Title:
Insulation for Above Ground Swimming Pools
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Insulation for plastic sided metal framed above ground swimming pools whereby vertically-ribbed inflatable flexible plastic panels 17 are designed such that by means of zips 18 and 19 and the degree of inflation of the individual panels a continuous insulating solar panel is formed around and in close contact with the perimeter of the pool 10.



Inventors:
Brindle, Christopher Charles (Colchester, GB)
Application Number:
12/328248
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
12/04/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LOEPPKE, JANIE MEREDITH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Renner Kenner Greive Bobak Taylor & Weber Co., LPA (Huntington Tower, Suite 400 106 South Main Street, Akron, OH, 44308-1412, US)
Claims:
1. Inflatable vertically-ribbed flexible plastic panels which can be detachably joined together and detachably connected to above ground swimming pools by means of zips, the insulating panels being inflatable by air until close contact between panels and pool wall is achieved thereby improving the insulation of the swimming pool, and where said swimming pool walls are formed solely by a plastic liner supported by a metal frame.

2. Inflatable vertically-ribbed flexible plastic panels according to claim 1, in which at opposed ends of an inflatable panel, the panel is zipped to the adjoining panel by means of a section or sections that pass behind a support leg of the metal frame, and/or a further section or sections that zip to the adjoining panel by passing in front of a frame's support leg, in such a way that close contact with the pool wall is achieved.

3. Inflatable vertically-ribbed flexible plastic panels according to claim 1, in which improved contact with the pool wall is achieved by providing a small part of a bottom edge of the panel to locate underneath the pool liner prior to inflation and ensuring that a top edge of the panel is adapted to be held securely by a top part of a support leg, and/or locates between an upper part of the frame and the pool liner.

4. Inflatable vertically-ribbed flexible plastic panels according to claim 1 which are at least partially transparent.

Description:

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to ways in which panels of insulation may be attached to the exterior face of the walls of above ground swimming pools.

Granted UK applications by the inventor GB2425146 and GB2425147 describe clips which may be used to attach such insulation to above ground pools, mainly of the steel walled variety. Prior to these innovations it was generally not considered necessary or possible to attach insulation to the walls of above ground pools, even though many users would attempt to heat their pools at some considerable expense to try and extend the swimming season beyond the height of Summer.

The present invention describes a method of attaching inflatable insulation panels as described below to above ground swimming pools where the walls of the pool are formed by a plastic liner supported by a metal frame.

It is advantageous to use transparent material as an insulation material, since the solar energy of the sun will pass through the material and heat up the pool wall and hence the water. The greater the degree of transparency of the insulation material the quicker the sun's energy will be transferred to the pool wall. Heat loss from the pool by means of conduction and convection will be greatly reduced by using an insulation material that incorporates air. Where a pool is heated by means of electricity, gas, or solid fuel, significant savings in energy will be made. A warmer pool, for more of the year and/or cost savings will be achieved with a pool insulated in this way.

For convenience, and for economies of transportation and storage, it is desirable to fashion the insulation panels by using a transparent plastic material to construct standard size inflatable ribbed panels. These will be of compact dimensions when deflated, but of a size to match the dimensions of the swimming pool wall when inflated.

For the insulation to be effective the standard sized panels must be installed as a continuous ring around the outside of the pool and with as much contact with the pool wall as possible. The ring can be made bigger or smaller depending on the size of the above ground pool.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a round pool formed by a plastic liner supported by a metal frame.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a rectangular pool of the above type.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternative version of a rectangular pool of this type.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of insulation fitted to a round pool, seen as a section taken just above the leg support band (the support band itself has been omitted from the diagram)

FIG. 5 is a plan view of insulation fitted to a rectangular pool, seen as a section taken half way up the pool wall.

FIG. 6 is an elevation view of one embodiment of an un-inflated inflatable panel.

FIG. 7 is an elevation view of the same embodiment of an un-inflated panel as seen in FIG. 6 but with a different embodiment of joining mechanism.

FIG. 8 is a cross section of the panel and joining mechanism described in FIG. 6

FIG. 9a is a cross section view of the panel in FIG. 6 partially inflated.

FIG. 9b is a cross section view of the panel in FIG. 6 fully inflated.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 show particular embodiments of plastic liner pools supported by a metal frame. In FIG. 1 a round one piece plastic liner 10 is held up by a multiplicity of metal support legs 11 which are constrained to move by a broad leg support band of plastic 12. The legs locate into a top rail assembly 13. The support legs remain close to the pool wall apart from a region above the broad band of plastic 12 and the top rail assembly 13 where there is a significant air gap.

FIG. 2 is a one piece rectangular liner 14, supported by a number of leg assemblies 15, which are tied back to the liner by braces 16. The leg assemblies locate in a top rail assembly 17. The leg assemblies are in close proximity to the plastic liner except in the region of the braces 16 where this is a substantial air gap.

FIG. 3 shows a one piece rectangular liner 18, supported by a number of leg assemblies 19, which are tied back to the liner by braces 20. The legs fasten to a top rail assembly 21. In this pool the liner locks into a channel 22 in the outside of an aluminum extrusion that forms the top rail. The leg assemblies are in close proximity to the plastic liner except in the region of the braces 20 where there is a substantial air gap.

FIG. 4 is a simplified diagram of the pool shown in FIG. 1. The plastic liner 10 is held up (in this example) by six support legs 11, and is (in this example) insulated by six inflatable panels 17 on the outside of the pool wall 10, which are held together as a ring by six full-length open ended zips 18 which join on the outside of each support leg 11, and six part-length length open ended zips 19 which join behind and slightly to one side of the support leg 11. In the shown embodiment the zips 19 extend from just above the leg support band to just below the top rail assembly 13. The function of the zips 19 is to hold the back of the inflatable panel as close as possible to the pool wall and fill the air gap. It is also possible to have slightly different embodiments as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7.

FIG. 5 is a generalised diagram of the pools shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. A pool liner 18, is held up by support legs 19, and is insulated by a multiplicity of inflatable panels 20, which are held together as a ring by full length open ended zips 21. Unlike the pools illustrated in FIG. 4 all of the panel insulation will be positioned between the pool support legs and the pool wall. The bottom of the panel will be held secure by ensuring that a small part of the bottom edge of the insulation is placed underneath the pool liner prior to filling of the pool and inflation of the insulation. The top of the panel will be held by compression between the pool wall and the support legs and in the case of a pool such as that shown in FIG. 3 between the liner 18 and the top rail assembly 21.

FIG. 6 shows one embodiment of an inflatable panel. The panel has a multitude of channels 22 formed by a multitude of welds or other closures 23. To make connections easier it may be advantageous to make the channels at the end of the panel 24 slightly smaller than the other channels. The channels are inter-connected horizontally in a number of places, the diagram shows the channels connected at the top and bottom. In some applications it may be advantageous to have the weld or closure running to the top of the panel so that the panel may be carefully slit down the middle of the weld or closure to allow a space for pool inlets, outlets or skimmers to pass through the panel.

The panel shows two halves of a full length open-ended zip 25 which may be used to join adjacent panels together. The half of the zip with the slider will be placed consistently on the same end of the panel. A pool as illustrated in FIG. 1 has a leg support band running round the pool at or about the mid point of the pool wall. It is thus not possible to pass the insulation panels entirely behind the pool support legs. As an inflatable insulation panel comprises two sheets of material that have been welded or closed together it is possible to place zips on all or part of the continuations of the front and back sheets welded together or place zips on all or part of the front and back sheets kept apart. FIG. 6 shows an embodiment where one half of an open ended full length zip has been applied to both ends of the front sheet of the panel with the intention that the closed zip will meet over the front of a support leg. The back sheet can be zipped behind the post by means of a top zip 26+27 (27 is seen in the diagram though the transparent top sheet) and a bottom zip 28+29 (29 is seen through the transparent top sheet).

FIG. 7 shows the same embodiment of inflatable panel as FIG. 6 except that in this embodiment of the joining mechanism the extensions of the front and back sheets have been welded together. The middle part of the welded extensions has been cut away so that the leg support band of a pool as illustrated in FIG. 1 may pass through the ring formed by the insulation panels. The two halves of the top zip 30 and 31 will zip together, and the two halves of the bottom zip 32 and 33 will zip together. Both top zip and bottom zip can fasten either in front of or behind a pool's support leg, in order that the insulation ring can be brought as close as possible to the pool wall. Different makes of pool have different geometries and the best embodiment of zipped joins will be used to suit the individual application.

FIG. 8 shows a cross section of the joining mechanism described in FIG. 6. The two halves 25 of the full length open ended zip applied to the front sheet meet in front of a support leg at point 34, whilst the zip halves applied to the back sheet (26+27 and/or 28+29) meet at point 35.

FIG. 9a shows the cross section of the panel described in FIGS. 6 and 8 seen from above when partially inflated, and FIG. 9b shows the same section when fully inflated. The joining zips are shown in positions 34 and 35. Because the panels are horizontally ribbed they will contract as they are inflated, and as they are zipped together to make a ring, they will make greater contact with the pool wall as they contract improving the insulation. The insulation panels can be made to fit a wide range of makes and models of above ground pool as the width of individual panels can be varied by increasing or decreasing the amount of inflation.