Title:
DECORATIVE DOOR FOR COOLER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A decorative door for a cooler includes a frame featuring a circumferential slot and a circumferential chamber that are in communication with one another. The frame is adapted for mounting to a cooler in a hinged fashion. An interior transparent panel is secured by its edges within the circumferential slot of the frame and features a decorative channel formed therein. A number of light-emitting diodes serve as light sources positioned in the circumferential chamber and illuminate the decorative channel of the interior transparent panel. Inner surface and outer surface transparent panels are mounted to the frame on opposite sides of the interior transparent panel and the spaces there between are at least partially evacuated of air. The frame also includes a circumferential passage containing an insulating material, such as molecular mesh.



Inventors:
Juo, Chun Jiang (Yilong Sichuan, CN)
Li, Shao Hua (Chenxi, CN)
Lai, Jin (Guangzhou, CN)
Application Number:
11/782339
Publication Date:
01/31/2008
Filing Date:
07/24/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/440, 220/592.02, 312/236
International Classes:
F25D23/02; A47F3/04; F25D13/00; F25D23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROHRHOFF, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DLA PIPER LLP (US) (Reston, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A decorative door for a cooler comprising: a. a frame featuring a circumferential slot and a circumferential chamber that are in communication with one another, said frame adapted for mounting to a cooler in a hinged fashion; b. a first transparent panel secured by its edges within the circumferential slot of the frame, said first transparent panel having a decorative channel formed therein; c. a plurality of light sources positioned in the circumferential chamber, said plurality of light sources illuminating the decorative channel of the first transparent panel; and d. a second transparent panel secured by its edges to the frame so that a first space is formed between the first and second transparent panels, said first space being at least partially evacuated of air.

2. The decorative door of claim 1 wherein said first transparent panel is an interior transparent panel and said second transparent panel is an outer surface transparent panel and further comprising an inner surface transparent panel, said inner surface transparent panel secured by its edges so that a second space is formed between the interior transparent panel and the inner surface transparent panel, said second space being at least partially evacuated of air.

3. The decorative door of claim 2 wherein the frame includes a circumferential passage containing an insulating material.

4. The decorative door of claim 1 wherein the frame includes a circumferential passage containing an insulating material.

5. The decorative door of claim 4 wherein the insulating material includes a molecular mesh.

6. The decorative door of claim 1 wherein the plurality of light sources are light-emitting diodes.

7. The decorative door of claim 1 wherein the decorative channel is generally V-shaped.

8. The decorative door of claim 1 further comprising left and right door posts mounted to opposing sides of said frame wherein one of the door posts is adapted to mount the decorative door to a cooler and the other door post includes a handle.

9. The decorative door of claim 8 wherein the left and right door posts secure the second transparent panel to the frame.

10. The decorative door of claim 1 further comprising top end and bottom end caps attached to the frame and securing the second transparent panel to the frame.

11. The decorative door of claim 1 further comprising an insulation bridge secured to the frame in a circumferential fashion, said insulation bridge including a glass engagement portion that secures the second transparent panel to the frame.

12. The decorative door of claim 11 further comprising a door gasket circumferentially attached to the insulation bridge.

13. A cooler comprising: a. a housing containing a refrigerated space, said housing featuring an open front so that the refrigerated space may be accessed; and b. a decorative door mounted to the housing in a hinged fashion so that the open front of the housing may be selectively closed, said decorative door including: i) a frame featuring a circumferential slot and a circumferential chamber that are in communication with one another, said frame adapted for mounting to a cooler in a hinged fashion; ii) a first transparent panel secured by its edges within the circumferential slot of the frame, said first transparent panel having a decorative channel formed therein; iii) a plurality of light sources positioned in the circumferential chamber, said plurality of light sources illuminating the decorative channel of the first transparent panel; iv) a second transparent panel secured by its edges to the frame so that a first space is formed between the first and second transparent panels, said first space being at least partially evacuated of air.

14. The cooler of claim 13 wherein said first transparent panel of the decorative door is an interior transparent panel and said second transparent panel of the decorative door is an outer surface transparent panel and the decorative door further comprising an inner surface transparent panel, said inner surface transparent panel secured by its edges so that a second space is formed between the interior transparent panel and the inner surface transparent panel, said second space being at least partially evacuated of air.

15. The cooler of claim 14 wherein the frame of the decorative door includes a circumferential passage containing an insulating material.

16. The cooler of claim 13 wherein the frame of the decorative door includes a circumferential passage containing an insulating material.

17. The cooler of claim 16 wherein the insulating material includes a molecular mesh.

18. The cooler of claim 13 wherein the plurality of light sources of the decorative door are light-emitting diodes.

19. The cooler of claim 13 wherein the decorative channel of the decorative door is generally V-shaped.

20. The cooler of claim 13 wherein the decorative door also includes: v) an insulation bridge secured to the frame in a circumferential fashion, said insulation bridge including a glass engagement portion that secures the second transparent panel to the frame; and vi) a door gasket circumferentially attached to the insulation bridge.

Description:

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/832,881, filed Jul. 24, 2006, currently pending.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to coolers for storing and refrigerating beverages and food items and, more particularly, to an illuminated and insulated decorative door for such a cooler.

BACKGROUND

Coolers are typically used in retail establishments to display beverages or other food items that require refrigeration. Such coolers typically feature doors with at least one window that permit viewing of the beverages and/or food items being sold. The door is hinged and may be opened to retrieve the beverage or food item out of the cooler. The door typically seals when closed to insulate the refrigerated interior of the cooler. It is desirable for the front of such coolers to be decorative so as to attract attention and advertise the beverages and/or food items contained in the cooler.

The present invention offers an insulated decorative door for a cooler featuring a window having a design that is side-lit so as to be illuminated in an attractive fashion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of an embodiment of the cooler door of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the cooler door of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view of the cooler door of FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the cooler door of FIGS. 1-3 taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of circled portion A of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the cooler door of FIG. 1 taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 1:

FIG. 7 is an enlarged view of circled portion B of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of the door frame of the cooler door of FIGS. 1-7;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view of the cooler door of FIG. 8 taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a front elevational view of the interior transparent panel of the cooler door of FIGS. 1-7;

FIG. 11 is a sectional view of the interior glass of FIG. 10 taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is an enlarged view of circled portion C of FIG. 11; FIG. 13

FIG. 13 is a rear elevational view of a section of the insulation bridge of the cooler door of FIGS. 1-7;

FIG. 14 is a sectional view of the insulation bridge of FIG. 13 taken along line 14-14 of FIG. 13;

FIG. 15 is a rear elevational view of the door gasket of the cooler door of FIGS. 1-7;

FIG. 16 is a sectional view of the door gasket of FIG. 15 taken along line 16-16 of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a cooler equipped with the decorative door of FIGS. 1-3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

A cooler door constructed in accordance with the present invention is indicated in general at 20 in FIG. 1. The door features an outer protective transparent panel 22 (which may or may not be decorative). In addition, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, the door features a left door post 24a, a right door post 24b, a top end cap 26a and a bottom end cap 26b. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the left door post 24a features a handle 28 for opening. The left and right door posts and top end and bottom end caps may be constructed from plastic, aluminum or other materials.

As illustrated in FIGS. 4-7, the door features three layers of transparent panels in addition to the outer protective transparent panel 22. More specifically, the door features an interior transparent panel 32, outer surface transparent panel 34 and inner surface transparent panel 36. The space between interior transparent panel 32 and outer surface transparent panel 34, indicated at 38 in FIGS. 5 and 7, and the space between interior transparent panel 32 and inner surface transparent panel 36, indicated at 42 in FIGS. 5 and 7, are vacuum insulated. The transparent panels 22, 32, 34 and 36 may be constructed from acrylic, glass or any other transparent material.

A frame, indicated at 44 in FIGS. 5, 7 and 8, and indicated in general at 44 in FIG. 9, features a circumferential slot 46 (FIG. 9) that holds the interior transparent panel 32 circumferentially by its edges. As illustrated in FIG. 9, the frame also includes a chamber 50 that travels the circumference or perimeter of the frame and that houses multiple light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as illustrated at 52 in FIGS. 5 and 7. As a result, the LEDs 52 run along the top and bottom and both sides of the frame 44. The LEDs receive power via electric cord 54 of FIGS. 1-3. In addition, as illustrated in FIG. 9, the frame includes a passage 54 that travels the circumference or perimeter of the frame. This passage is filled with molecular mesh, indicated at 56 in FIGS. 5 and 7, to provide insulation to interior transparent panel 32. While LEDs are illustrated and described herein, alternative light sources may be used. In addition, alternative insulation materials known in the art may be substituted for the molecular mesh 56. Frame 44 may be constructed from aluminum, plastic or a variety of other materials, preferably providing low levels of heat transfer.

As illustrated in FIG. 5, outer surface transparent panel 34 is secured against frame 44 by inwardly protruding portions 57 of left and right door posts 24a and 24b, as well as outer protective transparent panel 22 and inwardly protruding portions 59 of top end and bottom end caps 26a and 26b (FIG. 7).

As illustrated in FIGS. 10-12, the interior transparent panel or sheet 32 features a V-shaped channel 58 formed or etched therein that forms a decoration that illuminates when lit from the side by the LEDs 52 of FIGS. 5 and 7. As an example only, the angle of the channel (indicated at 62 in FIG. 12) may be approximately 90°. Alternative channel shapes may be used, as long as the channel catches the light produced by LEDs 52 of FIGS. 5 and 7 as they travel through the interior sheet 32. In addition, while a bottle shape is illustrated as the decoration in FIG. 10, the decorative shape may obviously take other shapes and could optionally include text.

As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 7, an insulation bridge 66 travels around the periphery of inner surface transparent panel 36 and is secured to top and bottom caps 26a and 26b by pins 68 (as illustrated in FIG. 7) and to right and left door posts 24a and 24b by pins 72 (as illustrated in FIG. 5). An enlarged view of a section of the insulation bridge is illustrated in FIG. 13, while a sectional view of the bridge is illustrated in FIG. 14, where the bridge is indicated in general at 66. Pins 68 and 72, of FIGS. 7 and 5, respectively, pass through openings 74 of FIGS. 13 and 14. As illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14, the insulation bridge features a channel 76 and a transparent panel engagement portion 78. As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 7, the transparent panel engagement portion 78 engages the inner surface transparent panel 36 and secures the periphery of the inner surface transparent panel to frame 44. The function of channel 76 will be explained below. The insulation bridge is preferably constructed of rubber, plastic or another type of insulating material that is at least semi-rigid.

As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 7, a door gasket 82 is secured to the channel 76 of the insulation bridge 66 via studs 84 so as to run around the periphery of the door inner surface. An enlarged view of the gasket is provided in FIG. 15, while FIG. 16 provides a sectional view of the gasket. The gasket is preferably formed of rubber and seals the interior space of coolers equipped with the door when the door is closed.

As illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5, the right door post 24b features cylindrical opening 86 passing longitudinally there through. The opening 86 receives a rod, bar or other means for mounting the door to the front side edge of a cooler in a hinged fashion, as illustrated for cooler 90 in FIG. 17. More specifically, with reference to FIG. 17, the cooler 90 includes a housing 92 that encloses and houses a refrigerated space for beverages or food items. The housing features an open front so that the beverages or food items may be removed from the interior of the cooler. Decorative door 20 is mounted in a hinged fashion to cover the open front of the cooler housing.

While the preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention, the scope of which is defined by the appended claims.