Patent application title: Refrigerator with easy access drawer
Jose Uthuppan (Allentown, PA, US)
IPC8 Class: AF25D2300FI
Class name: Spaced insulated wall refrigerator cabinet including particular storage compartment
Publication date: 2010-04-15
Patent application number: 20100090575
A refrigerator having an easy access refrigerator drawer which can be
accessed directly from the front of the refrigerator without opening the
main refrigerator door. The drawer has an inner compartment with a
plurality of pockets and an outer compartment. Both compartments are
accessed by pulling out the drawer. The front wall of the drawer is also
pivotable to allow access only to the outer compartment, while
maintaining the refrigerated integrity of the inner compartment.
1. A refrigerator comprising:at least one refrigerated fresh food main
storage space located within the refrigerator;a refrigerator door for
opening and closing said refrigerated space, the door having an outer
surface which forms part of the front surface of the refrigerator when
the door is closed; anda pull out drawer located within the refrigerator,
the drawer comprising:a front wall with an outer surface which forms a
part of the front surface of the refrigerator when the drawer is fully
closed;locking means for maintaining the front wall in a vertical
position;a sectionalized refrigerated food storage compartment having an
inner refrigerated section and an outer refrigerated section;partition
means for separating the inner section from the outer section;handle
means located at the front wall for pulling the drawer out of the
refrigerator to expose and allow access to the inner and outer sections;
andhinge means for pivoting the front wall between said vertical position
and a horizontal position while the drawer remains within the
refrigerator, whereby when the front wall is in said horizontal position
only the outer section is exposed and access is provided to that section,
the inner section remaining within the refrigerator protected from
exposure and access by the partition means.
2. The refrigerator as in claim 1 wherein the inner section comprises sectionalized sub-compartments.
3. The refrigerator as in claim 1 further comprising tab means for detaching the front wall from the refrigerator, thereby freeing the front wall to allow pivoting of the front wall between the vertical and horizontal positions.
4. The refrigerator as in claim 1 wherein the partition means provides a substantially air tight seal preventing exposure to the inner section when the front wall is in the horizontal position.
This application claims the benefit of parent application
61/196,117, filed on Oct. 15, 2008.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The household refrigerator, as we know it, has been in existence for over ninety years; however, its overall form has remained basically unchanged. Recently, some models have been produced with varied designs such as separate, pullout freezer compartments. Other units have incorporated external accessories such as outside ice and water dispensers and pull down auxiliary home-bar doors. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,360,278. Still other designs employ small, extra doors, for gaining access to the main refrigeration space, as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,966,963. However, the main emphasis in these units still resides in providing a single large space for refrigeration, with little concern for the efficient utility of the space.
Current refrigerators are generally not designed to allow the user to easily find specific food items. Who among us, when trying to quickly retrieve everyday items, such as a stick of butter or a piece of fruit, end up searching through the many shelves and drawers in the main refrigerator space, while cold air escapes past the open refrigerator door? Ease of specific food access, convenience, and energy efficiency is clearly lacking in the design of refrigerators in use today.
Moreover, in the recent past there have been health food movements which hinged on the consumption of more vegetables over carbohydrates (vegetarian diet, low-fat diet, raw food diet etc.) and others which emphasized the consumption of more protein over carbohydrates (Atkins diet, South Beach diet, etc.). The proponents of these diets have never had ready means of making their preferred food item, be it fresh salad vegetables or cold meat, easily accessible. Such foods could be stored in a crisper and or wrapped in a plastic/Ziploc® bag. But gaining access to the food always required the opening of a large refrigerator door.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is the object of the present invention to overcome the limitations and disadvantages of existing refrigerator designs.
It is the object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator design which provide for easy, quick and convenient access to specific food items in an energy efficient manner.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator design which provides for a separate deck or drawer, configured to be pulled out from the front of the refrigerator unit.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator design which provides that the drawer can be accessed by means of a front drawer wall which is pivotable from the front of the refrigerator.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator design which has a pullout drawer having inner and outer compartments separated by air tight partitions which permits access solely to the outer compartment when the front drawer wall is pivoted from the front of the refrigerator, while maintaining the refrigerated integrity of the inner compartment.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator design which provides that the pullout drawer is located at waist height for ease of use.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide a refrigerator design which will decrease energy costs by ensuring that most of the main refrigerated space remains closed when the pullout drawer is accessed.
These and other objects are accomplished by the present invention, an easy access refrigerator drawer which can be accessed directly from the front of the refrigerator without opening the main refrigerator door. The drawer has an inner compartment with a plurality of pockets and an outer compartment. Both compartments are accessed by pulling out the drawer. The front wall of the drawer is also pivotable to allow access only to the outer compartment, while maintaining the refrigerated integrity of the inner compartment.
The easy access drawer of the present invention is most adaptable with side-by-side deck-style refrigerator designs and is successful in eliminating the need for browsing. This type of refrigerator is not meant to be in an office cafeteria nor is it suitable as a second fridge in a garage or basement. It is strictly a highly functional household refrigerator, where the arrangement of drawers guides people in a home to store specific things in specific regions of the refrigerator.
The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The invention, itself, however, both as to its design, construction and use, together with additional features and advantages thereof, are best understood upon review of the following detailed description with reference to the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an isometric front view of a refrigerator employing the easy access drawer of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an isometric front view of the easy access drawer of the present invention with its front wall in its horizontal pivoted down position from the front of a refrigerator.
FIG. 3 is an isometric front view of the easy access drawer of the present invention extended out from the front of the refrigerator.
FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the easy access drawer of the present invention.
FIG. 5 is an isometric view of the easy access drawer of the present invention without its front wall.
FIG. 6 is an elevation view of a refrigerator employing the easy access drawer of the present invention.
FIG. 7 is a close-up view taken from FIG. 6.
FIG. 8 is a close-up view of FIG. 7 with the front wall of the easy access drawer of the present invention pivoted down into its horizontal position.
FIG. 9 is a front view of the front wall of the easy access drawer of the present invention.
FIG. 10 is an elevation view of the front wall of the easy access drawer of the present invention.
FIG. 11 is a rear view of the front wall of the easy access drawer of the present invention with its rear cover plate removed.
FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the refrigerator with the easy access drawer of the present invention as it may be configured with other drawer compartments. It also shows the refrigerator door in a partially open position.
FIG. 13 is an isometric view of such a refrigerator showing how the bottom drawer can be configured to store tall-container beverages.
FIG. 14 is an alternative linear slide mechanism for the locking hooks shown in FIG. 11.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Refrigerator 1 comprises a main food storage space 2 enclosed within freezer door 4 and refrigerator door 6 having outer surfaces forming a part of the front of the refrigerator when the doors are closed. Refrigerator 1 also comprises freezer drawer compartments 8 and 10 and additional refrigerator drawer compartments 12, 14, and 20. Pull out deck or drawer 20 of the present invention is incorporated into refrigerator 1. The specific number and configuration of refrigerator compartments within a given refrigerator unit do not form a part of the herein invention and the invention is not to be considered restricted to a particular refrigerator design. It is contemplated that the invention will be used in conjunction with any adaptable refrigerator. However, drawer 20 of the present invention fits comfortably in such deck style refrigerator designs, as seen in FIGS. 12 and 13.
Pullout drawer 20 comprises front wall 22 with outer surface 24 and handle 26 as seen in FIGS. 2 and 3. When drawer 20 is in its closed, refrigerated position, as seen in FIGS. 1, 6, 12 and 13, outer surface 24 forms a part of the front surface of refrigerator 1. By means of handle 26, drawer 20 can be pulled out of refrigerator 1 to reveal its sectionalized refrigerated food storage compartment having inner refrigerated section 28 and outer refrigerated section 30. See FIG. 3. Inner section 28 comprises a plurality of individual, sectionalized sub-compartments 31-37 for the storage of different food items. The built-in sub-compartments have large radii to facilitate scooping up of small food items. Also, as an alternative, inner refrigerated section 30 could be built free of sub-compartments and the user given the option to vary the sub-compartment sizes with dividers. Optional food container inserts, such as 38 or 39, can be removeably stored in the sub-compartments. These container inserts can carry foods such as salad dressing or small portions of leftover food. Partitions 40 and 42 separate inner section 28 from outer section 30.
Front wall 22 is secured in its normal vertical position by means of locking hooks 44 and 46 which extend out from the rear of the front wall as best seen in FIGS. 2, 4, 8, 10 and 11. Locking hooks 44 and 46 engage locking pins 48 and 50 located on the internal sides of drawer 20, to maintain the drawer in its vertical position. Pulling handle 26 outward, opens drawer 20, allowing it to slide outward from refrigerator 1, to expose both inner section 28 and outer section 30, as shown in FIG. 3.
Spring loaded release tab 52 extends through front wall 22. See FIGS. 9, 10, 11. Release tab 52 comprises downwardly extending gear section 54 which engages pinion 56 secured to rod 58, all located internally of front wall 22. Locking hooks 44 and 46 are secured to the end of rod 58. See FIG. 11. From its position at the front of refrigerator 1, front wall 22 of drawer can be pivoted down as follows. The spring loaded release tab 52 is pushed up, thus disengaging locking hooks 44 and 46 from locking pins 48 and 50 shown in FIG. 2. At the same time release tab 52 is lifted, handle 26 is pulled down, allowing front wall 22 to be pivoted downward, exposing and providing access solely to outer section 30 of drawer 20. See FIG. 2. Front wall 22 has angular surface 60 configured to rest on top of angular surface 62 of below drawer 12, when the front wall is extended down into its full horizontal position. See FIGS. 6, 7, 8. Durable protective liners are provided on these angular surfaces to absorb contact wear. Hinges 64 and 66, which can be stainless steel, are connected at each side of drawer 20 and, at their other ends, are attached internally of front wall 22. See FIGS. 4 and 5. The internal side of front wall 22 containing this mechanism and insulation is enclosed by rear cover plate 68 secured by screws or equivalent attachment means. An alternative linear slide mechanism for the locking hooks is also shown in FIG. 14 where the rod 58 slides in bearing 57 and is kept down with spring 59 when in the locked position. Transparent separator plate 51 for the outer section 30 can be hung on hook 55, if not used.
When the easy access drawer is not pulled out and its front wall 22 is in its pivoted down, horizontal position, access can be gained to food in outer section 30 only. Inner section 28 is closed off and remains refrigerated. Partitions 40 and 42 are configured to extend up to the top most edge of drawer 20, very close to the surface above. This results in almost a complete air tight seal, ensuring that while there is access to the food in outer section 30, the food stored in inner section 28 is not exposed, remains refrigerated, and is protected from the effects of the outside environment.
When the food has been retrieved from or replaced in outer section 30, front wall 22 is simply pivoted up and again locked in the vertical position, drawer 20 then returning to its position within refrigerator 1. The spring release on rod 58 ensures that locking hooks 44 and 46 remain in the down position when the front wall is closed.
FIGS. 12 and 13 show how the easy access drawer can be configured to fit in a typical side-by-side refrigerator. The freezer side has door 4 at the top that may or may not have an ice dispenser. Freezer drawer compartments 8 and 10 have the added benefit of being top loaded instead of being front loaded as is typical in a side-by-side refrigerator which, when too fully packed, could cause some food items to drop when freezer door is opened. Refrigerator door 6 is shown in a partially open position exposing storage space 2. Below easy access drawer 20 are located two more refrigerated drawer compartments 12 and 14. The drawer compartment 12 would be ideal for storing fruits and vegetables and drawer compartment 14 would be ideal for storing tall-container beverages. The drawer design could permit air flow in some areas for controlling humidity if needed. Bottom drawer compartments 8 and 14 are made shorter than those above to accommodate the compressor and other drive components at the back.
The versatility of the easy access drawer of the present invention makes more commonly needed items like snack vegetables, salad dressing, fruits, sandwich meat, cheese, butter, or a half-cut piece of cucumber, tomato, or any such small food items, readily accessible without having to fully open the main refrigerator storage space and take time to search its contents. By simply flipping down front wall 22, or by pulling out the easy access drawer 20, this food can be accessed quickly and easily, while preserving the refrigerated integrity of the other food in the refrigerator. That the main refrigerator door need not be opened to retrieve this food also results in an increase in the overall energy efficiency of the refrigerator.
Certain novel features and components of this invention are disclosed in detail in order to make the invention clear in at least one form thereof. However, it is to be clearly understood that the invention as disclosed is not necessarily limited to the exact form and details as disclosed, since it is apparent that various modifications and changes may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention.
Patent applications in class Including particular storage compartment
Patent applications in all subclasses Including particular storage compartment