Title:
Refrigerator Case
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A refrigerated case (20) has a base (30) and a number of supports (91, 92, 93) extending upward from the base. A number of structural uprights (70, 72, 74) are coupled to the supports. The rear supports are positioned to permit a back-to-back positioning of pair of such refrigerated cases. When so-positioned, the left end (26) of each case is substantially aligned with the right end (28) of the other case and the rear supports of each case are in a nested relationship with the rear supports of the other case.



Inventors:
Decker, Daren M. (Midlothian, TX, US)
Lorzadeh, Jamie (Carrollton, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/911112
Publication Date:
10/16/2008
Filing Date:
04/27/2005
Assignee:
CARRIER CORPORATION (Farmington, CT, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F3/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROGERS, LAKIYA G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BACHMAN & LAPOINTE, P.C. (UTC) (NEW HAVEN, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A refrigerated case apparatus (20) having a front (22), a back (24), a left end (26), and a right end (28) and comprising: a base (30); a plurality of rear supports (91; 92; 93) extending upward from the base; and a refrigeration apparatus (60) positioned to cool an interior (36) of the case, wherein: the rear supports (91; 92; 93) are positioned to permit a back-to-back positioning of a pair of such case apparatus (20) with the left end (26) of each apparatus (20) substantially aligned with the right end (28) of the other apparatus (20) and the rear supports (91; 92; 93) of each apparatus (20) in a nested relationship with the rear supports (91; 92; 93) of the other apparatus (20).

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising: a plurality of rear structural uprights (70; 72; 74) coupled to the supports; and at least one insulated panel (86; 88) between the uprights and the supports and secured to the uprights and the supports.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein: the rear supports include a leftmost support (91) a rightmost support (92), and a plurality of intermediate supports (93).

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein: the leftmost support (91) is farther from the left end (26) than the rightmost support (92) is from the right end (28).

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein: the plurality of intermediate supports (93) comprises 35 such intermediate supports evenly spaced.

6. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein: the plurality of intermediate supports (93) comprises 35 such intermediate supports evenly spaced along with the leftmost support at a first on-center spacing, a second oncenter spacing between the rightmost support (92) and an adjacent one of the intermediate supports (93) being smaller.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 having: a length between the left end (26) and the right end (28) of 1.5-4.0 m; and a height of 1.6-2.5 m.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein: at least some of the supports have a rearwardly-open channel cross-section.

9. A method for assembling a group of refrigerator case apparatus (20) according to claim 1 comprising: positioning a first of said apparatus (20) back-to-back with a second of said apparatus (20) with the left end (26) of each apparatus (20) substantially aligned with the right end (28) of the other apparatus (20) and the rear supports (91; 92; 93) of each apparatus (20) in a nested relationship with the rear supports (91; 92; 93) of the other apparatus (20).

10. The method of claim 9 wherein said group comprises two rows, each of at least two of said apparatus (20) end-to-end.

11. The method of claim 9 wherein said group comprises two rows, each of at least two of said apparatus (20) end-to-end, with an end-to-end spacing of less than 2 cm, said alignment also being within 2 cm.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to refrigerator cases. More particularly, the invention relates to structural integration of insulated panels in walls of such cases.

Refrigerator cases (generically including freezers) are used in a variety of commercial situations. One key use is for retail display and vending. Many such cases include a closed rear wall and either an open front or a glass door front.

Insulation of the compartment of such cases relative to their external structure is important for a number of reasons. In addition to basic efficiency concerns, insulation may be appropriate to avoid or control condensation on components external to the compartment. This may be motivated by sanitary considerations in addition to refrigerator case longevity.

In refrigerator case engineering and manufacturing, modularity has been a relevant consideration. It is advantageous to be able to use at least some of the same components when producing a variety of sizes and/or configurations of case. Configurations have been developed that include combinations of external and internal structural components. These components can be coupled to each other through insulated panels. An exemplary configuration is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,517,826. In that patent, one or more insulated panels intervene between external and internal structural members. Studded dog bone-shaped mounting elements are embedded within the foam panels with the studs protruding from surfaces of the panels. The studs may be engaged to internal and external structural members to structurally couple such members.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The external structural members can be somewhat space-consuming. Accordingly, one aspect of the invention involves a refrigerated case having a base and a number of supports extending upward from the base. A refrigeration apparatus is positioned to cool an interior of the case. The rear supports are positioned to permit a back-to-back positioning of a pair of such refrigerated cases. When so-positioned, the left end of each case is substantially aligned with the right end of the other case and the rear supports of each case are in a nested relationship with the rear supports of the other case.

The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a view of a refrigerator case.

FIG. 2 is a partially schematic side sectional view of the case of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a transverse horizontal sectional view of the case of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a back view of the case of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a transverse horizontal sectional view of a group of cases of FIG. 1.

Like reference numbers and designations in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows a refrigerator case 20 having a front 22, a back 24, and left and right ends 26 and 28. For purposes of reference, front, back, left, and right, are taken from the point of view of the case itself rather than a user facing the case. The case includes a base structure 30, a rear wall structure 32, and a top structure 34. The case has a cooled interior volume or compartment 36. The exemplary case has a series of vertical groups of shelves 38. The exemplary case is a closed case having a sliding or hinged glass door front structure 40 and patch end or partition structures 42 and 44. Partitions are used where cases are arrayed side-by-side; patch ends are used at the two ends of the array. Alternative cases are open-front.

The exemplary base 30 includes front and back transverse rails 50 and 52 for supporting the remainder of the base and, therethrough, the remainder of the case atop a ground/floor surface. The exemplary base 30 contains the refrigeration equipment (e.g., an evaporator, and the like shown schematically as 60 in FIG. 2). The evaporator may be connected to a central compressor and condenser elsewhere in the facility. Alternatively, the case equipment could be self-contained. FIG. 2 further schematically shows an air flowpath having a first portion 510 carrying cooled air from the equipment 60 to a rear air flowpath section or duct 62. A second portion 512 flows upward through the rear duct 62. A third portion 514 flows forward from the top of rear duct 62 through a top duct 64. A fourth portion 516 exits the top duct near the forward end of the top 34 and is discharged downward along the front 22. A return portion 518 is drawn back into the equipment 60 through a grate 66 near the forward top portion of the base 30 immediately in front of a base cover member 68.

FIG. 3 shows further details of the rear duct 62. The duct 62 is segmented by a series of interior uprights including a left upright 70, a right upright 72, and a series of intermediate uprights 74. Forwardly, the duct segments are each bounded by an associated duct panel 80 (e.g., mounted by fasteners 81 to side portions of forward flanges 82 of the adjacent two uprights). As is discussed in further detail below, each shelf 38 may be mounted to these uprights (e.g., a single width shelf spanning and mounted to exactly two adjacent such uprights via mounting apertures in root portions of the flanges 82). Rearwardly, the duct segments are collectively bounded by the forward surfaces of panels of an insulated panel assembly 84. FIG. 2 shows the panel assembly 84 as including an upper panel 86 and a lower panel 88.

FIGS. 2 and 3 further show the base 30 as including a series of support brackets or braces 90 extending front-to-back spanning the rails 50 and 52. Mounted to and extending upward from a rear end portion of each brace 90 is a rear external support 91; 92; 93. In the exemplary case there are a leftmost support 91, a rightmost support 92, and a plurality of intermediate supports 93. Each support 91; 92; 93 has a lower end 94 mounted to the rear end portion 96 of the associated brace 90 and has an upper end 98. As is discussed in further detail below, the panel assembly 84 is sandwiched between the uprights 70, 72, and 74 along the front and the supports along the rear.

It is advantageous to structurally couple the supports 90 to the uprights 70, 72, and 74 so that the supports can maintain the uprights vertical against torque and resultant bending associated with the cantilevering of loaded shelves 38. Advantageously, however, the coupling limits heat transmission from the supports to the uprights or otherwise through the panel assembly 84.

FIG. 3 shows the upper panel 86 as including an insert 100 along a lower edge. The insert 100 is of a relatively rigid polymeric material (e.g., cellular PVC) between fore and aft face sheets 104 and 106 (e.g., steel). The panel 86 includes a foam core (e.g., of expanded polyurethane). Fasteners 110 and 112 respectively secure the uprights and the braces to the insert 100. The relative rigidity of the insert 100 is effective to maintain engagement with the fasteners and transmit force between the uprights and braces.

FIG. 3 shows the left 70 and right 72 uprights as approximately inwardly-open C-sectioned members having a single fastener 110 extending through their rear flanges 120). Exemplary intermediate uprights 74 are generally I-sectioned, having a pair of screws 110 extending through a rear flange 122 generally on opposite sides of a central web or leg 124. The supports 91; 92; 93 have a generally rearwardly-open C-section and each have a pair of the screws 112 extending through their central forward web/leg 126. Other sheet metal screws 127 (FIG. 4) may each extend into one of the panel face sheets from either the uprights 74 or supports 92. The exemplary uprights and supports are out of phase with each other so that each upright is transversely offset from the adjacent supports (or vice versa). As noted above, the transverse upright spacing may correspond to a shelf width/pitch. The exemplary uprights, supports, and braces are unitarily formed of a metal such as steel.

FIG. 4 shows the leftmost support 91 positioned a different distance from the left end 26 than the rightmost support 92 is from the right end 28. This difference, in view of the support side-to-side width, is effective to permit aligned back-to-back positioning of adjacent cases 20 with their supports intermeshed. FIG. 5 shows a group of such cases arrayed in two back-to-back rows 200 and 202. The cases 20 of each row 200 and 202 are aligned end-to-end with a small spacing (e.g., 2 cm or less) or contacting. Similarly, the left end of each case 20 is closely aligned with the right end of the adjacent case in the other row (e.g., within 2 cm and preferably essentially exact). With the nesting alignment, a vertical centerplane 550 of the group passes through all the supports of the cases of both rows.

The intermediate supports 93 are also positioned to avoid interference with the supports of the adjacent case of the other row. In the exemplary case, this may be achieved by substantially evenly spacing the intermediate supports 93 (FIG. 4) and one of the leftmost and rightmost supports (e.g., the leftmost support 91 in the example). The other of the left and right supports (e.g., the rightmost support 92 in the example) is at a smaller on-center spacing from the adjacent intermediate support 93. In the exemplary configuration, this support 92 is spaced from the associated end 28 by a first distance less than the support width. The other support 91 is spaced from its associated end 26 by a second distance greater than the support width combined with the first distance.

The back-to-back nesting of FIG. 5 can save precious retail floor space. Although the supports of the cases of each row may contact the cases of the other row, they may be slightly spaced apart therefrom. Nevertheless, exemplary nesting advantageously provides at least half of the space savings that would be achieved if there was such contact relative to a non-nested arrangement.

One or more embodiments of the present invention have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the foregoing teachings may be applied in the reengineering of an existing case configuration. In such a reengineering, details of the existing configuration will influence or dictate details of any particular implementation. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims.