Title:
Led toilet seat cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for cleaning a toilet bowl including a toilet seat assembly having a toilet lid and a toilet seat, a UV-light source producing UV-light of a wavelength of approximately 360 nm secured to an interior side of the toilet lid, a first switch for turning the UV light source on when the toilet lid is placed in a closed position, and a second switch for turning the UV light off upon expiration of a predetermined period of time.



Inventors:
HO, Edward (Warren, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/635109
Publication Date:
06/12/2008
Filing Date:
12/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K13/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAUG PARTNERS LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A device for cleaning a toilet bowl comprising: a toilet seat assembly having a toilet lid and a toilet seat; a UV light source producing UV light of a wavelength of approximately 360-410 nm secured to an interior side of the toilet lid; a first switch for turning the UV light source on when the toilet lid is placed in a closed position; and a second switch for turning the UV light off upon expiration of a predetermined period of time.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the toilet bowl is coated with a photocatalyst suspended in a liquid polymer.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein the photocatalyst is TiO2.

4. The device of claim 1, wherein the first switch is a gravity switch.

5. The device of claim 4, wherein the first switch is located in a dome housing also containing the UV light source.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein the first switch is a normally open switch.

7. The device of claim 6, wherein the first switch is located proximal to an edge of the toilet lid and closes upon closing of the toilet lid.

8. The device of claim 1, wherein the UV light source is an LED.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein the UV light source is a plurality of LEDs.

10. A kit for retrofitting a toilet bowl and toilet seat assembly combination comprising: a TiO2 coating material to be applied to the surface of the toilet bowl; and a UV light source to be connected to a toilet lid of the toilet seat assembly.

11. The kit of claim 10, wherein the coating material is an acrylic based material.

12. The kit of claim 10, wherein the UV light source is a plurality of LEDs.

13. The kit of claim 10, wherein the UV-light source is located in a housing that includes a power source and one or more switches.

14. The kit of claim 10, further comprising a normally open switch to be placed proximate to an edge of the toilet lid and a timing switch.

15. The kit of claim 10, further comprising a timing switch and a gravity switch.

16. A method of producing a cleaning effect in a toilet bowl comprising the steps of: coating surfaces of a toilet bowl with a photocatalyst coating where the cleaning effect is desired; providing a UV light source producing UV light having a wavelength of about approximately 360-410 nm; and energizing the UV light source for a predetermined period of time to allow the UV light to react with the photocatalyst coating to produce a photocatalytic effect at the coated surface of the toilet bowl to oxidize organic stain producing compounds.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the photocatalyst is TiO2.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein the surface coated with the photocatalyst is the internal bowl portion of the toilet bowl.

19. The method of claim 16, wherein the surface coated with the photocatalyst includes the rim of the toilet bowl.

20. A method of treating a toilet bowl to effect a photocatalytic process comprising the steps of: providing a UV light source; coating a desired portion of a toilet bowl with an photocatalytic material; and exposing the portion of the toilet bowl coated with the photocatalytic material to the UV light.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the photocatalytic material is an acrylic based TiO2.

22. The method of claim 20, wherein the coating is performed at regular intervals.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein the regular interval is selected from the group consisting of weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually.

Description:

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

Each document cited in this text (“application cited documents”) and each document cited or referenced in each of the application cited documents, and any manufacturer's specifications, data sheets, descriptions, product literature, instructions and the like for any products mentioned herein or in herein cited documents or in documents cited in herein cited documents, is hereby incorporated herein by reference. None of the documents incorporated by reference into this text is admitted to be prior art with respect to the present invention, but, documents incorporated by reference into this text may be employed in the practice of the invention.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a toilet seat and lid and in particular a toilet seat and lid in combination with an ultra-violet light source which acts on a titanium dioxide coating on a surface of a toilet to produce a cleaning effect.

BACKGROUND

Devices incorporating an ultra-violet (“UV”) light into a traditional toilet seat for the purpose of producing an anti-microbial effect are described in U.S. Pat. No. 2,460,543 (the “'543 patent”) and in U.S. Pat. No. 4,819,276 (the '276 patent”). In the '543 patent, the light is placed under the toilet seat itself and is formed about the circumference of the underside of the seat. This orientation causes good antimicrobial effect on the rim of the toilet, but because of the light's location less energy is focused into the bowl of toilet. Typically, sufficient intensity of light along with sufficient time of exposure are considered necessary to kill bacteria. Because of its orientation, the toilet seat of the '543 patent does not appear to provide the necessary intensity into the bowl itself.

In the '276 patent, the UV light is formed in the lower section of the toilet lid with the light projecting outward and downward in order to provide sufficient intensity to kill bacteria in the bowl. However, the location of the light is less than optimal for projecting energy onto the rim of the toilet bowl or into the bowl itself.

Both of these devices include UV lights using UV bulbs. UV lights in the form or light bulbs are relatively expensive, use large amounts of energy, and require approximately 40-75 Watts of energy at 120 Volts. As can be readily understood by those of skill in the art, the presence of such an energy source in close proximity to water, and particularly water that may be in very close proximity to an individual, is less than desirable.

Moreover, though the preceding described devices are directed to use of energy sufficient to kill microbes, such an energy output can have detrimental effects on users. Indeed, UV light of sufficient energy to kill microbes can cause serious injury to humans. For example, prolonged exposure can lead to sight issues, and more immediately even relatively short exposure to UV light in the 230-260 nm (nanometer) wavelength range is well known to cause serious burns to the skin of individuals. Perhaps in view of these problems there has been relatively little large scale commercialization of UV light toilet seats. Still further, even when used to good antimicrobial effect, the toilets on which such devices are mounted are not cleaned. That is they are still susceptible to staining or being dirty, and in fact the killed microbes actually add to the problem.

The present invention endeavors to overcome the problems of the prior art and provide a toilet seat and lid with a UV light which produces a cleaning effect using UV light outside of the dangerous anti-microbial wavelength range and which does not present a significant risk of electrocution.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of the present invention is directed to a device for cleaning a toilet bowl including a toilet seat assembly having a toilet lid and a toilet seat, a UV-light source producing near UV light of a wavelength of about 360-410 nm secured to an interior side of the toilet lid, a first switch for turning the UV light source on when the toilet lid is placed in a closed position, and a second switch for turning the UV light off upon expiration of a predetermined period of time.

Additional features of the instant invention may include the toilet bowl being coated with a photocatalyst. One photocatalyst that may be used is TiO2 suspended in an acrylic or polymer suspension. Further the first switch may be a gravity switch located in a dome housing also containing the UV light source. Alternatively the first switch may be a normally open switch located proximal to the edge of the toilet lid and closes upon closing of the toilet lid. Still further the UV light source may be an LED or a plurality of LEDs.

A further aspect of the present invention is directed to a kit for retrofitting a toilet bowl and toilet seat assembly combination including a TiO2 coating material to be applied to the surface of the toilet bowl, and a UV light source to be connected to a toilet lid of the toilet seat.

Further aspects of the kit may include the coating material being an acrylic based material, the UV light source being a plurality of LEDs. The UV light source may be located in a housing including a power source and one or more switches. The kit may include a normally open switch to be placed proximate to the edge of the toilet lid and a timing switch, or alternatively a timing switch and a gravity switch.

Another aspect of the present invention is a method of producing a cleaning effect in a toilet bowl including the steps of coating surfaces of toilet bowl where the cleaning effect is desired with a photocatalyst coating, providing a UV light source producing UV light having a wavelength of about 360-410 nm, and energizing the UV light source for a predetermined period of time to allow the UV light to react with the photocatalyst coating to produce a photocatalytic effect at the coated surface of the toilet to oxidize organic stain producing compounds.

In one aspect of the method the photocatalyst is TiO2. The surface to be coated with the photocatalyst may be the internal bowl portion of the toilet, and may include the rim of the toilet.

Yet another aspect of the instant invention is a method of treating a toilet bowl to effect a photocatalytic process including steps of providing a UV light source, coating a desired portion of a toilet bowl with an photocatalytic material, and exposing the portion of the toilet bowl coated with the photocatalytic material to the UV light. In one aspect of this method the photocatalytic material may be an acrylic based TiO2. The coating may be performed at regular intervals. These regular intervals may include weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually.

In this text, the terms “comprising”, “comprise”, “comprises” and other forms of “comprise” can have the meaning ascribed to these terms in U.S. Patent Law and can mean “including”, “include”, “includes” and other forms of “include”.

The various features of novelty which characterize the invention are pointed out in particularity in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this disclosure. For a better understanding of the invention, its operating advantages and specific objects attained by its uses, reference is made to the accompanying descriptive matter in which preferred embodiments of the invention are illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which corresponding components are identified by the same reference numerals.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

In the following detailed description of the invention, reference will be made to the accompanying drawings, incorporated herein by reference, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a bottom view of a toilet seat assembly, according to one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a toilet seat assembly in a closed position, according to one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a toilet seat assembly in an open position having a LED light source attached to the lid, according to one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a side view of an LED light source, according to one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a toilet seat assembly installed on a toilet bowl, according to one aspect of the present invention; and

FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of an LED light source, according to one aspect of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention can be seen in FIGS. 1-3, wherein a toilet seat assembly 10 comprising a toilet seat 16 and lid 12 is depicted. In FIG. 1 the toilet seat assembly 10 is viewed from below and appears to comprise a normal toilet seat 16 and lid 12. In FIG. 2 a perspective view of the toilet seat assembly 10 is shown and again, from all outward appearances, the toilet seat assembly 10 appears normal.

FIG. 3 shows the toilet seat assembly 10 of the present invention in an open position. Mounted on the interior surface of the toilet lid 12 is a dome-shaped housing 14. The dome-shaped housing 14 includes a plurality of miniature UV lights, preferably light emitting diodes or LED's. The light emitting diodes emit UV light with a wavelength of approximately 360 nm, but in any event not more than 410 nm and preferably not less than 340 nm which, though known to be outside of the anti-microbial range, can create an effective cleaning action. The dome-shaped housing 14 is shown in side view in FIG. 4. The location of the light is essentially the geometic center of the toilet bowl. Depicted in FIG. 5 is a toilet seat assembly 10 according to one aspect of the instant invention, installed on a toilet bowl 17.

To create an effective cleaning action, the toilet 17 bowl and surfaces to be cleaned must be coated with a photocatalyst such as a titanium dioxide (TiO2) in an acrylic or polymer suspension. Other photocatalysts known to those of skill in the art including but not limited to Tungsten Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Zinc Sulfide, and Tin Oxide maybe used. When the photocatalyst coating receives ultraviolet radiation, a hydroxyl radical (—OH) or a sulfahydril radical (—SH), with its high performance in oxidative decomposition, and an anion such as a superoxide anion (—O2—), with its high performance in deoxidization, are generated on the surface. These substances decompose organic compounds, which unless treated would turn into stains. Thus, by having a toilet bowl 17 coated with, for example, a TiO2 coating and by supplying a UV light, the present invention is able to effectively clean the toilet bowl surface and prevent or remove stains in the bowl and on the surfaces of the toilet.

One aspect of the present invention is to provide a photocatalyst coating material such as TiO2 which is contained in an acrylic mixture that can be coated onto an existing toilet bowl and enable the use of the present invention with any toilet bowl currently in use. Acrylic makes the surface of the toilet bowl non-porous thereby preventing bacteria and dirt from sticking to the bowl, making the bowl easier to clean. According to this aspect of the invention the coating material is simply painted onto the desired surface of the toilet and allowed to dry. The coating may be performed as need depending upon the use of the individual toilet such that for example a single person living alone might only need to coat the toilet once per year, whereas a large family may need to coat the toilet once per quarter and a public restroom may need to be coated monthly or bimonthly.

Alternatively, during the manufacturing process of a toilet bowl 17, a photocatalytic material may be incorporated into the process such that the surfaces of the toilet bowl 17 include the photocatalyst material.

As with the painted on photocatalyst material, the dome-shaped housing 14 with the UV lights, which will be discussed in detail below, can also be sold along with the photocatalyst coating material as part of a kit for retrofitting to any existing toilet seat.

The dome-shaped housing 14 with the UV lights is shown in FIG. 5. The housing 14 holds the components which make up the lighting aspects of the invention. Enclosed in the dome 14 is a power source 102 such as, for example, a 9-volt battery. Connected to the battery, in one example of the present invention is a gravity activated or mercury switch 104. The gravity activated switch 104 closes the circuit when the lid 12 of the toilet seat assembly 10 is closed. In connection with the gravity switch 104 is a timing switch 106. The timing switch guarantees that upon activation the UV lights only remain on for a predetermined amount of time, for example 30 seconds. Following the two switches 104 and 106 are the lights 108, which though shown as wired in parallel, may also alternately be wired in series.

Another alternative to the two switches 104 and 106 is the inclusion of a simple pressure switch 18 which connect to the power source 102 and extends to the edge of the toilet lid 12, preferably at the rear of the toilet lid 12, where the toilet lid 12 and the toilet seat 16 connect. Such a switch can be secured on the bottom surface of the toilet lid 12 and be a normally open switch. Upon putting the toilet lid 12 in the lowered position, as shown in FIG. 2, the switch is closed and the light turns on. Again, the device may be used in conjunction with a timer to ensure that the light does not stay on beyond a predetermined period of time.

Having thus described in detail preferred embodiments of the present invention, it is to be understood that the invention defined by the above paragraphs is not to be limited to particular details set forth in the above description, as many apparent variations thereof are possible without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention.





 
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