Upright-type cleaning appliances
A cleaning appliance of the upright type having a cleaning head movable over a floor surface and a body connected to the head, wherein there is provided a means for detecting the attitude of the head and a switch means operable to prevent operation of at least an agitating means, if present, of the appliance if the head assumes an attitude different from a normal operational attitude thereof by more than a predetermined amount.
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This application claims priority to United Kingdom application number 0604962.1, which was filed on Mar. 11, 2006, the entirety of which is fully incorporated by reference herein.BACKGROUND
This invention relates to cleaning appliances of the upright type. Such cleaning appliances may be vacuum cleaners, or may be floor cleaners of the wet or so called “extractor” type in which a cleaning liquid is applied to a floor surface such as a carpet from a reservoir on the appliance, and then extracted by suction from the floor.
What such cleaning appliances have in common is a cleaning head moveable over a floor surface, and a body pivotally connected to the head and extending therefrom to a handle, enabling a user to move the head as required over the floor surface. The body is usually able to be left in an upright position relative to the head when the cleaner is not in use, but when in use the body is tilted from the upright position at an angle to suit the user. The appliance has a source of suction (an electric motor and impeller), and the head has a suction opening which faces the floor surface in use so that air sucked in from the surface, with entrained dust and/or liquid, can be directed to the source of suction by way of a separator/collector in which the dust and/or liquid entrained in the suction airflow is separated from the flow of air and retained for disposal.
The head of the cleaner may have, either in its suction opening in the case of a vacuum cleaner or possibly adjacent thereto in the case of an extractor floor cleaner, an agitating device which usually is a rotary brush or beater bar.
An upright cleaning appliance is usually left, when not actually being worked over a floor surface, with its body in an upright orientation, in which it is retained relative to the head by a catch or detent. During a temporary break in cleaning proceedings, it might be left with its source of suction operating and possibly also its agitating device. It is possible for an upright cleaning appliance, having been left with its body in the upright position, to fall over if someone or something accidentally (or intentionally) pushes or knocks it with sufficient force. Another common occurrence is that someone trips over the electrical power supply cable of the appliance.SUMMARY
When it has fallen over, the suction opening and the agitating means of the appliance are exposed, compared with their normal position in which they face the ground surface on which the appliance is being operated. A rotating agitating device then presents a hazard to anyone in the vicinity of the fallen-over appliance, particularly to small children or pets; also there is the possibility that clothing, draperies etc. might become entangled with the agitating means or drawn into the suction opening of the appliance. It is broadly the object of the present invention to eliminate or reduce the hazard in such circumstances.
According to the present invention, we provide a cleaning appliance of the upright type provided with a means for detecting the attitude of the head, and with a switch means operable to prevent operation of at least an agitating means, if present, of the appliance, if the head assumes an attitude different from a normal operational attitude thereof by more than a predetermined amount.
Preferably the appliance's source of suction is (also) prevented from operating.
The normal operational attitude of the head of the appliance is of course that of standing on a more or less horizontal floor surface. The switch means may operate if the head assumes an attitude in which it is tilted by more than about 30°, by way of example, in any direction from its normal operational attitude.
Normal operational use of the cleaning appliance involves its being worked backwards and forwards over a floor surface. To ensure that inertia forces in such use do not cause operation of the switch means, the sensitivity thereof to tilting of the head forwardly or rearwardly from its normal operational attitude may be less than the sensitivity to its tilting laterally from its normal operational attitude. However, it would be possible for the sensitivity to forwards or backwards tilting to be the same as that to lateral tilting. The attitude-detection means and the switch means may be combined with one another in a so-called tilt-sensitive switch. One or more such switches may be utilised, depending on the type of switch and how many directions of tilting each switch is sensitive to.
It is preferred that the attitude detection means is provided in the head, since it is the latter which presents the suction opening and agitator device if the cleaning appliance falls over. It would, as an alternative, be possible to provide an attitude-detection means in the body of the appliance. However, an attitude detection means thus provided could only be responsive to lateral or forwards tilting of the body, since the body is tilted rearwardly from its upright condition in normal use of the appliance. Possibly there could be provided a means which responds to the body of the appliance being set in its upright/out of use orientation relative to the head of the appliance, and only when this condition has been detected would the attitude detection means and switch means be operable to prevent operation of at least the agitator device of the appliance.
The invention will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, which illustrates diagramatically a cleaning appliance of the type to which the invention is applicable.
The drawing shows a cleaning appliance which is an upright-type vacuum cleaner, comprising a body indicated generally at 10 and a cleaning head indicated generally at 11. The body has a portion 12 in which is disposed is a source of suction for the cleaner, i.e. an electric motor and impeller, and above this the body carries a dust separator/collector assembly indicated generally at 13. A body portion 14 extends above the separator/collector assembly 13 and ends at a handle 15. The separator/collector assembly 13 incorporates one or more filters and/or cyclonic separator devices, so that dust and dirt entrained in the flow of air sucked up by the cleaner is separated from the airflow and retained for disposal, by removal of the entire separator/collector assembly or a separate dust-receptacle part thereof. All these features are well known in vacuum cleaners, and many arrangements thereof can be adopted: what is illustrated is by way of example only.
The cleaning head 11 comprises a front portion 16 adjacent whose front edge is a downwardly facing suction opening whose position is indicated at 17 facing a floor surface which is to be cleaned. Within the portion 16 of the cleaning head and operable on the floor surface beneath suction opening 17 there is a brush/beater bar, not illustrated, and power-driveable by an electric motor or possible by a turbine driven by airflow created by the source of suction of the cleaner. Two spaced generally parallel portions, one of which is visible at 18, extend rearwardly from the front portion 16 of the cleaning head and lie on opposite sides of the portion 12 of the body of the cleaner. They are connected to the body of the cleaner so that the latter is able to pivot relative to the cleaning head about a transverse substantially horizontal axis. The portions as 18 carry spaced wheels as 20, enabling the cleaning head to move forwardly and rearwardly over a floor surface, the cleaning head possibly being provided with small wheels or rollers, not shown, in the vicinity of its suction opening 17 to facilitate such movement. Also visible in the illustration is a suction hose part 22 by which suction airflow is lead from the suction opening of the cleaning head to the separator/collector assembly of the cleaner and thence to the source of suction, after which it is discharged to the surrounding atmosphere. The airflow path may include a hose 24 which is illustrated on the cleaner.
The body 10 is shown in the illustration in an upright position relative to the cleaning head 11 and it is pivotable relative to the cleaning head, about the transverse axis referred to above, between such position and a rearwardly inclined position. A detent, or a catch releasable by a release member which may be operable by a user's foot, is provided for retaining the body in the upright position relative to the cleaning head. In normal use as an upright type vacuum cleaner, the body is inclined rearwardly from its upright position until the handle 15 is at a convenient height enabling the user to manoeuvre the cleaning head of the cleaner over a floor surface which is being cleaned. When not being used in this manner, the cleaner is usually left with its body in the upright position, and the hose 24 may be detachable from the cleaner and connectable to a wand or hand-held cleaning tool for other cleaning jobs such as vacuum cleaning upholstery or the like: when used in this manner, the suction airflow is diverted from the cleaning head to the free end of the hose 24.
From its illustrated upright position, it is possible for the cleaner to fall over. This is possible forwardly or rearwardly, as indicated by arrows A-B, or laterally as indicated by arrows C-D. It could fall over in any other direction, but this is relatively unlikely due to the generally rectangular footprint of the cleaning head 17. This might happen if the cleaner is accidentally knocked or pushed against, if someone trips over the electrical power supply cable (not illustrated) of the cleaner, or, if the hose 24 of the cleaner is being used for a cleaning job, the hose is pulled excessively. This exposes the suction opening 17 of the cleaning head and the brush/beater bar therein.
Accordingly, therefore, the cleaner is provided with a means for detecting the attitude of the cleaning head 11, and a means for switching off at least the brush/beater bar and preferably also the source of suction of the cleaner if the attitude of the head differs from its normal operational attitude, i.e. standing upon or moving over a more or less horizontal floor surface, as illustrated, by more than a predetermined amount. This may be achieved by providing one or more tilt switches in the head 11.
Such tilt switches, utilising gravity-displaceable contact elements, or possibly a conductive liquid material such as mercury, are well known. A single such switch may be utilised, operable to detect the attitude of the cleaning head in all directions, A, B, C, D and directions therebetween, or two such switches may be provided one of which is responsive to forwards and rearwards attitude changes of the head and the other of which is responsive to lateral attitude changes. The latter solution may be adopted where it is required that the sensitivity to attitude changes should be different as between the forwards/rearwards attitude of the head and the lateral attitude thereof.
By way of example only, the attitude-detection means may be arranged to operate to cause switching off of the cleaner or at least the brush/beater bar thereof if the head assumes an attitude greater than about 30° from its normal operational attitude.
The attitude detection means and/or switch means may be operable at all times i.e. when the cleaner is being used by being worked forwardly and rearwardly over a floor surface as well as when it is in the condition in which the body of the cleaner is set in its upright position relative to the head. However, to avoid unwanted operation of the detection means to switch the cleaner off when the cleaner is being worked over a floor surface, possibly the attitude detection means and/or switch means may be operable only when the body is set in its upright position. In this case, the attitude-detection means could be provided in the body of the cleaner rather than the head.
When used in this specification and claims, the terms “comprises” and “comprising” and variations thereof mean that the specified features, steps or integers are included. The terms are not to be interpreted to exclude the presence of other features, steps or components.
The features disclosed in the foregoing description, or the following claims, or the accompanying drawings, expressed in their specific forms or in terms of a means for performing the disclosed function, or a method or process for attaining the disclosed result, as appropriate, may, separately, or in any combination of such features, be utilised for realising the invention in diverse forms thereof.
14. An upright cleaning appliance comprising:
- a cleaning head movable over a floor surface comprising an agitator, a detector that detects the attitude of the head, and a switch operable to prevent operation of the agitator when the head assumes a predetermined different attitude than a normal operational attitude by at least a predetermined amount; and
- a body connected to the head.
15. The cleaning appliance of claim 14, wherein the switch prevents operation of a source of suction of the appliance when the head assumes the predetermined different attitude.
16. The cleaning appliance of claim 14, wherein the predetermined different attitude of the head from its normal operational attitude is substantially the same in a forward inclination, a rearward inclination, and a lateral inclination with respect to an axis perpendicular to the head.
17. The cleaning appliance of claim 14, wherein the predetermined different attitude in a forward inclination and a rearward inclination with respect to an axis perpendicular to the head is different than the predetermined attitude in a lateral inclination with respect to the axis perpendicular to the head.
18. The cleaning appliance of claim 14, wherein the switch is operable at an inclination of the head of about 30° from its normal operational attitude.
19. The cleaning appliance of claim 14, wherein the detector means comprises at least one tilt-sensitive switch.
20. The cleaning appliance of claim 19, wherein the at least one tilt-sensitive switch is disposed in the head.
21. The cleaning appliance of claim 19, wherein the at least one tilt-sensitive switch is disposed in the body.
22. The cleaning appliance of claim 14, wherein the switch is operable to prevent operation of the appliance when the body is set in an upright orientation relative to the head of the appliance.
23. The cleaning appliance of claim 22, wherein the switch is not operable to prevent operation of the appliance when the body is in an inclined position.
24. The cleaning appliance of claim 14, wherein the cleaning appliance is a vacuum cleaner.
25. The cleaning appliance of claim 14, wherein the cleaning appliance is an extractor-type carpet cleaner.
26. A cleaning apparatus comprising:
- a head movable over a horizontal surface comprising a brush rotatably mounted to a body and a sensor operatively engaged with the head, and capable of detecting the orientation of the cleaning head with respect to the horizontal surface; and
- a motor electrically connected with the sensor and mechanically operable with the brush, wherein the sensor selectively prevents rotation of the brush when the sensor detects a predetermined angle of the head with respect to the horizontal surface.
27. The cleaning apparatus of claim 26, wherein the sensor comprises a first sensor that detects the orientation of the head in a forward direction from the head.
28. The cleaning apparatus of claim 26, wherein the sensor comprises a second sensor that detects the orientation of the head in a first lateral direction from the head.
29. The cleaning apparatus of claim 26, wherein the predetermined angle is greater than about 30 degrees from the horizontal surface.
30. The cleaning apparatus of claim 26, further comprising a body pivotably mounted to the head between an upright position substantially perpendicular to the head and an inclined position at an oblique angle to the head.
31. The cleaning apparatus of claim 30, wherein the sensor only selectively prevents rotation of the brush when the body is in the upright position.
32. The cleaning apparatus of claim 26, wherein the sensor prevents operation of the motor when the sensor detects a predetermined angle of the head with respect to the horizontal surface.
33. The cleaning apparatus of claim 30, wherein the sensor is mounted within the body.
34. The cleaning apparatus of claim 27, wherein the first sensor detects the orientation of the head in a direction opposite the forward direction.
35. The cleaning apparatus of claim 28, wherein the second sensor detects the orientation of the head in a second lateral direction from the head opposite the first lateral direction.
Filed: Mar 5, 2007
Publication Date: Sep 13, 2007
Inventor: Christopher John Tullett (SHREWSBURY)
Application Number: 11/713,853