Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR RAISING AND LOWERING CEILING FIXTURES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fixture extension device that can support a ceiling fixture at varying heights in relation to the floor is described. The fixture extension device contains a telescoping shaft which enables raising and lowering ceiling fixtures such as fans or chandeliers.



Inventors:
Weiler, Thomas (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Application Number:
11/164988
Publication Date:
06/14/2007
Filing Date:
12/13/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D05B81/00
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Primary Examiner:
WIEHE, NATHANIEL EDWARD
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SNELL & WILMER L.L.P. (Main) (PHOENIX, AZ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fixture extension device comprising: a telescoping shaft; a pulley assembly attached to top end of said shaft comprising a pulley and a cable; said cable with a first end attached to a ceiling fixture and second end attached to pulley assembly; and a control for operating pulley assembly.

2. The fixture extension device of claim 1, wherein said shaft comprises more than one cylindrical section.

3. The fixture extension device of claim 2, wherein each said cylindrical section has an upper lip that extends perpendicularly outward from the cylindrical wall at one end of the section and a lower lip that extends perpendicularly inward from the cylindrical wall at the other end of the section.

4. The fixture extension device of claim 1, further comprising a casing.

5. The fixture extension rod of claim 4, wherein said casing is attached to said shaft with a swivel joint.

6. The fixture extension device of claim 1, wherein said ceiling fixture comprises ceiling fan.

7. The fixture extension device of claim 6, further comprising a safety feature preventing movement of said shaft while ceiling fan is spinning.

8. The fixture extension device of claim 1, wherein said pulley assembly further comprises a motor.

9. The fixture extension device of claim 1, wherein said control is a remote control.

10. The fixture extension device of claim 1, further comprising mounting means securing said fixture extension device to a ceiling.

11. The method of raising and lowering a ceiling fixture by a fixture extension device comprising the steps of: attaching one end of a telescoping shaft and a cable to a ceiling fixture; activating a pulley assembly attached to cable via an external control; raising or lowering said ceiling fixture upon command of said external control.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein said shaft comprises more than one cylindrical section.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein each said cylindrical section has an upper lip that extends perpendicularly outward from the cylindrical wall at one end of the section and a lower lip that extends perpendicularly inward from the cylindrical wall at the other end of the section.

14. The method of claim 11, wherein said shaft is attached to a casing.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein said casing is attached to said shaft with a swivel joint.

16. The method of claim 11, wherein said ceiling fixture comprises ceiling fan.

17. The method of claim 11, further comprising the step of engaging a safety feature which prevents movement of said shaft while ceiling fan is spinning.

18. The method of claim 11, wherein said external control is a remote control.

19. The method of claim 11, further comprising mounting means securing said fixture extension device to a ceiling.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to an improved fixture support extension for ceiling fixtures.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Ceiling fixtures are commonly used in a variety of residential and commercial locations today. These fixtures encompass a variety of uses, from lighting an area to circulating air within a room, and are generally placed in the center of a ceiling or upper wall. Many ceiling fixtures contain light bulbs that must be regularly changed or fan blades that require periodic cleaning. This often requires the use of a ladder or similar device to reach and service the ceiling fixture. Once an individual climbs a ladder, that person has to be prepared to move in awkward positions while trying to balance on a ladder creating a safety concern.

Similarly, if the fixture encompasses more than a light bulb, multiple trips up and down the ladder, possibly with additional equipment, may be needed to service the unit. For example, cleaning or maintaining a ceiling fan may require carrying up extra cleaning implements, extra ceiling blades or tools to service electrical components. Furthermore, it is often quite difficult to clean some intricate lighting displays, or even small crevices in the ceiling units.

Moreover, in the case of extremely tall rooms control of the unit is inconvenient. For example, a typical placement of ceiling fans is to be as high as possible. However, placing the fan at such a height makes controlling fan speeds through a typical pull chain unsightly and inconvenient. Additionally, if more direct circulation is needed, a user may wish to lower the fan height depending on ambient conditions. Similarly, a user may wish to control the focus of light through raising or lowering the lighting fixture. However, there is no way to control such heights without going through complicated and very time consuming steps to replace the pole connecting the fixture to the ceiling.

In addition, many fixtures such as ceiling fans have controls and switches that are difficult, if not impossible to see, without being on a ladder. As such, operation and maintenance of these types of ceiling fixtures are at best inconvenient and not properly maintained, and at worst, dangerous due to the use of ladders.

Therefore, a need exists to overcome the above problems associated with the height of ceiling fixtures. More preferably, a way to control the height of ceiling fixtures is needed.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

These and other aspects of the present invention will become more apparent to those skilled in the art from the following non-limiting detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention taken with reference to the accompanying figures.

In general, a fixture extension device that can support a ceiling fixture at varying heights in relation to the floor is described. More specifically, the fixture extension device is used to raise and lower a ceiling fixture to which it is attached via an external control.

In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a shaft of the fixture extension device has multiple sections which operate in a telescoping fashion. The fixture extension device comprises a pulley assembly which raises and lowers the ceiling fixture. The fixture extension device may be controlled remotely so that the full benefits of the present invention are realized.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments of the present invention will hereafter be described in conjunction with the appended drawing figures, wherein like designations denote like elements, and:

FIG. 1 is an upper view of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention in the lowered position;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention in the raised position;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a shaft of an exemplary embodiment; and

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a shaft connected to the casing with a swivel joint of an exemplary embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description is of exemplary embodiments only and is not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration of the invention in any way. Rather, the following description provides a convenient illustration for implementing exemplary embodiments of the present invention. Various changes to the described embodiments may be made in the function and arrangement of the elements described without departing from the scope of the invention.

In general, a fixture extension device that can support a ceiling fixture at varying heights in relation to the floor is described. More specifically, the fixture extension device is used to raise and lower a ceiling fixture to which it is attached via an external control. For example, in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a fixture extension rod is attached to a fan and/or lighting unit that may be raised and lowered through use of a hand-held remote control unit. While the invention will be described in this context, it should be appreciated that other uses now known or hereafter devised by those skilled in the art may be enjoyed through use of the multiple configurations or components set forth herein. Furthermore, any materials used to manufacture any of the components of the fixture extension device that are able to withstand the weight of any given ceiling fixture and/or the torque forces of, for example, a ceiling fan are suitable and are intended to be within the scope of the invention.

In accordance with an aspect of the present invention, support for the fixture extension device is obtained through attachment to the ceiling or other high wall structure. In accordance with various embodiments of this aspect, attachment to the ceiling is achieved through means typical of hanging structures such as, for example, ceiling fans, chandeliers, pot racks, or other ceiling hangings. Furthermore, in some applications, typical support means include a covering, either separate or integrated with the support, which protects the internal components of the fixture extension device while in operation. In an exemplary embodiment of this aspect of the present invention and with reference to FIG. 1, the fixture extension device comprises a casing 25. The casing 25 has a inverted dome shape, with the top portion open to the ceiling and the bottom portion closed around top cylindrical section 11, leaving top shaft opening 40. The casing 25 is shaped such that the operating components of the fixture extension device are covered from view. Alternatively, casing 25 may be any shape configured to fit in with the overall design of the supported fixture and provide appropriate coverage of internal components.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the fixture extension device enables one to raise and lower a ceiling fixture without the need to physically handle the ceiling fixture. In an exemplary embodiment of this aspect and with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the fixture extension device has a shaft 10. The shaft 10 is able to expand and contract, making shaft 10 longer or shorter. Depending on the desired minimum and maximum heights, the shaft 10 may comprise any number of sections. For example, as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2, shaft 10 contains three cylindrical sections 11, 12, and 13. However, any shape or cross-sectional shape can be used instead of cylinders, such as for example, squares, cones, or star shapes. Furthermore, depending on the weight and shape characteristics of the ceiling fixture, more than one shaft (and its associated components described below) may be employed in the fixture extension device.

In this embodiment of the present invention, each section moves in and out of each other in a telescoping fashion. For example, the top cylindrical section 11 has a diameter that is greater than the middle cylindrical section 12. Likewise, the middle cylindrical section 12 has a diameter that is greater than the bottom cylindrical section 13. Thus, as demonstrated in FIG. 2, the middle cylindrical 12 section is able to fit within the top cylindrical section 11. Similarly, the bottom cylindrical section 13 is able to fit within the middle cylindrical section 12.

Continuing with this exemplary embodiment of the present invention, and with reference to FIG. 3, one end of each of the cylindrical sections 11, 12, and 13 would have an upper lip 14 that extends perpendicularly outward from the cylindrical wall. In addition, top cylindrical section 11 and middle cylindrical section 12 would have a lower lip 15 that extends perpendicularly inward from the cylindrical wall. As demonstrated in FIG. 3, when the shaft is fully extended, the upper lip of the middle cylindrical section 12 would be held firm against the lower lip of the top cylindrical section 11. Likewise, the upper lip of the bottom cylindrical section 13 would be held firm against the lower lip of the middle cylindrical section 12.

In addition, the upper lip of the top cylindrical section 111 would be held firm against casing 25. Preferably, the upper lip 14 of the top cylindrical section 111 would be fastened to casing 25, but fastening is not required. Any method of fastening now known or hereafter devised of fastening the sections together may be used. Alternatively, the top cylindrical section 11 and casing 25 may manufactured as one piece.

In accordance with various embodiments of this aspect of the present invention, the shaft 10 may be moveable such that the attached ceiling fixture is able to level itself. This freedom of movement allows for mounting the fixture extension device on angled walls. For example, and with reference to FIG. 4, the upper portion of top cylindrical section 111 can be attached to a swivel joint 16 (e.g., an open face swivel joint). The swivel joint 16 would be attached to casing 25.

In accordance with various embodiments of this aspect of the invention, the fixture extension device comprises a pulley assembly. The pulley assembly enables raising and lowering the ceiling fixture remotely. In an exemplary embodiment and with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the pulley assembly comprises a motor 22, a pulley 23, and a cable 30. The motor 22 turns the pulley 23 both clockwise and counterclockwise thereby raising and lowering the fixture 50. In this embodiment, the motor 22 is supported by a bracket 21 fastened to a casing 25 and shaped to receive the motor 22. Also, the bracket 21 is shaped to fit along the inside edge 42 of the casing 25. The bracket 21 may be attached to the casing 25 in any way that sufficiently secures the bracket in place. Alternatively, the bracket 21 and casing 25 may be manufactured as one piece.

Continuing with this embodiment, the cable 30 attaches to the pulley 23. The cable 30 extends from the pulley 23 through the shaft opening 40 through the interior of the shaft 10 and connects to the fixture 50. It should be noted that the cable 30 can be made of any material now known or hereinafter devised, so long as it can support raising and lowering the fixture 50.

Additionally, and with reference to FIG. 1, an electrical box 26 is fastened to the interior of the casing 25 and powers the motor 22. The electrical box connects to an external power source used to power the fixture 50. In turn, the electrical box 26 connects to motor 22 and fixture 50 via a power cord 31. Power cord 31 passes through shaft opening 40, through the interior of shaft 10, and connects the fixture 50.

In alternative embodiments of this aspect of the invention, the fixture extension device comprises a manually operated pulley assembly. For example, the manually operated pulley assembly comprises a cord attached to a pulley. By pulling on the cord the ceiling fixture is raised, and by allowing the cord to be drawn up into the pulley, the ceiling fixture is lowered. In accordance with an exemplary embodiment, the manually operated pulley assembly further comprises a latching system which allows one to secure the ceiling fixture at a desired level.

In accordance with various embodiments, as the ceiling fixture is raised or lowered, a cord retaining mechanism prevents the power cord from twisting, binding, or otherwise getting tangled within the shaft or around other parts of the apparatus, for example, the power cord may spool onto and off a spindle. In one exemplary embodiment, the power cord may fold into itself in an accordion-style. As such, any method or structure now known or hereafter devised that prevents the power cord from entanglement is intended to be within the scope of the invention.

In accordance with this aspect of the present invention, the fixture extension device comprises a safety feature preventing movement of the shaft when the ceiling fixture is in operation (for those embodiments which include moving parts). The safety feature may be activated through engaging a physical device to prevent movement, or alternatively, the safety feature may electrically prevent the shaft from movement. In accordance with an exemplary embodiment and with reference to FIG. 1, the safety feature is a pin 52 connected at the base of the shaft 10. Alternatively, in various embodiments, a safety feature may render moving parts immobile while the shaft is in operation. For example, in one embodiment, ceiling fans blades may be rendered immobile while the ceiling fixture is being lowered to an appropriate level for servicing. In other embodiments, for example lighting fixtures, the safety feature may disconnect power to the lighting apparatus so that one would not be electrically shocked while changing light bulbs. Alternatively, another embodiment enables power only to be delivered either to the ceiling fixture (e.g., fan) or to the pulley assembly preventing unsafe movement and operation of the apparatus.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a user controls the fixture extension device through a unit external to the device. In accordance with one exemplary embodiment, the external control comprises a remote control. The remote control may operate the fixture extension device separate from, or in conjunction with, any ceiling fixture components (e.g., ceiling fan speed or lights). In another exemplary embodiment, the external control is a switch at ground level connected electrically to the ceiling fixture.

However, in alternative embodiments, the fixture extension device may be controlled through a switch on the device. Though placement of the control on the fixture extension device may require one to use a ladder or the like to access the switch, the fixture extension device still allows for safely lowering a device towards the ground for servicing. Moreover, by locating the control on the fixture extension device, unwanted tampering can be prevented while retaining other benefits of the present invention.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, any type of ceiling fixture can be supported with the fixture extension device. For example, in accordance with an exemplary embodiment and with reference to FIG. 2, ceiling fixture is a ceiling fan 50. In other embodiments, ceiling fixture may comprise a chandelier or other lighting apparatus.

In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments. However, it may be appreciated that various modifications and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as set forth in the claims below. Accordingly, the specification and figures are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than restrictive sense, and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention.