Title:
Cooler with integrated solar light
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable cooler for maintaining a variety of items at an internal temperature dissimilar to that of the temperature of its external surroundings comprising of a substantially rectangular in shape insulated container. The insulated container includes a storage compartment configure with an insulated lid, a plurality of insulated walls and an insulated bottom defining the interior volume of the insulated container. Integrated into the internally facing surface of the lid is a mechanism for illuminating the interior volume of the storage compartment, with the mechanism being power by a rechargeable power supply, such as a battery which can be recharged by a solar panel.



Inventors:
Ewing, Beverly J. (Tyrone, PA, US)
Miller, Jeffrey (Tyrone, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/170633
Publication Date:
12/28/2006
Filing Date:
06/22/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HICKS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Raymond M. Galasso (Austin, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for providing thermal isolation, comprising: a container having a plurality of walls and a bottom, said plurality of walls and bottom being configured to form a storage compartment for receiving objects therein, said container having an open end; a lid configured to fit into the open end of said container, said lid for closing the open end of said container; a mechanism for illuminating at least a portion of the storage compartment; and a power supply for supplying power to said mechanism.

2. The device as recited in claim 1, wherein said power supply includes a rechargeable battery and further includes at least one photovoltaic cell for converting light energy into electrical energy to at least facilitate the recharging of said battery.

3. The device as recited in claim 1, wherein at least a portion of said power supply is integrated with said lid.

4. The device as recited in claim 1, wherein said mechanism for illuminating includes a light, said light being attached to said lid.

5. The device as recited in claim 1, and further including a handle attached to one of said plurality of walls for facilitating the lifting and moving of the device.

6. The device as recited in claim 1, and further including at least one wheel attached to said container for facilitating the moving of the device.

7. An device for providing thermal isolation, comprising: a plurality of insulated walls and an insulated bottom, said plurality of insulated walls and insulated bottom being configured to form a storage compartment for receiving objects therein, said plurality of insulated walls and insulated bottom further being configured to have an opening; an insulated lid configured to fit into said opening, said lid for closing said opening; an illuminating device for illuminating at least a portion of the storage compartment; and a power supply for providing power to said illuminating device.

8. The device as recited in claim 7, wherein said power supply includes a rechargeable battery and further includes at least one photovoltaic cell for converting light energy into electrical energy to at least facilitate the recharging of said battery.

9. The device as recited in claim 8, wherein at least a portion of said power supply is integrated with said insulated lid.

10. The device as recited in claim 9, wherein said illuminating device includes a light, said light being attached to said lid.

11. The device as recited in claim 10, and further including a handle attached to one of said plurality of insulated walls for facilitating the lifting and moving of the device.

12. The device as recited in claim 11, and further including at least one wheel attached to said container for facilitating the moving of the device.

13. A portable cooler, comprising: a plurality of insulated walls and an insulated bottom, said plurality of insulated walls and insulated bottom being configured to form a storage compartment for receiving objects therein, said plurality of insulated walls and insulated bottom further being configured to have an opening; an insulated lid hingedly attached to one of said plurality of insulated walls, said insulated lid configured to fit into and close said opening; an illuminating device for illuminating at least a portion of the storage compartment; a power supply for providing power to said illuminating device; and a switch for enabling and disabling the supply of power from said power supply to said illuminating device.

14. The device as recited in claim 13, wherein said power supply includes a rechargeable battery.

15. The device as recited in claim 14, wherein said power supply further includes at least one photovoltaic cell for converting light energy into electrical energy to at least facilitate the recharging of said battery.

16. The device as recited in claim 15, wherein at least a portion of said power supply is integrated with said insulated lid.

17. The device as recited in claim 16, wherein said illuminating device includes a light, said light being attached to said lid.

18. The device as recited in claim 17, and further including a handle attached to one of said plurality of insulated walls for facilitating the lifting and moving of the portable cooler.

19. The device as recited in claim 18, and further including at least one wheel attached to said container for facilitating the moving of the portable cooler.

20. The device as recited in claim 19, wherein said switch is integrated into said insulated lid, such that when said insulated is open, said switch enables the supply of power from said power supply to said illuminating device.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates a portable cooler, more specifically but not by way of limitation to a portable cooler that contains an internal light source for viewing and selecting contents of the portable cooler in low light and dark conditions.

BACKGROUND

Individuals engage in camping trips, picnicking or other activities where transport of a variety of food and beverages is desirable. Transport of these foods and beverages is usually conducted via some type of portable cooler in order to maintain optimum freshness and taste. While engaged in these activities, individuals usually carry a wide variety of supplies including but not limited to tents, sleeping bags, cots or air mattresses, first aid kits, and cooking utensils. The food and beverages are usually packed in a portable cooler with a cooling mechanism such as ice, dry ice or other type of refrigeration.

Many individuals engage in these excursions during periods of time of which no natural light occurs. Many portable coolers have, been manufactured and made available to the general consumer market. However, no current devices have been shown to address viewing the interior and contents therein of the portable cooler when no external light source is available.

Individuals routinely camp overnight and store most of there equipment such as flashlights, first aid kits in a tent or vehicle. The individuals attend activities during their excursions and usually transport portable coolers containing the food and beverages. Many of these activities occur during the nighttime, which precipitates a requirement for easy and timely access to items contained in the portable cooler. Accordingly, there is a need for a portable cooler that contains an internal light source that allows individuals to view the interior of the portable cooler and the contents therein in low light and dark conditions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It an object of the present invention to provide a portable cooler that can internally maintain an internal temperature dissimilar to that of the temperature of its external surroundings and be easily transported by an individual. The portable cooler has an insulation device capable of maintaining an internal temperature dissimilar to that of the temperature of its external surroundings when assisted by a cooling mechanism such as, but not limited to, ice. The cooler also has an engagement device for easy transport such as handles and wheels.

It is an additional object of the present invention to accomplish a method of viewing the contents of the portable cooler in low light and dark conditions without the assistance or requirement of an external light source. The portable cooler has an illumination device for providing light internally in order to facilitate proper viewing of the contents of the present invention.

To the accomplishment of the above and related objects the present invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Attention is called to the fact that the drawings are illustrative only. Variations are contemplated as being part of the present invention, limited only by the scope of the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

A more complete understanding of the present invention may be had by reference to the following Detailed Description and appended claims when taken in conjunction with the accompanying Drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 illustrates a top view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings wherein like elements are designated with identical reference numerals throughout the views and figures and wherein the various elements depicted are not necessarily drawn to scale, and in particular FIG. 1, there is illustrated a portable cooler 100 constructed according to the principles of the present invention.

The portable cooler 100, comprises of a substantially hollow and rectangular insulated container 109, having an interior volume. The rectangular insulated container 109, has a storage compartment 110, a lid 105, that is hingedly attached to the storage compartment 110 and is sized to seal insulated container. Although lid 105 illustrated as being hingedly attached to storage compartment 110, it is contemplated to be within the scope of this invention there are many embodiments for attaching the lid to the storage compartment and further have a lid independent from the storage compartment.

Still referring to FIG. 1, attached to the lid 105, facing the interior of the storage compartment 110 when the lid is proximate thereto, is a light unit 106. Externally attached to the lid 105 is a renewable electrical storage unit 201. The storage compartment 110 has four walls 104, a bottom 108, a top 111 that form a substantially rectangular opening in proximity to the top 111, for providing access to the items contained therein of the storage compartment 110.

The four walls 104, the bottom 108 and the lid 105 are configured to define the interior volume of the storage compartment 110. Each of the walls 104 has an externally oriented surface facing onto the exterior of the portable cooler 100 and an internally oriented surface facing onto the interior volume of the storage compartment 110. A handle 103 is pivotally attached to two opposing of the four walls 104 and is for providing assistance for transportation of portable cooler 100. Two wheels 101 are attached on the externally oriented surface of two opposing of the four walls 104 and also facilitate the assistance for transportation of portable cooler 100. A drain valve 102 is integrated with one of the four walls 104 in close proximity to the bottom 108 to enable the draining of liquids from portable cooler 100.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the rectangular insulated container 109 consists of a storage compartment 110. The storage compartment 110 is formed by the four walls 104 and the bottom 108. The four walls 104 are made of plastic or other suitable material and also contain therein a foam or polyurethane material to provide insulation. The four walls 104 and the bottom 108 are manufactured as a one-piece assembly through an injection molding process or other similar mode of manufacturing. More specifically but not by way of limitation, the rectangular insulated container 109 could have alternate configurations such as an annular shape. Those skilled in the art will also recognize that the four walls 104 could have different textures on the exterior oriented surfaces and the interior oriented surfaces.

The lid 105, consists of one piece of plastic or other suitable material generally rectangular in shape. The lid 105, also contains therein a suitable insulation material such as foam or polyurethane. The lid is hingedly attached to the top 111 of one of the four walls 111. Although the lid 105 is primarily used to control access to the storage compartment 110 and the contents therein, it is within the scope of the present invention that other embodiments and functions are possible. More specifically but not by way of limitation, alternate shapes and functions of the lid 105 could be manufactured. Many varieties of shapes manufactured in order to correspond to the shape of the storage compartment 110. It is also within the scope of this invention that there exist many possible methods of attachment or that no method of attachment exist for the lid 105, to one of the top 111 of the four walls 111. In the preferred embodiment lid 105 could also contain a power supply for the light unit 106. The lid 105 could be manufactured containing alternative powered storage cells including photovoltaic cells. Those skilled in the art will also recognize that numerous materials and shapes could be manufactured to achieve the functions suggested herein of the lid 105.

Each of wheels 101 consists of one piece of plastic or other suitable material generally annular in shape. Each of wheels 101 is attached to the externally oriented surface of four walls 104, with one being attached to the opposing externally oriented surface in a juxtaposed position. Wheels 101 are attached to the externally oriented surface of the four walls 104 in close proximity to the bottom 108. Wheels 101 are fastened to the externally oriented surface of the four walls 104 by a mechanical fastener such as but not limited to a rivet, screw or axel. The mechanical fastener should be of a non-corrosive material such as but not limited to plastic or stainless steel. Although wheels 101 are primarily used to facilitate ease of transportation for the portable cooler 100 it is within the scope of the present invention that other embodiments and functions are possible such as providing power for the light unit 106. As the wheel 105 rotates during transportation of the portable cooler 100 it could be used to produce an electrical current which would be transmitted to a renewable electrical storage unit 201 (see FIG. 2) to supply power for the light unit 106. Those skilled in the art will also recognize that numerous configurations could be manufactured to achieve the functions suggested herein of the wheel 101.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the handle 103 consists of one piece of plastic or other suitable material generally rectangular in shape containing an aperture for a user's hand. The handle is pivotally attached to an externally oriented surface of the four walls 104 in close proximity to the lid 105. An identical handle 103 is pivotally attached to the adjacent externally oriented surface of the four walls 104. The handle 103 is secured to the portable cooler 100 by way of a suitable mechanical device such as but not limited to a clevis. Although the handle 103 is shown to be generally rectangular in shape with an aperture it is within the scope of the present invention that numerous shapes could be used to produce the same function. Although the handle 103 primarily functions to aid in transportation of the portable cooler 100 it is within the scope of the present invention that other embodiments to achieve alternate functions are possible. More specifically but not by way of limitation the handle 103 could function as manual lever that could be rotated periodically to generate electrical current to be transmitted to a renewable electrical storage unit to supply power for the light unit 106. Those skilled in the art will also recognize that numerous shapes materials may be used in place of and/or in conjunction with the handle 103 in order to achieve the function described herein.

The drain valve 102 consists of a one-piece brass or other suitable material mounted by chemical or mechanical methods to and extending through one of the four walls 104. The drain valve 102 is mounted in close proximity to the bottom 108. The portion of the drain valve 102 extending through the externally facing surface of the four walls 104 has a removable closure to allow any liquid contents of the storage compartment 110 to be removed via the drain valve 102.

Now referring to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the light unit 106 is mounted to the internal facing surface of the lid 105 and is generally rectangular in shape. The light unit 106 is mounted to the lid 105 using a suitable mechanical or chemical method such as but not limited to screws and/or adhesives. The light unit 106 contains at least one bulb, which is covered by a translucent surface. The translucent surface serves as protection for the bulb and the light unit 106 from moisture or impact. The light unit 106 is physically connected to a renewable electrical storage unit 201 by suitable device such as an insulated copper wire.

The renewable electrical storage unit 201 and the light unit 106 complete an electrical circuit. The electric circuit is interrupted by a pressure-activated switch mounted to the top 111 of the four walls 104. The pressure-activated switch closes the circuit when the lid 105 is in the open position. Conversely, when the lid 105 is in the closed position the circuit remains open. The renewable electrical storage unit 201 has a portion that is mounted to the externally facing surface of the lid 105. The portion of the renewable electrical storage unit 201 that is mounted to the externally facing surface of the lid 105 is manufactured of photovoltaic cells or modules (See FIG. 2). These photovoltaic cells or modules use photons from an external light source such as the sun to generate an electrical current. This current is stored and/or used to provide power for the light unit 106. Although the renewable electrical storage unit 201 is shown with an externally facing portion containing photovoltaic cells it is within the scope of this invention that other embodiments achieving the same function are possible. More specifically, but not by way of limitation, the renewable electrical storage unit 201 could consist of an externally facing portion allowing storage and the use of alkaline, nickel cadmium or other suitable type of batteries. This type of configuration could then be interfaced with the alternative suggestions of the handle 103 and the wheel 101, as described herein, in order to produce a constant power supply for the light unit 106. The light unit 106 is shown in FIG. 1 to be integrated into the lid 105. It is further contemplated that a switch 210 be integrated with light unit 106. Switch 210 permits a user to deactivate light unit 106 from lighting when the lid 105 is opened or removed. This is permits a user to prevent discharge of the power source, such as batteries, if the operation of light unit 106 is not needed, such as during storage of the portable cooler 100 when not in use.

The light unit 106 could be manufactured as a self-contained module temporarily attached to the inside of the storage compartment 110 This self-contained module would be powered by a temporary power source, such as but not limited to, alkaline batteries. The self-contained module would also be waterproof. The light unit 106 would be temporarily attached to one of the four walls 104 by a suitable device. A switch would be integrated into the light unit 106 in order for the functionality as describe herein to remain similar. It is contemplated that this type of configuration of light unit 106 could be used with a wide variety of containers similar but not limited to the portable cooler 100 as shown herein. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the light unit 106 may be manufactured in other shapes such as annular and from a variety of materials in place of and/or in conjunction with plastic or non-corrosive metal.

Referring in particular to the drawings submitted herewith, particularly FIG. 1 and FIG. 2a description of the operation of the portable cooler 100 is as follows. In use, the portable cooler 100 is carried to and from locations by use of the handles 103 and the wheels 101. The bottom 108 of the portable cooler 100 is placed on a horizontal support structure. The user lifts the lid 105, which pivots and opens away from the user. When the lid 105, is opened it releases the pressure-activated switch mounted on the top 111. When the pressure-activated switch is released, the light unit 106 is activated and directs light onto the internal facing surfaces of the four walls 104. The user then selects from the variety of items in the portable cooler 100. Upon completion of selection of an item from the portable cooler 100 the user closes the lid 105, which compresses the pressure-activated switch and turns the light unit 106 off. The renewable electrical storage unit 201 is serviced as needed with consistent exposure to an external light source or replacement of batteries.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants thereof, have been described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. The description may omit certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.