Title:
Solar pool heating
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for heating water in a pool using light. In one implementation, the method involves attaching a floating element to a solar heating element to form a floatation device. The method includes placing the floatation device in water and applying light on the solar heating element to focus light in the water.



Inventors:
Meza, Gerardo Acosta (Chula Vista, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/029615
Publication Date:
07/06/2006
Filing Date:
01/04/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24S90/00
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Primary Examiner:
SUERETH, SARAH ELIZABETH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISH & RICHARDSON P.C. (SD) (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pool heating apparatus, comprising: a thermal mechanism for producing thermal energy in a region of water in the pool from light energy received from above the pool; and a flotation mechanism, coupled with the thermal mechanism, for maintaining the thermal mechanism afloat on the surface of the water in a substantially horizontal position.

2. The apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the thermal mechanism is configured for maintaining at least a portion of the thermal energy in the water.

3. The apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the flotation mechanism is configured for maintaining at least a portion of the thermal energy in the water.

4. The apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the thermal mechanism includes a lens.

5. The apparatus in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a luminescent material.

6. The apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the apparatus is a free-floating device.

7. The apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein a diameter of the apparatus is less than four feet.

8. An apparatus comprising: a thermal mechanism to use light to heat water in an area of a pool; and a floating member to attach to the thermal mechanism to provide buoyancy to the apparatus to float in water, and to keep the apparatus floating in a substantially horizontal alignment with the water in the pool, wherein the apparatus is a free-floating apparatus to allow recreational use of the pool while the apparatus is in the water.

9. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, wherein the thermal mechanism comprises a lens to focus light to heat the water.

10. The apparatus in accordance with claim 9, wherein the lens comprises glass.

11. The apparatus in accordance with claim 9, wherein the lens comprises plastic.

12. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, wherein the thermal mechanism and the floating member are attached with glue.

13. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, wherein the thermal mechanism and the floating member are made of a same material.

14. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, wherein the thermal mechanism and the floating member are attached with a holder.

15. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, wherein the floating member comprises plastic.

16. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, wherein the floating member comprises rubber.

17. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, wherein the floating member surrounds the thermal mechanism.

18. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, further comprising: a plurality of thermal mechanisms to use light to heat water in a pool; and a plurality of a floating element to attach to the plurality of thermal elements to allow the apparatus to float in water.

19. The apparatus in accordance with claim 8, further comprising a graphical image on the apparatus..

20. A system comprising: a plurality of free-floating devices to use light to heat water in a pool, each free-floating device comprising: at least one solar heating element to use light to heat water in a pool, wherein the solar heating element is configured to retain thermal energy in water in proximity to the solar heating element; and at least one floating element to attach to the solar heating element to allow the free-floating device to float in the water in a substantially horizontal alignment with the water.

21. The system in accordance with claim 20, wherein the solar heating element comprises a lens.

22. The system in accordance with claim 20, wherein the solar heating element is configured to focus light into the water to heat the water.

23. The system in accordance with claim 20, wherein any of the solar heating element and the floating element comprise a graphical image.

24. The system in accordance with claim 20, wherein the solar heating element and the free-floating element comprise a same material.

25. A method to use light energy to heat water in a pool, the method comprising: attaching a floating element to a solar heating element to enable the solar heating element to float in a substantially horizontal alignment in water; placing the attached elements in water to enable the elements to freely float in the water; and applying light on the solar heating element to focus light energy in the water in an area underneath the solar heating element.

26. The method in accordance with claim 25, further comprising: attaching a plurality of floating elements to a plurality of solar heating elements; placing the plurality of attached elements in the water; and applying light on each of the plurality of solar heating element to focus light in the water.

27. The method in accordance with claim 25, wherein the solar heating element comprises a lens.

28. The method in accordance with claim 25, wherein any of the solar heating element and the thermal element comprises a glow-in-the-dark substance.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates to components that have thermal mechanisms to heat a pool.

BACKGROUND

Pools can have various types of floatation devices. The floating devices can be used to enhance the safety of the pool, and/or can be used for recreational activities in or around the pool. Decorative devices may also be made to enhance the aesthetics of the pool area.

SUMMARY

The present disclosure describes a pool heating apparatus that, in one implementation, includes a thermal mechanism for producing thermal energy in a region of water in the pool from light energy received from above the pool, and a flotation mechanism, coupled with the thermal mechanism, for maintaining the thermal mechanism afloat on the surface of the water in a substantially horizontal position.

Also described is an implementation of an apparatus that includes a thermal mechanism to use light to heat water in an area of a pool, and a floating member to attach to the thermal mechanism to provide buoyancy to the apparatus to float in water, and to keep the apparatus floating in a substantially horizontal alignment with the water in the pool. The apparatus is a free-floating apparatus to allow recreational use of the pool while the apparatus is in the water.

In another implementation, a system has multiple free-floating devices to use light to heat water in a pool. Each free-floating device has at least one solar heating element to use light to heat water in a pool, in which the solar heating element retains thermal energy in water in proximity to the solar heating element. Each free-floating device also has at least one floating element to attach to the solar heating element to allow the free-floating device to float in the water in a substantially horizontal alignment with the water.

Also described is a method that, in one implementation, uses light energy to heat water in a pool. The method involves attaching a floating element to a solar heating element to enable the solar heating element to float in a substantially horizontal alignment in water, and placing the attached elements in water to enable the elements to freely float in the water. The method also involves applying light on the solar heating element to focus light energy in the water in an area underneath the solar heating element.

The systems and techniques described here may provide one or more of the following advantages. For example, a floating, aesthetically-pleasing device can be used for water heating and heat retention. The device can heat the pool without external electrical components. The device can decorate the pool and seamlessly blend into the surrounding environment for the pool area.

Details of one or more implementations are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features and advantages will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

DRAWING DESCRIPTIONS

FIG. 1 illustrates a top view of a pool floatation device.

FIG. 2A illustrates a side view of one implementation of the pool floatation device shown in FIG. 1 .

FIG. 2B illustrates a side view of another implementation of the pool floatation device shown in FIG. 1.

FIGS. 3A-3B illustrate top views of other floatation device implementations.

FIG. 4 illustrates a side view of another implementation of the pool floatation device.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like members and mechanisms.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following detailed description makes reference to the accompanying drawings. Other implementations of the present invention are possible and modifications may be made to the implementations without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, the following detailed description is not meant to limit the invention. Rather the scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims.

Moreover, for convenience in the ensuing description, some explanations of terms are provided herein. However, the explanations contained herein are intended to be exemplary only. They are not intended to limit the terms as they are described or referred to throughout the specification. Rather these explanations are meant to include any additional aspects and/or examples of the terms as described and claimed herein and/or as used by one of skill in the art.

The following describes various techniques and systems relating to a thermal device for a pool. FIG. 1 illustrates a top view of a floatation device 100 for a pool. A “pool” can refer to a water-containing apparatus, such as a tub, whirlpool or spa that may be above or below ground. The device 100 includes a floating member 130 coupled with a thermal generating mechanism 120. The floating member 130 provides buoyancy to the device 100 and keeps the device 100 afloat when placed in a liquid, such as water. The floating member 130 can provide several functions including (1) keeping the device 100, especially the thermal mechanism 120, in a substantially horizontal alignment with the water, and (2) retaining thermal energy in the water by providing thermal insulation between the water and the air above the floatation device 100. In another aspect, multiple floatation devices can be placed in a pool to heat the water in the pool. The multiple floatation devices may cover a portion of a pool area. The thermal generating mechanism 120 provides heat to the water in the pool by using light from a light source, such as light from the sun or a lamp. The thermal mechanism 120 can provide several functions including (1) converting light energy into thermal energy in water in proximity to the thermal mechanism 120, and (2) retaining thermal energy in the water by providing thermal insulation between the water and the air above the floatation device 100.

FIG. 2A shows a side view of the device 100 of FIG. 1. In one implementation, the thermal generating mechanism 120 (shown in the cut-away view) may be a solar member, such as a lens or a collection of lenses. In general, the thermal generating mechanism can be any thermal device, member or mechanism that produces heat from solar or light energy. In an embodiment, the thermal generating mechanism is a plastic lens, but can also be other types of lenses. The solar member can be used to transform energy from light into thermal energy for heating the water. The thermal generating mechanism 120 is attached to the floating member 130. In one embodiment, the floating member 130 surrounds the thermal mechanism 120. The floating member 130 can be made of any material that provides buoyancy in water, such as rubber, foam, plastic, air-filled thermo-plastic, wood, a composite material, or a combination thereof. The thermal generating mechanism 120 may be made from glass, plastic, a composite material, or a combination thereof. The floating member 130 and the thermal generating mechanism 120 may be attached mechanically, such as by a clamp or holder, or may be attached by glue, a chemical bond, or a thermal bond. In another implementation, the floating member 130 and the thermal generating mechanism 120 are made of a single composite piece of material and/or may be constructed from a mold.

FIG. 2B shows another implementation of a side view of the device 100 of FIG. 1. The thermal generating mechanism in FIG. 2B is shown as a lens 125 that focuses light energy 126 into the water in the pool to convert the light energy into thermal energy. The directed light 128 is used to heat the water 129 in the pool. In one embodiment, the thermal energy is generated in a substantially focused area under the lens 125.

The implementations shown in FIGS. 1, 2A, and 2B are not limited to the forms and shapes shown, such as a flat sphere, but may be of various other forms and shapes. The dimensions of the device 100 and the corresponding thermal generating mechanism 120 and the floating member 130 can vary. For example, the diameter of the device 100 may be between two to five inches in one implementation, but may be between two to five feet in another implementation. The device can be a decorative component to the pool, and may be in various colors and design. The member 130 and mechanism 120 on the device 100 may have images, pictures, text, logos, and/or symbols. The device may also be formed of different textures. The device may be a “free-floating” device and not attached to the pool, such as a tarp, blanket, pool cover, or solar blanket. A free-floating device also permits pool users to use the pool recreationally while the device is in the pool, unlike a tarp.

FIG. 3A shows a top view of an implementation of the flotation device 300. The thermal generating mechanism 320 is shown in the shape of a star, and is attached to the floating member 330. The thermal generating mechanism 320 is surrounded by the floating member 330.

FIG.3B shows a top view of another implementation of the floatation device 300. The thermal generating mechanism 350 is shown in the shape of a circle, and is attached to the floating member 340. The floating member 340 is surrounded by the thermal generating member 350.

FIG.4 shows an implementation in which the floatation device 400 has a luminescent member 440 in the thermal generating mechanism 350. Such a luminescent member 440 may be used at nighttime when the luminescent member 440 has collected solar energy from the daylight and emits a low-intensity light at night. The luminescent member 440 may be made of a material that glows in the dark, such as a phosphor or a substance that radiates visible light after being energized. In another implementation, the glow-in-the-dark member 440 may be coupled to electronics (not shown) that can be used to store the solar energy. Alternatively, the luminescent member may be a light-emitting diode (LED) that can be energized from the thermal generating mechanism.

The floatation device depicted in FIGS. 1, 2A-3B may be designed differently than as depicted and/or stated. The illustrations shown herein are merely exemplary of the designs of the device. The floatation device may be designed from a number of different materials. For example, some materials may be materials, such as a soft rubber or foam, which may be deemed safe for children and pets. In another implementation, the floating member and the thermal generating mechanism are made from the same materials. In other implementations, floatation devices may have multiple floating members and/or multiple thermal generating mechanisms. Other implementations may be within the scope of the following claims.