"Multifunctional bench with photovoltaic panels"
Description Field of the art
The present invention refers to an architectural element for urban design, particularly to a bench with suspended cover structure, which in addition to its intrinsic value (sitting bench with cover) also has many other functions. Prior art
In the art, canopies are already known that are equipped with photovoltaic panels for creating cover zones and shadow zones in car parking lots, specifically in places with a high level of insolation; they also protect from rain and snow in colder seasons. Already known at the state of the art, such canopies serve two purposes: on one hand, they serve to obtain medium-level energy production installations (in contrast with the high-level energy production installations comprising a considerable quantity of panels over an extensive flat surface); on the other hand, they form (as said), a shadow zone, or zone of protection from snow and rain, where motorists can park and stay during periods of rest between travel stages.
In such canopies, the energy produced by their photovoltaic panels is conveyed into the power distribution network, in order to be used, for example, in nearby structures (e.g. buildings).
Nevertheless, up to today, benches are not known which - in addition to constituting architectural elements of urban design and in addition to their intrinsic value (sitting bench with cover) - also offer the possibility to utilize solar energy, for the production of reduced quantities of electrical energy used on-site.
Therefore, one object of the present invention is to provide the public and the art with a bench with photovoltaic panels, usable as urban design element equipped with sitting bench
and suspended cover, and having multiple useful functions for the public. The reduced electrical energy produced by the bench of the present invention will not serve for the electrical network but will be used on-site by the public, and specifically by specific user categories, as will be described in detail below.
Brief description of the drawings
The present invention will now be described in more detail with reference to the enclosed drawings, which illustrate several non-limiting embodiments thereof, in which: FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of the bench of the present invention;
FIGURE 2 is a schematic front view thereof;
FIGURE 3 is a schematic side view of the bench that is the object of the present invention, which illustrates its load-bearing structure in particular;
FIGURE 4 is a top perspective view of the bench which illustrates a first use/embodiment thereof; FIGURE 5 shows another front view;
FIGURES 6.A-6.D are views which illustrate several specific embodiments, including that already shown in Fig. 4; FIGURE 7 is another perspective view of the bench;
FIGURE 8 shows a detail of the load-bearing structure placed at the center line of the cover;
FIGURES 9, 10 and 11 show particular details relating to:
tamper-proof and antitheft security (Fig. 9);
a bracing system (Fig. 10; on the lateral part of the structure);
another detail of the bracing system (Fig. 1 1, relative to the center line zone of the cover);
FIGURE 12 is a detail relative to the base;
FIGURES 13 and 14 regard the circuit diagrams for the attainment of the invention relative to the Figures 6.A and 6.B, respectively.
Detailed description of the preferred embodiments
With reference to the figures in general (and in particular to Fig. 1-4), the multifunctional bench with photovoltaic panels, object of the present invention, in general comprises:
- a load-bearing structure;
a cover system;
an integrated photovoltaic installation for producing low quantities of electrical energy, for the on-site use of such energy.
With regard to the load-bearing structure, this is preferably made with elements made of galvanized steel and treated with subsequent painting. It has - on both sides thereof - lateral load-bearing elements constituted by two curved steel tubes 2, 2, connected by means of a perforated, shaped plate 3. The structure is made integral by means of the use of steel box beams 1 which make the connection, in longitudinal sense, between the lateral load-bearing elements 2 and 3, also accomplishing the function of support for the anchoring system of the cover and of the photovoltaic panels 4.
The overall size of the load-bearing structure is such to allow that it can be assembled by means of welding at the factory and easily moved to the place of installation, where the
fixing can occur. Such fixing is of screw on plate type; such plate is suitably made for the foundation laying. The accessory elements and electrical devices can also be assembled. The modular conception of the structure also allows various and customizable configurations.
With regard to the bench 5, this is preferably made of painted, galvanized and perforated steel. All the longitudinal terminal parts are rounded and the lateral edges smoothed.
The base 6 is under the bench 5. Such base 6 functions as a container for the electrical devices relative to the photovoltaic installation integrated in the structure and is preferably made of metal plate. Said base 6 is equipped at the front with shutters for aeration and at the rear with doors that open in a slidable manner in order to allow the maintenance and/or substitution of the electrical devices contained therein. At the lateral flanks, the base 6 is made integral with the load-bearing structure by means of on-site fixing of tubular connection elements: such solution allows attaining greater static stability for the structure. The cover system is supported by the same load-bearing structure described above, and preferably it is characterized by a curvilinear progression with double curvature. Such conformation is made possible by the use of sheets 7 and 7' made of compact polycarbonate (and with opposite curvature) particularly suitable for this type of working. Such material also ensures good weathering and impact resistance characteristics, lightness and flexibility characteristics.
The present invention allows the direct integration of a photovoltaic solar installation in the structure of the bench. The installation, in its basic typology, is preferably composed of six or twelve photovoltaic panels 4 (in the figures, there are twelve panels). Such photovoltaic panels 4 are for example six of cadmium telluride thin- film (CdTe) type or twelve with polycrystalline silicon cells in order to generate a total installed power equal to 600 Wp in the second case, for example (i.e. each generating a power of 50 Wp in the case of polycrystalline silicon).
The decision to use thin- film modules, in one embodiment of the invention, derives from the fact that they are more flexible and lighter than the standard modules. In addition, given that
they are characterized by a low visual impact and reflection factor, they are particularly well- suited for being installed in architectural compositions that can be inserted in urban settings in the most natural and harmonic manner. A further advantage is given from the fact that the thin- film panels are able to capture more diffused light (a characteristic which increases their efficiency, above all in conditions of low solar irradiation) and result less sensitive to the variations from the ideal orientation. Therefore, the bench can also be more easily installed in urban settings, where the optimal orientation cannot always be attained for spatial reasons. The integrated photovoltaic installation is of "island" type, since it is not connected to the electrical distribution network (here one notes the difference with the abovementioned prior art). It is capable of providing a direct power supply to users during the day (see the following description), while during the night and during days with reduced insolation the charge is fed with a storage system 10 that is overload-protected by a charge regulator 8. The installation also comprises the electrical sockets 1 1 or 1 1 ' (see also Figs. 13 and 14), as will be seen below, and a DC/ AC 9 converter for the conversion from direct current to alternating current. The numbers 12 and 13 in Figures 13 and 14 respectively indicate a panel with parallel modules, for placing the photovoltaic modules 4 in parallel, and a panel 13 for connecting the batteries (10a- lOd) of the storage system 10 in parallel with the charge regulator 8.
The bench that is the object of the present invention is equipped with an information display 15. The latter constitutes a user interface device (LCD screen) power supplied by the integrated photovoltaic installation. The screen 15 is usable for the presentation of the data related to the electrical production and to the reduction of the C02 emissions relative to the photovoltaic installation integrated in the bench and/or to other possible installations for the production of electrical energy from renewable resources, installed at the site. The display can also be used for communicating useful information to the public in a timely manner, such as entrance times, event advertizing etc.
As already stated above, a socket is provided for a battery charger, such as that indicated by 1 1 (Fig. 13) or 11 ' (Fig. 14). In the embodiment of Fig. 6A, corresponding with the
photovoltaic installation circuit diagram of Fig. 13, there are one or more electrical sockets 11, for the electrical power supply of one or more bicycles (so-called "eco-cycles" or bicycles with assisted pedaling). The bench of this version (which we could call the Eco- cycle version) could also be equipped with a rack for bicycle parking, or it could have a further socket usable for recharging a portable computer or cell phone.
In the embodiment of the invention relative to Fig. 6B (see also Fig. 14 which shows the respective circuit diagram of the photovoltaic installation associated with this "mini-car" version), there is a socket 11 ' for the battery charger of an electric mini-car or of other locomotion means with electric drive, e.g. that known as the "Segway", which will therefore be power supplied by the energy produced by the integrated photovoltaic installation.
The electric mini-cars, also often approved for road use, are ideal for moving inside urban areas, campsites, parks closed to traffic, golf courses etc. These mini-automobiles are not subjected to traffic blocks and benefit from tax deductions.
The functioning of the so-called "Segway" locomotion means is instead that of "an extension of the body", since it uses solid state gyroscopic rotation sensors (MEMS) which are "capable of imitating human equilibrium". In practice, this is a kind of vehicle which allows a person to move on a footboard with two parallel wheels driven by two battery motors. Both of the latter vehicle types therefore constitute, from an ecological standpoint, valid assistance in combating atmospheric pollution (sustainable mobility).
The bench that is the object of the present invention has the advantage of being easy to make and install. The bench constitutes an energetically autonomous element that is perfectly compatible with the environment, also by virtue of the particular selection of photovoltaic panels (see above).
As already said, the bench with photovoltaic panels that is the object of the present invention lends itself to being used in public and private urban spaces: bus stops, rest areas inside parks and gardens, at access zones to structures open to the public (hospitals, businesses, train stations, airports, etc.).
The cover, in addition to the upper metal box beams 1 with support function, is characterized (as said) by a curvilinear progression with double curvature. Such conformation is made possible by the use of sheets made of compact polycarbonate, 7 and 7', with opposite curvatures (convex and concave, respectively), particularly suitable for this type of working. This material ensures good weathering and impact resistance, lightness and flexibility characteristics.
In the basic version (Fig. 7 - simplest embodiment of the present invention), in addition to the load-bearing structure comprising the elements 1 , 2 and 3, the sitting bench 5 and the cover system in sheets of compact polycarbonate 7 and 7' (connected to several horizontal upper box-beam elements 1 of the load-bearing structure), the information display 15 and also an LED lighting are preferably provided for. Such LED lighting system (not represented in the figures) is power supplied by the energy produced by the photovoltaic installation and it constitutes a lighting solution particularly suitable for being integrated with the structure, becoming part of the design. The LED lighting involves numerous economical advantages, particularly associated with the possibility to obtain lighting that is four times greater than that from conventional lamps and with high efficiency and reliability.
In the variant embodiment of the present invention represented in Fig. 6C, the bench with suspended structure also allows an easy use of the structure by handicapped people on wheelchairs, by means of the prearrangement of a suitably-sized rest space under the cover. In this version or variant embodiment of the invention, a power supply system will be capable of recharging the batteries of the wheelchairs with electric drive.
In the variant embodiment of the present invention, represented in Fig. 6D, the bench with suspended structure, object of the present invention, is equipped with a system of heating elements and with electronic control of the outside temperature, which allows using the electrical energy produced by the integrated photovoltaic installation for the winter heating of the sitting bench 5 itself.
It is observed that the bench with photovoltaic panels, object of the present invention, has a modular structure which allows increasing its width so as to meet specific needs, with the
same structural elements and accessories described above; such bench comprises a suitable and generally unspecified number of photovoltaic panels 4, sitting benches 5, (suitably- sized) rest spaces for handicapped people under the suspended cover 7, 7', etc.
In Fig. 8, a detail of the load-bearing structure is shown. Such "crosspiece" element 16 is a metal box beam (e.g. 80 mm x 40 mm), with the function of stiffening the system and supporting the cover at the center line.
The size of the load-bearing structure is such to allow the transport and assembly at the site of installation, where the fixing takes place of screw-on-plate 17 type (see. Fig. 9); such plate is suitably designed for the foundation laying. The assembly of the accessory elements and electrical devices also takes place on site. The tamper-proof and antitheft security is ensured by the use of nuts and bolts of one-way type.
Fig. 10 shows a detail relative to the bracing system made via the use of stainless steel tightener elements 18.
Fig. 11 again shows the stainless steel tightener elements 18 of the bracing system, which are connected at their upper part to the abovementioned crosspiece element 17.
Finally, Fig. 12 shows the base 6, whose front part is equipped with shutters for the aeration and rear part equipped with doors that can be opened in order to allow the maintenance and/or substitution of the electrical devices contained therein.
Of course, the present invention must not be considered as limited to the specific embodiments described herein, but rather it is clearly extended to all those equivalent forms and combinations, or those deemed obvious from a technical standpoint for a man skilled in the art.
In addition, some details may have been omitted in the preceding description which would be evident for a man skilled in the art from the actual production standpoint; hence, such details would not contribute to further clarifying the essential and innovative aspects of the present invention.
In conclusion, even if only some materials and some geometric forms were mentioned for the actual production of certain components, this clearly does not imply any limitation, given
that geometrically equivalent forms and/or materials could be compatibly used with the requested mechanical, physical, chemical and geometric requirements.