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Hot tub assembly

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Title: Hot tub assembly.
Abstract: A hot tub assembly and associated methods for adding desirable features to portable hot tub systems. The hot tub assembly can include a base pedestal and flexible liner for creating a desired seating configuration within a portable hot tub. The base pedestal can comprise a ring-like design wherein the ring can function as a seat while an inner portion can function as a foot well. The base pedestal can further function so as to increase the overall capacity or volume of the portable hot tub. The base pedestal can comprise a number of molded seats as part of the ring so as to define a comfortable seating arrangement. The base pedestal and flexible liner can be provided in kit form for converting an existing flat-bottomed portable hot tub into a portable hot tub assembly with seating features. ...


- Minneapolis, MN, US
Inventors: James M. Prescott, Paul Douglas Van Stone
USPTO Applicaton #: #20060218716 - Class: 004541100 (USPTO) -


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Related Patent Categories: Baths, Closets, Sinks, And Spittoons, Tubs, Means For Agitating Or Circulating Water In A Tub
The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20060218716, Hot tub assembly.





PRIORITY CLAIM

[0001] The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/651,767, filed Feb. 10, 2005, and entitled, "HOT TUB ASSEMBLY," which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The invention relates generally to the field of hot tubs. More particularly, the present invention pertains to an assembly for providing increased functionality and features to a portable, disassemblable hot tub system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Residential hot tubs are well known and have been available for many years. While a small percentage of residential hot tubs are custom designed, built and configured based upon the unique requirements of a homeowner, the vast majority of residential hot tubs comprise standard models and configurations that are manufactured off-site, shipped and installed in selected locations. Generally, these standard models and configurations can comprise rigid hot tub systems utilizing a one-piece polymeric shells, rigid barrel-style tubs with flexible, sheet like liners or portable, disassemblable hot tubs using flexible, sheet-like liners.

[0004] Portable, disassemblable hot tubs have a number of design advantages. First, they are easily transportable such that the hot tub is never permanently located in a set location. Second, their disassemblable nature allows them to be placed and assembled in locations wherein rigid hot tubs cannot be located such as, for example, squeezing them through stairwells for placement in an otherwise inaccessible location. Third, their disassemblable nature requires that these hot tubs be flexible with respect to utility requirements such that the rigid piping and dedicated electrical circuits commonly associated with rigid, non-portable hot tubs are not required. Finally, as portable, disassemblable hot tubs must be flexible with respect to utility requirements, there is generally no site-preparation required prior to assembling the portable hot tub and the use of professionals such as, for example, electricians, carpenters and plumbers can be avoided entirely.

[0005] While portable hot tub systems have a number of advantages over their rigid counterparts, some of the seating features and configurations commonly found within rigid hot tubs are not presently available with portable hot tubs. As such, it would be advantageous to be able to provide owners of portable hot tub systems with such features for both existing portable hot tub systems as well as being available at the time of purchase of new portable hot tubs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present disclosure addresses a hot tub assembly for adding desirable seating features, such as, for example, seating features commonly found in rigid hot tub designs, to portable hot tub systems. Generally, a kit of the present disclosure can comprise a base pedestal and a flexible liner for creating a desired seating configuration within a previously, flat-bottomed portable hot tub. The base pedestal can comprise a ring-like design wherein the ring can function as a seat while an inner portion can function as a foot well. The base pedestal can further function so as to increase the overall capacity or volume of the portable hot tub. In some representative embodiments, the base pedestal can comprise a number of molded seats as part of the ring so as to define a comfortable seating arrangement. The kit of the present disclosure comprises a portable kit such that the portable nature of the portable hot tub is maintained.

[0007] In one aspect, an assembly for retrofitting a portable hot tub comprises a base pedestal and a liner adapted to conform to said base pedestal. In some representative embodiments, the base pedestal can comprise integral features such as, for example, molded seats. In some representative embodiments, the assembly can provide for an increase in the seating capacity and/or volume of the hot tub.

[0008] In another aspect, a method for adding features to a portable hot tub is disclosed. In some representative embodiments, the method for adding features can comprise adding a base pedestal and liner such that features such as, for example, integral seating arrangements are added to the hot tub.

[0009] In another aspect, the present disclosure describes a portable hot tub having integral seating features.

[0010] The above summary of the various representative embodiments of the disclosure is not intended to describe each illustrated embodiment or every implementation of the invention. The figures in the detailed description that follow more particularly exemplify these embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] The invention may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments of the invention in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0012] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable, disassemblable hot tub of the prior art.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a top view of the portable, disassemblable hot tub of FIG. 1.

[0014] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a portable, disassemblable hot tub including a hot tub assembly of the present invention.

[0015] FIG. 4a is a perspective view of an embodiment of a support platform of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 4b is a top view of an embodiment of a support platform for the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 5 is an exploded, perspective view of a hot tub body being positioned on the support platform of FIG. 4.

[0018] FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of a hot tub body positioned on a support platform of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 7 is a top perspective view of a hot tub body positioned on a support platform of the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 8 is a top perspective view of a liner placed within the tub body and support platform of FIG. 7.

[0021] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a support platform having a friction enhancing element.

[0022] FIG. 10 is a section view of a hot tub assembly of the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 11 is a top view of an embodiment of a support platform.

[0024] Figure 11a is

[0025] FIG. 12 is a top view of an embodiment of an empty hot tub assembly.

[0026] FIG. 13a is a top view of an embodiment of an empty hot tub assembly.

[0027] FIG. 13b a is a top view of an embodiment of an empty hot tub assembly..

[0028] FIG. 14a is an exploded, section view of an embodiment of a unitary assembly comprising an outer cover and a liner.

[0029] FIG. 14b is a section view of an embodiment of a unitary cover.

[0030] FIG. 15a is a top, partially hidden view of an embodiment of a support platform.

[0031] FIG. 15b is a perspective view of an embodiment of a hot tub assembly of the present invention.

[0032] While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit the invention to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0033] A portable, disassemblable hot tub 100 of the prior art is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. Generally, portable disassemblable hot tub 100 comprises a tub body 102 and a pump assembly 104. A representative example of portable, disassemblable hot tub 100 comprises the line of hot tubs available from Softub Inc., of Valencia, Calif. . Tub body 102 generally comprises a body wall 106, a body floor 108, a liner 110 and an outer cover 112. Tub body 102 generally defines a perimeter 114 typically having a generally circular configuration.

[0034] Tub body 102 is generally fabricated to be a single, integral component. Body wall 106 can comprise an interior support material such as, for example, a suitable foam or foam-like material to provide strength and shape to the tub body 102. Liner 110 and outer cover 112 can then be operably attached over the interior support material to define the body wall 106 and body floor 108. Liner 110 is generally fabricated of a polymeric, sheet-like material suitable for retaining hot water. Outer cover 112 is generally fabricated of a sheet-like material having properties such as, for example, being waterproof and/or having ultraviolet resistance, such as vinyl. Tub body 102 can be fabricated such that water circulation means such as, for example, piping, jets, valves and the like are contained within the interior support material. The interior support material is fabricated such that an inner wall 115 of the tub body 102 is substantially vertical from a top 116 of the tub body 102 to the body floor 108. Interior support material is also fabricated such that body floor 108 is substantially flat and coplanar.

[0035] Pump assembly 104 generally comprises a portable housing 118 comprising a pump 120. In addition, pump assembly 104 can comprise a control panel 121 having control component for operating items such as, for example, flow switches and flow sensors, heaters and water treatment means such as, for example, chlorine or ozone based treatment systems. Pump assembly 104 is generally fluidly coupled to tub body 102 with a supply line 122 and a return line 124 such that pump 120 can continually recirculate heated and treated water to the tub body 102.

[0036] As illustrated in FIG. 3, a hot tub conversion kit of the present invention can comprise a support platform 202, a pump platform 203 and a liner 204 for use in conjunction with tub body 102 and pump assembly 104 to form a hot tub assembly 205. It will be understood that hot tub conversion kit 200 can be used to both retrofit existing portable, disassemble, hot tubs as well as being used integrally during the manufacture and configuration of newly manufactured portable, disassemble hot tubs. Pump platform 203 can comprise an enclosure for lifting the pump assembly 104 to a proper height for coupling the supply line 122 and return line 124 to tub body 102. In some alternative embodiments, pump platform 203 and pump assembly 104 can be integrally fabricated as a single enclosure.

[0037] As illustrated in FIGS. 4a, 4b, and 5, support platform 202 can be fabricated to have a platform perimeter 206 that in some presently preferred embodiments, substantially resembles the configuration of perimeter 114. Support platform 202 comprises a platform height 208. Support platform 202 can comprise a single unitary support structure 210 as illustrated in FIG. 4a or can comprise a plurality of platform sections 210a, 210b, 210c and 210d as illustrated in FIG. 4b. Though support platform 202 is illustrated with four platforms, it will be understood that any number of sections can be selected based on characteristics such as, for example, ease of set-up, shipping and manufacturing. Furthermore, sections 210a, 210b, 210c and 210d can comprise interlocking features that help to ensure proper positioning during the installation process. The use of a sectioned configuration including sections 210a, 210b, 210c and 210d can prove advantageous during the packaging and shipment of hot tub assembly 205 as existing packaging components for hot tub 100 can be utilized as platform sections 210a, 210b, 210c and 210d can be positioned within tub body 102 during shipment. As best seen in FIG. 4b, support platform 202 further comprises a platform width 212 that defines a central open portion 214. Platform width 212 can be uniform around the central open portion 214 or can vary so as to provide alternative configurations for central open portion 214. Support platform 202 can be fabricated such that central open portion 214 has any desirable depth, diameter and consequently, volume. Support platform 202 can be fabricated of a internal material 215 for use with portable, disassemblable hot tub 100 such as, for example, foam or foam-like materials such as those used in fabricating tub body 102 or other lightweight materials such as, for example, polystyrene. Support platform 202 further comprises an external cover 216, for example a single unitary cover or alternatively, a sectional cover individually covering platform sections 210a, 210b and 210c. External cover 216 can be fabricated of the same or similar materials used in fabricating outer cover 112. In some presently preferred embodiments, external cover 216 is selected to have the same color as outer cover 112.

[0038] To use hot tub conversion kit 200, support platform 202 is arranged as illustrated in FIGS. 5, 6 and 7. Support platform 202 can be placed inside in a three or four season room or squeezed down a stairway into a basement or outside on a deck or patio. If support platform 202 comprises multiple sections such as, for example, platform sections 210a, 210b, 210c and 210d, the individual sections are arranged to form the support platform 202.

[0039] Next, tub body 102 is prepared for placement on top of the support platform 202. As illustrated in FIG. 5, body floor 108 is at least partially cut-away and removed to form a floor opening 126 corresponding the size and configuration of central open portion 214. Tub body 102 is then placed on top of support platform 202 such that the central open portion 214 and floor opening 126 are substantially aligned as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7. A plurality of water jets 128 integral to inner wall 115 of tub body 102 remain untouched. In some presently preferred embodiments, platform perimeter 206 and perimeter 114 can define a substantially coplanar vertical wall while in alternative embodiments, platform perimeter 206 can exceed the perimeter 114 so as to define an exterior step 217 for providing easy access into the tub body 102 as illustrated in FIG. 8. In some embodiments, support platform 202 can comprise means for retaining the position of tub body 102 on the support platform 202 such as, for example, a friction enhancing member 219 on support platform 202 as illustrated in FIG. 9 so as to reduce the potential for tub body 102 being slidably dislodged from support platform 202.

[0040] Following the placement of tub body 102 on support platform 202, liner 204 is positioned within tub body 102 as illustrated in FIG. 10. Liner 204 generally comprises a tear-resistant, polymeric sheet-like material such as, for example, vinyl or like materials suitable for retaining hot water. Liner 204 can be selected to have desired colors and/or visual patterns or pictures. Liner 204 is generally defined by a first vertical surface 218, a first horizontal surface 220, a second vertical surface 222 and a second horizontal surface 224. First horizontal surface 220 can comprise a plurality of fittings 226 or openings corresponding to the position and number of water jets 128. In general, first horizontal surface 220 is configured to conform to the shape and size of inner wall 115, first horizontal surface 220 is configured to conform to the shape and size of the remaining portion of body floor 108 and/or platform width 212 while the second vertical surface 222 and the second horizontal surface 224 are configured to conform to the shape and size of central open portion 214.

[0041] Once liner 204 is positioned with respect to tub body 102 and support platform 202, fittings 226 are sealingly, fluidly connected to water jets 128 and supply line 122 and return line 124 are operably interconnected between the preexisting connections on tub body 102 and pump assembly 104. Liner 204 is then filled with water 227 and pump assembly 104 can be activated so as to begin recirculating and heating water. When filling liner 204, it will be noted that the volume of water within liner 204 is increased as compared to liner 110 due to the inclusion of second vertical surface 222 and the second horizontal surface 224 corresponding to central open portion 214.

[0042] Once filled, hot tub assembly 205 comprises a number of benefits and features not available with portable, disassemblable hot tub 100. First, the overall water capacity of hot tub assembly 205 is substantially increased as described above. Secondly, hot tub assembly 205 provides for a seating area 227 and footwell 228 providing comfort and convenience not associated with body floor 108 of portable disassemblable hot tub 100 Finally, hot tub assembly 205 can utilize the existing pump assembly 104 and integral pumping components of tub body 102 such that no plumbing or electrical changes are required to form hot tub assembly 205. Alternatively, hot tub assembly 205 can utilize a new pump assembly including additional integral features such as, for example, supplemental piping for supplying jets and/or bubblers in footwell 228 and additional electrical connections for supplying items such as optical lighting in footwell 228.

[0043] As illustrated in FIGS. 11, 11a, 12 and 13a and 13b, support platform 202 and correspondingly, liner 204 can be fabricated to provide a variety of suitable seating features to hot tub assembly 205. For example, platform width 212 can be variable such to provide seating suitable for different size users, such as, for example, adults and children as illustrated in FIG. 11. In another configuration, body floor 108 can be substantially cut-away such that support platform 202 is essentially acting as the support for seating area 226. As illustrated in FIG. 11a, support platform 202 can comprise a variable height seating arrangement having seat levels 230a, 230b, 230c such that users can select their level of submersion within the water or to provide seating suitable for children and adults. Seat levels 230a, 230b, 230c can also function as step to make entry and exit from the hot tub assembly 205 convenient and safe. In another alternative arrangement, body floor 108 can again be substantially cut-away such that support platform 202 acts as the support for seating area 226. Support platform 202 can comprise an elongated seating feature 232 wherein a user can submerge themselves in a substantially, reclined position as illustrated in FIG. 12. In other alternative configurations, support platform 202, liner 204 and tub body 102 can cooperatively defined configurations for hot tub assembly 205 that are generally found only in rigid hot tubs making use of rigid outer shells. For instance, hot tub assembly 205 can comprise an octagonal configuration 234 as illustrated in FIG. 13a or a rectangular configuration 236 as illustrated in FIG. 13b. Other representative configurations can comprise ovals, hexagonal shapes, triangular shapes and other fanciful shapes and combinations thereof.

[0044] As illustrated in FIG. 14a, support platform 202 can comprise a perimeter positioning ring 238 corresponding to a perimeter gap 240 on a bottom surface 242 of tub body 102. Tub body 102 can be positioned on top of support platform 202 such that perimeter positioning ring 238 resides within perimeter gap 240. The interface between positioning ring 238 and perimeter gap 240 helps to confirm that tub body 102 has been properly positioned on support platform 202 and assists the assembly process by retaining the tub body 102 on support platform 202 as the outer cover 112 and liner 204 are installed.

[0045] As illustrated in FIG. 14b, outer cover 112 and liner 204 can comprise a unitary assembly 242 as illustrated in FIG. 13a. Outer cover 112 can comprise a draw string assembly 244 for snugly conforming and attaching the outer cover 112 over the tub body 102 and support platform 202 by tightening the draw string assembly 244 under the support platform 202.

[0046] As illustrated in FIGS. 15a and 15b, support platform 202 can be fabricated and configured to provide additional features such as, for example, integral distribution piping 246 for supplying footwell jets 248. In addition, support platform 202 can include other integral components such as, for example, electrical connections and wiring. In various embodiments, integral distribution piping 246 can be configured to connect to either pump assembly 104, pump platform 203 and pump assembly 104, or alternatively, a pump assembly 250 as illustrated in FIG. 14 which can serve a dual function as both the pump assembly and as a step 252 in an integral step arrangement 254 for providing access to tub body 102. Pump assembly 250 can further comprise additional features such as, for example, a drain connection for emptying hot tub assembly 205, sanitization and/or chemical injection systems, filters, additional heating capacity, specialized controls such as for controlling features such as massage and foot jets and other similar features.

[0047] The present disclosure describes aspects of one presently preferred embodiment of a hot tub assembly for adding desirable features to existing or new, portable, disassemblable hot tubs. It will be understood by one of skill in the art that additional, alternative embodiments are contemplated and would not depart from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure.

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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20060218716 A1
Publish Date
10/05/2006
Document #
File Date
10/24/2014
USPTO Class
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
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Drawings
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