Title:
Integrated electric fan and patio umbrella
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An electric fan and patio umbrella combination. The device uses an electric fan mounted as a integral part of a patio umbrella. The umbrella fabric is open at the top exposing the fan to direct air from above. This direct exposure to an air source is what gives the device its high volume of air flow. Since the fan support structure is a part of the upper umbrella support structure, the umbrella can be raised or lowered around the fan blades without the need to hinge the blades up or down, therefore allowing the umbrella to fold. This is accomplished by the use of an upper support ring that provides an outer hinge point for the upper umbrella rib supports. The fan blades block most sunlight from entering the fabric opening at the top, however an additional fabric cover is provided that may be pulled over the opening if desired.



Inventors:
Copple, Ronald Boyd (Pagosa Springs, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/059230
Publication Date:
09/05/2002
Filing Date:
01/31/2002
Assignee:
COPPLE RONALD BOYD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45B3/00; A45B23/00; A45B25/20; F04D29/60; A45B19/00; (IPC1-7): A45B3/00; A45B5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILKENS, JANET MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ronald Boyd Copple (Pagosa Springs, CO, US)
Claims:

What is claimed as my invention is:



1. The umbrella structure designed in a manner as to leave the top fabric removed with the fan supported centrally allowing for maximum air flow.

2. A fan mounted integrally within the umbrella structure such that the umbrella folds around the fan blades without the need to fold the blades up or down or remove the umbrella entirely from the fan.

3. A circular upper support ring (20) that secures the upper umbrella support ribbing, in which the ribbing support rotates around during opening and closing.

Description:

[0001] This application claims benefit of Provisional Application 60/266,492 filed Feb. 6, 2001.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to an electric fan and patio umbrella combination.

[0004] 2. Description of Prior Art

[0005] The invention is designed to provide the movement of air under a patio umbrella during periods when natural air circulation is insufficient to provide comfort. All prior art most closely related to this invention, including U.S. Pat. No. 6,017,188 to Benton, U.S. Pat. No. 5,007,811 to Hopkins and U.S. Pat. No. 3,177,881 to Covington have incorporated a design concept that mounts a fan directly under the umbrella. Complicated and difficult to manufacture devices ( such as folding blades ) have been proposed to allow the umbrella to be folded down during periods of non use or the unit is not capable of being lowered at all. The primary drawback however, of all prior art is the inability to create sufficient air flow to accomplish the desired cooling effect. This is due to the opened umbrella blocking the air movement created by the fan. Sufficient clearance between the umbrella fabric and the fan blades must be provided in order to achieve the results claimed. These factors are believed to be the primary reasons why a device of this nature has not been successfully introduced to the market

[0006] As will be seen, the present invention eliminates the need for complicated mechanical components and achieves maximum effectiveness of the cooling fan by exposing the fan blades to the air.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] This invention solves the problem of blocked air flow seen in other designs and simplifies the process of opening and closing the umbrella. By mounting a variable speed or three speed radial fan directly into the frame of the umbrella and creating an opening in the top so that air can be forced downward towards the table, sufficient air flow is provided.

[0008] The fan support structure and umbrella structure are designed as a single unit so that adequate strength can be achieved. The metal or wood umbrella rib supports are attached to the outer circumference of the circular fan support , these rib supports are connected to a cord and pulley system that draw the umbrella closed or open around the fan structure. This simple system is easy to manufacture and provides a low cost and effective solution to prior art complications.

[0009] Having an opening in the top of the umbrella, exposing the fan blades to the air is what gives this device the exceptional volume of air flow. A multi bladed fan of various diameters is used, depending on ultimate umbrella size. The fan motor is an electric weather proof device controlled by a variable speed or three speed switch mounted in the umbrella support pole, at a convenient height for ease of operation. The fan blades being mounted in the opening of the umbrella top typically provide adequate protection from the sun and other elements that may exist. If additional protection is desired an additional pulley system is provided so that a cover can be drawn over the opening. When this additional cover is in use however, minimum air flow can be expected out of the fan. The electric supply line can be furnished through a top mounted cord or through a bottom mounted cord that runs through the center of the umbrella pole. This device is also used on pole mounted umbrellas that have poles offset from center.

[0010] Additional features of the invention include being able to fit the integrated fan and umbrella combination through a patio table support hole, rope mood lighting with dimmer switch and a water fogger system for additional cooling.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] FIG. 1 shows the integrated fan and umbrella with table

[0012] FIG. 2 shows a top view of the open top with exposed fan

[0013] FIG. 3 shows the unit in a folded configuration

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0014] Referring to FIG. 1, the fan/umbrella support structure (3) (top portion not shown) is connected to the circular support ring (20) and the umbrella ribbing (19). The weather proof fan motor (2) is connected to the fan support shaft (12) which is then connected to the umbrella support pole (10) . The connection to the support pole (10) is secured by placing the lower motor support shaft (12) into a tightly fitted lower shaft bushing (27). The top side of the fan motor (2) has an upper support shaft (29), which is connected to an upper shaft bushing (28) that anchors into the upper portion of the fan support structure (3) (not shown in this figure) on the top side. Multiple fan blades (1) are then attached to the fan motor (2). The number of fan blades (1) will vary depending on the aerodynamic requirements specific to each umbrella size and aesthetic desires of the individual user. An additional weather proof protection for the fan motor (2) is provided by placing a circular motor cover (23) over it. This configuration results in an umbrella with an open top (25) free of any umbrella fabric (4), which allows a high volume of air flow through and onto the table top (16) below, which could not be achieved by prior art. By having the upper support ribs (19) of the umbrella secured to the upper support ring (20) such that they rotate around it, the umbrella can be raised or lowered with the use of the umbrella control handle (7). This is done without the need for complicated hinges and springs connected to the fan blades (1) as required in most prior art, or the complete removal of the umbrella from the fan post as proposed by Benton.

[0015] Power is supplied to the fan motor (2) by running electric wiring (23) though the center of the support pole (10) and out the bottom to a plug (11) or out the top to an alternate plug (13). The alternate location is provided for those that prefer to have overhead power, thus avoiding any ground interference from a connecting cord. The fan motor (2) speed can be controlled with the variable speed or multi speed switch (8) mounted on the support pole (10). The fan motor (2) can be reversed to create an updraft, if decreased are flow is desired, by the use of the fan direction switch (26). Additionally the electric wiring (23) can be used to power rope lighting (5) that is attached to the underside of the upper umbrella ribs (19). This lighting can be controlled by adjusting the lighting system dimmer switch (9) mounted at a convenient height on the support pole (10).

[0016] For additional cooling a water fogging system can be installed on the unit, the fog is created by running water through tubing (24) that is hidden inside the support pole (10). The tubing (24) terminates at the top end by connecting to multiple nozzles (6) mounted below the lower shaft bushing (27) and into the support pole (10). The tubing terminates at the lower end with a valve (14) to which the external water source is connected.

[0017] The umbrella can be lowered in a conventional manner by rotating the umbrella control handle (7), which allows the lower support ribbing (22) to be moved up or down on the umbrella support structure slide (18) to which they are attached. The upper ribbing (19) is covered with fabric (4), with the exception of the open top (25), to shed water or sunlight. The fan blades (1) will normally provide this function for the open top (25) area, however if additional coverage is desired a pullover fabric cover (30) is provided. Air flow will be significantly reduced with cover in place.

[0018] The umbrella support pole (10) is supported by the table top (16), through which it protrudes through a hole (17) down into a weighted base (31). The table is supported by multiple legs (15).

[0019] Referring to FIG. 2, the full embodiment is viewed from the top showing the open top (25), the upper portion of the fan/umbrella support structure (3), multi fan blades (1), upper ribbing support ring (20) and rotating connection (21) to upper ribbing support (19). The lower ribbing (22) is shown by dashed lines. The weather proof motors (2) direction is controlled by the fan direction switch (26). Fabric (4) covers the entire surface with the exception of the open top (25).

[0020] Referring to FIG. 3, the full embodiment is shown in the lowered position with the primary emphasis being placed on the rotating connection (21), the open top (25) and the fan/support structure (3).