Title:
Electric fireplace perforated light-emitting rotator flame simulator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides an electric fireplace flame simulator having a light source mounted within a rotatable hollow cylinder, the cylinder having flanged perforations that disperse heat from the light source and through which is projected a simulacrum of flames upon the cylinder being rotated about the light source. A light diffuser panel and other patterned and transparent screens are used to enhance the flame illusion. The simulator does away with the problems of an actual fire such as containment of the fire, smoke disposal, and fuel replenishment, while providing provides heat and an excellent illusion of a flame for a fireplace.



Inventors:
Chen, Xiao Liang (Yuyao, CN)
Application Number:
09/947398
Publication Date:
03/13/2003
Filing Date:
09/07/2001
Assignee:
Globaltec Distributors Ltd.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
40/428, 362/35
International Classes:
F24C7/00; (IPC1-7): F24B1/18
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
JEFFERY, JOHN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul D. Gornall (Vancouver, BC, CA)
Claims:

I claim:



1. An electric fireplace flame simulator having a light emitting rotor comprising a light source mounted within a rotatable hollow cylinder, the cylinder having perforations that disperse heat from the light source and through which is projected a simulacrum of flames upon the cylinder being rotated about the light source.

2. The electric fireplace flame simulator of claim 1, in which a multitude of edges of the perforations have flanges to assist in the movement of heat-dispersing air during rotation of the rotatable hollow cylinder.

3. The electric fireplace flame simulator of claim 1, further comprising a grill with a branched pattern mounted over the rotatable hollow cylinder in a position such that light projected through the cylinder passes through openings in the branched pattern.

4. The electric fireplace flame simulator of claim 1, further comprising a light diffuser panel mounted over the rotatable hollow cylinder in a position such that light projected through the cylinder passes through the light diffuser panel.

5. The electric fireplace flame simulator of claim 4, further comprising a transparent screen mounted over the diffuser panel such that light projected through the cylinder passes through the diffuser panel and then the transparent screen.

6. The electric fireplace flame simulator of claim 1, further comprising a frame and a motor and motor drive mechanism engagably mounted to the rotatable hollow cylinder mounted within the frame, to enable the rotatable hollow cylinder to rotate under power.

7. The electric fireplace flame simulator of claim 1 further comprising removable end caps for the rotatable hollow cylinder to enable changing of light bulbs in the light source.

8. The electric fireplace flame simulator of claim 1 further comprising rotator collars for the light source to be mounted into ends of the rotatable hollow cylinder.

9. The electric fireplace flame simulator of claim 2, further comprising: a) a grill with a branched pattern mounted over the rotatable hollow cylinder in a position such that light projected through the cylinder passes through openings in the branched pattern; b) a light diffuser panel mounted over the grill in a position such that light projected through the cylinder passes through the grill and then the light diffuser panel; c) a transparent screen mounted over the light diffuser panel in a position such that light projected through the cylinder passes through the grill, the light diffuser panel, and then the transparent screen; d) a frame and a motor and motor drive mechanism engagably mounted to the rotatable hollow cylinder mounted within the frame, to enable the rotatable hollow cylinder to rotate under power, e) removable end caps for the rotatable hollow cylinder to enable changing of light bulbs in the light source; f) rotator collars for the light source to be mounted into the ends of the rotatable hollow cylinder.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to flame simulators used as aesthetic and heat substitutes for actual flames in a fireplace.

PRIOR TECHNOLOGY

[0002] There exist flame simulators in which light from a light source is projected up through a rotating cylinder, onto a reflective screen and through a coloured filter screen. There also exist flame simulators in which light from a light source is reflected from a metallic strip onto a rotating set of coloured metallic strips and then projected through a flame effect element before being finally reflected from a mirror to an observer.

PURPOSE OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The purpose of the system is to provide heat as well as interesting and pleasing visible flame patterns within an electric fireplace without having a complicated and expensive arrangement of parts, and without having an actual fire in the fireplace.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The invention provides an electric fireplace flame simulator having a simplified means of simulating flames, namely a light emitting rotor and screen layers comprising:

[0005] 1. A light source mounted within a rotatable hollow cylinder, the cylinder having flanged perforations that disperse heat from the light source and through which is projected a simulacrum of flames upon the cylinder being rotated about the light source.

[0006] 2. A frame for the rotatable hollow cylinder;

[0007] 3. a light diffuser panel mounted over the rotatable hollow cylinder;

[0008] 4. a motor and motor drive mechanism mounted to the rotatable hollow cylinder, to enable it to rotate under power;

[0009] 5. An electric power supply cord to provide power for the motor and the light source.

[0010] The frame enables the rotatable hollow cylinder to rotate, around the light source. The light source is suspended within the rotatable hollow cylinder such that its rotation does not rotate the light source. The rotatable hollow cylinder is rotatably mounted at its rims on either end, and has end caps each having a center hole through which the light source is mounted. The light source could be a plurality of bulbs or a long flourescent tube. The end caps of the rotatable hollow cylinder can be removed in order to allow the bulbs to be changed. The bulb receptacles are rotatably mounted within the end caps such that the rotatable hollow cylinder can rotate around them and within its frame without the bulb receptacles themselves rotating with respect to the frame.

[0011] An enhanced flame effect is achieved by having a grill with a branched pattern mounted over the rotatable hollow cylinder in a position such that light projected through the cylinder passes through openings in the branched pattern. The light diffuser panel is mounted over the grill in a position such that light projected through the cylinder passes through the light diffuser panel. Finally a transparent screen is mounted over the light diffuser panel to further enhance the illusion of flames.

[0012] The effect of the light passing through the rotating perforations, and then through a branched pattern, then through the light diffuser panel, and finally through a transparent screen creates a remarkable likeness to a slowly flickering flame. When the device is mounted behind some simulated firelogs or firerocks within a fireplace or stove with a transparent front, the effect is startlingly like a genuine fire without the attendant problems of burning actual fuel. The appearance of a fire with some heat from the light source is provided without having to contain an actual fire, without the problem of smoke disposal and without having to replenish traditional fuel such as logs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1 is an isometric perspective showing a disassembled embodiment of the flame simulator of the present invention.

[0014] FIG. 2 is an end cross-sectional view of the assembled flame simulator in place in an electric fireplace.

[0015] FIG. 3 is a front partial cut-away view of the flame simulator in place in an electric fireplace.

[0016] FIG. 4 is an exploded isometric perspective showing the assembly of the electric fireplace including the flame simulator.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0017] Referring to FIG. 1, the rotatable hollow cylinder 1 has a proliferation of perforations, e.g. 2, 3, 4, 5 and end caps 6 and 7, each having a central aperture, e.g. 9, in order to allow a bulb receptacle 10 and 11 for the light source to be mounted within the rotatable hollow cylinder without moving. The light source comprises bulbs 12 and 13, each wired with a positive and negative terminal, e.g. 14 and 15 respectively. The rotation collars 17 and 18 can be snapped into the corresponding end 71 or 81 on the rotatable hollow cylinder 1. At least one of the end caps should have an engagement gears mechanism 19 to enable engagement with a complementary drive engagement mechanism 91 on a drive mechanism attached to an electric motor.

[0018] The frame 20 for the rotatable hollow cylinder 1 can be mounted within an electric fireplace 2 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 such that the light 21 emitted from the light bulb 12 through the rotating perforations of the rotatable hollow cylinder 1 is projected through a grill 101, a diffuser panel 102 and a transparent screen 103 into a simulated fire fuel source 22 such as an artistically arranged pile of charcoal and logs. The diffuser panel can be made of molded plastic that is translucent but not transparent, in order to soften and diffuse the light that is projected through the perforations, producing a variable glow that enhances the simulation of flames. The electric fireplace comprises such other stock components as a motor 30 and a motor drive mechanism 31 that is engageable with the engagement gear mechanism 19 mounted to the rotatable hollow cylinder 1, to enable it to rotate under power. A second string 32 of light bulbs can be used in combination with another light diffuser panel 33 to provide additional heat and light to that of the flame simulator light source within the rotatable hollow cylinder.

[0019] Referring to FIG. 4, various other frame components 40 through 44 and electrical components such as on-off switch 5 1, thermostat 52, overheat control circuit 53 allow the fireplace to be assembled into a unit that is functional, aesthetically engaging, heat-producing, controllable, and safe.

[0020] Referring again to FIG. 2, the perforations in the rotatable hollow cylinder are preferably stamped or molded such that a plurality of flanges such as at 60, 61, 62, 63 are formed along some edges of the perforations within the rotatable hollow cylinder to assist in heat-dispersing air movement as the rotatable hollow cylinder is rotated. This will have the benefit of moving the heat into the ambient air where the fireplace is located, as well as cooling the bulb to give it longer life.

[0021] The light source can provide infra-red radiation as well as visible light. The light source comprises a bulb that is accessible within the light emitting rotor in order to enable changes of the bulb. The arrangement eliminates reflectors, coloured filters, flicker elements. Most importantly it eliminates having a separate blower to disperse the heat into the ambient air, as the light emitting rotor itself disperses the heat from the light source while circulating air around the light source.

[0022] The central area of the flame simulator can be made brighter by having a greater concentration of perforations in the rotatable hollow cylinder in its central portion, or by having a brighter bulb or a greater concentration of bulbs extend into the central area of the rotatable hollow cylinder, or by a combination of both such arrangements.

[0023] The within-described invention may be embodied in other specific forms and with additional options and accessories without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof The presently disclosed embodiment is therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalence of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.