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Title:
SURFACE CLEANER INCLUDING FORWARD-FACING LIQUID TANKS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/025857
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A surface cleaner including a base; a handle assembly coupled to the base and configured to move the base along a surface in at least a forward direction and a rearward direction; a steam generating device configured to receive water and generate steam; a nozzle disposed on the base and in fluid communication with the steam generating device, the nozzle configured to receive steam from the steam generating device and dispense the steam onto the surface; and a first and second supply tanks coupled to the handle assembly and adapted to contain first and second fluids, respectively, to be distributed onto the surface, each of the first and second supply tanks including forward-facing portions, wherein each of the forward-facing portions is at least partially transparent such that the first and second fluids within the first and second supply tanks, respectively, are visible from a front of the surface cleaner.

Inventors:
PAGORIA CHAD (US)
CHARLTON CHRISTOPHER M (US)
Application Number:
US2013/053906
Publication Date:
February 13, 2014
Filing Date:
August 07, 2013
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TECHTRONIC FLOOR CARE TECH LTD
PAGORIA CHAD (US)
CHARLTON CHRISTOPHER M (US)
International Classes:
A47L11/40
Foreign References:
EP1195127A22002-04-10
US20120047677A12012-03-01
US20060130271A12006-06-22
EP2329754A22011-06-08
EP1679027A12006-07-12
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHESLOCK, Alan, C. et al. (100 East Wisconsin AvenueSuite 330, Milwaukee WI, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A surface cleaner operable to clean a surface, the surface cleaner comprising:

a base;

a handle assembly coupled to the base and configured to move the base along the surface in at least a forward direction and a rearward direction;

a steam generating device configured to receive water and generate steam;

a nozzle disposed on the base and in fluid communication with the steam generating device, the nozzle configured to receive steam from the steam generating device and dispense the steam onto the surface;

a first supply tank coupled to the handle assembly and adapted to contain a first fluid, the first supply tank being in fluid communication with the nozzle, the first supply tank including a forward- facing portion, wherein the forward- facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the first fluid within the first supply tank is visible from a front of the surface cleaner; and

a second supply tank coupled to the handle assembly and adapted to contain a second fluid, the second supply tank being in fluid communication with the nozzle, the second supply tank including a forward- facing portion, wherein the forward-facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the first fluid within the first supply tank is visible from a front of the surface cleaner.

2. The surface cleaner of claim 1, wherein the first supply tank is positioned on a lateral side of the handle assembly and the second supply tank is positioned on the opposite lateral side of the handle assembly.

3. The surface cleaner of claim 1, wherein the first supply tank is positioned above the second supply tank.

4. The surface cleaner of claim 1, wherein the first and second supply tanks include water.

5. The surface cleaner of claim 1, wherein the first supply tank includes water and the second supply tank includes a cleaning solution or a disinfectant.

6. The surface cleaner of claim 1 , wherein the first supply tank includes a cleaning solution and the second supply tank includes a disinfectant.

7. The surface cleaner of claim 1, further comprising a suction motor and a dirt collection container coupled to the handle assembly and in fluid communication with the suction motor such that the suction motor draws dirt and debris from the surface into the collection container, the collection container including a forward-facing portion, wherein the forward-facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the dirt and debris within the collection container is visible from a front of the surface cleaner.

8. The surface cleaner of claim 1, wherein the first and second supply tanks are integrally formed as a single component.

9. A steam cleaner operable to clean a surface, the steam cleaner comprising:

a base configured to dispense steam onto the surface;

a handle assembly coupled to the base and configured to move the base along the surface in at least a forward direction and a rearward direction; and

a first and second supply tanks coupled to the handle assembly and adapted to contain first and second fluids, respectively, to be distributed onto the surface, each of the first and second supply tanks including forward- facing portions, wherein each of the forward-facing portions is at least partially transparent such that the first and second fluids within the first and second supply tanks, respectively, are visible from a front of the surface cleaner.

10. The surface cleaner of claim 9, wherein the first and second supply tanks are positioned on opposite lateral sides of the handle assembly.

11. The surface cleaner of claim 9, wherein the first supply tank is positioned above the second supply tank.

12. The surface cleaner of claim 9, wherein the first and second supply tanks include water.

13. The surface cleaner of claim 9, wherein the first supply tank includes water and the second supply tank includes a cleaning solution or a disinfectant.

14. The surface cleaner of claim 9, wherein the first supply tank includes a cleaning solution and the second supply tank includes a disinfectant.

15. The surface cleaner of claim 9, further comprising a suction motor and a dirt collection container coupled to the handle assembly and in fluid communication with the suction motor such that the suction motor draws dirt and debris from the surface into the collection container, the collection container including a forward-facing portion, wherein the forward-facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the dirt and debris within the collection container is visible from a front of the surface cleaner.

16. The surface cleaner of claim 9, wherein the first and second supply tanks are integrally formed as a single component.

17. A surface cleaner operable to clean a surface, the surface cleaner comprising:

a base;

a handle assembly coupled to the base and configured to move the base along the surface in at least a forward direction and a rearward direction;

a steam generating device configured to receive water and generate steam;

a nozzle disposed on the base and in fluid communication with the steam generating device, the nozzle configured to receive steam from the steam generating device and dispense the steam onto the surface;

a first supply tank coupled to and entirely disposed on a side of the handle assembly and adapted to contain a first fluid, the first supply tank being in fluid communication with the nozzle, the first supply tank including a forward-facing portion, wherein the forward- facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the first fluid within the first supply tank is visible from a front of the surface cleaner; and

a second supply tank coupled to and entirely disposed on an opposite side of the handle assembly and adapted to contain a second fluid, the second supply tank being in fluid communication with the nozzle, the second supply tank including a forward-facing portion, wherein the forward- facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the first fluid within the first supply tank is visible from a front of the surface cleaner.

Description:
SURFACE CLEANER INCLUDING FORWARD-FACING LIQUID TANKS

BACKGROUND

[0001] The present invention relates to steam surface cleaners, and more particularly a steam mop including multiple forward-facing liquid storage tanks.

[0002] Surface cleaners, such as steam mops, typically include a supply tank including a first chamber and a second chamber. The first chamber can be used to retain water, and the second chamber can be used to retain a cleaning solution. The steam mop typically includes an electric heater that is operable to heat the water to produce steam, which is dispensed from the steam mop and onto a surface to be cleaned through a cleaning head. The steam mop may also includes a scrubbing pad or the like that is moved along the surface by the user to facilitate removing dirt and debris from the surface. The supply tank is generally positioned on the back of the steam mop or within the steam mop, making it difficult for the user to observe how much fluid is in the tank during operation.

SUMMARY

[0003] In one embodiment, the invention provides a surface cleaner operable to clean a surface. The surface cleaner includes: a base; a handle assembly coupled to the base and configured to move the base along the surface in at least a forward direction and a rearward direction; a steam generating device configured to receive water and generate steam; a nozzle disposed on the base and in fluid communication with the steam generating device, the nozzle configured to receive steam from the steam generating device and dispense the steam onto the surface; a first supply tank coupled to the handle assembly and adapted to contain a first fluid, the first supply tank being in fluid communication with the nozzle, the first supply tank including a forward- facing portion, wherein the forward-facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the first fluid within the first supply tank is visible from a front of the surface cleaner; and a second supply tank coupled to the handle assembly and adapted to contain a second fluid, the second supply tank being in fluid communication with the nozzle, the second supply tank including a forward- facing portion, wherein the forward- facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the first fluid within the first supply tank is visible from a front of the surface cleaner. [0004] In another embodiment, the invention provides a steam cleaner operable to clean a surface. The steam cleaner includes: a base configured to dispense steam onto the surface; a handle assembly coupled to the base and configured to move the base along the surface in at least a forward direction and a rearward direction; and a first and second supply tanks coupled to the handle assembly and adapted to contain first and second fluids, respectively, to be distributed onto the surface, each of the first and second supply tanks including forward- facing portions, wherein each of the forward-facing portions is at least partially transparent such that the first and second fluids within the first and second supply tanks, respectively, are visible from a front of the surface cleaner.

[0005] In yet another embodiment, the invention provides a surface cleaner operable to clean a surface. The surface cleaner includes: a base; a handle assembly coupled to the base and configured to move the base along the surface in at least a forward direction and a rearward direction; a steam generating device configured to receive water and generate steam; a nozzle disposed on the base and in fluid communication with the steam generating device, the nozzle configured to receive steam from the steam generating device and dispense the steam onto the surface; a first supply tank coupled to and entirely disposed on a side of the handle assembly and adapted to contain a first fluid, the first supply tank being in fluid communication with the nozzle, the first supply tank including a forward-facing portion, wherein the forward- facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the first fluid within the first supply tank is visible from a front of the surface cleaner; and a second supply tank coupled to and entirely disposed on an opposite side of the handle assembly and adapted to contain a second fluid, the second supply tank being in fluid communication with the nozzle, the second supply tank including a forward- facing portion, wherein the forward- facing portion is at least partially transparent such that the first fluid within the first supply tank is visible from a front of the surface cleaner.

[0006] Other aspects of the invention will become apparent by consideration of the detailed description and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a surface cleaner.

[0008] FIG. 2 is a front view of the surface cleaner of FIG. 1. [0009] FIG. 3 is a side view of the surface cleaner of FIG. 1.

[0010] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a handle assembly and a base.

[0011] FIG. 5 is a front view of a housing of the handle assembly of FIG. 4.

[0012] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a surface cleaner according to another embodiment of the invention.

[0013] FIG. 7 is a side view of the surface cleaner of FIG. 6.

[0014] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a surface cleaner according to another embodiment of the invention.

[0015] Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0016] FIG. 1 illustrates an upright surface cleaner 10, which is a steam mop or steam surface cleaner in the illustrated embodiment. The surface cleaner 10 includes a handle assembly 12 (having a handle 14 and a housing 18), a steam generating device 20, and a foot or base 22 pivotably coupled to the handle 14 and the housing 18. The handle 14 is connected to the housing 18 such that the handle assembly 12 pivots with respect to the base 22. The illustrated handle 14 includes a grip portion 26, an elongated connecting portion 30, and cord wrap arms 34a, 34b. The grip portion 26 includes a trigger 38 (FIG. 3) and a trigger lock switch 40 for locking the trigger 38 in a depressed state. The trigger 38 is long to provide more leverage and enable the user to depress the trigger 38 with little effort.

[0017] The elongated connecting portion 30 connects the grip portion 26 to the housing 18. An electrical cord 42 for supplying power to the surface cleaner 10 is wrapped around the cord wrap arms 34a, 34b for storage purposes. In one embodiment, the cord wrap arms 34a, 34b are rotatably coupled to the handle 14 such that rotating the cord wrap arms 34a, 34b allows the cord 42 to be released and uncoiled without requiring the user to unwrap the cord 42 manually. As shown in FIG. 2, the cord 42 is coupled to the housing 18 at a position that is away from the cord wrap 34 to avoid interference.

[0018] Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the base 22 includes a cover 46, a cleaning pad 50 coupled to the cover, and a dispensing nozzle (not shown). In the illustrated embodiment, the steam-generating device 20 is defined as a chamber formed between the cover 46 and the cleaning pad 50. The steam-generating device 20 includes a heating element and produces steam to be applied to the surface. The steam-generating device 20 also allows for mixing of water and a concentrated cleaing solution or disinfectant. In other embodiments, the steam- generating device 20 is positioned in the housing 18, such that steam is formed and fluids are mixed before reaching the base 22 As the user moves the base 22 over the surface to be cleaned, fluids are dispensed onto the surface by the nozzle. The user controls the release of the cleaning fluids via the trigger 38 (FIG. 3). In the illustrated embodiment, the base 22 has a low profile allowing the base 22 to fit underneath furniture. The base 22 also includes corners that are substantially 90 degrees to allow the base 22 to fit into corners.

[0019] As shown in FIG. 5, the housing 18 includes a control panel 52 for selecting the flow rate for the steam and cleaning solutions. The control panel 52 includes a steam controller 54 for moderating the amount of steam that is dispensed onto the surface, a solution contoller 56 for moderating the concentration of cleaning solution in the fluid that is dispensed onto the surface, and a power button 58 for turning the cleaner 10 on or off. In one embodiment, the power button 58 is illuminated red to indicate that the fluid is warming. When the steam is ready, the button 58 is illuminated green.

[0020] Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the housing 18 includes a front surface 60, a rear surface 62, a first lateral side 64, a second lateral side 66, a first supply tank 70 and a second supply tank 74. Each of the supply tanks 70, 74 holds a cleaning fluid, which can include water, a concentrated cleaning solution, a disinfectant, or any mixture of these fluids. The fluid in each tank 70, 74 can be mixed downstream from the tanks 70, 74. In the illustrated embodiment, the first supply tank 70 contains water and is positioned on the first lateral side 64 of the housing 18. The second supply tank 74 is positioned on the second lateral side 66 of the housing 18 and contains the concentrated cleaning solution. A supply conduit (not shown) fluidly connects the first supply tank 70 and the second supply tank 74 to the steam- generating device 20 and also fluidly connects the steam-generating device 20 to the dispensing nozzle.

[0021] During operation, the fluid from the first supply tank 70 and the second supply tank 74 are mixed together and then flow to the steam-generating device 20. The heating element of the steam-generating device 20 heats the cleaning fluid mixture, transforming the mixture into steam. The steam is transported to the dispensing nozzle, where the steam is emitted onto the surface to be cleaned. In other embodiments, the fluid from the first supply tank 70 flows to the steam-generating device 20, which heats the fluid to produce steam. The steam is then mixed with fluid from the second supply tank 74, and the mixture is transported to the dispensing nozzle. Furthermore, in some embodiments, a pump is in fluid

communication with the supply conduit to pressurize the cleaning fluid and increase the flow of steam onto the surface. In other embodiments the flow of fluid from the supply tanks 70, 74 is controlled by gravity. In still other embodiments, a venturi device can be positioned in fluid communication with both the second supply tank 74 and the steam-generating device 20. As pressurized steam exits the steam-generating device 20, the pressure differential in the venturi device induces fluid to flow from the second supply tank 74 and mix with the steam.

[0022] As shown in FIGS. 1-5, each supply tank 70, 74 includes a portion or wall 78, 82, respectively, forming at least a portion of the front surface 60 of the housing 18. Each first wall 78, 82 is at least partially transparent such that the fluid in each supply tank 70, 74 is exposed to the user while the surface cleaner is in operation 10. The exposed supply tanks 70, 74 provide the user with a clear, visual indication of the fluid level in each tank 70, 74 even when the surface cleaner 10 is in operation. In the illustrated embodiment, the first supply tank 70 is larger than the second supply tank 74 because one of the fluids (for example, water) may be used in greater amounts than the other fluid during operation of the surface cleaner 10. In the illustrated embodiment, each supply tank 70, 74 includes a molded grip indentation 86 and a textured surface to enable the user to easily uncouple each tank 78, 82 from the housing 18. In addition to the fluid level being visible, a filter 90 (FIG. 5) for each container is visible to the user without requiring disassembly.

[0023] FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate a surface cleaner 410 according to another embodiment. The surface cleaner 410 is similar to the surface cleaner 10 described above with reference to FIGS. 1-5, and similar parts have been given the same reference numbers plus 400. The surface cleaner 410 includes a handle assembly 412 (having a handle 414 and a housing 418), and a base 422 pivotably coupled to the handle assembly 412.

[0024] The housing 418 includes a first supply tank 470 and a second supply tank 474 such that the first supply tank 470 is positioned above the second supply tank 474. Each supply tank 470, 474 includes a first wall 478, 482 forming at least a portion of the front surface 454 of the housing 418. Each first wall 478, 482 is at least partially transparent to allow the user to easily detect how much fluid remains in each supply tank 470, 474.

[0025] FIG. 8 illustrate a surface cleaner 810 according to yet another embodiment. The surface cleaner 810 is similar to the surface cleaner 10 described above with reference to FIGS. 1-5, and similar parts have been given the same reference numbers plus 800. The surface cleaner 810 includes a handle assembly 812 (having a handle 814 and a housing 818), and a base 822 pivotably coupled to the handle assembly 812.

[0026] The housing 818 includes a supply tank assembly 870 and a debris collection container 890. The supply tank assembly 870 is positioned on the first lateral side 864 of the housing 814, and includes a first tank 872 and a second tank 876 positioned below the first tank 872. The supply tank assembly 870 includes a first wall 878 that forms at least a portion of the front surface 860 of the housing 818. The first wall 878 is at least partially transparent to allow the user to easily detect how much fluid remains in each tank chamber 872, 876. The debris collection container 890 is positioned on the second lateral side 866 of the housing 818. The surface cleaner 810 includes a suction source (not shown) in fluid communication with the debris collection container 890 and the base 822. As the user moves the base 822 over the surface to be cleaned, dirt and debris are sucked through an inlet (not shown) in the base 822 and deposited in the debris collection container 890. The user empties the debris collection container 890 as necessary.

[0027] Thus, the invention provides, among other things, a floor cleaner including exposed liquid tanks. Although the invention has been described in detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments, variations and modifications exist within the scope and spirit of one or more independent aspects of the invention as described.