Title:
Ceiling Fan with Heating Assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for distributing heated air to an environment comprises a ceiling fan assembly secured to a heating assembly. The ceiling fan assembly comprises a plurality of rotatable blades arranged substantially in a horizontal plane to drive airflow in a desired direction when the blades are rotated. The heating assembly comprises a heating element and a power supply for energizing the heating element to produce heat, whereby air driven by the ceiling fan contacts the heating element and passes into the environment. A lighting assembly and a guard may be included.



Inventors:
Todd Jr., Alvin E. (Pigeon Forge, TN, US)
Application Number:
11/935855
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/06/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
416/95
International Classes:
F01D25/00; F01D5/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
EASTMAN, AARON ROBERT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PITTS & LAKE P C (KNOXVILLE, TN, US)
Claims:
Having thus described the aforementioned invention, what is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for distributing heated air to an environment, said apparatus comprising: a ceiling fan assembly comprising a plurality of rotatable blades arranged substantially in a horizontal plane to drive airflow in a desired direction when the blades are rotated; and a heating assembly secured to said ceiling fan assembly, said heating assembly comprising a heating element and a power supply for energizing said heating element to produce heat, whereby air driven by said ceiling fan contacts said heating element and passes into the environment.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said heating assembly is disposed below said rotatable blades.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said heating assembly is disposed above said rotatable blades.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said ceiling fan assembly defines a central axis and said fan blades extend outwardly from said axis by a distance greater than the extension of said heating element from said axis.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein a cage comprising a plurality of members defines openings permeable to air flow in a substantially horizontal plane below said rotatable blades.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said cage further comprises a plurality of insulators for mounting said heating element to said cage.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein said insulators are formed of a heat resistant material.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said heating assembly further comprises a rheostat for controlling the power supplied to said heating element, whereby the quantity of heat output of said heating element can be adjusted to a desired level.

9. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 and further comprising a light subassembly, said light subassembly comprising: a shell; a plurality of elongated arms extending outwardly from said shell; a plurality of light bulb sockets, each secured to the outboard end of one of said arms and containing a light bulb; a plurality of light bulb shields located adjacent to each of said light bulbs; and a power supply for energizing said light bulbs.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said light bulb shields are formed of a heat resistant noncombustible material.

11. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said heating element is disposed below said rotatable blades.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein said shell, said arms, said light bulb sockets, and said light bulb shields are disposed above said heating element and below said rotatable blades.

13. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein said shell, said arms, said light bulb sockets, and said light bulb shields are disposed below said heating element and said cage.

14. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said heating element is disposed above said rotatable blades.

15. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said ceiling fan assembly defines a central axis and said fan blades extend outwardly from said axis by a distance greater than the extension of said heating element from said axis.

16. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said cage comprises a plurality of members which define openings permeable to air flow in a substantially horizontal plane below said rotatable blades.

17. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said cage includes a plurality of insulators for mounting said heating element to said cage.

18. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein said heating assembly includes a rheostat for controlling the power supplied to said heating element, whereby the quantity of heat output of said heating element can be adjusted to a desired level.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY-SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

The present invention relates to ceiling fans. More particularly, this invention relates to ceiling fans with heating elements.

2. Description of the Related Art

In the field of fans, ceiling fans are commonly utilized to assist in ventilation of air. Most ceiling fans comprise an electric motor suspended from the ceiling with a plurality of blades drivingly connected to the motor. The operation of the motor causes the blades to rotate about a vertical axis forcing air in a desired direction. These ceiling fans typically incorporate switches that control the operation of the ceiling fan. In addition to this assembly, many ceiling fans support housings for light bulbs.

The operation of ceiling fans is typically for the purpose of ventilation. Commonly ceiling fans are employed to merely move air within an enclosure without adding heat to the air which passes the fan.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention there is provided an apparatus for distributing heated air to an environment comprising a ceiling fan assembly secured to a heating assembly. The ceiling fan assembly comprises a plurality of rotatable blades arranged substantially in a horizontal plane to drive airflow in a desired direction when the blades are rotated. The heating assembly comprises a heating element and a power supply for energizing the heating element to produce heat, whereby air driven by the ceiling fan contacts the heating element and passes into the environment. A lighting subassembly and a guard may be included.

In one embodiment, the ceiling fan is suspended from the ceiling so that rotation of the plurality of blades forces air in a downward direction. A heating assembly is disposed below the plurality of rotatable blades. A controlled power supply is configured to energize the heating assembly to produce heating of that air forced downwardly past the heating assembly by the rotating blades. The cage of the present invention is carried by the ceiling fan and is designed to support the heating assembly in the preferred embodiment. The cage is permeable to air flow whereby air flow from the rotating blades passes over the heating assembly and through the cage into a room or other environment.

In one embodiment, the ceiling fan may include a lighting assembly disposed below blades of the ceiling fan assembly. In one embodiment, the lighting assembly may be disposed between the ceiling fan assembly and the heating assembly. In this case, the lighting assembly may include extended arms which position the lights beyond the perimeter of the cage to give unobstructed lighting of the room. The light bulbs are shielded for purposes that may include aesthetically pleasing qualities and/or to provide protection from the heat generated by the heating assembly of the ceiling fan. These aesthetically pleasing qualities are significant because light bulbs, specifically low-wattage or energy efficient light bulbs, can degrade the aesthetic environment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The above-mentioned features of the invention will become more clearly understood from the following detailed description of the invention read together with the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an enlargement of one embodiment of a light bulb shield of the present invention depicted in FIG. 1 and depicts a low energy bulb decorated by a light bulb shield constructed in accordance with various features of the invention;

FIG. 4A illustrates a flow diagram of the power supply and rheostat positions as represented by an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4B illustrates a flow diagram of the power supply and rheostat positions as represented by an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4C illustrates a flow diagram of the power supply and rheostat positions as represented by an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4D illustrates a flow diagram of the power supply and rheostat positions as represented by an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5A is a perspective view of one alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5B is a perspective view of one alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5C is a perspective view of one alternative embodiment of the heater subassembly of the present invention;

FIG. 5D is a perspective view of one alternative embodiment of the heater subassembly of the present invention;

FIG. 5E is a plan view of one embodiment of the ceiling fan assembly and heater subassembly of the present invention, showing the area in the plane which the heater subassembly may occupy.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A ceiling fan with heating assembly and optional lighting assembly is disclosed. The ceiling fan is illustrated generally at 10 in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. As depicted, the ceiling fan 10 is designed for ventilation of an environment 12 that has a ceiling, or other structural support, from which the ceiling fan 10 may be suspended. The ceiling fan 10 is secured and suspended from the ceiling by conventional means, such as a pipe 11. Power, at 120 volts or other effective amounts to power the fan, is supplied to the ceiling fan 10 through wiring extending through the pipe 11. This suspension defines a vertical axis 16 down the center of the ceiling fan 10, and further defines the axis about which the fan blades rotate.

As depicted in FIG. 1 and more clearly in FIG. 2, the ceiling fan assembly 18 comprises a housing 20 which encloses a conventional fan motor that, when energized, will rotate a plurality of fan blades 22 producing air flow in a desired direction. These fan blades 22 extend outward at equally spaced intervals around the vertical axis 16. The fan blades 22 comprise wood, or other suitable material, in an oblong shape, in which two elongated sides are substantially parallel, one end defining a semicircle, and the other end having a decorative curve that forms a point, or shape with dimensions that are effective for creating air flow. A rigid arm 26 mounts the semicircle end of the fan blade to a conventional fan motor (not shown) at a desired angle to effectuate air flow by rotation of the fan blades 22. Additionally, the bottom of the fan housing 20, as depicted in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, provides a conventional attachment subassembly 28 which provides a power source leads 30 and a structure to mount attachments. In addition, the fan housing 20 provides conventional controls, as depicted by pull-chains 34 in FIG. 2, for the operation of the ceiling fan assembly 18, a light subassembly 36 and the heating element 86. Alternatively, fan controls may be provided through wall-mounted or radio frequency controls.

A lighting subassembly 36 may be centrally disposed about the vertical axis 16 below the ceiling fan assembly 18. The lighting assembly 36 generally comprises a frame subassembly 38, which provides structure and means for mounting the lighting assembly 36, and an electrical supply. The lighting assembly 36 is secured to the ceiling fan assembly 18 by bolts, for example.

The frame subassembly 38, as illustrated in FIG. 2, comprises a shell 46, which encloses a skeleton 48 providing structural support for mounting the lighting arms 50. The shell 46 has an inverted bell shape, with a larger diameter at the top that tapers to a smaller diameter at the bottom. The shell 46 is open at the top which exposes the skeleton 48.

The plurality of lighting arms 50, as illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, comprise long, hollow, and cylindrically shaped, conventional pipe, which has a diameter adapted to provide rigid support for lights and to contain electrical wiring to the lights. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the length of the lighting arms 50 may extend outward farther from the axis 16 than the ceiling fan assembly 18 and the heating assembly 44. Each of the lighting arms 50 comprises a rigid material which is hollow, to allow for the electrical assembly to remain hidden. As desired, the lighting arms may be telescoping to allow extension outwardly from the shell 46. With additional extension of the lighting arms 50, as is necessary for larger size ceiling fans, support brackets or chains may be provided to secure the lighting arms to the ceiling and prevent sagging of the lighting arms 50.

As illustrated, in FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, in one embodiment of the present invention the lighting arm 50 may include a light bulb housing 72 which is disposed on the end of the arm 50. The light bulb housing 72 is attached to the lighting arm 50 by conventional means. The light bulb housing 72 may be of aesthetically pleasing design. If the lighting arms 50 are telescoping, the light bulb housing 72 may be rotated to any desired orientation. Similarly, a joint may be provided in the each arm 50 to allow adjustable orientation of the light bulb housing 72.

The power source provided by the attachment subassembly 28 of the ceiling fan assembly 18 may be utilized to provide electrical connections for the light subassembly 36. The leads 30 from the attachment subassembly 28 transfer electrical power to the light sockets in each light bulb housing 72 mounted upon each lighting arm 50. This wiring is connected in a parallel circuit as is well understood in the art. Conventional low wattage light bulbs 78 are used to provide light and may be controlled by the conventional methods for the attachment subassembly 30. The usage of low wattage bulbs 78 increases the lifetime of the bulb and reduces power consumption.

One embodiment of a heating assembly 44 of the present invention is depicted in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. This heating assembly 44 is disposed below the lighting assembly 36 about the vertical axis 16. The heating assembly 44 is mounted to the ceiling fan assembly 18 through the shell 46 and secured therein.

The heating assembly 44, as depicted in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, comprises a heating element 86, and electrical connection to a power supply 84 to energize the heating element 86 to produce heat. The depicted heating element 86 is disposed below the ceiling fan assembly 18 and the lighting assembly 36 surrounding the vertical axis 16. As illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the heating element 86 is essentially positioned in a horizontal plane which is substantially parallel to the plane of the fan blades 22 allowing for direct exposure of the heating element 86 to the air flow generated by the ceiling fan assembly 18. As depicted in FIG. 2, the heating element 86 extends outwardly from the vertical axis 16 a distance of about half the length of the individual lengths of the fan blades 22. The heating element 86 accepts power through two leads, terminal 90A and terminal 90B, which are connected through conventional wiring to a power supply 84. In one embodiment, the power is supplied through an external 240V power supply. As desired, the terminals 90A and 90B may extend outwardly from the shell 46 to connect to the heating element 86.

The heating element 86 of the heater subassembly 82 is supported by the cage subassembly 80. As illustrated by FIG. 2, the cage subassembly 80 comprises generally a cage 92 which protects against contact with the heating element 86 or fan blades 22 and insulators 94 for support of the heating element 86.

The cage 92 is permeable to air flow while providing support to the heating element 86 without impeding the flow of air. The cage 92 is disposed in a substantially horizontal plane substantially parallel to the fan blades 22 and provides support for the heater subassembly 82 and restricting contact with the heating subassembly 82. As depicted in, FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, one embodiment of the present invention the cage 92 comprises wire members formed into a configuration that provide large openings for air flow 24 while producing an aesthetically pleasing design. For a large cage 92 additional supports to the ceiling may be provided by chains and/or brackets, for example.

The cage 92 supports the heating element 86, in a spaced apart relationship to the cage, by a plurality of insulators 94 shown in FIG. 2. The insulators 94 are disposed in spaced apart relationship to one another around the perimeter of the heating element 86. As depicted, these insulators 94 may be fixed to the cage 92 by welding or other suitable means. These insulators 94 may be triangular-shaped or other suitable design which give support and/or secure the heating element 86 to the cage 92. The insulators 94 may be ceramic or other material suitable for insulation of electrical and heat energy. As depicted insulators 94 may comprise triangular-shaped ceramic plates with semicircle indentations 96, having the interior diameter substantially the same as the outer diameter of the heating element 86, at the apex of the triangle to support and mount the heating element 86 to the cage 92.

In alternative embodiments, a device of the present invention may be provided with light bulb shields 98 for protecting light bulbs 78 such that the light bulb 78 is not affected by heat generated by the heating element 86. The light bulb shield 98 comprises material which is heat resistant and noncombustible, whereby heat generated by the heating element 86 will not affect performance of a light bulb 78. The embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1-3, depicts the light bulb shield 98 as an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of leaves 108 removing the unsightly low wattage light bulbs 78 from significant view.

Alternative embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 5A-B, may dispose the heating element 86 above the ceiling fan assembly 18, or between the ceiling fan assembly 18 and the lighting assembly 36. In either of such embodiments the length of the lighting arms 50 of the lighting assembly 36 may be reduced.

In other alternative embodiments, illustrated in FIG. 5C-D, the heating element 86 comprise a series of concentric circles 86B each have a smaller radius than the previous, or a series of rectangles 86C in which each rectangle has a smaller rectangle within the interior. Additionally, the heating element 86 may be positioned around the vertical axis 16 at distances between the inside edge and outside edge of the fan blades 22 such that the position of the heating element 86 is in the direct air flow 24 generated by ceiling fan 10 as illustrated in FIG. 5E.

As illustrated in FIG. 4 A-D, the heating subassembly 82, may be powered by means of the attachment assembly 30 power supply 34 of the ceiling fan assembly 18 or by an independent power supply 84 in the amount of 120V, 240V, or an effective amount of power to heat the heating element 86. As illustrated by FIG. 4B-D, placing a rheostat 110 in the circuit 112 of the heating subassembly 82 allows a user to adjust the power supplied to the heating subassembly 82 to increase or decrease the temperature at which the heating element 86 operates. As depicted in FIG. 4A, in one alternative embodiment these controls for the heating subassembly may include a time control 114 to automatically turn on or off the heating subassembly. These types of controls save cost for heating.

While the present invention has been illustrated by description of several embodiments and while the illustrative embodiments have been described in detail, it is not the intention of the applicant to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional modifications will readily appear to those skilled in the art. The invention in its broader aspects is therefore not limited to the specific details, representative apparatus and methods, and illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the spirit or scope of applicants general inventive concept.