Title:
Snow removal system capable of melting snow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable electric snow/ice melter has adjustable legs whereby it can be easily used to melt snow and/or ice of varying depths.



Inventors:
Altizer, James M. (Louisville, KY, US)
Altizer, Helen (Louisville, KY, US)
Application Number:
11/386432
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
03/22/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01H5/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BEACH, THOMAS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SUNG I. OH, PROFESSIONAL LAW CORPORATION (WEST COVINA, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A snow/ice melter comprising: A) a housing having (1) a first surface that is a top surface when the housing is in use, (2) a second surface that is a bottom surface when the housing is in use, (3) a thickness dimension which extends between the first surface and the second surface, (4) a first end which is a forward end when the housing is in use, (5) a second end which is a rear end when the housing is in use, (6) a top element removably mounted on the housing, and (7) an interior chamber defined in the housing; B) a heating unit on the housing, the heating unit including (1) an electrical heater located on the bottom surface of the housing, (2) a power transformer located in the interior chamber and electrically connected to the electrical heater, and (3) a power cord electrically connected to the power transformer and adapted to be electrically connected to a utility power source; C) a handle having one end connected to the housing and having a hand grip element on a second end; D) a heating unit control system which includes (1) an on/off switch located on the first end of the housing and electrically connected to the heating unit, (2) a power level adjustment switch located on the first end of the housing and which is electrically connected to the heating unit, and (3) a power cord attachment unit on the first end of the housing and which is electrically connected to the heating unit; E) four adjustable legs mounted on the housing, each leg including (1) a first portion fixed to the housing, (2) a second portion that is telescopingly connected to the first portion, (3) set pin holes defined through the first portion and through the second portion, and (4) a set pin which fits through the set pin holes to couple the second portion to the first portion; F) two wheels rotatably mounted on the second portion of two of the adjustable legs, respectively; and G) a power cord holder mounted on the first end of the housing.

2. A snow/ice melter comprising: A) a housing, the housing having a bottom surface, a forward end, and a rear end; B) an electrical heater located on the bottom surface of the housing, C) a handle having one end connected to the rear end of the housing and having a hand grip element on a second end; E) four adjustable legs mounted on the forward and rear ends of the housing, each leg including (1) a first portion fixed to the housing, (2) a second portion that is telescopingly connected to the first portion, (3) set pin holes defined through the first portion and through the second portion, and (4) a set pin which fits through the set pin holes to couple the second portion to the first portion; and F) two wheels rotatably mounted on the second portion of two of the four adjustable legs on the forward end of the housing, and no wheels on the two of the four adjustable legs on the rear end of the housing.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention present relates in general to snow melting devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to a portable snow melting device which may be applied to the surface of snow to warm the snow and initiate melting thereof.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A snowfall may be exciting for children—who look forward to fun in the snow, but can be aggravating to adults—who anticipate hours of back-breaking snow removal work. Many individuals are injured each year from slipping on snow covered or icy pathways. Although shoveling can remove the snow from the pathway, it requires a large amount of work which many infirm individuals are unable to perform.

Snow removal on sidewalks, walkways, driveways, and patios is traditionally carried out with a shovel. The problems with using a shovel are many. First, a lot of labor is involved with repeatedly undermining the shovel beneath a pile of snow, and then physically lifting the snow away from the sidewalk. Second, the shovel cannot always remove all of the snow. On textured sidewalks and brick or cobblestone driveways, it is not possible to scrape off all snow. Third, on such textured sidewalks and driveways, it is extremely difficult to carry out shoveling at all, since the shovel continually snags upon a brick, stone, or the like. The shovel can even chip bricks and stones, creating a weathered appearance after the winter. A similar problem exists with shoveling snow from uneven or broken sidewalks and driveways.

The removal of snow is generally accomplished by motorized scoops or by shoveling. There are often small snow falls which are not adequately or conveniently dealt with by cumbersome apparatus, and the use of snow shovels becomes heavy work. The snow blower has been around for decades, and provides a less labor intensive snow removal solution for some people. However, the snow blowers typically employ two stroke engines, which are often difficult to start, and require long term storage of gasoline and oil. Further, they are loud and produce the odor of gasoline exhaust as they operate. Thus they are unsuitable for use in tight alleys and near buildings where the fumes could harm people living therein. Furthermore, many of these devices have a large number of moving parts. Such devices are therefore subject to malfunctioning and may require a great deal of upkeep and repair. This will make such devices undesirable for many people.

The inventor is aware of several have snow melting mats have been proposed for melting snow. However, these devices are only suited for installation upon a walkway or other such area prior to a snowfall, so that they can then be activated following the snowfall to cause the snow to melt. However, none of these devices are suited for portable use wherein the device is brought to a location after a snowfall where snow melting is desired, to effect snow melting at that location.

While these units may be suitable for the particular purpose employed, or for general use, they would not be as suitable for the purposes of removing snow or ice from an area such as a patio, walkway or the like. The inventor is also aware of devices such as heated snow shovels. However, heated snow shovels may be inadequate to remove large amounts of snow and may not be adequate at all for removing ice. Ice removal using a shovel, even a heated shovel, will be difficult work, time consuming and may still damage the surface if the shovel is used to chip the ice. Accordingly, even heated snow shovels have many disadvantages.

Since snow falls may create various depths of snow, any device used to remove snow must be adaptable for various snow depths. While shovels will be adaptable, shovels will still have the above-discussed problems. Therefore, there is a need for a device for melting snow or ice which is easy to use and which is adaptable for a wide variety of snow fall depths.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The above-discussed disadvantages of the prior art are overcome by an electrically operated snow/ice melter that operates from standard house utility power. The snow/ice melter has adjustable legs whereby different depths of snow and/or ice can be melted.

Using the snow/ice melter embodying the present invention will permit a user to quickly and easily melt snow and/or ice of nearly any depth. The melter is easy to move and position so even those of limited dexterity or strength can efficiently operate the melter embodying the present invention.

Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the invention will be, or will become, apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features, and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the following claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like referenced numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a snow/ice melter embodying the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an end elevational view of the snow/ice melter shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the figures, it can be understood that the present invention is embodied in a snow/ice melter 10 which overcomes the problems discussed above in relation to existing snow clearing devices. Melter 10 comprises a housing 12 which has a first surface 14 that is a top surface when the housing is in a use condition such as shown in FIG. 1, a second surface 16 that is a bottom surface when the housing is in use and a thickness dimension 18 which extends between the first surface and the second surface. A first end 20 is a forward end when the housing is in use and a second end 22 is a rear end when the housing is in use. A top element 24 is removably mounted on the housing and an interior chamber 26 is defined in the housing.

A heating unit 30 is located on the housing and functions to melt snow or ice located beneath the housing when activated. The heating unit includes an electrical heater 32, such as an electrical resistance wire or the like, located on the bottom surface of the housing.

A power transformer 34 as shown in dotted lines is located in interior chamber 26 and is electrically connected to the electrical heater. Transformer 34 is of the type well known to those skilled in the art and the exact details of the transformer are not important to the present invention and will not be claimed. As such, the details of the transformer will not be discussed. A power cord 36 is electrically connected to power transformer 34 and is adapted, as by including an appropriate plug 38 on one end thereof, to be electrically connected to a utility power source, such as via an electrical outlet in a home.

A handle 40 has one end 42 connected to the housing and has a hand grip element 44 on a second end 46 thereof. Handle 40 is movable in the manner of any well known handle unit so melter 10 can be pushed using handle 40. A heating unit control system 50 is located on one end of the housing and includes an on/off switch 52 located on the first end of the housing. Switch 52 is electrically connected to the heating unit. A power level adjustment switch 56 is located on the first end of the housing and is electrically connected to the heating unit. A plug socket 58 is also located on the end of the housing and is electrically connected to the power transformer so power from a utility source can be transferred to the transformer when the cord 36 is electrically connected to a power outlet and to socket 58. A power cord attachment unit 60 is located on the first end of the housing and is electrically connected to the heating unit.

Four adjustable legs, such as legs 70 and 72, are mounted on the housing. The legs are identical and each leg includes a first portion 74 which is fixed to the housing, a second portion 76 that is telescopingly connected to the first portion to move in the direction of thickness dimension 18 of the housing for adjusting the height of the housing above a ground level to accommodate various snow and/or ice thicknesses. A plurality of set pin holes, such as set pin hole 78, are defined through the first portion and through the second portion, and a set pin, such as set pin 82, fits through the set pin holes to couple the second portion to the first portion in the selected position. Wheels, such as wheels 84 and 86, are rotatably mounted on the second portion of two of the adjustable legs. A power cord holder 90 is mounted on the first end of the housing to store a power cord when the melter is being stored.

Use of melter 10 can be understood from the teaching of the present disclosure and thus will not be discussed in detail. The melter is moved to be located above a patch of ice or snow to be melted. The power cord is connected to the unit and to a power source, the legs are adjusted so the heating unit is located in a desired position, and the unit is activated. The unit is moved as necessary to melt the ice or snow, and can be left on at any desired location to evaporate any water that may remain after the melting step is completed.

While various embodiments of the invention have been described, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents.