Title:
Ice machine with drain
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is an ice machine. The machine has i) a cabinet, ii) an icemaker adapted to making ice, iii) a bin situated in the cabinet below the icemaker, (iv) a drawer positioned in the bin. The icemaker is situated in the cabinet. The drawer is substantially non-refrigerated and is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of the cabinet. The drawer has an opening at the top thereof such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand and has a drain therein to allow melt water to drain out.



Inventors:
Sowa, Casimer S. (Racine, WI, US)
Andresen, Michael J. (Lake Villa, IL, US)
Hand, James C. (Glen Ellyn, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/148886
Publication Date:
10/30/2008
Filing Date:
04/23/2008
Assignee:
SCOTSMAN ICE SYSTEMS LLC
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
312/330.1, 62/498
International Classes:
F25C5/18; A47B88/04; F25B1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
COMINGS, DANIEL C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul D. Greeley (Stamford, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An ice machine, comprising: i) a cabinet; ii) an icemaker adapted to making ice, wherein the icemaker is situated in the cabinet; iii) a bin situated in the cabinet below the icemaker; and iii) a drawer positioned in the bin, the drawer adapted to receive and retain the ice from the ice maker, wherein the drawer is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of the cabinet, wherein the drawer has an opening at the top thereof such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand, and wherein the drawer has a drain therein to allow melt water to drain out.

2. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the icemaker comprises a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator.

3. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the drawer is substantially non-refrigerated.

4. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the drawer is at least partially insulated.

5. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the drain takes the form of one or more orifices in the bin.

6. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the drain takes the form of an orifice in the bin, wherein the orifice is in communication with a drainage hose.

7. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the bin is at least partially insulated, wherein the drain takes the form of one or more orifices in the bin, and wherein the one or more orifices is in communication with one or more drainage hoses.

8. The ice machine of claim 1, wherein the bin has a removable liner situated therein, wherein the liner is adapted to receive and retain the ice, wherein the liner and the drawer are positioned with respect to each other as to define a cavity therebetween, and wherein the liner has one or more orifices therein to allow melt water to drain from the liner into the cavity.

9. The ice machine of claim 8, wherein the drawer is at least partially insulated, wherein the drain takes the form of one or more orifices in the drawer, and wherein the one or more orifices in the bin is in communication with one or more drainage hoses.

10. An ice machine, comprising: i) a cabinet; ii) an icemaker adapted to making ice, wherein the icemaker is situated in the cabinet; iii) a bin situated in the cabinet below the icemaker; iv) a drawer positioned in the bin, the drawer being adapted to being pulled at least partially out of the bin, the drawer having an interior therein, the drawer being adapted to receive and retain the ice from the ice maker, the drawer defining an opening therein such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand, the drawer having a drain therefrom to allow water to drain out, the bin having a drain therefrom to allow water to drain out, the drain from the bin having a valve therein substantially preventing the backflow of water into the bin.

11. The ice machine of claim 10, further comprising a liner, the liner being situated at least partly in the interior of the drawer and at least generally conforming to the shape thereof, the liner being removable from the drawer, the liner being adapted to receive and retain the ice from the ice maker, the liner defining an opening therein such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand, the liner having at least one orifice therein providing a passage for melt water from the liner to a cavity between the liner and the drawer.

12. The ice machine of claim 10, wherein the drawer is positioned in the bin such that a cavity is defined therebetween.

13. The ice machine of claim 10, wherein the drawer has a drain therethrough that takes the form of a valve that opens when the drawer is in a resting position in the bin and closes to water flow when the drawer is pulled from the resting position.

14. The ice machine of claim 13, wherein the valve in the liner is a duckbill valve.

15. The ice machine of claim 13, wherein the valve in the liner is a dome valve.

16. The ice machine of claim 10, wherein the valve in the drain from the bin is a check valve.

17. The ice machine of claim 10, wherein the icemaker includes a compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator.

18. The ice machine of claim 10, wherein the bin is at least partially insulated.

19. The ice machine of claim 10, wherein the drain from the drawer and the drain from the bin converge to a common drain having an electric pump therein.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority based on U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/925,999, filed Apr. 24, 2007, and 61/062,259, filed Jan. 24, 2008, both of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an ice machine in which ice can be removed without reaching into the ice machine. The present invention further relates to an ice machine with a drawer for provision of ice. The present invention still further relates to an ice machine with a drawer that does not exhibit errant drainage when electric power is shut off.

2. Description of the Related Art

Ice machines have been employed in commercial and restaurant applications to make clear, aesthetically attractive ice cubes that are substantially pure and free of aftertaste associated with mineral impurities normally found in water. After ice cubes are formed in the icemaker, the cubes typically drop into a stationary storage bin for storage and dispensing. The cubes are usually removed from the storage bin by hand either directly or indirectly with a scoop or other implement.

For convenience sake, it would be desirable to have an ice machine in which removal of ice would not require reaching into the machine. However, storage of or otherwise making ice available outside of the ice machine is problematic because of water drainage associated with the melting of ice.

Some ice machines that do not have ready access to an exterior drain for disposal of melt/waste water require the use of an electric pump to provide mechanical assistance for more distant disposal. In electric power outages, melt/waste water can back up into the ice machine. If the storage bin is stationary, the melt/waste water backs up and accumulates in the storage bin. Accumulation of melt/waste water in the storage bin normally does not result in unusual problems.

Some ice machines that do not have ready access to an exterior drain for disposal of melt/waste water require the use of an electric pump to provide mechanical assistance for more distant disposal. In electric power outages, melt/waste water can back up into the ice machine. If the storage bin is stationary, the melt/waste water backs up and accumulates in the storage bin. Accumulation of melt/waste water in the storage bin normally does not result in unusual problems.

It would be desirable to have an ice machine with an effective drain system for melt water and waste water. It would further be desirable to have an ice machine with a drawer with an effective drain system for melt/waste water.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, there is provided an ice machine. The machine has i) a cabinet, ii) an icemaker adapted to making ice, iii) a bin situated in the cabinet below the icemaker, (iv) a drawer positioned in the bin. The icemaker is situated in the cabinet. The drawer is substantially non-refrigerated and is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of the cabinet. The drawer has an opening at the top thereof such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand and has a drain therein to allow melt water to drain out.

Further according to the present invention, there is provided an ice machine. The machine has i) a cabinet, ii) an icemaker, iii) a storage bin, and iv) a drawer. The icemaker is adapted to making ice and is situated in the cabinet. The bin is situated in the cabinet below the icemaker. The drawer is positioned in the bin. The drawer is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of the bin. The drawer has an interior therein. The drawer being adapted to receive and retain the ice from the icemaker. The drawer defines an opening therein such that ice can be removed directly or indirectly by hand. The drawer has a drain therefrom to allow water to drain out. The bin has a drain therefrom to allow water to drain out. The drain from the bin has a valve therein substantially preventing the backflow of water into the bin.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of an ice machine in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of another embodiment of an ice machine in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a side, cutaway, cross-sectional view of the ice machine of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a front view of another embodiment of an ice machine in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a side, cutaway, cross-sectional view of the ice machine of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a front view of another embodiment of an ice machine in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another ice machine according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is another perspective view of the ice machine of FIG. 7 with the drawer and door in closed position.

FIG. 9 shows a perspective, cutaway, cross-sectional view of the ice machine of FIG. 8 along line 9-9.

FIG. 10 shows a cutaway, cross-sectional view of a portion of the ice machine of FIG. 8 along line 9-9 in the vicinity of a duckbill valve.

FIG. 11 shows an exploded view of a duckbill valve.

FIG. 12 is an exploded view of the components of a check valve.

FIG. 13 shows a perspective view of a retaining cap of the check valve of FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 shows a top view of an elbow of the check valve of FIG. 12.

FIG. 15 shows a perspective view of the check valve of FIG. 12.

FIG. 16 shows a side view of a rim of the retaining cap of the check valve of FIG. 13.

FIG. 17 shows a cross-sectional view of a cylinder portion of the retaining collar of the elbow of the check valve of FIG. 12 taken along line 17-17.

FIG. 18 is a side view of the elbow of the check valve of FIG. 12.

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of the elbow of the check valve of FIG. 14 along line 14-14.

FIG. 20 is a side, cutaway, cross-sectional view of a portion of the ice machine of FIG. 8 along line 9-9 in the vicinity of the duckbill valve and the check valve.

FIG. 21 is a schematic diagram showing components of the ice machine of the ice machine of FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The ice machine preferably takes the general shape or form of an upright cabinet. The cabinet may be configured to stand alone or be built in to a kitchen or service area. Although the icemaker may be situated anywhere in the ice machine, it is preferably situated in the top or upper portion thereof so that ice may fall into the storage bin via gravity.

The storage bin is adapted to receive and retain ice produced in the ice maker. The bin is substantially non-refrigerated and is in the nature of a drawer and is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of the cabinet. It is preferred that the bin be capable of being pulled only partly out of the cabinet so that ice will not inadvertently be deposited behind the bin when the bin is pulled out. The bin has an opening at the top thereof such that ice can be removed directly by hand or indirectly by a scoop or other implement. Preferably, the bin is entirely open at the top thereof to ensure easy access.

In a preferred embodiment, the bin is adapted to receive a removable liner therein. The presence of a liner facilitates easy removal and transport of the entire contents (ice) of the bin. The liner and the bin are positioned with respect to each other as to define a cavity therebetween. Typically and preferably, the cavity will extend along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the liner. If desired, the cavity may also extend up from the underside to extend along the sides of the liner. The cavity functions to temporarily collect melt water from ice inside the liner and to ensure that moisture is not trapped between the liner and the bin. The cavity may be formed by any conventional means known in the art, such as the placement of one or more elevated spacers between the liner and the bin or design of the contact surfaces of the liner and the bin such that the liner is suspended inside of and above the bin.

The storage bin and liner each have drains therein to permit melt water to drain out. The drains typically take the form of one or more orifices or holes in the bottom of each. Drainage may be unassisted, i.e., dependent on gravity, or be assisted by a pump. Hoses may be connected to the orifices to assist in removal of melt water. Hoses may be connected so as to be in communication with orifices to assist in removal of melt water. Preferred ice machines employ a pump, which typically is activated periodically for a few seconds.

The storage bin is situated in the cabinet and has a drawer positioned therein that is adapted to receive and retain ice produced in the icemaker. The drawer is preferably substantially non-refrigerated and can be pulled at least partially out of the cabinet. It is preferred that the drawer be capable of being pulled only partly out of the bin so that ice will not inadvertently be deposited behind the drawer when the drawer is pulled out.

The drawer is adapted to receive a removable liner therein. The presence of a liner facilitates easy removal and transport of the entire contents (ice) of the drawer. The drawer has an interior therein in which the liner is at least partly situated. The liner and the drawer are preferably of the same general shape. The liner has an opening in or is open at the top thereof so that ice can be removed directly by hand or indirectly by a scoop or other implement. Preferably, the drawer is entirely open at the top thereof to ensure easy access.

The liner and the drawer are preferably positioned or situated with respect to each other as to define a cavity therebetween. Preferably, the cavity will extend along substantially the entire length of the undersurface of the liner between the liner and the drawer. If desired, the cavity may also optionally further extend up from the underside of the liner along the sides of the liner toward the top of the liner and the top of the drawer.

The cavity between the liner and the drawer functions to temporarily collect melt water from ice inside the liner and to ensure that moisture is not trapped between the liner and the drawer. The cavity may be formed by any conventional means known in the art, such as the placement of one or more elevated spacers between the liner and the drawer or design of the contact surfaces of the liner and the drawer such that the liner is suspended inside of and above the drawer. In a preferred design, the liner has two or more outwardly protruding flanges or overhangs that are adapted to be draped or hanged over upwardly disposed sides of the bin.

The cabinet has a door that secures entry therein. The door may be of the drop-down type or an outwardly opening or side-by-side type. A drop-down door is pivotally connected to cabinet at the bottom. A side-by-side door is pivotally connected to the cabinet vertically along the left or right face thereof. If the door is of the drop-down type, the bin may optionally be coupled with, i.e., connected to, the door such that the drawer is pulled out of the cabinet when the door is opened and pushed into the cabinet when the door is closed.

The storage bin and drawer each have drains therein or therethrough to permit melt water to drain out. The drains preferably take the form of one or more valves or orifices or holes in the bottom of each. Drainage may be unassisted, i.e., dependent on gravity, or be assisted by a pump. Hoses, pipe, or other conduit may be connected to the valves or orifices to assist in removal of melt water. Preferred ice machines employ a pump, which typically is activated periodically for a few seconds.

The drawer preferably has a drain therethrough that takes the form of a valve that opens when the bin is in a resting position in the cabinet (pushed substantially all the way in the cabinet) and closes to water flow when the bin is pulled from the resting position. Preferred valves are duckbill valves and dome valves.

The bin preferably has at least one drain therethrough that has a valve therein substantially preventing the backflow of water into the bin. A preferred valve is a check valve. The valve substantially prevents water from backing up into the storage bin and out the front of the ice machine in the event of a power outage (when electric pump is inoperative).

The refrigeration means (icemaker) in the ice machine is of the conventional type employed in commercial and restaurant ice machines. A conventional icemaker typically has a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator, and a refrigerant. The conventional icemaker has two distinct cycles: freeze and harvest. Ice is formed during the freeze cycle. Ice is released from the icemaker during the harvest cycle.

During the freeze cycle, the compressor pumps refrigerant to the evaporator, wherein expansion of the refrigerant absorbs heat from the surroundings, creating a refrigerated surface(s). Water is sprayed onto the refrigerated surface(s) to form ice. The refrigerated surface(s) optionally takes the form of a plurality of cube-shaped molds in which ice cubes are formed. The water spraying process forms ice with substantially reduced mineral/impurity content as water with reduced mineral/impurity content is selectively frozen while water carrying minerals/impurities falls away without freezing. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the refrigerated surface(s) and is warmed. The compressor pumps the warmed refrigerant to the condenser where the refrigerant is cooled. The cooled refrigerant is then recycled to the evaporator to effect additional cooling. After sufficient ice has formed on the refrigerated surface(s), the freeze cycle stops and the harvest cycle begins.

During the harvest cycle, the refrigerated surface(s) are warmed via circulation of hot gases or liquids. A thin layer at the surface of the ice melts and the ice falls from the refrigerated surface(s) into the storage bin. The bin it usually insulated to reduce heat infiltration therein but is substantially non-refrigerated. The bin is substantially non-refrigerated to prevent pieces, e.g., cubes, of ice from freezing together or clumping. The temperature in the bin is normally cool but above the freezing temperature of water. The cool temperature is maintained by absorption of heat by melting ice.

A preferred ice machine has sensors that automatically turn off the icemaker when ice accumulation reaches a predetermined level in the storage bin. The sensor may be any known in the art, such as a thermostat or an ultrasonic device. An ultrasonic device is preferred.

An embodiment of the ice machine of the present invention is shown in FIG. 1 and represented by the numeral 10. Ice machine 10 has a cabinet 12, a door 14, a storage bin 16, and an icemaker 18. Icemaker 18 is adapted to making ice (not shown). Bin 16 adapted to receive and retain ice from icemaker 18. Icemaker 18 is situated in cabinet 12 preferably in the upper portion thereof over bin 16. Bin 16 is substantially non-refrigerated and is in the nature or general configuration of a drawer and is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of cabinet 12, such as shown in FIG. 2. Bin 16 is open at the top thereof such that ice can be removed directly by hand or indirectly by scoop or other implement. Bin 16 has an orifice 24 therein to allow melt water to drain out. Melt water drains through orifice 24 via gravity.

Another embodiment of an ice machine of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 and is represented by the numeral 80. Ice machine 80 has a cabinet 82, a door 84, a drawer 86, a storage bin 88, and an icemaker (not shown). The icemaker is situated in the upper portion of cabinet 82 over drawer 86. Drawer 86 slides in and out of bin 88. FIG. 3 shows ice machine 80 of FIG. 2 with drawer 86 pulled out. Drawer 86 has an orifice 84 therethrough and bin 88 has an orifice 89 therethough. Melt water drains out of orifice 84 into bin 88 and out of orifice 89.

Another embodiment of an ice machine of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 and is represented by the numeral 30. Ice machine 30 has a cabinet 32, a door 34, a drawer 36, a storage bin 38, and an icemaker (not shown). The icemaker is situated in the upper portion of cabinet 32 over drawer 36. FIG. 4 shows ice machine 30 of FIG. 3 with drawer 36 pulled out. Drawer 36 slides in and out of bin 38. Drawer 36 has an orifice 44 therein to allow melt water to drain out through a hose 48. Preferably, hose 48 is in communication with a pump (not shown) to facilitate drainage of water through hose 48.

Another embodiment of an ice machine of the present invention is shown in FIG. 6 and is represented by the numeral 60. Ice machine 60 has a cabinet 62, a door 64, a drawer 66, a storage bin 67, and an icemaker 68. Bin 67 has a removable liner 70 that is normally situated therein but is shown pulled up from bin 66 to show its features. Bin 67 and liner 70 have orifices therethrough (not shown) to allow melt water to drain. Melt water drains out of the orifice in drawer 66 into bin 67 and out the orifice thereof.

Another embodiment of the ice machine of the present invention is shown in FIG. 7 and represented by the numeral 90. Ice machine 90 has a cabinet 92, a door 94, a drawer 96, a storage bin 97, an icemaker 98, and a liner 100. Icemaker 98 is adapted to making ice (not shown). Liner 100 is adapted to be situated in drawer 96 and is also adapted to receive and retain ice from icemaker 98. Icemaker 98 is situated in cabinet 92 in the upper portion thereof over drawer 96. Drawer 96 is adapted to being pulled at least partially out of cabinet 92. Liner 100 is open at the top thereof such that ice can be removed directly by hand or indirectly by scoop or other implement. Liner 100 can also be removed at will from drawer 16 to permit removal of the entire contents (ice) of liner 100, if desired. Liner 100 is positioned within drawer 96 so that a cavity 92 is defined therebetween extending along the underside of liner 100. Liner 100 has one or more orifices therein (not shown) to allow melt water to collect in cavity 92. FIG. 9 shows a waste water pipe 94, which provides passage for waste water from icemaker 98 in the upper portion of cabinet 92 to a drain pipe 96. The functionality and components of ice machine 90 of FIG. 7 is shown schematically in FIG. 8.

A duckbill valve 128 is shown in exploded detail in FIG. 11. Duckbill valve 128 has a first member 30, a duckbill 132, a second member 134, and a third member 136. Third member 136 has a protruding conduit 138 therein visible in FIG. 10. Duckbill 132 is composed of a rubberized, elastomeric, or flexible material and is adapted to open to receive a protruding conduct 138 and is adapted to close upon withdrawal of such conduit 138. First member 130, duckbill 132, second member 134, and third member 136 fit together to form duckbill valve 128. Duckbill valve 128 is shown in cross-section in FIG. 10 in open position. Melt water passes through duckbill valve 132 into pipe 24, which drains into pipe 126. Duckbill valve 128 opens, i.e., protruding conduit 138 protrudes through duckbill 132, when in open position. Melt water from drawer 116 drains through the passageway formed by the entirety of duckbill valve 128 when the bin is in a resting position in cabinet 112 as shown in FIG. 10. When drawer 116 is pulled out of cabinet 112, such as when the consumer pulls out drawer 116 from its resting position to obtain ice, drawer 116 is pulled from contact with protruding conduit 138 causing duckbill 132 to close, which closes or shuts off water drainage from cavity 122 into pipe 126. If desired, a dome valve (not shown) may be substituted for duckbill valve 128. A preferred dome valve is of substantially similar structure and functions in a substantially similar matter as duckbill valve 128 except it has a dome in place of duckbill 132.

A check valve 140 is shown in FIGS. 12 to 19 with three primary components: a cap 142, a float 144, and an elbow 146. When water backs up into check valve 140 (through the bottom of elbow 46), float 144 is subject to buoyancy forces and rises to block orifice 148 in cap 42. The blocking of orifice 148 substantially shuts off or prevents any backflow of water through check valve 140, and, concomitantly, backflow into bin 125. Check valve 140 is shown positioned within a drain pipe 150 in FIG. 20. Drain pipe 150 collects water and/or condensate that collects in bin 125, including in a cavity 23 between bin 125 and drawer 116.

It should be understood that the foregoing description is only illustrative of the present invention. Various alternatives and modifications can be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variances that fall within the scope of the appended claims.





 
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