Title:
FIREPLACE WITH AIR MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fireplace configured for reducing the heating, and hence the temperature, of the surface above the front face of the fireplace. The fireplace includes an air management system for separating one or more relatively warm air stream from one or more relatively cool air stream. The relatively cooler air stream exiting the fireplace may be drawn by the relatively warmer air exiting the fireplace into flowing upwards along a surface above the front face of the fireplace. An insulating layer of relatively cooler air may form between said surface and the relatively warmer air exiting the fireplace.



Inventors:
Berg, Richard Donald (Lakeville, MN, US)
Weir, Todd (Edina, MN, US)
Early, Thomas Alfred (Hager City, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/276640
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
03/08/2006
Assignee:
HNI Technologies Inc. (Muscatine, IA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24B1/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BASICHAS, ALFRED
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A fireplace, comprising: an outer enclosure; a combustion chamber enclosure positioned within and spaced apart from said outer enclosure; and a flow divider within the space between a top wall of said combustion chamber enclosure and a top wall of said outer enclosure.

2. The fireplace of claim 1, wherein said flow divider extends from a back of said fireplace to a front of said fireplace.

3. The fireplace of claim 2, wherein said flow divider angles upward as said flow divider extends from the back to the front of said fireplace.

4. The fireplace of claim 1, further comprising: a first flow path defined by the space between the top wall of said outer enclosure and said flow divider; and a second flow path defined by the space between said flow divider and the top wall of said combustion chamber enclosure.

5. The fireplace of claim 4, wherein said first flow path is in fluid communication with a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

6. The fireplace of claim 5, wherein said first flow path is in fluid communication with said conditioned space above a portion of a front face of said fireplace.

7. The fireplace of claim 5, wherein said first flow path is in fluid communication with said conditioned space above a center portion of a front face of said fireplace.

8. The fireplace of claim 5, including said first flow path in fluid communication with a source of air from outside said conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

9. The fireplace of claim 8, wherein said source of air is outdoor air.

10. The fireplace of claim 8, wherein said source of air is a fireplace chase.

11. The fireplace of claim 8, wherein said source of air is a conditioned space different from said conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

12. The fireplace of claim 8, wherein said source of air is an unconditioned space.

13. The fireplace of claim 8, wherein said source of air is a basement of a structure wherein said fireplace is located.

14. The fireplace of claim 8, further comprising a flow damper, said flow damper configured to regulate flow from said source of air.

15. The fireplace of claim 14, wherein said flow damper is motorized.

16. The fireplace of claim 14, wherein said flow damper is gravity operated.

17. The fireplace of claim 5, including said first flow path in fluid communication with a source of air from within a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

18. The fireplace of claim 4, wherein said second flow path is in fluid communication with a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

19. The fireplace of claim 4, wherein air in said first flow path is relatively cooler than air in said second flow path.

20. The fireplace of claim 19, wherein air exiting said first flow path mixes with air exiting said second flow path.

21. The fireplace of claim 4, wherein a front edge of said flow divider is configured as a flow diverter.

22. The fireplace of claim 21, wherein said front edge is angled in a generally upward direction.

23. The fireplace of claim 21, wherein said front edge is angled in a generally downward direction.

24. The fireplace of claim 4, wherein air exiting said first flow path forms an air layer along and adjacent a surface above a front face of said fireplace.

25. The fireplace of claim 24, wherein said air exiting said first flow path separates air exiting said second flow path from said surface above said fireplace.

26. The fireplace of claim 4, further comprising a third flow path defined by the space between bottom walls, side walls and back walls of said combustion chamber enclosure and said outer enclosure.

27. The fireplace of claim 26, wherein said third flow path is in fluid communication with a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

28. The fireplace of claim 26, wherein said first flow path is in fluid communication with said third flow path.

29. The fireplace of claim 26, wherein said second flow path is in fluid communication with said third flow path.

30. The fireplace of claim 26, wherein said flow divider divides said third flow path into said first flow path and said second flow path.

31. The fireplace of claim 26, wherein air in said third flow path is heated by said fireplace.

32. The fireplace of claim 26, wherein: air from a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located enters said third flow path; said flow divider divides the air in said third flow path into a first air stream entering said first flow path and a second air stream entering said second flow path; said second air stream in said second flow path exits into said conditioned space; and said first air stream in said first flow path exits into said conditioned space as an air layer along and adjacent a surface above a front face of said fireplace.

33. The fireplace of claim 32, wherein said first air stream exits between said second air stream exiting said second flow path and said surface above said fireplace.

34. The fireplace of claim 32, wherein said first air stream exits as an air curtain.

35. The fireplace of claim 32, wherein said first air stream exits as an air film along said surface above said fireplace.

36. The fireplace of claim 32, wherein said first air stream is relatively cooler than said second air stream.

37. The fireplace of claim 32, wherein said surface above said front face of said fireplace is relatively cooler than in absence of said first air stream.

38. The fireplace of claim 32, wherein a temperature of said surface above said front face of said fireplace is relatively lower than in absence of said first air stream.

39. The fireplace of claim 32, wherein said first air stream and said second air stream mix upon exiting said fireplace.

40. The fireplace of claim 26, wherein: air from a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located enters said third flow path; the air in said third flow path flows through said second flow path and exits into said conditioned space; and air from a source of air outside said conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located enters said first flow path and exits into said conditioned space as an air layer along and adjacent a surface above a front face of said fireplace.

41. The fireplace of claim 40, wherein said first air stream exits between said second air stream exiting said second flow path and said surface above said fireplace.

42. The fireplace of claim 40, wherein said source of air is outdoor air.

43. The fireplace of claim 40, wherein said source of air is a fireplace chase.

44. The fireplace of claim 40, wherein said source of air is a conditioned space different from said conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

45. The fireplace of claim 40, wherein said source of air is an unconditioned space.

46. The fireplace of claim 40, wherein said source of air is a basement of a structure wherein said fireplace is located.

47. The fireplace of claim 40, wherein air in said first flow path and air in said second flow path mix upon exiting said fireplace.

48. The fireplace of claim 26, wherein: air from a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located enters said third flow path; the air in said third flow path flows through said second flow path and exits into said conditioned space; and air from said conditioned space enters said first flow path and exits into said conditioned space as an air layer along and adjacent a surface above a front face of said fireplace.

49. The fireplace of claim 48, wherein said first air stream exits between said second air stream exiting said second flow path and said surface above said fireplace.

50. The fireplace of claim 48, wherein air in said first flow path and air in said second flow path mix upon exiting said fireplace.

51. The fireplace of claim 1, further comprising at least one or more air blower.

52. The fireplace of claim 1, wherein one or more sides of said flow divider are fixedly attached to one or more surfaces of said outer enclosure.

53. The fireplace of claim 1, further comprising one or more flow paths along said one or more surfaces of said outer enclosure.

54. The fireplace of claim 53, wherein said one or more flow paths is defined by one or more openings between said one or more surfaces of said outer enclosure and an adjacent side of said flow divider.

55. The fireplace of claim 1, wherein one or more sides of said flow divider are snugly attached to one or more surfaces of said outer enclosure.

56. The fireplace of claim 55, further comprising one or more flow paths along said one or more surfaces of said outer enclosure.

57. The fireplace of claim 56, wherein said one or more flow paths is defined by one or more openings between said one or more surfaces of said outer enclosure and an adjacent side of said flow divider.

58. The fireplace of claim 1, wherein said flow divider comprises a heat insulator material.

59. The fireplace of claim 1, wherein said flow divider is a heat insulating material.

60. A method for reducing a temperature of a surface above a front face of a fireplace, the method comprising the step of distinguishing air exiting said fireplace into a first air stream and a second air stream, wherein said first air stream forms an air layer along and adjacent a surface above a front face of said fireplace.

61. The method of claim 60, wherein said first air stream exits said fireplace above said second air stream.

62. The method according to claim 60, wherein said first air stream is relatively cooler than said second air stream.

63. The method of claim 60, wherein said first air stream entering said fireplace comprises air from a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

64. The method of claim 60, wherein said first air stream entering said fireplace comprises a source of air other than a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

65. The method of claim 64, wherein said source of air is outside air.

66. The method of claim 60, further comprising the step of drawing a third air stream into said fireplace.

67. The method of claim 66, wherein said third air stream is drawn from a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

68. A method for reducing the heating of a surface above a front face of a fireplace, the method comprising the step of dividing air exiting said fireplace into a first air stream and a second air stream, wherein said first air stream forms an air layer along and adjacent a surface above a front face of said fireplace.

69. A fireplace, comprising means for reducing a temperature of a surface above a front face of a fireplace.

70. The fireplace of claim 69, further comprising means for enabling a layer of relatively cooler air along and adjacent said surface above said fireplace.

71. A fireplace, comprising: an outer enclosure; a combustion chamber enclosure positioned within and spaced apart from said outer enclosure; and at least one flow channel along at least one surface of said outer enclosure, said flow channel spaced apart from said combustion chamber enclosure.

72. The fireplace of claim 71, wherein said flow channel traverses a depth of said outer enclosure.

73. The fireplace of claim 72, wherein said flow channel extends along a top surface between a front and a back of said outer enclosure.

74. The fireplace of claim 72, wherein said flow channel extends along a bottom surface between a front and a back of said outer enclosure.

75. The fireplace of claim 71, wherein said flow channel traverses a height of said outer enclosure.

76. The fireplace of claim 75, wherein said flow channel extends along a back surface between a bottom and a top of said outer enclosure.

77. The fireplace of claim 71, wherein said flow channel traverses a height of said outer enclosure, and wherein said flow channel further traverses at least one depth of said outer enclosure.

78. The fireplace of claim 71, wherein said flow channel comprises a continuous channel traversing: the depth of said outer enclosure along a bottom surface of said outer enclosure; the height of said outer enclosure along a back surface of said outer enclosure; and the depth of said outer enclosure along a top surface of said outer enclosure.

79. The fireplace of claim 71, wherein said flow channel is in fluid communication with a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located.

80. The fireplace of claim 71, wherein said flow channel is in fluid communication with a conditioned space wherein said fireplace is located and said flow channel is in further fluid communication with a source of air other than said conditioned space.

81. The fireplace of claim 80, wherein said source of air is outdoor air.

82. The fireplace of claim 71, wherein said flow channel is along a top surface of said outer enclosure.

83. The fireplace of claim 71, further comprising an air blower.

84. A fireplace, comprising: an outer enclosure; a combustion chamber enclosure positioned within and spaced apart from said outer enclosure; one or more flow divider in the space between a surface of said outer enclosure and a corresponding surface of said combustion chamber enclosure.

85. The fireplace of claim 84, wherein said one or more flow divider is on a left side of said fireplace.

86. The fireplace of claim 84, wherein said one or more flow divider is on a right side of said fireplace.

87. The fireplace of claim 84, wherein said one or more flow divider extends from a back of said fireplace to a front of said fireplace.

88. The fireplace of claim 84, wherein air exiting from a space between said one or more flow divider and said surface of said outer enclosure is relatively cooler than air exiting from a space between said one or more flow divider and said corresponding surface of said combustion chamber enclosure.

89. The fireplace of claim 84, wherein said one or more flow divider extends from said surface of said outer enclosure to said corresponding surface of said combustion chamber enclosure.

90. The fireplace of claim 89, wherein air exiting from a space above said one or more flow divider is relatively cooler than air exiting from a space below said one or more flow divider.

91. The fireplace of claim 84, further comprising: said one or more flow divider on a left side of said fireplace; and said one or more flow divider on a right side of said fireplace.

92. The fireplace of claim 84, further comprising: said one or more flow divider between a side surface of said outer enclosure and a corresponding side surface of said combustion chamber enclosure; and said one or more flow divider between a top surface of said outer enclosure and a top surface of said combustion chamber enclosure.

93. The fireplace of claim 84, further comprising: said one or more flow divider between a left side surface of said outer enclosure and a corresponding left side surface of said combustion chamber enclosure; said one or more flow divider between a right side surface of said outer enclosure and a corresponding right side surface of said combustion chamber enclosure; and said one or more flow divider between a top surface of said outer enclosure and a top surface of said combustion chamber enclosure.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to a fireplace. More specifically, the invention relates to a fireplace used for heating the conditioned space wherein it is located. In particular, the invention pertains to a fireplace design for reducing the temperature of a surface above the front face of the fireplace.

BACKGROUND

Fireplaces have typically been used for decorative purposes, heating a conditioned space, or both. Most fireplaces, and in particular the ones used for heating, typically include a combustion chamber enclosure positioned within and space apart from an outer enclosure. Such configurations inherently include an air space between the combustion chamber enclosure and the outer enclosure. The space between the combustion chamber enclosure and the outer enclosure further provides openings at the top and bottom of the front face of the fireplace. Air may enter and/or exit the air space through these top and bottom openings.

In one instance, air may be drawn into the air space through the bottom opening and exit the air space through the top opening. Air entering the air space may be from one or more sources and/or a combination of sources. For instance, air entering the air space may be from the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located, and/or it may be from a source outside the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located such as from outdoors. Air entering the air space may be drawn in by natural convection or by forced convection such as with an air blower.

When the fireplace is in operation, relatively cooler air is drawn into the air space wherein it gets heated by the heat of combustion transferred through the combustion chamber enclosure, and the heated air exits the air space through the top opening. The relatively warmer air may flow up along the surface, such as a wall, above the top opening in the front face of the fireplace. The warm air heats the surface, and in some instances, depending upon the intensity of the combustion process, the surface may become untouchable by having been heated to a relatively high temperature. To one skilled in the art, it will be obvious that the surface above the fireplace will most likely be the hottest in instances when natural convection drives the flow of air through the air space.

Accordingly, there is a need in the art for a fireplace designed to reduce the heating of the surface above the front face of the fireplace, and thereby reduce the temperature of the surface.

SUMMARY

The instant invention provides a fireplace designed to reduce the heating, and hence reduce the temperature, of a surface above the front face of the fireplace.

In one embodiment of the present invention, a flow divider placed in the air space at the top of the fireplace, i.e., in the air space between the top surface of the combustion chamber enclosure and the top surface of the outer enclosure, may define two distinctly separate air flow paths. The flow divider may further define two separate ports for the air exiting the top opening. A relatively cooler air stream may flow through a first flow path defined between the top wall of the outer enclosure and the flow divider, and exit through a first port in the top opening; and a relatively warmer air stream may flow through a second flow path defined between the flow divider and the top wall of the combustion chamber enclosure, and exit through a second port in the top opening.

In an embodiment of the invention, the relatively cooler air exiting the first port may be drawn by the relatively warmer air exiting the second port into develop into an air film traversing up along the surface above the fireplace. This air film of relatively cooler air may function as an insulating layer separating the surface above the fireplace from the relatively warmer air exiting the second port.

In one embodiment of the present invention, air entering the first flow path may be a portion of the air entering the air space between the outer enclosure and the combustion chamber enclosure, through an opening at the bottom of the front face of the fireplace. In another embodiment, air entering the flow path may be the air directly from the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. In a further embodiment, air entering the flow path may be from a source outside the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. One example of such source for air may be the outdoors.

Another embodiment of the instant invention may include a continuous flow path defined by a channel along the surfaces of the outer enclosure wherein the channel may be spaced apart from the combustion chamber enclosure. In one such embodiment, the channel may traverse the depth between the front and the back of the bottom surface of the outer enclosure, continuing to traverse the height between the top and bottom of the back surface of the outer enclosure, and further continuing to traverse the depth between the front and the back of the top surface of the outer enclosure. Air from the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located may be drawn into the flow channel along the bottom surface of the outer enclosure, and exit at the top front face of the fireplace. The relatively cooler air may be drawn by the relatively warmer air exiting from the top front face of the fireplace into develop into an air film traversing up along the surface above the fireplace. This air film of relatively cooler air may function as an insulating layer separating the surface above the fireplace from the relatively warmer air also exiting from the top front face of the fireplace.

In an alternate embodiment, the flow channel may be along the back and top surfaces of the outer enclosure. In another embodiment, the flow channel may be in the top surface of the outer enclosure. In yet another embodiment, air drawn into the flow channel may be from a source of air outside the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. In one such instance, the source of air may be the outdoors.

In one embodiment of the present invention, air may be drawn into and exit from the air space due to natural convection. In another embodiment, an air blower may be employed to induce air flow through the air space. In yet another embodiment of the present invention, air may be drawn into and exit from the air channel due to natural convection. In a further embodiment, an air blower may be employed to induce air flow through the air channel.

While multiple embodiments of the instant invention are disclosed, still other embodiments may become apparent to those skilled in the art. The following detailed description shows and describes illustrative embodiments of the present invention. As will be realized, the embodiment are capable of modifications in various aspects, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the instant invention. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of a conventional fireplace.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a fireplace according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a front view of an embodiment of a fireplace of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a front view of another embodiment of a fireplace of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a side view of a fireplace according to a further embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a side view of yet another embodiment of a fireplace of the present invention.

FIG. 7 shows an embodiment of a flow channel associated with a fireplace of the present invention.

FIG. 8 shows another embodiment of a flow channel for a fireplace of the instant invention.

FIG. 9 is a side view of an embodiment of a fireplace of the present invention.

FIG. 10A illustrates an alternate embodiment of a flow divider.

FIG. 10B illustrates a further embodiment of a flow divider.

FIG. 11 is a plan view showing an embodiment of a flow divider.

FIG. 12 is a front view of another embodiment of a fireplace comprising more than one flow divider.

FIG. 13 is a front view of yet another embodiment of a fireplace comprising more than one flow divider.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A conventional fireplace 10, shown in FIG. 1, may include combustion chamber enclosure 14 positioned within and spaced apart from outer enclosure 12. Fireplace 10 may also include air space 16 defined by the space between enclosures 12 and 14. Air stream 20 may be drawn into air space 16 and exit fireplace 10 as air stream 22. Upon exiting from fireplace 10, a portion of air stream 22 may flow upwards and along surface 24 above the front face of fireplace 10. Entering air stream 20 and exiting air stream 22 may be induced either by natural convection or by an air blower (not shown) located within air space 16. During operation of fireplace 10, air stream 20 may be drawn into air space 16 wherein it may be heated by the heat of combustion transferred through the surfaces of combustion chamber enclosure 14, and exit fireplace 10 as a relatively warm air stream 22. The temperature of air stream 22 may be a function of the intensity of the combustion process within combustion chamber enclosure 14. As previously stated, a portion of the relatively warm air stream 22 may flow upwards and along surface 24 above the front face of fireplace 10, and thereby heat surface 24 causing an increase in the temperature of surface 24. In some instances, and under certain operating conditions, the temperature of surface 24 may increase to substantially significant levels.

A fireplace 50 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 2. As shown, fireplace 50 may include combustion chamber enclosure 14 disposed within and spaced apart from outer enclosure 12. Fireplace 50 may also include air space 16 defined by the space between enclosures 12 and 14. Fireplace 50 may further include flow divider 52 positioned within the space between top surface 56 of combustion chamber enclosure 14 and top surface 54 of outer enclosure 12. Flow divider 52 may provide a first flow path 58 defined by the space between top surface 54 of outer enclosure 12 and flow divider 52, and a second flow path 66 defined by the space between flow divider 52 and top surface 56 of combustion chamber enclosure 14.

During operation, air stream 20 may be drawn into air space 16, heated, and divided into a first air stream 60 and a second air stream 64. First air stream 60 may flow through first flow path 58 and exit fireplace 50 as air stream 62. Second air stream 64 may flow through second flow path 66 wherein it may be further heated by the heat of combustion transferred through top surface 56 of combustion chamber enclosure 14. Second air stream 64 exiting fireplace 50 as air streams 68 and 70 may be relatively warmer than air stream 62 and may draw the relatively cooler air stream 62 to flow upwards and along surface 24 above the front face of fireplace 50 and function as an insulating layer of relatively cooler air separating surface 24 from the relatively warmer air stream 70 which may also be flowing in a generally upward direction. The relative temperatures of the air streams exiting fireplace 50 may dictate the flow dynamics at the exit. In one embodiment of the present invention, the air streams may mix upon exiting fireplace 50. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the temperature of surface 24 associated with fireplace 50 may be less than the temperature of surface 24 associated with fireplace 10.

In an embodiment of the present invention, flow divider 52 may include a heat insulating material for minimizing heat transfer between flow paths 58 and 66. In an alternate embodiment, flow divider 52 itself may be formed from a heat insulating material.

FIG. 3 is a front view of an embodiment of a fireplace such as fireplace 50 illustrated in FIG. 2. As shown in FIG. 3, flow divider 52 may span the entire width of the opening between top surfaces 54 and 56. In one such instance, first air stream 60 may exit first flow path 58 across a substantial width of the opening between top surface 54 and flow divider 52. Similarly second air stream 64 may exit second flow path 66 across a substantial width of the opening between flow divider 52 and top surface 56.

FIG. 4 is a front view of another embodiment of a fireplace wherein flow divider 80 may not span the entire width of the opening between top surfaces 54 and 56. As shown, flow divider 80 may span a portion of the width of the fireplace, and provide for a first flow path 82 defined between a portion of top surface 54 and flow divider 80. The remainder of the opening between top surfaces 54 and 56 may define a second flow path 84. In one embodiment, flow divider 80 may be centered proximate the center of the front width of top surface 54. In one such instance, relatively cooler first air stream 60 may exit first flow path 82 across a portion of the width of top surface 54 while relatively warmer second air stream 64 may exit second flow path 84 across a substantial width of the opening between top surfaces 54 and 56. The relatively cooler air stream exiting first flow path 82 may be drawn by the relatively warmer air exiting the second port into flowing upwards and along surface 24 above the front face of fireplace 50 and function as an insulating layer of relatively cooler air separating surface 24 from the relatively warmer air stream exiting second flow path 84. The relative temperatures of the air streams exiting fireplace 50 may dictate the flow dynamics at the exit. In one embodiment of the present invention, the air streams may mix upon exiting fireplace 50.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, a side view of fireplace 90 is illustrated in FIG. 5. Fireplace 90 may include combustion chamber enclosure 14 disposed within and spaced apart from outer enclosure 92. Fireplace 90 may also include air space 16 defined by the space between enclosures 92 and 14. Fireplace 90 may further include flow divider 94 positioned within the space between top surface 56 of combustion chamber enclosure 14 and top surface 108 of outer enclosure 92. As shown, flow divider 94 may extend to the rear surface of outer enclosure 92. Flow divider 94 may provide a first flow path 96 defined by the space between top surface 108 of outer enclosure 92 and flow divider 94, and a second flow path 112 defined by the space between flow divider 94 and top surface 56 of combustion chamber enclosure 14. Outer enclosure 92, as shown, may include port 98 through which air stream 100 may enter first flow path 96.

In one embodiment of the present invention, port 98 may include a flow damper 110 for regulating the flow of air stream 100. Damper 110 may be one of several different designs and operational characteristics as is well known in the art. In one instance, damper 110 may be a motorized damper. In another instance, damper 110 may be gravity operated such that port 98 may be closed when damper 110 is in its normal position, and port 98 may be opened when inducement by a draft of air stream 100.

During operation, air stream 100 may be drawn into first flow path 96 and exit fireplace 90 as air stream 102. Also, air stream 20 may be drawn into air space 16, heated, flow through second flow path 112 wherein it may be further heated by the heat of combustion transferred through top surface 56 of combustion chamber enclosure 14, and then exit fireplace 90 as air streams 104 and 106. In one such embodiment, air streams 104 and 106 may be relatively warmer than air stream 102 and may draw the relatively cooler air stream 102 into flowing upwards and along surface 24 above the front face of fireplace 90 and function as an insulating layer of relatively cooler air separating surface 24 from the relatively warmer air stream 106 which may also be flowing in a generally upward direction. The relative temperatures of the air streams exiting fireplace 90 may dictate the flow dynamics at the exit. In one embodiment of the present invention, the air streams may mix upon exiting fireplace 90.

Air stream 100 entering first flow path 96 may be drawn from one or more sources of air, either singularly or in combination. In one embodiment, the source of air stream 100 may be the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. In another embodiment, air stream 100 may be from a source of air other than the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. An example of one such source of air may be the outdoors. Another example of such source of air may be the fireplace chase. Alternately, the source of air may be a conditioned space other than the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. In a further embodiment, the source of air may be an unconditioned space. In some instance, the source of air may be a space such as a basement of the structure wherein the fireplace is located. In an alternate embodiment, air stream 100 may be a combination of air from more than one source. An example of one such combination may be the outdoor and the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, such as that shown in FIG. 6, fireplace 120 may include combustion chamber enclosure 14 disposed within and spaced apart from outer enclosure 122. Fireplace 120 may also include flow channel 126 spaced apart from combustion chamber enclosure 14, and defined as the space between the surfaces of outer enclosure 122 and the surfaces of flow channel enclosure 124.

As illustrated in FIG. 7, flow channel 126 may span a portion of the width of the surfaces of outer enclosure 122. In one such instance, fireplace 120 of FIG. 6 may include air space 130 defined by the space between the surfaces of combustion chamber enclosure 14 and the surfaces of outer enclosure 122, not occupied by flow channel 126. In alternative embodiments of the present invention, a flow channel such as flow channel 126 of FIG. 7 may be formed at any location on the surfaces of outer enclosure 122. For instance, flow channel 126 may be formed along one or more corners of outer enclosure 122. Alternately, flow channel 126 may be formed along a center portion of the surfaces of outer enclosure 122. Several other arrangements are possible, and all such embodiments are considered as falling within the scope of the instant invention.

In a further embodiment shown in FIG. 8, flow channel 140 may traverse across the entire surfaces of outer enclosure 122, and spaced apart from combustion chamber enclosure 14. In one such instance, fireplace 120 of FIG. 6 may include air space 130 defined as the space between the surfaces of combustion chamber enclosure 14 and surfaces 142 of flow channel 140.

During operation, air stream 128 may be drawn into flow channel 126 and exit fireplace 120 as air stream 128. Also, air stream 20 may be drawn into air space 130, heated, and exit fireplace 120 as air streams 132 and 134. In one such embodiment, air streams 132 and 134 may be relatively warmer than air stream 128 and may draw the relatively cooler air stream 128 into flowing upwards and along surface 24 above the front face of fireplace 120 and function as an insulating layer of relatively cooler air separating surface 24 from the relatively warmer air stream 134 which may also be flowing in a generally upward direction. The relative temperatures of the air streams exiting fireplace 120 may dictate the flow dynamics at the exit. In one embodiment of the present invention, the air streams may mix upon exiting fireplace 120.

Air stream 128 entering flow channel 126 may be drawn from one or more sources of air, either singularly or in combination. In one embodiment, the source of air stream 128 may be the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. In another embodiment, air stream 128 may be from a source of air other than the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. An example of one such source of air may be the outdoors. Another example of such source of air may be the fireplace chase. Alternately, the source of air may be a conditioned space other than the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. In a further embodiment, the source of air may be an unconditioned space. In some instance, the source of air may be a space such as a basement of the structure wherein the fireplace is located. In an alternate embodiment, air stream 128 may be a combination of air from more than one source. An example of one such combination may be the outdoor and the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located.

FIG. 9 illustrates a further embodiment of the instant invention wherein fireplace 150 may include combustion chamber enclosure 14 disposed within and spaced apart from outer enclosure 152. In many respects, fireplace 150 may be substantially similar to fireplace 120 of FIG. 6. One primary difference between fireplace 120 and fireplace 150 may be that fireplace 150 may not have a flow channel on the bottom surface of outer enclosure 152. As shown in FIG. 9, flow channel 156 associated with fireplace 150 may traverse the back and top surfaces of outer enclosure 152. Also as shown in FIG. 9, a portion of air stream 20 may flow through flow channel 156. In one instance, the air stream entering flow channel 156 may be drawn from one or more sources of air, either singularly or in combination. In one embodiment, the source of air stream for flow channel 156 may be the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. In another embodiment, the air stream entering flow channel 156 may be from a source of air other than the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located. An example of one such source of air may be the outdoors. In an alternate embodiment, the air stream entering flow channel 156 may be a combination of air from more than one source. An example of one such combination may be the outdoor and the conditioned space wherein the fireplace is located.

During operation, an air stream may be drawn into flow channel 156 and exit fireplace 150 as air stream 158. Also, air stream 20 may be drawn into air space 130, heated, and exit fireplace 150 as air streams 160 and 162. In one such embodiment, air streams 160 and 162 may be relatively warmer than air stream 158 and may draw the relatively cooler air stream 158 into flowing upwards and along surface 24 above the front face of fireplace 150 and function as an insulating layer of relatively cooler air separating surface 24 from the relatively warmer air stream 162 which may also be flowing in a generally upward direction. The relative temperatures of the air streams exiting fireplace 150 may dictate the flow dynamics at the exit. In one embodiment of the present invention, the air streams may mix upon exiting fireplace 150.FIG. 10A shows an alternate embodiment of flow divider 170. Flow divider 170 may include flow diverter 172 in a generally upward direction at the front edge proximate the front face of a fireplace. The generally upward direction of flow diverter 172 may further assist flow stream 174 to flow in an upward direction. Flow divider 170 may further include flow diverter 176 in a generally downward direction at the back edge proximate the back surface of outer enclosure 12. The embodiment of flow divider 170 shown in FIG. 10A may have both a front flow diverter 172 and a rear flow diverter 176. Alternate embodiments of flow divider 170 may include only one of the two flow diverters 172 and 176, and not both. In an embodiment of a fireplace of the present invention, flow diverter 172 may, in addition to the relative temperatures of the air streams exiting the fireplace, dictate the flow dynamics at the exit. In one embodiment of the present invention, the air streams may mix upon exiting the fireplace. One skilled in the art will appreciate the influence of such a flow diverter in the mixing of the air streams exiting the fireplace.

FIG. 10B shows a further embodiment of flow divider 180. Flow divider 180 may include flow diverter 182 in a generally downward direction at the front edge proximate the front face of a fireplace. Top surface 54 of the fireplace may include flow diverter 184 in a generally downward direction proximate the front face of the fireplace. The generally downward directions of flow diverters 182 and 184 may direct flow stream 186 to flow in a downward direction. Flow divider 180 may further include another flow diverter in a generally downward direction, such as flow diverter 176 of FIG. 10A, at the back edge proximate the back surface of outer enclosure 12. The embodiment of FIG. 10B may include flow diverter 184 in a generally downward direction, however flow diverter 184 may alternatively have a generally upward direction. One skilled in the art will appreciate the influence of the direction of a flow diverter in the mixing of the air streams exiting the fireplace.

A plan view of fireplace 300 including flow divider 190 positioned therein is illustrated in FIG. 11. Outer enclosure 12 of fireplace 300 may include left surface 210, rear surface 212, and right surface 214. As shown, flow divider 190 may include left side 192, left angled side 194, rear side 196, right angled side 198, and right side 200. Left flow path 202 and right flow path 204 may be provided proximate the rear of fireplace 300. As shown, left flow path 202 may be defined by the space between left surface 210 and rear surface 212 of outer enclosure 12, and left angled side 194 of flow divider 190. Similarly, right flow path 204 may be defined by the space between right surface 214 and rear surface 212 of outer enclosure 12, and right angled side 198 of flow divider 190. In one such embodiment of a fireplace, air such as air stream 60 of fireplace 50 (FIG. 2) may enter a flow path such as first flow path 58 of fireplace 50 (FIG. 2) through left flow path 202 and right flow path 204. While FIG. 11 may imply one or more gaps between left surface 210 and left side 192, between rear surface 212 and rear side 196, and between right surface 214 and right side 200, it should be understood that such one or more gaps may or may not exist in alternate embodiments of the present invention. Accordingly, left surface 210 and left side 192 may be fixedly attached to one another. Or, left surface 210 may be spaced apart from left side 192 thereby forming a flow path. Alternately, the gap may be closed by means such as a channel on the inside surface of left surface 210 wherein the channel is configured to receive left side 192. Similar arrangements may be provided for the rear and the right side of outer enclosure 12. Further embodiments of fireplace 300 may include only left flow path 202, or it may include only right flow path 204. In still further embodiments, left flow path 202 and right flow path 204 may be defined differently than the embodiment of FIG. 11. In one such instance, one or more flow paths may be defined along left surface 210 of outer enclosure 12. In another instance, one or more flow paths may be defined along right surface 214 of outer enclosure 12. In yet another instance one or more flow paths may be defined along rear surface 212 of outer enclosure 12. In a further embodiment, fireplace 300 may include flow paths along more than just one surface of outer enclosure 12.

FIG. 12 illustrates an embodiment of a fireplace 400 including one or more flow dividers. In one such embodiment, fireplace 400 may include several flow dividers, such as flow dividers 402, 404, 406, 408, 410, 412 and 414, within the space between the one or more surfaces of outer enclosure 12 and the one or more surfaces of combustion chamber enclosure 14.

FIG. 13 shows another embodiment of a fireplace 500 including one or more flow dividers. In one such embodiment, fireplace 500 may include several flow dividers, such as flow dividers 502, 504, 506, 508, 510 and 512, within the space between the one or more surfaces of outer enclosure 12 and the one or more surfaces of combustion chamber enclosure 14.

Further embodiments of a fireplace with one or more flow dividers may be envisioned. In one such instance, the fireplace may include one or more flow dividers arranged in a manner which is all and/or part of a combination of the embodiments of FIGS. 12 and 13. All such embodiments are considered as being within the scope and intent of the present invention.

Various modifications and additions may be made to the exemplary embodiments presented hereinabove without departing from the scope and intent of the present invention. For example, while the disclosed embodiments refer to particular features, the scope of the instant invention is considered to also include embodiments having different combinations of features that do not include all of the features described herein. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications, and variations as falling within the scope and intent of the appended claims, including all equivalents thereof.