Title:
Hot tub covering system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Exemplary embodiments of the invention provide a hot tub covering system comprised of a plurality of objects adapted to float on the water surface of a hot tub. The objects are adapted to disperse around a person's body in the water. In further exemplary embodiments, the system is adapted to reduce water evaporation and heat loss without substantially impeding use of the hot tub. Furthermore, if the hot tub is located in an indoors environment, the system reduces humidity (i.e., evaporation rate of the water) and creates a more pleasant atmosphere. As a non-limiting example, the objects may be made of a plastic, such as polyethylene, polystyrene or polypropylene. As non-limiting examples, the objects may have a generally cylindrical shape or a generally spherical shape.



Inventors:
Alac, Jan (Ontario, CA)
Application Number:
12/072303
Publication Date:
08/27/2009
Filing Date:
02/25/2008
Assignee:
Alcot Plastics Ltd.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080115265Adjustable shower enclosure rod assemblyMay, 2008Heaslip
20080222784TANKLESS VENTILATED TOILET WITH BIDETSeptember, 2008Ware
20060277672Portable sanitary sheet for seated toilet bowlDecember, 2006Chang
20090188028Auxiliary descending device for a toilet seatJuly, 2009Jiang
20090229046ANTI SPLASH TOILETSeptember, 2009Liu
20070118986Self-rinsing lavatory develleMay, 2007Osburn
20080052810Toddler UrinalMarch, 2008Zeeb et al.
20060191064Splash-retardant systemAugust, 2006Tan



Primary Examiner:
CRANE, LAUREN ASHLEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Harrington & Smith, Attorneys At Law, LLC (SHELTON, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hot tub covering system comprising a plurality of objects adapted to float on a surface of water in a hot tub, wherein the plurality of objects are adapted to disperse around a person's body in the water.

2. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the hot tub covering system covers less than 90% of the surface of the water.

3. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the hot tub covering system substantially covers the surface of the water.

4. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the hot tub covering system is adapted to reduce water evaporation and heat loss.

5. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the hot tub covering system is adapted to not impede use of the hot tub by a user.

6. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of objects is about 1-4 inches in diameter.

7. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the plurality of objects are comprised of a material that has a density less than that of water.

8. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein at least an outer surface of at least one of the plurality of objects is comprised of a closed-cell material.

9. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of objects is comprised of a plastic.

10. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of objects is comprised of at least one of polyethylene, polystyrene or polypropylene.

11. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of objects comprises a water-proof exterior coating.

12. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of objects comprises a generally cylindrical shape or a generally spherical shape.

13. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein a depth of coverage for the hot tub covering system is greater than one-object deep.

14. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of objects comprises a substantially solid object.

15. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the plurality of objects are adapted to be displaced as a user enters the hot tub.

16. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the plurality of objects are adapted to at least partially surround a user in the hot tub.

17. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the plurality of objects are freely movable relative to one another.

18. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein the plurality of objects are not tightly packed.

19. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of objects further comprises a stabilization component configured to vertically orient the at least one object relative to the surface of the water.

20. A hot tub covering system as in claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of objects is adapted to vertically orient the at least one object relative to the surface of the water.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The exemplary embodiments of this invention relate generally to covering of a liquid surface and, more specifically, relate to a system for covering the liquid surface of a hot tub.

BACKGROUND

With an open liquid surface, it is often desirable to reduce evaporation of the liquid. It may also be desirable to reduce heat loss (i.e., reduce the transfer of thermal energy from the liquid to the surrounding atmosphere). One or more floating members may be utilized for such purposes.

For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,938,338 to Cullen discloses a float member comprised of a body having a hexagonal circumferential skirt or wall. The float member is shaped or weighted such that it tends to float in only one of two dispositions. The hexagonal skirt is disposed at the level of the liquid with the skirt extending substantially at right angles to the surface of the liquid. The float member is for side-by-side nesting with similar float members for substantially completely blanketing or covering the surface of a liquid. The float member is further designed such that wind blowing across the member tends to urge it downwardly.

As another example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,993,214 to Usab discloses the use of a plurality of dodecahedron-shaped floating bodies that float on the surface of a liquid. The dodecahedrons each have twelve identical pentagonal faces. The floating bodies are designed to fit together and substantially achieve 100 percent cover of the liquid surface. The floating bodies are presented within the context of industrial applications wherein it is essential to have unimpeded access to the liquid.

As a further example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,270,232 to Ballew discloses a cover for a swimming pool comprised of a multiplicity of cover segments each composed of a hexagonal frame. The cover segment is designed to prevent heat loss by having heat transfer sheeting (i.e., a heat retaining material) on one side (i.e., the side facing the water).

SUMMARY

In an exemplary aspect of the invention, a hot tub covering system includes: a plurality of objects adapted to float on a surface of water in a hot tub, wherein the plurality of objects are adapted to disperse around a person's body in the water.

In further exemplary embodiments, the system is adapted to reduce water evaporation and heat loss without substantially impeding use of the hot tub. Furthermore, if the hot tub is located in an indoors environment, the system reduces humidity (i.e., evaporation rate of the water) and creates a more pleasant atmosphere. As a non-limiting example, the objects may be made of a plastic, such as polyethylene, polystyrene or polypropylene. As non-limiting examples, the objects may have a generally cylindrical shape or a generally spherical shape.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other aspects of embodiments of this invention are made more evident in the following Detailed Description, when read in conjunction with the attached Drawing Figures, wherein:

FIG. 1A shows a side view of a hot tub utilizing an exemplary embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 1B depicts a top view of the hot tub shown in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 1C shows a side view of the hot tub in FIG. 1A with a person sitting in the hot tub;

FIG. 1D shows a top view of the hot tub in FIG. 1C;

FIG. 2 shows a side view of an exemplary object with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented;

FIG. 3 depicts a side view of another exemplary object with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented;

FIG. 4 depicts a side view of another exemplary object with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented;

FIG. 5A shows a side view of another exemplary object with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented;

FIG. 5B shows a top view of the exemplary object illustrated in FIG. 5A;

FIG. 6 illustrates a cross-sectional view of another exemplary object with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented;

FIG. 7 depicts a cross-sectional view of another exemplary object with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented;

FIG. 8A depicts an exemplary manufacturing system for producing a plurality of objects made from plastic foam;

FIG. 8B illustrates an exemplary object that can be produced by the exemplary manufacturing system of FIG. 8A; and

FIG. 8C depicts another exemplary foam object that can be produced by the exemplary manufacturing system of FIG. 8A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With a hot tub, it is desirable to reduce evaporation of the water. Furthermore, since the water is usually warmer than the surrounding atmosphere, it is also desirable to reduce heat loss. Particularly in colder climates or weather, water and/or chemicals evaporating from the spa may make the surrounding environment unpleasant, for example, due to the smell. When indoors, spas are often a source of high humidity.

Exemplary embodiments of the invention provide a hot tub covering system comprised of a plurality of objects adapted to float on the water surface of a hot tub. The objects are adapted to disperse around a person's body in the water. The system reduces water evaporation and heat loss without substantially impeding use of the hot tub. Furthermore, if the hot tub is located in an indoors environment, the system may reduce humidity (i.e., evaporation rate of the water) and help to create a more pleasant atmosphere. In some exemplary embodiments, the system also reduces the evaporation rate of chemicals in the water, further contributing to the improvement of the atmosphere.

FIG. 1 shows a hot tub 10 utilizing an exemplary embodiment of the invention. FIG. 1A depicts a side view of the hot tub 10. The hot tub 10 is partially filled with hot water 12. A plurality of objects 14 are floating on a surface 13 of the water 12. Note that the plurality of objects 14 are adapted to float on the surface 13 of the water 12. FIG. 1B depicts a top view of the hot tub 10. FIG. 1C shows a person 16 sitting in the hot tub 10. As can be seen, the plurality of objects 14 are further adapted to disperse around the person's body 16 in the water 12. FIG. 1D shows a top view of the person 16 sitting in the hot tub 10. The plurality of objects 14 collectively may be considered a hot tub covering system.

The coverage of the hot tub covering system may be partial or substantial. That is, in some exemplary embodiments, the plurality of objects 14 substantially cover the surface 13 of the water 12. In other exemplary embodiments, the plurality of objects 14 only cover a portion of the surface 13, for example, less than 90% of the surface 13. The plurality of objects 14 are adapted to reduce water evaporation and/or heat loss. As can be appreciated from FIGS. 1C and 1D, the plurality of objects 14 do not impede use of the hot tub 10 by a person 16. In other exemplary embodiments, the depth of the coverage is greater than one-object deep. For example, the plurality of objects 14 may be arranged in a plurality of layers.

In some exemplary embodiments, each of the plurality of objects 14 is about 1-4 inches in diameter (e.g., approximately the size of a ping pong ball). In further exemplary embodiments, the size of the objects 14 is selected such that the objects cannot fit in any intake tubes of the hot tub 10. In other exemplary embodiments, the plurality of objects 14 are comprised of a material that has a density less than that of water. Such a density ensures that the plurality of objects 14 will float on the water 12. In further exemplary embodiments, the plurality of objects 14 are comprised of a material that has a density less than 0.9 grams/cm3. In other exemplary embodiments, the plurality of objects 14 are comprised of at least 90% air.

In further exemplary embodiments, at least one of the plurality of objects 14 is comprised of a closed-cell material. Closed-cell materials may be particularly suitable since they are highly resistant to moisture and, at least in some cases, may be waterproof. As non-limiting examples, at least one of the plurality of objects 14 may be comprised of a plastic, such as polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene, as non-limiting examples. In other exemplary embodiments, at least one of the plurality of objects 14 comprises a water-proof exterior coating or layer. In some exemplary embodiments, at least one of the plurality of objects 14 comprises a substantially solid object. In further exemplary embodiments, each of the plurality of objects 14 comprises a substantially solid object.

The plurality of objects 14 are adapted to be displaced as the person 16 enters the hot tub 10. As the person 16 sits in the hot tub 10, the plurality of objects are adapted to at least partially surround the person 16. The plurality of objects 14 are freely movable relative to one another. This enables the person 16 to more comfortably sit in and use the hot tub 10. For example, in some exemplary embodiments, if an object is between the person 16 and a wall of the hot tub 10 and the person 16 leans back against the wall, the object will readily slide out of the way (e.g., due to its shape). Furthermore, in some exemplary embodiments, there are no sharp edges or corners on the objects that would harm or otherwise irritate the person 16 in the hot tub 10.

It is generally preferred that the plurality of objects 14 not be tightly packed. Such an arrangement facilitates free movement amongst the objects 14 and ready use of the hot tub 10 by a person 16. However, in further exemplary embodiments, the plurality of objects 14 may be packed together.

In other exemplary embodiments, at least one of the plurality of objects 14 is adapted to orient the at least one object relative to the surface 13 of the water 12. Such exemplary embodiments are illustrated in FIGS. 3-4 and further described below.

In other exemplary embodiments, at least one of the plurality of objects 14 further comprises a stabilization component configured to orient the at least one object relative to the surface 13 of the water 12. Such exemplary embodiments are illustrated in FIGS. 5-7 and further described below.

FIG. 2 shows a side view of an exemplary object 20 with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented. The object 20 is adapted to float on water in a hot tub, similar to the plurality of objects 14 shown above in FIG. 1. The object 20 is further adapted to disperse around a person's body in the water. The object 20 is a solid, plastic ball whose diameter is about 1-4 inches.

FIG. 3 depicts a side view of another exemplary object 30 with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented. The object 30 shown in FIG. 3 has had a portion of the spherical shape removed. Due to the modified shape (i.e., as compared with the substantially perfect sphere shape of the object 20 in FIG. 2), the object 30 in FIG. 3 will assume a certain vertical orientation relative to the surface of the water in the hot tub.

FIG. 4 depicts a side view of another exemplary object 40 with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented. In contrast to the object 20 in FIG. 2, the object 40 in FIG. 4 is elongated along both horizontal axes (i.e., it is in the general shape of a disc). In such a manner, the object 40 will assume a certain vertical orientation relative to the surface of the water in the hot tub.

FIG. 5A shows a side view of another exemplary object 50 with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented. FIG. 5B shows a top view of the exemplary object 50 illustrated in FIG. 5A. The object 50 is comprised of at least two portions: a substantially spherical main body 52 and a stabilization component 54. As shown in FIG. 5, the stabilization component 54 is comprised of an additional exterior section that provides vertical stability for the object 50 and is configured to orient the object 50 relative to the surface of the water. The stabilization component 54 of the object 50 has a rounded-rectangle top profile and extends around the equator of the substantially spherical main body 52.

Although shown in FIG. 5B as having a rounded-rectangle top profile, in other exemplary embodiments, the stabilization component may comprise a different top profile. As a non-limiting example, the stabilization component may comprise a circular ring of material extending about the equator of the substantially spherical body. Similarly, in other exemplary embodiments, the stabilization component may comprise a different side profile from the one shown in FIG. 5A. In further exemplary embodiments, the stabilization component may extend around a different portion (e.g., a portion other than the equator) of the main body.

FIG. 6 illustrates a cross-sectional view of another exemplary object 60 with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented. The object 60 is comprised of at least two portions: a substantially spherical main body 62 and a stabilization component 64. As shown in FIG. 6, the stabilization component 64 is comprised of an additional internal section of material whose density is greater than the density of the main body 62. In such a manner, due to the stabilization component 64, the object 60 will achieve a vertical orientation relative to the surface of the water. In further exemplary embodiments, the stabilization component 64 may have a different shape, particularly since it is internal and does not affect the external appearance of the object 60.

FIG. 7 depicts a cross-sectional view of another exemplary object with which exemplary embodiments of the invention can be implemented. The object 70 is comprised of at least two portions: a substantially spherical main body 72 and a stabilization component 74. As shown in FIG. 7, the stabilization component 74 is comprised of an additional internal section of material whose density is less than the density of the main body 72. As a non-limiting example, the stabilization component 74 may comprise an intentional air pocket. In such a manner, due to the stabilization component 74, the object 70 will achieve a vertical orientation relative to the surface of the water. In further exemplary embodiments, the stabilization component 74 may have a different shape, particularly since it is internal and does not affect the external appearance of the object 70.

As noted above, in some exemplary embodiments the plurality of objects may comprise a plastic or plastic foam, such as polyethylene, polystyrene or polypropylene, as non-limiting examples. In such exemplary embodiments, the objects may be formed using techniques and processes known to one of ordinary skill in the art (e.g., extrusion). With reference to FIG. 8, below is described one non-limiting example of such a production technique.

FIG. 8A depicts an exemplary manufacturing system 80 for producing a plurality of objects made from plastic foam. Solid pellets, special additives and a blowing agent are fed into an extruder 82. The blowing agent may comprise a chemical blowing agent or a liquid gas, as non-limiting examples. Note that in some cases, and possibly depending on the plastic in question, crystals may be used in place of the pellets. Within the extruder 82, the materials are combined and melted, under controlled conditions of high pressure and temperature, into a viscous plastic fluid. The thick, hot plastic fluid is forced through a die 86 in a continuous process. As it emerges from the die 86 (as output 88), the material expands to a foam which may be cooled, shaped and trimmed. The shape of the die 86 affects the final shape of the produced object. As a non-limiting example, the die 86 may have a substantially circular shape. The objects are produced by cutting the output 88. As non-limiting examples, the output 88 may be cut at regular intervals 90 or at the die 94 to produce one or more foam objects 92, 96. The extrusion process results in a foam product having a substantially uniform closed-cell structure. Furthermore, the resulting product may have a substantially smooth continuous skin, for example, if the output is cut at the die.

FIG. 8B illustrates an exemplary foam object 92 that can be produced by the exemplary manufacturing system 80 of FIG. 8A. Since the example die 86 is generally circular in shape and the output 88 was cut along a plane generally parallel to the face of the die 86 at one or more intervals 90, the produced foam object 92 has a generally (e.g., substantially) cylindrical shape.

FIG. 8C depicts another exemplary foam object 96 that can be produced by the exemplary manufacturing system 80 of FIG. 8A. In this case, the example die 86 is also generally circular in shape, however the output 88 was cut at the die 94 along a plane generally parallel to the face of the die 86. This results in a produced foam object 96 that has a generally (e.g., substantially) spherical shape.

As utilized herein, a “hot tub” is considered to be a container holding relatively warm (e.g., hot) water that is designed to enable at least one user to at least partially immerse himself or herself in the water. A hot tub may enable more than one person to at least partially immerse themselves in the water. A hot tub may have one or more jets or other agitators that cause the water to circulate, bubble or otherwise move (e.g., within the hot tub).

As utilized herein, the terms “vertically oriented” or “vertical orientation” relative to the surface of the water is considered to indicate that the object has at least one preferred orientation relative to the surface of the water. That is, due to the mass placement or other features of the object, the object is likely to assume a certain orientation with a preferred portion of the object above or below the water. In a similar manner, objects may have a plurality of preferred orientations, such as two preferred orientations, for example.

It should be noted that the objects 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 of FIGS. 4-7 are all considered to have a substantially spherical shape. As utilized herein, a substantially spherical shape is considered to be a shape that is at least generally spherical. Such a shape may depart from a perfect sphere and feature one or more deformations and/or additions, such as elongation or additional components. However, even in view of such deformations and/or additions, the shape is still recognizably, generally circular (e.g., perfectly circular, ellipsoidal) in side and/or top views.

Although shown in FIGS. 1-7 as having a substantially spherical shape, in other exemplary embodiments one or more of the plurality of objects may have a different shape, such as a generally cylindrical shape (e.g., object 92 in FIG. 8B) or a generally cubic shape, as non-limiting examples. In some exemplary embodiments, the edges or corners of the objects are rounded or otherwise not sharp. This may be preferable in order to provide a pleasant atmosphere to a user of the hot tub system such that, for example, the plurality of objects are not abrasive or otherwise injurious to the user. As a non-limiting example, the plurality of objects may be substantially shaped as cylinders with rounded edges, each cylinder having a base of about 1-2 inches in diameter and a height of about 1-2 inches.

Any use of the terms “connected,” “coupled” or variants thereof should be interpreted to indicate any such connection or coupling, direct or indirect, between the identified elements. As a non-limiting example, one or more intermediate elements may be present between the “coupled” elements. The connection or coupling between the identified elements may be, as non-limiting examples, physical, logical or any suitable combination thereof in accordance with the described exemplary embodiments.

The foregoing description has provided by way of exemplary and non-limiting examples a full and informative description of the best method and apparatus presently contemplated by the inventors for carrying out the invention. However, various modifications and adaptations may become apparent to those skilled in the relevant arts in view of the foregoing description, when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and the appended claims. However, all such and similar modifications will still fall within the scope of the teachings of the exemplary embodiments of the invention.

Furthermore, some of the features of the preferred embodiments of this invention could be used to advantage without the corresponding use of other features. As such, the foregoing description should be considered as merely illustrative of the principles of the invention, and not in limitation thereof.