CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is a Continuation-in-Part related to and claims priory from patent application Ser. No. 11/294,258 filed Dec. 5, 2005 and is herein incorporated by reference.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates, in general, to a portable hand carried snow and ice removal apparatus and, more particularly, this invention relates to a portable snow blower capable of providing heated air for melting snow and ice.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
As is generally well known, snow removal is accomplished either by using a shovel or a power operated ground engaging snow blower. Use of a shovel generates undesired stresses onto a lower back portion of the user and causes fatigue when large amounts of snow must be removed.
Use of a traditional ground engaging powered snow blower equipment alleviates the problem of lower back stresses and user fatigue. However, such equipment is difficult to maneuver and may be cumbersome for users with limited physical strength. Furthermore, traditional snow blowers are disadvantaged in cleaning elevated surfaces such as steps and porches.
Additionally, the use of a shovel or traditional snow blower equipment fails to completely remove snow and ice build up from the ground surface.
Attempts have been made to provide portable snow removal devices. U.S. Pat. No. 4,070,771 to Yakiwchuk discloses a portable snow blower having a shaped housing fitted at its rear with an external handle and enclosing a powered air blower. The discharge opening of the blower is located at a forward tapered end section of the housing, with the opening extending across the top of the end section, and with the bottom portion of the end section of the housing being enclosed.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,378,644 to Tuggle et al teaches a hand carriable powered snow removal apparatus having an internal combustion engine power unit removably connected to one end of a tubular boom which supports an elongated drive shaft connected to the engine power takeoff shaft at and to a right angle drive gear unit mounted at the opposite end of the boom. The gear unit includes a housing mounted on the end of the boom and provides a centered drive arrangement for a pair of opposed paddle type impellers mounted on respective ends of an output shaft projecting from opposite sides of the gear housing. A shroud mounted on the gear housing includes an upwardly projecting rear wall and spaced apart lateral side walls partially enclosing the impellers and providing directional control for the snow being discharged from the impellers. A set of movable guide vanes is mounted on the forward end of the shroud and is adjustable to provide for varying the directional attitude of snow being discharged from the shroud.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,522,162 to Allison discloses a portable rotary snow blower shovel which uses the drive mechanism from a rotary string trimmer. In place of the string and string guard, the snow blower utilizes an impeller and a substantially cylindrical enclosure. The enclosure includes a cutout opening in a lower portion of the periphery to allow snow to enter. Adjacent the opening is a flat plate which is secured to the inside of the enclosure at an angle in order to direct snow upward toward the impeller. The impeller, which is oriented substantially parallel to the surface being cleared, is circular in shape and has radially projecting blades attached to the upper and lower surfaces thereof. Once the snow is directed upward by the angled flat plate, the blades of the impeller, which are rotating at a high speed, force the snow out an exit conduit adjacent the top of the cylindrical enclosure by centrifugal force. The exit conduit directs the snow upward and away from the path being cleared.
While the prior art portable snow removal devices are simple to operate, they fail to address complete removal of the snow and ice build-up from the surface.
Therefore, there is a need for an improved portable apparatus for removing snow and ice build-up and which significantly removes such snow and ice build-up.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention provides an apparatus for removal of at least one of snow and ice from a surface. Such apparatus includes a housing having a predetermined shape, at least one intake port and a discharge port. A handle is engageable with the housing for carrying and operating the apparatus. A heating member is operably mounted adjacent the discharge port. A powered blower is disposed within the housing for drawing air through the at least one intake port and exhausting the air through at least a portion of the heating means and through the discharge port, whereby the exhausted air is heated by the heating means. A nozzle having each of a predetermined size and a predetermined shape is operably engageable with the housing adjacent the discharge port for applying the exhausted heated air under pressure onto the at least one of snow and ice for substantial removal of the at least one of snow and ice from the surface. A control switch is provided for selectively activating and deactivating the powered blower means.
OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
It is, therefore, one of the primary objects of the present invention to provide a portable apparatus for removal of snow and ice build-up.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a portable apparatus for removal of snow and ice build-up which significantly removes such snow and ice build-up from the surface.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a portable apparatus for removal of snow and ice build-up which is simple to use.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a portable apparatus for removal of snow and ice build-up which generates heated air.
An additional further object of the present invention is to provide a portable apparatus for removal of snow and ice build-up which is simple and economical to manufacture.
An additional object of the present invention is to provide a portable apparatus for the removal of snow ice with a detachable and reattachable heating means.
An additional object of the present invention is to provide a portable handheld apparatus without wheels or other supporting means for the removal of snow ice.
In addition to the several objects and advantages of the present invention which have been described with some degree of specificity above, various other objects and advantages of the invention will become more readily apparent to those persons who are skilled in the relevant art, particularly, when such description is taken in conjunction with the attached drawing Figures and with the appended claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of the apparatus for removal of at least one of snow and ice;
FIG. 2 is a partial cross-sectional view of the apparatus along lines 2-2 of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a partial perspective view of the battery recharging means for use with the apparatus of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is general perspective view of one embodiment of the invention with a modular heating means.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
Prior to proceeding to the more detailed description of the present invention, it should be noted that, for the sake of clarity and understanding, identical components which have identical functions have been identified with identical reference numerals throughout the several views illustrated in the drawing figures.
Reference is now made, to FIGS. 1-3, wherein there is shown an apparatus, generally designated 10, for removal of at least one of snow and ice 4 from a surface 2. The apparatus 10 includes a housing 20 having a predetermined shape, at least one intake port 22 and a discharge port 24. A handle 30 engages the housing 20 and is preferably formed integral to such housing 20. A second handle 32 may be provided for aiding in operating and carrying the apparatus 10. Preferably, the second handle 32 is pivotally attached to the housing 20. It will be appreciated that the user will grasp the handle 30 with one hand and the handle 32 with the other hand.
A heating means 40 is operably mounted within the housing 20 adjacent the discharge port 24 thereof. In the presently preferred embodiment of the invention, the heating means 40 is an electrically operable coil element 40.
A powered blower means 50 is disposed within the housing 20 for drawing air through the at least one intake port 22 and exhausting the air through the heating means 40 and through the discharge port 24. Such exhausted air is heated by the heating means 40 during passage therethrough.
In a further reference to FIG. 1, the apparatus 10 includes a nozzle 60 having each of a predetermined size and a predetermined shape. Such nozzle 60 is operably engageable with the housing 20 adjacent the discharge port 24 for applying the heated exhausted air under a predetermined pressure onto the at least one of snow and ice 4 for removal of the at least one of snow and ice 4 from the surface 2. To generate such predetermined pressure, the free end 62 of the nozzle 60 is partially closed. The nozzle 60 may be removably attached to the housing 20 either by close fit or with the use of fasteners or clamps (not shown), which is advantageous for storing such apparatus 10 in close confines and for heating a larger portion of the surface 2. Alternatively, the nozzle 60 may be formed integral to the housing 20.
The housing 20 and the nozzle 60 are manufactured from a plastic material, polymer material, ceramic material or a composite material which is advantageous for protecting a user of the apparatus 10 from the heated air exhausted through the nozzle 60 and further enabling simple and economical manufacturing of such apparatus 10. Nozzle 60 may be constructed as a single wall structure or could be constructed as multiple wall structure. Nozzle 60 could be constructed with two or more layers of materials. For example, the interior of nozzle 60 could be constructed with a metal material and the exterior of nozzle 60 could be constructed with a plastic material. It will be appreciated that each of the housing 20, handles 30 and 32 and the nozzle 60 may be provided with a predetermined color.
The powered blower means 50 may include one of an electric motor and internal combustion engine. In the presently preferred embodiment of the invention, the powered blower means 60 includes an electric motor (not shown) operable from an electrical power source, generally designated 70, which is further advantageous in operating the electrical heating coil element 40. Such electrical power source 70 is one of an electrical cord 72 coupled to an electrical outlet 74 and a battery 76 disposed within the housing 20. The battery 76 may be one of a replaceable and a rechargeable type.
When the battery 76 is a rechargeable battery disposed within the housing 20, the apparatus 10 may includes means, generally designating 80 for recharging such rechargeable battery 76 from the electrical outlet 74. The recharging means 80 may be a DC jack 82 electrically coupled to the rechargeable battery 76 and coupled to the electrical outlet 74 through a transformer 84 and a cable 86 adapted with the male jack 88, as best shown in FIG. 3.
The apparatus 10 may further include a control means 90 mounted within one of the housing 20 and the handle 30 for selectively activating and deactivating the powered blower means 60. When the apparatus 10 is operable from an electrical power source 70, the control means 90 is an electrical switch 90. The apparatus 10 may be further provided with a resistor means 92 coupled to the electrical switch 90 for varying the operating speed of the blower means 60.
In operation, as best illustrated in FIG. 1, after the apparatus 10 is activated by the control means 90, the free end 62 of the nozzle 60 is positioned towards a predetermined portion of the surface 2. The heated air is applied onto such at least one of snow and ice 4 causing it to blow in a direction away from such predetermined portion of the surface 2. The application of the heated air is maintained until such at least one of snow and ice 4 is removed from the predetermined portion of the surface 2. It will be appreciated that application of such heated air may continue until the surface 2 is dry.
Although the present invention has been shown in terms of the electrically operable blower means 50, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art, that the present invention may utilize a gasoline powered internal combustion engine which is well known in the art of portable blowers.
The housing 20 may be formed in two halves which are rigidly joined together after assembly of the heating means 40, blower means 50 and control means 90, or an access cover may be provided for assembly of and access to such components of the apparatus 10. Optionally, an ice scraper 100 may be attached to free end 62 of the nozzle 60 to mechanically aid in the removal of snow and ice. Ice scraper 100 is preferably generally semicircular in shape and constructed of a durable metal such as steel or aluminum, however other shapes or materials could be used.
It will be appreciated that the apparatus 10 may be provided with a harness or a flexible strap for suspending it from a portion of the human body. The apparatus 10 may be further provided with a case, preferably flexible, for use during storage and transportation of such apparatus 10.
Reference is now made to FIG. 4 which shows another preferred embodiment of the invention. Heating means 40 is incorporated into a detachable and reattachable heating module 102. Heating module 102 may have its own dedicated power supply, but preferably heating module 102 is constructed with means for using power source 70 which as described above could be a battery or other power source. Means for using power source 70 may comprise electrically coupled pins, clips, plates, wires, electrical connectors or the like to electrically couple heating module 102 and associated heating means 40 to power source 70. In several embodiments when heating module 102 is mechanically attached to housing 20, electrical connectors on both hearting module 102 and housing 20 are electrically coupled, thus allowing the components to be operablely connected. Since heating module is detachable and reattachable, the present invention can be used as a traditional leaf blower or other blower device when the heating module is detached or disabled.
The exact dimensions and specification of the present invention can greatly vary, but in several preferred embodiments nozzle 60 is at two feet in length. In several preferred embodiments heating means 40 is rated at one thousand watts or more. In several more preferred embodiments heating means 40 is rated at three thousand watts or more. In several preferred embodiments blower means 50 is rated at one thousand watts or more. In several more preferred embodiments blower means 50 is rated at three thousand watts or more.
Thus, the present invention has been described in such full, clear, concise and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains to make and use the same. It will be understood that variations, modifications, equivalents and substitutions for components of the specifically described embodiments of the invention may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.