Title:
SPA COVER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spa cover that seats against a rim of a spa to seal heat and steam within the spa. The spa cover includes a first panel having a first inner edge and a second panel having a second inner edge. A hinge moveably attaches between the first inner edge and the second inner edge to permit movement of the first cover and second cover relative to one another between an open position and a closed position. The hinge forms a seal between the inner edges of the first and second panels.



Inventors:
Sneed, Ryan (Fenton, MO, US)
Application Number:
12/039403
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
02/28/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CRANE, LAUREN ASHLEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, PC (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A spa cover seatable against a rim of a spa shell, comprising: a first cover section having a first inner edge; a second cover section having a second inner edge; and a hinge moveably attached between the first inner edge and the second inner edge so as to permit movement of the first cover and second cover relative to one another between an open position and a closed position, the hinge forming a seal between the first inner edge and the second inner edge.

2. The spa cover of claim 1 wherein the first cover section comprises: at least two partitions coupled by at least one engaging member and at least one receiving member.

3. The spa cover of claim 1 wherein the first cover section comprises: a first partition having at least one receiving member; a second partition having at least one engaging member; and a third partition having at least one receiving member that couples with corresponding engaging member.

4. The spa cover of claim 1, wherein the hinge comprises at least one gasket seated against a first cover section.

5. The spa cover of claim 1, the first cover section further comprising, drain grooves arranged along an upper face of the first cover section to drain liquids off the first cover section.

6. The spa cover of claim 5, wherein the position of the drain grooves align with corresponding tack-offs within the first cover section so that the tack-offs are not visible upon the upper surface of the first cover section.

7. The spa cover of claim 1, the first cover section further comprising, a channel with a traversing crosspiece positioned along an outer edge of the first cover section for receiving a security member.

8. The spa cover of claim 1, further comprising, a skirt extending from a lower portion of the first cover section that overhangs the rim of the spa shell when the spa cover is in the closed position.

9. The spa cover of claim 1, further comprising: a first gasket along the first inner edge; and a second gasket along the second inner edge positioned to seat against the first gasket when the spa cover is in the closed position.

10. The spa cover of claim 1, further comprising: a first gasket along a vertical inner edge of the first cover section; and a second gasket along the vertical inner edge of the second cover section positioned to seat against the first gasket when the spa cover is in the closed position

11. The spa cover of claim 1, further comprising: a first channel attached to the first inner edge of the first panel, the first channel having a first flange; a second channel attached to the first inner edge of the first panel, the first channel having a second flange; and the hinge having a slot along each edge that engages respective first flange and second flange.

12. A system for removeably covering a spa, comprising: a spa shell having a rim; a first panel having a first channel attached to a first inner edge of the first panel, and a first seal positioned along a lower edge of the first panel for seating against the rim of the spa shell; a second panel having a second channel attached to a second inner edge of the second panel, and a second seal positioned along a lower edge of the second panel for seating against the rim of the spa shell; and a hinge hingedly attached between the first channel and the second channel to permit movement of the first cover and second cover relative to one another between an open position and a closed position, the hinge forming a seal between the first channel and the second channel.

13. The spa cover of claim 12 wherein the first panel comprises: at least two partitions coupled by at least one engaging member and at least one receiving member.

14. The spa cover of claim 12 wherein the first panel comprises: a first partition having at least one receiving member; a second partition having at least one engaging member; and a third partition having at least one receiving member that couples with corresponding engaging member.

15. The spa cover of claim 12, wherein the hinge comprises at least one gasket seated against a first panel.

16. The spa cover of claim 12, further comprising, a skirt extending from a lower portion of the first panel that overhangs the rim of the spa shell when the spa cover is in the closed position.

17. The spa cover of claim 12, further comprising: a first gasket along the first inner edge; and a second gasket along the second inner edge positioned to seat against the first gasket when the spa cover is in the closed position.

18. The spa cover of claim 12, further comprising: a first gasket along a vertical inner edge of the first panel; and a second gasket along the vertical inner edge of the second panel positioned to seat against the first gasket when the spa cover is in the closed position.

19. A spa cover seatable against a rim of a spa shell, comprising: a first cover section having a first inner edge; a second cover section having a second inner edge; and a means for moveably attaching the first inner edge and the second inner edge to permit movement of the first cover and second cover relative to one another between an open position and a closed position, the means for moveably attaching forming a seal between the first inner edge and the second inner edge.

20. The spa cover of claim 19, wherein the means for moveably attaching the first inner edge and the second inner edge comprises a hinge.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is related to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/938,631 filed May 17, 2007 from which priority is claimed, and is hereby incorporated by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is generally directed to a cover and, more particularly to a cover for a spa having partitions and a sealing hinge assembly.

Portable electric spas (hot tubs) or in-ground spas are increasingly popular additions to many homes for relaxation, therapeutic, and entertainment purposes. The increased ownership of spas has correspondingly increased interest in spa accessories such as thermometers, umbrellas, vacuums, filters, and covers. One of the first accessories purchased is typically the cover. In fact, many times the consumer purchases the cover from the retailer along with the spa.

Spa covers are placed over the top of the spa when not in use to provide thermal insulation, limit contamination of the water, and prevent people or animals from falling accidentally into the spa. Conventional spa covers typically consist of two closed cell Styrofoam® slabs surrounded by a sewn vinyl covering and connected with a flexible vinyl hinge. This structure provides a generally flat cover that rests on top of the spa.

However, conventional spa covers have several disadvantages. For example, water and steam can penetrate the covering and soak into the foam. This deteriorates the cover, encourages growth of mold and mildew, and increases the cover weight which makes the cover cumbersome to use and less energy efficient. In addition, the foam's weak structural characteristics significantly limit the amount of weight conventional covers can withstand without collapsing. Therefore, a child or animal that crawls onto such a cover may bow or break it. What is more, the exposure to natural elements and water over time further weaken the foam and cause the cover to sag. Also, in many cases, the hinge connecting the two cover halves does not form a proper seal. As a result, heat and water can escape through this opening. In addition to the weak structural characteristics of foam covers, the handles, protective edge skirting, and safety labels are sewn on. This thread, over time, weakens and many of these required features unravel or detach over time. Furthermore, conventional covers are labor intensive to manufacture. Because of these poor characteristics, conventional covers generally have a short lifespan of about three years.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings which form part of the specification:

FIG. 1 is an orthographic view of a spa with a spa cover in a closed position in accordance with and embodying the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an orthographic view of the spa with the spa cover in an open position;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the spa cover in the closed position;

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the spa cover in the closed position;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the spa cover in the closed position;

FIG. 6 is an orthographic exploded view of a cover panel;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged orthographic exploded view of the cover panel;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged orthographic view of an engaging member and receiving member;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged orthographic perspective view of the security member engaged with the cover panel;

FIG. 10 is an orthographic view of the hinge assembly in the partially open position;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged orthographic partial view of the hinge assembly in the closed position;

Corresponding reference numerals indicate corresponding parts throughout the several figures of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following detailed description illustrates a preferred embodiment of the cover of the present disclosure by way of example and not by way of limitation. The description clearly enables one skilled in the art to make and use the cover, describes several embodiments, adaptations, variations, alternatives, and uses of the cover, including what is presently believed to be the best mode. Additionally, it is to be understood that the disclosure is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangements of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The cover is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

As shown in FIGS. 1-11, an embodiment of the present invention, generally referred to as a spa cover 10, seats against a rim of a spa shell A to cover the spa shell A. The spa cover 10 includes a pair of panels 12 pivotally connected by a hinge assembly 14 that allows the panels 12 to move between a closed position (FIG. 1) that covers the spa shell A and an open position (FIG. 2) that allows access to the spa shell A. A soft protective cushion or seal 15, such as felt, rubber or other suitable material, along a lower edge of the cover 10 creates a seal between the spa cover 10 and the spa shell A for retaining steam and heat within the spa shell A. In addition, the seal 15 prevents damage from scratching to the spa shell A during use.

Each panel 12 is generally rectangular in shape having a lower surface 16, and a generally tapered upper surface 18 that tapers downwardly from an inner edge 20 towards an outer edge 22 (FIGS. 3-6). Drain grooves 24 defined in the upper surface 18 are preferably positioned generally parallel with the taper of the upper surface 18 to enhance drainage of water off the spa cover 10 (FIG. 3). However, those skilled in the art will recognize that drain grooves 24 are advantageous, but are not required, and any other arrangements of drain grooves 24 can be used, such as ornamental designs. If desired, indicia 25 can be molded into on one or more of the panels 12, such as trademarks, instructions, logos, images, and the like.

Each panel 12 includes a pair of end partitions 26 coupled with opposite sides of an intermediate partition 28 (FIG. 6). Engaging members 30 extend from each side 32 of the intermediate partition 28 to couple with corresponding receiving members 34 of the end partitions 26 (FIGS. 7-8). In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-11, the engaging member 30 is a generally cylindrical protrusion with a detent 38 extending from a front face 40. The receiving member 34 is a correspondingly cylindrical slot 42 with a notch 44 for engaging the detent 38. However, any suitable engaging and receiving members that couple the partitions together can be used, such as fasteners, adhesive, dowels, keyways, dovetails, and the like. In addition, alternate embodiments can place the engaging members 30 on the end partitions 26 and the receiving members 34 on the intermediate partition 28 or any combination thereof. Also, those skilled in the art will recognize that the panel 12 can comprise any number and arrangement of partitions, including, but not limited to two or more.

Attachment members 46 attach, such as with fasteners, adhesive, and the like, across a seam 48 between the end partitions 26 and the intermediate partition 28 to further secure and seal the partitions 26 and 28 together and provide support and structural integrity along the seam 48 (FIG. 7). Moreover, the attachment members 46 compensate for any variances in the seam 48 due to thermal expansion, defects, or other factors. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-11, the attachment members 46 are generally rectangular strips made of a rigid material, such as metal or plastic, but can be any suitable shape, size or material. Preferably, the attachment members 46 attach to both the upper surface 18 and lower surface 16 of the panel 12 and are positioned near the outer edge 22 of the panel 12. However, alternate embodiments can use other arrangements of attachment members 46. For a flush fit with the outer surface, the attachment members 46 insert into recessed areas 50 of the partitions 26 and 28. If desired, indicia 52 can be imprinted on the attachment members 46, such as trademarks, instructions, logos, images, and the like.

Handles 54 located on the outer edge 22 of each partition 26 and 28 can be engaged to move the panel 12 between the open position and closed position (FIG. 9). Each panel 12 defines channels 56 on the outer edge 22 each with a traversing crosspiece 57. Security members 58, such as a self-locking strap having Velcro®, a clasp, or other suitable fastener, engage with the crosspiece 57 to secure the spa cover 10 in place to the spa shell A. For purposes of assembly, the crosspiece 57 can be integrally molded with the panels 12 or produced separately to be attached to the panel 12.

The partitions 26 and 28 are preferably constructed from a molded plastic material using any appropriate method, such as injection molding, rotational molding, blow molding, thermoforming, vacuum forming, and the like. Any appropriate plastic material can be used, including, but not limited to, high density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene, propylene, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. When fully assembled, none of the partitions 26 and 28 have any openings and such lack of openings prevents the entrance of any water. Although the partitions 26 and 28 may have mounting holes for mounting a skirt 66, they can be sealed with self-sealing fasteners 70, such as Bulbtite® rivets. Alternatively, the partitions 26 and 28 may have standoffs or stubs to mount the skirt 66.

Projections 60 extend upwardly from the lower surface 18 of each partition 26 and 28 and contact the upper surface 16 at a junction 62, sometimes referred to as a tack-off or kiss-off (FIG. 7). The projections 60 are located at designated positions to function as supports within the partitions 26 and 28. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-11, the projections 60 are preferably positioned so that the junctions 62 align with the drain grooves 24. For aesthetic purposes, this arrangement reduces the appearance of the junctions 62 on the upper surface 16 of the panel 12. Preferably, there are enough projections 60 of a suitable size and shape arranged within the partition 26 and 28 to at least support the weight of an average person. However, those skilled in the art will recognize that any number, size, shape, and any arrangement of projections 60 can be used. In alternate embodiments, the partitions 26 and 28 can be constructed to have enough structural support so that the projections 60 and tack-off s are not required. For example, the partitions 26 and 28 may have an internal structure of supportive material, such as rigid foam or other suitable materials known in the art.

The interior space 64 of the partitions is hollow (FIG. 7). A gas within the interior space, such as air, functions as insulation to enhance the ability of the spa cover 10 to prevent heat loss from the spa. The gas should be sealed within the interior space 64 so that the gas is preferably non-flowing or “dead”. Alternatively, the interior space can be filled with a solid insulation, such as expanded polypropylene or expanded polystyrene foam.

A flexible protective skirt 66 extends downwardly from the outer edge of each panel 12 to beyond the plane of the lower surface 18 of each panel 12 so that the skirt 66 overhangs the rim of the spa shell when the cover 10 is in the closed position (FIGS. 1-6). The skirt 66 is arcuately shaped with flat upper portion 68 that attaches to the outer edge 22 of the panel 12 with fasteners 70 or other suitable means, such as adhesive, clips, or welding. The skirt 66 is preferably made from an elastomer material, such as ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber (EPDM). However, other materials can also be used, such as thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV), thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), or thermoplastic olefinic (TPO).

The hinge assembly 14 includes an opposing pair of generally C-shaped channels 74 attached to respective inner edges 20 of the panels 12, such as with a friction fit or fasteners (FIGS. 1-2 and 10-11). The upper end of each channel 74 defines a flange 76 for engaging a hinge member 78. The generally rectangular hinge member 78 extends between the panels 12 and includes a slot 79 along each end to frictionally engage with each flange 76, such as by crimping. Gaskets 80 extend lengthwise from the lower surface 82 of the hinge member 78 to seat against respective channels 74. A second set of gaskets 84 attach lengthwise along an outer surface 86 of each opposing C-shaped channel 74. The second set of gaskets 84 are positioned to seat against each other when the cover 10 is in the closed position. A third set of gaskets 88 attach vertically along the inner edge of each panel 12 and are positioned to seat against each other when the cover 10 is in the closed position. This arrangement of gaskets 80 and 84 prevent the escape of moisture and heat through the hinge assembly 14. The hinge member 78 is preferably made from an elastomer material such as ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber (EPDM). However, other materials can also be used, such as thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV), thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), or thermoplastic olefinic (TPO).

Changes can be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of this disclosure, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. For example, the spa cover 10 can include an automated lifter that mechanically removes and replaces the cover 10 onto the spa.





 
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