Title:
Toilet light and scent apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus to illuminate and air freshen a toilet bowl. More particularly an easily installed apparatus in a saddle type configuration that is placed on the toilet bowl rim and is capable of providing illumination into the bowl and deodorizing functions by emanation of a pleasant fragrance into the air in the bowl or surrounding environment. More particularly an apparatus to illuminate, disinfect and air freshen a toilet bowl in a saddle type configuration that is placed on the toilet bowl rim and is capable of providing illumination into the bowl, disinfecting the toilet bowl water, and deodorizing functions by emanation of a pleasant fragrance into the air in the bowl or surrounding environment.



Inventors:
Penn, Harold (Missouri City, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/497889
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
08/03/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Harold Penn (Missouri City, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for illuminating, disinfecting and air freshening a toilet comprising: a. An illumination source; b. A disinfecting composition; c. An air freshening composition d. An electrical energy source; e. An electrical circuit comprising electrical conductors interconnecting said electrical energy source, said illumination source, and a switch, and f. A housing comprising an inboard member to locate said illumination source and said disinfectant composition within said toilet bowl, an outboard member to locate said air freshening composition and said electrical energy source without said toilet bowl, and a connector member interconnecting and supporting said inboard member and said outboard member on a toilet bowl rim and further comprising a switch and electrical conductors;

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said switch activates said electrical circuit when the toilet seat is raised;

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said switch activates said electrical circuit when the toilet seat is lowered to the sitting position;

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said switch comprises an ambient light sensor;

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said illumination source is a light emitting diode;

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said electrical energy source comprises a battery;

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said electrical energy source comprises a commercial electrical current source;

8. A method of providing illumination, air freshening and disinfection to a toilet comprising: g. Providing an electrical energy source; h. Providing an illumination source; i. Providing an electrical circuit connecting said illumination source to said electrical energy source; j. providing a disinfectant composition; k. providing an air freshening composition; l. providing a housing comprising an inboard member locating said illumination source within said toilet bowl and locating said disinfectant composition substantially beneath the toilet rim, an outboard member locating said air freshening composition and said electrical energy source without said toilet bowl, and a connector member interconnecting and supporting said inboard member and said outboard member on a toilet bowl rim and further comprising a switch and electrical conductors; m. activating said illumination source by contacting said switch with the underside of the toilet seat; n. disinfecting said toilet bowl by contacting said disinfectant composition with toilet flush water; o. air freshening the toilet area by evaporative dispersal of said air freshening composition;

9. An apparatus for illuminating and air freshening a toilet comprising: a. An illumination source; b. An air freshening composition c. An electrical energy source; d. An electrical circuit comprising electrical conductors interconnecting said electrical energy source, said illumination source, and a switch, and e. A housing comprising an inboard member to locate said illumination source within said toilet bowl, an outboard member to locate said air freshening composition and said electrical energy source without said toilet bowl, and a connector member interconnecting and supporting said inboard member and said outboard member on a toilet bowl rim and further comprising a switch and electrical conductors;

10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said switch activates said electrical circuit when the toilet seat is raised;

11. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said switch activates said electrical circuit when the toilet seat is lowered to the sitting position;

12. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said illumination source is a light emitting diode;

13. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said electrical energy source comprises a battery;

14. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said electrical energy source comprises a commercial electrical current source;

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY FUNDED SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to illumination, disinfection and fragrance for a toilet. More particularly to an easily installed apparatus in a saddle type configuration that is placed on the toilet bowl rim and is capable of providing illumination into the bowl, disinfectant and deodorizing functions for the water in the bowl and emanation of a pleasant fragrance into the air in the bowl or surrounding environment. More particularly, the apparatus further comprises a switch that is engaged by the underside of the toilet seat to enable or disable the illumination function. More particularly, the disinfectant or antimicrobial material in the apparatus would preferably be placed inside the bowl in such a manner as to allow flush water flow to erode the disinfectant and carry it into the bowl water. Similarly, the fragrance may emanate from the apparatus by evaporation at room temperature or by heat from an electrical stimulus. Specifically, when the toilet seat is raised the switch closes the circuit and the bowl is illuminated. Illuminating the bowl in this manner particularly aids those persons who stand at the toilet to use it as a urinal, such as young males in the nighttime or persons of any age with reduced sight ability. The presence of the light when the seat is up thus aids accuracy of urine flow into the toilet bowl to maintain a more sanitary environment around the toilet. In addition, those persons who require that the seat be placed in the lowered position on the toilet rim to properly use the toilet will be assured that the seat is down because there would be no illumination in the bowl. Conversely, the apparatus may be configured to illuminate the bowl when the seat is down. An illuminated bowl when the seat is down may aid the elderly or those with limited sight to make certain of the location of the toilet. Further, reduction of disagreeable odors in the proximity of the toilet bowl would be remediated by the presence of the water disinfectant and the air fragrance functions of the apparatus. Further, the illumination and fragrance emanation could be controlled by electrical circuits to occur simultaneously providing a more pleasant environment.

2. Description of Related Art

Illumination of a toilet, or the toilet bowl, is known in the art. U.S. Pat. No. 4,860,178 to Picon (1989) discloses a light that illuminates the bowl by mounting on the underside of the toilet seat.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,136,476 to Horn (1992) discloses a u-shaped tube having a light on one end and a voltage source on the other. The tubular part is bent to conform to the toilet rim for placement.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,276,595 to Patrie, (1994) discloses a self-contained toilet bowl illumination light that mounts on the underside of the toilet lid. When the lid is raised, the bowl is illuminated with a green light. If the seat is also raised, a red light is energized to alert the user of the position of the seat. This toilet light is marketed at various places on the internet under the name, “LavNav Nightlight”.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,437,066 to Mills et al., (1995) discloses a toilet light that mounts at the seat hinge and is actuated by a switch when the seat is raised. This toilet light is marketed on the internet under the name, “Johnnie Light” at http://johnnie-light.com.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,513,397 to Terry, (1996) discloses a toilet light that differentiates from prior art by illuminating the toilet bowl when the seat is down. The light is designed to illuminate the underside of the toilet seat, not the bowl, so that the person can tell that the seat is down in dim light.

Similarly, an apparatus that mounts on a toilet and scents the surrounding area is known in the art. U.S. Pat. No. 5,590,425 to Janik (1997) discloses a handle that attaches to the underside of a toilet seat and contains a deodorizing wafer. The unit may glow in the dark, but is otherwise not electrically powered or illuminated.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,727,258 to Derouin (1998) discloses a toilet seat handle that attaches to the underside of the seat. The handle may contain a scent cartridge and an electrically powered light to illuminate the handle.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,704,967 to Gianelli et al. (2004) discloses a toilet seat handle that is comprised of an air freshening scent, an antimicrobial agent and a phosphorescent material to glow in the dark for location.

The related art as described above discloses an assortment of toilet lights and a variety of scenting and disinfecting devices located under the toilet seat or on the rim of the toilet bowl. However, the bowl illumination inventions do not provide disinfection of the toilet water or air freshening. Similarly, the toilet handles that provide air freshening, disinfection to the touch, or illumination do not provide disinfection of the toilet water, or illumination of the toilet bowl.

Therefore it can be appreciated that there exists a need, and would be advantageous and convenient to provide, the functions of toilet bowl illumination and air freshening in one apparatus, or to include, in addition, the function of toilet water disinfection. The present invention substantially fulfills this need.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The apparatus of the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts of the related art by combining the functions of toilet bowl illumination and air freshening, or toilet bowl illumination, disinfection and air freshening, in one device for the consumer.

This apparatus of the present invention reduces the need of having the bathroom light on late at night to use the toilet to help remember to lift and lower the toilet seat, and better sighting for male use of the toilet as a urinal. The illumination function, and the scenting function, may be enabled by an electrical circuit such that a switch on the device could be configured to provide standby, and “on/off” modes. Furthermore, once enabled, the illumination function may be controlled by another switch that is activated in contact with the underside of the toilet seat, or by proximity, or other control means as known in the art. The illumination could either stay on in the dark like a nightlight, or switch on and off with the lift or lowering of the toilet seat. The scenting function of the apparatus is affected by placement of a pre-scented form, such as a commercially available scented evaporative tablet, saturated substrate such as paper, or other fragrance composition. In a similar manner, the disinfecting function may be accomplished by use of a disinfectant composition known in the art, such as an antimicrobial agent delivery system incorporated into a water-soluble tablet form. Such tablets may also have an air freshening compound included, and thus a separate air freshening agent would not be necessary. The apparatus would preferably be substantially rigid and constructed of a non-corroding material, such as a plastic. The apparatus would be easily cleaned and movable around the perimeter of the toilet bowl. The useable components, such as the air freshening and disinfecting agents and the batteries, would be accessible by opening access panels for ease of replacement. The several possible functions allow various configurations and shapes.

An advantage of the present invention is the plurality of functions in one apparatus that enables it use as a toilet aid to young and old, male and female.

A further advantage of the present invention is that the three functions described herein may be utilized together or in a plurality of combinations and with a similar conformation designed to rest on the toilet rim.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide in one apparatus for toilet safety and hygiene the functions of toilet bowl illumination and air freshening.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide in one apparatus for toilet safety and hygiene the functions of toilet bowl illumination, toilet bowl disinfection and air freshening.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a method of illuminating and disinfecting a toilet bowl, and freshening the environment.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a new and useful article combining the primary needs of the consumer of illuminating and deodorizing a toilet bowl.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a new and useful article combining the primary needs of the consumer of illuminating, deodorizing and disinfecting a toilet bowl.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the toilet apparatus with the illumination portion in the foreground constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a reversed perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 with the air freshening/battery portion in the foreground;

FIG. 3 is a partially inverted view of the base of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a toilet showing placement of the embodiment of FIG. 1 in use on the toilet rim;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the toilet of FIG. 4 taken along line A-A showing placement of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a sectional and exploded view of the embodiment of FIG. 2 taken along line B-B;

FIG. 7 is an isolated view of the left half of the sectioned embodiment of FIG. 6 taken along line B-B;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus with the illumination portion in the foreground and constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a reversed perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 8 with the air freshening/battery portion in the foreground;

FIG. 10 is an exploded view of the embodiment of FIG. 9 taken along line C-C;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a toilet showing placement of the embodiment of FIGS. 8 and 9 in use on the toilet rim;

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the toilet and embodiment of FIG. 11 taken along line C-C;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus with the air freshening/battery portion in the foreground and constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus with the illumination portion in the foreground and constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a sectional view of the embodiment of FIGS. 13 and 14 taken along line D-D;

FIG. 16 is an isolated view of the right half of the sectioned embodiment of FIG. 15 taken along line D-D;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a toilet showing placement of the embodiment of FIGS. 13 and 14 in use on the toilet rim;

FIG. 18 is an exploded view of the embodiment of FIGS. 13 and 14 with the air freshening/battery portion in the foreground;

FIG. 19 is a lateral view of an alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus with the illumination portion in the foreground and constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus with the illumination portion in the foreground and constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 22 is a reversed perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 21 with the air freshening/battery portion in the foreground;

FIG. 23 is a lateral view of the embodiments of FIGS. 21 and 22 of the toilet apparatus constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 24 is a sectional view of the embodiment of FIGS. 21 and 22 taken along line E-E;

FIG. 25 is a perspective view from within the toilet bowl of an alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus with the illumination/disinfecting portion in the foreground installed on a toilet rim and constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 26 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 25 from outside the toilet bowl showing the air freshening and battery portion;

FIG. 27 is a rear view of the disinfectant portion of the embodiment of FIG. 26;

FIG. 28 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus with the illumination/air freshening portion in the foreground and constructed in accord with the principles of the present invention;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is described more fully by reference to the preferred embodiments of the drawings. However, the embodiments of the invention may be in different forms and these drawings should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention as described herein.

Proceeding now to FIGS. 1 through 7, the toilet light, disinfectant and fragrance apparatus, hereinafter, the “toilet apparatus” 10, comprises generally an inboard member 12, a connector member 14 and an outboard member 16, the apparatus constructed in the general shape of a saddle to straddle or conform to a toilet bowl rim 18. The connector member 14 suspends the inboard member 12 and the outboard member 16 in the proper position for the apparatus too perform one or more of its functions of lighting the bowl, disinfecting the water and perfuming the surroundings.

The inboard member 12 is generally located within the toilet bowl 20 in close proximity to the toilet rim 18 and above the standing water level 22. The inboard member 12 further comprises a body portion 24, a illuminating element 26 and disinfectant element 28. The body portion 24 further comprises a front surface 30, a rear surface 32 and a perimeter 34. Reversibly attached to the front surface 30 is illuminating element 26 comprising a light shield 36 and a translucent lens 38 for light transmission into the toilet bowl 20 that defines a illumination chamber 40 illustrated in FIG. 6 wherein an illumination source 42 is located. The inboard member 12 further comprises a disinfecting element 28 reversibly attached to the rear surface 32 of the body 24 and further comprising a water inlet portion 44 having inlet retaining bars 46 defining inlet slots 48, a water outlet portion 50 with outlet retaining bars 52 defining water outlet slots 54, a first side portion 56, a second side portion 58, and a backing member 59 defining a disinfectant chamber 60. In use, the disinfecting element 28 is detached from the rear surface 32 of the body 24 by disengaging a flexible clip 61 and a disinfectant composition 62 is placed within the chamber 60 and the disinfecting element 28 is reattached. Water soluble compositions for disinfecting and deodorizing toilet bowls are pre-existing in the art, such as the tablets or cakes frequently seen in a toilet bowl or near the drain in a urinal The inboard member 12 of the apparatus 10 is preferably positioned under the toilet rim 18 such that a portion of the water flow exiting the rim 18 during a flush passes over the inlet retaining bars 46 and flows through the inlet slots 48 to enter the disinfectant chamber 60 and exit through the outlet slots 54. Thus the flush water will carry a portion of the dissolved disinfectant composition 62 through the outlet slots 54 to be carried into the toilet bowl 20 and water 62. In an alternative embodiment, the disinfecting element 28 could comprise an open-topped basket made of wire or plastic that would permit simply dropping a disinfectant composition 62, such as a preformed tablet into the basket and replacing the apparatus 10 back on the toilet rim 18.

The outboard member 16 is positioned on the exterior of the toilet bowl 20 in close proximity to the toilet rim 18. The outboard member 16 further comprises a rear portion 66, a first side portion 68, a second side portion 70, a top portion 72, a bottom portion 74 and a front portion 76 defining a fragrance chamber 78 and a battery chamber 80 separated by a divider 82. The front portion 76 is reversibly attached to the top portion 72 and the bottom portion 74, and further comprises a plurality of fragrance retaining bars 84 spatially separated that define a plurality of fragrance vents 86 to allow air movement in and out of the fragrance chamber 78. In use, the front portion 76 it is removed for access to the fragrance chamber 78 and the battery chamber 80. The purpose of the fragrance chamber 78 is to retain a fragrance composition 88 for perfuming the surround air using available air convection. Room and toilet bowl freshening compositions are well known in the art, such as the tablets or cakes that emit fragrance at room temperature, or electrically assisted units that promote fragrance dispersal by electrical energy. The battery chamber 80 retains the electrical energy source, such as a battery 81, to provide onboard power to the illumination source 42, fragrance emission and any other electrical need. However, the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention could also be adapted to utilize conventional electrical supply to power the illumination and air freshening functions.

The preferred embodiment of the connector member 14 of FIGS. 1 through 12 has the general shape of an inverted stirrup comprising an upper surface 90 a lower surface 92 a first side portion 94 a second side portion 96 a first end 98 and a second end 100. The first end 98 of the connector member 14 is attached to the inboard member 12 and the second end 100 is attached to the outboard member 16. The purpose of the connector member 14 is to retain the inboard member 12 and the outboard member 16 in spatial arrangement to effect the purpose of the invention, to provide a location for an electrical switch 102 to control the illumination source 42, such as low wattage lamp or LED, and as a conduit for any electric wiring 104 between the battery 81 and the illumination source 42. In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1, the connector member 14 preferably places and retains the inboard member 12 under the toilet bowl rim 18 and in close proximity to the interior surface of the toilet bowl 20 to enable flush water flow to enter the disinfectant chamber 60 and carry the disinfecting antimicrobial agent 62 into the toilet water 62 to reduce or eliminate harmful bacteria. In addition, the connector member 14 enables the electrical supply to be preferably located on the exterior of the toilet bowl 20 to avoid contact with the waste and water in the bowl 20. In addition, the juxtaposed elements disperse the weight and aid in balance of the apparatus 10 on the rim 18. However, the electrical supply could be located in the inboard member 12 if properly isolated from liquid contact.

The electrical circuit for the function of illumination comprises a basic low voltage circuit well known in the art. One or more conventional batteries 81 source the electrical energy and use wiring 104 to connect through a first switch 102 to an illumination source 42, such as an LED, to produce illumination. The function of the first switch 102 is to complete the circuit to activate the illumination. Depending upon the type of switch and circuit design, the switch 102 could act to energize the illumination source 42 when the toilet seat is raised or when it is lowered. In an alternative embodiment, a proximity switch, or other means known in the art, could be incorporated into the apparatus of the present invention in place of the contact switch 102 to activate at the raising or lowering of the toilet seat, or when sensing the position of a person in relation to the apparatus. In a further alternative embodiment, the air freshening function could be enabled by an electrical stimulus to promote the evaporation or diffusion of the fragrance into the area. Similar to the illumination control, the electrical stimulus for the fragrance could be enabled by the same switch mechanism. An advantage would be synchronized illumination and air freshening at the moment of toilet use. In a further embodiment, the outboard member 16 further comprises a second switch 106 located in the top portion 72 and included in the electrical circuit to provide standby and/or on/off modes. For example, a three position switch would comprise on, standby and off functions. The ‘on’ position would allow current to bypass the contact switch 102 so that the illumination would remain on and function as a conventional night light. In the ‘standby’ position, current would be provided to the switch 102 to activate the illumination in response to the position of the toilet seat. In the ‘off’ mode no current would be provided for any function.

In FIGS. 8 through 12, an alternative embodiment of the present invention illustrates elevated placement of the illuminating element 26 on the connecting member 14 superior to the water inlet portion 44 of the disinfecting element 28. An advantage of this configuration would be to raise the electrical connections and illumination source 42 above the level of the top of the disinfecting element 28 in case flush water would over flow onto the lens member of FIG. 1. FIG. 10 also illustrates that the front portion 76 of the outboard member 16 may be engaged and disengaged by use of one or more retaining clips 108 to access the fragrance chamber 78 and the battery chamber 80 to replace the fragrance composition 88 or the battery 81.

FIGS. 13 through 18 illustrate a further alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention wherein the disinfecting element 28 is absent in favor of only the illumination and fragrance function combination as previously described. The illuminating element 26 is attached directly to the connector member 14 which contains a switch 102 and electrical circuit to effectuate the teachings of the invention. In addition, this conformation of the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention presents a more compact package where the consumer does not need the disinfection function.

FIGS. 19 and 20 illustrate a further alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention having a conformation similar to that of FIG. 1, but the disinfecting element 28 is absent in favor of only the illumination and fragrance function combination as previously described. The illuminating element 26 is attached in a similar manner to the connector member 14 which contains a switch 102 and electrical circuit to effectuate the teachings of the invention.

FIGS. 21 through 24, illustrate a further alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention wherein the disinfecting element 28 is absent in favor of only the illumination and fragrance function combination as previously described. However in this embodiment the fragrance function is moved to the inboard member 12. The inboard member 12 comprises a lens member 26 attached directly below a fragrance member 110. The fragrance member 110 is then attached to the connector member 14 which contains a switch 102 and electrical circuit to effectuate the teachings of the invention as stated above. In this embodiment, the outboard member 16 comprises the battery chamber 78 since the fragrance function is provided on the inboard member 12. This conformation of the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention has the advantage of providing a compact package where the consumer does not desire the disinfection function.

FIGS. 25 through 27 illustrate a further alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention wherein the all three functions of the apparatus 10 are provided in a conformation similar to FIG. 1.

FIG. 28 illustrates a further alternative embodiment of the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention wherein the disinfecting element 28 is absent in favor of the illumination and fragrance function combination as previously described in FIGS. 21 through 24. This conformation of the toilet apparatus 10 of the present invention has the advantage of providing an alternative compact package where the consumer does not desire the disinfection function.

It is understood that the embodiments and descriptions of the invention herein described are merely instruments of the application of the invention and those skilled in the art should realize that changes may be made without departure from the essential elements and contributions to the art made by the teachings of the invention herein.