Title:
Gas-fired cooking griddle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cooking griddle has a burner with a valve controlling gas flow to the burner. The valve is rotatable through an increased arc for controlling flow of gas to the burner. A knob for rotating the valve includes indicia for indicating a relative position of the valve.



Inventors:
Czajka, Charles (Forest Hill, MD, US)
Johnson Jr., Harold (Shrewsbury, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/283354
Publication Date:
05/24/2007
Filing Date:
11/18/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24C15/32
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MASHRUWALA, NIKHIL P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMPSON HINE LLP / ITW (DAYTON, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cooking appliance comprising: an appliance body; a griddle top having a cooking surface, said griddle top being disposed on and supported by said appliance body; a substantially enclosed space beneath said griddle top, said space having limited viewing access thereto; a burner disposed in said substantially enclosed space; a gas manifold in fuel flow communication with said burner; a valve for controlling fuel flow from said manifold to said burner, said valve including a valve body and a rotatable stem, said stem being rotatable through a range of greater than about 180° for adjusting fuel flow from said manifold through said valve and to said burner; and a knob on said stem exposed on a viewable surface of said appliance body, with at least one of said knob and said appliance body including indicia for indicating a relative position of said knob.

2. The cooking appliance of claim 1, said valve body being disposed in an opening in said manifold.

3. The cooking appliance of claim 1, including at least one open burner defining a cooking location different from said griddle, said open burner being in fuel flow communication with said gas manifold.

4. The cooking appliance of claim 1, said indicia being at least on said knob.

5. The cooking appliance of claim 1, said indicia including visually apparent markings on each said knob and said appliance body.

6. The cooking appliance of claim 5, said valve body being disposed in an opening in said manifold.

7. The cooking appliance of claim 5, including at least one open burner defining a cooking location different from said griddle, said open burner being in fuel flow communication with said gas manifold.

8. The cooking appliance of claim 7, said valve body being disposed in an opening in said manifold.

9. The cooking appliance of claim 1, said stem being rotatable through a total range of at least about 250°.

10. A gas cook top, comprising: at least one open burner providing an open flame cooking location; a griddle area having a griddle top and a substantially enclosed griddle burner with limited viewing access to said griddle burner beneath said griddle top; a gas manifold in fuel flow communication with said open burner and with said griddle burner; and a griddle valve having a valve body and a valve stem rotatable in said valve body for controlling flow of gas from said manifold through said valve and to said griddle burner, said stem being rotatable through a range of rotation greater than 180° for adjusting fuel flow through said valve.

11. The gas cook top of claim 10, including a knob on said stem and indicia on said knob for indicating a relative position of said knob throughout said range of rotation.

12. The gas cook top of claim 10, said valve body being disposed in an opening in said manifold.

13. The gas cook top of claim 12, said stem being rotatable through a total range of at least about 250°.

14. The gas cook top of claim 13, including a knob on said stem and indicia on said knob for indicating a relative position of said knob throughout said range of rotation.

15. The gas cook top of claim 10, said stem being rotatable through a total range of at least about 250°.

16. The gas cook top of claim 15, including a knob on said stem and indicia on said knob for indicating a relative position of said knob throughout said range of rotation.

17. A gas cook top, comprising: at least one open burner providing an open flame cooking location; a griddle area having a griddle top and a substantially enclosed griddle burner with limited viewing access to said griddle burner beneath said griddle top; a gas manifold in fuel flow communication with said open burner and with said griddle burner; and a griddle valve having a valve body and a valve stem rotatable in said valve body for controlling flow of gas from said manifold through said valve and to said griddle burner; and a knob on said stem exposed and viewable on a surface of said appliance body, with indicia on said knob indicating a relative position of said knob including a fully opened position, a fully closed position and at least one intermediate position between said fully opened position and said fully closed position.

18. The gas cook top of claim 17, said stem being rotatable through a range of greater than at least about 180° for adjusting fuel flow from said valve.

19. The gas cook top of claim 17, said stem being rotatable through a total range of at least about 250°.

20. The gas cook top of claim 17, said valve body being disposed in an opening in said manifold.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to gas fired cooking appliances, and, more particularly, the invention pertains to the control of a gas fired cooking griddle that may be independent or part of a cooking range.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Gas fired cooking ranges are used in both residential and commercial kitchens. A basic design for a gas fired range includes a gas supply source, a manifold and one or more burner assemblies for receiving gas from the gas supply source via a connection to the manifold. It is also known to provide a cooking griddle as part of the cook top. It is further known to provide cooking griddles independent of gas fired, open flame cooking tops.

A cooking griddle is known to provide a substantially continuous flat cooking surface on which food items can be placed directly for cooking.

Whereas open flame cooking tops are generally used with cooking utensils such as pots or pans, a griddle can be used by placing the food directly on the griddle surface. While a utensil can be placed on a griddle, it is more common that the food is cooked directly on the griddle surface, without an intervening utensil.

Many different types of foods can be prepared on a griddle, including by way of example and without limitation, hamburgers and other meats, eggs, pancakes and the like.

In known designs, the griddle top is supported on a support structure in the range or independent griddle frame, with outer sheeting panels of the appliance substantially meeting the outer edge of the griddle top. One or more burners, often of an elongate form, are provided in a space beneath the griddle top. The burner or burners are connected to a gas manifold in the appliance, to which cooking gas is provided. A valve controls the flow of gas from the manifold to the burner.

Several problems and inconveniences have been experienced with known cooking griddles. The griddle burner is confined in a substantially enclosed space, with limited viewing access thereto. Accordingly, someone operating and adjusting the burner for the desired heating of the griddle cannot easily see the flame emanating from the burner. Unlike open burners of cook tops, it is difficult for a cook to knowingly adjust the griddle burner to a desired heat setting. Experienced cooks viewing an open flame of a cook top can easily judge the performance of the burner for the utensil being used and the food being prepared. The same is not true for griddle adjustment in which the burner cannot be seen easily. Accordingly, cooks have resorted to peering through cracks, spaces and small openings in the housing in an attempt to see the griddle burner flame. This is especially problematic in commercial kitchens in which one setting may be desired early in the morning when preparing breakfast foods such as pancakes, eggs, bacon or the like and then another setting for the preparation of lunch or dinner foods including meats such as hamburgers, chicken breasts or the like.

In addition to limited viewability of the burner flame, adjustment of griddle burners has been difficult in that only limited rotation is available for turning the valve and adjusting the gas flow. Griddle valves have typically rotated a maximum of 90°, with perhaps only 40 to 45° actually varying the gas flow, with the remainder of the rotation not affecting gas flow. Rotation through only a narrow arc can cause a significant change in the gas flow, and a correspondingly significant change in burner output. Accordingly, it has been difficult to control the temperature of griddles, with the control not being very precise. Thermostatically controlled valves are known, with a bulb and capillary sensor adjusting gas flow to a desired heat setting. However, such thermostatically controlled valves are expensive and subject to failure.

What is needed is a griddle burner control providing easier and more accurate control of griddle heating.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a griddle with a control valve having a larger range through which the valve can be rotated and over which it will control the flow of gas. The control knob is provided with indicia for indicating the valve position.

An advantage of the present invention is providing a griddle that is more easily adjusted and more precisely controlled than known griddle burner arrangements.

Another advantage of the present invention is providing a griddle burner assembly that is more conveniently used than known burner assemblies.

Still another advantage of the present invention is providing a griddle assembly with improved heating accuracy that can be provided more cost effectively than known thermostatically controlled griddle assemblies.

Other features and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon review of the following detailed description, claims and drawings in which like numerals are used to designate like features.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gas-fired cooking range having a griddle in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary, enlarged perspective view of the area of griddle valves, with control knobs, on the range showed in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the gas circuit in the range shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged plan view of a knob for the valves of the griddle; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the cook top on the range, with the grates and griddle top removed.

Before the embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use herein of “including”, “comprising” and variations thereof is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof, as well as additional items and equivalents thereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now more specifically to the drawings and to FIG. 1 in particular, numeral 10 designates a gas-fired cooking range having a griddle area 12 and a gas circuit 14 (FIG. 3) in accordance with the present invention. The present invention can be used for various cooking appliances including commercial ranges, residential ranges and independent cooking griddles that are not part of a cooking range. The embodiment shown in FIG. 1 is merely an exemplar of an application of the present invention.

Griddle area 12 is part of a cook top 16 that further includes two open-flame cooking locations 18 and 20. Range 10 further includes an oven 22 accessed through a door 24 having a handle 26. Legs 28 support range 10, and can be pedestal-like supports as shown, or can be wheels or casters to facilitate moving range 10 for cleaning

Gas circuit 14 includes a main gas line 30 connected to a gas fuel source such as, for example, a natural gas line from a natural gas utility, a propane tank or the like. Those skilled in the art will readily understand that additional equipment not shown, such as a pressure regulator, main shut off valve and other suitable and required equipment, fittings and the like are provided as necessary for coupling main gas line 30 to the source of gaseous fuel and to control and regulate the flow of gaseous fuel. For example, main gas line 30 can be connected to the fuel source via a flexible hose (not shown) to allow cooking range 10 to be moved a short distance for cleaning the kitchen in which it is used.

Main gas line 30 supplies gas to a gas manifold 32 extending along the front, top area of range 10. A cook top gas shutoff valve 34 is provided at the inlet end of manifold 32, upstream of cook top gas flow control valves to be described subsequently herein that are in flow communication with manifold 32.

Shutoff valve 34 can be used to initiate or terminate the flow of gas from gas line 30 to manifold 32. Thus, by closing shutoff valve 34, the flow of gas from gas line 30 to manifold 32 can be stopped, without interrupting the flow of gas from gas line 30 to an oven branch gas line (not shown) connected at a coupling 36 upstream of cook top shutoff valve 34.

An open flame burner assembly 40 (FIG. 5) provides open flames for open-flame cooking locations 18 and 20. Open flame burner assembly 40 has burner heads 42, 44 at cooking locations 18, 20, respectively. Burner heads 42, 44 are connected in gas flow communication to manifold 32 via an orifice defined at open flame burner control valves 46 and 48, respectively. Each control valve 46, 48 is provided for initiating, terminating and controlling the flow rate of combustible gas from manifold 32 to a different burner head 42, 44, respectively.

The manner in which control valves 46, 48 are installed and used is well known to those skilled in the art and will not be described in further detail herein.

A pilot light connection 50 is provided for supplying gas from manifold 32 to pilot gas lines 52, 54, respectively, for burner heads 42, 44.

Burner assembly 40, as described previously includes two burner heads 42, 44. However, it should be understood that separate individual burner assemblies can be provided for each open flame cooking location 18 and 20.

Burner heads 42, 44 are substantially annular bodies defining open top annular channels with burner head covers 56, 58 provided thereon respectively.

Each cover 56, 58 has a plurality of holes 60 therein through which a mixture of combustion gas and primary combustion air is emitted.

Burner assembly 40 includes a single piece, monolithic casting forming a first venturi 62 and a second venturi 64 together with burner heads 42, 44 in back and front locations respectively on range 10. As known to those skilled in the art, each venturi 62, 64 is aligned with a different burner control valve 46, 48 to receive gas therefrom when the control valve 46, 48 is opened to allow gas to flow therethrough from manifold 32. As known to those skilled in the art, venturis 62, 64 also admit a flow of ambient air to mix with the combustion gas in venturis 62, 64 via one or more openings 66, 68 defined in baffle plates 70, 72 respectively.

In the assembled cooking range 10, grates 74, 76 respectively are provided at open flame cooking locations 18, 20 above burner heads 42, 44 for supporting cooking utensils such as pots and pans.

As illustrated most clearly in FIGS. 1 and 5, griddle area 12 includes a griddle top 80 defining a cooking surface 82. A back 84 and sides 86, 88 tapering from the back to the front of griddle top 80 are provided at the periphery of cooking surface 82 to confine foods on surface 82. Griddle top 80 is supported in range 10 along an outer side rail 90 and along an intermediate support 92 defined in the main body of range 10. A back panel 94 and front ledge 96 together with the aforementioned side rail 90 and support 92 define a substantially enclosed space 98 beneath griddle top 80.

First and second griddle burners 100, 102 are provided in space 98, beneath griddle top 80. Griddle burners 100, 102 are in gas flow communication with manifold 32 via griddle control valves 104 and 106, respectively. Each griddle control valve 104, 106 includes a valve body 108, 110 engaged in an opening 112, 114 in manifold 32. Valve stems 116, 118 control and adjust flow of gas through valve bodies 112, 114.

Valves 104, 106 are opened by rotating stems 116, 118 from a closed position to a fully open position. In contrast to known griddle control valves that have minimal rotation between fully closed and fully opened positions, stems 116, 118 rotate at least about 180° through which the flow of gas varies. In a preferred embodiment for griddle control valves 104, 106 stems 116, 118 have a total rotation of about 250° with a control range therein of at least approximately 180° for the control of gas flow.

Thus, valves 104, 106 have significantly greater total rotation and significantly greater rotation through which gas flow is adjusted than known griddle control valves having a total rotation of about 90° and a rotation less than 90° over which effective variation in gas flow can be achieved. With a greater arc through which valves 116 and 118 can be rotated while controlling gas flow, finer control of gas flow is possible, and thus a finer control of the intensity of flames from burners 100, 102.

When griddle area 12 is completely assembled, with griddle top 80 disposed and supported in its cooking position, space 98 is substantially enclosed.

Observing burners 100, 102 for evaluating the height and intensity of flames coming therefrom is difficult. Thus, controlling heating of surface 82 is difficult.

In accordance with the present invention, valves 104, 106 are provided with control knobs 120, 122 respectively, on stems 116, 118 and by which stems 116, 118 can be rotated for increasing or decreasing gas flow to burners 100, 102 and thereby the intensity of flames from burners 100, 102. Knobs 120, 122 are similar, with knob 120 being shown in FIG. 4.

Each knob 120, 122 includes markings or indicia 124 by which the relative position of knob 120, 122 can be evaluated, and thereby the rotational positions of valve stem 116 or 118, respectively. Thus, by evaluating the rotational position of knob 120 or 122 the intensity of flame and thereby the heat supplied to cooking surface 82 can be evaluated. Indicia 124 include an “off” position mark 126 and a fully “on” position mark 128, with one or more intermediate markings 130, 132 indicating intermediate positions for stems 116, 118 and thereby intermediate flame intensities and intermediate heating levels for surface 82. Indicia such as reference marks 134, 136 adjacent knobs 120, 122 on a viewable surface of range 10 provide references by which to evaluate the relative rotational positions of indicia 124.

To ignite griddle burners 100, 102, griddle pilot light assemblies 138, 140 are provided connected to manifold 32 via pilot system valves 142, 144. Other types of igniters also can be used.

The present invention provides more precise flame control by providing a more readily adjustable valve having greater rotation and thereby more precisely controlled variation in the flow of gas as the valve is rotated between fully closed and fully open positions. The knob provides indicia or indicators as reference points by which an operator can select a setting for the rotational position of the valve stems. As a result, even without a thermostatic control, relative heating for surface 82 can be duplicated from one cooking session to the next by rotating knobs 120, 122 to similar reference positions during each successive cooking session. Rather than waiting for warm-up and testing, a cook can position one or more of valves 104, 106 to an acceptable setting determined from a previous cooking session, and can rely on substantially similar heating for surface 82. The indicia provide ready reference points for duplicating the rotational position from one cooking session to the next.

Variations and modifications of the foregoing are within the scope of the present invention. It is understood that the invention disclosed and defined herein extends to all alternative combinations of two or more of the individual features mentioned or evident from the text and/or drawings. All of these different combinations constitute various alternative aspects of the present invention. The embodiments described herein explain the best modes known for practicing the invention and will enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention. The claims are to be construed to include alternative embodiments to the extent permitted by the prior art.

Various features of the invention are set forth in the following claims.