Title:
Finger grip assembly for moving large appliances
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The finger grip assembly for moving large appliances provides a user with a place to grasp the appliance at its sides and slide the appliance forward on a floor or other support surface. The finger grips are arcuately shaped cups disposed on opposing sidewalls of the appliance. The cups each have a generally C-shaped base and a peripheral wall arising from the base, the peripheral wall including a back wall, a front wall and opposing sidewalls. The sidewalls join the front wall to the back wall, forming a generally C-shaped configuration. The front wall and the back walls are arcuately shaped. The front wall may have finger depressions or grooves defined therein for separating the fingers, thereby improving the grip.



Inventors:
Weigel, Penny J. (Lahaina, HI, US)
Application Number:
11/342873
Publication Date:
08/03/2006
Filing Date:
01/31/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C19/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
AYRES, TIMOTHY MICHAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A large appliance with a finger grip assembly, comprising: an appliance having a bottom wall, a back wall, opposing sidewalls, and at least one door attached to one of the sidewalls, the opposing sidewalls and the back wall extending vertically from the bottom wall, the appliance having a center of gravity; and at least two arcuate cups, each of the at least two arcuate cups having a closed bottom, a perimeter wall extending from the bottom and defining an open top, and a flange extending outwardly from the perimeter wall around the open top, the at least two arcuate cups being disposed in the opposing sidewalls of the appliance at position lying about in a horizontal plane passing through the center of gravity of the appliance.

2. The large appliance according to claim 1, wherein each of said arcuate cups has a smooth interior surface.

3. The large appliance according to claim 1, wherein each of said arcuate cups has a plurality of indentations defined along a portion of the peripheral wall adapted for cradling the fingers of a user.

4. The large appliance according to claim 1, wherein said appliance comprises a refrigerator.

5. The large appliance according to claim 1, wherein said appliance comprises a cooking appliance.

6. The large appliance according to claim 1, wherein said appliance comprises a stacked washer and dryer.

7. The large appliance according to claim 1, wherein said appliance comprises a freezer.

8. The large appliance according to claim 7, wherein said freezer is an upright freezer.

9. The large appliance according to claim 7, wherein said freezer is a horizontal freezer chest.

10. A finger grip assembly kit for installation on a large appliance, the kit comprising: at least two arcuate cups, each of the cups having a closed bottom, a perimeter wall extending from the bottom and defining an open top, and a flange extending outwardly from the perimeter wall around the open top; and a filler material for securing each of the arcuate cups in a sidewall of a large appliance.

11. A method of retrofitting a large appliance with finger grips, comprising the steps of: locating a center of gravity of a large appliance; forming elongate arcuate holes in opposing sidewalls of the large appliance, the holes being aligned at substantially a 90° angle relative to a bottom wall of the appliance and being at least partially disposed in a horizontal plane passing through the center of gravity of the appliance; inserting arcuate cups in each of the holes, respectively, the cups defining finger grips adapted for receiving fingers of a person moving the appliance; and providing a filler material between a peripheral flange of the arcuate cups and the sidewalls of the appliance for securing the arcuate cups to the sidewall of the large appliance.

12. The method of retrofitting according to claim 11, wherein said forming step further comprises forming the arcuate holes set back between about twelve and eighteen inches from a front surface of the appliance.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/648,714, filed Feb. 2, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to appliances, and more particularly to a finger grip assembly for moving large appliances, such as a refrigerator or the like.

2. Description of the Related Art

Large appliances come in different sizes and shapes. Many large appliances, such as refrigerators, are tall and heavy. Large appliances do not usually need to be moved often once set in their place. Occasionally, however, large appliances must be moved for repair or cleaning. Moving the large appliance is not an easy task. Large appliances generally have smooth sidewalls that lack a place to grasp and move the large appliance. When a person attempts to move the large appliance, he or she lays their palms flat on the opposing sidewalls of the large appliance and, with great effort, slides the large appliance forward. People with longer arm spans may be able to reach the back edges of the large appliance, gaining a better hold on the large appliance. Many women are smaller in stature than men and cannot reach all the way to the back of the large appliance.

Regardless of gender, people have come up with different ways to move large appliances. Some hold the doors in order to grasp and move the large appliance. However, this can weaken and harm the joint between the door and the housing. Others open the door of the large appliance and try to grasp an internal element, edge, or protuberance. This is problematic because the large appliance may suffer irreparable damage to the interior surface or element, and if the large appliance is used to house small articles, such as food stored in a refrigerator, the contents need to be removed or risk spillage in the process of moving the appliance. There is a need for finger grips disposed at a convenient height to provide the person moving the large appliance a place to hold and grip the large appliance. Thus, a finger grip assembly for moving large appliances solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The finger grip assembly for moving large appliances provides a user with a place to grasp the large appliance at its sides and slide the appliance forward on a support surface. The finger grip is an arcuately shaped cup used in pairs disposed on opposing sidewalls of the appliance. The cup has a generally C-shaped base and a peripheral wall arising from the base, the peripheral wall including a back wall, a front wall and opposing sidewalls. The sidewalls join the front wall to the back wall, forming a cavity in a generally C-shaped configuration. The front wall and the back walls are arcuately shaped. The front wall may have finger depressions or grooves to prevent the fingers from sliding along the walls of the cup, thus facilitating a better grip.

The front wall, the back wall and the sidewalls extend from the base. A lip or flange borders the periphery of the cup. The lip flanks the back wall, the front wall and the sidewalls and abuts the sidewall of the appliance. The grip provides sufficient space for the index, middle, ring and small fingers. The finger grip assembly is used by inserting fingers into the opening of the cups and sliding the appliance on the floor or other support surface.

The finger grips are placed vertically on the sidewalls. Preferably the grips form a ninety-degree angle with the ground or a bottom wall of the appliance. The finger grips are disposed at a convenient height above the ground and set back from the front of the appliance. The position of the grips allows the user to conveniently pull the appliance forward.

These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a finger grip assembly for moving large appliances according to the present invention, showing finger grips installed on a refrigerator.

FIG. 2 is a side perspective view of a finger grip according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a top view of a finger grip according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a section view drawn along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a side perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a finger grip according to the present invention.

FIG. 6 is an environmental, perspective view of a microwave oven/conventional oven and range combination with a finger grip assembly for moving large appliances according to the present invention.

FIG. 7 is an environmental, perspective view of a stacked washer/dryer combination with a finger grip assembly for moving large appliances according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an environmental, perspective view of an upright freezer with a finger grip assembly for moving large appliances according to the present invention.

FIG. 9 is an environmental, perspective view of a chest freezer with a finger grip assembly for moving large appliances according to the present invention.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is directed towards a finger grip assembly for moving large appliances. As used herein, the term “large appliance” refers to an appliance more than about three feet in height or three feet in width. Large appliances are part of both residential and commercial buildings, and as such it is necessary to periodically move these appliances for cleaning or other purposes. Large appliances are not equipped with finger grips. Consequently such appliances are difficult to move, particularly for short people.

The present invention solves this problem by providing a finger grip assembly for large appliances. The positioning of the finger grips in any large appliance is essential for increasing the function and purpose of the finger grips. In particular, the finger grips should be disposed at a level of the appliance at or about a horizontal plane extending through the center of gravity of the large appliance. In addition, disposing the finger grips in a vertical plane extending through the center of gravity perpendicular to the sidewalls of the large appliances may situate the finger grips too far from the front wall of the large appliance for a person to reach. It is within the scope of the embodiments described herein to locate the finger grips between the front wall and the vertical plane extending through the center of gravity. Finger grips positioned horizontally and vertically in this manner provide the ability to move the large appliance with great ease, and prevent the large appliance from tipping forward and falling on the mover or movers.

Referring to FIG. 1, the exemplary large appliance is a refrigerator 50. As shown in FIG. 1, the finger grips 10 are disposed on the opposite sidewalls of the refrigerator 50 housing or cabinet. The refrigerator 50 has a housing including a top wall 52, opposing sidewalls 53, 54, a back wall 56, a bottom wall 60 and at least one front door 58. The finger grips 1 0 are disposed on the sidewalls 53, 54 of the refrigerator 50.

Referring to FIGS. 2-4, the finger grips 10 are arcuately shaped cups, faintly resembling a hospital room emesis basin. Each cup has a generally C-shaped base 18, an arcuate back wall 12, an arcuate front wall 14 and opposing sidewalls 16. The sidewalls 16 join the front wall 14 to the back wall 12 in a generally C-shaped configuration. The front wall 14, the back wall 12 and the sidewalls 16 extend from the base 18, forming a cavity 22.

A peripheral flange or lip 20 borders the front wall 14, the back wall 12 and the sidewalls 16 and is disposed opposite the base 18 around the opening of cavity 22. The lip 20 flanks the front wall 14, the back wall 12 and the sidewalls 16, providing a surface that is adapted to fit flush against or abut the sidewalls 53, 54 of the refrigerator 50 when the finger grip 10 is inserted into an opening defined in the sidewall 53 or 54 of the refrigerator 50, thereby preventing the finger grip 10 from being pressed too far into the refrigerator sidewall 53, 54 when the refrigerator 50 is being moved. The finger grips 10 have finger depressions or grooves defined in the front wall 14, which provide sufficient space for the index, middle, ring and small fingers to rest within the cavity 22 of the grips 10 and keep the fingers separated, thereby improving grip.

In an alternative embodiment, shown in FIG. 5, finger grip 100 may have a smooth front wall 114 without finger depressions, a back wall 112, sidewalls 116, and a base 118 forming a cavity 122. The grip 100 may have a lip 120 extending from the front wall 114, the back wall 112 and the sidewalls 116 around the cavity 122. Regardless of whether the grip 10 or grip 100 is used, the grips 10, 100 provide a place to insert the fingers into the cavity 22, 122 of the grips 10, 100 and manipulate the refrigerator 50.

The grips 10 are placed vertically on the sidewalls 53, 54 forming about a ninety-degree angle with the ground or a bottom wall 60 of the refrigerator 50. The grips 10 are placed at a height corresponding to about a horizontal plane through the center of gravity of the appliance. It will be understood that the actual center of gravity may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but will generally be at the midpoint in height of the appliance, or in some cases, slightly below or above the midpoint in height above bottom wall 60. The grips 10 are set back from the front of the refrigerator 50, at about the middle of the sidewalls 53, 54, which is about twelve to sixteen inches. The position of the grips 10 provides a convenient holding place to pull the refrigerator 50 forward. The finger grips 10, 100 can be made as inserts for after market use on refrigerators. Alternatively, the grips 10, 100 can be integrated into the sidewalls 53, 54 of the refrigerator 50 during manufacturing for convenience.

Referring to FIGS. 6-9, various large appliances are illustrated to show the versatility of the embodiments of finger grips 10. FIG. 6 shows a large cooking appliance 500 having a lower oven 510, an upper oven 520, and range top 530. The upper oven 520 may be any conventionally available oven such as a convection heating type, a microwave type, a rotisserie type, or the like. In addition, the upper oven may be replaced by a ventilation hood or device, or any other commonly found apparatus used in a cooking appliance 500 of such large configuration. The cooking appliance has sidewalls 502 in which the finger grips 10 are disposed in accordance with the above description. It is important to note that the finger grips 10 are disposed about in the horizontal plane passing through the center of gravity of the large appliance, in this instance, the cooking appliance 500.

FIG. 7 shows a large laundry appliance 600 having a lower washing element 610, and an upper drying element 620. The laundry appliance 600 has sidewalls 602 in which the finger grips 10 are disposed in accordance with the above description. It is important to note that the finger grips 10 are disposed about in the horizontal plane passing through the center of gravity of the large appliance, in this instance, the laundry appliance 600.

FIG. 8 shows a large upright freezer appliance 700 having a door 710. The upright freezer appliance 700 has sidewalls 702 in which the finger grips 10 are disposed in accordance with the above description. It is important to note that the finger grips 10 are disposed about in the horizontal plane passing through the center of gravity of the large appliance, in this instance, the upright freezer appliance 700.

FIG. 9 shows a large horizontal, or chest type freezer appliance 800 having a hinged lid 810. The horizontal, or chest type freezer appliance 800 has sidewalls 802 in which the finger grips 10 are disposed in accordance with the above description. As seen in FIG. 9, one or more persons may effectively move the horizontal, or chest type freezer by the finger grips 10. This feature is also commensurate with each of the foregoing embodiments, in that more than one person may utilize the finger grips 10 to move any large appliance. It is important to note that the finger grips 10 are disposed about in the horizontal plane passing through the center of gravity of the large appliance, in this instance, the horizontal, or chest type freezer appliance 800.

In another embodiment, referring to FIGS. 2-5, the arcuate cups 10 form a kit for retrofitting any appliance, cabinet, or the like, in order to offer the ability to maneuver the same with ease. A method for installing the finger grips 10 and the kit formed by the finger grips is encompassed by the following description. The basic principle is to dispose the finger grips at a position that is substantially in a horizontal plane passing through, or near, the center of gravity. The C-shaped base 18 of the finger grips 10 serves as a template. An outline of the base 18 is traced onto the sidewalls 53, 54, 502, 602, 702, 802 at the position desired to place the finger grips 10. The sidewalls are cut along the traced outlines, forming holes therein. Any suitable filler (not shown), such as epoxy, putty, etc, is used to secure the finger grips 10 into the holes formed in the sidewalls 53, 54, 502, 602, 702, 802. The flange prevents the finger grips 10 from passing completely into the holes. Once the filler sets, dries, or hardens, the finger grips 10 will allow the maneuverability of the appliance, cabinet, or the like.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.