Title:
Retractable Pool Privacy Screen
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A retractable pool privacy device 10 for attachment to a screened patio or pool enclosure 2, the device 10 has: a frame 12 for attachment to a frame 3 of the patio or pool enclosure 2; a flexible privacy layer 20 stowed inside the frame 12; a means 40 or 50 for winding and unwinding the privacy layer 20; and wherein the frame 12 has a opening 14 through which the flexible privacy layer 20 can be withdrawn to extend outwardly to provide a visual privacy barrier. The frame 12 is shaped in a substantially square or rectangular tubular cross section having at least a one side open for allowing the privacy layer 20 to pass and has a pair of ends 12A, 12B, each end having attachment or holding structures 15, 16 for supporting the flexible privacy layer 20. A rotatable rod 22 for attaching the privacy layer 20 thereto is preferably used. The rod 22 is rotatably supported at each end 27, 28 to the attachment or holding structures 15, 16.



Inventors:
Dennis, Michael Keith (Lakeland, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/861414
Publication Date:
03/26/2009
Filing Date:
09/26/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
160/38
International Classes:
E04H4/08; E04H4/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050199357Shade with thermochromic temperature sensorSeptember, 2005Dunn
20080099164SOFT VERTICAL END PANEL ARRANGEMENT FOR A WINDOW BLINDMay, 2008Filipiak et al.
20090032100Position adjustable awning equipped with solar cell plates thereonFebruary, 2009Oak
20080163987Folding end capJuly, 2008Busha et al.
20090205788ACTIVE TENSION DEVICE FOR A WINDOW COVERINGAugust, 2009Cannaverde et al.
20080135191LINK SYSTEM FOR SHADE COUPLINGSJune, 2008Zakowski
20080017333Woven ShutterJanuary, 2008Chen
20090288786METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR DEPLOYMENT OF PRIVACY CURTAINSNovember, 2009Graneto III et al.
20070006981WINDOW BLIND WITH HOLLOW SLATSJanuary, 2007Lin
20060054287Flexible track screen systemMarch, 2006Dickinson III
20100071856Method of Automatically Controlling a Motorized Window Treatment While Minimizing Occupant DistractionsMarch, 2010Zaharchuk et al.



Primary Examiner:
PUROL, DAVID M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVID L. KING, SR. (HIGH SPRINGS, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure, the device comprises a frame for attachment to a frame of the patio or pool enclosure; a flexible privacy layer stowed inside the frame; a means for winding and unwinding the privacy layer; and wherein the frame has a opening through which the flexible privacy layer can be withdrawn to extend outwardly to provide a visual privacy barrier.

2. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 wherein the frame is shaped in a substantially square or rectangular tubular cross section having at least a one side open for allowing the privacy layer to pass.

3. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 wherein the frame further comprises a pair of ends each end having an attachment structure for supporting the flexible privacy layer.

4. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 3 further comprises: a rotatable rod for attaching the privacy layer thereto, the rod being rotatably supported at each end to the attachment structure.

5. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 further comprises: a coil spring mechanism to bias the flexible privacy layer toward a retracted, rolled up position inside the frame.

6. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 5 wherein the coil spring mechanism can be locked after the layer is withdrawn from the frame thereby allowing the layer to be extended outward from the frame at any desired distance to form a privacy layer and upon a further downward pull the layer can be retracted to a stowed position inside the frame.

7. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 further comprises: a wind up motor for retracting and extending the flexible privacy layer.

8. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 7 wherein two or more of the devices are rotatably connected together by a rotatable shaft and are driven by the wind up motor.

9. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 wherein the flexible layer is made of a plurality of elongated slats and wherein the slats are pivotally connected together to allow rolling about an axle or rod.

10. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 wherein the flexible layer is made of a UV blocking material to provide a solar barrier.

11. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 wherein the flexible layer is made of a reflective material on at least an outwardly facing side to provide a thermal cooling barrier within the enclosure to which the device is attached.

12. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 wherein the device is mounted horizontally to the enclosure and the flexible panel extends vertically along an interior side of the enclosure.

13. The retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a patio or pool enclosure of claim 1 wherein the device is mounted onto a ceiling frame of the enclosure and the panel extends along the ceiling generally horizontally, the panel being held along lateral edges by a pair of guides to provide support.

14. A pool or patio enclosure comprising: an enclosure frame structure; a screen covering attached to the frame structure; and one or more retractable pool or patio privacy devices attached to the frame structure.

15. The pool enclosure of claim 14 wherein the retractable pool or patio privacy device includes a frame, the frame being a structural member of the enclosure frame structure.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to patio or pool enclosures generally, more specifically to a retractable privacy screen to be used in combination with a screened enclosure.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Pool and patio screen room enclosures provide a barrier to insects and leaves from entering into the enclosed area and also create a physical barrier to entry to protect from children entering and drowning.

The screen itself also provides some protection or reduction in the amount of sunlight passing into the enclosed area by blocking a small fraction of the suns rays.

Often these enclosures are referred to as birdcages because they extend not only around the perimeter but also overhead. The skeletal structure is made of extruded aluminum of square or rectangular shaped tubes. These tubes are interconnected and provide exterior surfaces to which the black screen or mesh is attached. A quick check on the internet will show numerous installers and fabricators of such enclosures. Many new enclosures have sustained wind survival ratings of 140 mph or more capable of withstanding hurricane force winds.

While these structures are both strong and very useful in their performance, they universally lack any sense of privacy. These screens extend attractively floor to overhead allowing a full view of the area enclosed.

Typically this openness and lack of privacy is accepted as a limitation of the enclosure. Often small partitions are provided on the pool deck to allow for some privacy.

US patent publications 2005/0108817 published May 26, 2005 entitled “Collapsible Spa Enclosure” discloses a spa cover that can be used for privacy, the enclosure resembles a tent. US 2006/0060831 entitled “Portable Privacy Panels” published Mar. 23, 2006 shows portable privacy panels for above ground pools that can be tied to railings. US 2006/0060310 entitled “Portable Privacy Screen” discloses a unique device that can be stuck into the ground using a stake to provide a visual barrier.

All of these prior art devices create more work and storage problems for the use, not to mention create very unsightly additions onto this recreation and relaxation portion of the home.

Those who can afford a pool screen enclosure costing between $10,000 to well over $25,000 want privacy, but not at the cost of beauty.

Similarly those in hurricane regions of the sunbelt need fewer items to store and secure during storms not more.

It is therefore an objective of the present invention to provide a device that can be used in the construction of or as an addition to an existing pool enclosure that can provide privacy without adversely affecting the structure of the enclosure or detract from the appearance.

It is a further objective of the invention that it can be easily stowed from view in place to protect it from storms and strong winds, yet be available for immediate use if desired.

It is a further objective that the present invention provides optional stowing or using features without requiring any tools or special anchoring features. These and other features of this invention are described as follows.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A retractable pool privacy device for attachment to a screened patio or pool enclosure, the device has: a frame for attachment to a frame of the patio or pool enclosure; a flexible privacy layer stowed inside the frame; a means for winding and unwinding the privacy layer; and wherein the frame has a opening through which the flexible privacy layer can be withdrawn to extend outwardly to provide a visual privacy barrier. The frame is shaped in a substantially round or square or rectangular tubular cross section having at least a one side open for allowing the privacy layer to pass and has a pair of ends, each end having an attachment structure for supporting the flexible privacy layer. A rotatable rod for attaching the privacy layer thereto is preferably used. The rod is rotatably supported at each end to the attachment structure. Preferably the frame of the privacy device is the same in color and shape as the enclosure frame structural components.

The privacy device may use a coil spring mechanism to bias the flexible privacy layer toward a retracted, rolled up position inside the frame, wherein the coil spring mechanism can be locked after the layer is withdrawn from the frame thereby allowing the layer to be extended outward from the frame at any desired distance to form a privacy layer and upon a further downward pull the layer can be retracted to a stowed position inside the frame, similar to Venetian blinds or shades used on windows inside a home.

Alternatively, a wind up motor for retracting and extending the flexible privacy layer can be used. In one embodiment two or more of the privacy devices are rotatably connected together by a rotatable shaft and are driven by the wind up motor.

The flexible layer can made of a plurality of elongated slats and wherein the slats are pivotally connected together to allow rolling about an axle or rod. The flexible layer can be made of a UV blocking material to provide a solar barrier or is made of a reflective material on at least an outwardly facing side to provide a thermal cooling barrier within the enclosure to which the device is attached. The privacy layer alternatively can be made of a tightly woven screen to obscure viewing from the exterior of the enclosure.

The device when mounted horizontally to the enclosure has the flexible panel extend vertically along an interior side of the enclosure. The device when mounted onto a ceiling frame of the enclosure has the panel extend along the ceiling generally horizontally, the panel being held along lateral edges by a pair of guides to provide support.

The inventive concept encompasses pool or patio enclosures made using the present invention having an enclosure frame structure; a screen covering attached to the frame structure; and one or more retractable pool or patio privacy devices attached to the frame structure. The retractable pool or patio privacy device includes a frame and the frame can be a structural member of the enclosure frame structure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and further objects of the present invention will be more fully understood from the following description of the invention reference to the illustrations appended hereto:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a portion of a patio or pool enclosure with a device according to the present invention attached.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a patio or pool enclosure with a ceiling mounted device according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional end view of the horizontal mounted device taken from FIG. 1, the device attached to the side of an enclosure showing the flexible privacy layer extended.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged end view of the device taken from FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a side view showing the enclosure with multiple devices connected and driven by a single motor.

FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of an alternative frame for the device of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to FIG. 1, a side view of a portion of a patio or pool screened enclosure 2 is shown with a pair of retractable pool privacy devices 10 according to the present invention attached to the frame 3 of the enclosure 2. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the device 10 has a frame 12 for attachment to the frame 3 of the patio or pool enclosure 2, a flexible privacy layer 20 stowed inside the frame 12 and a means 30 for winding and unwinding the privacy layer 20 wherein the frame 12 has an opening 14 through which the flexible privacy layer 20 can be withdrawn or extended outwardly to provide a visual privacy barrier. As shown the privacy device 10 is mounted horizontally on the side of the enclosure 2 such that the privacy layer 20 can be withdrawn and pulled to extend towards the deck 1 of the patio or pool which is being enclosed. As illustrated the privacy layer 20 is on the inside of the enclosure 2 and provides a complete visible barrier between the adjacent frame vertical posts 3A-3B and 3B-3C.

In an alternative embodiment, the device 10 according to the present invention can extend across several vertical posts 3A-3B-3C within the enclosure frame 3 and can cover upwards to 3 or 4 or more of the screen panels 5 of the enclosure 2 as such the privacy layer 20 can be approximately any length so desired and therefore can provide a tremendous visual barrier to prevent onlookers from looking into the enclosed area. When the device 10 is not needed for barrier protection a simple pulling of the privacy layer 20 can release a spring coil mechanism 40, shown in FIG. 4, which will rewind the privacy layer 20 into the frame 12 of device 10. The rewinding spring coil mechanism 40 will wrap the privacy layer 20 onto a rotatable rod 22 as illustrated enabling the privacy layer 20 to be neatly stowed entirely within the frame 12 of the device 10.

As shown in FIG. 1 this horizontal mounting of the device 10 provides an excellent barrier or protection along the side of the enclosure 2. In many cases the user or owner of the enclosure 2 may wish to provide privacy from the ceiling or roof of the enclosure 2 and as such the device 10 can be mounted along the frame 3 of the ceiling of the enclosure 2 and the privacy layer 20 can be extended substantially horizontally or on a slight incline relative to the enclosure 2 such that the top area can be shielded from either view or the sun's rays as shown in FIG. 2.

The device 10 when used on the overhead ceiling or roof location due to the fact that the privacy layer 20 will not be hanging vertically relying only on gravity, but suspended horizontally preferably uses guide rails 24 on each lateral edge 21, 23 of the frame enclosure so that the privacy layer 20 as it is extended between the edges 21, 23 are fully supported on the guide rails 24 as the privacy layer 20 reaches its full extension. As shown in FIG. 5, the mounted privacy layer 20 of the retractable privacy device 10 can be motor 50 driven such that the user can flip the switch 52 and a small motor 50 will rotate the rod 22 to extend the privacy layer 20 outwardly to provide a sun barrier or visual barrier and can be reversed by a movement of the switch 52 to fully retract the privacy layer 20 to its normal stowed position. These features of the privacy layer 20 are most beneficially used for a variety of reasons, the first and foremost of which is to provide a visual barrier into the enclosure 2, the second of which is to provide some additional protection from ultraviolet rays for those who are sensitive to skin damage caused by excessive exposure to the sun as such those who desire to use their pool during the daylight hours may find it beneficial to provide additional UV protection by providing a shielding use of the privacy layer that will prevent the UV rays from striking directly onto the occupants of the enclosure 2. Secondarily the privacy layer 20 can be coated or made from a reflective material such that the outer surfaces are highly reflective. In this embodiment the privacy layer will reflect most of the sun's rays providing additional cooling for the pool deck and pool area. In extremely hot climates of the southwest and south during late summer months the pool temperatures can be so high that the water temperatures within the pool are warmed and the deck area is unbearably hot so that the use of the pool becomes uncomfortable as it provides no cooling beneficial effects to the users. By providing this area with a reflective cover the pool temperatures can be dropped significantly during the daylight hours to prevent excessive thermal heating of the water and to enable the users to still enjoy a refreshingly cool swim during relatively hot months. Furthermore, by keeping the pool deck and the other areas adjacent to the home relatively cooler than it would be otherwise, provides additional energy savings with regard to air conditioning the inside of the home that is usually attached to these screened enclosures 2.

With reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, a view of the horizontally mounted device 10 is shown attached to the side of the enclosure frame 3B showing the flexible privacy layer 20 in a fully extended position extending from the device opening 14 in the frame 12 all the way to the deck or ground level 1. When fully extended it may be desirable to clip or anchor the end of the privacy layer 20 to the bottom of the enclosure frame 3E as illustrated in FIG. 1. As shown the enclosure frame 3 has an outer screen 5 that extends along the outer surface of the enclosure frame structure 3. The privacy layer 20 preferably is facing inwardly and passes through a slot or opening 14 in the bottom of the frame 12 as illustrated and as the privacy layer 20 extends downwardly passes to the inside of any horizontal support frames 3D or outside if the screen 5 is not secured to the fame portion 3F as shown in FIG. 1.

With reference to FIG. 4, an enlarged view of the privacy device 10 with the privacy layer 20 in the extended position is shown where the privacy layer 20 is made of several slats 26 that are pivotally connected such that the entire assembly can be rolled or unrolled on a rod 22 that is rotatable. The ends 27, 28 of the rod 22 being held in rod holding structures 15, 16 which are located at the ends 12A, 12B of the frame 12 to provide the necessary rolling or rotational movement. This rod 22 can be connected to an internal spring coil mechanism 40 such that the mechanism 40 acts like a venetian blind that is well know in the art so the privacy layer 20 can be pulled to any desired length and held in that position and by a subtle pulling downwardly, the privacy layer 20 can then be raised and fully retracted by use of the stored energy in the spring coil mechanism 40 used to rewind the privacy layer 20.

Alternatively as shown in FIG. 5, a side view mounting shows an enclosure 2 with multiple devices 10 being connected and being driven by a single motor 50. In this assembly, multiple devices 10 can be connected to a through hole 6 in the vertical posts 3B, 3C of the frame 3 by connecting axles 51 to each of the separate rods 22. At the end of one of the devices 10 or intermediate thereto a drive motor 50 can be attached that will drive all of the connected rods 22 of the several devices 10 simultaneously. In this method the use of multiple devices 10 can have an automatic up and down mechanism driven by one motor 50 such that the user can simply flip the switch 52 and drive multiple devices 10 from one single motor 50 due to the fact that all of the rods 22 are connected.

With further reference to FIG. 3, the frame 3 of the pool enclosure 2 is made of aluminum that is substantially rectangular or square in shape. As illustrated the bottom of the frame 12 may have a slight inclined flat portion 13 and further have a slot 14 that extends across the entire length of the enclosure 2. Alternatively the frame 12 of the device 10 could be “U” shaped and the entire bottom open if so desired for simplicity. However, in such a construction it is noted that the stowed privacy layer 20 would be visually observable to anyone looking up, however, from an exterior perspective view at any distance. As shown in FIG. 2, the frame of the device can have a round or circular cross section as well. The device 10 camouflages itself because ideally it is tinted or coated with the same color as the enclosure frame 3, therefore making it virtually imperceptible from the enclosure frame 3 itself.

A further advantage of the present invention is that the frame 12 of the device 10 can be used as one of the horizontal frame members 3D for the enclosure 2 and as such provide a dual purpose of providing a housing for stowing the privacy layer 20 which is fully retractable and also at the same time providing a horizontal member 3D for the frame structure 3 of the enclosure 2. Under these conditions ideally the frame 12 of the device 10 would be installed during the assembly of the enclosure 2 and as such would not be an additional feature to an already prepared enclosure 2 but in fact could be an integral component of this type of a screened enclosure assembly. In this embodiment, the tubular cross section of the frame 12′ may be as shown in FIG. 6 wherein the enclosed box shape 11 is above the open slit 14 portions provided for stowing the privacy layer 20. Alternatively the open slotted frame 12′ alone could be made substantially thicker to compensate for the weakness created by the opening 14.

Alternatively those who have already assembled screen room enclosures 2 can simply purchase the device 10 and install it as an aftermarket addition to their already existing pool enclosure 2 with minimal modification which would simply require attaching the device 10 between frame sections if the device 10 is to be mounted between frame sections. Alternatively the device 10 is mounted internally of the frame sections providing the manufacturer with the desired length he wants for his privacy device 10 in such a condition the device 10 could be cut to exact length and provided as required to fit in between frame sections or spanning across several vertical frame sections as previously mentioned. This is true of the both the horizontally mounted device 10 with vertically extending privacy layer 20 or from the ceiling mounted device 10. In either case these components can be added after the entire enclosure 2 is built or can be incorporated into the enclosure frame structure as part of new construction.

Variations in the present invention are possible in light of the description of it as provided herein. While certain representative embodiments and details have been shown for the purpose of illustrating the subject invention, it will be apparent to those skilled in this art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the scope of the subject invention. It is, therefore, to be understood that changes can be made in the particular embodiments described which will be within the full intended scope of the invention as defined by the following appended claims.