Title:
OUTDOOR PATIO HEATER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An outdoor heater such as an outdoor patio heater may include a number of panels and ribs that securely couple the panels together. The heater may include a coupling assembly that easily and securely couples a support such as a pole to a tabletop, pedestal or base. The tabletop, pedestal and/or base may be formed of a variety of materials, for example, fiber-reinforced plastic, allowing a large variety of aesthetically pleasing effects.



Inventors:
Konkle, Stephen (Bothell, WA, US)
Application Number:
12/043054
Publication Date:
09/10/2009
Filing Date:
03/05/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24C3/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CORBOY, WILLIAM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SEED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW GROUP LLP (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
I/we claim:

1. An outdoor heater, comprising: a base; an elongated support member having a first end and a second end opposed to the first end, the elongated support member selectively coupleable proximate the first end thereof to the base for support thereby; a heat source selectively coupleable to the elongated support member proximate the second end of the elongated support member; and a canopy selectively coupleable to at least one of the heat source or the elongated support member positioned relatively above the heat source with respect to the base, the canopy comprising a number N of panels and an equal number N of elongated ribs, the panels each having a pair of opposed side edges, the elongated ribs each having a pair of longitudinally extending channels, each of the channels sized to receive a respective one of the side edges of a respective one of the panels, each of the channels having a retention structure to physically engage at least a portion of the received one of the side edges to secure two of the panels to each of the elongated ribs.

2. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the channels are formed in opposed edges of the elongated ribs.

3. The outdoor heater of claim 2 wherein an opening of the channels at the edges of the elongated ribs are smaller than a thickness of the side edges of the panels to be received in the channel and the channels are open at an end of the elongated rib to allow the side edges of the panels to slide into the channels.

4. The outdoor heater of claim 3 wherein the retention structure is a lip formed in the channel.

5. The outdoor heater of claim 4 wherein the channels have a substantially L-shaped cross-section when viewed along a longitudinal axis.

6. The outdoor heater of claim 2 wherein the elongated ribs have a substantially annular cross-section.

7. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the side edges of each of the panels are thicker than an interior portion of the panels.

8. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the side edges each include a roll portion of the panel.

9. The outdoor heater of claim 1, further comprising: a top cap structure fastenable relatively above the canopy.

10. The outdoor heater of claim 9 wherein the top cap structure comprises an upper plate and a lower plate, the upper and the lower plates fastenable together to securely sandwich a top edge of each of the panels therebetween.

11. The outdoor heater of claim 10 wherein the top cap structure further comprises a sloped cover selectively coupleable to the upper plate positioned above the upper plate with respect to the lower plate.

12. The outdoor heater of claim 9 wherein the top cap structure comprises a set of fasteners to couple the lower plate to a portion of the heat source.

13. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the canopy further comprises a number N of end pieces, each of the end pieces having a recess sized to accommodate an end of a respective one of the elongated ribs.

14. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the side edges of the panels taper from a bottom edge to a top edge such that the bottom edge of the panel is wider than the top edge of the panel.

15. The outdoor heater of claim 14 wherein a portion of the panels proximate the top edge is non-planar with respect to a remainder of the panel.

16. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the heat source is a burner.

17. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the base forms a cavity sized to receive a fuel source.

18. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the base has a hatch that is selectively openable, the hatch sized to receive a standard size refillable fuel tank of between approximately 1 gallon and approximately 12 gallons of fuel capacity.

19. The outdoor heater of claim 1 wherein the base comprises a shell of fiber reinforced plastic.

20. The outdoor heater of claim 1, further comprising: a table top supported by the base.

21. The outdoor heater of claim 20 wherein the table top includes a throughhole and a recess about the throughhole and the elongated support member has a threaded portion, and further comprising: an upper washer having an outer diameter and an inner diameter, the outer diameter sized to be received in the recess of the table top and the inner diameter sized to receive at least a portion of the elongated support member therethrough; a collar having a threaded throughhole sized and dimensioned to matingly couple with the threaded portion of the elongated support member.

22. The outdoor heater of claim 21 wherein the collar includes a least one opening sized to receive a portion of a tool for use in securing the collar.

23. The outdoor heater of claim 21, further comprising: a lower washer having an inner diameter sized to receive at least a portion of the elongated support member therethrough, the lower threaded washer positionable between the collar and the table top in use.

24. The outdoor heater of claim 21, further comprising: a ferrule having an outer diameter and an inner diameter, the outer diameter larger than a diameter of the recess of the table top and the inner diameter sized to closely receive a portion of the elongated support member.

25. The outdoor heater of claim 24, further comprising: at least one gasket having an inner diameter sized to receive at least a portion of the elongated support member, the gasket positionable between the ferrule and the table top.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

The present disclosure is related to heating devices, for example, outdoor heaters such as outdoor patio heaters.

2. Description of the Related Art

A variety of devices are available to provide heat in outdoor environments. One of the most common devices is the outdoor patio heater. Outdoor patio heaters typically include a metal base, a metal pole extending from the base, a heat source positioned at the top of the pole, and a metal heat reflector positioned above the burner to direct heat downward. The heat source may take the form of a burner that burns fuel from a fuel source, for example, propane stored in a pressurized canister. Alternatively, the heat source may take the form of an infrared light, which is supplied electrical current from an electrical power source such as a wall socket.

Patio heaters have been available for many years. Patio heaters allow people to enjoy an outdoor environment, even in relatively cold temperatures. Patio heaters allow businesses to extend the use of outdoor spaces such as decks, court yards, bars, restaurants, gardens or other outdoor areas, into the winter months.

Conventional patio heaters have been aesthetically unappealing, typically having a metallic finish. Thus, conventional outdoor patio heaters have an industrial, sterile appearance. To date, outdoor patio heaters typically have been employed in commercial environments, for example, restaurants, bars or pubs. Such outdoor heaters may be purchased and/or delivered by trained personnel. Thus, packaging and ease of assembly have not been constraints.

There is currently a strong movement towards the use of outdoor residential spaces as homeowners and renters maximize the value of their living spaces. As consumers start employing outdoor spaces, for example patios, as living environments, demand for outdoor patio heaters in residential use will increase.

Fulfilling such demand requires that outdoor heaters be conveniently packaged. For example, outdoor heaters should be packaged in sufficiently small enough volumes that consumers may purchase patio heaters at retail stores such as outdoor and patio stores or large box stores (e.g., COSTCO, SAM'S CLUBS, EAGLE, HOME DEPOT) and transport the packages to their residences without assistance. Such also requires that patio heaters be simple to assemble. Experience has shown that rate of return is strongly related to the complexity of assembly. Consumers will often return a product which is difficult to assembly even though there is no manufacturing defect in the product. Such is expensive and time consuming for the retailer, distributor and/or manufacturer, as well as frustrating and disappointing for the consumer. Where a device is simple for the consumer to set up or assemble, the rate of return can be decreased. The selling price of such devices may consequently be decreased since less returns need to be accounted for in the selling price. Further, it is important that the various components of the outdoor heater be securely fastened together to provide a stable and safe device. Consequently, improvements in outdoor heaters and methods associated with assembly of such are highly desirable.

BRIEF SUMMARY

At least one embodiment may be summarized as an outdoor heater, including a base; an elongated support member having a first end and a second end opposed to the first end, the elongated support member selectively coupleable proximate the first end thereof to the base for support thereby; a heat source selectively coupleable to the elongated support member proximate the second end of the elongated support member; and a canopy selectively coupleable to at least one of the heat source or the elongated support member positioned relatively above the heat source with respect to the base, the canopy comprising a number N of panels and an equal number N of elongated ribs, the panels each having a pair of opposed side edges, the elongated ribs each having a pair of longitudinally extending channels, each of the channels sized to receive a respective one of the side edges of a respective one of the panels, each of the channels having a retention structure to physically engage at least a portion of the received one of the side edges to secure two of the panels to each of the elongated ribs. The channels may be formed in opposed edges of the elongated ribs. An opening of the channels at the edges of the elongated ribs may be smaller than a thickness of the side edges of the panels to be received in the channel and the channels are open at an end of the elongated rib to allow the side edges of the panels to slide into the channels. The retention structure may be a lip formed in the channel. The channels may have a substantially L-shaped cross-section when viewed along a longitudinal axis. The elongated ribs may have a substantially annular cross-section. The side edges of each of the panels may be thicker than an interior portion of the panels. The side edges each may include a roll portion of the panel.

The outdoor heater may further include a top cap structure fastenable relatively above the canopy. The top cap structure may include an upper plate and a lower plate, the upper and the lower plates fastenable together to securely sandwich a top edge of each of the panels therebetween. The top cap structure may further include a sloped cover selectively coupleable to the upper plate positioned above the upper plate with respect to the lower plate. The top cap structure may include a set of fasteners to couple the lower plate to a portion of the heat source. The canopy may further include a number N of end pieces, each of the end pieces having a recess sized to accommodate an end of a respective one of the elongated ribs. The side edges of the panels may taper from a bottom edge to a top edge such that the bottom edge of the panel is wider than the top edge of the panel. A portion of the panels proximate the top edge may be non-planar with respect to a remainder of the panel.

The heat source may be a burner. The base may form a cavity sized to receive a fuel source. The base may have a hatch that is selectively openable, the hatch sized to receive a standard size refillable fuel tank of between approximately 1 gallon and approximately 12 gallons of fuel capacity. The base may include a shell of fiber reinforced plastic.

The outdoor heater may further include a table top supported by the base. The table top may include a throughhole and a recess about the throughhole and the elongated support member has a threaded portion, and further include an upper washer having an outer diameter and an inner diameter, the outer diameter sized to be received in the recess of the table top and the inner diameter sized to receive at least a portion of the elongated support member therethrough; a collar having a threaded throughhole sized and dimensioned to matingly couple with the threaded portion of the elongated support member. The collar may include a least one opening sized to receive a portion of a tool for use in securing the collar. The outdoor heater may further include a lower washer having an inner diameter sized to receive at least a portion of the elongated support member therethrough, the lower threaded washer positionable between the collar and the table top in use. The outdoor heater may further include a ferrule having an outer diameter and an inner diameter, the outer diameter larger than a diameter of the recess of the table top and the inner diameter sized to closely receive a portion of the elongated support member. The outdoor heater may further include at least one gasket having an inner diameter sized to receive at least a portion of the elongated support member, the gasket positionable between the ferrule and the table top.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, identical reference numbers identify similar elements or acts. The sizes and relative positions of elements in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale. For example, the shapes of various elements and angles are not drawn to scale, and some of these elements are arbitrarily enlarged and positioned to improve drawing legibility. Further, the particular shapes of the elements as drawn, are not intended to convey any information regarding the actual shape of the particular elements, and have been solely selected for ease of recognition in the drawings.

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an outdoor heater, according to one illustrated embodiment.

FIGS. 2A-2D are partial isometric views showing the assembly of a canopy for an outdoor heater, according to one illustrated embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a partial isometric view of a rib of a canopy, according to one illustrated embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of an end piece of a canopy according to one illustrated embodiment.

FIG. 5A is a partial isometric view showing an assembly of a canopy to a burner, according to one illustrated embodiment.

FIG. 5B is an isometric view showing an assembly of a cap to the canopy according to one illustrated embodiment.

FIG. 6 is an exploded partial view of an elongated support member and coupling structure used to couple the elongated support member to a table and/or base, according to one illustrated embodiment.

FIG. 7A is a cross-sectional view showing an elongated support member coupled to a table and base via the coupling structure, according to one illustrated embodiment.

FIG. 7B is a bottom plan view of a portion of the coupling structure and a tool used in applying torque to the coupling structure, according to one illustrated embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, certain specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of various disclosed embodiments. However, one skilled in the relevant art will recognize that embodiments may be practiced without one or more of these specific details, or with other methods, components, materials, etc. In other instances, well-known structures associated with outdoor heaters such as fuel supply systems for example valves, conduits, and/or couplings have not been shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring descriptions of the embodiments.

Unless the context requires otherwise, throughout the specification and claims which follow, the word “comprise” and variations thereof, such as, “comprises” and “comprising” are to be construed in an open, inclusive sense, that is as “including, but not limited to.”

Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment” or “an embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment. Thus, the appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment” or “in an embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Further more, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments.

As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. It should also be noted that the term “or” is generally employed in its sense including “and/or” unless the content clearly dictates otherwise.

The headings and Abstract of the Disclosure provided herein are for convenience only and do not interpret the scope or meaning of the embodiments.

FIG. 1 shows an outdoor heater 10 which includes a base 12 which may have a separate or integral pedestal 14 that supports a tabletop 16. The outdoor heater 10 also includes an elongated support member 18, for example, a pole, a heat source 20, for example, a burner or infrared light bulb, and a canopy 22 positioned above the heat source 20.

The base 12 and/or pedestal 14 may be formed from any of a variety of materials. For example, the base 12 and pedestal 14 may be formed from fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP). Such allows the base 12 and pedestal 14 to have a variety of aesthetic treatments, for example, different textures, surface finishes and/or colors. For instance, the base 12 and pedestal 14 may be finished to look like aged stones, slate, bricks, and/or terra cotta. The pedestal includes an opening 24 and a selectively removable hatch 26 to provide access to an interior 28 (FIG. 7A). The opening 24 and hatch 26 may be sized to receive a standard size canister 30 (e.g., 7-10 gallons) of fuel such as propane. The hatch 26 may optionally include one or more handles 32 to allow removal and replacement of the hatch 26 from the opening 24. The hatch 26 and pedestal 14 may include one or more complimentary retainment mechanisms, for example, a tongue-in-groove or detent, and may optionally include one or more gaskets (not shown) to seal the interior 28 from an exterior. The base 12 may be weighted, or the weight of the canister 30 may provide sufficient stability.

The tabletop 16 may be formed of a variety of materials, for example, FRP. Such may allow the tabletop 16 to have a variety of aesthetic treatments including different textures, surface finishes and/or colors. The tabletop 16 includes a top surface 32 and a bottom surface 34. The tabletop 16 may be physically coupled to the pedestal 14 and/or elongated support member 18. The tabletop 16 provides a convenient place for placing various material such as glasses and dishes.

The elongated support member 18 may take the form of a hollow pole with a central passage. While illustrated with a circular cross-section, the pole 18 may take a variety of forms, for example an oval cross-section or a hexagonal or octagonal cross-section. The pole 18 may be formed of a variety of materials, for example, metals such as stainless steel or aluminum. Alternatively, the pole 18 may be formed of a plastic, such as FRP. The pole 18 may have a passage (not shown) that provides a conduit for coupling a power source (e.g., canister 30 and/or a batteries, fuel cells, and/or ultracapacitors) to the heat source 20, for example, via one or more tubes, pipes, valves, or wires.

The heat source 20 may take a variety of forms. The heat source 20, for example, may take the form of a burner with one or more jets to deliver a pressurized flow of fuel for burning. The heat source 20 may include one or more electrical ignition elements such as piezo-electric elements to light the pressurized fuel. In an alternative embodiment, the heat source 20 may take the form or one or more lights, for example, halogen lights or other lights that emit substantially in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. One or more screens 36 my surround or partially surround the heat source 20. The screen 36 may protect users from directly touching the heat source 20 and/or may diffuse heat and/or light. The outdoor heater 10 may include one or more controls 38 which may be activated by a user to cause the heat source 20 to produce heat and/or to adjust an amount of heat produced by the heat source 20.

The canopy 22 is positioned relatively above the heat source 20 and may deflect or reflect heat produced by the heat source 20 downward. The canopy 22 may additionally or alternatively provide environmental protection, for example protecting the heat source 20 and/or users from precipitation (e.g., rain, snow). The canopy 22 may be formed from a variety of materials, although typically will be formed from a metal such as stainless steel or aluminum. The canopy 22 can have a variety of shapes, including shapes having straight edged perimeters and/or arcuate edged perimeters. The canopy 22 may include a number of panels 38a, 38b (only two shown in FIG. 1) and a number of ribs 40a, 40b (only two shown in FIG. 1). The ribs 40 couple the panels 38 to one another. The canopy 22 may also include a top cap structure 42 which is described in more detail below.

FIGS. 2A-2D show the canopy 22 assembled according to one illustrated embodiment.

In the illustrated embodiment, the canopy 22 includes four panels 38a-38d (collectively 38) and four ribs 40a-40d (collectively 40). As illustrated, the panels 38 are substantially triangular in shape, although other shapes may be employed. Each panel 38a-38d has a pair of opposed side edges 42a, 42b (collectively 42, only called out in FIG. 2A), a top edge 44 (only called out in FIG. 2A) and a bottom edge 46 (only called out in FIG. 2A). The side edges 42 taper inwardly from the bottom edge 46 to the top edge 44 such that the panel is wider proximate the bottom edge 46 than the top edge 44 (FIG. 2A). A portion of the panel 38 proximate the top edge 44 is bent or angled to form a lip or ledge 48 (only called out in FIG. 2A), such that the ledge 48 is non-planar with the remainder of the panel 38.

As best seen in FIGS. 2C and 2D, the bottom edge of the panel 38 may include a roll or bead 50 (only one called out in FIGS. 2C-2D). As best seen in FIGS. 2B and 2C, the side edges 42 may include a roll or bead 52. While shown as being generally trapezoidal, the panels 38 may have a variety of other shapes. For example, the bottom edge 46 may be arcuate instead of straight. The panels 38 may include a number of through holes 54, for example, to receive fasteners 56 (FIG. 2D). The fasteners 56 may take a variety of forms including screws, nuts and bolts, rivets, or other conventional fasteners.

The ribs 40 secure the panels 38 to one another. As best seen in FIGS. 2C and 2D, the ribs 40 are elongated members having a first end 60a (only called out in FIG. 2C) and a second end 60b (only called out in FIG. 2C) opposed to the first end 60a. As best seen in FIG. 3, the ribs 40 have a pair of channels 62a, 62b (collectively 62) sized to receive the side edges 42 of the panels 38, including the roll or bead 50. The channels 62 may be formed in opposed edges 64a, 64b of the rib 40. An opening 66a, 66b of each channel 62a, 62b has a width or a thickness that is smaller than a width or thickness of the roll or bead 50 of the side edges 42 of the panels 38. The opening 66a, 66b may have a width or thickness sized to closely receive the thickness of the unrolled portion of the panel 38. An interior portion 68 of the channels 62a, 62b is sufficiently wide or thick to accommodate the roll or bead 50. Thus, the channels 62a, 62b include a retainment structure such as a lip 70a, 70b to retain the side edges 42 of the panels 38 in the channels 62a, 62b. The channels 62a, 62b may, for example, be generally L-shaped. The channels 62a, 62b are open at the first end 60a and second end 60b of the rib 40 to allow the side edges 42 along with the roll or bead 50 to be slid into the respective channels 62a, 62b. The ribs 40 should be formed of a strong material capable of providing sufficient structural rigidity to the canopy 22. For example, the ribs 40 may be formed of a metal, for example, stainless steel or aluminum.

As best seen in FIG. 3, the ribs 40 may have an annular cross-section as viewed along a longitudinal access of the rib 40. Thus, an upper surface 72a and a lower surface 72b may have arcuate profiles. Such may provide a smooth transition between adjacent panels 38 enhancing appearance and decreasing the number of exposed sharp edges. Such may also provide structural rigidity to the rib 40, allowing a smaller cross-sectional area and, hence, a reduction in material and cost.

With continuing reference to FIGS. 2A-2D, the acts of assembling the canopy are illustrated. For example, the side edges 42 of a first panel 38a may be slid into a respective channel 62 of a first and a second rib 40a, 40d, respectively. A second panel 38b may be slid into the respective channels 62 of the first rib 40a. A third panel 38c may be slid into a respective channel 62 of the second rib 40d. A third rib 40c may be positioned to locate the remaining side edge of the third panel 38c into one channel and slid upwardly. The remaining side edge of the second panel 38b may be positioned in a respective channel of a fourth rib 40b and the fourth rib slid upwardly. The side edges of a fourth panel 38d may be positioned in respective channels of the third and fourth ribs 40c, 40b and slid upwardly.

As illustrated in FIG. 2D, the canopy 22 may include a number of end pieces 80 which mate with adjacent panels 38 and the corresponding ribs 40. As best seen in FIG. 4, the end piece 80 includes a recess 82 sized and dimensioned to accommodate the first end 60a of the rib 40. The recess 82 is typically hidden in use so does not have to be finished or have any special surface treatment. The remainder of the end piece is typically visible when in use so may a special surface treatment such as a texture or color. The end piece may include one or more through holes 84 to receive fasteners 56. The end piece 80 and fasteners 56 may assist in retaining the panels 38 in the channels 62 of the ribs 40. The end pieces 80 may have rounded surfaces and corners to reduce exposure to any potentially sharp edges.

FIG. 5A shows a portion of a top cap structure 42, canopy 22, and heat source 20, according to one illustrated embodiment.

The top cap structure 42 may include an upper plate 81a and a lower plate 81b (collectively 81) each with a plurality of through holes 83. The top and bottom plate structures 81 sandwich the lip or ledge portion 48 of the panels 38 therebetween. Fasteners 84 may be received through the through holes 83 to securely fasten the lips or ledges 48 of the panels 38 together. Such provides a highly rigid structure.

The heater 20 may include one or more threaded members 86 extending generally upwardly to be received through some of the through holes 83 in the upper and lower plates 81 as well as through the through holes 54 (FIGS. 2B and 2D) of the panels 38. Fasteners such as nuts and washers 88 secure the canopy 22 to the heat source 20 via threaded members 86. The washers may be locking washers.

FIG. 5B shows a cover 90 that is fastenable to the top plate 81a over the canopy 22. The cover 90 may be sloped or pyramidal. The cover 90 provides an aesthetically pleasing effect, hides the fastening hardware, and may allow water or moisture to drain off the canopy 22. The over 90 may be fastened to the cover plate 81a using a standoff coupler 92 and a cap nut 94.

FIGS. 6, 7A and 7B show portions of the elongated support member 18 and a coupling structure 100 to couple the support member 18 to the tabletop 16, pedestal 14 and/or base 12, according to one illustrated embodiment.

As best seen in FIG. 7A, the tabletop 16 may include a throughhole 102 and a recess 104 sized to receive a portion of the support member 18. As best illustrated in FIG. 6, a portion of the support member 18 may include a thread 106. The thread 106 may be proximate an end of the elongated support member 18 or spaced between the ends.

The coupling structure 100 may include a coupler 110 according to one illustrated embodiment. The coupler 110 may include a relatively thick-walled threaded nut section 112 and a relatively thin-walled body section 114. The threaded nut section 112 has a threaded central passage 116 sized to matingly coupled with the thread 106 of the elongated support member 18. The threaded nut section 112 is sufficiently thick and wide to securely fasten the elongated support member 18 along with the heat source 20 and canopy 22 to the tabletop 16, pedestal 14 and/or base 12. The thin-walled body section 114 may provide a surface for exerting torque on the threaded nut section 112. For example, the relatively thin-walled body section 114 may be sized to be comfortably grasped by a user. Additionally, or alternatively, the thin-walled body section 114 may include one or more holes, apertures or notches 118 which may allow the use of a tool 120 (FIG. 7B) to apply torque to the coupler 110.

The coupling assembly 100 may include an inner washer 122, that is received between an upper face of the threaded nut section 112 and the bottom surface 34 (FIG. 1) of the tabletop 16 or pedestal 14. The inner washer 122 may have an outer diameter greater than an outer diameter of the threaded nut section 112 to distribute a load against a larger surface area of the tabletop 16 or pedestal 14. The inner washer 122 may have a central passage with an inner diameter sufficiently large to receive a portion of the elongated support member 18.

The coupling assembly 100 may also include an outer washer 130. The outer washer 130 may have an outer diameter and thickness sized to be received within the recess 104 of the tabletop 16. The outer washer 130 may have a central passage sized to receive a portion of the elongated support member 18. The outer washer 130 may be received between a bottom portion or flange 132 of the elongated support member 18 and the tabletop 16 or pedestal 14. The outer washer 130 may be sized to distribute the load of the elongated support member 18, heater 20 and canopy 22 over a larger surface area of the tabletop 16 or pedestal 14 than would otherwise occur without the outer washer 130.

The coupling assembly 110 may include a ferrule 140 with a central passage 142 sized to closely receive a portion of the elongated support member 18. The ferrule 140 cosmetically hides a connection between the elongated support member 18 and the tabletop 16 or pedestal 14. The connection assembly 100 may also include a gasket 150 which may provide a seal between the ferrule 140 and the tabletop 16. The ferrule 140 and gasket 150 may provide environmental protection, preventing liquid or moisture from seeping into the interior 28 (FIG. 7A) of the pedestal 14. Such may advantageously prevent corrosion of the canister 30 and/or valves or couplers from the canister 30 to the heat source 20. In some embodiments, the connector assembly 100 may secure the tabletop 16 to the pedestal 14 in addition to securing the elongated support member 18 to the tabletop 16, pedestal 14 and/or base 12.

The above description of illustrated embodiments, including what is described in the Abstract, is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the embodiments to the precise forms disclosed. Although specific embodiments of and examples are described herein for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure, as will be recognized by those skilled in the relevant art. The teachings provided herein of the various embodiments can be applied to other outdoor heaters, not necessarily the exemplary outdoor patio heater generally described above.

For instance, the foregoing detailed description has set forth various embodiments of the devices and/or processes via the use of block diagrams, schematics, and examples. Insofar as such block diagrams, schematics, and examples contain one or more functions and/or operations, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that each function and/or operation within such block diagrams, flowcharts, or examples can be implemented, individually and/or collectively, by a wide range of hardware, software, firmware, or virtually any combination thereof. In one embodiment, the present subject matter may be implemented via Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). However, those skilled in the art will recognize that the embodiments disclosed herein, in whole or in part, can be equivalently implemented in standard integrated circuits, as one or more computer programs running on one or more computers (e.g., as one or more programs running on one or more computer systems), as one or more programs running on one or more controllers (e.g., microcontrollers) as one or more programs running on one or more processors (e.g., microprocessors), as firmware, or as virtually any combination thereof, and that designing the circuitry and/or writing the code for the software and or firmware would be well within the skill of one of ordinary skill in the art in light of this disclosure.

In addition, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the mechanisms of taught herein are capable of being distributed as a program product in a variety of forms, and that an illustrative embodiment applies equally regardless of the particular type of signal bearing media used to actually carry out the distribution. Examples of signal bearing media include, but are not limited to, the following: recordable type media such as floppy disks, hard disk drives, CD ROMs, digital tape, and computer memory; and transmission type media such as digital and analog communication links using TDM or IP based communication links (e.g., packet links).

The various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments. To the extent that they are not inconsistent with the specific teachings and definitions herein, all of the U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications, U.S. patent applications, foreign patents, foreign patent applications and non-patent publications referred to in this specification and/or listed in the Application Data Sheet are incorporated herein by reference, in their entirety. Aspects of the embodiments can be modified, if necessary, to employ systems, circuits and concepts of the various patents, applications and publications to provide yet further embodiments.

These and other changes can be made to the embodiments in light of the above-detailed description. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the claims to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and the claims, but should be construed to include all possible embodiments along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled. Accordingly, the claims are not limited by the disclosure.