BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application is related to co-owned co-pending applications Ser. No. 11/034,600 filed Jan. 13, 2005 and Ser. No. 60/624,647 filed Nov. 3, 2004, the complete disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates broadly to battery operated fluid pumps. More particularly, this invention relates to a compact battery operated fluid pump contained in a spray head which fits onto existing pump spray containers and which exhibits improved balance.
2. State of the Art
Many household and industrial products are sold in containers that include a sprayer. These products include cleansers, insecticides, polishes, waxes, etc. There are several kinds of sprayers used with these products. Perhaps the most common is the manual push button or trigger operated pump which is seen most frequently on liquid cleansers. It has the advantage of being environmentally friendly (i.e. it does not require a propellant) but the disadvantage of requiring the user to repeatedly pump the button or trigger in order to effect spraying. Another well known sprayer is the aerosol can which is sealed and charged with a gas propellant. This sprayer has the advantage that it dispenses fluid in a continuous spray so long as the user holds the button down, but has several disadvantages. One disadvantage is that the can cannot be refilled. Another disadvantage is that depending on the gas used to charge the container, the propellant can be environmentally unfriendly. While environmentally friendly propellants do exist, generally, they do not charge as well as the unfriendly gases. Still another popular sprayer is the air pump sprayer seen most frequently with insecticides and liquid garden products. The air pump sprayer includes a hand operated air pump which is used to charge the container with compressed air. After it is charged, it operates much like an aerosol can. The pump sprayer is environmentally friendly but requires considerable effort to keep charged because air is not as efficient a propellant as environmentally unfriendly gases such as FREON or hydrocarbon gasses.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In recent years there has been some experimentation with battery powered pump sprayers. Most of these devices include a spray mechanism which is similar to the ubiquitous push button (or trigger) pump sprayer but which is coupled to a battery powered electric motor by some type of linkage which converts the rotary action of the motor into an oscillatory motion to drive the pump piston. Many of these battery operated pump sprayers are designed to work only with a specially constructed bottle, i.e. they are not retrofittable to existing pump spray bottles. Many also have weight distribution problems, i.e. they are too heavy on one side and cause the bottle to which they are attached to tip over. This is partially do to the fact that the electrically driven piston pump is relatively long, extending beyond the footprint of the bottle to which it is attached. It is also partially due to the location of the batteries. Some battery operated pump sprayers use small ineffective diaphragm pumps or arrange a piston pump so that it extends down into the spray bottle. While these designs may provide better balance, they give rise to new disadvantages. The diaphragm pumps do not work as well as piston pumps. Arranging the pump inside the bottle displaces liquid in the bottle and subjects pump elements to submersion which requires additional design considerations.
It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a battery operated spray pump.
It is another object of the invention to provide a battery operated spray pump that is retrofittable to an existing spray bottle.
It is an additional object of the invention to provide a battery operated spray pump which is compact and does not extend much beyond the foot print of the spray bottle.
It is another object of the invention to provide a battery operated spray pump which is well balanced and less likely to cause the bottle to tip over.
In accord with these objects, which will be discussed in detail below, a battery operated spray pump according to the invention includes a pump having an inlet and an outlet, the outlet defining a pump axis coaxial with the outlet. The pump is mounted inside a spray head having a nozzle, the nozzle defining a discharge axis which is coaxial with the nozzle. According to one aspect of the invention, the pump axis and the discharge axis are neither collinear nor parallel nor perpendicular but are arranged at an angle of 30-60 degrees relative to each other. More particularly, the pump axis is angled up relative to the discharge axis with the pump outlet angled up from and lying above the discharge axis. The pump outlet is therefore coupled to the nozzle by a flexible tube or an elbow. According to another aspect of the invention, the batteries are located on top of the pump. These aspects of the invention allow the spray head to assume an overall size which is almost completely within the foot print of a typical bottle to which it will be attached and also provides the spay head with better balance.
The pump may be substantially the same as either of those disclosed in the previously incorporated applications but modified to allow the pump axis to be arranged at an angle relative to the discharge axis.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Additional objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reference to the detailed description taken in conjunction with the provided figures.
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a spray head according to the invention coupled to a conventional bottle;
FIG. 2 is a broken perspective view showing a front side of the spray head;
FIG. 3 is a broken perspective view showing a rear side of the spray head;
FIG. 4 is a broken, partially transparent and partially cut-away view showing a first side of the spray head;
FIG. 5 is a broken, partially transparent and partially cut-away view showing a second side of the spray head; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of the components of the spray head.
Turning now to FIGS. 1-3, a battery operated spray head 10 according to the invention includes an ergonomic housing 12 coupled to a threaded bottle coupling 14 and including an adjustable nozzle 16 and a trigger 18. The rear upper portion of the housing 12 includes a battery compartment door 21. The coupling 14 is designed to fit on a standard bottle 1 having a 28 mm threaded opening 2. These are the bottles most typically used with conventional spray heads for household products such as cleaners, fabric sprays, etc.
Referring now to FIGS. 4-6, inside the housing 12, there are several subsystems, including the power source (batteries) 22, an electric motor 24, a transmission 26, and a piston pump 28. Although the illustrated embodiment shows the piston pump which is described in detail in previously incorporated Ser. No. 11/034,600, the pump described in previously incorporated 60/624,647 could be used. Moreover, any electric pump of suitable size could be used. The trigger 18 is arranged so that when it is squeezed, it operates a valve 30 and an electrical switch 32. The illustrated switch is a standard microswitch, but other types of switches could be used. Unlike the double valve arrangement of the previously incorporated application, in this arrangement, the inlet of the pump 28 is always fluidly coupled to the interior of the bottle 1 via a tube 34 which is coupled to another longer tube (not shown) which extends deep into the bottle. The valve 30 opens an air path from the atmosphere to the interior of the bottle 1. It will be appreciated, however, that the double valve arrangement could be used in this spray head.
As seen best in FIG. 6, the housing 12 has an upper part 12 a and a lower part 12 b. A battery compartment 20 is located inside the door 21. The door is removable so that the batteries 22 may be replaced as needed. The illustrated batteries are two AA alkaline batteries and the design is optimized for batteries having the mass of two AA batteries. Other batteries of the same or similar mass could be used or the design could be modified if needed to accommodate a battery or batteries of different mass. The battery compartment 20 also includes contacts 23 which couple opposite poles of two batteries 22 in series with each other and contacts 25 which couple opposite poles of batteries 22 to the motor (24 in FIG. 5) via the switch 32 using wires (not shown). The nozzle 16 includes spin mechanics 16 a and nozzle adapter 16 b. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that rotation of the nozzle 16 causes interaction of the spin mechanics 16 a and the nozzle adapter such that the discharge from the nozzle is either a spray, a stream, a foam, or off. The valve 30 includes a piston 30 a and a spring 30 b.
Referring once again to FIGS. 4-6, it will be appreciated that the axis of the pump 28 is not collinear with or parallel to the axis of the nozzle assembly 16, 16 a, 16 b which assumes a substantially horizontal orientation (±10 degrees). More particularly, the outlet of the pump is raised up from the normal position of facing directly at the nozzle. This can be described as having an outlet vector with a horizontal component facing in the same direction as the horizontal component of the nozzle outlet vector. The angle between the pump axis and the nozzle assembly axis is preferably between 30 degrees and 60 degrees. The pump inlet 28 a (which contains the ball valve described in the previously incorporated application) is arranged to be vertical and therefore assumes an angle relative to the pump axis and is not collinear with the center of the coupling 14. Thus, flexible tubes 34 and 35 are used to couple the inlet 28 a to the bottle coupling 14 and the outlet 28 b to the nozzle 16. In lieu of flexible tubes 34, 35 elbows could be used. The batteries 22 are arranged on top of the pump assembly and substantially parallel (±10 degrees) to the pump axis. By arranging the pump, motor, transmission assembly and batteries at an angle relative to the nozzle assembly, the front to back dimension of the spray head is substantially shortened and the center of gravity of the spray head is moved closer to the vertical axis of the bottle. This allows the substantially the entire spray head (i.e., at least 90% of the spray head) to lie within the footprint of the bottle (i.e., within the projection of the bottle to a horizontal surface on which the bottle stands) and provides better balance. It will be appreciated from FIGS. 4 and 5 that the lower rear portion of the housing 12 is larger than it needs to be to enclose the internal components. This is to provide an ergonomic form factor wherein the lower rear portion of the housing can rest comfortably on the user's hand when the trigger is squeezed.
There have been described and illustrated herein a battery operated spray head retrofittable to existing pump spray containers. While particular embodiments of the invention have been described, it is not intended that the invention be limited thereto, as it is intended that the invention be as broad in scope as the art will allow and that the specification be read likewise. Thus, while two battery powered pumps have been disclosed by incorporation, it will be appreciated that other types of battery powered pumps can be used. It will therefore be appreciated by those skilled in the art that yet other modifications could be made to the provided invention without deviating from its spirit and scope as claimed.