Title:
Solar illuminated fence
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fence assembly having a plurality of illuminable fence posts disposed between a plurality of fence sections. One or more connectors may be disposed on the fence post and/or the fence section to attach the components together. The fence post may include a illuminable top removably attached to a upright support member. The illuminable top may comprise a light source and a solar power source electrically connected thereto. The solar power source may be comprised of a battery and a solar cell such that the solar power source stores energy when exposed to light and provides energy to the light source when exposed to darkness in order to illuminate the area surrounding the fence assembly.



Inventors:
Chef, Dennis G. (North Lima, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/153723
Publication Date:
12/04/2008
Filing Date:
05/23/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
256/24
International Classes:
E04H17/20; E04H17/14
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20040217341Jack fenceNovember, 2004Gumb
20060124914Baluster aligning apparatus and methodJune, 2006Lavargna Jr.
20040026678Vineyard wire hangerFebruary, 2004Vandergriff
20060237704Fence panelOctober, 2006Rodenburg
20050274937Insert for a chain link fenceDecember, 2005Moore
20040004210FencingJanuary, 2004Bauer et al.
20050045863Modular metal fence or gate panel assemblyMarch, 2005Mackay
20090050862Security fence spikeFebruary, 2009Cruce
20090173926Stair Rail AssemblyJuly, 2009Timothy



Primary Examiner:
KENNEDY, JOSHUA T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP/HAK (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A solar illuminated fence assembly, comprising: at least one upright support member; at least one fence section; at least one connector configured to attach the at least one fence section to the at least one upright support member; and a illuminable top removably attached to the at least one upright support member, the illuminable top further comprising: at least one light source; and at least one solar power source electrically connected to the at least one light source, the at least one solar power source further comprising: at least one battery; and at least one solar cell; wherein the at least one solar power source stores energy when exposed to light, and provides energy to the at least one light source when exposed to darkness to illuminate the surrounding area.

2. An illuminable fence post, comprising: an upright support member; and an illuminable top removably attached to the support member, the illuminable top further comprising: at least one light source; and at least one solar power source electrically connected to the at least one light source, the at least one solar power source further comprising: at least one battery; and at least one solar cell, wherein the at least one solar power source stores energy when exposed to light, and provides energy to the at least one light source when exposed to darkness to illuminate an area surrounding the upright support member.

3. The illuminable fence post of claim 2, wherein the at least one light source is an LED.

4. The illuminable fence post of claim 2, wherein the upright support member further comprises at least one protrusion located on the opposite end of the support member from the illuminable top, wherein the at least one protrusion allows the user to secure the support post into the ground.

5. The illuminable fence post of claim 2, wherein the illuminable top further comprises at least one reflecting device, wherein the at least one reflecting device reflects the light provided by the at least one light source.

6. The illuminable fence post of claim 2, wherein the illuminable top further comprises at least one window located on at least one face of the illuminable top, wherein the at least one window at least partially exposes the inside of the illuminable top.

7. The illuminable fence post of claim 6, wherein the at least one window is composed of a translucent or transparent material.

8. The illuminable fence post of claim 6, wherein the at least one window is a break in the material of the illuminable top.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application 60/940,033 filed on May 24, 2007, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention generally relates to illuminated fence assemblies. More specifically, the invention relates to fences that utilize solar cells to power a light source located on the fence.

BACKGROUND

Ordinary fences utilized to decorate or to enclose property have been in use for a considerable length of time. To further enhance the decorative features of a particular fence, it is desirable to illuminate certain areas. This illumination may be achieved using conventional outdoor lights, but doing so may detract from the overall decorative features of the property. However, the overall decorative features of a property would not be negatively impacted if the illumination device were built into the fence. Additionally, the powering of the illumination device by batteries, solar panels, or other power sources—that do not require unattractive external wiring—would also ensure that the decorative appearance would not be negatively affected. Thus, there is a need for a fence that includes a built-in, solar-powered illuminable device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The present invention generally relates to a fence assembly, comprising at least one upright support member, at least one fence section, and at least one connector configured to attach the at least one fence section to the at least one upright support member. A illuminable top may be removably attached to the at least one upright support member. The illuminable top may comprise at least one light source and at least one solar power source electrically connected to the at least one light source. The at least one solar power source may be comprised of at least one battery and at least one solar cell, wherein the at least one solar power source stores energy when exposed to light and provides energy to the at least one light source when exposed to darkness to illuminate the area surrounding the fence assembly.

Other embodiments of the present invention may also relate to an illuminable fence post, comprising an upright support member and an illuminable top removably attached to the upright support member. The illuminable top may comprise at least one light source and at least one solar power source electrically connected to the at least one light source. The at least one solar power source may be comprised of at least one battery and at least one solar cell, wherein the at least one solar power source stores energy when exposed to light and provides energy to the at least one light source when exposed to darkness to illuminate the area surrounding the fence post.

The illuminable fence post of the present invention may further be comprised of at least one protrusion located on the upright support member on the end of the support member opposite to the illuminable top, wherein the at least one protrusion allows the user to secure the illuminable fence post in the ground.

The illuminable top of the present invention may further be comprised of at least one reflecting device, wherein the at least one reflecting device reflects the light provided by the at least one light source.

The invention may be embodied in numerous devices and through numerous methods and systems. The following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the annexed drawings, discloses examples of the invention. Other embodiments, which incorporate some, all or more of the features as taught herein, are also possible.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring to the drawings, which form part of this disclosure:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a fence assembly that may be employed in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2 depicts a front view of the fence assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a side view of a illuminable fence post that may be employed in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIGS. 4A-B show enlarged views of a illuminable top of the illuminable fence post of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 shows a diagram of solar power and light sources that may be employed in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A fence suitable for decoration, enclosure, or other uses is provided. The fence may include one or more fence posts, each of which can have an upright support member and an illuminable top. The illuminable top may include at least one solar power source electrically connected to at least one light source. The at least one solar power source may be comprised of at least one solar cell and at least one battery. The at least one solar cell may charge the at least one battery when exposed to light and power the at least one light source when exposed to darkness, allowing the illuminable top to be automatically powered, activated, and deactivated at appropriate times. The illuminable top may be separable from the upright support member, allowing the illuminable top to be positioned on one or more of several upright supports members in a complete fence unit.

Referring to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a section of one embodiment of the solar illuminated fence assembly 10.

FIG. 2 shows a front view of the fence assembly 20 of FIG. 1 comprising a fence section 21 and an illuminable fence post 22.

The fence section 21 may be any sizes and/or shapes. For example, the shape and size of fence section 21 may vary considerably based on stylistic, aesthetic, or functional considerations. In a preferred embodiment, the height of the fence section 21 is less than the height of the illuminable fence post 22. The fence section may be solid or hollow and may be made from any material capable of remaining substantially rigid when supported between two illuminable fence posts. Such material includes, but is not limited to, wood, plastics or other polymers, and various types of metals or alloys. The fence section may also be composed of any other material known in the art that is suitable for use as a fence.

As seen in the example of FIG. 2, the illuminable fence post 22 may be attached to the fence portion 21 by connectors 24, 25. Connectors 24, 25 may be any means for connecting the illuminable fence post 22 with the fence section 21 known in the art, including, but not limited to, screws, press-fit pegs, and the ring connectors shown in FIG. 2. In the preferred embodiment, the connectors 24, 25 allow the user to detach the illuminable fence post 22 from the fence section 21.

In FIG. 3, the illuminable fence post 22 is shown. The illuminable fence post 22 may be comprised of an illuminable top 23 and an upright support member 45.

Turning to FIGS. 4A-B, the illuminable top 23 will be described in more detail. It can be seen in these figures that the illuminable top 23 can be comprised of a light source 62 and a solar power source 61 electrically connected to the light source 62, wherein the solar power source 61 stores energy when exposed to light and provides energy to the light source 62 when exposed to darkness in order to illuminate the area surrounding the illuminable fence post 22.

The shape and size of illuminable top 23 may vary considerably based on stylistic, aesthetic, or functional considerations. The illuminable top should, however, be large enough to contain the light source 62 and the solar power source 61. The illuminable top 23 may be composed of any material from which the fence section 21 described above may be made. The illuminable top may also be composed of a thin, translucent material, wherein the light provided by the light source 62 may shine through the illuminable top 23.

The light source 62 may be a light bulb, a light emitting diode (LED), or any other small illumination device known in the art. The size, shape, location, and color of each of the light sources 62 may vary considerably based on stylistic, aesthetic, or functional considerations. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the light source 62 is a single LED.

The illuminable top 23 may be comprised of the solar power source 61. The size, shape, and location of each of the solar power sources 61 may vary considerably based on stylistic, aesthetic, or functional considerations.

As seen in FIG. 5, the solar power source 61 may be comprised of any type of solar cell 82 known in the art and suitable for use on a fence post, including, but not limited to, photovoltaic cells. The solar cell 82 of the solar power source 61 may be composed of any of the suitable materials known in the prior art, including, but not limited to single-crystal or polycrystalline silicon, gallium arsenide, or cadmium telluride. When the solar power source 61 is exposed to light 81 (e.g., sunlight), the solar cell 82 charges a battery 83. When the solar power source 61 is not exposed to light, the battery 83 powers the light source 62. The battery 8 may be any device known in the art capable of storing and releasing electrical energy and able to fit within the illuminable hood 23 or upright support member 45. As seen in the example of FIG. 4B, in a preferred embodiment, the illuminable top 23 has four photovoltaic cells positioned on the top portion of the illuminable top 23 and angled slightly upwards from the horizontal. Additionally, in the preferred embodiment, the solar power source 61 charges an internal battery (contained within the illuminable top 23) when exposed to light.

Turning back to FIG. 4A, the solar power sources 61 may be electrically attached to one or more of the light sources 62. These components may be attached by any electrical means known in the art, including, but not limited to, electrical wiring. The placement of the electrical connection means can vary considerably based on stylistic, aesthetic, or functional considerations. The solar power source 61 and the light source 62 can be configured such that the light source 62 is illuminated when the at least one solar power source 61 is not exposed to light. In a preferred embodiment, the solar power sources 61 are connected to the light source 62 via electrical wiring concealed within the illuminable top 23.

Referring back to FIGS. 4A-B, in other embodiments of the invention, the illuminable top 23 may further be comprised of at least one reflecting device 63. The at least one reflecting device may be any device that reflects that light emitted by the at least one light source 62, including, but not limited to, one or more mirrors. The at least one reflecting device 63 may be of any shape suitable to reflect the light emitted by the light source 62, including, but not limited to, a raised hemisphere, a flat polygon, or a flat circle.

In other embodiments of the invention, the illuminable top 23 may further be comprised of at least one window 64, wherein the at least one window 64 at least partially exposes the inside of the illuminable top 23. The at least one window 64 may simply be a break in one or more faces of the illuminable top 23 or may be composed of a translucent or transparent material, including, but not limited to, glass or thin plastic. The size, shape, and location of the at least one window may vary considerably based on stylistic, aesthetic, or functional considerations.

Referring back to FIG. 3, the upright support member 45 will now be described. The shape and size of the upright support member 45 may vary considerably based on stylistic, aesthetic, or functional considerations. The upright support member 45 may be composed of any material from which the fence section 21 described above may be made. In a preferred embodiment, the upright support member is cylindrical in shape and made from a rigid, lightweight metal alloy.

The illuminable top 23 is removably attached to the upright support member 45. The illuminable top 23 may be secured to the upright support member 45 in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, press-fitting and the use of one or more screws or similar removable fasteners. In a preferred embodiment, the illuminable top 23 is tapped on its bottom face, and the upright support member 45 is threaded at a portion of its top. In this preferred embodiment, the illuminable top 23 is screwed onto the threaded portion of the upright support member 45, allowing the user to remove the illuminable top 23 and slide the upright support member 45 in or out of the connectors 24, 25 shown in FIG. 2.

In certain embodiments of the invention the illuminable fence post 22 may additionally be comprised of at least one protrusion 46 extending from the end of the illuminable fence post 22 opposite that of the end where the illuminable top 23 is located. The at least one protrusion 46 may be solid or hollow and may be composed of any material from which the fence section 21 described above may be made. The at least one protrusion 46 may take a variety of forms and may be of any size, shape, and number that allows the user to secure the illuminable fence post 22 into the ground. In the preferred embodiment, the at least one protrusion 46 is a single, rigid spike.

While various embodiments have been described, other embodiments are plausible. It should be understood that the foregoing descriptions of various examples of the solar illuminated fence are not intended to be limiting, and any number of modifications, combinations, and alternatives of the examples may be employed to facilitate the effectiveness of the present invention.

The examples described herein are merely illustrative, as numerous other embodiments may be implemented without departing from the spirit and scope of the exemplary embodiments of the present invention. Moreover, while certain features of the invention may be shown on only certain embodiments or configurations, these features may be exchanged, added, and removed from and between the various embodiments or configurations while remaining within the scope of the invention