Title:
COMBINATION WATER CONSERVATION APPARATUS AND WATERING BUCKET WITH METHOD OF USE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A combination water conservation apparatus a container system placed to collect condensate from an air conditioner window unit or central unit. The container system may optionally comprise one or two containers with the single container system recovering water and retaining a first selected reserve quantity while dispensing excess/overflow water to a watering bucket for use by transport to a selected area for watering. The watering bucket has a lid with a spout and water input/air input hole for filling via a funnel, or for relieving vacuum during pouring. If a second container is utilized, it receives the excess/overflow from the first container and dispenses its excess/overflow to the watering bucket. A reserve quantity is retained in each of the containers, and the reserve is selected by placement of a spout at a height selected to retain the chosen reserve quantity of water.



Inventors:
Murphy, Stephen A. (Naples, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/013620
Publication Date:
07/16/2009
Filing Date:
01/14/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
141/331, 222/566, 141/1
International Classes:
B65B3/06; B65B3/04; B65B39/00; B65D25/40
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NIESZ, JASON KAROL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WILLIAMSON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW, LLC (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A condensate collection, storage and dispensing system comprising: a first container; and a watering bucket, wherein said first container automatically fills said watering bucket while retaining a selected reserve quantity of water.

2. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 1, wherein said first container comprises a bottom portion, a top portion, a spout and a periphery, and wherein said spout is disposed on said periphery at a selected height above said bottom portion.

3. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 2, wherein said height is selected to maintain a reserve quantity of water in said first container.

4. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 3, further comprising a funnel, wherein said watering bucket comprises a lid having an aperture therein, and wherein said funnel is disposed through said aperture.

5. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 4, wherein said spout is in liquid communication with said funnel, and wherein water above said reserve quantity is transferred to said watering bucket via said spout.

6. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 5, further comprising a second container.

7. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 6, wherein said second container comprises a base, a second periphery and a second spout.

8. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 7, wherein said second spout is disposed on said second periphery at a selected second height above said base.

9. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 8, wherein said second height is selected to maintain a reserve quantity of water in said second container.

10. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 9, wherein said first container dispenses into said second container and said second container dispenses into said watering bucket.

11. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 1, wherein said watering bucket comprises a pourer.

12. The condensate collection, storage and dispensing system of claim 1, wherein said watering bucket comprises a handle.

13. A method of collecting and reserving a selected quantity of water, said method comprising the steps of: installing a condensate collection, storage and dispensing system comprising a first container and a watering bucket, wherein said first container automatically fills said watering bucket while retaining a selected reserve quantity of water; transporting said watering bucket to an area to be irrigated; and pouring water from said watering bucket on the area to be irrigated.

14. The method of claim 13, said method comprising the step of: reserving the selected quantity of water in said first container by disposing a spout on a peripheral portion of said first container at a height dimensioned to retain the selected quantity of water.

15. The method of claim 14, said method comprising the step of: disposing a second container between said first container and said watering bucket.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said step of disposing comprises the step of: sequentially disposing said first container, said second container and said watering bucket, wherein said first container dispenses its excess water into said second container and wherein said second container dispenses its excess water into said watering bucket

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising the step of: reserving a second selected quantity of water in said second container by disposing a second spout on a second peripheral portion of said second container at a second height dimensioned to retain the second selected quantity of water.

18. The method of claim 13, wherein said step of installing comprises the step of: disposing said condensate collection, storage and dispensing system proximate to a condensate drip tube exiting a building.

19. A water collecting and dispensing apparatus comprising: a first container having a bottom and a spout disposed at a selected height above said bottom; a second container having a base and a spout disposed at a selected height above said base; and a watering bucket, wherein said first container dispenses overflow water to said second container, and wherein said second container dispenses excess water into said watering bucket, and wherein said first container retains a reserve quantity of water determined by said height of said spout above said bottom, and wherein said second container retains a reserve quantity of water determined by said height of said spout above said base.

20. The water collecting and dispensing apparatus of claim 19, further comprising a first funnel to receive said overflow water from said first container and a second funnel to receive said excess water from said second container.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

None

PARTIES TO A JOINT RESEARCH AGREEMENT

None

REFERENCE TO A SEQUENCE LISTING

None

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a water collection and storage apparatus, and more specifically to a condensate collection apparatus having a collection and storage container that dispenses water into a movable bucket while retaining a selected amount of water in reserve.

2. Description of Related Art

Water conservation is becoming increasingly more important as the population in cities dependent upon reservoirs increases substantially. Water shortage may be overcome, or at least ameliorated, by conservation practices, including recovery of water that would otherwise be wasted. Accordingly, various devices have been produced to assist in water conservation and/or recovery of water.

One existing device utilizes several different types of containers and barrels for collecting rain water; these barrels have spigots located on the top, middle and bottom of the barrels for different ways of creating pressure or releasing pressure. However, the device does not have a means for controlling release of a specified amount of water. Further, there is no means for retention of a selected reserve quantity of water, while also providing a separate quantity of water for use.

Another series of devices offer different top styles or “lids” which are fixed and/or removable from the water collecting device. However, these containers are mainly utilized for the collection of rainwater, and do not have a means for both retention of a selected reserve quantity of water while providing for utilization of a separate quantity of water.

One other device discloses a downspout connector, an overflow valve located near the top, a spigot for removing of water and a drain plug. Likewise, another device teaches spigots for placing a bucket and/or other containers for filling to either gather water or connect to a hose.

Yet another device shows a rain collecting barrel with similar features to those listed above, having spigot placement for placing buckets underneath and/or attaching a garden hose. These barrels are also shown connected to one another for additional storage.

Another variety of products and methods exists for the collection of rain and redistribution of water, including tanks, pumps, diverters and other accessories which are utilized to collect, store, sometimes purify (if being used for human consumption), and redistribute the rain water.

Accordingly, existing products do not provide for retention of a selected quantity of water in reserve, while also maintaining a full secondary container for use when needed. Thus, existing products do not provide a building owner with a known quantity of available water in reserve.

Therefore, it is readily apparent that there is a need for a water conservation apparatus that provides a selected reserve quantity of water, while also maintaining a second container in as full a condition as allowed by the quantity of condensate water produced.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly described, in a preferred embodiment, the present invention overcomes the above-mentioned disadvantages and meets the recognized need for such a device by providing a container system which is placed to collect condensate from an air conditioner window unit and/or central unit, and a method by which water is collected and utilized. The container system may optionally comprise one or two containers: The single container system recovers water and retains a selected reserve while dispensing excess water into a watering bucket having a lid, spout and water input/air input hole for filling through, or for relieving vacuum during pouring.

Alternately, for the dual container system, the same watering bucket is utilized in concert with two containers in series, wherein the two containers each retain a selected quantity of condensate in reserve, while passing excess sequentially to the watering bucket for use. The two containers each comprise an outlet positioned in the sidewall thereof to dispense water, thereby passing excess water from the first container to the second container and subsequently to the watering bucket, filling same. The outlet height of the first container is selected to allow water from the first container to pass condensate to the second container, while maintaining a selected quantity of water in reserve in the first container. Further, the outlet height of the second container is similarly selected to allow water from the second container to pass condensate to the watering bucket, while maintaining a selected quantity of water in reserve in the second container.

The reserved water in the first and second containers may selectively be utilized to refill the watering bucket when additional water is needed, such as when there is inadequate condensate supply to provide an overflow for filling of the watering bucket. Thus, condensate water is recovered and conserved, held in reserve for future requirements, and the excess is utilized for general watering purposes. When needed, the reserve may be utilized by pouring same into the watering bucket for use.

According to its major aspects and broadly stated, the present invention in its preferred form is a combination water conservation apparatus comprising a condensate collection, storage and dispensing system having a first container and a watering bucket with handle and pourer, wherein the first container automatically fills the watering bucket while retaining a selected reserve quantity of water. The first container has a bottom portion, a top portion with a lid having an aperture therein, a spout disposed at a selected height above the bottom portion on a periphery of the first container. The height is selected to maintain a specific reserve quantity of water in the first container.

Further, the condensate collection, storage and dispensing system comprises an optional funnel, and the watering bucket comprises a lid with an aperture therethrough. The first container is disposed such that an aperture in the lid thereof is directly below the condensate drain tube, wherein water will drip through the aperture or optional funnel into the first container. The optional funnel may be utilized to receive condensate from the spout of the first container, wherein the funnel is disposed through the aperture to facilitate transfer of water from the first container into the watering bucket. The aperture in the water bucket permits air to flow into the watering bucket when water is poured therefrom, thereby eliminating creation of a vacuum in the watering bucket that would otherwise impede water pouring.

Accordingly, once the first container is filled to the selected height, excess water runs through the spout to the funnel and thence into the watering bucket. The reserve quantity is retained within the first container and does not dispense to the watering bucket. However, the watering bucket can be filled from the reserve in time of need by tipping the first container to pour either through the spout, or over the rim of the first container.

The system may alternately comprise a second container having a base, a second periphery and a second spout, disposed on the second periphery at a selected second height above the base. The second height is selected to maintain a specific reserve quantity of water in the second container. The first container dispenses into the second container and the second container subsequently dispenses into the watering bucket. An optional funnel may be utilized to receive the condensate from the drain tube and/or additional funnels may be utilized to receive water from the container spouts. When a funnel is not utilized, water from the condensate drain tube and/or from the container spouts drips through apertures in the lids of the containers and/or the watering bucket.

In use, the condensate collection, storage and dispensing system is installed next to a building where the condensate drip tube is located, such that water from the condensate drip tube will fall into the first container. Water fills the first container up to the height of the spout and excess/overflow water then pours through the spout into the watering bucket. If a second container is utilized, the water from the first container fills the second container and then the excess/overflow water above the amount needed to fill to the spout is carried over into the watering bucket. In the event that the conditions require a smaller profile collection apparatus, the watering bucket can be utilized by itself by placing the watering bucket under the condensate drain tube with the aperture in the lid of the watering bucket disposed to receive water from the drain tube or from a window air conditioning unit. In this embodiment, use of a funnel is preferred to receive water through the aperture in the watering bucket lid.

The watering bucket is then transported to an area to be irrigated and water is poured onto plants, etc., in the area. Further, the watering bucket may be utilized indoors or outdoors.

A selected quantity of water is reserved in the first container by disposing a spout on a peripheral portion of the first container at a height dimensioned to retain the selected quantity of water. In the alternate embodiment, a second selected quantity of water is reserved in the second container by disposing a second spout on a second peripheral portion of the second container at a second height dimensioned to retain the second selected quantity of water.

The first container, a second container and the watering bucket are in sequence, wherein the second container is disposed between the first container and the watering bucket, and wherein the first container dispenses its overflow water into the second container, and wherein the second container dispenses its excess water into the watering bucket.

In an alternate embodiment, the water collecting and dispensing apparatus comprises a first container having a bottom and a spout disposed at a selected height above the bottom, a second container having a base and a spout disposed at a selected height above the base, and a watering bucket, wherein the first container dispenses overflow water to the second container. The second container dispenses excess water into the watering bucket and the first container retains a reserve quantity of water determined by the height of its spout above its bottom, and the second container retains a reserve quantity of water determined by the height of its spout above its base. A first funnel receives overflow water from the first container and a second funnel receives the excess water from the second container.

Thus, excess water is available in the watering bucket for use when needed. Whenever the watering bucket is replaced, it is refilled by overflow water from the first container, or, if applicable, from the second container. At all times, a reserve of water remains in the first container and, if utilized, in the second container. Whenever additional water is needed, reserve water from either the first or second containers, as applicable, can be poured into the watering bucket.

More specifically, the present invention is a condensate water conservation apparatus having a first container and a watering bucket. The first container has a spout disposed on the periphery thereof at a selected height above the first container's bottom. The watering bucket has a handle, a lid, a pourer on the lid, and an aperture with a funnel disposed therethrough.

Condensate from a building air conditioning system drips from a drain tube exiting the building through a wall. The condensate falls into the first container filling same up to a water level selected as a reserve quantity. The height of the spout is selected to retain the specific reserve quantity of water. Upon filling to the spout height, water pours through the spout into the funnel and passes into the watering bucket. When desired, the funnel is removed from the lid and the watering bucket is transported by its carrying handle to a chosen location to irrigate plants or for other watering purpose by pouring water from the watering bucket via its pourer. Upon completion of watering, the funnel is reinserted into the aperture and the watering bucket returned proximate the first container, wherein water passing through the spout is captured by the funnel, and the water passes into the watering bucket to refill it. Thus, based on the height of the spout, a selected reserve of water is always retained in reserve and, accordingly, available. When the reserve is needed, the first container can be tipped to permit water to be poured either via the spout or over the top of the first container, capturing the water in a suitable container.

Thus, a selected quantity of water is retained as a reserve for subsequent use, while the watering bucket is filled by the excess water passing from the first container via the spout into the watering bucket. Accordingly, only the watering bucket needs to be transported to a desired location as needed.

In an alternate embodiment, a second container is added to the system to accumulate additional water at a specific selected volume based again on a height of a second spout above the base of this second container. The condensate drips from the drain tube into the first container and accumulates until it reaches the selected height above the bottom of the first container to afford a reserve. Subsequently, the water passes through the spout and a second funnel into the second container, wherein the second funnel is disposed through a cover of the second container. The water accumulates in the second container up to a selected height that is less than the height of the spout of the first container, providing a second reserve of water within the second container. Upon reaching its selected height in the second container, excess water passes through a second spout into the funnel, passing therethrough into the watering bucket.

Thus, there is always water available, either in the watering bucket or as a reserve in one or both of the containers.

Accordingly, a feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to provide a reserve quantity of water.

Another feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to retain a selected quantity of water.

Still another feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to be located wherever condensate water outflow is present.

Yet another feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to provide readily available water in small quantities in a watering bucket for occasional use.

Yet still another feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to be easily resized to accommodate changing needs and/or condensate quantities.

A further feature and advantage of the present invention is its portability to permit relocation in a different area as needed.

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent to one skilled in the art from the following description and claims when read in light of the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be better understood by reading the Detailed Description of the Preferred and Selected Alternate Embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawing figures, in which like reference numerals denote similar structure and refer to like elements throughout, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a combination water conservation apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of a watering bucket component according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 3 is a side view of a combination water conservation apparatus according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED AND SELECTED ALTERNATE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

In describing the preferred and selected alternate embodiments of the present invention, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, specific terminology is employed for the sake of clarity. The invention, however, is not intended to be limited to the specific terminology so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific element includes all technical equivalents that operate in a similar manner to accomplish similar functions.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-2, the present invention in a preferred embodiment is condensate water conservation apparatus 10, wherein condensate water conservation apparatus 10 comprises first container 20 and watering bucket 80. First container 20 comprises roof 25, opening 27, first spout 30, top 50, bottom 60 and periphery 70, wherein first spout 30 is disposed on periphery 70 at height 40 above bottom 60. Optionally, conical channel 29 is utilized to facilitate positioning of first container 20 without the need for extreme accuracy. Watering bucket 80 comprises handle 90, first funnel 100, lid 130, pourer 150 and aperture 160, wherein first funnel 100 is optionally disposed on lid 130 in aperture 160. Pourer 150 is disposed on lid 130, wherein water is dispensed through pourer 150, when using watering bucket 80.

Condensate C from a building air conditioning system, or similar, drips from drain D, wherein drain D (exits building B through wall W. Condensate C falls into first container 20, optionally through either opening 27 or conical channel 29, adding to reserve 120 up to water level 140. Height 40 is selected to retain a specific quantity of water 110 at water level 140 as reserve 120. Upon filling to height 40, excess water 110 pours through first spout 30 optionally either into first funnel 100 if required, or directly through aperture 160, passing through same into watering bucket 80. When desired, first funnel 100 is removed from lid 130 and watering bucket 80 is transported via handle 90 to a location for watering of plants and such, pouring water from watering bucket 80 via pourer 150. Upon completion of watering, first funnel 100 is reinserted into aperture 160 and bucket 80 is placed such that water 110 passing through first spout 30 will be captured by, and passed through, first funnel 100 into watering bucket 80, refilling same. Thus, as selected by disposition of first spout 30 at height 40, reserve 120 of water 110 is always retained and available. When needed, first container 20 is tipped to permit water 110 to exit first container either via spout 20 or over top 50, wherein water 110 exiting in such fashion is captured in a suitable container for subsequent use.

Accordingly, a selected quantity of water 110 is retained as reserve 120 for subsequent use, while watering bucket 80 is filled by excess water passing from first container 20 via first spout 30 into watering bucket 80. As needed, only watering bucket 80 need be transported to locations selected for watering.

Referring now more specifically to FIG. 3, illustrated therein is an alternate embodiment of condensate water conservation apparatus 10, wherein the alternate embodiment of FIGS. 1-2 is substantially equivalent in form and function to that of the preferred embodiment detailed and illustrated in FIGS. 1-2 except as hereinafter specifically referenced. Specifically, the embodiment of FIG. 3 comprises condensate collector 200, wherein condensate collector 200 comprises first container 20 having first spout 30 disposed at height 40 on periphery 70 of first container 20, and second container 220, wherein second container 220 comprises second funnel 210, cover 225, bottom 227 and second spout 230 disposed on periphery 260 at height 250 above base 227 of second container 220.

Condensate C drips from drain D into first container 20, wherein water 110 accumulates until it reaches height 40 above bottom 60. Subsequently, water 110 passes through first spout 30 and second funnel 210 into second container 220, wherein second funnel is disposed through cover 225, and wherein water 110 accumulates in second container 220 up to height 250, providing reserve 240 of water 110 within second container 220. Upon reaching height 250, excess water 110 passes through second spout 230 into funnel 100, passing therethrough into watering bucket 80.

The foregoing description and drawings comprise illustrative embodiments of the present invention. Having thus described exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it should be noted by those skilled in the art that the within disclosures are exemplary only, and that various other alternatives, adaptations, and modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention. Merely listing or numbering the steps of a method in a certain order does not constitute any limitation on the order of the steps of that method. Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which this invention pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Although specific terms may be employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to the specific embodiments illustrated herein, but is limited only by the following claims.