Title:
Floor care apparatus equipped with electroluminescent light source
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A floor care apparatus includes a housing carrying a suction generator, a dirt collection vessel and an electroluminescent light source.



Inventors:
Overaag, Chad D. (Danville, KY, US)
Application Number:
11/606557
Publication Date:
06/05/2008
Filing Date:
11/30/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/325, 15/347, 15/415.1, 362/91
International Classes:
A47L9/30; A47L9/00; A47L9/02; A47L9/14
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
GRANT, ALVIN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STITES & HARBISON PLLC (LEXINGTON, KY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A floor care apparatus, comprising: a housing; a suction generator carried on said housing; a dirt collection vessel carried on said housing; and an electroluminescent light source carried on said housing and directed so as to illuminate a work area adjacent said floor care apparatus.

2. The floor care apparatus of claim 1, wherein said electroluminescent light source is a flexible strip.

3. The floor care apparatus of claim 2, wherein said flexible strip is held in a channel on said vacuum cleaner.

4. A floor care apparatus, comprising: a housing including a nozzle assembly; a suction generator carried on said housing; a dirt collection vessel carried on said housing; an electroluminescent light source carried on said nozzle assembly and directed so as to illuminate a work area adjacent said floor care apparatus.

5. The floor care apparatus of claim 4 further including a bumper carried on said nozzle assembly.

6. The floor care apparatus of claim 5, wherein said electroluminescent light source is mounted to said bumper.

7. The floor care apparatus of claim 6, wherein said bumper includes a channel and said electroluminescent light source is received in said channel.

8. The floor care apparatus of claim 7, wherein said bumper is resilient.

9. The floor care apparatus of claim 8, wherein said electroluminescent light source is a flexible strip.

10. The floor care apparatus of claim 6, wherein said dirt collection vessel is a dirt cup.

11. The floor care apparatus of claim 10, wherein said dirt cup includes a cylindrical sidewall, a tangentially directed inlet and an outlet.

12. The floor care apparatus of claim 6, wherein said dirt collection vessel is a filter bag.

13. The floor care apparatus of claim 6, wherein said nozzle assembly includes a suction inlet and a rotary agitator is carried on said nozzle assembly adjacent said suction inlet.

14. The floor care apparatus of claim 6, wherein said housing further includes a canister assembly.

15. The floor care apparatus of claim 14, wherein said dirt collection vessel is carried on said canister assembly.

16. The floor care apparatus of claim 15, wherein said canister assembly is pivotally connected to said nozzle assembly.

17. A method of illuminating a work area on a floor in front of a floor care apparatus, comprising: equipping said floor care apparatus with an electroluminescent light source.

18. The method of claim 17 further including positioning said electroluminescent light source on a nozzle assembly of said floor care apparatus.

19. The method of claim 18, further including mounting said electroluminescent light source on a bumper secured to said nozzle assembly of said floor care apparatus.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to the floor care equipment field and, more particularly, to a floor care apparatus equipped with an electroluminescent light source.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A vacuum cleaner is an electro-mechanical appliance utilized to effect the dry removal of dust, dirt and other small debris from carpets, rugs, fabrics or other surfaces in domestic, commercial and industrial environments. In order to achieve the desired dirt and dust removal, most vacuum cleaners incorporate a rotary agitator. The rotary agitator is provided to beat dirt and debris from the nap of the carpet or rug while a pressure drop or vacuum is used to force air entrained with this dirt and debris into the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner. The particulate laden air is then drawn into a dirt collection vessel. The air is then drawn through a filter before being directed through the motor of the suction generator to provide cooling. Finally, the air is filtered to remove any fine particles of carbon from the brushes of that motor or other dirt that might remain in the air-stream before being exhausted back into the environment.

It has long been known to equip the nozzle assembly of a canister vacuum cleaner, upright vacuum cleaner or extractor with a headlight for illuminating the work area so as to allow the operator to more efficiently and effectively guide the vacuum cleaner during the cleaning operation. U.S. Pat. No. 2,208,523 to Coleman discloses an early vacuum cleaner equipped with a tubular incandescent lamp, reflector and lens in order to direct light over the work area. More recent advances in technology have led to efforts to further improve illumination of the work field in front of a floor cleaning apparatus. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,207,498 to Lawrence et al. discloses a vacuum cleaner headlight system incorporating a light pipe. U.S. Pat. No. 6,672,735 to Dilger et al. discloses a vacuum cleaner equipped with a lighting system comprising a plurality of ultra-bright light-emitting diodes.

The present invention relates to a floor care apparatus equipped with a new and further improved lighting system that is economical to build while also allowing greater design flexibility and the positioning of a light source along the lower portion of the nozzle assembly adjacent the work field or surface area to be cleaned so that maximum illumination and benefit is achieved.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the purposes of the present invention as described herein, a floor care apparatus is provided comprising a housing, a suction generator carried on the housing and a dirt collection vessel carried on the housing. The housing is further equipped with an electroluminescent light source that is directed so as to illuminate a work area adjacent to the floor care apparatus. The electroluminescent light source may take the form of a flexible strip and that flexible strip may be held in a channel on the vacuum cleaner.

Alternatively, the present invention may be described as a floor care apparatus comprising a housing including a nozzle assembly wherein a suction generator and a dirt collection vessel are both carried on that housing. Still further, the invention includes an electroluminescent light source carried on the nozzle assembly and directed so that it illuminates a work area adjacent the floor care apparatus.

More specifically describing the invention the floor care apparatus includes a bumper carried on the nozzle assembly. The electroluminescent light source is mounted to the bumper. Typically, the bumper includes a channel and the electroluminescent light source is received in that channel. The bumper may be made from a resilient material and the electroluminescent light source may be a flexible strip.

Still further describing the invention the dirt collection vessel may take the form of a dirt cup. That dirt cup may include a cylindrical sidewall, a tangentially directed inlet and an outlet in order to provide for cyclonic air-flow. Alternatively, the dirt collection vessel may take the form of a filter bag such as a standard vacuum cleaner bag.

In addition, the nozzle assembly may include a suction inlet and a rotary agitator may be carried on the nozzle assembly adjacent the suction inlet. Still further, the housing may include a canister assembly. Typically, the dirt collection vessel is carried on the canister assembly. In one possible embodiment, the canister assembly is pivotably connected to the nozzle assembly.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention a method is provided for illuminating the work area on a floor in front of a floor care apparatus. The method comprises the equipping of the floor care apparatus with an electroluminescent light source. More specifically describing the method, the method may include the positioning of the electroluminescent light source on a nozzle assembly of the floor care apparatus. Still further, the method may include the mounting of the electroluminescent light source on a bumper secured to the nozzle assembly of the floor care apparatus.

In the following description there is shown and described several preferred embodiments of this invention, simply by way of illustration of one of the modes best suited to carry out the invention. As it will be realized, the invention is capable of other different embodiments and several details are capable of modification in various, obvious aspects all without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and descriptions will be regarded as illustrative in nature and not as restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification, illustrates several aspects of the present invention and together with the description serves to explain certain principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first possible embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a second possible embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematical side elevational view illustrating the electroluminescent light source; and

FIG. 4 is a detailed, cross-section view illustrating how the electroluminescent light source is mounted in the channel on the nozzle assembly bumper.

Reference will now be made in detail to the present preferred embodiments of this invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Reference is now made to FIG. 1 showing the floor care apparatus 10 of the present invention in the form of an upright vacuum cleaner equipped with an electroluminescent light source 12. The upright vacuum cleaner 10 includes a housing comprising a nozzle assembly 14 and a canister assembly 16. The canister assembly 16 further includes a control handle 18 and a hand-grip 20. A control switch 22 is provided for turning the vacuum cleaner 10 on and off. Of course, electrical power is supplied to the vacuum cleaner 10 from a standard electrical wall outlet through an electrical cord (not shown).

A pair of rear wheels (not shown) provided on the lower portion of the canister assembly 16 and a pair of front wheels (also not shown) are provided on the nozzle assembly 14. Together, these wheels support the vacuum cleaner 10 for movement across the floor. To allow for convenient storage of the vacuum cleaner 10, a foot latch (not shown) functions to lock the canister assembly in an upright position as shown in FIG. 1. When the foot latch is released, the canister assembly 16 may be pivoted relative to the nozzle assembly 14 as the vacuum cleaner 10 is manipulated back and forth to clean the floor.

In the presently illustrated embodiment, the canister assembly 14 includes a cavity adapted to receive and hold the dirt collection vessel 32. The dirt collection vessel 32 may take the form of a dirt cup 34 including a cylindrical side wall 36, a tangentially directed inlet and an axially directed outlet. A primary filter 40 may be provided in the dirt cup 34 over the axially directed outlet. The primary filter 40 is cylindrical in shape and concentrically received within the cylindrical side wall 36 of the dirt cup 34. Such a structural arrangement induces cyclonic air flow in the dirt cup 34 and provides for enhanced cleaning efficiency. In an alternative design, the canister assembly 14 includes a closed compartment that houses a filter or vacuum cleaner bag, of a type known in the art, that functions as the dirt collection vessel 32.

The nozzle assembly 14 includes a suction inlet 44. A rotary agitator 46 is carried on the nozzle assembly 14 so as to extend across the suction inlet 44. A suction generator 48, including a fan and a cooperating drive motor, is carried on the canister assembly 16. The suction generator 48 functions to generate a vacuum air stream for drawing dirt and debris from the surface to be cleaned. The rotary agitator 46 may be connected by power take off to the motor of the suction generator 48 or may be driven by a separate, dedicated agitator drive motor. While the suction generator 48 is illustrated as being carried on the canister assembly 16, it should be appreciated that, alternatively, it could be carried on the nozzle assembly 14 if desired.

During normal vacuum cleaner operation, the rotary agitator 46 functions to beat dirt and debris from the nap of an underlying carpet. The suction generator 48 functions to draw a vacuum air stream into the suction inlet 44. Dirt and debris from the carpet is entrained in the air stream, which is then drawn by the suction generator 48 through the tangentially directed inlet 38 into the dirt cup 34. Dirt and debris is captured in the dirt cup 34 while relatively clean air is drawn through the main filter 42. That air stream passes over the motor of the suction generator 48 to provide cooling before being exhausted through a final filter, such as a HEPA filter (not shown) before being exhausted through an exhaust port 38 into the environment.

An alternative embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 2. As illustrated, the canister vacuum cleaner 50 also incorporates an electroluminescent light source 52. More particularly, the canister vacuum cleaner 50 includes a hose 54 and a canister housing 56. The canister housing 56 includes an internal chamber as well as a suction inlet 60 and an exhaust outlet both communicating with that chamber. A suction generator, in the form of a fan and motor assembly and generally designated by reference numeral 64, is held in the chamber. In the illustrated embodiment a filter bag 66 is held in the internal chamber between the suction inlet 60 and the suction generator 64.

As further illustrated the vacuum cleaner 50 includes a nozzle assembly 70 for picking up dirt and debris. The nozzle 70 includes an inlet 72 and an outlet 74. The nozzle assembly 70 houses a motor driven agitator 76 and a drive motor 78 for driving the agitator. A telescoping wand assembly, generally designated by reference numeral 71, operatively connects the nozzle assembly 70 to the hose 54 that is connected to the suction inlet 60 of the canister housing 56. The wand assembly 71 includes a telescoping wand 73, a control handle 75 and an on/off actuator switch 77.

Reference is now made to FIG. 3, which is a schematical illustration of the light source 12, 52. As illustrated the light source 12, 52 comprises a first, transparent electrode 100, a second, rear electrode 102 and an intermediate layer 104 of phosphor material. Typically, the phosphor material is a zinc sulphide powder doped with manganese. When an AC voltage is applied between the electrodes 100, 102, the emitter breaks down and conducts current. The current excites the manganese ions which give off light. Such a light source 12, 52 may be made very thin (less than 0.3 mm thick). It is flat and fully flexible. It is also rugged, distributes light over a wide angle, is relatively inexpensive to produce and produces very little heat when emitting light.

FIG. 4 illustrates one possible mounting of the electroluminescent light sources 12, 52 to the respective nozzle assemblies 14, 70. As illustrated, each nozzle assembly 14, 70 includes a bumper 80 formed of a resilient material. Each bumper 80 incorporates a channel 82 for receiving and holding the light sources 12, 52. Each light source 12, 52 is mounted in the channel 82 of the bumper 80 carried on the nozzle assembly 14 or 70. The light source 12, 52 may be mechanically fastened in the channel 82 by means of cooperating shoulders 84 on the bumper 80 as illustrated or by adhesive, by friction fit or other appropriate means. Each bumper 80 is secured to the housing of the nozzle assemblies 14, 70 by any means of mechanical fastening known to those skilled in the art. Advantageously, the electroluminescent light sources 12, 52 are thin and flexible so as to allow mounting in the resilient bumper 80 at the very front and base of the nozzle assembly 14, 70. From this position the light sources 12, 52 are best located to illuminate the work area immediately in front of the nozzle assembly 14, 70 so as to better aid the operator during cleaning.

The foregoing description of the preferred embodiment of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Obvious modifications or variations are possible in light of the above teachings. For example, a protection, transparent shield may be provided over the light source 12, 52 if desired. The embodiment was chosen and described to provide the best illustration of the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. All such modifications and variations are within the scope of the invention as determined by the appended claims when interpreted in accordance with the breadth to which they are fairly, legally and equitably entitled. The drawings and preferred embodiment do not and are not intended to limit the ordinary meaning of the claims and their fair and broad interpretation in any way.