Title:
Refrigeration cabinet and canopy for a refrigeration cabinet
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A refrigeration cabinet includes a cabinet base that has a front wall, a back wall and side walls defining an open top compartment for housing a refrigerated product. The cabinet also includes a canopy disposed atop the compartment. The canopy may include a front wall having a transparent window through which the cabinet interior may be viewed, a back wall including a transparent cover, two side walls, and a first beam extending between the side walls of the canopy. The cabinet may further include a second beam has a first end connected to the first beam, and a second end connected to the back wall of the cabinet base; and a third beam including a first end connected the first or second beam. The transparent cover may be rotatably connected to the third beam.



Inventors:
Smith, Kellen (Port Clinton, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/391157
Publication Date:
09/27/2007
Filing Date:
03/27/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/246, 312/401
International Classes:
A47F3/04; A47B96/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HANSEN, JAMES ORVILLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SQUIRE PB (Abbott) (SAN FRANCISCO, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A refrigeration cabinet comprising: a cabinet base having a front wall, a back wall and side walls defining an open top compartment for housing a refrigerated product; and a canopy disposed atop said compartment, said canopy including a front wall having a transparent window through which the cabinet interior may be viewed, a back wall including a transparent cover, two side walls, a first beam extending between the side walls of the canopy, and a second beam including a first end attached to the first beam and a free second end, wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the second beam.

2. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 1, wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the second beam at a location adjacent to the free second end of the second beam.

3. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 2, wherein the distance between the location and the first end is three times of the distance between the location and the free second end.

4. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 2, wherein the distance between the location and the first end is five times of the distance between the location and the free second end.

5. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 2, wherein the distance between the location and the first end is ten times of the distance between the location and the free second end.

6. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 1, wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the second beam at the free second end of the second beam.

7. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 1, wherein the second beam extends from the first beam towards the cabinet base.

8. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 1, wherein the cover includes first and second sides, and wherein the first side of the cover is rotatably connected to the second beam and the second side of the cover is rotatably connected to one of the side walls of the canopy.

9. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 1, wherein the back wall of the canopy includes a second transparent cover that is rotatably connected to the second beam, and wherein the two covers are arranged side by side.

10. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 9, wherein the two covers are rotatably connected to the second beam at the same location.

11. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 9, wherein the walls of the cabinet base are of “cold wall” type.

12. A canopy for a refrigeration cabinet, comprising: a front wall having a transparent window through which the cabinet interior may be viewed a back wall including a transparent cover; two side walls; a first beam extending between the side walls of the canopy; and a second beam including a first end attached to the first beam and a free second end, wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the second beam.

13. The canopy of claim 12, wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the second beam at a location adjacent to the free second end of the second beam.

14. The canopy of claim 13, wherein the distance between the location and the first end is three times of the distance between the location and the free second end.

15. The canopy of claim 13, wherein the distance between the location and the first end is five times of the distance between the location and the free second end.

16. The canopy of claim 13, wherein the distance between the location and the first end is ten times of the distance between the location and the free second end.

17. The canopy of claim 12, wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the second beam at the free second end of the second beam.

18. The canopy of claim 12, wherein the cover includes first and second sides, and wherein the first side of the cover is rotatably connected to the second beam and the second side of the cover is rotatably connected to one of the side walls of the canopy.

19. The canopy of claim 12, wherein the back wall of the canopy includes a second transparent cover that is rotatably connected to the second beam, and wherein the two covers are arranged side by side.

20. The canopy of claim 19, wherein the two covers are rotatably connected to the same location on the second beam.

21. A refrigeration cabinet comprising: a cabinet base having a front wall, a back wall and side walls defining an open top compartment for housing a refrigerated product; and a canopy disposed atop said compartment, said canopy including a front wall having a transparent window through which the cabinet interior may be viewed, a back wall including a transparent cover, two side walls, and a first beam extending between the side walls of the canopy; a second beam has a first end connected to the first beam, and a second end connected to the back wall of the cabinet base; and a third beam including a first end connected the second beam, wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the second beam.

22. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 21, wherein the third beam includes a free second end, and wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the third beam at a location adjacent to the free second end of the third beam.

23. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 22, wherein the distance between the location and the first end of the third beam is three times of the distance between the location and the free second end of the third beam.

24. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 22, wherein the distance between the location and the first end of the third beam is five times of the distance between the location and the free second end of the third beam.

25. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 22, wherein the distance between the location and the first end of the third beam is ten times of the distance between the location and the free second end of the third beam.

26. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 21, wherein the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the third beam at the free second end of the third beam.

27. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 21, wherein the cover includes first and second sides, and wherein the first side of the cover is rotatably connected to the third beam and the second side of the cover is rotatably connected to one of the side walls of the canopy.

28. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 21, wherein the back wall of the canopy includes a second transparent cover that is rotatably connected to the third beam, and wherein the two covers are arranged on two sides of the second beam, respectively.

29. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 28, wherein the two covers are rotatably connected to the third beam at the same location.

30. The refrigeration cabinet of claim 21, wherein the walls of the cabinet base are of “cold wall” type.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a refrigeration cabinet and a canopy for a refrigeration cabinet.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Typically, refrigeration cabinets are horizontal cabinets having a front wall, a back wall, and side walls. The four walls define an open compartment for housing the containers of frozen confection, such as ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, sorbet and the like. The walls are commonly of the “cold wall” type having interior and exterior sheet metal skins surrounding a thermally insulating core wherein refrigerant tubing is mounted to the reverse side of the inner sheet metal skin. Cold refrigerant is circulated through the refrigerant tubing to cool the interior skin, while heat is transferred from the product to the cold interior skin of the surrounding walls by radiation and conduction to ensure a stable stratification of cold, dense air is maintained within the cabinet.

Generally, to comply with safety and health codes, refrigeration cabinets are provided with a tent-like canopy supported atop the four walls of the cabinet. Customers can view the product through a window provided in the front wall of the canopy. Additionally, the canopy has a rear wall providing a service access on the back side of the cabinet. An operator serving the customer accesses the frozen confection for scooping through the service access provided in the rear wall on the server side of the canopy. A cover, such as a pair of hinged covers, is provided for closing the service access when access is not being made to the interior of the canopied cabinet.

In one conventional design of the refrigeration cabinet, the two covers of the canopy cover are rotatably supported on a cross beam, allowing the cover to be rotated between an open position and a closed position. One end of the cross beam is attached to the midpoint of the cabinet's front wall, and the other end is attached to the midpoint of the cabinet's back wall. One disadvantage of this design is that the cross beam obstructs the customer's view of the frozen confection contained in the refrigeration cabinet.

In another conventional design, the cross beam is eliminated, and a mechanism similar to the one described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,547,346 is used. This mechanism uses air cylinders to rotatably support the two covers. One disadvantage of this design is that the air cylinders are more costly and generally have a limited service life. Additionally, the air cylinders limit the operator's access to the cabinet interior.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a refrigeration cabinet and a canopy for a refrigeration cabinet, which overcome the above-described drawbacks of the conventional designs.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, a refrigeration cabinet includes a cabinet base and a canopy disposed atop the cabinet base. The cabinet base includes a front wall, a back wall and side walls defining an open top compartment for housing a refrigerated product.

The canopy includes a front wall having a transparent window through which the cabinet interior may be viewed, a back wall including a transparent cover, and two side walls. The canopy may include a first beam extending between the side walls of the canopy, and a second beam that has a first end attached to the first beam and a free second end. Preferably, the second beam extends from the first beam towards the cabinet base. The transparent cover can be rotatably connected to the second beam.

The transparent cover may be rotatably connected to the second beam at a location adjacent to the free end of the second beam. The distance between the location and the first end may be three times of the distance between the location and the free second end, preferably five times, more preferably ten times. Most preferably, the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the second beam at the free end.

The cover may include first and second sides. The first end of the cover can be rotatably connected to the second beam, and the second side of the cover can be rotatably connected to an side wall of the canopy.

The back wall of the canopy may include a second transparent cover that also is rotatably connected to the second beam. The two covers may be arranged side by side and rotatably connected to the second beam at the same location on the second beam.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a refrigeration cabinet includes a cabinet base and a canopy disposed atop the cabinet base. The cabinet base includes a front wall, a back wall and side walls defining an open top compartment for housing a refrigerated product. The canopy includes a front wall having a transparent window through which the cabinet interior may be viewed, a back wall including a transparent cover, two side walls, and a first beam extending between the side walls of the canopy. The refrigeration cabinet may include a second and third beam. The second beam has a first end connected to the first beam and a second end connected to the back wall of the cabinet base. The third beam includes a first end connected the second beam. The transparent cover may be rotatably connected to the second beam.

The third beam may include a free second end, and the transparent cover may be rotatably connected to the third beam at a location adjacent to the free second end of the third beam. The distance between the location and the first end of the third beam may be three times of the distance between the location and the free second end, preferably five times, and more preferably ten times. Most preferably, the transparent cover is rotatably connected to the third beam at the free second end.

Preferably, the cover has two sides, the first side of the cover being rotatably connected to the third beam and the second end being rotatably connected to an side wall of the canopy.

The back wall of the canopy may include a second transparent cover that is rotatably connected to the third beam. The two covers may be arranged on two sides of the second beam, respectively. Preferably, the two covers may be rotatably connected to the third beam at the same location on the third beam.

The present invention has several advantages over the conventional designs. The use of a beam extending from the canopy for supporting the covers provides improved visibility of the displayed refrigerated products. Such a beam also makes it possible to eliminate the air cylinders, improving operator access to the cabinet interior.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be described herein with reference to the drawing wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a refrigeration cabinet of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a detailed view of a beam for rotatably receiving a transparent cover according to the embodiment shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a detailed view of a beam for rotatably receiving a transparent cover according to another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the refrigeration cabinet 10 of the present invention includes a refrigeration base 20 and a canopy 30 supported on the refrigeration base 20. The refrigeration base 20 defines a box-like enclosure having a front wall 21 (FIG. 2), a back wall 22 and side walls 24, a floor 25 (FIG. 2) and an open top 26. The refrigeration of the base 20 is well known in the art and will not be described here. The product contained in the refrigeration base 20 may be hard ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet or other frozen confection.

Preferably, the walls of the refrigeration base 20 are of the “cold wall” type having interior and exterior sheet metal skins surrounding a thermally insulating core wherein refrigerant tubing is mounted to the reverse side of the inner sheet metal skin. Cold refrigerant is circulated through the refrigerant tubing to cool the interior skin, while heat is transferred from the product to the cold interior skin of the surrounding walls by radiation and conduction to ensure a stable stratification of cold, dense air is maintained within the cabinet. This thermal stability is essential to maintain the proper consistency and quality of the frozen product The canopy 30 may include a front wall 32 on the customer side of the cabinet 10, side walls 34, and a rear wall 36 on the service side, i.e. the backside, of the cabinet 10. The front wall 32 comprises a transparent window 38, made of a transparent material. The window 38 provides a view area through which a customer may view the product contained within the refrigeration base 20. The side walls 34 are also made of a transparent material, but they may be made of a metal or an opaque plastic. The rear wall 36 includes two transparent covers 40. Although the covers 40 may be made of a transparent plastic material, most advantageously, the cover 40 is a panel of flat, tempered glass. Tempered glass is considerably stronger than plastic materials and has greater structural rigidity. Further, tempered glass is not as easily marred, scratched or broken.

The canopy 30 may include a first beam 42, a second beam 44, and a third beam 46. The first beam 42 is supported upon and extends between the side walls 34, and divides the front wall 32 and the rear wall 36. The second beam 44 has a first end 48 attached to the first beam 42 and a second end 50 attached to the back wall 22 of the cabinet base 20. The second beam 44 is disposed between the first and second covers 40. The third beam 46 includes a first end 52 connected the first beam 42 and a free second end 54. As shown in FIG. 3, the first end 52a of the third beam 46a may be connected the second beam 44.

Each cover 40 may include first and second sides 56, 58. The first side 56 of each cover 40 can be rotatably connected to the third beam 46, and the second side 58 of each cover 40 can be rotatably connected to an side wall 34 of the canopy 30. As a result, each cover 40 can be rotated between an open position 41 and a closed position 43, as shown in FIG. 3.

Preferably, each transparent cover 40 is rotatably connected to the third beam 46 at a location adjacent to the free end 54 of the third beam 46. The distance between the location and the first end 52 may be three times of the distance between the location and the free second end 54, preferably five times, more preferably ten times. Most preferably, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the cover 40 is rotatably connected to the third beam 46 at the free end 54.

Each transparent cover 40 can be rotatably connected to the third beam 46 and the side wall 34 in any suitable manner. In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, each cover 40 is rotatably connected to the third beam 46 or the side wall 34 using a slotted bracket 60. The slotted bracket 60 includes an L-shaped slot that has a vertical slot 62 and a horizontal slot 64 having an opening 66. To install a cover 40, a projection (not shown), such as a nipple, on the cover 40 can be slid into the horizontal slot 64 through its opening 66 and then into the vertical slot 62 to rest at the bottom of the vertical slot 62. The weight of the cover 40 keeps the projection at the bottom of the vertical slot 62.

To access the interior of the refrigeration cabinet 10, the operator can cause the cover 40 to rotate counterclockwise about the supporting brackets 60 to reach its open position 41, as shown in FIG. 3. To close the cover 40, the operator can cause the cover 40 to rotate clockwise about the supporting brackets 60 to reach its closed position 42.

Various modifications and adaptations of the embodiments of the refrigeration cabinet of the present invention as hereinbefore described may be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that may be made without departure from the spirit and scope of the present invention, the scope of which is defined in the appended claims.