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Title:
CHLORINE GENERATOR SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/018067
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A chlorine generator apparatus wherein a housing is adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa and a disposable chlorine generating electrode cartridge carrying a pair of electrodes is configured to be installable by a user in the housing and to thereafter be removeable by the user for replacement.

Inventors:
McCAGUE, Michael (3317 Laurashawn Lane, Escondido, CA, 92026, US)
ODDOU, Paul (1446 Burroughs Street, Oceanside, CA, 92054, US)
Application Number:
US2018/034957
Publication Date:
January 24, 2019
Filing Date:
May 29, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
WATKINS MANUFACTURING CORPORATION (1280 Park Center Drive, Vista, CA, 92081, US)
International Classes:
A61H33/00; B01D35/02; C02F1/46; C02F1/68; C25B9/08; C25B15/08; E04H4/14
Foreign References:
US20070084770A12007-04-19
US20060091002A12006-05-04
US20130105372A12013-05-02
US20120012466A12012-01-19
US20110010835A12011-01-20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
UBELL, Franklin, D. (Lapple Ubell IP Law, LLP19800 MacArthur Blvd., 3rd Floo, Irvine CA, 92612, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising: a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa; and

a disposable electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user in said housing and to thereafter be removed by the user and replaced.

2. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 1 wherein the electrode cartridge comprises a handle grippable by the user and first and second electrodes positioned to extend into said housing.

3. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising: a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa; and

an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user in said housing and to thereafter be removeable by the user for replacement;

wherein the electrode cartridge comprises a handle grippable by the user and first and second electrodes positioned to extend into said housing; and

wherein the housing comprises:

a wall fitting adapted to be installed into an opening in said user- accessible surface; and

a cap removably attachable to the wall fitting by a user to provide user access to the electrode cartridge.

4. The chlorine generator of claim 3 wherein the cap comprises an internal web structure which positions and holds the electrode cartridge in place entirely within the housing during operation.

5. The chlorine generator of claim 1 wherein the electrode cartridge

comprises:

first and second electrodes, each including a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact.

6. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 5 wherein the horizontal base portion of each of the first and second electrodes respectively fit into a respective mating openings in an electrode cup.

7. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 6 wherein each horizontal base portion is held in place by a bottom surface of a handle component of the electrode cartridge.

8. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising: a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa wherein the housing has an open end and first and second internal electrical contacts, each mounted on an interior side surface of the housing;

a removable cap accessible from the exterior of said spa and attachable to the housing for closing the open end of the housing; and an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user through the open end of said housing after said cap has been removed to a position entirely within the interior of the housing and below an attachment point of said cap;

the electrode cartridge being further configured to be subsequently removable from the housing;

the electrode cartridge having first second electrical contacts

positioned to be in electrical contact with a respective one of said first and second internal electrical contacts of the housing when said electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing.

9. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 8 wherein the first and second internal electrical contacts extend through the housing to provide electrical contact points on an external surface of the housing.

10. An electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement;

first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water; and

first and second electrical contacts positioned to come into contact with first and second electrical contacts on the housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed when the electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing.

11. The electrode cartridge of claim 10 further comprising a first electrical conductor path electrically connecting said first electrode with said first electrical contact and a second electrical conductor path electrically connecting said second electrode with said second electrical contact.

12. The electrode cartridge of claim 10 wherein the first and second electrodes each include a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact.

13. The electrode cartridge of claim 12 wherein the horizontal base portions of each of the first and second electrodes are respectively shaped to fit into respective mating openings of an electrode cup.

14. The electrode cartridge of claim 13 wherein each horizontal base portion is held in place by a bottom surface of the handle component of the electrode cartridge.

15. The electrode cartridge of claim 10 wherein the handle and electrical

contacts of the electrode cartridge are so configured that upon initial installation of the electrode cartridge, the electrode contacts of the cartridge are initially positioned above and spaced vertically apart from the first and second contacts of the housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed.

16. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 1 wherein the housing has a first internal electrical contact mounted on an interior side surface thereof and a second internal electrical contact mounted on an interior side surface thereof and wherein the electrode cartridge has first and second electrical contacts positioned to be in electrical contact with a respective one of said first and second internal electrical contacts when said electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing.

17. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 16 wherein the first and second internal electrical contacts extend through the housing to provide electrical contact points external to the housing.

18. A method of constructing an electrode cartridge for a chlorinator apparatus comprising: forming a handle component grippable by a user;

mounting first and second electrodes beneath the handle;

shaping the electrode cartridge to be slidably insertable into and slidably removable from a mating housing; and

positioning first and second electrical contacts on the electrode cartridge so as to come into contact with first and second electrical contacts located on the mating housing when the electrode cartridge is inserted into an installed position in the mating housing

19. A user replaceable electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a

housing beneath a removable lid of the housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the spa user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement; first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water; and

first and second electrical contacts, each positioned on an exterior side surface of said electrode cartridge, one of the first and second electrical contacts being electrically connected to a respective one of said first and second electrodes.

20. The electrode cartridge of claim 19 wherein each of the first and second electrical contacts is positioned to come into contact with a respective one of first and second electrical contacts on a housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed beneath a removable lid of the housing when the electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing.

21. A user replaceable electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a

housing beneath a removable lid of the housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the spa user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement;

first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water; and

first and second electrical contacts positioned on respective outer most side edges of said electrode cartridge, one of the first and second electrical contacts being electrically connected to a respective one of said first and second electrodes; wherein a portion of each of the first and second electrical contacts is positioned within a respective electrode guard and has a conductive surface which extends outside of the respective electrode guard; and

wherein each of the conductive surfaces of the first and second electrical contacts is spring biased outwardly away from a said outer most side edge such that each conductive surface is depressible inwardly toward said electrode cartridge against said spring bias.

22. A user replaceable electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a

housing beneath a removable lid of the housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the spa user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement;

first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water, the first and second electrodes each including a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved electrical contact;

an electrode cup located beneath the handle component and having first and second slots, a respective one of the vertical portions of the first and second electrodes extending through a respective one of said slots, the electrode cup further having first and second openings, a respective one of the horizontal base portions of the first and second electrodes residing in a respective one of said first and second openings, each horizontal base portion being held in place in its respective opening by a bottom surface of the handle component; wherein a portion of each outwardly curved electrical contact is positioned within a respective guard and has a contact surface which extends outside of the respective guard, each of the contact surfaces of the the first and second electrical contacts being spring biased outwardly such that each contact surface is depressible inwardly against the spring bias.

23. A disposable electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a mating housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement;

first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water; and

first and second electrical contacts adapted to come into contact with first and second electrical contacts on the mating housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed when the electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the mating housing.

24. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising: a housing adapted to be installed into an exterior, user-accessible top surface of a spa in a vertical position in an opening in the top surface, the opening of the spa being located above the water level in the spa; and an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user

downwardly into the housing such that the electrode cartridge resides entirely within the housing; wherein the electrode cartridge comprises a handle grippable by the user and first and second electrodes positioned to extend into the housing; wherein the housing comprises a wall fitting adapted to be mounted in the opening in the top surface of the spa; and

wherein the apparatus further includes a cap removably attachable to the wall fitting at a point above the installed electrode cartridge and is configured to be openable by a user to provide user access to the handle of the installed electrode cartridge in order to pull the electrode cartridge up and out of the housing for replacement.

25. The apparatus of claim 24 wherein the top surface of the spa is a bar top area of a portable spa.

26. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 24 wherein the housing has a first internal electrical contact mounted on an interior side surface thereof and a second internal electrical contact mounted on an interior side surface thereof and wherein the electrode cartridge has first and second electrical contacts positioned to be in electrical contact with a respective one of said first and second internal electrical contacts when said electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing.

27. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising:

a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa; and

an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user into said housing and to thereafter be removeable by the user for replacement;

wherein the electrode cartridge comprises: first and second electrodes, each including a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact; and

wherein said housing comprises first and second internal electrical contact terminals formed on an inner surface thereof and wherein the outwardly curved spring arm electrical contacts of the first and second electrodes are respectively positioned to make electrical contact with said first and second internal electrical contact terminals when said electrode cartridge is fully inserted into the housing.

28. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 27 wherein the electrode

cartridge comprises a handle grippable by the user.

29. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 27 wherein the housing

comprises:

a wall fitting adapted to be installed into said user-accessible surface; and

a cap removably attachable to the wall fitting by a user to provide user access to the electrode cartridge.

30. The chlorine generator of claim 29 wherein the cap comprises an internal web structure which positions and holds the electrode cartridge in place during operation.

31. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 27 wherein the horizontal base portion of each of the first and second electrodes respectively fit into a respective mating openings in an electrode cup.

32. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 31 wherein each horizontal base portion is held in place by a bottom surface of a handle component of the electrode cartridge.

33. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 27 wherein the outwardly

curved spring arm electrical contacts are spring-biased into electrical contact with said first and second internal electric contact terminals.

34. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 31 wherein said first and second internal electric contact terminals comprise a portion of respective electrical contacts which extend through said housing to provide electrical interconnection with cooperating apparatus.

35. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising:

a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa; and

an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user into said housing and to thereafter be removeable by the user for replacement;

a groove formed in an inner wall of said housing;

first and second locking bars having first and second projections on respective outer ends thereof and mounted to slide laterally in said cartridge such that said first and second projections can come into engagement with said groove to lock said cartridge in position; and

a spring loaded plunger shaped and positioned to cause said first and second locking bars to move laterally such that said projections come into engagement with said groove.

36. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 35 wherein each of said first and second projections is ball-shaped.

37. The method of claim 18 further comprising installing the electrode cartridge in the mating housing and signaling the user when the cartridge is spent in order to facilitate removal and replacement of the cartridge.

38. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 1 wherein the electrode cartridge is further configured such that no electrical wires enter or are attached to the electrode cartridge when the cartridge is in an installed position in the housing.

39. The electrode cartridge of claim 10 wherein the electrode cartridge is

configured such that no electrical wires enter or are attached to the electrode cartridge when the cartridge is in an installed position in the housing.

40. The electrode cartridge of claim 19 wherein no electrical wires enter or are attached to the electrode cartridge.

41. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 1 wherein the disposable electrode cartridge is configured to be removed by the user and replaced when spent.

42. The chlorine genereator apparatus of claim 1 wherein the disposable

electrode cartridge is configured to be removed and thrown away after use by the user and then replaced.

Description:
CHLORINE GENERATOR SYSTEM

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[001] This application claims the benefit of, and priority to, U.S. Patent

Application Serial No. 15/651,709, filed July 17, 2017; and U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 15/959,071 filed April 20, 2018. The entire contents of these priority applications are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety as if fully set forth herein.

FIELD

[002] The subject disclosure relates to chlorine generating systems and more particularly to a chlorine generator system for spas, tubs, pools and the like which features a disposable and consumer replaceable electrode cartridge.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

[003] Various chlorine generating devices have been constructed in the past, for example, such as the drop-in chlorinator disclosed in U.S. Patent 8,745,774, assigned to Watkins Manufacturing Corporation of Vista, California. SUMMARY

[004] Illustrative embodiments provide a chlorine generator installed in a spa and having a disposable and consumer replaceable electrode cartridge.

[005] According to one embodiment, a chlorine generator apparatus comprises a housing adapted to be mounted in a user-accessible exterior surface of a spa and a chlorine generating electrode cartridge mounted in the housing and carrying first and second electrodes wherein the electrode cartridge is configured to be

replaceable by a user.

[006] According to another aspect of the disclosure, a housing is provided for receiving an electrode cartridge comprising a wall fitting mounted to a consumer- accessible surface of a spa and a cap removably attachable to the wall fitting by a user to provide user access to the electrode cartridge. In one embodiment, the housing may further comprise a lower housing section attached to a lower end of the wall fitting. The lower housing section may provide an electrode chamber wherein electrodes of the electrode cartridge may be disposed to generate chlorine for sanitizing the spa water.

[007] According to another aspect, an electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a housing by a user of a spa is provided comprising a handle component grippable by the user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement. In one embodiment, first and second electrodes are mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water, and first and second electrical contacts are positioned to come into electrical contact with first and second electrical contacts located on an interior surface of the housing when the electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing.

[008] According to another aspect, an electrode cartridge is provided

comprising first and second electrodes each of which include a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact. According to another aspect, the horizontal base portions of each of the first and second electrodes respectively fit into a respective mating opening in an electrode cup. In one embodiment, each horizontal base portion may be held in place by a bottom surface of a handle component of the electrode cartridge.

[009] According to another aspect, a chlorine generator apparatus is provided wherein a housing comprises first and second internal electrical contact terminals formed on an inner surface thereof and wherein spring arm portions of the first and second electrodes of an electrode cartridge form electrical contact surfaces which are positioned to make electrical contact with the first and second internal electrical contact terminals when the electrode cartridge is fully inserted into the housing.

[010] According to another aspect, a chlorine generator apparatus is provided comprising a groove formed in an inner wall of an electrode cartridge housing and first and second locking bars having first and second projections on respective outer ends thereof and mounted to slide laterally in an electrode cartridge such that the first and second projections can come into engagement with the groove in the housing inner wall in order to lock the electrode cartridge in position. A spring loaded plunger mounted in the electrode cartridge is shaped and positioned to cause the first and second locking bars to move laterally such that the first and second projections come into engagement with the groove.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[Oil] Fig. 1 is a schematic side view of a chlorine generator system according to an illustrative embodiment installed in a spa;

[012] Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the chlorine generator employed in the system of Fig. 1 ;

[013] Fig. 3 is a top view of the chlorine generator of Fig. 2;

[014] Fig. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the electrode housing of the chlorine generator of Fig. 2;

[015] Fig. 5 is a sectional perspective view of the chlorine generator of Fig. 2 taken at V-V of Fig. 3;

[016] Fig. 6 is a perspective view of an electrode cartridge component of the chlorine generator of Fig. 2;

[017] Fig. 7 is a top view of the electrode cartridge component of Fig. 6;

[018] Fig. 8 is an exploded perspective view of the electrode cartridge

component of Fig. 6;

[019] Fig. 9 is a perspective sectional view of the electrode cartridge component of Fig. 6 taken at IX-IX of Fig. 7; [020] Fig. 10 is a sectional view illustrative of an electrode cartridge locking mechanism according to an illustrative embodiment in a first position;

[021] Fig. 11 is a sectional view of the illustrative electrode cartridge locking mechanism of Fig. 10 in a second position;

[022] Fig. 12 is a sectional view of the chlorine generator of Fig. 2; and

[023] Fig. 13 is a perspective view of the open upper end of the electrode housing of Fig. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[024] A chlorine generator system according to an illustrative embodiment is shown in Fig. 1. The illustrative system includes an electrical controller 13 and a chlorine generator 11 mounted in a bar top 12 of a spa 14. As may be appreciated, the bar top 12 is an example of a user accessible surface of the spa 14 where a user may be, for example, a user or owner of the spa 14. In one embodiment, the spa 14 may be a portable spa.

[025] The chlorine generator 11 comprises an electrode cartridge housing 15 and an electrode cartridge 17. In the illustrative embodiment, the electrode cartridge 17 carries a pair of electrodes 53, 55, and is removably installed in the electrode cartridge housing 15. In one embodiment, the housing 15 is keyed to the electrode cartridge 17 to insure that the cartridge 17 may only be installed in the housing 15 in a proper manner. In an illustrative embodiment, water from the spa circulation path is routed up to the housing 15, through the electrodes 53, 55 and back out of the housing 15 to the spa 14. [026] In an illustrative embodiment, the electrical controller 13 controls generation of chlorine by the electrode cartridge 17. In one embodiment, the electrical controller 13 is relatively small in size, powered through the spa control system 16, and fully integrated into the spa 14. In one embodiment, the electrical controller 13 utilizes an RS485 communication protocol to transmit data and communicate with the spa control system 16. In one embodiment, the spa control system 16 may be accessed through and driven by a spa control panel 18. In another embodiment, a closed loop control system may be employed which includes a sensor which measures, for example, one or more of: chlorine, bromine, ozone, ORP, pH, conductivity, alkalinity, cyanuric acid, water hardness and/or

temperature. The sensor then feeds parameters to an electronic controller which then automatically causes generation of the appropriate amount of chlorine via the chlorine generator 11.

[027] In the illustrative embodiment, operation of the chlorine generator 11 is controlled by user settings for chlorine output made at the spa control panel 18. In an illustrative embodiment, the electrical controller 13 drives the electrodes of the chlorine generator 11 in a constant current mode to enable an optimal or desired chlorine generation rate. This mode of operation also allows the system to be driven at different specific current levels to control the generation rate of chlorine per hour depending on the user settings.

[028] In one embodiment, the spa water is salted, for example, by adding sodium chloride to achieve a concentration of, for example, 2000 ppm. Such an embodiment may be characterized as a salt water chlorinator system. [029] As shown in Figs. 2-5, in an illustrative embodiment, the electrode cartridge housing 15 comprises a wall fitting 19, which has circular groove 20, which receives an edge, e.g. 101 (Fig. 1), of the spa bar top 12. The wall fitting 19 mounts to the bar top 12 via a centering ring 23 and a nut 25. A cap 27 is screwed to the wall fitting 19 on the user side of the system to provide access to the electrode cartridge 17. An internal web portion 24 of the cap 27 also positions and holds the electrode cartridge 17 in place during operation.

[030] In an illustrative embodiment, an upper portion 29 of a lower housing section 22 glues into or otherwise attaches to the wall fitting 19 to form a watertight attachment. An O-ring 30 mounts in a receptacle in the wall fitting 19 and provides a watertight seal between the wall fitting 19 and the cap 27. In illustrative embodiments, the wall fitting 19, cap 27, and lower housing section 22, may all be a suitable molded plastic material, such as, for example PVC or ABS plastic.

[031] In the illustrative embodiment, the electrical connection of the electrode cartridge 17 to the controller 13 via electrical leads 103, 105 (Fig. 1) is completed through a pair of titanium electrical contacts 31, 33, which are molded into the housing 15 in watertight fashion. The contacts 31, 33 have flat vertical terminals 34, 36 adjacent an inside surface of the housing 15, as well as quick disconnect terminals 35, 37 on the outside of the housing 15. The electrical contacts 31, 33 thus enable dry electrical connections to the chlorine generator 11 and ease of service of the system.

[032] Below the electrical contacts 31, 33 is a drain port 41. This port 41 allows for removal of any water that may have entered the dry portion of the housing 15 during removal and replacement of the electrode cartridge 17. A water inlet port 43 on the bottom 45 of the housing 15 allows spa water to enter the housing 15 and flow through the wet electrode chamber 47. At the top of the wet electrode chamber 47 is an outlet port 49 through which the chlorinated spa water flows into the spa 14. The vertical water flow through the housing 15 ensures efficient flushing of the housing 15 and removal of all liquids and gases generated in the housing 15 during operation of the chlorinator 11.

[033] As shown in Figs. 6-9, in an illustrative embodiment, the electrode cartridge 17 comprises a tee handle 51 and pair of mixed metal oxide titanium electrodes 53, 55. In illustrative embodiments, the electrodes 53, 55 may comprise, for example, titanium or niobium base metal with a suitable oxide coating, such as, for example, ruthenium oxide, iridium oxide, or platinum oxide. In other

embodiments, the electrodes could be boron/nitrogen doped diamond.

[034] In the illustrative embodiment, the electrodes 53, 55 are each formed as a single piece and each includes a respective rectangular vertical portion 52, 54, which forms into a respective horizontal base portion 56, 58, from which extends respective outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact 57, 59. The electrodes 53, 54 could of course be formed of multiple parts in other embodiments, for example, with separate wet electrode and spring contact components.

[035] The horizontal base portions 56, 58 of each of the electrodes 53, 55 each fit into a respective mating opening 67, 69 in an electrode cup 65 and are held in place by a bottom surface 71 of the tee handle 51. An O-ring 63 provides a watertight seal between the housing 15 and the electrode cup 65.

[036] First and second slots, e. g. 99, are defined in the electrode cup 65 on either side of horizontal projections 110, 111, through which a respective one of the electrodes 53, 54 are inserted. Potting material is applied to seal openings around the electrodes 53, 54. A cap 181 covers the opening in the electrode cup 65 and prevents potting material from leaking up through the opening. In an illustrative embodiment, the tee handle 51 and electrode cup 65 may be molded plastic components formed, for example, of PVC or ABS plastic.

[037] In an illustrative embodiment, the design and shape of the electrodes 53, 55 provide a single piece component extending from the wetted electrode blade portions 52, 54 to the dry spring arm electrical contacts 57, 59. The wetted blade portions 52, 54 of the electrodes 53, 55 are equally spaced apart down the length of the cartridge 17, and a spacer 61 is mounted at the end of the cartridge 17 to ensure that the electrodes 53, 55 are held in proper position. The dry spring arm portions 57, 59 of the electrodes 53, 55 form electrical contact surfaces which are spring- biased into electrical contact with the flat vertical electrical contact terminals 34, 36, located on the interior of the electrode housing 15.

[038] As noted above, in one embodiment, the geometry of the electrode cartridge 17 permits installation of the electrode cartridge 17 into the housing 15 in only one direction and orientation, insuring proper electrical contact. In particular, in the illustrative embodiment, the outer vertical edges of the rectangular plastic guards, 60, 62 around each of the electrode contact arms 57, 59 extend outwardly and are shaped to mate with respective channels 74 defined by vertical guides 70, 72 formed on the inner wall of the electrode housing 19, as shown in Fig. 13. The electrode cartridge 17 is thereby keyed to the housing 19, permitting the cartridge 17 to be inserted in only one orientation. [039] In one illustrative embodiment, a locking mechanism is used to secure the cartridge 17 in place within the housing 15 independent of the cap 27. In particular, as shown in Figs. 8 and 9, a spring loaded plunger is slidably mounted in an internal opening in the tee handle 51 and comprises a bottom shaft 75, a spring 77 and a plunger cap 79. Respective locking bars 81, 83 with ball-shaped end surfaces 85, 87 are positioned to move laterally in respective channels 86, 88 (Fig. 10) formed in the lower end of the tee handle 51. Oblong slots 88, 90, are formed in each of the locking bars 81, 83 to permit the locking bars 81, 83 to move laterally left and right with respect to the attachment screws 50, which attach the tee handle 51 to the electrode cup 65.

[040] As a result of this construction, the cartridge 17 cannot be installed in the housing 15 without first pushing the plunger down by depressing the plunger cap 79 to retract the balls 85, 87 to a position within the respective channels 86, 88 in the lower end of the handle 51, as illustrated in Fig. 10. Once the balls 85, 87, are positioned adjacent the channel 90 in the housing 15, as shown in Fig. 10, the plunger can be pulled upward to the position shown in Fig.l 1 so as to force lateral movement of the locking bars 81, 83, thereby causing the balls 85, 87 to enter the locking position shown in Fig.l 1. If the cartridge 17 is not fully inserted into its proper position in the housing 15, the dimensioning of the cap 27 will cause the cap 27 to push the cartridge 17 into the locked position of Fig. 11 when the cap 27 is installed. If the cap 27 is thereafter removed, the cartridge 17 remains in its proper place.

[041] To remove the cartridge 17, the tee handle 51 may be grasped with two fingers and the plunger cap 79 depressed with the thumb, thereby releasing the locking balls 85, 87 and allowing them to slide back. The cartridge 17 may then be lifted out of the housing 19.

[042] Illustrative embodiments provide numerous advantages and improvements and in particular a low cost, disposable, consumer replaceable electrode cartridge, which is removable from the top side of a spa. Illustrative embodiments enable dry removal of the electrode cartridge, avoiding the risk of electrical shock. Spa-side control and operation of the system is also provided.

[043] Significantly lower water maintenance requirements are also achieved by illustrative embodiments because the electrode cartridge is designed to last a short life and to be disposable. Hence, the necessity to control spa water parameters in order to maintain chlorine generator electrodes in operating condition is minimized or eliminated. For example, softening the spa water can help to minimize the need to clean the electrodes. The illustrative embodiments eliminate the need to clean the electrodes and hence the need to control spa water parameters in order to maintain the electrodes. Thus, when the electrode cartridge is spent (no longer operating in spec) the system instructs the owner to change it out.

[044] Further embodiments are set forth in the following paragraphs:

1. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising: a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa; and

an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user in said housing and to thereafter be removed by the user and replaced.

2. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising: a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa; and

an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user in said housing and to thereafter be removeable by the user for replacement;

wherein the electrode cartridge comprises a handle grippable by the user and first and second electrodes positioned to extend into said housing; and

wherein the housing comprises:

a wall fitting adapted to be installed into an opening in said user- accessible surface; and

a cap removably attachable to the wall fitting by a user to provide user access to the electrode cartridge. A chlorine generator apparatus comprising: a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa wherein the housing has an open end and an interior and first and second internal electrical contacts, each mounted on an interior side surface of the housing;

a removable cap accessible from the exterior of said spa and attachable to the housing for closing the open end of the housing; and

an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user through an open end of said housing after said cap has been removed to a position entirely within the interior of the housing and below an attachment point of said cap;

the electrode cartridge being further configured to be subsequently removable from the housing; the electrode cartridge having first second electrical contacts

positioned to be in electrical contact with a respective one of said first and second internal electrical contacts of the housing when said electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing. chlorine generator apparatus comprising:

a housing adapted to be installed into an exterior, user-accessible top surface of a spa in a vertical position in an opening in the top surface, the opening of the spa being located above the water level in the spa; and an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user downwardly into the housing such that the electrode cartridge resides entirely within the housing;

wherein the electrode cartridge comprises a handle grippable by the user and first and second electrodes positioned to extend into the housing; wherein the housing comprises a wall fitting adapted to be mounted in the opening in the top surface of the spa; and

wherein the apparatus further includes a cap removably attachable to the wall fitting at a point above the installed electrode cartridge, the cap being configured to be openable by a user to provide user access to the handle of the installed electrode cartridge in order to pull the electrode cartridge up and out of the housing for replacement. chlorine generator apparatus comprising:

a housing adapted to be mounted in an exterior, user-accessible surface of a spa; and

an electrode cartridge configured to be installable by a user into said housing and to thereafter be removeable by the user for replacement; wherein the electrode cartridge comprises:

first and second electrodes, each including a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact; and

wherein said housing comprises first and second internal electrical contact terminals formed on an inner surface thereof and wherein the outwardly curved spring arm electrical contacts of the first and second electrodes are respectively positioned to make electrical contact with said first and second internal electrical contact terminals when said electrode cartridge is fully inserted into the housing. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-5 wherein the electrode cartridge comprises a handle grippable by the user. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-6 wherein the housing comprises:

a wall fitting adapted to be installed into said user-accessible surface; and a cap removably attachable to the wall fitting by a user to provide user access to the electrode cartridge. The chlorine generator of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-7 wherein the cap comprises an internal web structure which positions and holds the electrode cartridge in place during operation. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-8 wherein the electrode cartridge comprises first and second electrodes positioned to extend into said housing.

The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-9 wherein the cap comprises an internal web structure which positions and holds the electrode cartridge in place entirely within the housing during operation. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-10 wherein the electrode cartridge comprises:

first and second electrodes, each including a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact. The chlorine generator apparatus of the embodiment of paragraph 11 wherein the horizontal base portion of each of the first and second electrodes respectively fit into a respective mating opening in an electrode cup. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 11 or 12 wherein each horizontal base portion is held in place by a bottom surface of a handle component of the electrode cartridge. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-13 wherein the first and second internal electrical contacts of the housing extend through the housing to provide electrical contact points on an external surface of the housing. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-14 wherein the housing is installed in an opening in a top surface of the spa. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-15 wherein the top surface of the spa is a bar top area of a portable spa. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 1-10 wherein the housing has a first internal electrical contact mounted on an interior side surface thereof and a second internal electrical contact mounted on an interior side surface thereof and wherein the electrode cartridge has first and second electrical contacts positioned to be in electrical contact with a respective one of said first and second internal electrical contacts when said electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing. The chlorine generator apparatus of claim 17 wherein the first and second internal electrical contacts extend through the housing to provide electrical contact points external to the housing. An electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement; first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water; and

first and second electrical contacts positioned to come into contact with first and second electrical contacts on the housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed when the electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing. The electrode cartridge of the embodiment of paragraph 19 further comprising a first electrical conductor path electrically connecting said first electrode with said first electrical contact and a second electrical conductor path electrically connecting said second electrode with said second electrical contact. The electrode cartridge of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 19 or 20 wherein the first and second electrodes each include a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact. The electrode cartridge of the embodiment of paragraph 21 wherein the horizontal base portions of each of the first and second electrodes are respectively shaped to fit into respective mating openings of an electrode cup. The electrode cartridge of claim any one of the embodiments of

paragraphs 21 or 22 wherein each horizontal base portion is held in place by a bottom surface of the handle component of the electrode cartridge. The electrode cartridge of any one of the embodiments of paragraphs 19- 23 wherein the handle and electrical contacts of the electrode cartridge are so configured that upon initial installation of the electrode cartridge, the electrical contacts of the cartridge are initially positioned above and spaced vertically apart from the first and second contacts of the housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed. A method of constructing an electrode cartridge for a chlorinator apparatus comprising: forming a handle component grippable by a user;

mounting first and second electrodes beneath the handle;

shaping the electrode cartridge to be slidably insertable into and slidably removable from a mating housing; and

positioning first and second electrical contacts on the electrode cartridge so as to come into contact with first and second electrical contacts located on the mating housing when the electrode cartridge is inserted into an installed position in the mating housing A user replaceable electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a housing beneath a removable lid of the housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the spa user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement;

first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water; and first and second electrical contacts, each positioned on an exterior side surface of said electrode cartridge, one of the first and second electrical contacts being electrically connected to a respective one of said first and second electrodes. The electrode cartridge of the embodiment of paragraph 26 wherein each of the first and second electrical contacts is positioned to come into contact with a respective one of first and second electrical contacts on a housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed beneath a removable lid of the housing when the electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing. A user replaceable electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a housing beneath a removable lid of the housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the spa user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement;

first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water; and

first and second electrical contacts positioned on respective outer most side edges of said electrode cartridge, one of the first and second electrical contacts being electrically connected to a respective one of said first and second electrodes;

wherein a portion of each of the first and second electrical contacts is positioned within a respective electrode guard and has a conductive surface which extends outside of the respective electrode guard; and wherein each of the conductive surfaces of the first and second electrical contacts is spring biased outwardly away from a said outer most side edge such that each conductive surface is depressible inwardly toward said electrode cartridge against said spring bias. A user replaceable electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a housing beneath a removable lid of the housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the spa user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement;

first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water, the first and second electrodes each including a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved electrical contact;

an electrode cup located beneath the handle component and having first and second slots, a respective one of the vertical portions of the first and second electrodes extending through a respective one of said slots, the electrode cup further having first and second openings, a respective one of the horizontal base portions of the first and second electrodes residing in a respective one of said first and second openings, each horizontal base portion being held in place in its respective opening by a bottom surface of the handle component;

wherein a portion of each outwardly curved electrical contact is positioned within a respective guard and has a contact surface which extends outside of the respective guard, each of the contact surfaces of the first and second electrical contacts being spring biased outwardly such that each contact surface is depressible inwardly against the spring bias. A disposable electrode cartridge adapted to be installed into a mating housing by a user of a spa and comprising:

a handle component grippable by the user to insert the electrode cartridge into the housing and to pull the electrode cartridge out of the housing for replacement;

first and second electrodes mounted beneath the handle for generating chlorine from spa water; and

first and second electrical contacts adapted to come into contact with first and second electrical contacts on the mating housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed when the electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the mating housing. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 25-30 further comprising a first electrical conductor path electrically connecting said first electrode with said first electrical contact and a second electrical conductor path

electrically connecting said second electrode with said second electrical contact. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 25-28 or 30 wherein the first and second electrodes each include a vertical portion which forms into a horizontal base portion from which extends an outwardly curved spring arm electrical contact. The embodiment of paragraph 32 wherein the horizontal base portions of each of the first and second electrodes are respectively shaped to fit into respective mating openings of an electrode cup. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 32 or 33 wherein each horizontal base portion is held in place by a bottom surface of the handle component of the electrode cartridge. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 25-34 wherein the handle and electrical contacts of the electrode cartridge are so configured that upon initial installation of the electrode cartridge, the electrode contacts of the cartridge are initially positioned above and spaced vertically apart from the first and second contacts of the housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 25 or 28-30 wherein each of the first and second electrical contacts is positioned to come into contact with a respective one of first and second electrical contacts on a housing into which the electrode cartridge is adapted to be installed beneath a removable lid of the housing when the electrode cartridge is in an installed position in the housing. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 1-36 wherein the electrode cartridge is disposable. The chlorine generator apparatus of any one of the embodiments paragraphs 1-18 comprising a cap removably attachable to the housing to provide user access to the electrode cartridge. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 25-36 further comprising:

installing the electrode cartridge in the housing; and

signaling the user when the cartridge is spent to facilitate removal and replacement of the cartridge. The embodiment of paragraph 39 wherein signaling comprises instructing the user to change out the electrode cartridge. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 1-40 wherein the electrode cartridge is further configured such that no electrical wires enter or are attached to the electrode cartridge when the cartridge is in an installed position in the housing. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 1-40 wherein no electrical wires enter or are attached to electrode cartridge. The embodiment of any one of paragraphs 1-42 wherein the electrode cartridge is a disposable electrode cartridge unit wherein the cartridge is configured or adapted to be removed and replaced when spent. The embodiment of any one of claims 1-42 wherein the electrode cartridge is a disposable electrode cartridge configured to be removed and thrown away after use by the user and then replaced. [045] From the foregoing, those skilled in the art will appreciate that various adaptations and modifications of the just described illustrative embodiments can be configured without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described herein.