US20110119860A1 - Auxiliary vacuum device for a central vacuum cleaning system - Google Patents

Auxiliary vacuum device for a central vacuum cleaning system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110119860A1
US20110119860A1 US12/591,516 US59151609A US2011119860A1 US 20110119860 A1 US20110119860 A1 US 20110119860A1 US 59151609 A US59151609 A US 59151609A US 2011119860 A1 US2011119860 A1 US 2011119860A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
probe
docking station
lever
housing
arm
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Abandoned
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US12/591,516
Inventor
Christian Marcil
Urs Widmer
Amiel Lapalme
Sylvain David
François Gélinas
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Widmar Inc
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Widmar Inc
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Publication date
Application filed by Widmar Inc filed Critical Widmar Inc
Priority to US12/591,516 priority Critical patent/US20110119860A1/en
Assigned to WIDMAR INC. reassignment WIDMAR INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: DAVID, SYLVAIN, GELINAS, FRANCOIS, LAPALME, AMIEL, MARCIL, CHRISTIAN, WIDMER, URS
Priority claimed from PCT/CA2010/001839 external-priority patent/WO2011060542A1/en
Publication of US20110119860A1 publication Critical patent/US20110119860A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47LDOMESTIC WASHING OR CLEANING; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47L5/00Structural features of suction cleaners
    • A47L5/12Structural features of suction cleaners with power-driven air-pumps or air-compressors, e.g. driven by motor vehicle engine vacuum
    • A47L5/22Structural features of suction cleaners with power-driven air-pumps or air-compressors, e.g. driven by motor vehicle engine vacuum with rotary fans
    • A47L5/38Built-in suction cleaner installations, i.e. with fixed tube system to which, at different stations, hoses can be connected

Abstract

An auxiliary vacuum device for a central vacuum cleaning system is location specific and comprises housing mountable externally on an inlet of a mounting plate of the system, a dedicated flexible concertina hose is provided on the device and a cleaning tool mounting probe is registrable with a docking station. When the probe is removed from the docking station, a lever may be moved in first and second directions to selectively activate and deactivate the motor of the central vacuum cleaning system and the device. When the probe is parked in the docking station the probe moves the lever in one of the directions and holds the lever in a deactivated configuration, thus deactivating the motor and the device and preventing activation thereof.

Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates in general to a central vacuum cleaning system and more particularly to an auxiliary device for attachment to the central vacuum cleaning system.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Central vacuum cleaning systems are well known and are to be found in domestic and commercial premises to provide a centralized cleaning regime based on the vacuum cleaner principle to minimize the carriage of conventional equipment from place to place. Naturally, there are available small portable vacuum cleaners operable independently of the central vacuum system, which may easily be transported manually from location to location within domestic or commercial premises, but generally their power is restricted by the need to afford portability.
  • It is normal in a central vacuum cleaning system, for example as deployed in a condominium, to site a few strategically placed connection stations, coupled in a circuit to a central vacuum generating unit, and to provide a flexible hose of not inconsiderable length for registration with one station enabling cleaning of a number of rooms and areas to be achieved with that one length of hose. The length of the hose makes laborious the task of vacuuming in view of the need to carry such an unwieldy and relatively heavy mass of hose between stations.
  • Various proposals to alleviate this problem have been made. For example, US Patent Application Publication No. US 2007/0256269 to Pagni discloses a location specific unit integral with the fabric of the building in which it is to be employed, namely within the wall structure. However, this proposal merely provides a vacuum system for each cleaning area, rather than a central vacuum system with a number of outlets throughout the building.
  • Another example of prior art is to be found in US Patent Application Publication No. US 2008/0092323 to Smith et al who describe a central vacuum cleaning system as such with wall valves in the various rooms of a building structure and one cabinet housing cleaning tools including a flexible hose connected into the central system through a wall valve within the cabinet, which again is mounted within a stud wall.
  • There are other systems which provide for a similar arrangement as in the Smith et al proposal but with a free-standing cabinet, for example in a kitchen, housing an appropriate suction tool on a hose connected permanently to an inlet of the central vacuum cleaning system. Removal of the tool from a specially designed docking station, incorporating a switching arrangement, activates the vacuuming mode with replacement of the tool causing deactivation. A disadvantage of such a system is it always requires the opening of a cabinet door before reaching the cleaning tool, and the door remains open during operation of the system, which might be highly cumbersome.
  • An auxiliary vacuum device which at least partially addresses some of the aforementioned shortcomings is taught by U.S. Pat. No. 7,594,295 issued to the Applicants on Sep. 29, 2009. This reference teaches an auxiliary vacuum device mountable externally of the structure of the building in which the system is installed on an inlet mounting plate the same type used to install a conventional inlet valve. Further, the auxiliary vacuum device incorporates a manageable length of flexible hose permanently associated with the system and has a tapered sealing component (docking station and probe) capable of receiving most cleaning accessories for different cleaning tasks. Thus, the auxiliary vacuum device is location specific and may be readily adapted to different cleaning tasks. Additionally, the switching mechanism of the auxiliary vacuum device is so designed as to avoid startup and automatically shut down the device if the probe is installed in the docking station when the probe of the auxiliary vacuum device is docked/sealed, thus protecting the central vacuum cleaning system motor from harmful overloading and allowing other inlet stations to be used in the central vacuum cleaning system. An independent on/off switch for local operation and safety purposes allows a user, when the probe is removed from docking station the operator must manually press the on/off button to allow central vacuum cleaning system to start. Should the operator have to stop the central vacuum cleaning system for any reason he can do so by simply repressing the on/off button. Unfortunately, the switch mechanism enabling the on/off functionality for the probe and docking station and the separate on/off switch is unnecessarily complex and cumbersome in that it requires a substantial number of cams, guide arms, stub shafts, and the like to provide the aforementioned functionality.
  • Accordingly, there is a need for an improved auxiliary vacuum device for use with a central vacuum cleaning system and having a simplified switching mechanism for activating and deactivating the device.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • It is therefore a general object of the present invention to provide an auxiliary vacuum device for use with a central vacuum cleaning system and having a simplified switching mechanism for activating and deactivating the device.
  • An advantage of the present invention is that the switching mechanism for deactivating and activating the device is of simple construction and design.
  • A further advantage of the present invention is that the switching mechanism uses a single lever or switch for ensuring both automatic deactivation of the device when the probe is installed in the docking station and enabling activation of the device when the probe is removed from the docking station.
  • Yet another advantage of the present invention is that the switching mechanism is designed such that, when the probe is removed from the docking station, accidental activation of the device is discouraged.
  • According to an aspect of the invention, there is provided an auxiliary vacuum device for a central vacuum cleaning system for premises defining areas of occupancy, the system including an electrically powered vacuum generating unit, a system network of piping extending throughout the premises and terminating in at least one inlet formed in one of the walls defining at least some of the areas of occupancy, the device comprising a housing adapted for installation externally of the wall at a mounting plate of the system network, the mounting plate disposed on the wall with the inlet extending through the mounting plate, the housing being provided with a port for communication with the inlet, a connector exterior to the housing, a pipe extending within the housing from the port to the connector, a flexible hose connected to the port and extending externally from the housing, a cleaning tool mounting probe provided on the hose distal the connector a docking station for parking of the probe therein and extending adjacently alongside a proximal side of the housing, and a switch mechanism having a pivotally mounted lever extending within the housing and outside of the housing into the docking station, the lever being pivotable, when the probe is disengaged from the docking station, in a first direction into a activated position therefor to place the switch mechanism in an activated configuration in which the device is activated and in a generally opposed second direction into a deactivated position therefor to place the switch mechanism in a deactivated configuration in which the device is deactivated, the probe moving the lever in the second direction to place the switch mechanism into the deactivated configuration when the probe is parked in the docking station and holding the switch mechanism in the deactivated configuration when parked in the docking station.
  • Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from a careful reading of the detailed description provided herein, with appropriate reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Further aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the description in association with the following Figures, in which similar references used in different Figures denote similar components, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an auxiliary vacuum device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention showing the device aligned for external mounting to an inlet mounting plate of a central vacuum cleaning system;
  • FIG. 2 is a partial exploded view of the interior of the device;
  • FIG. 3 is an enlarged partial perspective view of the switching mechanism and receptacle for the device; and
  • FIG. 4 is an isometric view of an auxiliary vacuum device in accordance with a variant of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • With reference to the annexed drawings the preferred embodiment of the present invention will be herein described for indicative purpose and by no means as of limitation.
  • In FIG. 1, there is illustrated an auxiliary vacuum device, shown generally as 1, which is mountable on a mounting plate 5. Mounting plate 5 incorporates an inlet opening 2 of a central vacuum cleaning system (not shown) which incorporates an electrically powered vacuum generating unit, including a motor, for generating a vacuum. The operation of vacuum generating unit is controlled by the device 1 in the manner hereinafter defined. Suitable low voltage electrical wires 3, 4, connected to an electrical power supply and to the electrically powered vacuum generating unit, are provided and protrude from a rear aperture 300 in the mounting plate 5 which is installed in or on a wall 6 of the area of occupancy or premises in which the central vacuum cleaning system is installed.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 1, 2 and 4, the device 1, includes inter alia a housing, shown generally as 10, having a rear wall or housing plate 56, a front cover 230, and a top cover 54. The rear housing plate 56 generally extends proximal the mounting plate 5 when the device 10 is connected thereto. The top cover 54 and front cover 230 are, preferably removably, connected to the housing plate 56, using means, for example screws, well known in the art.
  • The housing 10 is provided with a port 12 for registration and flow communication with the inlet opening 2, typically provided with a seal member 7 such as an O-ring or the like. Further, the housing 10 encases a typically 90-degree elbow pipe 13 which interconnects the port 12 with a connector 14 for a flexible concertina hose 16, with a portion of the connector 14 extending preferably externally of the housing 10. The length of the flexible concertina hose 16 may be of the order of up to 1.5 metres extensible to 6 metres, thus providing a local hose 16 of manageable length for the location concerned. However, various lengths and different types of hoses, for example extruded or extruded electric hose with on/off switch, etc, may be deployed. The hose 16 is removable from the device 1 by turning the connector 14 such that hose protrusion 116 may be passed through the passageway of L-shaped notch 118 in housing 10. At the end of the hose 16, distal from the connector 14, is a cleaning tool mounting probe 18 for attachment of cleaning accessories or tools 200, such as those shown for device 1′ in FIG. 4, thereto. Preferably, the probe 18 is of tapered conical shape and is sized such that most typical cleaning tools 200 can be mounted or received thereon, thus enabling use of the device 1 for different cleaning tasks.
  • Reference is now made to FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 4. The housing 10 is further provided with a docking station, shown generally as 20 in which the probe 18 may be parked, for example releasably inserted or seated. The docking station 20 extends downwardly out of the interior of housing 10, proximal the top cover 54, and generally alongside and parallel a proximal side 224 of the housing 10. In particular, the docking station 20 has a receptacle, shown generally as 50, fixedly mounted within housing 10 at 202, and a rear docking station wall 52, preferably formed on front cover 230, extending on the exterior of the housing 10 from a rear portion of the receptacle 50 towards the bottom 240. Thus, docking station wall 52 preferably abuts the receptacle 50 and extends below the receptacle 50 and in back thereof.
  • The receptacle 50, best illustrated in FIG. 3, provides for sealing, yet removable insertion of the probe end 64 into the receptacle 50. As shown, the receptacle 50 includes a receptacle cover 208, a socket 204, and a socket cap 206 formed of a resilient, and preferably partially rigid, foam. The socket 204 is, preferably, fixedly and rigidly connected to housing 10, for example formed in, bonded, or fixedly connected to interior of front cover 230 at 202. Receptacle cover 208 covers socket 204 and is, preferably removably, connected thereto, for example with screws or the like. As shown, socket 204 is of tapered conical form and is configured, notably sized and shaped, along with the probe end 64 of probe 18, for removable insertion of probe 18, notably probe end 64, therein. The socket cap 206 is disposed between receptacle cover 208 and socket 204, with a resilient biasing mechanism or element 117 disposed between the receptacle cover 208 and the socket cap 206. The resilient biasing element 117 resiliently biases the socket cap 206 downwards toward top socket end 214 and enables upward and downward resilient vertical movement of plug 206 as shown by arrows A while biasing the socket cap 206 onto top socket end 214. The socket cap 206 is sized and shaped to securely and completely cover, preferably sealingly, the top socket end 214 when seated thereon. At the same time, the socket cap 206 is of sufficient size that it cannot accidentally be passed completely through top socket end 214, thus minimizing the risk that the socket cap 206 may be accidentally removed or ejected from the receptacle 50 by action of the vacuum from the probe 18.
  • When the probe end 64 is initially inserted into the receptacle 50, the socket cap 206 may be biased upwardly by the probe 18 and then be resiliently biased downwardly by the resilient biasing element 117 to sealingly engage and cover the probe end 64, thus providing sealing connection therewith. The sealing of the probe end 64 in receptacle 50 advantageously prevents air from being drawn through the probe end 64 in receptacle 50 in one device 1 while another apparatus not shown, connected to central vacuum cleaning system is in use. It will be appreciated by one skilled in the art that the resilient biasing element 117 could include any material or mechanism that provides the required resiliency and biasing towards the socket 204, for example a conventional resilient spring. Alternatively, the resilient biasing element 117 could be a resilient foam member, made of a resilient memory foam disposed between socket cap 206 and receptacle cover 208.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, probe 18 also has a probe flange 110 extending horizontally and circumferentially around at least a portion thereof. Further, docking station 20 has a ledge 112, best shown in FIG. 2, extending horizontally along the rear docking station wall 52 proximal the bottom 240 of the docking station 20 away from proximal side 224 towards the interior of the housing 10. Preferably, the ledge 112 could be provided by a depression or cavity 114 formed within the rear docking station wall 52. Alternatively, the ledge 112 could be a flange protruding outwardly from the rear docking station wall 52. The probe flange 110 and the ledge 112 are configured, for example positioned, sized and shaped, such that when probe end 64 is inserted into receptacle 50, the probe flange 110 rests on the ledge 112, with the resilient biasing element 117 biasing the socket cap 206 downwardly onto the probe end 64 to ensure sealing connection therewith. The probe 18 may be removed from docking station 20 by pulling outwardly thereon to disengage flange 110 from ledge 112 and allow the probe 18 to be pulled outwardly and/or vertically downwardly. Preferably, the flange 110 includes a metal member or strip 216 and the docking station 20 has a docking station magnet 218 disposed on, within, or behind rear docking station wall 52 adjacent or proximal the ledge 112. In particular, the docking station magnet 218 is preferably positioned such that when the probe 18 is seated in the docking station 20 with the probe flange 110 resting on the ledge 112, the docking station magnet 218 is situated proximal to and preferably directly across from, the metal strip 216 such that the docking station magnet 218 may exert sufficient magnetic attraction on the strip 216 to magnetically retain the probe 18 against the docking station rear wall 52 with flange 110 seated on ledge 112. Thus, the flange 110, notably metal strip 216, is magnetically attracted towards docking station magnet 218 proximal ledge 112 when in proximity thereto, facilitating insertion of the probe 18 into the docking station 20 and impeding accidental removal of the probe 18 therefrom. If desired, when the ledge 112 is provided as part of cavity 114 formed within the rear docking station wall 52, the cavity 114 and the flange 110 may be sized, shaped and positioned such that the flange 110 fits snugly in the cavity 114 when rested on the ledge 112.
  • A contact member or lever, shown generally as 58, for activating and deactivating the device 1 is pivotally mounted in or on the housing 10 on pivotal mounting 62, defining axis X, extending adjacent and parallel the docking station 20. Thus, the lever 58 is pivotally mounted on pivotal mounting 62 in general axial alignment with the docking station 20. The lever 58 includes an exterior lever portion or arm 86 which extends outwardly from the pivotal mounting into the docking station 20 and forms a movable portion 86 of the docking station wall 52. The lever 58 also has an interior lever portion or arm 88, generally longitudinally opposed to exterior lever arm 86, extending inwardly from pivotal mounting 62 into housing 10. The lever 58 is pivotally movable back and forth relative axis X in opposing rotational directions D1, generally clockwise, and D2, generally counter-clockwise.
  • FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate the mechanical details of the switch mechanism, shown generally as 23, for activating and deactivating the device 1. As shown, first and second wires 3, 4, are fed through the rear housing plate 56. Outside the housing 10, the wires 3, 4 are connected to the central vacuum cleaning system, not shown, and notably the motor control switching unit which controls activation and deactivation of a motor of the electrically powered vacuum generating unit. Within the housing 10, the first and second wires 3, 4 are respectively connected to first and second terminating screws 26, 28 constituting first and second terminals 26, 28 for the wires 3, 4 in conventional manner. The first terminal 26, connected to wire 3, provides a contact point for a first spring arm 70, connected to terminal 26, of torsion spring 27, made of resilient electrically conductive material, for example a resilient metal. The second terminal 28, connected to wire 4, provides a mount for a contact arm 29, also of electrically conductive material, disposed proximal the second spring arm 72 of torsion spring 27, both spring arms 70, 72 extending generally outwardly away from the coil 74 of spring 27.
  • A generally u-shaped metal bracket 80, having longitudinally opposed first and second bracket end plates 82, 84, with a middle bracket plate 87 extending therebetween, is also mounted in or connected to housing 10. The second spring arm 72 is connected to the interior lever arm 88 proximal interior lever arm end thereof, for example by threading of the arm 72 through an arm socket or arm aperture 90. An arm magnet 96 is also mounted or connected to interior lever arm 88, preferably generally opposite to the connection of second spring arm 72, for example on an opposite side of interior lever arm 88.
  • The lever 58, notably lever arms 86, 88, magnet 96, spring 27 and second spring arm 72 connected to interior lever arm 88, and bracket end plates 82, 84, are configured, for example sized, shaped and positioned, such that, when the probe 18 is removed from docking station 20, the lever 58 may be pivoted by a user, using exterior lever arm 86, in directions D1 and D2 between, respectively, an activated position 102 (direction D1) for the lever 58, and notably exterior lever arm 86, corresponding to an activated configuration 100 for the switch mechanism 23, and a deactivated position 104 (direction D2) corresponding to a deactivated configuration 106. For the deactivated configuration 106, interior lever arm 88 is positioned distal second bracket end plate 84, with second spring arm 72 separated from contact member 29, arm magnet 96 in abutting contact with first bracket end plate 82, and exterior lever arm 86 in generally planar registration with rear docking station wall 52. In the deactivated configuration 106, magnetic force or attraction exerted by magnet 96 in direction D2, and stronger than any opposing resilient force exerted by spring coil 74 in direction D1 on second spring arm 72 towards second bracket end plate 84, magnetically holds the magnet 96 against the first bracket end plate 82. Thus, in deactivated configuration 106, arm magnet 96 retains interior lever arm 88 positioned distal second bracket end plate 84 and second spring arm 72 separated from contact arm 29, thus disabling and preventing electrical connection between the second spring arm 72 and the second terminal 28 via contact arm 29. As the second spring arm 72 is separated from contact arm 29, there is no electrical connection from first terminal 26 and spring 27 to second terminal 28 and the electrical connection or circuit between the device 1 and the central vacuum cleaning system is disabled. Accordingly, the central vacuum cleaning system, and notably the motor thereof, is deactivated, thereby deactivating the device 1. As the action of the arm magnet 96 retains the magnet 96 in abutment with the first bracket end plate 82, the arm magnet 96 retains the lever 58 in the deactivated position 104 and the switch mechanism in the deactivated configuration 106, thus impeding accidental activation. At the same time, in deactivated configuration 106, abutment of arm magnet 96 with first bracket end plate 82 prevents further movement of exterior lever arm 86 in direction D2 beyond deactivated position 104 in which the exterior lever arm 86 is in generally planar registration with the docking station wall 52.
  • For the activated configuration 100, the probe 18 must be removed from the docking station 20. For the activated configuration 100, interior lever arm 88 is positioned proximal second bracket end plate 84, with second spring arm 72 in abutting contact with contact member 29, arm magnet 96 in abutting contact with second bracket end plate 84, and exterior lever arm 86 extending generally slightly outwardly spaced apart relative docking station wall 52 in activated position 102 for the lever 58. In the activated configuration 100, magnetic force or attraction exerted by the arm magnet 96 in direction D1, and stronger than any opposing resilient force exerted by spring coil 74 in direction D2 on second spring arm 72 towards first bracket end plate 82, abuttingly holds the magnet 96 against the second bracket end plate 84. Thus, in activated configuration 100, magnet 96 retains second spring arm 72 in abutting contact with contact arm 29 and enables electrical connection between the second spring arm 72 and the second terminal 28 via contact arm 29. Accordingly, flow of electricity is enabled through electrical circuit between spring 27, contact arm 29, and terminals 26, 28 and the motor of the central vacuum cleaning system. The motor of the central vacuum cleaning system is thereby activated, also activating device 1. As the action of the arm magnet 96 retains the magnet 96 in abutment with the second bracket end plate 84, the arm magnet 96 retains the lever 58 in the activated position 102 and the switch mechanism 23 in the activated configuration 100, thus impeding accidental deactivation. At the same time, in activated configuration 100, abutment of magnet 96 with second bracket end plate 84 prevents further movement of lever 58 in direction D1 beyond activated position 102.
  • As shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, probe 18, docking station rear wall 52 and ledge 112, exterior lever arm 86 and lever 58, receptacle 50, and probe flange 110 are configured, and notably sized, shaped, and positioned, such that whenever the probe 18 is parked in the docking station 20 with the probe end 64 in the receptacle 50 and the probe flange 110 resting on the ledge 112, the probe 18 abuts against the exterior arm 86 and pushes arm 86 of lever 58, if not already in the deactivated position 104, in direction D2 into the deactivated position 104. As the probe 18, when parked in docking station 20, abuts against the exterior lever arm 86 of lever 58 in deactivated position 104, the probe 18 retains the lever in the deactivated position 104 and the switch mechanism 23 in the deactivated configuration 106. Thus, and conveniently, whenever the probe 18 is parked in the docking station 20, the probe 18 automatically, by causing rotation of lever 58 in direction D2, places the switch mechanism 23 into the deactivated configuration 106 and prevents rotation of the lever 58 in direction D1, thus preventing placement of the switch mechanism 23 in the activated configuration 100. Accordingly, whenever the probe 18 is parked in the docking station 20, the device 1 is automatically deactivated and activation, either intentional or accidental, of the device 1 is prevented. To activate the device 1, by placing switch mechanism 23 in activated configuration 100, the probe 18 must first be removed from docking station 20.
  • In use, the auxiliary vacuum device 1 is mounted externally on the wall 6 on the mounting plate 5 of a central vacuum cleaning system which provides a piping network (not shown) extending to strategic cleaning points throughout the premises. The system includes an electrically powered vacuum generating unit connected to the network and operable upon demand by the actuation of the device 1 which is location specific within the premises. For example in domestic premises where there is likely to be a heavy cleaning burden, e.g. the main entrance, laundry room or the garage, an inlet would be provided as would a device dedicated to that location.
  • To commence vacuuming, the user must first remove probe 18 from docking station 20, as explained above. Once the probe 18 is removed from docking station 20, a user may switch the switch mechanism 23 from the deactivated configuration 106, to the activated configuration 100, by simply pivotally moving lever 58, typically exterior lever arm 86, in direction D1, typically towards user and away from docking station wall 52 and wall 6 until the lever 58 is in the activated position 102. As the exterior outer lever arm 86 is moved in direction D1, interior lever arm 88 is moved towards contact arm 29 and second end plate 84 until arm magnet 96 abuts second end plate 84 and second spring arm 72 contacts contact arm 29, thus establishing electrical connection and enabling the flow of electricity in the device 1 to activate the motor of the central vacuum cleaning system and the device 1.
  • To terminate vacuuming, when the probe 18 is removed from the docking station 20 and the switch mechanism 23 is in the activated configuration 100, the user simply pivotally moves lever 58, typically exterior lever arm 86, in direction D2, typically away from user and towards docking station wall 52 and wall 6 until the lever 58 is in the deactivated position 104. As the exterior outer lever arm 86 is moved in direction D2, interior lever arm 88 is moved away from contact arm 29 and second end plate 84 until magnet 96 abuts first end plate 82, thus breaking the electrical connection and disabling the flow of electricity. Alternatively, a user may, at any time, simply insert the probe 18 into the docking station 20, which also causes the lever 58 to move in direction D2 as just described and places the switch mechanism 23 and device 1 in the deactivated configuration 106. This dual possibility for cutting power is a valuable safety feature which can be triggered speedily when needed. Further, the automatic deactivation of the device 1 by parking of probe 18 in docking station 20, as well as switching between activated and deactivated configurations 100, 106 is provided by the same simple means, namely action of the lever 58.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, therein is shown a variant of the device 1′. Device 1′ is identical to device 1 in most respects, and notably with regard to switching mechanism 23, probe 18, and docking station 20. However, housing 10′ of device 1′ has a cleaning tool chamber 220 formed in, or otherwise extending inwardly from, front cover 230′ and disposed adjacent switching mechanism 23 and docking station 20. The cleaning tool chamber 220 provides convenient storage of cleaning tools 200 for attachment to probe 18. Optional pivotally mounted door 222 may be opened and closed to open or close access to chamber 220 and accessories 200.
  • It will be understood that the device 1, 1′ may be deployed ab initio in the installation of a central vacuum cleaning system or may be retrofitted to an existing system with suitable modifications at the inlets thereof. It will further be appreciated that the device per se may be enclosed within a cabinet in order to confer an aesthetic quality thereto.
  • Although the present invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, it is to be understood that the disclosure has been made by way of example only and that the present invention is not limited to the features of the embodiments described and illustrated herein, but includes all variations and modifications within the scope and spirit of the invention as hereinafter claimed.

Claims (19)

1. An auxiliary vacuum device for a central vacuum cleaning system for premises defining areas of occupancy, said system including an electrically powered vacuum generating unit, a system network of piping extending throughout the premises and terminating in at least one inlet formed in one of the walls defining at least some of the areas of occupancy, the device comprising a housing adapted for installation externally of the wall at a mounting plate of the system network, the mounting plate disposed on the wall with the inlet extending through the mounting plate, the housing being provided with a port for communication with said inlet, a connector exterior to the housing, a pipe extending within the housing from said port to said connector, a flexible hose connected to said port and extending externally from the housing, a cleaning tool mounting probe provided on the hose distal the connector, a docking station on housing for parking of the probe therein and extending proximally alongside a proximal side of housing, and a switch mechanism having a pivotally mounted lever extending within the housing and outside of the housing into the docking station, said lever being pivotable, when said probe is disengaged from said docking station, in a first direction into a activated position therefor to place said switch mechanism in an activated configuration in which the electrically powered vacuum generating unit is activated and generates a vacuum to enable vacuuming, and in a generally opposed second direction into a deactivated position therefor to place said switch mechanism in a deactivated configuration in which the electrically powered vacuum generating unit is deactivated, said probe moving said lever in said second direction to place said switch mechanism into said deactivated configuration when said probe is parked in said docking station and holding said switch mechanism in said deactivated configuration when parked in said docking station.
2. The device of claim 1, wherein said lever is pivotally mounted in axial alignment with said docking station, said lever having an exterior lever arm extending on the outside of the housing into said docking station and a generally longitudinally opposed interior lever arm extending within the housing.
3. The device of claim 2, wherein the switch mechanism further comprises first and second electrical terminals connected by wires to an electrical power supply and to said electrically powered vacuum generating unit, said lever enabling electrical connection between said terminals and flow of electricity to electrically powered vacuum generating unit when said lever is in said activated position for said activated configuration and disabling said electrical connection when said lever is in said deactivated position for said deactivated configuration.
4. The device of claim 3, further comprising an electrically conductive torsion spring mounted in said housing, said torsion spring having first and second spring arms, said first spring arm connected to said first electrical terminal and said second spring arm connected to said lever at said interior lever arm, said second spring arm being resiliently movable in said first direction by pivoting of said exterior lever arm in said first direction to enable said electrical connection with said second terminal, the lever being placed thereby in said activated position and said switch mechanism in said activated configuration, and in said second direction by pivoting of said exterior lever arm to disable said electrical connection for said deactivated configuration, the lever being placed thereby in said deactivated position and said switch mechanism in said deactivated configuration.
5. The device of claim 4, further comprising an electrically conductive contact arm mounted in said housing and connected to said second terminal, said second spring arm being movable by pivoting of said exterior lever arm in said first direction into contact with said contact arm when said lever is placed in said activated position, thereby enabling said electrical connection for said activated configuration, and in said second direction to move said second spring arm away from said contact arm by pivoting of said exterior lever arm in said second direction when said lever in placed in said deactivated position, thereby disabling said electrical connection for said deactivated configuration.
6. The device of claim 5, further comprising spaced apart first and second metal bracket plates mounted in the housing, said first bracket plate mounted distal said contact arm and said second bracket plate mounted proximal said contact arm, and an arm magnet mounted on said interior lever arm between said plates, said arm magnet contacting said first bracket plate when said switch mechanism is in said deactivated configuration and maintaining by magnetic force said switch mechanism in said deactivated configuration with said lever in said deactivated position, and contacting said second bracket plate when said switch mechanism is in said activated configuration and maintaining by magnetic force said switch in said activated configuration with said lever in said activated position.
7. The device of claim 2, wherein said docking station comprises a docking station wall extending alongside said proximal side, said exterior lever arm being moved generally clockwise away from said docking station wall when said lever is moved in said first direction and generally clockwise towards said docking station wall when said lever is moved in said second direction.
8. The device of claim 7, wherein said exterior arm lever is generally in planar registration with said docking station wall when said lever is in said deactivated position.
9. The device of claim 8, wherein said docking station comprises a receptacle for releasable and sealing insertion of a probe end of said probe therein when said probe is parked in said docking station, said receptacle being disposed within said housing with said docking station wall extending downwardly and in back of said receptacle.
10. The device of claim 9, wherein said receptacle comprises a socket, a socket cap plug, a socket cap, and a resilient biasing element, said socket receiving said probe end and said resilient biasing element resiliently biasing said socket cap onto said probe end when inserted into said socket to provide sealing connection therewith when said probe is parked in said docking station.
11. The device of claim 7, wherein said probe is sized and shaped to abut against said docking station wall when parked in said docking station, said probe pushing said exterior lever arm in said second direction into said deactivated position, thereby placing said switch mechanism into said deactivated configuration, when said probe is parked in said docking station and abutting against said exterior lever arm and holding said lever in said deactivated position, said probe thereby holding said switch mechanism in said deactivated configuration while parked in said docking station.
12. The device of claim 8, wherein said probe has a probe flange extending at least partially therearound and said docking station wall has a ledge extending thereacross, said ledge and said probe flange being positioned for resting of the probe flange on said ledge when said probe is seated in said docking station with said probe end inserted in said receptacle.
13. The device of claim 12, wherein said probe flange comprises a metal member and said docking station comprises a docking station magnet disposed adjacent said ledge, said docking station magnet being positioned generally across from said metal member when said probe flange rests on said ledge and thereby magnetically retaining said probe parked in said docking station with said probe flange resting on said ledge.
14. The device of claim 10, wherein said plug is constructed of a resilient foam.
15. The device of claim 10, wherein said resilient biasing element comprises a resilient plug spring.
16. The device of claim 10, wherein said resilient biasing element comprises a resilient foam member.
17. The device of claim 10, wherein said receptacle further comprises a receptacle cover rigidly connected to said socket, said resilient biasing element being disposed between said socket cap and said receptacle cover.
18. The device of claim 10, wherein said socket is rigidly mounted in said housing by rigid connection to said front cover.
19. The device of claim 1, further comprising a cleaning tool chamber formed in said housing for storage of at least one cleaning tool in said chamber, said cleaning tool being attachable to said probe.
US12/591,516 2009-11-23 2009-11-23 Auxiliary vacuum device for a central vacuum cleaning system Abandoned US20110119860A1 (en)

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