials, such as strong plastic, which can be transparent or covered with light-reflective paint.

The cover 50 is detachably secured to the arched members 12 and 14 by bolts 56 or other suitable means. A row of spaced openings 58 is formed along an edge 60 of the cover 50, and a second row of openings 62 is formed along the opposite edge 64 of the cover 50. During installation, the user first secures the side portion 52 or 54 to the arched members 12 and 14 and to the cross members 42 on one side of the shield 10. The cover 50 is pre-drilled in the factory with the openings 58 and 62.

Due to the difficulty of aligning holes in the plastic cover 50 with any openings that could be made in metal arched members 12 and 14, it is preferred that the cover be shipped separately, and that the user makes holes, such as by drilling, in the leg portions 12 and 14 in situ. Therefore, once the user positions the arched members 12 and 14 in the desired location and adjusts the height of the legs 22, 24, 28, and 30 to the ground conditions, the user then positions the cover 50 over the arched members 12 and 14.

The user can mark the location of the holes in the arched members through the openings 58, 62. Once the holes on one side of the arched members 12 and 14 are drilled and the cover 50 is secured, the user moves to the opposite side of the arched member 12, 14 and secures the cover side member 54 to the arched members 12 and 14 by drilling holes in the leg portions 24, 30 and inserting the bolts 56 along the side of the cover 50. The user then secures the cover 50 to the upper portions 20, 26.

An auxiliary cover member 70 is provided for covering a gap between the shield device 10 and a wall 72 of an adjacent building where the gas or electric conduits 74 are extended. The auxiliary cover 70 is shown in FIGS. 5 and 8. As seen in the drawings, the auxiliary cover 70 comprises a cover body 76, which may be curved to follow the general curvature of the cover 50 (FIG. 5), or relatively planar, as shown in FIG. 8. The cover 50 is provided with a plurality of slots 63, and a matching number of slots 73 is formed in the body 76 of the auxiliary cover 70. The auxiliary cover 70 is detachably secured to the cover 50 along a tangential line so as to reach the wall 72. The distant edge 74 of the auxiliary cover 70 may or may not touch the wall 72.

The bolts 56 may be used for attaching the auxiliary cover 70 to the arched member 12 and 14. Alternatively a set of bolts 78 may be provided for sliding within the slots 63, 73 to allow adjustable extension of the auxiliary cover 70 in relation to the arched members and the wall 72. When positioned on the cover 50, the auxiliary cover 70 protects the pipes 74 from the weight of a snow pile 79, just as the cover 50 protects the meter 18 from the weight of the snow pile 79 and prevents snow from entering the space between the wall and the shield structure.

Turning now to the second embodiment of the present invention, the shield device 80 comprises two or more arched members 82, 84 having lower ends 86, 87, 88, and 89. A footing assembly 90 is provided for each of the ends 86, 87, 88, and 89. The footing assembly 90 comprises a base plate 92 and an upright insert 94 secured to the base plate 92. The ends 86, 87, 88, and 89 are made hollow to receive the insert 94 therein, as shown in FIG. 6. A bolt 96 is inserted through the end 86 of the arched member 82 and the insert 94 for attaching the footing assembly 90 to the arched member 82, 84. A nut 97 threadably engages a free end of the bolt 96 on the opposite side of the end 86. The footing assembly 90 can be either cemented in place or the base 92 can be secured by pins to the cement surface 100.

In other aspects, the shield 80 is similar to the shield device 10 inasmuch as it comprises an arched cover 102 retained in detachable relationship to the arched members 82, 84 by bolts or screws 104. Cross members 106 are provided for securing between the arched members 82, 84 to provide structural integrity to the shield 80. The method of assembly of the cover 102 may be similar to the one described above in relation to the cover 50.

To further protect the enclosure created by the shields 10 and 80, the present invention provides for an optional screen 110 that is secured to the arched members 12 and 82 (front legs) of the shield devices 10 and 80. The screen 110 is shaped and configured to follow the arch of the front arch member; it has a vertical aspect substantially equal to a vertical aspect of the arched cover 50 or 102 of the shield devices 10 and 80.

As can be seen in FIG. 4 and 7, a plurality of grommets 112 is secured along a peripheral edge 114 of the screen 110. A matching number of push lock pins 116 is attached to the arched members 12, 14 or 82, 84. The pins 116 extend through the grommets 112 and when pivoted—occupy a position outside of the screen 110 across the grommet 112. Since the pin 116 has a longitudinal dimension greater than the diameter of the grommet opening, the pins 116 secured the screen 110 across the opening defined by the arched members 12, 14 or 82, 84. The screen 110 can be secured either to the front arched members 12, 82, or to the back member 14, 84 or both.

The screen 110 further protects the meter 18 from inclement weather. Access to the meter 18 is easily obtained by pivoting some of the pins 116 and disengaging the grommets 112 from engagement with the pins 116. The screen 110 can then be folded down, as shown in FIG. 4 and access to the meter 18 obtained. The screen 110 can be made from any number of flexible foldable materials, whether mesh or tightly woven.

The shield device can be secured on the ground to prevent the effects of high winds by a number of methods. It is envisioned that in very sandy or light loamy soil, a concrete anchor may be required. For the installation in dense top soil, clay, or other dense material, the lower ends of the arched members may be positioned in trenches, then backfilled and compacted. If the unit is designed to sit atop of concrete, asphalt or other rigid paving compound, installation may be accomplished with wedge anchors.

When the shield devices 10 or 80 are positioned around the meter 18, the covers 50, 102 protect the meter on top and on both sides. Ice, snow, debris, tree limbs, and similar damaging material slides off of the exterior surface of the covers protecting the meter against impact.

The protective shields 10, 80 can be manufactured in various sizes and widths. The units can be configured to accommodate weather heads or other adjacent utility devices. The color of the shield can be selected based on consumer preference. If desired, the entire structure may be painted in a selected color to match the exterior paint of the building. All materials used in the protective shield device are non-corrosive, or if corrosive securing members are used, there may be painted with exterior paint to prevent damage and deterioration due to weather conditions.

The shield devices are installed near the buildings to capture the available heat, be it radiant hear, or heat from nearby exhaust pipes to help melt the snow off the shield devices.

Many changes and modifications can be made in the design of the present invention without departing from the spirit thereof. I, therefore, pray that my rights to the present invention be limited only by the scope of the appended claims.