Title:
Fireplace installation assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fireplace installation assembly is provided that includes a furniture unit having an enlarged receptacle well above the ground, and a fireplace unit positioned in the receptacle of the furniture unit. The fireplace unit has a firebox contained in an outer housing and configured to contain a fire or simulated fire therein. A viewing portion is adjacent to the firebox to provide visibility of the fire or simulated fire from exterior of the fireplace unit. It is emphasized that this abstract is provided to comply with the rules requiring an abstract. It is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims.



Inventors:
Rumens, Kurt W. F. (Kirkland, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/655044
Publication Date:
08/30/2007
Filing Date:
01/17/2007
Assignee:
Travis Industries, Inc. (Mukilteo, WA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
126/500, 126/523
International Classes:
F24B1/18; F24B1/192; F24B1/198; F24C3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BASICHAS, ALFRED
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PERKINS COIE LLP - SEA General (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A fireplace installation assembly, comprising: a furniture unit comprising a decorative front facing portion having an upper portion and a lower portion, the upper portion having an enlarged receptacle therein, and the lower portion adapted to engage a support surface; and a heat-generating fireplace unit positioned in the enlarged receptacle in the upper portion of the furniture unit, the fireplace unit having a firebox configured to contain a fire, and having a viewing portion that provides visibility of the fire in the firebox from exterior of the fireplace unit.

2. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the fireplace unit is a direct vent, gas-burning fireplace assembly.

3. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the fireplace unit is a gas-burning fireplace having an outer housing that contains the firebox, and a burner assembly in the firebox.

4. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the fireplace unit is an electric fireplace.

5. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the fire is a simulated fire.

6. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the furniture unit includes a substantially horizontal support portion connected to the front facing portion adjacent to the receptacle, the fireplace unit being supported on the support portion.

7. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the furniture unit is a tall self-supporting unit positionable on the ground in a standing configuration.

8. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the lower portion of the furniture unit is a display area.

9. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the furniture unit is one of a book case, an entertainment center, an armoire, a cabinet, a hutch, a dresser, and a storage area.

10. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the firebox of the fireplace unit has an interior volume of a first shape, and the fireplace unit further includes a surround contained in the firebox and shaped to define a second volume that has a second shape different from the first shape.

11. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the fireplace unit includes a surround in the firebox defining a heat shield away from the firebox.

12. The assembly of claim 10 wherein the surround includes a decorative inner surface in the firebox and partially surrounding the burner assembly, the decorative inner surface being visible from a position exterior of the furniture unit.

13. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the fireplace unit includes a self-supporting, contoured surround removably contained in the firebox and spaced apart from walls of the firebox.

14. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the fireplace unit includes a heat exchanger passageway between the outer housing and the firebox, and a blower coupled to the heat exchanger passageway.

15. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the fireplace unit includes a semi-dome shaped surround forming a heat shield to initially direct heat forwardly away from the back of the firebox.

16. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the upper portion of the furniture unit includes a chimney passageway and the chimney extends through the chimney passage.

17. A fireplace installation assembly connectable to a gas source, comprising: a furniture unit comprising a lower cabinet portion and an upper front face portion extending from the lower cabinet portion, the upper front face portion having an enlarged receptacle therein; and a fireplace unit positioned in the enlarged receptacle in the upper front face portion of the furniture unit, the fireplace unit having an outer housing supported by lower cabinet portion, a firebox contained in the outer housing, and a viewing portion adjacent to the firebox that provides visibility into the firebox for visibility of a fire therein.

18. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the furniture unit is a corner-mounted unit shaped and sized to fit into a corner of a room.

19. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the upper front face portion is integrally connected to the lower cabinet portion.

20. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the firebox of the fireplace unit has an interior volume of a first shape, and the fireplace unit further includes a surround in the firebox and shaped to define a second volume that has a second shape different from the first shape.

21. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the fireplace unit includes a surround in the firebox defining a heat shield away from the firebox.

22. The assembly of claim 21 wherein the surround includes a decorative inner surface visible through the viewing portion from a position exterior of the furniture unit.

23. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the fireplace unit includes a self-supporting, contoured surround removably placed in the firebox and spaced apart from walls of the firebox.

24. The assembly of claim 17 wherein the fireplace unit includes a semi-dome shaped heat shield in the firebox and configured to initially direct heat away from the back of the firebox.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/411,780, filed Apr. 11, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is directed to fireplace installations, and, more particularly, direct vent fireplace units and furniture installations.

SUMMARY

The present invention overcomes limitations of the prior art and provides additional benefits. A brief summary of some embodiments and aspects of the invention are presented. Thereafter, a detailed description of the illustrated embodiments is presented, which will permit one skilled in the relevant art to understand, make, and use aspects of the invention. One skilled in the art can obtain a full appreciation of aspects of the invention from the subsequent detailed description, read together with the figures, and from the claims, which follow the detailed description.

Under one aspect of the invention, a fireplace installation assembly is provided that is connectable to an energy source. The installation assembly includes a furniture unit having a decorative front facing portion with an upper portion and a lower portion. The upper portion has an enlarged receptacle spaced above the ground and adapted to engage a support surface. A fireplace unit is positioned in the receptacle in the furniture unit's upper portion. The fireplace unit has a firebox configured to contain a fire or a simulated fire.

Under another aspect of the invention, a fireplace installation assembly is provided that includes a furniture unit having a lower cabinet portion and an upper front face portion extending from the lower cabinet portion. The upper front face portion having an enlarged receptacle therein. A fireplace unit is positioned in the receptacle in the upper front face portion of the furniture unit. The fireplace unit has a firebox configured to contain a fire or simulated fire. In one embodiment, the fireplace unit has a burner assembly in the firebox, and a contoured surround in the firebox. The contoured surround is spaced apart from the back of the firebox and is positioned between the burner assembly and the firebox.

Under another aspect of the invention, a wall-mounted fireplace installation is provided that is coupleable to a gas source. The wall structure has an enlarged receptacle positioned above the ground (e.g., the floor), and the receptacle is remote from and not surrounded by a fireplace mantel. A fireplace unit is positioned in the receptacle in the wall structure. In one embodiment, the fireplace unit is configured to contain a fire or simulated fire. In another embodiment, the fireplace unit has an outer housing, a firebox contained in the outer housing, and a burner assembly in the firebox coupleable to the gas source. A contoured surround is positioned in the firebox and extends at least partially around the burner assembly between the burner assembly and the firebox. The surround is spaced apart from the firebox to define a heat shield around the burner assembly. An exhaust flue is coupled to the firebox and extends into a portion of the wall structure.

Under another aspect of the invention, a direct vent fireplace unit is provided that is positionable in an enlarged fireplace receptacle above the ground in a furniture unit or in a wall structure not surrounded by a mantel. The fireplace unit has an outer housing and a firebox contained in the outer housing. The firebox has front, rear, and side portions. A burner assembly is positioned in the firebox between the front and rear portions and is coupleable to the gas source. A surround is positioned in the firebox at least partially around the burner assembly between the burner assembly and the rear and side portions of the firebox. The surround is spaced apart from the rear portion of the firebox to define a heat shield around the burner assembly that directs heat toward the front portion of the firebox. A decorative front face is coupled to the outer housing and generally around the front portion of the firebox. The front face has height and width dimensions, the height dimension being greater than the width dimension.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a front elevation view of a fireplace unit in a corner-mounted furniture unit in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 1B is a side elevation view of one embodiment of the furniture unit and fireplace unit of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 2 is a partial front elevation view of a fireplace unit in a furniture unit in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is an exploded, partial front isometric view of the fireplace unit and the furniture unit of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged isometric view of the fireplace unit of FIG. 1A shown removed from the furniture unit.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the fireplace unit taken substantially along lines 5-5 of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged isometric view of a contoured surround shown removed from the fireplace unit of FIG. 4.

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a wall-mounted, fireplace unit shown in a wall above the ground in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Fireplace installations in furniture units and wall structures are described in detail herein in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. In the following description, numerous specific details are discussed to provide a thorough and enabling description for embodiments of the invention. One skilled in the relevant art, however, will recognize that the invention can be practiced without one or more of the specific details. In other instances, well-known structures or operations are not shown, or are not described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the invention. In general, alternatives and alternate embodiments described herein are substantially similar to the previously described embodiments, and common elements are identified by the same reference numbers.

FIG. 1A is a front elevation view of a furniture-mounted fireplace installation 10 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The illustrated furniture-mounted fireplace installation 10 includes a fireplace unit 12 mounted in a furniture unit 14. The fireplace unit 12 of the illustrated embodiment is a self-contained, gas-burning direct vent fireplace insert coupled to a fuel gas source 16. In alternate embodiments, the fireplace unit 12 can be a wood-burning fireplace, a pellet-burning fireplace, an electric fireplace, or other fireplace unit that generates heat and provides aesthetically pleasing fire or simulated fire within the unit and visible to a person from a location exterior of the fireplace unit. The fireplace unit 12 is configured to provide heat into the room in which the fireplace installation 10 is located when the fireplace unit is activated, while also providing very aesthetically pleasing fire framed by the furniture unit 14. The fireplace unit 12 fits seamlessly within the furniture unit 14 and provides a very attractive addition to a room or an outside area.

The furniture unit 14 illustrated in FIG. 1A is a movable corner-mounted highboy having an upper portion 18 and a lower portion 20. The front side 22 of the furniture unit 14 faces into a room 24 or the like, and the backside 26 is shaped and sized to correspond to a corner 28 of the room 24. The furniture unit 14 is configured to support and contain the fireplace unit 12 in the upper portion 18 above the ground 30 and above the furniture unit's lower portion 20. It is to be understood that the ground 30 can be a floor, a foundation, the earth, or other support surface on which the furniture unit 14 is positioned. The lower portion 20 of the illustrated furniture unit 14 includes a display area 32 for displaying selected items, such as artwork or the like. In alternate embodiments, the display area 32 can include multiple display areas, shelves, drawers, doors, or other selected features for the decorative furniture unit 14.

In one embodiment, the furniture unit 14 has full length side walls and a top wall that extend from the front side 22 into the corner 28. FIG. 1B is a side elevation view of an alternate embodiment of the fireplace installation of FIG. 1A. The front side 22 of the furniture unit 14 defines a front face extending along the upper and lower portions 18 and 20. The upper portion 18 has no side walls or top extending from the front side 22. Accordingly, the front side 22 along the upper portion forms a false front that receives the fireplace unit therein.

The lower portion 20 of the illustrated embodiment is a cabinet-like structure with a substantially horizontal support surface 31 extending from the front side 22. The support surface 31 is positioned so a portion of the fireplace unit 12 sits on and is supported by the support surface. In one embodiment, the furniture unit's lower portion 20 can have finished side walls that support the horizontal support surface 31. In other embodiments, the lower portion 20 does not have (or need) full side walls, and the horizontal support surface can be supported by vertical legs or fixtures that mount to the wall.

FIG. 2 is a partial front elevation view of a fireplace unit 12 in an alternate furniture unit 34 in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention. The furniture unit 34 in the illustrated embodiment is a tall, narrow, rectangular cabinet structure configured to be positioned along a flat portion of a wall. The furniture unit 34 of FIG. 2 also has an upper portion 18 positioned above the ground (not shown) by a selected distance. The fireplace unit 12 is contained in the upper portion 18. In one embodiment, the fireplace unit 12 is positioned so the middle area of the fireplace unit is slightly below eye level of an average adult person standing in the room 24. Other embodiments can have the fireplace unit 12 at other heights above the floor. In one embodiment, the fireplace unit 12 is a gas-burning fireplace. In another embodiment, the fireplace unit 12 is an electric fireplace. In another embodiment, the fireplace unit is a direct-vent fireplace, and in another embodiment the fireplace unit is a wood-burning or pellet-burning fireplace.

While the furniture unit 14 of FIGS. 1A and 1B is a corner-mounted highboy-type structure, and the furniture unit 34 of FIG. 2 is a tall, narrow decorative cabinet, other embodiments can include other styles of furniture units that receive the fireplace unit 12. As an example, the furniture unit 14 can be a bookcase, an entertainment center, an armoire, a cabinet, a hutch, a dresser, a storage area, a corner-mounted unit, a generally rectangular unit, a rounded or curved display unit, or the like. Accordingly, the furniture unit 14 provides a decorative piece that receives and surrounds the fireplace unit 12 and alleviates the need for a conventional mantel and hearth to frame the fireplace unit. The furniture unit 14 can be constructed of a variety of materials, including, but not limited to, wood, pressboard, marble, stone, cement, metal, composite materials, or the like.

FIG. 3 is an exploded, partial isometric view of the fireplace installation 10 of FIG. 1A. The furniture unit 14 of the illustrated embodiment has an enlarged receptacle 36 in the front side 22 of the furniture unit's upper portion 18. The receptacle 36 is shaped and sized to receive and contain the fireplace unit 12, so the fireplace unit is substantially surrounded and framed by the furniture unit 14. The furniture unit 14 can include a chimney passageway 38 sized to receive a direct vent chimney 40 that extends from the fireplace unit 12. In the illustrated embodiment, the direct vent chimney 40 includes an exhaust flue 41 concentrically arranged with an air intake flue 42. The direct vent chimney 40 is sealably connected to a flue adapter 44 on the top or back of the fireplace unit 12. In an alternate embodiment, the upper portion 18 of the furniture unit 14 can be configured to allow for two separate, non-concentric flues (e.g., the exhaust flue 41 and the air intake flue 42) to be connected to the top or back of the fireplace unit 12. The chimney passageway 38 and the direct vent chimney 40 of the illustrated embodiment extend toward the top of the furniture unit 14, although alternate embodiments can have the chimney passageway and the direct vent chimney extending out the back or side of the furniture unit 14.

The furniture unit 14 can also have a fuel gas passageway 46 therein that receives a gas line 48, which carries the fuel gas from the fuel gas source 16 to the fireplace unit 12. The fuel gas passageway 46 and the gas line 48 can be routed through the furniture unit 14 in a variety of locations to provide the necessary connection to the fireplace unit 12. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1B wherein the upper portion 18 has no sides or top, the gas line 18 connects directly to the fireplace unit 12 without having to actually extend through the furniture unit.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged isometric view of the fireplace unit 12 shown removed from the furniture unit 14 of FIGS. 1A and 1B. As best seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, the fireplace unit 12 is a direct-vent, gas-burning fireplace unit that includes a contoured outer housing 50 that fits into the receptacle 36 in the furniture unit 14 (FIG. 3). In the illustrated embodiment, the outer housing 50 is shaped with a generally triangular back portion to correspond to the corner-mounted configuration of the furniture unit 14 (FIG. 3). In alternate embodiments, the outer housing 50 can have other shapes that correspond to the desired shape relative to the furniture unit 14.

The outer housing 50 has an interior area that contains a firebox 52. The firebox 52 is spaced apart from the outer housing 50 to define heat exchange passageways 54 between the firebox and the outer housing. The heat exchange passageways 54 are adapted to direct a flow of air around the firebox 52 so a flow of air moving from the room 24 through the fireplace unit 12 is heated before the air is blown out of the fireplace unit back into the room. The fireplace unit 12 can include a blower coupled to the heat exchange passageways 54 to facilitate the flow of air through the fireplace unit.

The firebox 52 contains a burner assembly 56, such as the Ember Fyre® burner assembly manufactured by Travis Industries Inc. of Kirkland, Wash. The burner assembly 56 is a contoured burner assembly that provides a simulated coal bed, which supports simulated logs and simulates a real wood burning fire, as is seen in FIG. 1A. The firebox 52 also contains a thermally insulative, semi-dome-shaped surround 58 positioned adjacent to the burner assembly 56 so as to partially extend around the burner assembly. This heat shield at least partially shields the sides and back of the firebox from the initial heat generated by burning fuel gas at the burner assembly 56.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the fireplace unit 12 taken substantially along lines 5-5 of FIG. 4. FIG. 6 is an enlarged isometric view of the surround 58 shown removed from the fireplace unit 12 of FIG. 4. The illustrated surround 58 is a contoured, arcuate member having a semi-cylindrical body portion 60 integrally connected to a quarter-spherical top portion 62 that forms a partial dome-like top structure above the burner assembly 56. Accordingly, the contoured surround 58 defines a volume having a shape different from the shape of the interior of the firebox 52 (FIG. 5). In the illustrated embodiment, the surround 58 is self-supporting and is removably contained in the firebox 52. The surround 58 is set flush onto the bottom of the firebox 52 around the burner assembly 56 without requiring additional mounting brackets or structures to hold the surround in place. In other embodiments, the surround 58 can be fastened or otherwise secured to the firebox 52 on burner assembly 56.

The front side of the surround 58 defines an arched opening that allows for visibility from the front of the fireplace unit 12 into the surround's interior area 59 and to the burner assembly 56. The surround 58 is shaped in size so that, when a person looks into the firebox 52, a decorative interior surface 64 of the surround 58 around the burner assembly 56 is visible, but side walls and back area of the firebox are blocked from view by the surround 58. The decorative interior surface 64 has a selected pattern or shape that can be any one of a variety of decorative designs. In the illustrated embodiment, the decorative interior surface 64 has a sculpted, shell-type appearance along the quarter-spherical top portion 62, and a smooth arcuate surface on the semi-cylindrical body portion 60. Alternate embodiments can have decorative interior surfaces 64 with designs that simulate bricks, tiles, or a variety of other decorative configurations. Other alternate embodiments can have a surround 58 with a shape different from the illustrated semi-dome shape, while being self-supporting, so the surround stands up in the firebox 52 around the burner assembly 56.

In the illustrated embodiment, the surround 58 is made of a molded ceramic material capable of withstanding the significant heat generated by the burner assembly 56. In one embodiment, the surround 58 can be made of a material or composition of materials so the portions of the surround could change in color when a fire is burning in the firebox 52. Other embodiments can provide surrounds 58 made of other fire-resistant, thermally insulative materials.

As best seen in FIG. 5, the contoured surround 58 is positioned between the burner assembly 56 and the sides and back of the firebox 52. The contoured surround 58 acts as a heat shield that directs heat forwardly toward the open front portion of the firebox 52. In the illustrated embodiment, the surround 58 acts as a baffle and has integral exhaust passageways 65 along the side portions that direct the hot exhaust gases from within the area of the surround back into the upper portion of the firebox 52 and to the exhaust flue 41 of the direct vent chimney 40. Accordingly, the surround 58 substantially increases the heat efficiency of the fireplace unit 12, and helps keep the back area of the firebox 52 and the backside of the outer housing 12 at cooler temperatures. These cooler temperatures allow the fireplace unit 12 to be mounted in the receptacle 36 of the furniture unit 14 (FIG. 3) without requiring an excessive air space for safety purposes.

As best seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, the front of the firebox 52 is open to provide access into the firebox, such as for maintenance of the burner assembly 56. The open front of the firebox 52 is sealably covered by glass 66 or the like that allows for viewing into the firebox when there is a fire burning at the burner assembly 56. A plurality of conventional controls 68 are mounted in the outer housing 50 below the firebox 52 that allows a user to control the burner assembly 56 for operation of the fireplace unit 12.

As best seen in FIGS. 1A, 1B and 3, the fireplace unit 12 has a decorative fireplace frame 70 mounted to the front side of the outer housing 50 (FIG. 3) and around the receptacle 36 in the furniture unit 14. The frame 70 has an arcuate opening 72 positioned adjacent to the glass that allows a person to look into the fireplace unit 12 to see the decorative interior surface 64 of the surround 58, the burner assembly 56, and a fire burning within the firebox 52. In the illustrated embodiment, the outer housing 50, the surround 58, and the frame 70 have a “portrait” shape, wherein the height dimensions are greater than the width dimensions. As a result, the tall, thin fireplace unit 12 provides an aesthetically proportioned shape relative to the selected furniture unit 14 to provide a very handsome fireplace installation 10.

In one embodiment, the glass 66 covering the open front of the firebox 52 is conventional tempered, high temperature, nonglare glass. In another embodiment, the glass 66 has a reflective characteristic, such as a half-silvered coating, that forms a one-way mirror. Accordingly, when there is no fire within the fireplace unit 12 and the light in the room 24 (FIG. 1A) is brighter than the light in the firebox 52, the glass 66 provides a mirror-type reflection when looking at it from outside the firebox (e.g., from the room). When the burner assembly 56 is activated and a fire is started within the firebox 52, the light from within the firebox is greater than the light outside of the fireplace unit 12, so that a person can see the fire through the glass instead of seeing the reflection.

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a wall-mounted fireplace installation 74 in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the invention. This installation 74 includes a wall 76 having an enlarged receptacle 78 formed therein that receives the fireplace unit 12. In the illustrated embodiment, the direct vent chimney 40 is shaped and sized to extend through or within the wall 76 so as to communicate with outside air. The receptacle 78 is positioned well above the floor 80 and is positioned at a location remote from and not surrounded by a conventional mantel of a fireplace. In one embodiment, the receptacle 78 and the fireplace unit 12 are positioned so that the middle of the firebox is roughly at eye level for an average adult standing up.

In the illustrated embodiment, the outer housing 50 of the fireplace unit 12 and the glass 66 are generally flush with the wall 76, and the frame 70 is mounted against the wall, thereby providing the decorative frame around the glass 66 and firebox 52, respectively. The glass 66 can be transparent or it can be a one-way mirror, as discussed above. When the glass 66 is a one-way mirror, the frame 70 can have an appearance of being a decorative mirror frame.

The above description of illustrated embodiments of the invention is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. While specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described herein for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications are possible within the scope of the invention, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize. The teachings of the invention provided herein can be applied to other direct vent fireplace installations, not necessarily the particular installations described above.

While certain aspects of the invention are presented below in certain claim forms, the inventor contemplates the various aspects of the invention in any number of claim forms. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the invention to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and claims, but should be construed to include all components and methods of manufacturing the components in accordance with the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not limited by the disclosure, but instead the scope of the invention is to be determined entirely by the claims.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited except as by the appended claims.