Title:
Sensor Actuated Door Lighting
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is commercial refrigerator display that allows for the automatic illumination of the refrigerator contents in the presence of a consumer. Illumination is provided by a series of light emitting diodes (LEDs) which are positioned on an internal surface of one of the mullions that make up the compartment frame. These LEDs are interconnected to both a power source and one or more sensors. The sensors are preferably motion sensors that can detect the presence of an individual near the refrigerator housing. Thus, when an individual is detected, the sensor supplies power to the LEDs to thereby illuminate the interior of the refrigerated compartment. The present invention also relates to the bracket assembly that is used in mounting the sensor to the frame.



Inventors:
Smith, Mark A. (Sarasota, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/962234
Publication Date:
06/25/2009
Filing Date:
12/21/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/249
International Classes:
F25D27/00; A47F3/04; F25D23/12
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
MCMANMON, MARY ELIZABETH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GrayRobinson, P.A. (TAMPA, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for automatically illuminating the interior of a refrigerated compartment comprising: a frame positioned about an opening of the refrigerated compartment, the frame including a top frame member, a bottom frame member, and side frame members, a series of mullions extending between the top and bottom frame members and defining a plurality of door openings, each mullion having an internal surface facing the interior of the compartment; a plurality of glass doors, with the number of doors corresponding to the number of door openings, each door being pivotally secured to an associated door opening and providing selective access to the interior of the compartment; a series of light emitting diodes secured along the internal surface of at least one mullion, the light emitting diodes being interconnected to a power source, the light emitting diodes having illuminated and non-illuminated states; a pair of motion sensors for detecting the presence of an individual adjacent the compartment, each motion sensor including a mounting bracket for securing the sensor to the top frame member at approximately a 45° angle; a controller operatively coupled to both the motion sensors and the power source, the controller functioning to bring the light emitting diodes into the illuminated state when an individual is detected by the sensors and further functioning to bring the light emitting diodes into the non-illuminated state in the absence of an individual being detected by the sensors.

2. A system for automatically illuminating the interior of a refrigerated compartment comprising: a frame positioned about an opening of the refrigerated compartment; a glass door pivotally secured to the frame and providing access to the interior of the frame; a series of lights secured to the interior of the compartment, the lights being interconnected to a power source and having illuminated and non-illuminated states; a motion sensor for detecting the presence of an individual adjacent the compartment; a controller operatively coupled to both the motion sensor and the power source, the controller functioning to bring the lights into the illuminated state when an individual is detected by the sensors.

3. The system as described in claim 2 wherein the motion sensor is mounted to the top of the frame by way of a bracket.

4. The system as described in claim 3 wherein the bracket mounts the sensor facing downwardly at a 45 degree angle.

5. The system as described in claim 2 wherein the lights are light emitting diodes.

6. The system as described in claim 2 further comprising an adjacent refrigerated compartment and separate lighting within the adjacent refrigerated compartment and wherein the controller is operatively connected to and controls the lights of the adjacent refrigerated compartment.

7. The system as described in claim 2 wherein the lights are mounted to mullions secured to the frame.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a system for illuminating the interior of a refrigerated compartment. More specifically, the present invention relates to a sensor arrangement whereby the interior of a refrigerated compartment can be illuminated whenever the presence of an individual is detected.

2. Description of the Background Art

Refrigerated compartments are in wide use in supermarkets and convenience stores across the country. These compartments typically include a frame assembly mounted on the exterior of the compartment for pivotally mounting a series of doors. The doors give consumers access to the interior of the refrigerated compartment. Typically, glass doors are employed to give consumers the ability to see all of the items available for purchase. The use of lighting within the interior of the compartment is also known. This lighting can, for example, include fluorescent lighting mounted upon the ceiling of the refrigerated compartment.

However, because the compartment does not need to be continually lit, mechanisms have been devised over the years for selectively illuminating the interior of the compartment whenever one of the doors is opened. For example, a pressure switch can be employed on the door frame that is closed when the door is fully seated within the frame. This switch is opened when the door is opened to thereby illuminate the interior of the compartment. Unfortunately, this arrangement has many drawbacks. The first drawback is that a consumer can only view the compartment when the door is opened. This is not preferred because while the consumer is considering his or her choices, the refrigerated compartment is losing valuable cold air. The second drawback is that merely opening the door often results in a build up of condensation on the glass due to the temperature variation between the air inside and outside of the compartment. This is problematic because a consumer who opens the door to trigger the internal lighting for purposes of viewing the contents will create condensation and obscure the view of subsequent consumers.

Thus, there exists a need in the art for a refrigerated compartment with internal illumination wherein the illumination is activated in response to something other than the opening or closing of the compartment door.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore one of the objectives of this invention to illuminate the contents of a refrigerated compartment without the need to open the compartment door.

It is another objective of this invention to more fully illuminate the contents of a refrigerated compartment by way of light emitting diodes.

It is a further objective of this invention to illuminate the contents of a refrigerated compartment in response to a sensor detecting movement in front of the compartment.

It is yet a further objective of this invention to mount a motion sensor upon the frame of a refrigerated compartment whereby the sensor can control the illumination within the compartment as well as the illumination of nearby compartments.

It is still yet another objective of this invention to quickly and easily mount a motion sensor upon the frame of a refrigerated compartment by way of an improved bracket construction.

The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the more pertinent and important features of the present invention in order that the detailed description of the invention that follows may be better understood so that the present contribution to the art can be more fully appreciated. Additional features of the invention will be described hereinafter which form the subject of the claims of the invention. It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the conception and the specific embodiment disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention. It should also be realized by those skilled in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a respective view of the sensor bracket in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the sensor bracket of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an elevational view of one frame assembly of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an elevational view of another frame assembly of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a wiring schematic for one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a prospective view illustrating the system of the present invention.

Similar reference characters refer to similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention is commercial refrigerator display that allows for the automatic illumination of the refrigerator contents in the presence of a consumer. Illumination is provided by a series of light emitting diodes (LEDs) which are positioned on an internal surface of one of the mullions that make up the compartment frame. These LEDs are interconnected to both a power source and one or more sensors. The sensors are preferably motion sensors that can detect the presence of an individual near the refrigerator housing. Thus, when an individual is detected, the sensor supplies power to the LEDs to thereby illuminate the interior of the refrigerated compartment. The present invention also relates to the bracket assembly that is used in mounting the sensor to the frame. The various details of the present invention, and the manner in which they interrelate, will be described in greater detail hereinafter.

With reference now to FIG. 6, the system 20 of the present invention is illustrated in conjunction with a refrigerated compartment 22. Compartment 22 is similar in many respects to many of the refrigerated displays that are currently found in supermarkets and convenience stores. These displays include a series of glass doors 24 to give consumers access to the interior of refrigerated compartment 22. Doors 24, in turn, are mounted within a frame 26. A series of doors 24 can be mounted to a single frame 26 assembly and multiple frame assemblies 26a and 26b can be used in connection with a single refrigerated compartment 22. For example, the refrigerated compartment 22 depicted in FIG. 6 includes two adjacent frame assemblies 26 with each assembly 26 consisting of four doors 24. Likewise, FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate three and four door frame assemblies 26, respectively.

Whatever embodiment is utilized, the frame assembly 26 is secured about the opening of the refrigerated compartment 22 and generally includes a top frame member 28, a bottom frame member 32 and opposed side frame members 34. Frame assembly 26 further includes a number of mullions 36 that extend vertically between the upper and lower frame members (28 and 32) and serve to both define individual door openings 38 and support the overall frame structure 26. The number of mullions utilized will depend upon how many doors are positioned within the frame. For instance, two mullions 36 are included in the three door embodiment of FIG. 3 and three mullions 36 are included in the four door embodiment of FIG. 4.

The glass doors 24 that are used to enclose refrigerator compartment 22 can be of conventional construction. For instance, doors 24 can include two glass panes separated by an insulating barrier. Further insulation can be achieved by utilizing a rubber gasket about the periphery of the door. Doors 24 further include a handle 42 on their exterior face for use by consumers (note FIG. 6). Each door 24 is hingedly interconnected to an adjacent mullion 36 in a manner well known in the art.

FIGS. 3 and 4 depict the inner surface 44 of the mullions 36. As illustrated, a series of LEDs 46 are mounted upon the internal surface 44 of each mullion 36. In the preferred embodiment, LEDs 46 are provided by General Electric Company under the trade name “Gelcore”. LEDs 46 are sold in continuous strips 48 that can be easily mounted to the internal surface 44 of the mullion 36. Each LED strip 48 can be powered by a power pack 52 that is likewise mounted upon the mullion 36. Of course, it is also within the scope of the present invention to directly power the LED strips 48 via an external source of power. Whatever power supply is utilized, a switch (not shown) is employed to selectively illuminate the LEDs 46. With the LEDs 46 so mounted, they can easily illuminate the entire contents of the refrigerated compartment 22.

With specific reference to FIG. 3, it will be noted that a pair of motion sensors 54 are secured to the upper corners of frame 26. In the preferred embodiment, the sensors 54 employed in conjunction with the present system 20 are FS-205-HM model sensors sold under the trade name “Wattstopper” by LeGrande Inc. The FS-205-HN sensors use passive infrared sensing technology and are responsive to heat energy, such as the body heat generated by an individual consumer. When mounted at a height of 8′, the sensors 54 can detect movement within a 14′ diameter range. The FS-205-HN further includes a time delay that allows for a lag between sensor activation and the associated lighting being illuminated. The FS-205-HN is preferably used in conjunction with the HN-2000 controller/power pack 56, which is also sold by LeGrand. Power pack/controller 56 regulates the external voltage to sensors 54 and can likewise be mounted to the internal surface 44 of the mullion 36. Although the FS-205-HN and HN-200 have been described in conjunction with the preferred embodiment, those skilled in sensor technologies will appreciate other sensors and power supplies that can be employed in carrying out the goals of the present invention.

The specific manner in which an individual motion sensor 54 is mounted is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. More specifically, each sensor 54 is mounted via a bracket 58 that includes an angled outer face 62 and an associated aperture 64 through which sensor 54 is positioned. In the preferred embodiment, surface 62 is angled at 45°. Furthermore, bracket 58 includes an angled edge 66 that is formed along the back surface of bracket 58 at the upper edge. Angled edge 66 is adapted to be secured over the top frame member 28 to thereby secure the bracket 58 and the associated sensor 54. Bracket 58 further includes a lower mounting surface 68 that is adapted to be positioned between the bottom of top frame number 28 and the top of the associated door 24. The mounting surface 68 includes two apertures 72 that accommodate screws or bolts. Thus, by way of the angled edge 66 and mounting surface 68, bracket 58 can be securely and easily mounted to the top of the frame assembly 26. When so mounted, the associated sensor 54 is optimally oriented downwardly at a 45° angle to maximize the range of sensors 54. As noted by the dotted lines 74 in FIG. 6, by way of this mounting arrangement a wide range of movement can be detected.

Mounting two sensors 54 at the upper corners of a single frame assembly 26 is sufficient to detect movement anywhere in front of compartment 22. FIG. 6 also shows the optimal sensor arrangement for two adjacent frame assemblies 26a and 26b. Namely, three sensors 54a, 54b, and 54c are sufficient to detect movement anywhere within 14′ of the front of the two compartments 22. Accordingly, while one of the two frame assemblies 26a utilizes two sensors (54a and 54b), the adjacent assembly 26b needs only one sensor 54c. The middle sensor 54b, therefore, senses motion in the area between the two compartments 22. In order to accomplish this, the middle sensor 54b is interconnected to the LED strips 48 on the interior side of both frames 26a and 26b. Thus, when a consumer is detected by the middle sensor 54b, the interior portion of both compartments 26a and 26b will be illuminated. FIG. 4 is an example of a frame assembly 26 employing a single sensor 54. The remaining wiring 76 illustrated in FIG. 4 is adapted to be coupled to the sensor 54 on an adjacent frame assembly 26.

FIG. 5 is a wiring diagram for a frame assembly 26 utilizing two sensors 54. As illustrated, each of the LED strips 48 is powered by an associated power supply 52 that can be likewise mounted upon a mullion 36. The sensors 54, in turn, have a separate mullion mounted power supply and controller 56. The LED power supply 52 is interconnected to the power supply and controller 56 of the sensors 54. In this manner, the controller 56 of the sensors 54 can regulate the power supplied to the LEDs 46. Accordingly, when an individual is detected in front of the compartment 22, the sensor 54 is activated and the controller 56 functions in turning on the associated LEDs 46. Conversely, when no one is present, the controller 56 functions in turning off the LEDs 46. In order to permit the sensors 54 to be quickly and easily replaced, each sensor 54 is coupled to the power supply/controller 56 by way of an RJ45 male to male connector 78.

The present disclosure includes that contained in the appended claims, as well as that of the foregoing description. Although this invention has been described in its preferred form with a certain degree of particularity, it is understood that the present disclosure of the preferred form has been made only by way of example and that numerous changes in the details of construction and the combination and arrangement of parts may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Now that the invention has been described,