Title:
FIREPLACE HEAT SHIELD AND METHODS FOR PASSIVELY COOLING FIREPLACE GLASS AND HEATING AMBIENT SPACE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides a shield for spaced placement away from and over a fireplace glass plate. During operation of the fireplace, the fireplace glass plate becomes dangerously hot. As the glass plate heats, a pressure gradient is gradually established. Through this mechanism, cooler ambient room air is passively drawn into, through and out of, the spacing between the fireplace glass plate and the shield. The shield remains at a safe temperature to the touch and the ambient temperature of the room is increased. The present invention thus reduces contact burn injuries as well as providing an additional passive heat circulation engine.



Inventors:
Maxson, Christopher J. (Plymouth, MN, US)
Application Number:
14/174145
Publication Date:
08/06/2015
Filing Date:
02/06/2014
Assignee:
MAXSON CHRISTOPHER J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
126/547
International Classes:
F24B1/188; F24B1/192
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Primary Examiner:
PEYTON, DESMOND C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A substantially transparent shield attached to a fireplace having a firebox and a glass plate interface having a temperature, the fireplace installed within an ambient air space having a temperature, the shield comprising: a front side; a back side opposite the front side and facing the glass plate interface; a profile with a size and shape that provides full coverage of the glass plate interface, wherein the size is smaller than the size of the metal frame; a width corresponding to the thickness of the shield; at least two spacing attachment mechanisms attached to the shield and to the metal frame, each of the spacing attachment mechanisms comprising a spacing bracket having a length, whereby a spacing distance between the back side of the shield and the glass plate is created, wherein a passive air flow is generated within the spacing distance when the glass plate interface is at a higher temperature than the temperature of the ambient air space.

2. The shield of claim 1, wherein the at least two spacing attachment mechanisms are attached to the front side of the shield.

3. The shield of claim 2, wherein each of the at least two spacing attachment mechanisms further comprise a vertical spacing element and a horizontal spacing element, whereby the vertical spacing element spaces horizontal spacing element vertically away from the shield and wherein horizontal spacing element comprises a length that is greater than the width of the shield.

4. The shield of claim 3, wherein the spacing distance between the back side of the shield and the glass plate corresponds with the difference between the length of the horizontal spacing element and the width of the shield.

5. The shield of claim 4, wherein the spacing distance is within the range of 0.25 to 3.0 inches.

6. The shield of claim 4, wherein the spacing distance is 1.5 inches.

7. The shield of claim 3, further comprising each of the spaced attachment mechanisms being attached to the metal frame with a screw thereby securing the shield in position.

8. The shield of claim 3, further comprising a magnet attached to the horizontal spacing element, whereby the magnet attaches to the metal frame thereby securing the shield in position.

9. The shield of claim 2, wherein the at least two spaced attachment mechanisms are attached to the back side of the shield.

10. The shield of claim 1, wherein the shield is substantially rectangular in profile, with four corners and further comprising four spaced attachment mechanisms wherein each spaced attachment mechanism is proximate the corner of the shield's rectangular profile.

11. A method for shielding a heated glass plate of a fireplace that is installed within an ambient air space, comprising: providing a fireplace with a glass plate surrounded by a metal frame, wherein the glass plate is capable of heating; providing a transparent shield with a front and a back side over the glass plate, the shield spaced a distance from the glass shield and attached to the metal frame; generating, when the glass plate is heated, a passive air flow through the spacing between the shield and the glass plate, thereby removing heated air from the spacing, wherein the front side of the shield is cooler than the glass plate.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the shield is attached to the metal frame with screws.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the shield is attached to the metal frame with magnets.

14. The method of claim 11, wherein the passive air flow is generated when the glass plate is warmer than the temperature of the ambient air within which the fireplace is installed, whether or not the fireplace is operating.

15. A method for passively heating an ambient air space, comprising: providing a fireplace within the ambient air space, the fireplace having a glass plate surrounded by a metal frame, wherein the glass plate is capable of heating; providing a transparent shield with a front and a back side over the glass plate, the shield spaced a distance from the glass shield and attached to the metal frame; generating, when the glass plate is heated, a passive air flow through the spacing between the shield and the glass plate, thereby removing heated air from the spacing, wherein the front side of the shield is cooler than the glass plate; circulating the heated air removed from the spacing into the ambient air space; and passively heating the ambient air space with the removed heated air circulated therethrough.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

None

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to devices and methods for shielding and/or cooling heated fireplace glass while using a heat-induced passive air flow to heat the ambient air.

2. Description of the Related Art

Current gas fireplaces comprise a glass plate allowing visibility of the flames within the firebox. This glass plate heats up to temperatures that can become dangerous and, if touched, may result in serious burns.

Moreover, known gas fireplaces may simple passive radiant heat sources, i.e., lacking in a fan or blower system. In this case, the glass plate will heat up as described above and assist, albeit very inefficiently, to heat the ambient room air.

Alternatively, a fan or blower system may be in operative communication with the heated air within the firebox. The user may actuate the fan or blower system in order to supplement the simple passive radiant heating action described supra. Generally, this fan or blower system will act to blow the heated air from the firebox and into the room, thereby raising the ambient room temperature by active means.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a shield for spaced placement away from and over a fireplace glass plate. During operation of the fireplace, the fireplace glass plate becomes dangerously hot. As the glass plate heats, a positive pressure gradient is gradually established. Through this mechanism, cooler ambient room air is passively drawn into, through and out of, the spacing between the fireplace glass plate and the shield. The shield remains at a safe temperature to the touch and the ambient temperature of the room is increased. The present invention thus reduces contact burn injuries as well as providing an additional passive heat circulation engine.

The figures and the detailed description which follow more particularly exemplify these and other embodiments of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments of the invention in connection with the accompanying drawings, which are as follows.

FIG. 1 is a perspective illustration of a prior art gas fireplace;

FIG. 2 is a perspective exploded view of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a front view of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a front view of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a side view of one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION, INCLUDING THE BEST MODE

While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof are shown by way of example in the drawings and described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit the invention to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates a known exemplary gas fireplace 10. Thus, a firebox 20 is illustrated with a glass plate interface 30. The glass plate is surrounded by a frame 40, wherein the frame 40 is typically metal in composition. A fire 50 is illustrated within the firebox 20 as emanating from gas burners, illustrated as exemplary artificial logs, 60 within the firebox 20. This arrangement is well known to the skilled artisan. A gas source (not shown) is used to fuel the fire. Exemplary fireplace assemblies may be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,542,407, 5,782,231 and 5,399,084, for example, the disclosure of each of which are hereby incorporated in their entireties.

Turning now to FIG. 2, one embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. The known exemplary fireplace 10 of FIG. 1 is illustrated. Thus, as in FIG. 1, a firebox 20 is illustrated with a glass plate interface 30. The glass plate 30 is surrounded by a frame 40, wherein the frame 40 is typically metal in composition. A fire 50 is illustrated within the firebox 20 as emanating from artificial logs 60 within the firebox 20.

A substantially transparent shield 100 is also illustrated as attaching to the frame 40 of fireplace 10. Shield 100 comprises a front side F and a back side B opposite the front side F, wherein the front side F faces the room or ambient environment air space within which the fireplace 10 is installed and the back side B faces the fireplace's glass plate interface 30. Shield 100 further comprises a width W, corresponding to the thickness of the material comprising the shield 100, typically this will be glass, though other equivalent materials may also be utilized. The shield 100 is a substantially rectangular shape, as illustrated, though additional shapes and profiles may be readily devised by the skilled artisan, each of which is within the scope of the present invention.

Generally, the glass plate interface 30 will have a profile having a size and a shape. The frame 40 surrounding the glass plate 30 will also have a profile with a size and a shape. Typically, the shapes of the glass plate 30 and the frame 40 will be substantially similar, e.g., rectangular. Thus, the typical configuration will comprise a glass plate 30 with a smaller rectangular profile within the metal frame 40 surrounding glass plate 30, wherein the frame 40 comprises a rectangular profile that is larger than the glass plate's rectangular profile.

Generally, then, the shield 100 will have a profile with a shape that is substantially similar to that of the glass plate interface 30 and the frame 40, e.g., rectangular in shape. Further, the shield 100 will have a profile with a size that is at least as large as the glass plate 30, but that is sized smaller than the metal frame 40. This allows maximum coverage of the glass plate 30 by the shield 100, but keeps the shield 100 within the boundaries defined by the profile of the metal frame 40.

Shield 100 further comprises four (4) spacing attachment mechanisms 105 comprising spacing brackets 110 in the illustrated embodiment, one each proximate the corners of the illustrated rectangular shield 100. Alternatively, four or more spacing attachment mechanisms 105 comprising spacing brackets may be provided. Spacing brackets 110 may comprise a vertical spacing element 120 and a horizontal spacing element 130. Vertical spacing element 120 spaces horizontal spacing element 130 vertically, either up or down, away from the glass shield 100. Horizontal spacing element 130 has a length L that is greater than the width W of the glass shield 100. Thus, the difference L−W represents the spacing distance S between the fireplace's glass plate 30 and the back surface B of the shield 100 when shield 100 is attached to the (typically) metal frame 40 of the fireplace 10.

It should be noted that the spacing attachment mechanisms 105 comprising spacing brackets 110 may comprise alternative embodiments, e.g., the spacing brackets may be affixed or attached to the back side B of the shield 100 rather than to the front side F as illustrated. In this alternative embodiment, spacing brackets 110 only comprise the horizontal spacing element 130 having a length between the back side B of shield 100 and the glass plate 30, in order to create the desired space S between the back side B of the shield 100 and the glass plate 30. What is required in all cases for the spacing attachment mechanisms 105 are spacing brackets 110 having a length between the back side B of shield 100 and glass plate 30 that creates a spacing distance S between the back surface of the shield 100 and the fireplace's heated glass plate 30. The skilled artisan will readily recognize equivalent spacing attachment mechanisms that provide the requisite spacing distance S.

The illustrated embodiment provides four spacing attachment mechanisms 105 comprising spacing brackets 110, proximate each corner of the exemplary rectangular shield 100. Alternative embodiments may comprise four or more attachment mechanisms 105 comprising spacing brackets 110. Still more alternatively, only two attachment mechanisms, e.g., spacing brackets 110, proximate to the upper corners of the exemplary rectangular shield 100 may be provided. Generally, for a rectangular shield 100, two or more attachment mechanisms, e.g., spacing brackets 110 are required.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate one embodiment of the shield 100, wherein the spacing attachment mechanisms 105 comprising spacing brackets 110 further comprise screw holes therethrough for fastening attaching of the spacing brackets 110 to the frame 40. More specifically, the screws 140 (and therefore the screw holes engaging the screws) are illustrated as through length L of the horizontal spacing element 130 of the spacing brackets 110. Screws are then used to fasten each spacing bracket 110 to previously drilled holes (not shown) in the frame 40, wherein the position of the previously drilled holes and method of drilling same is quite well known in the art. In this embodiment, the shield 100 extends beyond the boundaries of the glass plate 30 for safety purposes. In other embodiments, the shield 100 may match the dimensions of the glass plate 30, however the preferred embodiment comprises the shield 100 having dimensions, i.e., a length and a width, that are greater than those same dimensions of the glass plate 30.

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative spacing attachment mechanism 105 whereby the screw fastening mechanism discussed in connection with FIG. 3 is replaced with a fastener device, as illustrated fastener device comprises a magnetic attachment mechanism comprising a magnet 150 which magnetically attaches to metal frame 40 of the fireplace 10, thereby securing the shield 100 in spaced-apart position over the glass plate 30. Other fastener devices will occur to the skilled artisan, e.g., and without limitation screws may be used; each such fastener device is within the scope of the present invention. As illustrated the magnet 150 is attached to the end of each of the spacing brackets 110, specifically at the end of the horizontal spacing element 130.

As with the screw-based spacing attachment mechanism discussed supra, at least two spacing attachment mechanisms 105 comprising the magnet 150 are required, each comprising a spacing bracket 110 proximate each of the upper corners of the exemplary rectangular shield 100, with a magnet 150 attached at the end of the horizontal spacing element 130 of the bracket 110. The preferred embodiment is illustrated and comprises four spacing attachment mechanisms 105 proximate each corner of the exemplary rectangular shield 100 and further comprising a magnet mounted at the end of each of the horizontal spacing elements 130, whereby the magnets secure the shield 100 to the frame 40 of the fireplace 10 in a spaced-away position from the glass plate 30 and covering the glass plate 30.

A side view is illustrated in FIG. 5 in operation. Here, shield 100 comprising width W is attached via one embodiment of the spacing attachment mechanism 105 comprising spacing brackets 110 as discussed above, to the frame 40 of fireplace 10. Spacing brackets 110 comprise a vertical spacing element 120 and a horizontal spacing element 130, as illustrated to attach the shield 100 to the frame 40. The length L of the horizontal spacing element 130 exceeds the width of shield 100 by a distance wherein L−W. S thus comprises a distance that correlates with the spaced distance S between the back side B of the shield 100 and the glass plate 30 or L−W.

A preferred distance for S in all embodiment discussed herein is approximately 1.5 inches, though the skilled artisan will recognize that distances for S may range from 0.25 inches to 3.0 inches.

The skilled artisan will appreciate that more than one shield 100 may be utilized in horizontally stacked and spaced configuration. In this embodiment, a shield 100 as described above may be installed and a second shield may be installed over the initial shield 100 in a spaced apart manner using spacers. Thus, the front side F of shield 100 will be in spaced apart configuration from the back side B of outermost shield providing additional safety in terms of the temperature of the exposed front side of the outermost shield.

The fireplace 10 is within an ambient space, e.g., typically a room environment and is shown in operational mode so that the glass plate 30 is heated. This heating of the glass plate 30 as described supra, creates a pressure gradient within the spaced distance S, thereby drawing the cooler ambient air into the space defined by spaced distance S between the back surface B of shield 100 and heated glass plate 30. Thus, relatively cool air from the ambient space, e.g., a room, located near the floor of the ambient space is drawn into the lower portion of the region between the shield 100 and the glass plate 30. This causes the air within the space S to contact the heated glass plate 30 and causing the air in space S to become increasingly heated as it travels upward vertically through space S. This further increases the travel velocity of the heated and heating air in space S until it is ejected out of space S proximate the top of space S into the ambient space, thereby heating the ambient space air.

It is significant that this heating process occurs passively, i.e., without aid of a fan or blower. Through this passive air circulation that is induced by the presence of the present invention, the heat of the glass plate 30 is reduced and transferred into the ambient space's air. In addition, the front side F of the shield 100 remains cool enough to touch without inducing a burning injury.

The present invention is further significant since the passive air circulation, and associated burn-injury protection and ambient space heating function, are both operational and effective whether or not the fireplace is actually turned on. If the glass plate 30 is warmer than the ambient space's air, the passive air circulation, and the associated heating and protection functions, will be engaged.

The present invention should not be considered limited to the particular examples described above, but rather should be understood to cover all aspects of the invention. Various modifications, equivalent processes, as well as numerous structures to which the present invention may be applicable will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art to which the present invention is directed upon review of the present specification.