Title:
Arrangement for covering and thermally insulating a basin, and cover for such an arrangement
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides an arrangement for covering and thermally insulating a basin (11), containing water, which comprises at least one jointed cover (16) consisting of an assembly of adjacent parallel slats (18) hinged together so that they can be wound up to expose the surface (22) of the water, and unwound horizontally to cover the basin,

characterized in that each slat (18) is a length of hollow section made of rigid or semi-rigid plastic and filled with an injected or expanded plastic foam (25),

and in that when the cover is in the unwound position there is a predetermined gap (J) between the approximately horizontal lower face (23) of the adjacent slats (18) of the cover (16) and the surface (22) of the water in order to define a thermally insulating cushion of air (24).




Inventors:
Poirson, Dominique (Angresse, FR)
Application Number:
10/389741
Publication Date:
11/20/2003
Filing Date:
03/18/2003
Assignee:
POIRSON DOMINIQUE
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/08; (IPC1-7): E04H4/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PHILLIPS, CHARLES E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. Arrangement for covering and thermally insulating a basin (11), such as a basin of a spa, jacuzzi (10) or swimming pool, containing water, which comprises at least one jointed cover (16) consisting of an assembly of adjacent parallel slats (18) hinged together so that they can be wound up to expose the surface (22) of the water, and unwound horizontally to cover the basin, characterized in that each slat (18) is a length of hollow section made of rigid or semi-rigid plastic and filled with an injected or expanded plastic foam (25), and in that when the cover is in the unwound position there is a predetermined gap (J) between the approximately horizontal lower face (23) of the adjacent slats (18) of the cover (16) and the surface (22) of the water in order to define a thermally insulating cushion of air (24).

2. Arrangement according to claim 1, characterized in that each slat (18) is a length of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) section.

3. Arrangement according to claim 1, characterized in that each slat (18) is filled with polyurethane foam (25).

4. Arrangement according to claim 1, characterized in that each slat (18) is closed at each of its two opposite longitudinal ends by an added plug.

5. Arrangement according to claim 1, characterized in that at least some of the slats (18) each have a longitudinal reinforcing element (34) which extends through the filling foam (25).

6. Arrangement according to claim 1, characterized in that the approximately flat lower face (23) of each slat (18) which, when the cover is in the deployed position, lies over the surface (22) of the water of the basin (11) is covered with a coating that reflects the heat radiation coming from the water and thus improves the thermal insulation.

7. Arrangement according to the previous claim, characterized in that the said thermal coating is an aluminium alloy foil or a coat of paint containing an aluminium alloy.

8. Arrangement according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises an anti-drip brush (44) for acting on the lower face (23) of the slats to remove the drips formed by condensation on the said face (23).

9. Arrangement according to claim 1, characterized in that the upper edges (30) of the basin (11) are equipped with means (28, 26) for guiding the cover (16), in which the opposite longitudinal ends (17) of at least some of the slats (18) are received and slide, and which determine the said predetermined gap (J).

10. Cover (16) of jointed slats (18) for an arrangement according to any one of the previous claims.

Description:
[0001] The present invention relates to an arrangement for covering and thermally insulating a basin.

[0002] The invention relates more particularly to an arrangement for a basin of a swimming pool or jacuzzi, also known as “spa”, which contains water at a temperature that is generally higher than that of the ambient air above the basin.

[0003] In the case of a jacuzzi or spa, the basin may take the form of a shell of acrylic material containing water which is maintained at a temperature of about 37°, for which purpose it is equipped with thermal regulating means, such as water heating means, and with means such as jets of pressurized air and/or water designed to produce a high-intensity bath and/or create relaxing eddies.

[0004] When not in use, the basin must be covered to protect it from contamination, especially when it is out of doors.

[0005] It must also be covered in order to limit heat loss from the water contained in the basin and to limit the rise in the relative humidity of the room in which the basin is situated, particularly in the case of a jacuzzi or spa for domestic use.

[0006] It has already been proposed that such a cover be made in the form of a jointed cover consisting of an assembly of adjacent parallel slats hinged together so that they can be wound up to expose the surface of the water, and unwound or deployed horizontally to cover the basin.

[0007] In accordance with a solution known for example from document FR-A-2 747 717, the cover floats on the surface of the basin and is made up of hollow slats or strips. This solution has the advantage of making it possible to wind up and unwind the cover from a reel or drum which may or may not be motor-driven.

[0008] This solution is unsatisfactory because the deployed cover floating on the surface acts as a thermal “bridge” between the water and the ambient air, thus helping to cool the water.

[0009] What is more the direct contact between the cover and the free surface of the water is unsatisfactory from the point of view of hygiene.

[0010] These drawbacks are also found in the solution disclosed and illustrated in document FR-A-2 525 264 in which the covering apron consists of an assembly of jointed panels of large dimensions similar to strips or slats.

[0011] A similar solution was provided in document U.S. Pat. No. 2,958,083 in which the cover, which consists of hollow slats, floats on the surface of the water, which thus supports part of its weight.

[0012] Document DE-A-2 453 458 also discloses a cover with a similar hollow-slat structure which is in contact with the surface of the water and in which the thermal bridge effect is intentional and accentuated in order to heat the water using the sun.

[0013] Various solutions have also been put forward in which the cover element is a flexible element in the form of canvas or the like which must be stretched over the basin or which floats on its surface.

[0014] These solutions are not very sturdy and are not easy to employ in daily use, especially in view of their large size or the large size of the panels of which they are made up.

[0015] These drawbacks are aggravated when the flexible cover element is filled with an insulating foam enclosed in a flexible envelope with a thickness of from 5 to 10 cm.

[0016] In order to solve these problems the invention provides an arrangement of the type mentioned in the preamble, characterized in that each slat is a length of hollow section made of rigid or semi-rigid plastic and filled with an injected or expanded plastic foam, and in that when the cover is in the unwound position there is a predetermined gap between the approximately horizontal lower face of the adjacent slats of the cover and the surface of the water in order to define a thermally insulating cushion of air.

[0017] This combination of features solves the problems of the solutions of the prior art.

[0018] In addition, the jointed cover according to the invention can also advantageously be used in another arrangement whereby it floats on the surface of the water, when the maximum thermal insulation is not required, while still benefiting in this use from enhanced buoyancy because of the fact that the slats of the cover are completely filled with foam.

[0019] Other features of the arrangement according to the invention are covered by the secondary claims.

[0020] The invention also provides a jointed slatted cover for a covering and insulating arrangement according to the teachings of the invention.

[0021] Other features and advantages of the invention will be found in the detailed description given below, for an understanding of which the appended drawings should be referred to, in which:

[0022] FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view in section taken on a transverse vertical plane through a jacuzzi or spa equipped with a covering arrangement according to the teachings of the invention; and

[0023] FIG. 2 is a view in section taken on a longitudinal vertical plane through FIG. 1 with a larger-scale representation of detail D3 in FIG. 2 which shows a slat or strip in cross section with its joints to two adjacent slats.

[0024] In the following description, identical, analogous or similar parts will be denoted by the same reference numbers.

[0025] The terminology vertical, longitudinal and transverse will be adopted with reference to the trihedral frame of reference L, V, T of FIG. 1.

[0026] FIGS. 1 and 2 show a spa or jacuzzi 10 which essentially comprises a basin 11, and a cover 16 consisting of jointed slats or strips 18.

[0027] The jacuzzi has an overall symmetry of design with respect to a longitudinal and vertical mid-plane that corresponds to the cross-sectional plane of FIG. 2.

[0028] The basin 11 is constructed in the form of a shell 12 which may be moulded from acrylic material and has the general form of a rectangular parallelepiped.

[0029] The shell 12 is watertight and is filled with water, the free surface of which is denoted by the reference 22.

[0030] In a known way, not shown in detail in the figures, the jacuzzi 10 is fitted with all the equipment necessary for heating and thermal regulation of the water, plus means for producing eddies and high-intensity currents such as jets of pressurized water and/or air.

[0031] The shell 12 is preferably externally clad with a vertical lateral skirt 14.

[0032] The basin is bounded by two parallel longitudinal lateral upper edges 30 and by two opposite parallel transverse upper edges 32 (front) and 38 (rear).

[0033] The edges 30, 32 and 38 thus define a rectangular upper edge or perimeter of the basin 11.

[0034] In the embodiment illustrated in the figures, the perimeter of the basin is surrounded by longitudinal lateral uprights 28 extending around the edges 30, and by a front end cross member 29 to form an upper frame 31.

[0035] The frame may consist for example of internally grooved pieces of wood.

[0036] The uprights 30 thus each comprise an internal horizontal groove 26, and the front end cross member 29 comprises an internal horizontal groove 27.

[0037] The two longitudinal grooves 26 that guide the cover 16 are open at each longitudinal end and their front ends connect up with the groove 27.

[0038] The grooves 26 enable the opposing parallel longitudinal edges 17 of the cover 16, which correspond to the ends of the slats 18, to be guided in a horizontal plane corresponding to the plane of the grooves 26, while the transverse front end edge 17, which corresponds to the frontmost slat 18, is received in the groove 27 when the cover is in its unwound or deployed position covering the basin, which is the position illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2.

[0039] In accordance with the teachings of the invention, and as can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, a cushion of thermally insulating air 2′ exists between the surface of the water and the approximately horizontal lower face 23 of the cover 16, which corresponds to the lower faces 23 of the slats 18 which are approximately coplanar when the curtain is unwound so as to close the basin 11.

[0040] The cushion 24 corresponds to the average vertical gap “J” between the surface 22 and the lower face 23 resulting from the vertical height of the plane of the grooves 26.

[0041] As can be seen in greater detail in FIG. 3, each slat is a length of section made of extruded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) whose continuous section is in this case rectangular and it comprises, along its two opposite vertical edges, male 19 and female 21 hinge rings which are extruded integrally with the rectangular body of the section and provide a hinged connection between one slat and the two slats immediately next to it.

[0042] In accordance with the teachings of the invention, each slat 18 is completely filled with a foam 25.

[0043] The foam 25 is preferably an expanded polyurethane foam 25 which is injected or poured through one end into the partitioned rectangular body in such a way as to fill it completely.

[0044] In accordance with one detail feature, not shown in the figures, each of the two ends of a length of foam-filled section forming one slat 18 of the cover 16 is fitted with a plug which is pushed in and held by barbs that extend into the interior of the section, into the expanded foam.

[0045] Each plug acts as the guide means of the corresponding slat or strip which are received in the grooves 26.

[0046] The filling foam 2 gives each slat 18 a very high thermal insulating capacity compared with a hollow air-filled slat.

[0047] The combination of the envelope or body of the section 18 of rigid or semi-rigid plastic and the synthetic filling foam forms a slat that has a very low thermal conductivity.

[0048] In the unwound position, therefore, the cover 16 is an excellent thermally insulating cover which is combined with the presence of the cushion of air 24.

[0049] In accordance with another feature, not shown in detail, and to further increase the thermal insulation, the lower face of the cover 16, that is preferably the lower face 23 of each slat 18 which is nearest to the surface of the water 22, is given a coating that reflects the heat radiation coming from the water.

[0050] The coating is preferably an aluminium alloy foil, also known as aluminium foil, or a coat of aluminium-containing paint.

[0051] The reflective coating is advantageously produced on each slat before the cover 16 is assembled, for example when the hollow body is extruded.

[0052] To ensure that the cover 16 maintains all its thermally insulating properties in combination with the presence of the cushion of air 24, it is important that this cushion of air 24 be maintained, that is, that the gap “J” be approximately constant at all points.

[0053] To this end, especially if the slats 18 are very long, it is possible for some of the slats, or in a variant all the slats, each to have a longitudinal reinforcing element.

[0054] As illustrated schematically in cross section in FIG. 3, the longitudinal reinforcing or stiffening element is for example a cylindrical rod 34 passing through the interior of the central compartment of the section.

[0055] The rod 34 is preferably a material of low thermal conductivity, such as a plastic, to avoid any risk of its acting as a thermal bridge, particularly at either end.

[0056] The reinforcing rod 34 is preferably a reinforcing core which is put into position before the section is filled with foam, which is then overmoulded around the rod.

[0057] At its rear edge 38 the basin 11 is equipped with a rear box 36, which may likewise be made of wood to harmonize the aesthetic appearance with the frame 31.

[0058] The box 36 comprises a horizontal slot 40 which is coplanar with the grooves 26, allowing the cover 16 to pass through it and be wound onto a reel 20 of transverse axis housed in the box 36, to allow the jacuzzi to be opened to give access to the basin 11 by uncovering the surface of the water 22.

[0059] The reel 20 is preferably motor-driven by, for example, a motor/gearbox assembly and a drive, all of which may be remote-controlled.

[0060] Means such as a strap 42 are provided to facilitate winding and/or unwinding the cover. The strap 42 is elastic and its ends are attached to the inside of the box 36 so that the strap presses the slats 18 of the cover 16 onto the opposite side of the reel from the direction D in which the cover would be longitudinally deployed.

[0061] In accordance with another feature, an anti-drip brush 44 is provided alongside the transverse rear edge 38 and extends transversely in such a way as to act on the lower face 23 of the cover 16 to remove any drips that form by condensation on the surface 23 and limit the amount of water that gets into the box 36.

[0062] In another arrangement (not shown), to further improve the thermal insulation it is possible to provide at least one other slatted insulating cover 16 similar in structure to the first cover described above.

[0063] A second cover of this kind may be guided and held parallel to and at a vertical distance from the first by another set of horizontal grooves similar to the grooves 26, 27.

[0064] There would thus be an additional cushion of air between the two covers when deployed, and the covers can both be wound simultaneously onto the same reel.

[0065] A slatted cover according to the invention advantageously has very great buoyancy and, in another application, may float on the surface of a basin to cover and protect it.