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Title:
REMOTE CONTROLLED VALVES IN A SHOWER INSTALLATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2007/026153
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A spray head (2) for a shower has spray nozzles arranged in a plurality of groups (8a, 8b, 8c) each arranged to receive water from a mixing valve (3) via a respective on/off solenoid valve (10a, 10b, 10c) housed within the spray head (2). The solenoid valves (10a, 10b, 10c) are controlled via a user interface (6) remote from the spray head (2) that allows the user to control the discharge of water from the groups (8a, 8b, 8c) of spray nozzles to provide different spray modes. In another embodiment, a mechanical linkage is provided between the spray head and a remote actuator for manually selecting different spray modes.

Inventors:
PEEL, Kevin (17 Middle Croft, Abbeymead, Gloucester GL4 4RL, GB)
BRITTON-WILLIAMS, Stephen, John (Little Apples, Orchard Close West End, Surrey GU24 9NS, GB)
Application Number:
GB2006/003224
Publication Date:
March 08, 2007
Filing Date:
August 31, 2006
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KOHLER MIRA LIMITED (Cromwell Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 5EP, GB)
PEEL, Kevin (17 Middle Croft, Abbeymead, Gloucester GL4 4RL, GB)
BRITTON-WILLIAMS, Stephen, John (Little Apples, Orchard Close West End, Surrey GU24 9NS, GB)
International Classes:
E03C1/05; B05B1/18
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARKER BRETTELL (138 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 9PW, GB)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A shower installation having a spray head provided with spray nozzles arranged in a plurality of groups and user operable means remote from the spray head for selectively controlling discharge of water from the groups of spray nozzles.

2. A shower installation according to claim 1 wherein, the spray head includes valve means for controlling flow of water to the groups of nozzles in accordance with user selection of a desired spray mode.

3. A shower installation according to claim 2 wherein, the valve means is electrically operated.

4. A shower installation according to claim 3 wherein, the valve means comprises a respective electrically operated valve in the spray head for each group of spray nozzles.

5. A shower installation according to claim 4 wherein, the electrically operated valves comprise solenoid valves.

6. A shower installation according to claim 5 wherein, the solenoid valves are on/off valves that provide full flow when open.

7. A shower installation according to claim 5 wherein, the solenoid valves are modulating valves that allow the flow to be adjusted when open.

8. A shower installation according to any one of claims 2 to 7 wherein, the valve means is controlled remotely from a user interface.

9. A shower installation according to claim 8 wherein, the user interface has an electronic control circuit that is programmed for user selection of different spray modes.

10. A shower installation according to claim 9 wherein, the programmed spray modes that can be selected include discharging water continuously from one or more groups of spray nozzles.

11. A shower installation according to claim 9 wherein, the programmed spray modes that can be selected include discharging water cyclically from one or more groups of spray nozzles.

12. A shower installation according to claim 2 wherein, the valve means is mechanically operated.

13. A shower installation according to claim 12 wherein, the valve means comprises a valve mechanism in the spray head that is remotely operable via a mechanical linkage in response to actuation of the user operable means to select a desired spray mode.

14. A shower installation according to claim 13 wherein the mechanical linkage comprises a wire extending between the user operable means and the valve mechanism for selecting the spray modes.

15. A shower installation according to claim 13 or claim 14 wherein the linkage is concealed.

16. A shower installation according to claim 15 wherein the linkage extends in a waterway to the spray head.

17. A shower installation according to any one of claims 12 to 16 wherein, the valve means is remotely controlled from a manually operable control member.

18. A shower installation according to claim 17 wherein the manually control member is a control knob or lever.

19. A shower installation according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the spray head is a multi-mode spray head with the groups of spray nozzles configured to provide a plurality of spray modes and the flow of water is controlled in accordance with user selection of the spray mode so that water is discharged from one or more groups of nozzles in each spray mode.

20. A shower installation according to any one of the preceding claims wherein, the groups of spray nozzles are configured to cover the user's head and shoulders.

21. A shower installation according to any one of the preceding claims wherein, the spray head has a generally C-shaped configuration of spray nozzles arranged to cover the user's shoulders.

22. A shower installation according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the spray head has a generally elliptical or annular configuration of spray nozzles arranged to cover the user's head.

23. A shower installation according to claim 21 or claim 22 wherein each configuration comprises a single group of spray nozzles.

24. A shower installation according to claim 21 or claim 22 wherein, the shoulder configuration comprises two groups of spray nozzles, one for each side.

25. A shower installation according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the spray nozzles of each group are uniformly spaced.

26. A shower installation according to any one of claims 1 to 24 wherein, at least one group of spray nozzles has a higher concentration of spray nozzles in a desired area to focus the spray from the group.

27. A shower installation according to claim 26 wherein a group of spray nozzles covering the head is more closely packed towards the centre of the group.

28. A shower installation according to any one of the preceding claims wherein, the spray head is mounted on a support arm assembly that can be adjusted to change the height and/or angle of the spray head.

29. A shower installation according to claim 28 wherein, the assembly comprises a support arm having friction pivot links at each end for mounting the support arm and for connecting the spray head respectively.

30. A shower installation according to claim 29 wherein, the support arm can pivot about one link to adjust the height of the spray head and the spray head can pivot about the other link to adjust the angle of the spray head.

31. A shower installation according to any one of claims 28 to 30 wherein, the support arm has a duct through which water can pass to the spray head and a separate duct through which a control member can pass to the spray head for controlling discharge of water from the groups of spray nozzles.

32. A shower installation according to any one of the preceding claims wherein, including means for supplying temperature controlled water to the spray head in accordance with user selection of the desired water temperature.

33. A shower installation according to claim 32 wherein, the water supply means comprises a mixing valve for hot and cold water.

34. A shower installation according to claim 33 wherein the mixing valve is controlled from a user interface that enables a person showering to select the water temperature and flow rate.

35. A shower installation according to claim 34 wherein, the user interface has an electronic control circuit that is programmed for the flow rates and/or water temperatures that the user can select for each spray mode.

36. A shower installation according to claim 34 or claim 35 wherein, the mixing valve and spray head are operable via an electronic controller in response to inputs of the user selected spray mode, flow rate and water temperature via the user interface.

37. A shower installation according to claim 36 wherein, the mixing valve and electronic controller are provided in a water control unit remote from the user interface and the user interface is operatively connected to the electronic controller.

38. A shower installation according to claim 37 wherein, the user interface is connected to the electronic controller via a wire link.

39. A shower installation according to claim 37 wherein, the user interface is connected to the electronic controller via a wireless link.

40. A shower installation according to claim 32 wherein, the water supply means comprises an instantaneous water heater.

41. A shower installation according to claim 40 wherein the user operable means for selectively controlling discharge of water from the groups of spray nozzles is positioned at an outlet for temperature controlled water from the instantaneous water heater.

42. A spray head having an inlet for connection to a water supply, a plurality of groups of spray nozzles through which water can be discharged, valve means for controlling flow of water from the inlet to the groups of spray nozzles, and user operable means remote from the spray head for actuating the valve means in response to user selection of a desired spray mode.

43. A spray head according to claim 42 wherein, the valve means is electrically operated.

44. A spray head according to claim 43 wherein, the valve means comprises a separate electrically operated valve for each group of nozzles and the user operable means controls actuation of the valves to provide the desired spray mode.

45. A spray head according to claim 44 wherein each spray mode comprises one or more groups of spray nozzles.

46. A spray head according to claim 45 wherein the valve means is operable to discharge water continuously or intermittently from the one or more groups of nozzles of the selected spray mode.

47. A spray head according to any one of claims 42 to 46 wherein the valve means is operable to discharge water from at least two groups of spray nozzles in sequence.

48. A spray head according to claim 47 wherein the sequence is regular.

49. A spray head according to claim 47 wherein the sequence is random.

50. A spray head according to claim 42 wherein, the valve means is mechanically operated.

51. A spray head according to claim 50 wherein, the valve means comprises a valve mechanism and the user operable means controls actuation of the valve mechanism to provide the desired spray mode via a mechanical linkage.

52. A spray head according to claim 51 wherein the mechanical linkage is concealed in a waterway to the spray head.

53. A spray head according to claim 51 or claim 52 wherein the mechanical linkage comprises at least one wire or cable.

54. A spray head according to claim 53 wherein the mechanical linkage comprises a pair of wires or cables.

55. A spray head according to claim 53 or claim 54 wherein the valve mechanism includes a rotatable control member coupled to the or each wire or cable for rotating the control member in accordance with user selection of the desired spray mode.

56. A spray head according to any one of claims 42 to 55 wherein the spray head is a multi-mode spray head having a plurality of spray modes remotely selectable via the user operable means.

57. A spray head according to claim 56 in which water can be discharged from the spray head in each spray mode.

58. A spray head according to claim 56 or claim 57 in which the valve means is responsive to user selection of any one of the spray modes to direct flow of water to the group or groups of nozzles associated with the selected spray mode.

Description:

REMOTE CONTROLLED VALVES IN A SHOWER INSTALLATION

This invention concerns improvements in or relating to spray fittings. The invention has particular, but not exclusive, application to spray fittings for ablutionary installations and more especially for showers.

Multi-mode spray heads for use with a fixed showerhead or a handset are known in which a number of different spray modes can be selected by manually operating a valve mechanism in the spray head, usually by turning a control ring on the outer edge of the spray head or by operating a lever. The usual spray modes that can be selected are a group of plain nozzles, a group of nozzles with a pulsating water flow (so called "massage" spray effect) and a group of nozzles supplied via an aeration mechanism that issue low velocity jets of water containing finely dispersed air bubbles (so called "champagne" spray effect) . Some of these known spray heads also permit selection of a combination of any two or more of the individual spray modes.

The known multi-mode spray heads have a number of limitations:

1. The spray head must be within reach to enable a user to select a spray mode 2 There is a limit to the choice of sprays.

3 Each spray, once chosen operates in a steady manner, without change.

4 The spray pattern is generally circular in cross section such that high flow or drench sprays make it difficult to get a breath of air.

As a result, although the known multi-mode spray heads have the potential of the user being able to change the spray mode (e.g. from 'massage' to 'champagne' to 'wide- spray', etc) in reality it is likely that only one position is used most of the time due to the ergonomic difficulty of rotating the outer control ring when showering. Thus, it can appear to be too much trouble to reach up with two hands and have to look directly into a stream of water (which could be a powerful force and hot) to change the mode.

The present invention has been made from a consideration of the foregoing limitations of the known spray heads and seeks to provide an improved spray head that overcomes or at least mitigates some or all of these limitations.

In particular, the present invention preferably seeks to provide a shower installation having a multi-mode spray head that can be operated remotely to switch between the spray modes.

More especially, the present invention preferably seeks to provide a spray head for a shower installation that can provide a wide range of spray options that enhance the shower experience for the user.

Other aims, objects and benefits of the present invention will be apparent from the following description of the invention.

According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a shower installation having a spray head provided with spray nozzles arranged in a plurality of groups and user operable means remote from the spray head for selectively controlling discharge of water from the groups of spray nozzles.

In one embodiment, the spray head includes electrically operated valve means for controlling flow of water to the groups of nozzles in accordance with user selection of a desired spray mode. Thus, each group of spray nozzles may be provided with a respective electrically operated valve in the spray head that is controlled remotely for turning the water flow to the associated group of nozzles in the spray head on and off. For example, the electrically operated valves may comprise solenoid valves. The solenoid valves may be on/off valves that provide full flow when open or modulating valves that allow the flow to be adjusted when open.

Preferably, the valves are controlled remotely from a user interface that enables a person using the shower to select the spray groups to be turned on to provide different spray modes. The user interface may have any suitable means for selecting a spray mode, for example push buttons, rotary knobs, touch panels and an electronic control circuit that is programmed with a number of sequential operations for the shower spray groups according to the spray mode selected by the user. Preferably, the programmed spray modes that can be selected include discharging water continuously from one or more groups of spray nozzles, discharging water cyclically from one or more groups of spray nozzles in various sequences and various combinations. Cyclic operation of groups of spray nozzles may be regular or random.

Operating the groups of spray nozzles one at a time in rapid sequence uses roughly the same amount of water as having only one spray group on continuously but creates an invigorating effect and feels as though there is as much water flowing as when all three spray groups are on. In this way, the spray head can create the impression of a high flow luxury shower without the high water consumption.

Preferably, the groups of spray nozzles are configured to cover the user's head, shoulders and optionally torso. For example, the spray head may have a generally C- shaped configuration of spray nozzles arranged to cover the user's shoulders and a generally elliptical or annular configuration of spray nozzles arranged to cover the user's head. Each configuration (head and shoulders) may comprise a single group of spray nozzles. More preferably, however, the shoulder configuration comprises two groups of

spray nozzles, one for each side. In this way, cyclically operating the spray groups can provide a massaging effect.

The spray nozzles of each group may be uniformly spaced. Alternatively, at least one group of spray nozzles may have a higher concentration of spray nozzles in a desired area to focus the spray from the group. For example, the group of spray nozzles covering the head may be more closely packed towards the centre of the group.

Preferably, the spray head is mounted on a support arm assembly that can be adjusted to change the height and/or angle of the spray head. For example, the assembly may comprise a support arm having friction pivot links at each end for mounting the support arm and for connecting the spray head respectively. In this way, the support arm can pivot about one link to adjust the height of the spray head and the spray head can pivot about the other link to adjust the angle of the spray head. Preferably, the support arm has a duct through which water can pass to the spray head and a separate duct through which an electrical supply can pass to the spray head for operating the valves.

Preferably, means is provided for supplying temperature controlled water to the spray head in accordance with user selection of the desired water temperature, for example a mixing valve for mixing hot and cold water. Preferably, the mixing valve is controlled remotely from a user interface and enables a person showering to select the water temperature and flow rate. The user interface may have any suitable means for selecting flow rate and water temperature, for example push buttons, rotary knobs, touch panels and an electronic control circuit that is programmed for the flow rates and/or water temperatures that the user can select for each spray mode. The mixing valve user interface may be separate from the spray head user interface but more preferably the same user interface controls both the spray head and the mixing valve.

Preferably, the mixing valve and spray head are operable via an electronic controller in response to inputs of the user selected spray mode, flow rate and water temperature via the user interface. Li a preferred embodiment, the mixing valve and electronic controller are provided in a water control unit and the user interface is operatively connected to the electronic controller. In one arrangement, a wire link is provided between the user interface and the electronic controller. In another arrangement, a wireless link, for example a radio frequency or infra-red link, may be provided.

The user interface may comprise a fixed control unit that is mounted in the shower area to be within reach of the user to select/change the mode of operation while showering. Alternatively, or additionally, the user interface may comprise a portable control unit, for example a hand held unit, that enables the user to select/change the mode of operation from outside the shower area, for example before getting into the shower.

Both fixed and hand held units may be provided to allow the mode of operation to be selected/changed within or remote from the shower area.

In another embodiment, a mechanical linkage such as a wire may be provided between the user operable means and the spray head for selecting the spray modes. Preferably, the linkage is concealed. For example, the linkage may extend in the waterway to the spray head or in a passage or duct to the spray head. In one arrangement, the spray head is in the form of a handset connected to a flexible hose and the linkage is concealed in the hose. In another arrangement, the spray head is in the form of a showerhead connected to a supply pipe and the linkage is concealed in the pipe. The supply pipe may feed the showerhead via the support arm assembly above-mentioned with the linkage concealed in one of the ducts of the support arm.

Preferably, the user operable means comprises a manually operable control such as a knob, lever or the like. Preferably, the linkage connects the user operable means to a mechanism within the spray head for controlling flow of water to a group or groups of spray nozzles according to the selected spray mode. The groups of spray nozzles may be configured to provide desired spray patterns and/or spray types

In one arrangement, the spray head is provided with a valve mechanism for controlling flow of water according to the selected spray mode and the linkage is connected to a control member for adjusting the valve mechanism. For example, the spray head may have a rotary control ring for adjusting the valve mechanism and the linkage is connected to the control ring within the spray head for remotely driving the control ring.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a spray head having a plurality of spray modes, and user operable means remote from the spray head for selecting any of the spray modes.

According to a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a spray head having an inlet for connection to a water supply, a plurality of groups of spray nozzles through which water can be discharged, means for controlling flow of water from the inlet to the groups of spray nozzles, and user operable means remote from the spray head for actuating the flow control means in response to user selection of a desired spray mode.

In one embodiment, the flow control means comprises electrically operated valve means. In another embodiment, the flow control means comprises mechanically operated valve means. In these embodiments, the user operable means controls actuation of the valve means to provide the desired spray mode.

Preferably, a plurality of spray modes are provided for user selection via the user operable means. Each spray mode may comprise one or more groups of spray nozzles.

The valve means may be operable to discharge water continuously or intermittently from the one or more groups of nozzles of the selected spray mode. In one arrangement, the valve means is operable to discharge water from at least two groups of spray nozzles in sequence. The sequence may cycle between groups of spray nozzles in a regular or random manner.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a shower installation having a spray head provided with spray nozzles arranged in a plurality of groups, means for supplying temperature controlled water to the spray head in accordance with user selection, and means for remotely controlling discharge of water from the groups of spray nozzles in accordance with user selection.

Preferably, the spray head is provided with means for controlling flow of water to the groups of spray nozzles in response to user selection of a desired spray mode via the remote control means. Preferably, the flow control means can provide any selected one of a plurality of spray modes according to user selection via the remote control means.

According to a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of controlling discharge of water from a spray head by providing a spray head having a plurality of spray nozzles arranged in groups and user operable means remote from the spray head for selecting at least one group of spray nozzles for discharge of water supplied to the spray head.

The invented method enables the user to change the spray remotely from the spray head by selecting a different group or groups of spray nozzles for discharge of water.

According to a sixth aspect of the present invention, there is provided an adjustable support arm assembly for mounting a spray head, the assembly including a support arm having a pivot link at one end for mounting the arm and a pivot link at the other end for mounting a spray head, wherein the pivot links permit adjustment to the height and angle of the spray head and retain the support arm and spray head in any adjusted position.

Preferably, the spray head comprises groups of spray nozzles and valve means controlling the flow of water in response to user selection of a desired spray mode. The valve means may be mechanically or electrically operable for use selection of any one of a plurality of spray modes in which water is discharged from the spray head

In one arrangement, user operable means for selection of the spray mode is provided remote from the spray head. The valve means may be mechanically operated. For

example, the valve means may be connected by a mechanical linkage such as a wire to a manually operable actuator for operating the valve means to select the spray mode. Alternatively, the valve means may be electrically operated. For example, the user operable means may control operation of one or more solenoid vales within the spray head to select the spray mode.

In another arrangement, user operable means for selection of the spray mode is provided at the spray head. The valve means may be mechanically operated. For example, the user operable means may be a control ring or lever on the spray head that is connected to valve means within the spray head for operating the valve means to select the spray mode. Alternatively, the valve means may be electrically operated. For example, the user operable means may control operation of one or more solenoid valves within the spray head to select the spray mode.

The invention will now be described in more detail by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: -

Figure 1 is a schematic view of a shower installation embodying the invention;

Figure 2 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a multi-mode spray head suitable for use in the installation of Figure 1;

Figure 3 is an underneath plan view of the spray head shown in Figure 2;

Figure 4 is a side view of the spray head shown in Figures 2 and 3;

Figure 5 is a plan view of the spray head shown in Figures 2 to 4 with the top cover removed to show internal parts;

Figure 6 is a diagrammatic plan view of an adjustable support arm assembly for mounting the spray head of Figures 2 to 5;

Figure 7 is a diagrammatic side view of the support arm assembly shown in Figure 6;

Figures 8A,8B,8C are diagrammatic side views of the support arm assembly shown in Figures 6 and 7 in different adjusted positions;

Figure 9 is a front view of a user interface for the installation of Figure 1;

Figure 10 is an underneath plan view of a second embodiment of a multi-mode spray head suitable for use in the installation of Figure 1;

Figure 11 a perspective view of a third embodiment of a multi-mode spray head suitable for use in the installation of Figure 1;

Figure 12 is a schematic view showing a modification to the installation of Figure 1;

Figure 13 is a schematic view of an alternative shower installation embodying the invention;

Figure 14 is a perspective view of a multi-mode spray head suitable for use in the installation of Figure 13 having a single cable control linkage for remote selection of the spray mode;

Figure 15 is a perspective view of a multi-mode spray head suitable for use in the installation of Figure 13 having a double cable control linkage for remote selection of the spray mode;

Figure 16 is perspective view of a remote control unit for use with the double cable control linkage of Figure 15, the unit being shown with the cover removed; and

Figures 17, 18 and 19 are front views of the remote control unit shown in Figure 16 in three adjusted positions for user selection of three spray modes.

Referring first to Figures 1 to 5 of the accompanying drawings, the shower installation 1 depicted in Figure 1 comprises a multi-mode spray head 2 connected to a source of temperature controlled water. In this embodiment the source of temperature controlled water is an electronic mixing valve 3 for mixing supplies of hot water 4 and cold water 5 according to user selection via an interface 6. It will be understood however, that any mixing valve or other suitable source of temperature controlled water such as an instantaneous electric water heater may be employed.

The interface 6 is located in the shower area, for example a shower enclosure, for access by the user to select the water temperature and other functions of the installation as described later herein. The mixing valve 3 may be located outside the shower area, for example in the roof space above the shower enclosure. The mixing valve 3 has an electronic control system (not shown) connected to the interface 6 by a data cable 7 for transmitting data between the interface 6 and the control system for operating the mixing valve 3. In a modification (not shown), the data cable 7 may be replaced by a wireless link, for example a radio frequency link.

The spray head 2 has three spray groups 8a,8b,8c connected to a manifold 9 (Figure 5) within the spray head 2 via respective on/off solenoid valves 10a, 10b, 10c to control flow to each spray group 8a,8b,8c independently of the other groups. The manifold 9 is

arranged to receive temperature controlled water from the mixing valve 3 via a supply pipe 12 and the solenoid valves 10a,10b,10c include respective solenoids lla,llb,llc (Figure 5) for operating the valves 10a, 10b, 10c according to user selection of the spray mode via the interface 6. The power supply to the solenoids 11 a, lib, lie is via a multi- core power supply cable 13 that is connected to the electrical supply 25 for the mixing valve 3 to operate the valves 10a, 10b, 10c in response to data transmitted between the interface 6 and the electronic control system. It will be understood that any other type of electrically operated valve could be used in place of the solenoid valves.

As best shown in Figures 2 to 4, the spray head 2 has a generally oval shape so that it can produce a spray shape covering a person's head and shoulders when the user stands with their back to the spray head 2. In this embodiment, the spray groups 8a, 8b, 8c comprise arrays of nozzles 14a,14,b,14c configured to cover different parts of the user's body. Thus, the spray group 8a is directed towards the users head and the spray groups 8b and 8c are directed towards the user's shoulders. The nozzles 14a, 14, b, 14c are made of elastomer and arranged to project from the spray head 2 to allow the ends of the nozzles to be deformed manually to remove limescale. This is not essential, however, and the nozzles may be of any suitable construction.

The user can control the flow of water to one or more spray groups 8a, 8b, 8c via the interface 6 to produce a range of spray patterns. For example, using all the spray groups 8a,8b,8c together produces an "all-over" spray pattern to cover the whole of the user's head and shoulders. Using the spray groups 8b and 8c together makes a loosely "C" shaped spray pattern that mainly covers the user's shoulders and torso without drowning the user's head. This produces a more comfortable body warming sensation than a conventional spray. Using the spray group 8a alone makes a generally elliptical spray pattern that mainly covers the user's head. This produces an invigorating spray that may be used for hair washing.

The use of electrically operated valves 10a, 10b, 10c controlling the flow to the spray groups 8a, 8b, 8c allows a wide range of possible spray modes producing different patterns and/or effects. Thus, the user may choose a spray mode in which water is continuously discharged from any one spray group 8a, 8b, 8c until a different spray mode is selected. Alternatively, the user may select a cyclic operation of the spray groups 8a,8b,8c in which water is discharged from each spray group 8a,8b,8c in sequence so that the spray pattern is continuously changing as the water flow switches between each spray group 8a,8b,8c. The sequence may be regular or random and may be continuously repeated at the same or different cycle speeds.

In one spray mode, the spray groups can cycle in the sequence '8a' '8b' '8c' to spray the user's head and shoulders in sequence. The user can select the rate at which the spray groups 8a,8b,8c are cycled from a fairly slow change rate where each spray

group 8a,8b,8c operates for a few seconds at a time, to a rapid cycle where each spray group is on for only a fraction of a second. The faster cycle rates have a massage feeling. Furthermore, at a fairly rapid cycle rate a person showering can have the impression that there is much more water flowing than when all three spray groups 8a,8b,8c are operating together continuously. In fact the actual flow rate is slightly less, but it feels much greater.

In another spray mode, the spray groups '8b' and '8c can cycle in sequence to spray the user's shoulders, with or without the spray group '8a' spraying the user's head. This may be desirable where, for example, the user wants to shower without getting their hair wet. In yet another spray mode, the spray groups can be operated in pairs, continuously or cyclically, for example, '8a + 8b'-'8b + 8c'-'8c + 8a' etc. Other combinations that are possible will be apparent and the above examples are intended to illustrate the wide range of options available and are not limiting on the scope of the application.

Referring now to Figures 6,7 and 8A,8B,8C, an adjustable support arm assembly for mounting the spray head 2 on a support surface 15, for example a wall of a shower enclosure, is shown comprising a support arm 16 connected at one end to the spray head 2 via a pivot link 17 and at the other end to a wall bracket 18 via pivot link 19. Each pivot link 17,19 has a friction clutch that allows the height and angle of the spray head 2 to be adjusted independently by the user and retains the spray head 2 in any adjusted position. The only manual adjustment that a user needs to make is to set the trajectory of the spray.

As shown, the support arm 16 has two ducts 16a and 16b and each pivot link 17,19 is arranged to have two ducts that communicate with the ducts 16a, 16b respectively as indicated by the arrows A, B in Figure 6. One duct 16a is used for the supply of water to the spray head 2 and is sealed relative to the associated ducts of the pivot links 17,19 and the other duct 16b is used for the passage of the multi-core power supply cable 13 to operate the solenoid valves 10a, 10b, 10c. Temperature controlled water from the mixer valve 3 is delivered in a supply pipe 20 connected to the wall bracket 18. The supply pipe 18 and power supply cable 13 may be concealed by a trim cover (not shown).

Referring now to Figure 9, the user interface 6 for controlling operation of the shower installation is shown and includes two push buttons 21a,21b for selecting the spray mode. The button 21a is used to choose operation of one, two or three of the spray groups 8a,8b,8c individually or in combination in a selection of steady spray modes.

The spray mode options are selectable by successive depressions of the button 21a.

Button 21b is used to choose operation of one, two or three of the spray groups 8a,8b,8c individually or in combination in a selection of cyclic spray modes with pre-set cycle rates. As with button 21a, the cyclic options are selected by successive depressions of the button 21b. In a modification, the cycle rates may be continuously adjustable

between upper and lower limits and/or a plurality of pre-set cycle rates may be provided for user selection of the desired cycle rate.

As shown, the push buttons 21a,21b are incorporated in a control panel 21 that is mounted in the shower area to be accessible to the user while showering, for example on the wall of the shower enclosure, and that includes additional actuators for controlling other functions of the shower installation. In this embodiment, the panel 21 has a push button 21c to start/stop water flow, push buttons 21d,21e,21f to select different flow rates and a rotary control knob 21g to select water temperature. Other buttons, knobs may be provided to control additional functions if required, for example to operate the shower for a pre-set time.

In use, the user interface 6 is mounted in the shower area, for example on the wall and the person showering can select the water temperature, flow rate and spray mode via the interface and can change any of these while showering. The control system is programmed to automatically have at least one solenoid valve 10a, 10b, 10c open when the mixing valve 3 is required to deliver water to the spray head 2. The user interface 6 may be programmable with a memory to store selected shower settings that the user can re-call when using the shower.

In a modification (not shown) the user interface may be comprised in a portable unit, for example a hand held unit that enables the shower to be controlled from outside the shower area. The hand held interface may be provided in combination with a fixed interface within the shower enclosure. In this way, the user can control the shower both from within the shower area and from outside the shower area, for example to turn the shower on before entering the shower area. The hand held interface may operate the shower directly or indirectly via the fixed interface.

Referring now to Figures 10 and 11, two alternate designs of multi-mode spray head 2 are shown, each with three spray groups 8a,8b,8c. In both versions, the spray groups 8a,8b,8c are arranged with the spray nozzles 14a of one spray group 8a configured to focus on the users' head and the spray nozzles 14b, 14c of the other two spray groups 8b, 8c configured in a 'C shape to cover the users' shoulders and torso.

In Figure 10, the spray groups 8a,8b,8c have similar types of spray nozzles 14a, 14, b, 14c with a higher concentration of spray nozzles 14a in the group 8a configured to focus on the users head compared to the other groups 8b,8c. In Figure 11, the group 8a again has a higher concentration of spray nozzles 14a and the nozzles 14a are of a different type to those of the other groups. For example, some or all of the nozzles 14a may provide an aerated or pulsating water flow. The spray heads 2 of Figures 10 and 11 may be arranged to provide a range of spray modes similar to the spray head of Figures 2 to 5.

Referring now to Figure 12, there is shown a modification to the shower installation of Figure 1 in which at least one additional spray head 22 such as a body spray or a handset is connected to the mixer valve 3 via an on/off solenoid valve 23 that is operated from the interface 6 in similar manner to the solenoid valves 10a, 10b, 10c of the spray head 2 for controlling discharge of temperature controlled water from the spray head 22.

The spray head 22 can be operated in similar manner to the spray head 2 to discharge water continuously or intermittently (pulsed) . The user may choose to operate the spray head 22 separately or in combination with the overhead spray head 2. It will be understood that a plurality of additional spray heads 22 may be provided for spraying different parts of the body, for example the legs, lower body and upper body and may be arranged to spray the user from one or more sides.

In use, the person showering can select the water temperature, flow rate, spray heads and spray mode via the interface and can change any of these while showering. The control system is programmed to automatically have at least one solenoid valve 10a, 10b, 10c open when the mixing valve 3 is required to deliver water to the spray head 2 unless the spray head 22 is being used.

The above-described shower installations with remote electronic mixing valve 3 and user interface 6 can be retro-fitted where a conventional mixing valve is being replaced. Thus, referring to Figures 1 and 12, two ducts are required for the interface cable and the mixed water supply into the showering enclosure. A conventional mixing valve that is installed in the shower enclosure is supplied by a hot water pipe and a cold water pipe and we have found that one of these two pipes can be used for the mixed water supply from the electronic mixing valve and the other pipe can be used for the multi-core cable to the user interface.

We have also found that the cable can be threaded through the pipe by first inserting a pull-through cord into the pipe. This can be achieved if the cord is light and strong by attaching a small lump of foam rubber to the cord and pulling it through the pipe work with a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum is particularly effective in pulling the foam rubber and cord through plumbing fittings. The cord is then used to pull the multi-cord cable through. This method can be very helpful where the original hot and cold pipes are built into the wall structure and there is a need to limit the amount of wall finishing that has to be re-worked.

It will be understood that the above-described multi-mode spray head with remote selection of a wide range of different spray modes can provide an improved shower experience for the user. Thus, the cyclic operation of the spray groups may create the impression of increased flow compared to a continuous, steady flow from the same

number of groups. The C-shaped spray covering the shoulders may be used if the user does not want to get their hair wet while showering. Alternatively, it may be used while applying shampoo to the hair so that the user does not have to switch the shower off completely and can select the spray covering the head to wash the hair to remove the shampoo.

While the above-described spray head has three groups of spray nozzles, it will be understood that this is not essential and that any number of groups of spray nozzles could be employed. Each group of spray nozzles may have an associated electrically operated valve to control the flow to that group as described or an electrically operated valve mechanism may be provided to divert the flow to a selected group or groups of spray nozzles. The mixing valve may supply temperature controlled water to more than one spray head having multiple groups of spray nozzles and each spray head may be operable to select different spray modes as described.

Referring now to Figure 13 to 19 of the accompanying drawings, an alternative shower installation 101 is depicted in Figure 13 comprising a multi-mode spray head in the form of a handset 102 connected to an instantaneous electric water heater 103 by a flexible hose 104. The handset 102 is supported on a slide rail assembly 105 including a slide rail 106 secured to the wall and a holder 107 having a socket to removably receive the handset 102. The holder 107 is slidable along the rail 106 to adjust the vertical position of the handset 102 and the socket is pivotal to adjust the angular position of the handset 102. It will be understood that the invention is not limited to handsets 102 supported on a slide rail assembly 105 and that other arrangements for mounting the handset 102 may be employed. For example, the holder 107 may be fixed to the wall. .

The instantaneous water heater 103 houses a heat exchange tank (not shown) connected to a supply of incoming cold water (not shown) that is heated as it flows through the tank to provide a source of temperature controlled water to the handset 102 according to user selection via a control knob 108. The user may also select the power input to the tank to further control the temperature of the water delivered to the handset 102. It will be understood, that the invention is not limited to instantaneous electric water heaters and the handset may be connected to any suitable source of temperature controlled water, for example a mixing valve for mixing hot and cold water to produce a supply of blended water according to user selection of the desired water temperature.

The handset 102 has a plurality of nozzles 109 and a rotatable control ring 110 for manually adjusting a valve mechanism 111 housed within the handset 102 to divert the water supplied to the handset 102 to a selected group or groups of spray nozzle for discharge from the handset 102. The control ring 110 may be rotatable to any selected one of a plurality of positions each corresponding to a different spray mode. In this embodiment, the control ring 110 can be rotated to select any one of three spray modes

in which the selected group or groups of spray nozzles provide, for example, a wide angle spray, a pulsating spray, and an aerated spray. Other types and combinations of sprays may be provided and the invention is not limited to the spray modes above- mentioned. The spray nozzles of each group may be uniformly spaced. Alternatively, at least one group of spray nozzles may have a higher concentration of spray nozzles in a desired area to focus the spray from the group. For example, the group of spray nozzles covering the head may be more closely packed towards the centre of the group.

In use, the user can adjust the spray mode, by reaching up to grip and rotate the control ring 110 to select a different spray mode. This can be awkward while showering when water is being discharged from the handset 102 and therefore many users do not attempt to adjust the spray mode while showering. As a result, many of the benefits and advantages of having a multi-mode spray head are not obtained while showering.

The shower installation shown in Figures 13 to 19 provides a solution to this problem that allows the user to change the spray mode while showering without manually gripping and rotating the control ring 110 by means of a manually rotatable control knob 113 connected to the control ring 110 by a link fed to the handset 102 through the flexible hose 104.

In the embodiment of Figure 14, the link comprises a single wire cable 114 connected at one end to the control ring 110 and at the other end to the control knob 113. In this way, rotation of the control knob 113 is transmitted to the control ring 110 to rotate the control ring 110 to change the spray mode. The link provides a push/pull action to rotate the control ring 110 in both a clockwise and an anticlockwise direction according to the direction of rotation of the control knob 113.

As shown in Figure 13, the control knob 113 is incorporated in a control unit 115 connected between the outlet from the instantaneous water heater 103 and the flexible hose 104 allowing the cable 114 to be fed through the hose 4 to the handset 102. The cable 114 may be made of stainless steel or other suitable corrosion resistant material. Positioning the control unit 115 close to the instantaneous water heater 103 allows a user to change the spray mode while showering without physically gripping the control ring 110 on the handset 102. Such remote control simplifies selection of the spray mode when showering while allowing the control ring 110 on the handset 102 to still be rotated in the conventional way if required (e.g. if being used in the bath when the user is not close to the control knob/lever position) . .

The wire cable 114 is contained internally within the handset 102, the hose 104 (or pipe- work in a 'built-in' installation) and the control-unit 115. As a result, the linkage is visually unobtrusive (i.e. an 'invisible' connection). In a 'built-in' situation it is not critical that the wire cable 114 is threaded through the plumbing - it could just as easily

run outside the pipework (in parallel with the hose, pipes, chased into the wall or narrow-bore protective conduit) - and enter the control unit 115 for attachment to the rotary control knob 113.

In a further embodiment shown in Figures 15 to 19, the link comprises two wire cables 116,117 extending between the control knob 113 and the control ring 110 within the hose 104. The cables 116,117 may be made of stainless steel or other suitable corrosion resistant material. The use of two cables provides a pull/pull action where the control ring 110 is pulled by one cable for rotation in one direction and by the other cable for rotation in the opposite direction. The link basically has a continuous rotary action (like a conveyor belt) so the wire passes down and then up the hose 104 from the control ring 110 to the rotary control knob 113. This may provide a more "positive" feel to the selection of the spray mode compared to the push/pull action provided by the single cable arrangement of Figure 14. As shown, the total rotational movement of the control knob 113 is approximately 180-degree for selecting all the spray modes. This is not essential and the angular movement of the control knob 113 to change the spray modes may be chosen as desired.

In the embodiments of Figures 13 to 19, the control unit 115 is separate from the instantaneous water heater 103. The control unit 115 can therefore be supplied separate from the instantaneous water heater 103 or mixing valve or other suitable source of temperature controlled water for retro-fitting to convert an existing shower installation for remote operation of the spray mode. Installation is straightforward and can be carried out by a competent DIY person as well as disassembly /reassembly for subsequent maintenance to clean and/or replace the hose or handset. It will be understood, however, that the control unit 115 could also be supplied with the instantaneous water heater or mixing valve or other suitable source of temperature controlled water either separate from or built-in for fitting as original equipment.

In the embodiments of Figures 13 to 19, the manual control could be via a rotatable knob as described or axially swinging lever or a straight-line left-to-right (and reverse) or up- to-down (and reverse) sliding knob or lever action. The movement distance of the knob/lever could exactly correspond to the movement distance of the control ring through all the spray-pattern positions, or it may be different (e.g. less movement) if a gearing solution is applied (or even something akin to an Archimedes screw arrangement) .

In the embodiments of Figures 13 to 19, the spray head is in the form of a handset. It will be appreciated, however, that the arrangement of the mechanical linkage for adjusting the spray mode is not limited to handsets and could be employed in other types of multi-mode spray heads such as a fixed showerhead. Moreover, while a mechanical wire linkage is employed from the control-knob/lever to the rotatable control ring of the

spray head in Figures 13 to 19 it will be understood that there are other ways to achieve the same result - such as by using hydraulics, pneumatics, or electric motors to drive the control ring in the spray head in accordance with user selection of a desired spray mode.

It will be understood from the foregoing description of exemplary embodiments of the invention that controlling the spray mode remotely has many benefits and advantages. For example, the user operable means can be sited in a more accessible, lower-down position that permits one-handed operation to select the spray mode (instead of two hands currently required for conventional spray heads - one hand to hold the handset before rotating the control ring with the other hand). Furthermore, there is no need for the user to look up at the showerhead (and get water sprayed in the face) and put their hand up into the 'spray /splash' zone (that could be a 'hot' zone) to change the spray pattern mode. Moreover, there is no need to turn the water off to change the spray mode. As a result, users are more likely to use the spray mode-change feature more frequently as adjustment and 'fine-tuning' of the desired spray mode setting is easier and quicker to use than with a conventional control ring at the spray head. In some case, adjustment may be possible with eyes closed, as the user operable controls will be directly in front of the user - adjacent to other control knobs/controls. The low-down position of the user operable control means permitting one-handed operation also offers less-able users the same convenience as able users (without reflecting the stigma of a 'special- needs/disabled-product' connotations) .

It will be understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiments above- described which are provided to illustrate the diverse range and application of the invention, and that features from any of the embodiments may be used in any of the other embodiments where appropriate. For example, the spray modes in Figures 1 to 12 may be selected remotely using mechanically operated valve means while the spray modes in Figures 13 to 19 may be selected remotely using electrically operated valve means. The remote control may be achieved electrically, mechanically or by any suitable means, hi the above-described embodiments, on/off control of water flow may be provided separately from the spray head. Alternatively or additionally, on/off control of water flow may be provided in the spray head responsive to the remote user operable means. The number and arrangement of spray nozzles in each group may be varied to provide any desired spray type and/or pattern as desired. The spray nozzles may be made of elastomer that allows the nozzles to be deformed, for example, by rubbing with a finger, to remove lime-scale.

Other modifications will be apparent to those skilled in the art.