Title:
CANOPY WITH ILLUMINATION DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A canopy, particularly a pavilion, a pergola, a tent or an awning, having a roof, a support structure for the roof and an illumination device associated with the support structure, is characterized, with regard to the object of achieving reliable operation of the apparatus, a particularly appealing visual impression and the greatest possible protection for the illumination device, in that the illumination device is associated with the support structure essentially integrally.



Inventors:
Falin, Zhao (Linhai City, CN)
Application Number:
12/013722
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
01/14/2008
Assignee:
Yotrio Group Co., Ltd.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H15/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YIP, WINNIE S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALSTON & BIRD LLP (CHARLOTTE, NC, US)
Claims:
That which is claimed is:

1. A canopy, such as a pavilion, a pergola, a tent or an awning, said canopy comprising: a roof, a support structure for the roof, and an illumination device associated with the support structure, wherein the illumination device of the support structure is substantially integrated with the support structure.

2. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein the illumination device is completely integrated into the support structure.

3. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises braces.

4. A canopy according to claim 3, wherein the braces comprise one or more substantially vertically disposed support braces.

5. A canopy according to claim 4, wherein an end of the support braces that is located close to the ground comprises a base.

6. A canopy according to claims 3, wherein the braces comprise one or more substantially horizontally disposed cross-braces.

7. A canopy according to claim 6, wherein the cross-braces are disposed at an end of the support braces that is oriented away from the ground.

8. A canopy according to claim 3, wherein the braces comprise one or more substantially obliquely disposed roof braces forming a support for the roof.

9. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises a transparent or translucent material at least in a region of the integrated illumination device.

10. A canopy according to claim 3, wherein one or more braces are made at least partly of transparent or translucent material and integrally receive at least one part of the illumination device.

11. A canopy according to claim 10, wherein the integrated part of the illumination device is disposed in two ends of the brace.

12. A canopy according to claim 10, wherein the integrated part of the illumination device is distributed over the length of the brace.

13. A canopy according to claim 9, wherein the transparent or translucent material comprises at least one of plastic or glass.

14. A canopy according to claim 9, wherein the translucent material is configured to have at least one of different color schemes or a variable hue level.

15. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein at least one of a color or an intensity of emitted light is configured to be changed by a user or by means of an automatic control mechanism.

16. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein the illumination device comprises one or more illumination elements.

17. A canopy according to claim 16, wherein the one or more illumination elements comprise at least one of filament bulbs, light bulbs, or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

18. A canopy according to claim 16, wherein the illumination elements comprise elongated illumination elements.

19. A canopy according to claim 18, wherein the elongated illumination elements comprise fluorescent tubes.

20. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein the illumination device comprises a power supply circuit.

21. A canopy according to claim 20, wherein the power supply circuit is disposed inside the support structure.

22. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein the illumination device is configured to be supplied with power by means of at least one of a pack of batteries, rechargeable batteries, solar cells disposed externally or on the roof of the canopy, or a public electricity supply system.

23. A canopy according to claim 22, wherein the illumination device is configured to be supplied with power by means of a public electricity supply system by way of an intermediate rectifier.

24. A canopy according to claim 22, wherein the device is configured to be supplied with power by means of at least one rechargeable battery pack, and wherein the rechargeable battery pack is configured to be recharged using at least one of solar cells or a public electricity supply system.

25. A canopy according to claim 22, wherein the device is configured to be supplied with power by means of at least one of a pack of batteries or rechargeable batteries, and wherein at least one of the pack of batteries or the rechargeable batteries is disposed inside a support brace of the canopy.

26. A canopy according to claim 25, wherein at least one of the pack of batteries or the rechargeable batteries is disposed inside a base of the canopy.

27. A canopy according to claim 22, wherein at least one of a pack of batteries or rechargeable batteries is encapsulated and disposed on at least one of an outer side of a support brace or an outer side of a base, such that it can be detached therefrom.

28. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein the illumination device is configured to be activated by at least one of a hand-operated switch or a foot-operated switch, located in the support structure.

29. A canopy according to claim 28, wherein the hand-operated or foot-operated switch is located in at least one of a support brace or a base of the canopy.

30. A canopy according to claim 1, wherein the roof comprises at least one of an natural fiber fabric, a synthetic fiber fabric, a bonded composite material made of a fabric and a plastic film, or a plastic film.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a Continuation of International Application No. PCT/DE2006/000548, filed Mar. 28, 2006, and which designates the U.S. The disclosure of the referenced application is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a canopy, in particular a pavilion, a pergola, a tent or an awning, said canopy comprising a roof, a support structure for the roof, and an illumination device associated with the support structure.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The German Utility Model Patent Application DE 90 04 867 U1 discloses a low-voltage illumination device for pergola systems. The illumination device consists of low-voltage illumination elements disposed on the outer side of the support structure of the pergola.

Furthermore, pavilion-like structures are known from the prior art, which structures also comprise a roof supported by the support structure. These canopy systems likewise have an illumination device, the illumination elements of which are fixed on the outer side of the support structure.

However, these category-defining canopies suffer from shortcomings in several respects. Firstly, the illumination device disposed on the outer side of the support structure is very susceptible to damage. Such damages result almost inevitably when a canopy must or should be mounted and dismantled regularly. In these cases, the illumination device, and the power supply usually associated therewith can sustain damage as a result of the user's carelessness or an unavoidable collision with other components of the canopy. The possible breakage of glass poses an increased risk of injury.

Furthermore, another disadvantage of the category-defining canopies is that the illumination device disposed on the outer side of the support structure can pose an increased risk of injury during the operation of the illuminable canopy. Thus, an unwary user or a child may accidentally touch the possibly very hot parts of the illumination device and sustain considerable injuries.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the illumination device of an illuminable, category-defining canopy, especially one that is operated in gardens and recreational areas, attract a large number of insects, in particular, at nighttime. These insects get caught up in parts of the illumination device or perish on coming into contact with the hot parts of the illumination device, which in a short time stains the illumination device, and thus the entire canopy.

Finally, another shortcoming of the category-defining canopies in general terms is that the illumination devices mounted together with the power supply circuit on the outer side of the support structure are regarded as an unprofessional solution by the user or visitors in visual respects.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to design and further develop a canopy of the aforementioned kind so as to achieve a visually appealing impression, maximum possible protection of the illumination device, in addition to the reliable operation of the latter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The aforementioned object and others are achieved according to various embodiments of the present invention. Accordingly, a canopy, in particular, a pavilion, a pergola, a tent or an awning is characterized in that the illumination device of the support structure is substantially integrated with the support structure.

It has been found according to the invention that it is possible to achieve optimum protection of the illumination device from damage or destruction by disposing the illumination device partially or completely inside the support structure.

A delicate illumination device, which may consist, for example, of filament bulbs, light bulbs, light-emitting diodes, or the like can be “countersunk” partially or completely inside the support structure of the canopy of the invention according to the invention. For example, the illumination device can be disposed in braces that can form the support structure of the canopy.

The resulting possibility of isolating the illumination device from the surroundings effectively helps prevent damage caused by mounting and dismantling the canopy or due to external influences during storage.

The isolation of the illumination device according to the invention simultaneously rules out the risk of injury during the mounting and dismantling of the canopy and during its operation.

Furthermore, it has been found that the integration of the illumination device into the support structure of the canopy helps achieve a particularly favorable visual impression of the canopy. When the illumination device is not in operation, for example, in the presence of daylight, it is not noticeable to the user or gives merely a vague impression of its presence.

Secondly, even when the illumination device is in operation, an extremely appealing visual impression of the entire apparatus is ensured due to the encapsulation of the illumination device.

As a result, a canopy of the aforementioned kind is specified in which a reliable operation of the apparatus, a particularly appealing visual impression, and the maximum possible protection of illumination device is achieved.

In the canopy according to the invention, the illumination device of the support structure is substantially integrated with the support structure. This means, for example, that small portions of the illumination device can come into contact with the ambient environment. For example, bores can be provided in the related portions of the support structure, in which bores light-emitting diodes are disposed such that only the outermost end of the latter protrude through the corresponding bore. This also helps achieve excellent protection for the illumination device.

However, in general, that embodiment of the invention is preferred in which the illumination device is completely integrated into the support structure. The support structure thus has no direct contact with the ambient environment, thereby enabling particularly effective prevention of damage or superficial wear of the illumination device. In other words, the illumination device is enclosed by the support structure in all spatial directions, thereby receiving optimum protection. This likewise effectively prevents any possible risk of injury.

In a preferred refinement of the canopy according to the invention, the support structure comprises braces known from pavilions, tents or other apparatuses of the type mentioned above.

Usually, the braces comprise one or more substantially vertically disposed support braces. In a commercially available garden canopy, there are mostly four support braces, which mark the vertices of a square or a rectangle.

That end of the support braces that is located close to the ground can comprise a base. This provides the apparatus according to the invention with increased stability. Furthermore, operator controls and power supply devices for the illumination device can be accommodated in a support brace.

The braces can comprise one or more substantially horizontally disposed cross-braces. Usually, four or more support braces are present, and those ends of the support braces that are oriented away from the ground are connected by means of the cross-braces. This provides a stable and resilient frame for the canopy according to the invention.

The braces can comprise one or more substantially obliquely disposed roof braces forming a support for the roof. Generally, one end of each of the several obliquely disposed roof braces is articulated to a horizontally disposed cross-brace or to a connecting point of a cross-brace and a support brace, and the other end is disposed on the ends of the other existing roof braces. This forms a support for the roof, the apex of which is mostly located at the center of the rectangle or square circumscribed by the cross-braces.

The support structure preferably comprises a transparent or translucent material at least in the region of the integrated illumination device. If the illumination device, as mentioned above, is completely enclosed by the support structure, then at least that region of the support structure that encapsulates the illumination device is designed such that the light emitted by the illumination device can penetrate the support structure at least partially in order to be able to meet the purpose of the illumination device.

The use of transparent material inside the support structure helps achieve particularly high light output. In contrast, the use of translucent material can help achieve a light-scattering effect, as is known, for example, from opal light bulbs or lamps containing lampshades. This helps provide illumination having particularly appealing effects for the user. Furthermore, the use of translucent material helps achieve color effects, namely if the translucent material is tinted and acts as a color filter on the light emitted. It is further possible to provide different colors of the emitted light within a single support structure by using variably colored translucent material in different sections of the support structure.

In particular, and taking into account the already mentioned embodiments of the invention, one or more, or all braces can be made, at least partly, of transparent or translucent material and can integrally receive at least one part of the illumination device. Here, it is feasible to design one or more braces completely from transparent or translucent material. It is also possible for only the middle section of one or more braces to be made of transparent or translucent material. In addition, one or more braces can be designed using transparent or translucent material only on their upper or lower sides, when seen in the longitudinal direction, so that light is emitted only in one direction—that is, preferably toward the space circumscribed by the canopy.

The braces can be designed such that the integrated part of the illumination device is disposed in the two ends of the brace. In other words, a part of the illumination device can be integrated into both ends of the brace, which is partially made of transparent or translucent material. The light is thus emitted by and large in the longitudinal direction of the brace so that the brace is perceived to be an illuminated body in its entirety without the user detecting the illumination device disposed in the ends of the brace at first glance.

Alternatively or additionally, in another embodiment of the invention, the integrated part of the illumination device can be distributed over the length of the brace. For this purpose, a power supply circuit and a holder for the illumination device can be provided inside the brace. The power supply circuit can also be designed integrally together with the holder. It is now possible to arrange parts of the illumination device in such a way over the length of the brace that the result is a particularly uniform emission of light. The distribution of the illumination device over the length of the brace can also be combined with an arrangement of the illumination device in both the ends of the brace.

The translucent material includes plastic, glass or other suitable materials having translucent properties. In this respect, a large number of different materials are known from the prior art.

The translucent material known from the prior art can have different color schemes and/or a variably strong hue level and variable degree of light transmittance. In this way, the apparatus according to the invention is used to achieve interesting color and lighting effects that are adapted to suit the respective situation.

In another embodiment of the canopy according to the invention, the color and/or the intensity of the emitted light can be changed by the user or by means of an automatic control mechanism. The intensity of the emitted light can be changed, for example, by providing the user with a dimming function for the illumination device. Such a dimming function can be implemented particularly well by using commercially available light bulbs. If the illumination device consists of illumination elements, which are not dimmable by virtue of their functioning, the intensity of the emitted light can be regulated by switching on or off a larger or smaller number of the illumination elements forming the illumination device according to requirements.

The color of the emitted light can be changed by switching on or off variably colored illumination elements according to requirements. For this purpose, the illumination device can comprise illumination elements, each of which emits a complementary color. The selective switching on and off of defined illumination elements can provide any color of emitted light.

In another embodiment of the canopy according the invention, the illumination device inside the support structure can be surrounded, for example, by a color filter, which is designed as a cylinder and segments of which have different colors. A rotation or any other dislocation of the color filter within the support structure changes the color of the emitted light, depending on the user's choice.

In general, that embodiment of the invention is preferred in which the illumination device comprises one or more illumination elements. This usually helps the illumination cover a large surface area by illumination. A plurality of illumination elements can be distributed in a decentralized manner in the support structure of the canopy, thereby ensuring more uniform and extensive illumination. However, it is also possible to use a single illumination element as the illumination device.

The illumination elements can comprise filament bulbs, light bulbs, and/or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The advantage of filament bulbs or light bulbs is that they emit light that has particularly pleasant effects for the user. However, the power consumption of light bulbs or filament bulbs is known to be high as compared to the light output emitted. The advantage of light-emitting diodes is that they require only a very small volume inside the support structure of the apparatus. Moreover, the heat capacity of light-emitting diodes is very low since a large part of the power consumed is converted into light output. Therefore, light-emitting diodes generally consume very less power as compared to light bulbs. The small overall size of LEDs makes it possible to arrange many light-emitting diodes inside the support structure of the canopy according to the invention. Furthermore, the variably colored light-emitting diodes help achieve all kinds of light effects. The light output can be regulated by selectively switching on and off the light-emitting diodes. This also enables a reduction in the power consumption of the illumination device.

Alternatively or additionally, the illumination elements can comprise elongated illumination elements, in particular, fluorescent tubes. Such fluorescent tubes are particularly suitable for being arranged in the support braces already mentioned above. All kinds of interesting color effects can be achieved by tinting the fluorescent tubes or in any other manner mentioned above.

The illumination device generally comprises a power supply circuit, which connects the illumination device to a current source. The power supply circuit can consist of wires, cables or conductive strips, on which the illumination elements can be disposed.

In a particularly preferred embodiment of the canopy according to the invention, the power supply circuit is disposed inside the support structure. The power supply circuit is therefore not visible from the outside and is securely protected from damage.

In a refinement of the canopy according to the invention, the illumination device can be supplied with power by means of a pack of batteries, rechargeable batteries, solar cells disposed externally or on the roof, or a public electricity supply system (if appropriate, by way of an intermediate rectifier). If several types of power supply are implemented in the canopy according to the invention at the user's choice, the user can select between these, depending on the available power supply and, for example, switch from battery operation or rechargeable battery-operation to an operation powered by the public electricity supply system.

In a preferred embodiment, the pack of rechargeable batteries can be recharged using solar cells and/or the public electricity supply system. A canopy according to the invention comprising solar cells mounted on the roof or on other suitable positions can recharge the rechargeable battery pack in the presence of daylight. A fully charged rechargeable battery is provided in case the illumination device of the canopy is required for use during evening hours or at nighttime.

The pack of batteries or rechargeable batteries can be disposed inside a support brace or inside a base of the canopy according to the invention. This depends on the preferred design form for the canopy according to the invention and the type of canopy to be used.

In an alternative embodiment, the pack of batteries or rechargeable batteries can be encapsulated and disposed on the outer side of a support brace or on the outer side of a base such that it can be detached therefrom. In this embodiment of the canopy according to the invention, the pack of batteries or rechargeable batteries can be replaced with a fresh or charged pack batteries or rechargeable batteries if the former has been used for so long that it cannot supply any more power.

A hand-operated or foot-operated switch designed in the support structure can activate the illumination device. For this purpose, a hand-operated or foot-operated switch can be provided at a suitable location on the support structure. It is further possible to activate the illumination device using a remote control or a timer.

The hand-operated or foot-operated switch is preferably designed in a support brace or in a base of the canopy according to the invention.

The roof can comprise an optionally impregnated natural or synthetic fiber fabric, a bonded composite material made of a fabric and a plastic film, or only a plastic film. Furthermore, it is possible for the roof to be made of highly durable materials, for example, metal or plastic plates or glass. These materials are preferred, if a canopy is intended for long-term and permanent use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The inventive device will be described in more detail hereinbelow with the aid of an exemplary embodiment of the inventive apparatus, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a side-view of the canopy according to one embodiment of the invention comprising the illumination device, the canopy being designed as a pavilion in this embodiment,

FIG. 2 is a longitudinal section through a support brace or a cross-brace of the canopy shown in FIG. 1. The two ends of the support brace or cross-brace integrally receive a part of the illumination device, and the support brace or cross-brace is made partly of transparent or translucent material,

FIG. 3 is a longitudinal section through a roof brace of the canopy shown in FIG. 1. The brace receives a part of the illumination device such that the latter is distributed over the length of the roof brace. The roof brace shown here is made at least partly of transparent or translucent material, and

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along the longitudinal axis of a roof brace of the canopy shown in FIG. 1. The roof brace completely encapsulates the illumination elements of the illumination device from the ambient environment and the roof brace is produced at least partly from transparent or translucent material.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows a side view of a canopy 1 according to the invention. The canopy is designed in this exemplary embodiment as a pavilion, as is used in gardens or recreational areas by way of example. For purposes of clarity, the roof of the pavilion is not shown in this figure. The roof can be formed, in the usual manner, of a plastic film or any other material already mentioned above.

The canopy 1 comprises a support structure 2 for the roof and an illumination device 3 associated with the support structure 2. In this example, the support structure 2 comprises support braces 4. Those ends of the support braces that are located close to the ground form a base 5. The pavilion comprises altogether four support braces 4, which are disposed vertically and form the vertices of a rectangle. The upper ends of the support braces 4 are connected by means of horizontally disposed cross-braces 6.

At least four roof braces 7, which connect the vertices of the rectangle to the center of the rectangle, are attached to the cross-braces 6. In the pavilion illustrated, altogether eight roof braces 7 are provided for increased stability.

In the canopy 1 illustrated here, both the support braces 4, the cross-braces 6, and the roof braces 7 are designed at least partly of transparent or translucent material and they receive the illumination device 3 completely inside the support structure 2 of the canopy 1.

A hand-operated switch 8 for operating the illumination device 3 is disposed in one of the support braces 4. Furthermore, a pack of batteries or rechargeable batteries 9, by which the illumination device 3 can be operated independently of the public electricity supply system, is disposed on or in at least one of the bases 5. Alternatively, the illumination device 3 can be operated by a solar cell 10 disposed on the roof. The solar cell 10 likewise recharges the pack of batteries/rechargeable batteries 9 so that the pack of batteries/rechargeable batteries 9 can be charged during the day-time and discharged at nighttime during the operation of the illumination device 3. FIG. 2 shows a longitudinal section through a brace used preferably as a support brace 4 or a cross-brace 6 in the canopy 1 shown in FIG. 1.

However, it should be emphasized that the brace design shown in FIG. 2 can also naturally be used optionally as the roof brace 7, depending on the desired size of the canopy 1 and the desired adjustable lighting conditions.

The support brace 4 or cross-brace 6 receives a part of the illumination device 3 in such a way that one or more illumination elements 11 are disposed in the interior of the brace, in each of the ends of the latter. In the example shown here, the illumination elements 11 comprise light-emitting diodes 12. For this purpose, the middle section of the brace is made of transparent or translucent material in order to enable the emission of light. At the two ends of the brace, a type of base plate made of metal by way of example is provided, which firstly enables the power supply and secondly receives the holder for the illumination elements 11. These base plates are connected to the power supply circuit 13, which runs through the brace and supplies both ends of the brace with power.

The power supply circuit 13 ends either in the solar cell 10, on the pack of batteries/rechargeable batteries 9 or at the connection to the public electricity supply system.

FIG. 3 shows a longitudinal section through a roof brace 7 of the canopy 1 illustrated in FIG. 1. The roof brace 7 is produced from transparent or translucent material and it integrally receives a part of the illumination device 3. Here too, the received part of the illumination device 3 is composed of a plurality of illumination elements 11 designed as light-emitting diodes 12.

Unlike the support brace 4 or cross-brace 6 shown in FIG. 2, the illumination device 3 in the roof brace 7 illustrated here is distributed over the length of the brace. For this purpose, the power supply circuit 13 is simultaneously designed as a holder for the illumination elements 11. The illumination elements 11 can be mounted at predefined intervals on this holder.

It should be reiterated here that the support braces 4, cross-braces 6, and roof braces 7 in alternative embodiments of the invention could each be designed as shown in FIG. 2 or FIG. 3.

Furthermore, it is possible to combine the solutions shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 by distributing the illumination elements 11 both at the two ends of the respective brace and over the length of the brace. This is possible by designing the power supply circuit 13 shown in FIG. 2 in the same manner as the power supply circuit 13 shown in FIG. 3, where the power supply circuit can simultaneously serve as a holder for additional illumination elements 11.

FIG. 4 shows a sectional view of the roof brace 7 illustrated in FIG. 3, the section plane being disposed perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis of the roof brace 7. The roof brace 7 consists of a hollow profile of rectangular cross-section, the edges of the profile being rounded off.

However, the profile can also have any other suitable shape, for example, an oval or circular cross-section.

Altogether four grooves 14 running in the longitudinal direction are designed inside the profile. One pair of two grooves is located in the upper and the other pair of two grooves is located in the lower region of the profile. An elongated holder for the illumination elements 11 is inserted into one pair of grooves. This holder is formed integrally with the power supply circuit 13 for the illumination elements 11. The illumination elements 11 are disposed on the holder or the power supply circuit 13.

Since the illumination elements 11 are completely encapsulated by the roof brace 7, this roof brace 7 is produced at least partly from transparent or translucent material. The holder for the illumination elements 11, which holder is formed integrally with the power supply circuit 13, can be produced from transparent, translucent or inter-transparent material depending on the targeted lighting results. In the exemplary embodiment illustrated, the roof brace 7 is made of plastic. However, the roof brace 7 can also be produced from any other suitable material, such as glass by way of example. This likewise holds true of the support brace 4 or cross-brace 6 shown in FIG. 2.

In the production of the roof brace 7, the profile including the two pairs of grooves is initially manufactured. Then the elongated holder including the illumination elements 11 disposed thereon is inserted into one pair of grooves. The roof brace 7 can subsequently be installed in the support structure 2 of the canopy 1. If a different orientation of light emission is desired, where, for example, the roof of the canopy 1 is to be illuminated instead of the ground, the holder including the illumination elements 11 can be fitted into the other pair of grooves so that light is emitted in the opposite direction.

It is naturally possible, as has been emphasized with reference to FIG. 3, to apply the design solution illustrated in FIG. 4 not only for roof braces 7 but also for support braces 4 or cross-braces 6.

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the exemplary embodiments described above discuss the teaching claimed without restricting it to said embodiments.