US20090170421A1 - Grille - Google Patents

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Publication number
US20090170421A1
US20090170421A1 US11968250 US96825008A US2009170421A1 US 20090170421 A1 US20090170421 A1 US 20090170421A1 US 11968250 US11968250 US 11968250 US 96825008 A US96825008 A US 96825008A US 2009170421 A1 US2009170421 A1 US 2009170421A1
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US
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Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
grille
housing
exhaust vent
air
vent fan
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11968250
Inventor
John R. Adrian
Brent E. Coffey
Jesse Allen Hollingsworth
Kenneth J. Jonas
David L. Pringle
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Broan-NuTone LLC
Original Assignee
Broan-NuTone LLC
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F7/00Ventilation, e.g. by means of wall-ducts or systems using window or roof apertures
    • F24F7/04Ventilation, e.g. by means of wall-ducts or systems using window or roof apertures with ducting systems also by double walls; with natural circulation
    • F24F7/06Ventilation, e.g. by means of wall-ducts or systems using window or roof apertures with ducting systems also by double walls; with natural circulation with forced air circulation, e.g. by fan positioning of a ventilator in or against a conduit
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F13/00Details common to, or for air-conditioning, air-humidification, ventilation or use of air currents for screening
    • F24F13/02Ducting arrangements
    • F24F13/06Outlets for directing or distributing air into rooms or spaces, e.g. ceiling air diffuser
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F13/00Details common to, or for air-conditioning, air-humidification, ventilation or use of air currents for screening
    • F24F13/20Casings or covers
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F24HEATING; RANGES; VENTILATING
    • F24FAIR-CONDITIONING; AIR-HUMIDIFICATION; VENTILATION; USE OF AIR CURRENTS FOR SCREENING
    • F24F2221/00Details or features not otherwise provided for
    • F24F2221/34Heater, e.g. gas burner, electric air heater

Abstract

The present invention provides, among other things, an exhaust vent fan including a housing having an inlet through which air is received within the housing and an outlet through which the air exits the housing, a fan wheel supported in the housing and operable to generate a flow of the air out of the outlet, a louvered first grille positioned across the inlet, a heating element supported in the housing, and a second grille supported on the housing and being moveable relative to the first grille while the first grille is secured to the housing to direct a heated air flow from the heating element out of the housing.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to an exhaust vent fan and a method of operating an exhaust vent fan, and more particularly to an exhaust vent fan having a heating element and a method of operating the same.
  • SUMMARY
  • In some embodiments, the present invention provides an exhaust vent fan including a housing having an inlet through which air is received within the housing and an outlet through which the air exits the housing, a fan wheel supported in the housing and operable to generate a flow of the air out of the outlet, a louvered first grille positioned across the inlet, a heating element supported in the housing, and a second grille supported on the housing and being moveable relative to the first grille while the first grille is secured to the housing to direct a heated air flow from the heating element out of the housing.
  • The present invention also provides an exhaust vent fan including a housing having an inlet through which air is received within the housing and an outlet through which the air exits the housing, a fan wheel supported in the housing and operable to generate a flow of the air out of the outlet, a first grille positioned across the inlet, a second grille supported on the housing and being moveable relative to the housing to direct an air flow from the heating element out of the housing, and a locking arrangement including an actuator extending outwardly away from the housing proximate an exterior surface of the first grille and being engageable with a tool for moving the second grille with respect to the first grille.
  • In addition, the present invention provides a method of operating an exhaust vent fan. The method can include the act of operating a fan wheel supported in the housing to draw air into the housing through an inlet defined in the housing and through a first grille secured to the housing and to direct the air out of the housing through an outlet defined in the housing. The method can also include the acts of selectively activating a heating element supported in the housing to heat an air flow, directing the air flow from the heating element out of the housing through a second grille supported on the housing, and moving the second grille relative to the first grille while the first grille is secured to the housing to direct the heated air flow from the heating element out of the housing.
  • In some embodiments, the present invention provides an exhaust vent fan including a housing having an inlet through which air is received within the housing and an outlet through which the air exits the housing, a fan wheel supported in the housing and operable to generate a flow of the air out of the outlet, a louvered first grille positioned across the inlet, and a second grille extending through an opening in the first grille and being moveable relative to the housing to direct an air flow out of the housing.
  • Other aspects of the invention will become apparent by consideration of the detailed description and accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a bottom perspective view of an exhaust vent fan according to some embodiments of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the exhaust vent fan shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 3 is a rear view of the exhaust vent fan shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 4 is a front view of the exhaust vent fan shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 5 is a right side view of the exhaust vent fan shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 6 is a left side view of the exhaust vent fan shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 7 is a top view of a first grille and a second grille of the exhaust vent fan shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view of the exhaust vent fan shown in FIG. 1.
  • FIG. 9 is a perspective cross-sectional view of the exhaust vent fan taken along line 9-9.
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective cross-sectional view taken along line 10-10.
  • FIG. 11 is a perspective cross-sectional view taken along line 11-11.
  • FIG. 12 is an exploded view of the first grille and the second grille shown in FIG. 7.
  • FIG. 13 is an enlarged view of the second grille shown in FIG. 7.
  • FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a transition outlet fitting shown in FIG. 1.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,” “comprising,” or “having” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items.
  • Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms “mounted,” “connected,” “supported,” and “coupled” and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mountings, connections, supports, and couplings. Further, “connected” and “coupled” are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings.
  • Also, it is to be understood that phraseology and terminology used herein with reference to device or element orientation (such as, for example, terms like “central,” “upper,” “lower,” “front,” “rear,” and the like) are only used to simplify description of the present invention, and do not alone indicate or imply that the device or element referred to must have a particular orientation. In addition, terms such as “first” and “second” are used herein for purposes of description and are not intended to indicate or imply relative importance or significance.
  • With reference to the figures, an exemplary ventilating and heating apparatus, or exhaust vent fan, is shown generally at 10. In some embodiments of the present invention, the apparatus 10 generally includes a main housing 14, a ventilation assembly 18 for moving air into and through the apparatus 10, a lighting assembly 22 for providing illumination, a heating assembly 26 for heating an airflow through the apparatus 10, and at least one mounting bracket 30 for mounting the apparatus 10 to one or more surfaces or support structures. Various embodiments of the present invention can employ any one or more of these elements and structures (and any combination thereof) as desired. Accordingly, the various features and elements of the present invention described herein and illustrated in the figures can be employed in assemblies having different structures and functional capabilities.
  • In some embodiments, the apparatus 10 is employed to ventilate, illuminate, and/or heat a room, area, or space. With reference to the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 1-14, the lighting assembly 22 can illuminate a room, the ventilating assembly 18 can draw air from the room into the main housing 14, and the heating assembly 26 can draw air from the room, heat the air, and discharge the air back into the room at an elevated temperature.
  • The main housing 14 can be formed of any material desired, and in some embodiments is constructed of a material capable of withstanding varying temperatures and can also provide structural integrity to the apparatus 10. In some embodiments, the main housing 14 is formed of sheet metal. In other embodiments, the main housing 14 is instead formed of a ceramic or a polymer material. The main housing 14 can have any shape, including a rectangular box-like shape as shown in FIGS. 1-14, an oval shape, a hemispherical or spherical shape, a pyramidal shape, and the like. The main housing 14 can form a base or frame for the apparatus 10, thereby providing points and areas of attachment for other components of the apparatus 10.
  • In some embodiments, the main housing 14 of the apparatus 10 can include or be used in conjunction with one or more elongated mounting brackets 30 for mounting the apparatus 10 to a variety of support structures or surfaces. Any number and type of mounting brackets 30 known to those skilled in the art can be used with the apparatus 10. The illustrated exemplary embodiment employs two mounting brackets 30 formed of sheet metal. Although the mounting bracket(s) 30 can be located in any position(s) on the main housing 14 suitable to support the apparatus 10 with respect to surrounding structure, in some cases the mounting brackets 30 are attached to opposite side walls of the main housing 14. Alternatively, the main housing 14 can be mounted directly (via any of a variety of fasteners and fastening methods) to a support structure or surface, thereby eliminating the need for mounting brackets 30.
  • Some embodiments of the apparatus 10 include a first louvered grille 34 connected to the main housing 14. The illustrated exemplary main housing 14 has a generally box-like shape with an open end. The illustrated first grille 34 has a generally rectangular shape, but can instead take any other shape matching or substantially matching the shape of the main housing 14. In other embodiments, the first grille 34 can have a shape different than that of the main housing 14 it covers.
  • The first grille 34 can be positioned over an open side of the main housing 14. In some embodiments (e.g., the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-14), an open end of the main housing 14 is shaped and dimensioned to be received within an open end of the first grille 34. In some embodiments, the first grille 34 is formed from a molded plastic material. In other embodiments, the first grille 34 is formed from a metallic material, such as sheet metal.
  • The first grille 34 can be secured to the main housing 14 by one or more snap-fit features on the first grille 34 and/or main housing 14, any of a variety of conventional fasteners (e.g., screws, bolts, rivets, pins, clamps, and the like), welding, soldering, brazing, adhesive or cohesive bonding material, a combination thereof, and the like. In some such cases, the main housing 14 can be provided with one or more lips, flared edges, flanges, or other features to which the first grille 34 can attach. By way of example only, the main housing 14 in the illustrated exemplary embodiment has peripheral flanges 35 to which the first grille 34 can attach. In other embodiments, the first grille 34 can be shaped and dimensioned to be received within the main housing 14 for attachment thereto in any of the manners described above. In any of the main housing and cover configurations, the main housing 14 and/or the first grille 34 can be provided with apertures through which fasteners can be passed to secure the first grille 34 to the main housing 14.
  • With reference to FIGS. 1, 2, 7, 8, and 10-12, the first grille 34 can include a first set of apertures, or louvers 38 extending across a first inlet 37 defined by the main housing 14 for receiving a flow of air. The louvers 38 can be located anywhere on the first grille 34 depending at least partially upon the airflow path(s) available within the main housing 14 from the louvers 38 to the ventilating assembly 18. In some embodiments, the louvers 38 are located in a part of the first grille 34 covering the ventilating assembly 18. The first set of louvers 38 can guide air (which can include moisture, steam, smoke, exhaust, and the like) to the ventilating assembly 18, which is operable to draw air into the main housing 14. From the main housing 14, the ventilating assembly 18 is operable to discharge the airflow to another location, such as an attic, outside the structure to which the apparatus 10 is secured, and/or into a ducting assembly. In the illustrated embodiment, the air is discharged out of a first outlet 122 in the main housing 14.
  • The first grille 34 can also include a second set of apertures or louvers 42 extending across a second inlet 41 defined by the main housing 14. The second set of louvers 42 can be located anywhere on the first grille 34 depending at least in part upon the airflow path(s) available within the main housing 14 from the second set of louvers 42 to the heater assembly 26. By way of example only, the second set of louvers 42 in the illustrated exemplary embodiment is located at an end of the first grille 34 and main housing 14 opposite the first set of louvers 38. In some embodiments, the second set of louvers 42 is located in a part of the first grille 34 covering the heater assembly 26. The second set of louvers 42 can guide inlet air to the heater assembly 26, which is operable to generate heated airflow in a room, area, and/or space.
  • In some embodiments, the first grille 34 can have a single set of louvers supplying air to the ventilating assembly 18 and to the heater assembly 26, can have two or more sets of louvers supplying air to both assemblies 18, 26, or can have one or more dedicated sets of louvers for each assembly 18, 26.
  • In some embodiments, the first grille 34 has a second outlet 46 for discharging heated air from the apparatus 10. The second outlet 46 can be located anywhere on the first grille 34, depending at least partially upon the location of the heater assembly 26 and the outlet thereof. By way of example only, the second outlet 46 in the illustrated embodiment is adjacent to the second set of louvers 42. When connected to the main housing 14, the second outlet 46 in the first grille 34 can correspond with and be in fluid communication with the heating assembly 26 to receive discharged and heated airflow therethrough.
  • Some embodiments of the present invention include a second grille 50 extending at least partially across the second outlet 46. The second grille 50 can be moveable with respect to the first grille 34. The second grille 50 can include louvers 51, as shown in the figures. The louvers 51 are operable to both conceal an interior portion of the housing 14 and to direct air out of the second outlet 46. In some embodiments, the louvers 51 can be angled between about zero degrees and about forty-five degrees from vertical when the apparatus 10 is mounted on a horizontal ceiling. In yet other embodiments, the louvers 51 can be angled between about ten degrees and about thirty degrees from vertical when the apparatus 10 is mounted on a horizontal ceiling. While reference is made herein to orientations in which the apparatus 10 is mounted on or in a ceiling, it should be understood that the apparatus can also or alternatively be mounted on a wall or in other locations within a structure.
  • In some embodiments, the second grille 50 includes one or more actuators to move the second grille 50 with respect to the first grille 34. In the illustrated embodiment, an actuator 55 having a generally rectangular aperture is positioned in a central portion of the second grille 50 (see FIGS. 2, 7, 12 and 13). In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1-14, the actuator 55 is operable to receive a tool, such as a standard (flathead) screwdriver. The actuator 55 can enable an operator to pivot the second grille 50 about a pivot axis 52, with respect to the first grille 34, thereby changing the direction of air flow out through the louvers 51. For example, if an operator desires air to be directed in a specific direction, the operator can insert a standard screwdriver into the aperture in the actuator 55 and rotate the second grille 50, to direct the air as desired.
  • In some embodiments, the pivot axis 52 is substantially perpendicular to the second grille 50 and the first grille 34. In other embodiments, the pivot axis 52 can be non-perpendicular to one or both of the first and second grilles 34, 50. In some such embodiments, the outer surface of the second grille 50 can be oriented at a non-parallel angle with respect to the outer surface of the first grille 34. In other embodiments, the second grille 50 can be supported on the first grille 34 for pivoting movement about the pivot axis 52 and/or about an axis extending through the first grille 34 in a direction substantially parallel to an outer surface of the first grille 34.
  • In some embodiments, the operator can pivot the second grille 50 during operation of one or more of the ventilation assembly 18, the lighting assembly 22, and the heating assembly 26. In some such embodiments, an operator can use a screwdriver or other similar tool to pivot the second grille 50 when the heating assembly 26 is operating so that the operator is not required to touch the second grille 50 and/or so that the operator does not need a stool or ladder to reach the actuator 55.
  • In the illustrated embodiment, the actuator 55 is recessed below the outer surface of the first grille 34. Further, in the illustrated embodiment, the outer surface of the second grille 50 is recessed below the outer surface of the first grille 34. In some embodiments, the second grille 50 is formed form a metallic material, such as aluminum. In other embodiments, the second grille 50 is formed from a molded material, such as plastic.
  • As shown in FIG. 12, the apparatus 10 can include a locking arrangement 56 operable to maintain the second grille 50 in any of a number of different pivoted positions with respect to the first grille 34 and with respect to the housing 14. The locking arrangement 56 can include a flange 57 extending circumferentially around and outwardly from the outer perimeter of the second grille 50. The flange 57 can be positioned adjacent to the first grille 34 at the second outlet 46. The second grille 50 is illustrated as being recessed below the outer surface of the first grille 34. The locking arrangement 56 can also include an elastic member, such as the illustrated wave washer 59 or a spring washer 59, which can be positioned proximate the first grille 34 and between the first grille 34 and the flange 57. The elastic member can be formed from a rigid or elastic material. The spring washer 59 can include one or more biasing elements 60 that protrude therefrom and bias the second grille 50 into frictional engagement with the first grille 34. In some embodiments, the locking arrangement 56 locks the second grille 50 in place by friction alone.
  • The locking arrangement can further include a locking washer 61 adjacent to the spring washer 59 and in abutment therewith. A number of fasteners 62, such as the illustrated screws, can extend through both the locking washer 61 and the spring washer 59 and into the first grille 34. The fasteners 62 are operable to inhibit relative movement between the first grille 34, the spring washer 59, and the locking washer 61. Therefore, in some such embodiments, only the second grille 50 is permitted to pivot relative to the first grille 34. In other embodiments, the spring washer 59 and/or the locking washer 61 can pivot with the second grille 50.
  • In some embodiments, such as the illustrated embodiment, the locking washer 61 can include an outwardly-extending first stop element 63 a and the second grille 50 can include a second outwardly-extending stop element, which is selectively engageable with the first stop element to limit the pivoting movement of the second grille 50 with respect to the first grille 34. In some such embodiments, first and second stop elements prevent the second grille 50 from pivoting more than about 270 degrees with respect to the first grille 34. In other embodiments, the first and second stop elements can prevent the second grille 50 from pivoting more than 45 degrees with respect to the first grille, or alternatively, in other embodiments, the first and second stop elements can prevent the second grille 50 from pivoting more than 360 degrees. In yet other embodiments, such as the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1-13, the first and second stop elements are not included to thereby allow unlimited pivoting movement of the second grille 50 relative to the first grille 34.
  • As described above, some embodiments of the apparatus 10 include a lighting assembly 22. As shown in FIGS. 8 and 10, the lighting assembly 22 can be connected to the main housing 14 and can project light outwardly through an opening defined in the first grille 34. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1-14, the first grille 34 supports a lens 64 for diffusing light emitted by the lighting assembly 22. In some embodiments of the apparatus 10, the lens 64 can be releasably connected to the first grille 34 by any of a number fasteners (e.g., snap-fitting, fastening, and so forth). Alternatively, the lens 64 can be integrally formed with the first grille 34, such as in cases where the first grille 34 is formed from a plastic material.
  • The lighting assembly 22 can include one or more lamps or other illumination devices 66, which can be of any type suitable to illuminate a room, area, or space. By way of example only, the illumination device(s) 66 can include incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, and other lights (whether in the form of flood lights, globe lights, light-emitting diodes, or otherwise) without departing from the present invention.
  • Some embodiments of the apparatus 10 can utilize a lighting assembly 22 having more than one illumination device 66. In such embodiments, one of the illumination devices 66 can be configured to emit a bright light, while another illumination device 66 can be configured to emit a dull light. Such a dull light can be utilized as a “night light”, if desired. In embodiments utilizing two or more illumination devices 66, the illumination devices 66 can be configured to operate separately from one another or in groups. Also, one or more illumination devices 66 can be configured in any conventional manner to have one or more dimmed settings or to be controllable in a range of brightnesses.
  • Some embodiments of the lighting assembly 22 include an illumination housing 70. The illumination housing 70 can include a heat resistant material, heat shielding, and/or a reflective surface to inhibit heat from contacting various components of the apparatus 10. In the illustrated embodiment, the illumination housing 70 includes a reflective material to direct light outwardly through the lens 64.
  • In the exemplary apparatus 10 of FIGS. 1-14, the ventilating assembly 18 includes a centrifugal fan or fan wheel 78 connected to a motor plate 82 or other structure within the housing 14. It should be noted that any other type of fan 78 other than a centrifugal fan 78 can be employed as desired (e.g., propeller-type fans, and the like).
  • In some embodiments, the apparatus 10 includes a motor 86 connected to the motor plate 82 by a bracket 90. The motor 86 can include a motor shaft, which extends through the bracket 90 and/or the motor plate 82 to drive the fan wheel 78 to produce ventilating airflow. As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, in some embodiments, the ventilating assembly 18 is removably connected within the main housing 14 as a single integral unit.
  • When the ventilating assembly 18 is in an installed position within the apparatus 10, the fan wheel 78 can be supported adjacent to an arcuate, upstanding wall 106 in the main housing 14, as shown in FIG. 11. Together with a bottom wall of the main housing 14 and the motor plate 82, the upstanding wall 106 can form a scroll housing for generating airflow therein. The fan wheel 78 can be positioned relative to the upstanding wall 106 to form a scroll inlet to receive inlet air through the louvers 38, and a scroll outlet to discharge pressurized outlet air out of outlet aperture 122.
  • As discussed above, some embodiments of the present invention employ a heating assembly 26 to heat air that is blown into a room, area, or space. With reference to the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1-14 for example, the apparatus 10 includes a heating assembly 26 having a second centrifugal fan or fan wheel 130 positioned within a fan housing 134. The fan housing 134 can have any shape desired, and in some embodiments has a scroll shape.
  • The heating assembly 26 can also include a motor 138 drivably connected to the fan wheel 130 to produce airflow into the heating assembly 26. The motor 138 can be mounted in the apparatus 10 in any manner, such as by a motor bracket 142 attached to or defining a wall at least partially enclosing the fan wheel 130 (see, for example, FIG. 8) or motor bracket 142 mounted to a wall or other structure of the housing 14. If employed, the motor bracket 142 can be mounted in any suitable manner, including those described above with regard to the motor bracket 90 of the ventilating fan wheel 78. Alternatively, the motor 138 can be directly mounted to a wall at least partially enclosing the fan wheel 130 or to a wall or other structure of the housing 14 in any suitable manner.
  • Any other type of fan 130 other than a centrifugal fan 130 can be employed for the heating assembly 26 as desired (e.g., propeller-type fans and the like). As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the heating assembly 26 can be removably connected to the main housing 14 as a single integral unit (discussed in greater detail below).
  • As is known and understood in the art, rotation of the fan wheel 130, upon driving by the motor 138, draws the inlet air through louvers 42 into the center of the fan wheel 130 and pressurizes the air as it moves toward a discharge aperture 150 (see FIG. 11). The discharge aperture 150 can have any shape desired, such as a round shape, an oval shape, a rectangular or other polygonal shape, an irregular shape, and the like. In the illustrated exemplary embodiment, the discharge aperture 150 is substantially rectangular in shape.
  • In some embodiments, a transition outlet fitting 156 can be included adjacent to the discharge aperture 150 to direct the air through a different cross-sectional shape or area. In the illustrated embodiment, the transition outlet fitting 156 has a substantially rectangular cross section 160 at the discharge aperture 150 and tapers down to a substantially circular cross section 165 as it directs air through the second grille 50, see FIGS. 8, 11 and 14. The transition outlet fitting 156 can include one or more tabs 170 that can be connected to the housing 14. For example, two tabs 170 are illustrated in the embodiment of FIGS. 8 and 12.
  • With reference to FIG. 11, a heating element 210 is shown positioned adjacent to the discharge aperture 150 of the fan housing 134 to heat the airflow generated by the heating assembly 26. The heating element 210 includes a conventional electric resistance-type heater 210. However, any other type of heater can instead be used. The heating element 210 is connected to the fan housing 134, such as by inserting the heating element 210 into a heater aperture 220 in the fan housing 134 or is connected in any other conventional manner to the fan housing 134. In some embodiments of the apparatus 10, the heating element 210 is permanently secured in the fan housing 134. In other embodiments, the heating element 210 can be removably connected to the fan housing 134. As a result, a malfunctioning or non-functioning heating element 210 can be removed and serviced or replaced with a properly functioning heating element 210. Conventional fasteners (e.g., screws, rotatable tabs, and the like) and conventional fastening methods (e.g., snap-fit connections, inter-engaging element connections, and the like) can be used to enable the removal and replacement of the heating element 210.
  • As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 of the illustrated exemplary embodiment, the main housing 14 can be generally divided into a first compartment 234 and a second compartment 238 by a first dividing wall 242. The first dividing wall 242 can be located in any position in the main housing 14 to provide this result, thereby defining compartments 234, 238 of any relative size desired. Like the main housing 14, the first dividing wall 242 can be made from sheet metal, or can instead be made of any other rigid or substantially rigid material desired.
  • In some embodiments, the ventilating assembly 18 and/or the heating assembly 26 can be removably connected with the main housing 14 as one-piece unitary assemblies. For example, FIG. 8 shows that the ventilating assembly 18 is capable of being removed from the main housing 14. To permit such one-piece removal of the ventilating assembly 18, one or more fasteners can be released to permit the motor plate 82 to be pivoted or lifted from a secured position in the main housing 14.
  • FIG. 11 illustrates that the heating assembly 26 is capable of being removed from the main housing 14 as a single integral modular unit. To permit removal of the heating assembly 26 in this manner, one or more fasteners securing one or more parts of the fan housing 134 to the main housing 14 can be released to permit the fan housing 134 to be pivoted or lifted from a secured position in the main housing 14. To remove the heating assembly 26 from the main housing 14 in the illustrated embodiment (by way of example only), the fasteners connecting the fan housing 134 with the side wall of the main housing 14 can be removed, and the fan housing 134 can be pivoted to allow the tabs of the fan housing 134 to disengage their corresponding slots in the main housing 14. Upon the tabs disengaging the slots, the heating assembly 26 can be removed from the main housing 14 as one piece.
  • One or more power consuming devices, such as the motor 86, the motor 138, the heating element 210 and the illumination device 66, can be powered by an internal electrical circuit of a building. For example, one common line from one side of the housing 14 can provide an inlet for one or more lines of power to enter the housing 14 and power one or more of the power consuming devices.
  • In some embodiments, one or more switches, such as wall switches can be used to turn the power consuming devices of the ventilating assembly 18, the lighting assembly 22, and the heating assembly 26 on and off. In some embodiments, three separate switches can be utilized to control the three separate operations of the ventilating assembly 18, the lighting assembly 22, and the heating assembly 26. In some embodiments, the heating assembly 26 can have a timer, such that an operator can, for example, turn a dial to run the heating assembly 26 for a specific amount of time, at the end of which the heating assembly 26 would automatically shut off. In some embodiments, all three of the ventilating assembly 18, the lighting assembly 22, and the heating assembly 26 can operate simultaneously with the actuation of a single switch.
  • The embodiments described above and illustrated in the figures are presented by way of example only and are not intended as a limitation upon the concepts and principles of the present invention. As such, it will be appreciated by one having ordinary skill in the art that various changes in the elements and their configuration and arrangement are possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as set forth in the appended claims.

Claims (25)

  1. 1. An exhaust vent fan comprising:
    a housing having an inlet through which air is received within the housing and an outlet through which the air exits the housing;
    a fan wheel supported in the housing and operable to generate a flow of the air out of the outlet;
    a louvered first grille positioned across the inlet;
    a heating element supported in the housing; and
    a second grille supported on the housing and being moveable relative to the first grille while the first grille is secured to the housing to direct a heated air flow from the heating element out of the housing.
  2. 2. The exhaust vent fan of claim 1, wherein the second grille is supported on the first grille for movement relative to the housing.
  3. 3. The exhaust vent fan of claim 1, further comprising a locking arrangement for maintaining the second grille in a pivoted position with respect to the first grille.
  4. 4. The exhaust vent fan of claim 3, wherein the locking arrangement includes an elastic member positioned between the second grille and the first grille and operable to maintain the second grille in the position with respect to the first grille.
  5. 5. The exhaust vent fan of claim 1, wherein the second grille includes an actuator extending outwardly away from the housing and engageable with a tool for moving the second grille with respect to the first grille while the second grille is secured to the first grille.
  6. 6. The exhaust vent fan of claim 1, wherein the second grille extends through an opening in the first grille.
  7. 7. The exhaust vent fan of claim 1, wherein an exterior surface of the second grille is recessed below an exterior surface of the first grille.
  8. 8. An exhaust vent fan comprising:
    a housing having an inlet through which air is received within the housing and an outlet through which the air exits the housing;
    a fan wheel supported in the housing and operable to generate a flow of the air out of the outlet;
    a first grille positioned across the inlet;
    a second grille supported on the housing and being moveable relative to the housing to direct an air flow from the heating element out of the housing; and
    a locking arrangement including an actuator extending outwardly away from the housing proximate an exterior surface of the first grille and being engageable with a tool for moving the second grille with respect to the first grille.
  9. 9. The exhaust vent fan of claim 8, further comprising a heating element supported in the housing, and wherein the second grille is moveable relative to the housing to direct a heated air flow from the heating element out of the housing.
  10. 10. The exhaust vent fan of claim 8, wherein the second grille is pivotable about an axis extending through the second grille and the housing at least 270 degrees with respect to the housing while the first grille is secured to the housing.
  11. 11. The exhaust vent fan of claim 8, wherein the second grille extends through an opening in the first grille.
  12. 12. The exhaust vent fan of claim 8, further comprising a locking arrangement for securing the second grille in a pivoted position with respect to the first grille.
  13. 13. The exhaust vent fan of claim 12, wherein the locking arrangement includes an elastic member operable to maintain the second grille in the position.
  14. 14. The exhaust vent fan of claim 8, wherein the actuator is recessed below an exterior surface of the first grille.
  15. 15. A method of operating an exhaust vent fan, the method comprising the acts of:
    operating a fan wheel supported in the housing to draw air into the housing through an inlet defined in the housing and through a first grille secured to the housing and to direct the air out of the housing through an outlet defined in the housing;
    selectively activating a heating element supported in the housing to heat an air flow;
    directing the air flow from the heating element out of the housing through a second grille supported on the housing; and
    moving the second grille relative to the first grille while the first grille is secured to the housing to direct the heated air flow from the heating element out of the housing.
  16. 16. The method of claim 15, wherein directing the air flow through the second grille includes directing the air flow across louvers supported in the second grille.
  17. 17. The method of claim 15, wherein moving the second grille relative to the first grille includes pivoting the second grille about an axis extending through the second grille and the housing at least 270 degrees with respect to the first grille.
  18. 18. The method of claim 15, further comprising securing the second grille in a pivoted position with respect to the first grille with a locking arrangement.
  19. 19. The method of claim 15, wherein moving the second grille relative to the first grille includes compressing an elastic member with one of the second grille and the first grille.
  20. 20. The method of claim 15, wherein moving the second grille relative to the first grille includes engaging the second grille with a tool.
  21. 21. An exhaust vent fan comprising:
    a housing having an inlet through which air is received within the housing and an outlet through which the air exits the housing;
    a fan wheel supported in the housing and operable to generate a flow of the air out of the outlet;
    a louvered first grille positioned across the inlet; and
    a second grille extending through an opening in the first grille and being moveable relative to the housing to direct an air flow out of the housing.
  22. 22. The exhaust vent fan of claim 21, further comprising a heating element supported in the housing, and wherein the second grille is moveable relative to the housing to direct a heated air flow from the heating element out of the housing.
  23. 23. The exhaust vent fan of claim 21, wherein the second grille is moveable relative to the first grille while the first grille is secured to the housing.
  24. 24. The exhaust vent fan of claim 21, wherein the second grille includes an actuator engageable with a tool for moving the second grille with respect to the first grille while the second grille is secured to the first grille.
  25. 25. The exhaust vent fan of claim 21, further comprising an elastic member positioned between the second grille and the first grille and operable to maintain the second grille in a position with respect to the first grille.
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