Title:
PORTABLE CLEANING ASSEMBLY WITH WASTE CONTAINER AND ANTI TIP-OVER PROTECTION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable cleaning assembly includes a vacuum unit for vacuuming debris and a waste container for collecting waste separate from the vacuumed debris. The assembly also includes one or more batteries electrically connected to the vacuum unit for providing electric power. A transport mechanism supports the waste container, the vacuum unit, and the batteries to allow the free movement of the assembly about an area. The at least one battery is balanced in opposition with the vacuum unit to prevent tip-over of the cleaning assembly.



Inventors:
Williamson, Susan J. (Clarkston, MI, US)
Moore, Glen E. (St. Clair Shores, MI, US)
Application Number:
13/555813
Publication Date:
11/15/2012
Filing Date:
07/23/2012
Assignee:
VACBARREL, LLC (Clarkston, MI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MULLER, BRYAN R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOWARD & HOWARD ATTORNEYS PLLC (ROYAL OAK, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cleaning assembly comprising: a vacuum unit for creating a vacuum to clean debris from an area; at least one battery electrically connected to said vacuum unit for supplying electrical power to said vacuum unit; a waste container for collecting waste separate from the debris collected by said vacuum unit; and a transport mechanism supporting said waste container, said vacuum unit, and said at least one battery for moving said waste container, said vacuum unit, and said at least one battery thereof; wherein said at least one battery is balanced with said vacuum unit for preventing tip-over of said cleaning assembly.

2. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein said at least one battery is disposed in opposition to said vacuum unit for providing the balance therebetween.

3. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein a center of mass of said assembly is disposed generally along a center axis of said transport mechanism.

4. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein said waste container includes an upper end defining an opening, a lower end having a bottom, and a sidewall extending between the upper and lower ends.

5. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 4 wherein said vacuum unit is supported by said sidewall of said waste container and disposed adjacent a first portion of said sidewall.

6. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 4 wherein said at least one battery is disposed adjacent a second portion of said sidewall opposite said first portion of said sidewall.

7. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein said vacuum unit is attached to said waste container.

8. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein said vacuum unit is disposed within said transport mechanism.

9. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 1 further comprising an apron supported by said waste container and supporting said at least one battery.

10. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 9 wherein said apron includes at least one pocket wherein said at least one battery is disposed in said at least one pocket.

11. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 9 wherein said apron includes a plurality of pockets wherein one battery is disposed in each pocket.

12. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 9 further comprising a duct in fluidic communication between said vacuum and said apron for routing exhaust air from said vacuum to said at least one battery to cool said at least one battery.

13. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 12 wherein said apron defines passages between at least two of said pockets for allowing the exhaust air to flow between said pockets.

14. A cleaning assembly as set forth in claim 9 further comprising a duct in fluidic communication between said vacuum and said at least one battery for routing exhaust air from said vacuum to said at least one battery to cool said at least one battery.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of provisional patent application No. 61/125,283, filed Apr. 24, 2008, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The subject invention relates to a portable cleaning assembly and specifically to a portable vacuum unit and waste container.

2. Description of the Related Art

In the field of industrial and office cleaning, portable cleaning assemblies having both a waste container and a vacuum unit are becoming well known. Unfortunately, these assemblies, while useful, have a propensity to tip-over due to the mass of the vacuum unit. This is particularly the case when the vacuum unit is disposed on an exterior of the waste container. Of course, damage may occur to the assembly when it tips over.

As such, the present invention is directed towards preventing the tip-over of portable cleaning assemblies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION AND ADVANTAGES

The subject invention presents a cleaning assembly. The assembly includes a vacuum unit for creating a vacuum to clean debris from an area. At least one battery is electrically connected to the vacuum unit for supplying electrical power to the vacuum unit. The assembly also includes a waste container for collecting waste separate from the debris collected by the vacuum unit. A transport mechanism supports the waste container, the vacuum unit, and the at least one battery for moving the waste container, the vacuum unit, and the at least one battery thereof. The at least one battery is balanced with the vacuum unit for preventing tip-over of the cleaning assembly.

The balance between the at least one battery and the vacuum unit assists in preventing tip-over of the cleaning assembly. This is particularly advantageous when the waste container is completely or substantially empty and/or when the vacuum unit is mounted to an exterior of the waste container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated, as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a cleaning assembly of the subject invention with a vacuum unit balanced against a battery such that a center of mass of the assembly is along a center axis of a transport mechanism;

FIG. 2 shows an apron supporting batteries and disposed on an exterior sidewall of the waste container in balanced opposition to the vacuum unit also disposed on the exterior sidewall of the waste container;

FIG. 3 shows the vacuum disposed on the exterior sidewall of the waste container and the batteries stored within the transport mechanism;

FIG. 4 shows the apron supporting the batteries disposed on the exterior sidewall of the waste container and the vacuum unit disposed within the transport mechanism;

FIG. 5 shows the transport mechanism with both the vacuum unit and the batteries disposed within;

FIG. 6 shows the apron disposable on the waste container in a saddlebag configuration in which some batteries are located inside the waste container and some batteries are located outside the waste container;

FIG. 7 shows the apron and batteries covering a majority of the interior and exterior surface of the sidewalls of the waste container;

FIG. 8 shows a plurality of aprons disposed on the waste container with one apron for supporting the batteries and another apron for supporting other objects;

FIG. 9 shows a plurality of tubes connected together with each tube encompassing at least one battery;

FIG. 10 shows a battery storage rack attachable to a sidewall of the waste container;

FIG. 11 shows a battery storage rack attached to a side of the transport mechanism;

FIG. 12 shows the side of the transport mechanism forming a ledge to support the batteries; and

FIG. 13 shows an air duct connected between the vacuum unit and the apron.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the Figures, wherein like numerals indicate like or corresponding parts throughout the several views, a cleaning assembly 20 is shown herein.

Referring to FIG. 1, the assembly 20 includes a vacuum unit 22 for applying a vacuum to clean debris from an area. The vacuum unit 22 includes a motor (not shown) for creating the vacuum. Vacuum units 22 are known to those skilled in the art and various configurations may be employed with the subject invention.

The assembly 20 also includes at least one battery 24 electrically connected to the vacuum unit 22 for supplying electrical power to said vacuum unit 22. More specifically, the at least one battery 24 is electrically connected to the motor of the vacuum unit 22. The term battery 24 herein refers to a cell for holding an electric charge, as is well known to those skilled in the art. The battery 24 may be of the many types known to those skilled in the art, such as, but not limited to, rechargeable, disposable, lead acid, and Alkaline. The at least one battery 24 is typically implemented as a plurality of batteries 24. The batteries 24 may be connected in parallel and/or series to generate a proper level of electric power to operate the vacuum unit 22. The use of the term “batteries” herein is done for convenience and does not necessarily require that multiple batteries 24 are implemented with the assembly 20.

The cleaning assembly 20 also includes a waste container 26 for collecting waste. The waste collecting in the waste container 26 is separate from the debris collected by said vacuum unit 22. (However, the debris collected by the vacuum unit 22 may, at some point, be deposited in the waste container 26.) The waste container 26 for use with the subject invention is preferably, but not limited to, a circular fifty-five or a forty-four gallon barrel. However, differently shaped and sized containers may be utilized depending upon the particular applications. The waste container 26 has an upper end 28 defining an opening 30 and a lower end 32 with a bottom 34. The opening 30 is designed to receive and secure a waste liner (not shown) and/or to store any waste deposited therein. The waste container 26 includes a sidewall 36 extending between the upper end 28 and the lower end 32. The sidewall 36 defines an interior 38 and an exterior 39 of the waste container 26. Handles (not numbered) may extend from the sidewall 36. A waste container lid (not shown) may be disposed on the upper end 28 for enclosing the waste container 26.

The cleaning assembly 20 also includes a transport mechanism 40 supporting the waste container 26, the vacuum unit 22, and the at least one battery 24. As such, the transport mechanism 40 allows portable, self-contained movement of the waste container 26, the vacuum unit 22, and the at least one battery 24 about an area. Therefore, the vacuum may be utilized to collect the debris and while allowing for independent filling of the waste container 26 with waste. The transport mechanism 40 may include wheels 42 for moving about the area, and more preferably includes at least three castors (not labeled). Of course, it is to be understood that different types of wheels 42 may be utilized depending upon the type of vacuum unit 22 and waste container 26.

The at least one battery 24 is balanced with the vacuum unit 22. More specifically, the at least one battery 24 is disposed in opposition to the vacuum unit 22 for providing the balance therebetween. By balancing the at least one battery 24 and the vacuum unit 22, a center of mass 43 of the assembly 20 is disposed generally along a center axis 44 of the transport mechanism 40. The center axis 44 extends generally perpendicular from a center point (not shown) of the transport mechanism 40.

The balance between the battery or batteries 24 and the vacuum unit 22 assists in preventing tip-over of the cleaning assembly 20. This is particularly important when the waste container 26 is completely or substantially empty.

The vacuum unit 22 may be disposed at any of several suitable locations of the assembly 20. In various embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 1-3, the vacuum unit 22 is supported by the sidewall 36 of the waste container 26. In these illustrated embodiments, the vacuum unit 22 is disposed on the exterior 39 of the waste container 26. In the embodiments illustrated in FIG. 1, the vacuum unit 22 is disposed adjacent a first portion 46 of the sidewall 36.

In other embodiments, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the vacuum unit 22 may be disposed below the waste container 26. In some embodiments, the vacuum unit 22 may be enclosed by the transport mechanism 40. In other words, the vacuum unit 22 is integrated with the transport mechanism 40.

The batteries 24 may also be disposed at any of several suitable locations of the assembly 20. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the batteries 24 are disposed adjacent a second portion 48 of the sidewall 36 opposite the first portion 46 of the sidewall 36. As the vacuum unit 22 and the batteries 24 are disposed on opposite portions of the waste container 26, the assembly 20 is balanced and generally resistant to tipping over.

In various embodiments, the batteries 24 are disposed adjacent the sidewall 36 of the waste container 26. The batteries 24 may be located at the exterior 39 of the waste container 26, within the interior 38 of the waste container 26, or a combination of both.

The batteries 24 may be supported by an apron 50 having one or more pockets 52. Each pocket 52 of the apron 50 may hold and enclose one or more batteries 24. Preferably, each pocket 52 is sized to hold a single battery 24. However, other sizing of the pockets 52 may alternative be acceptable. The apron 50 may be formed of fabric, plastic, or other suitable material. As such, the apron 50 may be flexible or rigid. The apron 50 may be shaped as a flat sheet that conforms to the shape it is held against. For instance, the apron 50 may be shaped to conform to the sidewall 36 of the waste container 26.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the apron 50 is supported by the upper end 28 of the waste container 26 in a saddlebag fashion. As such, the pockets and batteries 24 are disposed in both the interior and exterior 39 of the waste container 26.

The apron 50 may be configured to cover a majority or the entirety of the surface defined by the sidewall 36 of the waste container 26. As shown in FIG. 7, the batteries 24 may be disposed adjacent the entire sidewall 36 in both the interior 38 and exterior 39 of the waste container. Straps may be utilized to hold the apron 50 and the batteries 24 in place.

In other embodiments, the apron 50 may be disposed adjacent to the sidewall 36 on only the exterior 39 of the waste container 26, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. A hook 54 may be connected to the apron 50 and be affixed to the upper end 28 of the waste container 26 for supporting the apron 50 thereto. A strap 56 may also extend from the apron 50 and around the sidewall 36 to hold the apron 50 in place.

The apron 50 may also be utilized to hold other objects (not shown) besides the batteries 24. For instance, the apron 50 could also hold cleaning supplies. A single apron 50 could be utilized to hold the batteries 24 and the other objects. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 8, multiple aprons 50 could be utilized: one to hold the batteries 24 and one to hold the other objects.

The batteries 24 may also be disposed in a plurality of tubes 57, as shown in FIG. 9, that are preferably connected together to form a stick-like shape. Each tube 57 preferably encapsulates one battery 24. However, multiple batteries 24 may be disposed in each tube 57. The interconnected tubes 57 are suspended from the upper end 28 of the waste container 26. The tubes 57 may be formed of a flexible material, a rigid material, or a combination of both. The interconnected tubes 57 may also form the shape of a hook (not numbered) for convenient connection to the upper end 28 of the waste container 26.

The batteries 24 may also be positioned below the waste container 26. In some embodiments, the batteries 24 may be enclosed by the transport mechanism 40. In other words, the batteries 24 are integrated with the transport mechanism 40. Furthermore, the batteries 24 may be located both within the transport mechanism 40 and within the apron 50, as shown in FIG. 5. Moreover, active batteries 24, i.e., batteries 24 being used to power the vacuum unit 22 may be disposed in the apron 50 while spare batteries are disposed in the transport mechanism 24, or vice-versa.

The batteries 24 may also be integrally molded into the waste container 26 or transport mechanism 40. This is particularly advantageous with rechargeable batteries 24 that need not be removed. The assembly 20 may also include charging circuits (not shown) electrically connected to the batteries 24 for charging the rechargeable batteries 24. As such, the assembly 20 may be plugged-in to commercial power to recharge the batteries 24 when the assembly 20 is not in use.

With the vacuum unit 22 disposed on the outside, i.e., exterior 39, of the waste container 26, the locations of the batteries 24 for the assembly 20 are critical for the balance of the assembly 20 to prevent tip over as well as functionality. With the batteries 24 in opposition to the vacuum unit 22, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the assembly 20 is in balance and the tip over tendency is negligible. With the vacuum element on the outside of the barrel and the batteries 24 inside the transport mechanism 40, as shown in FIG. 3, the tip over tendency is also negligible.

Referring to FIGS. 10 and 11, the batteries 24 may also or alternatively be supported by a rack 58. The rack 58 may be located on the exterior 39 or the interior 38 of the waste container 26. This rack 58 may be attached to the sidewall 36 of the waste container 26, as shown in FIG. 10, or to the transport mechanism 40, as shown in FIG. 11. The rack 58 is preferably formed of a rigid material, such as, but not limited to, metal or hard plastic. Preferably, the rack 58 is shaped to conform to the surface it is attached to.

The transport mechanism 40 may have an irregular shape. For instance, the side 60 of the transport mechanism 40 may extend past the sidewall 36 of the waste container 26, as shown in FIG. 12. As such, the transport mechanism 40 forms a ledge 62 to support the batteries 24.

Preferably, heat generated by the batteries 24 is dissipated to maintain battery life and for safety reasons (e.g., prevent fires, melting of plastics, etc.) Referring to FIG. 13, the assembly 20 includes at least one air duct 64 which routes exhaust air from the vacuum unit 22 towards the batteries 24. Said another way, the air duct 64 is fluidic communication with the batteries 24. Although FIG. 13 shows the air duct 64 interfaced with the apron 60, the air duct 64 may be utilized no matter where the batteries 24 are disposed, e.g., in the apron 50, in the transport mechanism 40, in the tubes 57, or in the rack 58. The duct 64 may be formed of rigid, semi-rigid, or flexible material.

It is preferred that the aprons 50 define passages (not numbered) between the pockets 52 to distribute the exhaust air therethrough. More preferably, the passages are defined such that each battery 24 receives exhaust air from the vacuum unit 22. The passages may be voids formed between the pockets 52. Alternatively, the passages may be implemented with a breathable fabric that forms at least part of the pockets 52 and/or the apron 50. Of course, those skilled in the art realize other techniques for forming such fluidic passages between the pockets 52.

It is also preferred that the exhaust air exits the apron 50 in a downward direction. This downward airflow prevents dust and debris from being thrown up into the air.

Additionally, passageways may be formed in the other battery 24 supporting configurations, e.g., in the transport mechanism 40, in the tubes 57, or in the rack 58. This is especially critical where the batteries 24 are separated from one another using dividing walls, partitions, or other such obstructions.

The present invention has been described herein in an illustrative manner, and it is to be understood that the terminology which has been used is intended to be in the nature of words of description rather than of limitation. Obviously, many modifications and variations of the invention are possible in light of the above teachings. The invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described within the scope of the appended claims.