Title:
POOL COVER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pool cover element, the pool cover element having a substantially convex or sloping upper surface, the pool cover element being provided with means for preventing liquid from being retained on the upper surface, and wherein at least a portion of the upper surface projects above the surface of a body of water when the pool cover element is placed therein.



Inventors:
Stuart, Gordon H. (Mt. Gravatt, AU)
Gravendyk, Hubert (Jindalee, AU)
Application Number:
12/429484
Publication Date:
10/29/2009
Filing Date:
04/24/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
GORDON, JENNIFER LYNNE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FLASTER/GREENBERG P.C. (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A pool cover element, the pool cover element having a substantially convex or sloping upper surface, the pool cover element being provided with means for preventing liquid from being retained on the upper surface, and wherein at least a portion of the upper surface projects above the surface of a body of water when the pool cover element is placed therein.

2. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein the pool cover element is constructed as a one piece construction.

3. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein the pool cover element is constructed from a substantially rigid material.

4. A pool cover element according to claim 3 wherein the substantially rigid material comprises a plastic having a density less than about 1000 kg/m3.

5. A pool cover element according to claim 4 wherein the plastic is PVC, foamed PVC, polyethylene or polypropylene.

6. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein the means for preventing liquid from being retained on the upper surface comprises one or more ribs or grooves in the upper surface of the pool cover element.

7. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein the upper surface comprises two or more sections of different height adapted to prevent liquid from being retained on the upper surface of the pool cover element.

8. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein the one or more ribs or grooves extend radially from the centre of the upper surface towards an outer edge of the pool cover element.

9. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein, when a plurality of pool cover elements are placed on the surface of a body of water, the pool cover elements abut one another so as to form a substantially continuous cover.

10. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein the pool cover element is circular, square, rectangular, triangular, pentagonal, hexagonal or octagonal in plan view.

11. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein the pool cover element is of a single layer construction.

12. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein a volume of air is trapped under the pool cover element when the pool cover element is placed on the surface of a body of water.

13. A pool cover element claim 1 wherein the pool cover element further comprises one or more lip portions at or adjacent an outer edge of the pool cover element.

14. A pool cover element according to claim 13 wherein the one or more lip portions are located at the lowermost point of the outer edge of the pool cover element.

15. A pool cover element according to claim 13 wherein the pool cover element comprises a single, continuous lip portion extending along the entire length of the outer edge.

16. A pool cover element according to claim 1 wherein the pool cover element is stackable.

17. A pool cover element according to claim 16 wherein the pool cover element is provided with means for assisting in separating the pool cover element from a stack of pool cover elements.

18. A pool cover element according to claim 17 wherein the means for assisting in separating the pool cover element from a stack of pool cover elements comprises one or more keys, tabs, lands, lips, projections, upstands, notches, recesses or grooves.

19. A pool cover comprising a plurality of pool cover elements according to claim 1.

20. (canceled)

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a cover for covering the surface of a pool or similar body of water. In particular, the present invention relates to a pool cover with improved safety and storage characteristics.

2. Background

It is common practice amongst owners of swimming pools to cover their pools when they are not being used. This practice has arisen for a number of reasons: firstly, debris that falls into uncovered pools (leaves, dirt, branches, insects, small animals) can not only affect the quality of the water in the pool, but also make the experience of swimming in the pool less enjoyable or even dangerous.

Secondly, an uncovered pool will suffer from higher evaporation rates of water than a covered pool, meaning that the pool must be topped up more often. This is a particular consideration in drought-affected areas.

In the past, conventional pool covers have consisted of a cover in the form of a flat elongate sheet, such as a blanket, which rests on the surface of the water in the pool. However, this style of pool cover has some significant drawbacks in that the blanket is typically stored on a reel and is wound on and off the pool surface as required. The reel not only requires a great deal of storage space, but also reduces the aesthetics of the pool area. In addition, pool blankets are known to have contributed to drownings in which a person has fallen onto a pool blanket that is stretched over a pool, and been unable to extricate themselves from the blanket.

Some attempts have been made to overcome the drawbacks associated with conventional pool blankets. U.S. Pat. No. 4,270,232, for instance, discloses a plurality of pads which float on the surface of the pool to form a single continuous cover. However, these devices are typically of a complex construction, which makes them relatively expensive, and therefore unattractive, as an alternative to a pool blanket.

Thus, there would be an advantage if it were possible to provide a pool cover that eliminated at least some of the safety and aesthetic drawbacks of a conventional pool blanket, while at the same time providing an attractive and cost-effective alternative.

It will be clearly understood that, if a prior art publication is referred to herein, this reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms part of the common general knowledge in the art in Australia or in any other country.

Throughout this specification, the term “comprising” and its grammatical equivalents shall be taken to have an inclusive meaning unless the context of use indicates otherwise.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a pool cover element, the pool cover element having a substantially convex or sloping upper surface, the pool cover element being provided with means for preventing liquid from being retained on the upper surface, and wherein at least a portion of the upper surface projects above the surface of a body of water when the pool cover element is placed therein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there is shown in the drawings embodiments which are presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a pool cover element according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of a pool cover element according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a cross-sectional view of a pool cover element according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates a perspective view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 illustrates a perspective view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 illustrates a side view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 illustrates a perspective view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 illustrates a side view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 illustrates a perspective view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 illustrates a perspective view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 13 illustrates a side cross-sectional view of a pool cover element according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a pool cover element that may overcome at least some of the abovementioned disadvantages, or provide a useful or commercial choice.

In one aspect, the invention resides broadly in a pool cover element, the pool cover element having a substantially convex or sloping upper surface, the pool cover element being provided with means for preventing liquid from being retained on the upper surface, and wherein at least a portion of the upper surface projects above the surface of a body of water when the pool cover element is placed therein.

The pool cover may be of any suitable shape, size and configuration. However, it is preferred that the pool cover is manufactured in a one-piece construction. In this way, the pool cover may be simple and inexpensive to produce.

The pool cover element may be constructed from any suitable material. However, it is preferred that the material from which the pool cover element is constructed is at least somewhat buoyant in water. Preferably, the pool cover element may also be at least somewhat water impervious, has at least a degree of chemical resistance (for instance, chlorine resistance), has at least a degree of resistance to damage or degradation due to exposure to the elements (sun, wind, rain etc.), or any combination thereof. In some embodiments of the present invention, the pool cover element may be constructed from a material having a specific gravity less than that of water (i.e. less than about 1000 kg/m3), for instance plastic. Any suitable plastic may be used, although in some embodiments of the invention, the pool cover element may be constructed from PVC (and in particular foamed PVC), polypropylene, polyethylene or the like, or any combination thereof. A skilled addressee will understand that any other suitable plastic may be used for the construction of the pool cover element. The pool cover element may be constructed using any suitable technique, such as, but not limited to, injection moulding, rotation moulding, formed under vacuum or the like. Preferably, the pool cover element is constructed to be substantially rigid. In some embodiments, the pool cover is constructed such that the same material extends across the pool cover. This material may comprise a single material or a laminate material or a composite material.

While the pool cover element of the present invention may be of any suitable size, it is preferred that the pool cover element is of a size suitable for manual handling by a single person. Thus, it is preferred that the pool cover element is less than about 2 metres in diameter. In some embodiments of the invention, the pool cover element is less than about 1 metre in diameter. Most preferably, the pool cover element is about 1 metre in diameter.

It has already been stated that the pool cover element may be of any suitable shape, such as circular, square, rectangular, triangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, octagonal and so on in plan view. However, it is preferred that, when a plurality of pool cover elements are placed on the surface of a body of water, the pool cover elements will abut one another so as to form a substantially continuous cover. Thus, it is preferred that the pool cover element of the present invention is shaped so as to minimize gaps between pool cover elements when a plurality of pool cover elements are placed on the surface of a body of water. Therefore, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the pool cover elements may be circular, square, rectangular, triangular, pentagonal, hexagonal or octagonal in plan view. The abutting of the pool cover elements to form a substantially continuous cover may be assisted by currents created in a body of water, such as those created by a swimming pool pump.

The pool cover element of the present invention may be provided with means from preventing adjacent pool cover elements from abutting too closely (i.e. overlapping) when in use. Any suitable means may be used, such as an upstand or the like. Alternatively, the pool cover element may be provided with generally vertical edge portions extending downwardly from the upper surface thereof.

The means for preventing liquid from being retained on the upper surface of the pool cover element may be of any suitable form. For instance, the substantially convex or sloping upper surface of the pool cover element may be of sufficient configuration to prevent liquid from being retained thereon. However, it is preferred that the means for preventing liquid from being retained on the upper surface comprises one or more ribs or grooves (for instance, channels) located in the upper surface of the pool cover element. Preferably, the one or more ribs or grooves extend radially from the centre of the upper surface towards the outer edge of the pool cover element. The one or more ribs or grooves may be adapted such that any liquid on the upper surface of the pool cover element (e.g., rainwater) will flow into the one or more channels and subsequently flow to the outer edge of the pool cover element and into the pool. In this way, no liquid pools on the pool cover element, meaning that the buoyancy of the pool cover element will not be reduced. In addition, the flow of liquid along the one or more ribs or grooves provides the pool cover element with a self-cleaning function and facilitates removal of water from the upper surface of the element. This minimises the likelihood of mould or mildew growing on the elements when the elements are in use or when the elements are being stored. Furthermore, the one or more ribs or grooves may serve to increase the strength and/or stiffness of the pool cover element, making it more durable. A preferred embodiment of the present invention utilises one or more grooves or channels.

In an alternative embodiment of the invention, the upper surface of the pool cover element may be provided with at least two sections of different height, the at least two sections being adapted to prevent liquid from being retained on the upper surface. Preferably, the height of the two or more sections increases towards the centre of the pool cover element. A first section may be provided at any suitable height above an adjacent section, and each of the two or more sections may be of any suitable width. Preferably, the two or more sections comprise stepped sections. The two or more stepped sections may comprise a series of concentric circles, squares, rectangles, triangles, pentagons, hexagons, octagons or the like in plan view, or any combination thereof. The shape of the stepped sections in plan view may be the same or different to the shape of the pool cover element when viewed in plan view.

In some embodiments of the invention, the pool cover element may be provided with one or more lip portions. Preferably, the one or more lip portions may be provided at or adjacent an outer edge of the pool cover element. In a most preferred embodiment of the invention, the one or more lip portions may be provided at or adjacent the lowermost point of the outer edge such that, when the pool cover element is in use, the one or more lip portions may be on contact with the water in the pool.

The one or more lip portions may be of any suitable form. However, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the one or more lip portions are formed integrally with an outer edge of the pool cover element. It is envisaged that, in some forms of the invention, a single lip portion extending at least partly around the outer edge of the pool cover element may be provided, while in other embodiments of the invention, a plurality of separate lip portions may be provided around the outer edge of the pool cover element. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the pool cover element comprises a single, continuous lip portion that extends along the entire length of the outer edge.

The one or more lip portions may extend outwardly or inwardly from the outer edge of the pool cover element at any suitable angle and for any suitable length. However, it is envisaged that the length and angle of the one or more lip portions will be sufficient to ensure that, as an object (such as a pool hose or the like) slides across or under the one or more lip portions it does not catch on the pool cover element. For instance, it is envisaged that a pool hose having a corrugated surface, will slide under the lip portion of the pool cover element, and will not drag the pool cover element with it as the pool hose moves through the water. Thus, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, at least one of the one or more lip portions extends outwardly from the outer edge of the pool cover element.

In some embodiments of the present invention, the pool cover element may be of a single layer construction. Thus, by providing the pool cover element with a generally convex upper surface (curved or domed) or a sloping upper surface, the pool cover element may be formed with a void underneath the upper surface in which air may be trapped when the pool cover element is placed on the surface of a body of water. By trapping a volume of air under the pool cover element, the pool cover element may serve to provide the body of water with a degree of insulation.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the pool cover element may be adapted to be stackable. Thus, when a plurality of pool cover elements are not in use, they may be stacked on top of one another. This provides the pool cover element of the present invention with a significant advantage over prior art devices in that the stackable pool cover elements require considerably less storage space, as well as providing the pool area with improved aesthetics.

In some embodiments of the invention, the pool cover element may be provided with means for assisting in separating the pool cover element from a stack of pool cover elements. The means for assisting in separating the pool cover element from a stack of pool cover elements may be of any suitable form, such as, but not limited to, one or more keys, tabs, lands, lips, projections, upstands, notches, recesses, grooves or the like.

In another aspect, the invention resides broadly in a pool cover comprising a plurality of pool cover elements according to the present invention.

A skilled addressee will understand that the pool cover element of the present invention may be manufactured in a wide variety of colours.

The pool cover element of the present invention provides a number of significant advantages over the prior art. For instance, the fact that the pool cover is formed from a plurality of individual elements means that, if a person falls into the pool, the person may simply push the elements apart. Thus, the likelihood of drowning, particularly in comparison to conventional pool blankets, is dramatically reduced. Further the individual elements are easily handled by a single person and the elements can be stacked for ease of storage.

It will be appreciated that the drawings have been provided for the purposes of illustrating preferred embodiments of the present invention and that the invention should not be considered to be limited solely to the features as shown in the drawings. In FIG. 1 there is shown a pool cover element 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The pool cover element 10 of the embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 1 is hexagonal so as to closely abut other pool cover elements when placed on the surface of a body of water, such as a swimming pool (not shown). The pool cover element 10 comprises a generally convex upper surface 11. The upper surface 11 is provided with a plurality of channels 12 which extend radially from the centre 13 of the upper surface to the outer edge 14 of the pool cover element 10. These channels facilitate the run-off of any water (e.g. rainwater) that accumulates on the upper surface 11 of the pool cover element 10, preventing it from pooling on the upper surface 11. The outer edges of the pool cover element 10 are also generally vertical, which minimises the likelihood of adjacent covers riding up over each other when in use.

In FIG. 2, a side view of the pool cover element 10 may be seen. The convex or domed shape of the upper surface 11 may be more clearly seen in this Figure. It may also be seen that the plurality of channels 12 extend all the way to the outer edge 14 of the pool cover element 10, thereby ensuring that any run-off will flow into the pool (not shown).

Turning now to FIG. 3 there is shown a cross-sectional view of a pool cover element 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention. It may be seen in this Figure that the pool cover element is formed as a single layer, meaning that providing the pool cover element 10 with a convex upper surface 11 creates a void 15 directly beneath the upper surface 11. When the pool cover element 10 is placed in a pool (not shown), the buoyancy of the pool cover element 10 means that a volume of air will be trapped in the void 15 between the surface of the pool (not shown) and the lower surface 16 of the pool cover element 10. Air trapped in this manner will serve to insulate the water in the pool, thereby reducing the decrease in water temperature, for instance, overnight.

In FIG. 4, an alternative embodiment of the invention is illustrated. The pool cover element 17 illustrated in FIG. 4 comprises a large central recess 18 with a plurality of channels 19 extending radially outwardly therefrom in order to prevent water from pooling on the upper surface 20 of the pool cover element 17.

The pool cover element 17 also comprises a further plurality of recesses 21 in the upper surface 20. These recesses 21 are shaped so as to provide a collection point for water that falls onto the surface 20 of the pool cover element 17. However, collected water (not shown) will flow over a front lip 22 of the recesses 21 and flow into the pool (not shown).

In FIG. 5 there is shown a pool cover element 23 according to yet another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment of the invention, the pool cover element 23 is provided with a plurality of ribs 24 on the upper surface 25 of the pool cover element 23, the ribs 24 standing somewhat proud of the upper surface 25 and extending to the outer edge 27 of the pool cover element 23. The ribs 24 provide the pool cover element 23 with added strength and/or stiffness.

In FIG. 6 a pool cover element 28 according to a further embodiment of the present invention is shown. The pool cover element 28 is circular and is provided with a substantially domed upper surface 29, the shape of which encourages any liquid on the upper surface 29 to flow towards the outer edge 30 of the pool cover element 28 and into the pool or other body of water (not shown).

Turning now to FIGS. 7 and 8, an alternative embodiment of the invention is shown. The pool cover element 31 of these Figures is provided with a series of sections 32 of differing height, the height of the sections 32 increasing towards the centre 33 of the pool cover element 31. As the pool cover element 31 overall has a generally convex or dome shaped upper surface 34, any liquid on the upper surface 34 will flow across the sections 32 towards the outer edge 35 of the pool cover element 31.

In FIGS. 9 and 10 a similar design to that of FIGS. 7 and 8 is illustrated, except that the pool cover element 36 of FIGS. 9 and 10 is provided with both sections 37 of differing height and ridges 38 extending radially from the centre 39 of the pool cover element 36 to the outer edge 40.

In FIG. 11 an alternative embodiment of the present invention is shown. The pool cover element 41 of FIG. 11 comprises a flat or curved centre portion 42 with curved or sloping sides 43 disposed at a generally downward angle from the centre portion 42 to the outer edge 44 of the pool cover element 41.

In FIG. 12, a similar embodiment is shown except that the pool cover element 45 of FIG. 12 comprises a plurality of sloped or curved sides 46 which are disposed at a generally downward angle from the apex 47 of the pool cover element 45 towards the outer edge 48.

In FIG. 13 there is shown a cross-sectional side view of a pool cover element 50 according to an alternative embodiment of the invention. The upper surface 51 of the pool cover element 50 slopes generally downwardly to the outer edge 52 of the pool cover element 50. The lowermost portion of the outer edge 52 is provided with a lip portion 53 in the form of an outwardly extending flange that extends around the entire outer edge 52 of the pool cover element 50. The lip portion 53 is located at the lowermost portion of the outer edge 52 such that the land 54 provided by the lip portion 53 increases the buoyancy of the pool cover element 50 in a body of water and also provides a surface on (or under) which a pool hose (not shown) or similar device may slide without catching on the outer edge of the pool cover.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but it is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.