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The present disclosure generally relates to apparatuses and methods for conditioning the temperature of air for the comfort of individuals proximate to the apparatus. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to a table with an integrated air conditioning system for use in an open air or outdoor setting.
Leisure time for many individuals includes enjoyment of open air and outdoors environments. For some, this may include hikes through a forest or landscaping the back yard. For others, a round of golf or a sightseeing trip is the preferred activity. However, for many individuals relaxation is composed of entertaining family or friends on the back yard patio around one or more tables. Other open air and outdoor activities are also popular such as informal business gatherings, receptions, and social hours and are typically conducted at poolside, on a large patio, or other similar gathering area where a number of tables may be found for outdoor dining, games, or conversation. While experiencing the outdoors is a preference of many in their pursuit of leisure, relaxing, and socializing, these activities must usually be accomplished at the mercy of the current whims of the weather. The overwhelming preference for these activities is to conduct them on bright sunshine days. However, in many climes, conducting these activities in direct sunlight also means that the participants are exposed to heat, sunshine, and humidity that, if not within a small comfort band, can become uncomfortable within a short time period.
Umbrellas, tents and gazebos have been utilized in the past to provide shade for gatherings of various sizes. While, such structures provide areas of shade under which people can gather and can accommodate a larger or smaller numbers of people, these structures do not address the underlying ambient temperature and humidity factors which are also important elements of comfort. Further, attempting to enclose a tent or gazebo and provide the structure with conditioned air for the comfort of everyone housed therein can be logistically difficult at best and prohibitively costly at worst. Enclosing these structures also counteracts the aesthetic aspects of the open air or outdoor environment which was originally desired to enhance the gathering in the first place. Such enclosures merely function to force a gathering's population into a single designated space in total without regard to individual preferences or accommodation of sub-groupings of participants.
In particular, while a particular gathering may involve a significant number of people overall, within the total population of the gathering, a number of smaller intimate groups are occurring simultaneously. These smaller groups may typically involve ten or fewer participants engaged in topical discussions. Individuals typically float from one small group to another, or from table to table during the course of the total event. Thus, while the overall population of the event remains relatively constant, the smaller groups are dynamic and typically vary slightly in size within the size range of ten or fewer over the course of the event.
The comfort demands of these smaller groups can also vary. Some groups may desire to sit at a table in the sunshine, while others may desire the comfort of conditioned air and shade. Therefore, there is a need for providing to smaller groups within a larger event population in an outdoor or open air environment, a table capable of delivering conditioned air for the comfort of the individuals within the smaller group without concurrently detracting from the outdoor or open air experience.
The present disclosure is generally directed to an outdoor, weather resistant table with integrated air conditioning for providing thermally conditioned air to users seated at the table and includes a table pedestal defining at least one ambient air inlet. A table top is supported by the table pedestal and also defines a first conditioned air outlet vertically positioned at a height to coincide with the torso of a sitting human and a second conditioned air outlet positioned to direct conditioned air above the table top. A fan within the table pedestal has a fan inlet communicative with the ambient air inlet for drawing ambient air into the pedestal for thermal conditioning and also has a fan outlet communicative with the first and said second conditioned air outlets for supplying conditioned air to users. A first heat exchanger is interposed between the ambient air inlet and the conditioned air outlet, and a working fluid supply is fluidly communicative with the first heat exchanger for thermally conditioning the ambient air.
In another aspect, the outdoor air conditioning table includes a pedestal housing defining at least one ambient air inlet, and a table top supported by the table pedestal. The table top defines a first conditioned air outlet vertically positioned at a height to coincide with the torso of a sitting human and a second conditioned air outlet positioned to direct conditioned air above the table top. A fan within the table pedestal has a fan inlet communicative with the ambient air inlet for drawing ambient air into the pedestal for thermal conditioning and also has a fan outlet communicative with the first and said second conditioned air outlets for supplying conditioned air to users. A first heat exchanger is interposed between the ambient air inlet and the conditioned air outlet, and an underground working fluid supply conduit is fluidly communicative with the first heat exchanger for thermally conditioning the ambient air.
In another aspect, the table comprises an exhaust conduit for expelling waste air as a by-product of the conditioning cycle. The exhaust conduit is routed to discharge the waste air at a location and direction away from the users sitting around the table.
In still another aspect, the table pedestal defines a second ambient air inlet, and the table further includes a mast extending upwardly from the table pedestal and above the table top. The mast further defines an exhaust conduit for expelling waste air as a by-product of the conditioning cycle. A second fan is located within the table pedestal and has a fan inlet communicative with the second ambient air inlet for drawing ambient air into the table pedestal and a fan outlet communicative with the exhaust conduit. Also included within the table pedestal is a second heat exchanger interposed between the second ambient air inlet and the second fan inlet. The first and second heat exchangers are fluidly communicative for cycling the working fluid therebetween during the thermal conditioning cycle.
In yet another aspect, the table can utilize compressed air provided from a remote location via an underground conduit. An expansion valve (or series of expansion valves) can be disposed between and inlet from the underground conduit and a conditioned air outlet, wherein the expansion valve reduces the temperature of the provided compressed air as it passes through the expansion valve(s).
In yet another aspect, the table can utilize conditioned air provided from a remote location via an underground conduit. A fan can be disposed between and inlet from the underground conduit and a conditioned air outlet.
In yet another aspect, the mast can include a selectively extendable canopy at an upper end of the mast.
In a still further aspect, the mast includes at least one selectively illuminable light at an upper end of the mast.
The invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, where like numerals denote like elements and in which:
FIG. 1 presents a perspective view of an exemplary outdoor table with integrated air conditioning and including an exhaust mast and umbrella;
FIG. 2 presents an elevation view of the outdoor table of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 presents an elevation functional schematic view of an outdoor table with integrated air conditioning according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 4 presents an elevation functional schematic view of an alternate embodiment of an outdoor table with integrated air conditioning wherein a thermal working fluid is remotely supplied;
FIG. 5 presents an elevation functional schematic view of an alternate embodiment of an outdoor table with integrated air conditioning wherein the thermal working fluid is compressed air;
FIG. 6 presents an elevation functional schematic view of an alternate embodiment of an outdoor table with integrated air conditioning wherein the thermal working fluid is cooled air; and
FIG. 7 presents a perspective view of a second exemplary outdoor table with integrated air conditioning.
Like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the various views of the drawings.
The following detailed description is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the described embodiments or the application and uses of the described embodiments. As used herein, the word “exemplary” or “illustrative” means “serving as an example, instance, or illustration.” Any implementation described herein as “exemplary” or “illustrative” is not necessarily to be construed as preferred or advantageous over other implementations. All of the implementations described below are exemplary implementations provided to enable persons skilled in the art to make or use the embodiments of the disclosure and are not intended to limit the scope of the disclosure, which is defined by the claims. For purposes of description herein, the terms “upper”, “lower”, “left”, “rear”, “right”, “front”, “vertical”, “horizontal”, and derivatives thereof shall relate to the invention as oriented in FIG. 1. Furthermore, there is no intention to be bound by any expressed or implied theory presented in the preceding technical field, background, brief summary or the following detailed description. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification, are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.
Turning to the drawings, FIGS. 1-3 show an outdoor table with integrated air conditioning 100, which is one of the preferred embodiments of the present invention and illustrates its various components. A table pedestal 120 rests upon a floor or ground surface 16. Table pedestal 120 defines a first ambient air inlet 122 and a second ambient air inlet 124. The first ambient air inlet 122 and second ambient air inlet 124 can be located at any reasonable location within the table pedestal 120. A horizontally oriented table top 180 is supported at a usable height by table pedestal 120 such that users 10 can be seated therearound and comfortable access an upper surface 182 of table top 180. Table top 180 also defines one or more first conditioned air outlets 126 for directing conditioned air approximately coincident with the height of a human torso 12. First conditioned air outlets 126 can be positioned intermediately below table surface 182 as illustrated in FIGS. 1-2 or integral with an outer edge 184 as illustrated in FIG. 3, or anywhere below the table top 180 such as being integral with the table pedestal 120. Table top 180 also defines one or more second conditioned air outlets 128 more central to top surface 182 of table top 180 for directing conditioned air to the area above table top 180, wherein the airflow is specifically directed to provide comfort to the area of a user's head 14. Those practiced in the art will recognize that the outer form factor of table base 120 and table top 180 can assume many shapes such as circular, square, or polygonal as non-limiting examples.
A mast 160 extends upwardly from table pedestal 120 and above table top 180. Mast 160 can be decorative, functional, or both. In the present embodiment of the table 100, the mast 160 is functional and defines an exhaust conduit 162 for expelling waste air that is a by-product of the air conditioning cycle, being directed away from the table's occupants. As illustrated in FIGS. 1-2, mast 160 in either a decorative or functional configuration as a waste air exhaust can include a selectively extendable canopy 170 at an upper end 164 thereof. Further, mast 160 can also support one or more illuminable lights 176 at upper end 164 to enable use of table 100 during periods of minimal light or darkness.
Positioned within table pedestal 120 is a first fan 130 having an inlet 132 fluidly communicative with first ambient air inlet 122 and an outlet 134 fluidly communicative with first and second conditioned air outlets 126, 128 via conditioned air conduits 138. Also positioned within base 121 of housing 120 is a second fan 140 having an inlet 142 fluidly communicative with second ambient air inlet 124 and an outlet 144 fluidly communicative with exhaust conduit 162.
A first heat exchanger 136 is preferably interposed between first ambient air inlet 122 and first fan inlet 132, and a second heat exchanger 146 is interposed between second ambient air inlet 124 and second fan inlet 142. First heat exchanger 136 and second heat exchanger 146 is fluidly interconnected with a working fluid supply cyclically communicative between first heat exchanger 136 and second heat exchanger 146 via one or more working fluid supply conduits 150. It is understood the first heat exchanger 136 can be interposed between the first fan outlet 134 and first and second conditioned air outlets 126, 128. Likewise, the second heat exchanger 146 can be interposed between the second fan outlet 144 and the exhaust conduit 162.
In use, users 10 may sit at an outdoor table with integrated air conditioning 100 to eat, converse, or engage in other activities requiring a table top. Assuming the individuals desire to have thermally conditioned air make direct contact with them, table 100 can be activated using control panel 156. Controls 156 may be operated manually or set to automatically cycle depending on the desires of the users. Upon activation, fans 130 and 140 begin to draw external ambient air through ambient air inlets 122, 124 respectively. Ambient air “A” drawn through first ambient air inlet 122 is passed through first heat exchanger 136 whereupon it is thermally conditioned by the flow of working fluid circulating between first heat exchanger 136 and second heat exchanger 146 in an evaporation-condensation cycle known in the art. As the conditioned air “A” exits first heat exchanger 136 and enters first fan 130, the conditioned air is directed through outlet 134 of first fan 130 through conditioned air conduits 138 and subsequently expelled back to the desired climate controlled environment through first and second conditioned air outlets 126, 128 as thermally conditioned air (Arrows “B”) for the comfort of the users 10 seated therearound. Conditioned air “B” exits from first conditioned air outlets 126 positioned to direct the conditioned air at the heads 14 and torsos 12 (including the user's lower body) of the users 10, and conditioned air “B” exits from second conditioned air outlets 128 positioned to direct the air above table top 180 for the comfort of the area of the heads 14 of users 10. Although two fans 130, 140 are illustrated. It is understood that the system can utilize a single fan or a plurality of fans to accomplish the conveyance of air.
Concurrent with the thermal conditioning of air as it passes through first heat exchanger 136, second fan 140 draws ambient air “A” through second heat exchanger 146 which conditions the working fluid of the thermodynamic cycle prior to the energy transfer process of heat exchanger 136. This airflow becomes waste air (Arrow “C”) and is expelled from outlet 144 of second fan 140 through exhaust conduit 162 of mast 160.
Airflow is directed towards the user 10, such as via Arrow “B”. The conditioned air becomes entrapped by the user and the bottom surface of the table top 182. This increases the efficiency of the air conditioning process as well as the comfort to the user 10.
Turning now to FIG. 4, an alternate embodiment outdoor table with integrated air conditioning 200 is illustrated. Like features of table 200 and table 100 are numbered the same except preceded by the numeral ‘2’. Outdoor table with integrated air conditioning 200 includes a table pedestal 220 from which an optional decorative mast (not shown) can upwardly extend in manner similar to table 100. Decorative mast 260 may also include an extendable canopy or illuminable lights (not shown) as described above. A horizontally oriented table top 280 is supported at a usable height by table pedestal 220 and defines one or more first conditioned air outlets 226 positioned intermediately below table surface 282 or can be integral with an outer edge 284. Pedestal 220 defines a single ambient air inlet 222. A fan 230 having an inlet 232 fluidly communicative with ambient air inlet 222 and an outlet 234 is fluidly communicative with first and second conditioned air outlets 226, 228 via conditioned air conduits 238. A heat exchanger 236 is interposed between ambient air inlet 222 and fan inlet 232. A working fluid supply conduit 250 delivers working fluid to heat exchanger 236 from a central or remote reservoir (not shown) and working fluid return conduit 252 returns working fluid to the remote reservoir after exiting from heat exchanger 236. Conduits 250, 252 are typically concealed such as by being routed underground to prevent clutter to the gathering area or damage from users 10. It is understood, the heat exchanger 236 can be interposed between the fan outlet 234 and first and second conditioned air outlets 226, 228. The conduits 250, 252 can be concealed via any reasonable means, including being buried, positioned below a deck, below a false floor, within a raceway, and the like.
In use, the users desiring to have conditioned air delivered from table 200 utilize controls 256 to initiate operation of table 200. Upon activation, fan 230 begins to draw external ambient air through ambient air inlet 222. Ambient air “A” drawn through ambient air inlet 222 is passed through heat exchanger 236 whereupon it is thermally conditioned by the flow of working fluid circulating from supply conduit 250 (Arrow “C”), through heat exchanger 236 and returned to a remote reservoir through return conduit 252 (Arrow “D”) in an evaporation-condensation cycle known in the art. As the conditioned air “A” exits heat exchanger 236 and enters fan 230, the conditioned air is directed through outlet 234 of fan 230 through conditioned air conduits 238 and subsequently directing the chilled air targeting the user through first and second conditioned air outlets 226, 228 as thermally conditioned air “B” for the comfort of users 10 seated therearound. Conditioned air “B” exits from first conditioned air outlets 226 positioned to direct the conditioned air at the torsos 12 of the users 10, and additional conditioned air “B” exits from second conditioned air outlets 228 positioned to target the conditioned air to the area above table top 280 directed towards the heads 14 of the user 10 for their comfort.
Illustrated in FIG. 5, yet another embodiment outdoor table with integrated air conditioning 300 is shown. Like features of table 300 and table 200 are numbered the same except preceded by the numeral ‘3’. Outdoor table with integrated air conditioning 300 is substantially the same as table 200, however there is only a working compressed air supply conduit 350, typically concealed by being buried underground, but there is no return conduit. Table 300 utilizes compressed air as the working fluid to be delivered to expansion valve 330 through supply conduit 350 (Arrow “C”). Compressed air delivered through conduit 350 is preconditioned remote from table 300. At expansion valve 330, the compressed air expands reducing the pressure and temperature to obtain the desired thermally conditioned air. The thermally conditioned air is then directed through conduits 338 for delivery through outlets 326, 328 as thermally conditioned air “B” for the comfort of the humans 10 seated therearound.
Illustrated in FIG. 6, yet another embodiment outdoor table with integrated air conditioning 400 is shown. Like features of table 400, table 300, and table 200 are numbered the same except preceded by the numeral ‘4’. Outdoor table with integrated air conditioning 400 is substantially the same as table 300 and table 200; however there is only a cold air supply conduit 450, typically concealed by being buried underground. Table 400 utilizes the supplied cold air distributed and propelled via a fan 430 drawing the cold air from supply conduit 450 (Arrow “C”). Cold air delivered through conduit 450 is preconditioned remote from table 400. The cold air is driven via the fan 430 through conduits 438 for delivery through outlets 426, 428 as thermally conditioned air “B” for the comfort of the humans 10 seated therearound.
An alternate exemplary form factor, referred to as a table 500, is presented in FIG. 7. The table 500 comprises the functional elements previously presented, having a shaped base 520 allowing users to comfortably sit about the circumference of a table top 580. A series of base vents 526 are disposed about an upper portion of the base 520, directing cold air towards the users. The base vents 526 can include user controllable air registers to direct the airflow targeting the user as well as controlling the rate of flow from each base vent 526. The bottom surface 582 of the table top 580 maintains the thermally controlled air adjacent the users, thus creating a proximate climate controlled environment for comfort. An upper airflow discharge conduit 520 can project through a top surface of the table top 580, the upper airflow discharge conduit 520 comprising a plurality of upper vents 528 disposed about the periphery of the upper airflow discharge conduit 520. This configuration directs airflow at each of the users sitting about the table 500. The upper vents 528 can include user controllable air registers to direct the airflow targeting the user as well as controlling the rate of flow from each upper vent 528. The upper airflow discharge conduit 520 is preferably of a height to avoid cooling of any food place upon the surface of the table top 580, while still directing the airflow towards the users. An exhaust discharge conduit 562 can be disposed through a central portion of the upper airflow discharge conduit 520, directing the warmer air away from the users.
The outlet vents can comprise a vent control assembly, wherein said vent control assembly controls the direction and flow rate of the discharged cooled air passing outlet vents. An exemplary vent control assembly would be similar to those used in an automobile or airplane. Alternately, a multi speed control and respective air handing fan can be integrated into the system to control the flow rate of the discharged conditioned air.
In each of the embodiments, the table comprises a pedestal assembly and a table top as best illustrated in FIG. 7. The table top has a peripheral edge “D” that is greater than the general girth of the pedestal “G”, providing a comfortable seating arrangement for the user. The underside of the overhanging portion “O” of the table top creates a barrier to form a micro climate for the end user. The conditioned air is maintained by the table supporting surface (ground), the underside of the overhanging portion of the table top, and the users.
Each of the tables 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 is preferably fabricated with considerations for the environment. The various electrical components are provided with weather sensitive considerations, to avoid any intrusion of water, dust, and the like. Additionally, the table can include insulation for reducing thermal deviations. The materials would be selected considering an outdoor application, being UV resistant, incorporating expansion joints, and the like. The table would additionally include water or moisture control features, such as moisture collection and discharge channels. The components are preferably fabricated of corrosion resistant materials, treated for corrosion resistance, protected to avoid exposure for corrosion, and the like.
It is understood that the above disclosure is provided for directing cooled air toward a plurality of users sitting about a table. It is understood that the heat exchanger can be adapted to disperse hot air as well as cool air, while maintaining within the spirit and intent of the present invention.
Since many modifications, variations, and changes in detail can be made to the described preferred embodiments of the invention, it is intended that all matters in the foregoing description and shown in the accompanying drawings be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. Thus, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalence.