Title:
Integrated water feature
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for producing a water feature in a spa/pool/hot-tub (“spa”) is disclosed. The apparatus includes a flume developer having internal dimensions that generate a water pressure from a water flow received from a water source associated with the spa. The flume developer further includes a head assembly having one or more apertures through which the water feature is produced based on the water pressure. The flume developer further includes a flange configured to abut against an outer surface of the spa. The flume developer is interchangeable in a water feature device body connected to the water source. A light source can be provided to illuminate the water feature.



Inventors:
Walker, Victor Lee (Murrieta, CA, US)
Pflueger, Timothy P. (Escondido, CA, US)
Pugliese Jr., Angelo Vito (Vista, CA, US)
Graham, Tyler (La Jolla, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/001357
Publication Date:
06/01/2006
Filing Date:
11/30/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/00; A47K3/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080222787REMOVABLE CLOSURE FOR A BATHTUB HAVING A WALK-THROUGHSeptember, 2008Staudinger
20070074338Baby bathtub chair & kitApril, 2007List
20040064884Toiler odor blocking systemApril, 2004Egeresi
20050029177Pool cleaner filter bag with zipper closureFebruary, 2005Peterson Jr. et al.
20080271239MULTI-FUNCTION SINK WITH CENTRIFUGAL FOOD DRYER AND DRAINNovember, 2008Wang et al.
20090106887Toilet plunger having disinfectant dispenserApril, 2009Dressel
20080301865Toilet ventilation system and associated methodDecember, 2008Hand
20040049838Method of removing unwanted air from a toilet bowlMarch, 2004Mcafee
20070151021CONNECTOR FOR A FAUCETJuly, 2007Shieh
20090151066Prefabricated swimming pool and spa combinationJune, 2009Sullivan
20070022526Adjustable contoured baby bathing or pet cushionFebruary, 2007Leach



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FITCH EVEN TABIN & FLANNERY, LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A device for providing a water feature integrated with a spa shell, the device comprising: an inlet configured to connect to a water outlet associated with the spa shell; a channel for receiving a water flow from the inlet, the channel being sized and shaped to produce a water pressure from the water flow; and an interchangeable flume developer connected with the channel, the flume developer including one or more apertures sized and positioned to produce the water feature from the water pressure.

2. The device in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a cap configured to attach to a top surface of the spa shell to secure the flume developer in position.

3. The device in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a bottom nut configured to attach to a bottom surface of the spa shell to securely position the channel.

4. The device in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a body section configured to hold the channel and flume developer.

5. The device in accordance with claim 4, wherein the body section includes a T-section tube having the inlet and an outlet to the channel.

6. The device in accordance with claim 5, wherein the body section includes a flange that abuts a top surface of the spa shell to position the flume developer.

7. The device in accordance with claim 1, further comprising an illumination source for illuminating the water flow and water feature.

8. A water feature system, comprising: a spa shell; a water feature device attached to the spa shell, the water feature device including: a body section having an inlet, the inlet connected to a water outlet associated with the spa shell; a channel within the body section for receiving a water flow from the inlet; and an interchangeable flume developer connected with the channel within the body section, the flume developer having a flume outlet to produce a water feature from the water flow.

9. The system in accordance with claim 8, wherein the flume outlet includes a pattern of one or more apertures sized and positioned to produce the water feature.

10. The system in accordance with claim 8, further comprising a cap configured to attach to a top surface of the spa shell to secure the body section in position.

11. The system in accordance with claim 8, further comprising a bottom nut configured to attach to a bottom surface of the spa shell to secure the body section in position.

12. An apparatus for producing a water feature in a spa, the apparatus comprising: a flume developer having internal dimensions to generate a water pressure from a water flow received from a water source associated with the spa, the flume developer further including a head assembly having one or more apertures through which the water feature is produced based on the water pressure, the flume developer further including a flange configured to abut against an outer surface of the spa; and a cap configured to secure the flange against the outer surface of the spa.

13. An apparatus in accordance with claim 12, further comprising a light source for illuminating the flume developer.

14. An apparatus in accordance with claim 13, further comprising a light source for illuminating the water feature.

15. An apparatus in accordance with claim 13, wherein the flume developer is at least partly formed of a translucent material.

16. An apparatus in accordance with claim 12, wherein the one or more apertures include an elongated aperture for producing a wall-shaped flow of water for the water feature.

17. An apparatus in accordance with claim 12, wherein at least one of the one or more apertures is aligned at an angle to produce an angled water feature.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Water features such as fountains and waterfalls have become popular in landscapes, both for their aesthetics and ability to improve property values. Some water feature products can be easily added to an existing landscape design. For example, a landscape can include a spa/hot tub/pool (referred to generally herein as “spa”) that provides a water feature.

Conventional spa-based water features operate using pumps and controls built into the spa. These water features come in a variety of shapes, sizes, costs and complexities, but are typically pre-built into the design of a spa and have a fixed water flow for producing a predictable look and sound. Once installed, typical water features cannot be changed or modified.

Presently, to achieve a different look and/or sound from a spa-based water feature, an existing water feature must be removed and another unique feature provided in its place. Such a limitation in existing spa-based water features creates a large number of parts and processes to control and service, and limits a user's choices in the style and aesthetics of the water feature.

SUMMARY

An apparatus for producing a water feature in spa is described. In one embodiment, an apparatus includes a flume developer having internal dimensions that generate a water pressure from a water flow received from a water source associated with the spa. The flume developer further includes a head assembly having one or more apertures through which the water feature is produced based on the water pressure. The flume developer further includes a flange configured to abut against an outer surface of the spa. The flume developer is interchangeable in a water feature device body connected to the water source. A light source can be provided to illuminate the water feature.

In accordance with another embodiment, a device for providing a water feature integrated with a spa shell includes an inlet configured to connect to a water outlet associated with the spa shell. The inlet is connected to a channel for receiving a water flow from the water outlet, the channel being sized and shaped to produce a water pressure from the water flow. The device further includes an interchangeable flume developer connected with the channel. The flume developer includes one or more apertures sized and positioned to produce a desired water feature from the water pressure.

The details of one or more embodiments are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other aspects will now be described in detail with reference to the following drawings.

FIG. 1 illustrates a spa with a water feature system.

FIGS. 2A-C show various views of a multi-body water feature device in accordance with one embodiment.

FIGS. 3A-C show various views of a uni-body water feature device in accordance with an alternative embodiment.

FIGS. 4A-C show cross-sectional and top views of various embodiments of a flume developer.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A water feature device and system are disclosed, in which the visual and auditory effects of the water feature can be dynamically controlled. FIG. 1 illustrates a spa 100 having a spa shell 102 integrated with a water feature system 104. The water feature system 104 produces a water feature 106, depicted in FIG. 1 as a spout or stream of water much like a fountain. The water feature system 104 is configured for being controlled to dynamically produce a number of variable water features 106 for a variety of visual and auditory effects.

FIGS. 2A-C show respective exploded perspective, exploded front and assembled views of a multi-body water feature device 200 in accordance with an embodiment. The multi-body implementation allows for flexibility in manufacturing and installation in a spa. The water feature device 200 includes a flume developer 202 having one or more apertures for producing a flume or flow of water that exits the device 200. The device 200 calms water and removes turbulence as the water enters the flume developer 202, producing a laminar flow of water for a consistently-shaped but dynamically controlled water feature design. Any water feature and design thereof can be illuminated by the water feature device 200.

The flume developer 202 is an interchangeable piece that is specifically shaped and formed and includes a flume outlet to produce a unique water feature. For example, the flume developer 202 can have a number of apertures that are sized to produce a specific size and shape of a water feature component. The flume developer 202 can be made of a translucent material to allow light from a light assembly in the water feature device 200 to mix with the shaped water feature design. The designs can be quickly changed to a user's preferences or desires.

In a specific exemplary embodiment, the flume developer 202 includes one or more rotating parts that creates a shaped water design that moves or appears to “dance.” The flume developer 202 includes a channel 203 that feeds water to the one or more apertures in the flume developer 202. The channel 203 can be conical, as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, or may be hemispherical, cylindrical, or any other shape. The channel 203 is configured to optimize the water pressure and flow to the apertures of the flume developer 202, aid in the creation of laminar flow to ensure consistent operating pressures within the flume developer 202, and help create the specific desired water feature design. The channel 203 is provided within a body section 209 that can include an attachment mechanism, such as grooves, to which a cap 204 and flange 206 can be attached for securing the flume developer 202 and channel 203 in place.

The water feature device 200 is held in place and sealed to a spa shell 207 by the cap 204, which also holds the flume developer 202 to the rest of the water feature body 201. The cap 204 is interchangeable and can include large finger grooves and texture to allow ease of installation and removal of the cap 204. An O-ring 206 seals the flume developer 202 to the rest of the water feature body 201 and the cap 204 and/or underside of the spa shell 207. The O-ring 206 is compressed between the cap 204 and the water feature body 201.

A bottom nut 208 tightens the water feature body 201 against a chosen surface, such as the interior surface of the spa shell 207. The bottom nut 208 applies compression against a gasket 205 and the spa shell 207. The bottom nut 208 is connected to a T-section 214 of tubing, having an inlet connected to a water source and an outlet connected to the body section 209 or channel 203. The multi-body implementation allows for connecting the T-section 214 to a wide range of sizes of spa pumps or jets, which permits a greater variety of flume developer designs.

The water feature device 200 may be provided with a light source to illuminate water in the device 200 and the water feature produced thereby. The illumination source can include a light attachment 210 having a light source such as a band of light emitting diodes (LEDs) or other light types. The illumination source can also include a lens 212. Either the lens 212 or the light attachment 210 can form the bottom of the water feature device 200, and therefore can be provided with an attachment mechanism such as threading for being screwed onto the T-section 214. The light attachment 210 can include controls for adjusting the lighting intensity and/or color, to produce any type of lighting pattern or intensity.

FIGS. 3A-C show respective exploded perspective, exploded front and assembled views of a uni-body implementation of a water feature device 300 in accordance with an alternative embodiment. The uni-body implementation of the water feature device 300 includes many similar components as the multi-body implementation, although the body section and T-section are integrated in a unified body section 302. The body section 302 is secured in place by a gasket 304 that fits onto a tinnerman 306, which in turn secures the device 300 to the top surface of the spa shell 307 when a bottom nut 308 is tightened against the bottom of the bottom surface of the spa shell.

A light assembly 312 can be attached directly to the body section 302. The light assembly 312 may include a light source and guiding implements such as lenses, mirrors, etc. The light assembly 312 can be attached to the body section 302 by threading, although other mechanisms for attaching the light assembly may also be used, such as snapping the light assembly 312 in place, glue, or other means.

A water feature device in accordance with embodiments described herein can include a water pumping or water-impelling source. In one exemplary embodiment, an energy efficient, silent magnetic-drive, high volume pump is used, which minimizes interfering noise and costs. In another exemplary embodiment, a metering assembly can be used that tunes the hydraulic output of the pump to the proscribed flows and pressures dictated by the individual flume developers. The metering assembly allows for a large variation of flume developers, whereby input hydraulic pressures can be matched and balanced to the individual flume developer output and desired water feature production.

FIGS. 4A-C show cross-sectional and top views of several exemplary embodiments of a flume developer. In FIG. 4A, a flume developer 400 includes a conical channel 401 leading to a number of apertures 403 provided in a head assembly 405 mounted on a flange 407. The flange 407 is configured to abut against the spa shell. The apertures 403 can be formed at an angle or vertical through the head assembly 405. The hydraulic pressure in the channel 401 can produce a long, narrow flume of water out of each aperture 403. As described above, the head assembly 405 may be rotatably mounted on the flange 407.

FIG. 4B shows an another embodiment of a flume developer 402, in which a channel 411 is shaped as a flattened cone, leading to an elongated aperture 413 provided on a head assembly 415. The head assembly 415 is mounted on a flange 417, in various ways as described above with respect to FIG. 4A. The aperture 413 is formed to produce a flattened stream of water that can be angled to any direction. FIG. 4C shows yet another alternative flume developer 404 having a shortened, cylindrical channel 421, and a head assembly 425 having a number of large, circular apertures 423. The flume developer 404 is configured to produce a low pressure flow to create a soft, cascading flow of water and a “babbling brook” sound. The apertures and channels of any flume developer can be formed of any number of sizes and shapes to produce a particular desired water feature.

The water feature device can be used while a spa is occupied. To change a water feature design, a user can remove a flume developer and install another in its place. This interchangeability allows the user to personalize the spa by changing the visual, audio and mood (total look and feel) of the water feature.

The base platform and the modular design of the flume developer allows for a large number of shaped water design variations. The quality of the aesthetics offered by the water feature device described herein, including a built-in lighting system, allows the spa to become the center or focal point of a landscape setting or design. Each unique flume developer can create a different water design of variable height and intensity. The user can select between various flume developers to suit their personalities or needs.

The water feature device is a through-wall system that can be easily mounted on the spa shell. The water feature body can be easily installed in a spa using standard hole saws and manufacturing processes. The small footprint of the water feature device allows it to be easily adapted to existing spas as well as new spa designs.

Although a few embodiments have been described in detail above, other modifications are possible. Other embodiments may be within the scope of the following claims.





 
Previous Patent: Vacuum relief valve

Next Patent: Lighted elastomeric gasket