Water Dispenser

Receptacle assembly for bottled water dispenser

Water Dispenser Abstract
A receptacle for receiving a supply bottle in a bottled water dispenser includes a bottle support member having an annular rim for supporting the supply bottle in an inverted mounted position. The support member has a downwardly depending funnel portion for receiving the bottle neck, the neck having a closure cap. The funnel portion has a bottom wall portion with an opening therein. Water in the funnel portion received from the bottle passes through this opening to be dispensed by the dispenser. A piercing probe extends upwardly from the bottom wall portion to pierce the cap on the water bottle neck. The piercing probe is non-tubular and has at least one longitudinal exterior groove to allow water to pass from the bottle neck into the funnel portion.

Water Dispenser Claims
1. A receptacle for delivering liquid from an inverted supply bottle to a reservoir in a dispenser, wherein the supply bottle has a narrow neck, the neck being closed by a cap having a central, axial recess with a frangible bottom, comprising: a bottle support member having an annular rim for supporting a supply bottle in an inverted mounted position, the support member also having a downwardly depending funnel portion extending below the rim and adapted to receive the bottle neck; the funnel portion having a bottom wall portion defining at least one opening for the passage of liquid from the funnel portion to a dispenser reservoir, the bottom wall portion being spaced below the neck of a mounted supply bottle; an elongate piercing probe extending upwardly from the bottom wall portion a sufficient distance to break the cap frangible bottom of a mounted supply bottle; and the piercing probe having at least one longitudinal exterior groove adapted to extend through a broken cap frangible bottom of a mounted supply bottle for the passage of liquid from inside the supply bottle into the funnel portion.

2. A receptacle as claimed in claim 1 wherein the funnel portion has an upright side wall, and wherein the bottom wall portion has a probe support releasably mounted therein.

3. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the side wall has a curved upper portion extending downwardly and inwardly from the annular rim.

4. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the probe support is threadably attached to the side wall.

5. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the probe support is attached to the sidewall by a twist lock.

6. A receptacle as claimed in claim 1 wherein the bottle support member and piercing probe are formed as one integral unit.

7. A receptacle as claimed in claim 4 wherein the probe support further comprises a demountable canister located below and in communication with the bottom wall opening to receive liquid through said opening, the canister having a foraminate lower wall for passing liquid therethrough to the reservoir.

8. A receptacle as claimed in claim 7 wherein the canister is filled with a filter medium.

9. A receptacle as claimed in claim 8 wherein the filter medium includes activated charcoal.

10. A receptacle as claimed in claim 1 and further comprising radially disposed support gussets extending between the bottom wall portion and the piercing probe.

11. A receptacle as claimed in claim 4 wherein the piercing probe has an upper distal end portion having a transverse width sufficient to split open the frangible bottom of the supply bottle cap central axial recess.

12. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the funnel bottom wall portion has a plurality of openings for the passage of liquid therethrough.

13. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the piercing probe has a plurality of transversely disposed longitudinal ribs defining one of said longitudinal exterior grooves between adjacent ones of said ribs.

14. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the piercing probe has an arcuate elongate wall portion defining said longitudinal exterior groove.

15. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the probe has a helical or spiral rib defining said longitudinal exterior groove between adjacent revolutions of said helical rib.

16. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the probe is in the form of a helical coil, said longitudinal exterior groove being formed between adjacent turns of said coil.

17. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the piercing probe has an upper distal end portion defining a transverse groove for use with a supply bottle of the type having a sealable plug as the frangible bottom of the cap central axial recess.

18. A receptacle as claimed in claim 2 wherein the piercing probe has an upper end portion formed with transverse projections for use with a supply bottle of the type having a sealable plug as the frangible bottom of the cap central axial recess.

19. A receptacle as claimed in claim 13 wherein said ribs include laterally disposed outer flanges.

20. A receptacle as claimed in claim 14 wherein the piercing probe has a pair of opposed accurate elongate wall portions and a central flange joining said opposed arcuate-wall portions.

Medical Supplies Patent

Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to liquid dispensers, and in particular, to devices for transferring water from a bottled water source to an internal reservoir in a bottled water dispenser.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] For a number of reasons, it has become popular in offices and homes to have bottled drinking or potable water. Dispensers are provided for the bottled water. The water normally comes in plastic bottles containing 5 US gallons or approximately 19 litres of water. Early water dispensers had an internal reservoir and an open top, which allowed the water supply bottle to be mounted on top of the dispenser in an inverted position with the neck of the water bottle extending into the reservoir. When the water level in the reservoir reaches the neck of the bottle, air can no longer enter the bottle, so water stops flowing from the bottle. When water is taken from the dispenser lowering the water level in the reservoir, the bottle neck is exposed allowing air again to enter the bottle. Water then flows again from the bottle to replenish the reservoir. A difficulty with these early water dispensers, however, is that water was often spilled while trying to invert and mount the somewhat heavy water supply bottle on the dispenser.

[0003] In order to try to overcome this spillage problem, attempts were made to put closures or caps on the necks of the water supply bottles wherein these closures had spring-loaded plunger-type valves in them. When the water supply bottle was inverted and placed on top of the dispenser, the plunger would be depressed, opening the valve allowing water to come out of the supply bottle. While this reduced the spillage, the plunger-type valves were problematic and these types of caps were expensive.

[0004] A similar approach, as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,699,188 issued to Henry E. Baker et al, was to provide a water supply bottle with a plastic cap. The cap had a central, axial recess, and the dispenser was provided with an inlet tube with a sharpened upper end, so that when the water supply bottle was inverted and mounted on the dispenser, the sharpened tube would enter the cap recess and pierce the cap at the inner end of the recess allowing water to flow through the inlet tube into the dispenser reservoir. If there is a good seal between the water supply bottle cap and the piercing inlet tube of the dispenser, this Baker system works fine. However, this is usually not the case, so some water leaks out around the inlet tube and surrounds the supply bottle cap. This leaked water accumulates and stagnates and can be a source of bacteria that gets into the water supply.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] In the present invention, a receptacle is provided that has a funnel portion that accepts the neck of a water supply bottle. The funnel portion has a bottom wall portion with an opening therethrough, so that any water that surrounds the supply bottle cap can drain out of the funnel portion and not stagnate therein.

[0006] According to the invention, there is provided a receptacle for delivering liquid from an inverted supply bottle to a reservoir in a dispenser. The receptacle is used with water supply bottles having a narrow neck closed by a cap having a central, axial recess with a frangible bottom. The receptacle comprises a bottle support member having an annular rim for supporting a supply bottle in an inverted mounted position. The support member also has a downwardly depending funnel portion extending below the rim which is adapted to receive the bottle neck. The funnel portion has a bottom wall portion defining at least one opening for the passage of liquid from the funnel portion to the dispenser reservoir. The bottle wall portion is spaced below the neck of a mounted supply water bottle. An elongate piercing probe extends upwardly from the bottom wall portion a sufficient distance to break the cap frangible bottom of a mounted supply bottle. Also, the piercing probe has at least one longitudinal exterior groove adapted to extend through a broken cap frangible bottom of a mounted supply bottle for the passage of liquid from inside the supply bottle into the funnel portion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0008] FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic partial elevational view, partly in section, showing a prior art receptacle assembly;

[0009] FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic elevational view similar to FIG. 1, but showing a preferred embodiment of a receptacle assembly according to the present invention;

[0010] FIG. 3 is a exploded view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 showing a water supply bottle about to be mounted on a receptacle assembly;

[0011] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 3;

[0012] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the piercing probe and probe support used in the embodiment of FIGS. 2 to 4, as viewed in the direction of arrows 5-5 of FIG. 4;

[0013] FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic cross-sectional view of another preferred embodiment of a receptacle assembly according to the present invention;

[0014] FIG. 7 is a plan view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 6;

[0015] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the probe and probe support of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 as viewed in the direction of arrows 8-8 of FIG. 7;

[0016] FIG. 9 is a bottom view of the filter canister used in some of the preferred embodiments of the invention;

[0017] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view, partly broken away, showing some possible modifications to the preferred embodiments of the present invention;

[0018] FIG. 11 is an enlarged elevational view of the upper end of another preferred embodiment of the piercing probe according to the present invention;

[0019] FIG. 12 is another preferred embodiment of a receptacle assembly according to the present invention;

[0020] FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view taken along lines 13-13 of FIG. 12;

[0021] FIG. 14 is an elevational view of another preferred embodiment of a probe and probe support according to the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 15 is a top plan view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 14;

[0023] FIGS. 16 to 19 are cross-sectional views of yet further preferred embodiments of the piercing probes according to the present invention;

[0024] FIG. 20 is an elevational view of yet another preferred embodiment of a piercing probe and probe support according to the present invention;

[0025] FIG. 21 is a vertical cross-sectional view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 20;

[0026] FIG. 22 is an elevational view of yet a further preferred embodiment of a probe and probe support according to the present invention; and

[0027] FIG. 23 is a vertical cross-sectional view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 22.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0028] Referring firstly to FIG. 1, a prior art receptacle 10 for a bottled water dispenser is shown with a water bottle 12 mounted thereon. Water bottle 12 has a narrow neck 14 that extends downwardly into a cup-like member 16. Bottle 12 comes with a plastic cap 18 that has a central axial recess 20. The receptacle 10 includes a tubular probe 22 having an upper inlet hole 24, so that when the bottle 12 is mounted on receptacle 10, probe 22 enters the axial recess 20 in cap 18, pierces the cap, and allows inlet opening 24 to receive the water inside bottle 12 and deliver it downwardly into a reservoir (not shown) of the bottled water dispenser.

[0029] Ideally, the probe 22 in axial recess 20 is dimensioned to provide a seal therebetween, so that all of the water inside the bottle is eventually delivered to the dispenser reservoir. However, the seal often leaks, or sometimes the bottle 12 is removed from receptacle 10 before all of the water is emptied from it, in which case some residual water 26 collects in the bottom of the cup-like member 16. There is no way for this residual water to escape, so it stagnates and offers a breeding ground for bacteria which can eventually migrate to the water inside bottle 12.

[0030] Turning now to the present invention, a preferred embodiment of a receptacle assembly for a bottled water dispenser is generally indicated in FIGS. 2 and 3 by reference numeral 30. Receptacle assembly 30 includes a bottle support member 32 having an annular rim for supporting a water supply bottle 12 thereon in an inverted mounted position, as indicated in FIG. 2. Support member 32 has a downwardly depending funnel portion 36 extending below rim 34. The funnel portion has an upright sidewall 38 including a curved upper portion 40 extending downwardly and inwardly from annular rim 34. Sidewall 38 is adapted to receive the bottle neck 14. Funnel portion 36 has a bottom wall portion 42 which defines at least one opening 44 for the passage of liquid, such as water, from the funnel portion 36 downwardly to a reservoir (not shown) in the dispenser located below receptacle assembly 30.

[0031] It will be noted that bottom wall portion 44 is spaced below the bottle neck 14, so that any water in funnel portion 36 can drain out through openings 44. Actually, in use, the water rises to the bottom edge of cap 18 and cannot rise any higher, because air cannot then enter bottle 12 allowing more water to come out of the bottle. The water in funnel portion 36 may completely drain out of openings 44 when an empty bottle 12 is removed, but at least the water in funnel portion 36 is constantly being removed and replenished, so that it cannot stagnate and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

[0032] Referring next to FIGS. 4 and 5, a probe assembly 46 is shown, which includes an elongate piercing probe 48 and a probe support portion 50. In the receptacle assembly 30 shown in FIGS. 2 to 6, the probe support portion 50 actually forms part of bottom wall portion 42, and the outlet or drain openings 44 are actually located in probe support 50.

[0033] As seen best in FIGS. 2 and 3, piercing probe 48 extends upwardly from bottom wall portion 42 a sufficient distance to enter cap recess 20 and pierce or spread open the inner end or frangible bottom 52 (see FIG. 3) of the portion of cap 18 that forms recess 20.

[0034] Piercing probe 48 has at least one longitudinal exterior groove 54 which extends through or passes the broken bottle cap frangible bottom 52 when bottle 12 is mounted on receptacle assembly 30, as indicated in FIG. 2. This allows water to flow from inside bottle 12 along the probe and into the funnel portion 36.

[0035] As best seen in FIGS. 4 and 5, the longitudinal grooves 54 in probe 48 are defined by longitudinal flanges or ribs 56. Radially disposed support gussets 51 are provided to strengthen the base of probe 48.

[0036] Probe 48 has a non-tubular, solid cross-section. Probe 48 has a rounded upper or distal end portion 58 that actually does the piercing or splitting or breaking of the supply bottle cap frangible bottom 52. Some water supply bottles have caps 18 that are provided with cup-like members or plugs (not shown) that form the frangible bottom 52 of recess 20. These cup-like members are made so that they can break off when the piercing probe enters recess 20, and there are interlocking annular flanges that allow these cup-like members to be reattached as the piercing probe is withdrawn from the water bottle or the water bottle is lifted off the probe. This type of water bottle is referred to as a resealable water bottle, so that it can be removed from the water dispenser before it is empty. In order to reseal the cup-like members, the piercing probe usually has a transverse groove or notches 60 in the distal end portion 58, which grabs and retains an annular flange on the cup-like members and pulls the cup-like member back into position to re-seal the cap when the water bottle is lifted off the dispenser.

[0037] As seen best in FIGS. 3 to 5, the probe support 50 is releasably mounted in the bottom wall portion 42. One way that this is done, as seen best in FIG. 4, is to provide a probe support 50 with radially outwardly disposed tabs 62, and the bottom edge of sidewall 38 with circumferential recesses 64. Probe support 50 can then be rotated until tabs 62 line up with recesses 64 to allow the probe support 50 and funnel portion 36 to be axially separated. The reverse procedure is used to attach probe support 50 to funnel portion 36, and this releasable mount or connection is referred to herein as a twist lock. Another way to provide this releasable mounting is to threadably attach probe support 50 to the sidewall 38, as seen best in FIG. 6. The probe support 50 has male threads 66 (see FIG. 8) and the lower end of sidewall 38 as mating female threads 68.

[0038] Referring again to FIGS. 2, 3 and 6, probe support 50 has an optional demountable canister 70 threadably mounted thereon. Canister 70 has a foraminous lower wall as seen best in FIG. 9 where the bottom wall 72 has a plurality of holes 74 formed therein. Canister 70 may be filled with a filter medium 76, such as a suitable foam impregnated with activated charcoal. Alternatively, canister 70 could simply be filled with activated charcoal if holes 74 are made small enough to prevent the charcoal from escaping or a suitable filter medium is placed between the activated charcoal and bottom wall 72. Either way, canister 70 is in communication with bottom wall portion openings 44 and openings 74 to allow water to pass from funnel portion 36 through canister 70 to the reservoir in the bottled water dispenser.

[0039] FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate that probe 48 could have a truncated conical upper or distal end portion 78. The probe distal end portion could also be hemispherical or it could have other configurations as well, as discussed further below, as long as it has a transverse width sufficient to split open the frangible bottom 52 of the supply bottle cap central axial recess 20 where this frangible bottom is of the simple non-resealable type mentioned above.

[0040] FIG. 10 shows a modification where the funnel wall bottom portion 42 has side openings 80 as well as or instead of the bottom openings 44 in probe support 50. In this embodiment, the canister 70 would not be used, although the lower portion 82 of probe support 50 could still be provided with threads 84 to permit the addition of a filtering canister at a later date, if desired. In this latter event, a funnel portion 36 not having openings 80 would be used.

[0041] FIG. 11 shows an alternate embodiment for piercing probe 48 where the upper or distal end portion 86 has a plurality of transverse projections 88 arranged in a horizontal ring. These projections 88 would be used with releasable type supply water bottle caps where cup-like members or detachable plugs are formed on the inner end of the axial recess 20 in the bottle caps 18. These projections 88 would releasably engage the releasable cap plugs to allow the plugs to be reattached as the water bottle is pulled off probe 48.

[0042] FIGS. 12 and 13 show another preferred embodiment of a receptacle assembly 90 where the bottle support member 92 and the piercing probe 94 are formed as one integral unit. As seen best in FIG. 13, four sector-like openings are provided in the bottom wall portion 98 to allow the water to pass downwardly out of funnel portion 100. Receptacle assembly 90 also has a downwardly disposed lower tubular portion 102. This allows for a lower water level in the reservoir of a water bottle dispenser, because lower opening 104 now provides the gateway for air passing upwardly into a supply water bottle.

[0043] FIGS. 14 and 15 show a modified probe assembly 104 which is similar to the probe assembly shown in FIG. 8, but where the probe ribs 106 extend all the way to the top of the probe. Upper or distal end portion 108 also has a ring of radial projections 110 that perform the same function as the projections 88 in the embodiment of FIG. 11 in connection with the resealable-type of supply water bottle caps.

[0044] FIG. 16 to 19 show various other possible preferred configurations for the piercing probe of the present invention. In FIG. 16, there are three transversely disposed longitudinal ribs 112. The longitudinal grooves 114 for the flow of water along the probe are provided between adjacent ones of the ribs 112.

[0045] FIG. 17 illustrate that the probe longitudinal ribs 116 can have laterally disposed, outer, longitudinal flanges 118. Again, the longitudinal grooves 120 are defined between adjacent ones of the ribs and flanges 116, 118.

[0046] FIGS. 18 and 19 show probes having arcuate elongate wall portions. In FIG. 18, a single arcuate elongate wall portion 120 defines a single longitudinal groove 122. Longitudinal groove 122 appears to be in the inside of arcuate wall portion 120 but for the purposes of the present invention it is considered to be a longitudinal exterior groove, because it is open to the exterior of the probe, as opposed to being of the enclosed tubular-type of probe found in the prior art.

[0047] FIG. 19 has a pair of opposed arcuate elongate wall portions 124 joined by a central flange 126, again to provide two longitudinal outwardly exposed exterior grooves 128 for the flow of water along the probe.

[0048] FIGS. 20 and 21 show a probe assembly 130 having a helical or spiral rib 132 defining the longitudinal exterior groove 134 between adjacent revolutions of the helical ribs.

[0049] FIGS. 22 and 23 show a probe assembly 136 in the form of a helical coil 138. The longitudinal exterior groove 140 is formed between adjacent turns of helical coil 138.

[0050] It will be appreciated that the features described in the various embodiments discussed could be mixed and matched as desired.

[0051] As will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of the foregoing disclosure, many alterations and modifications are possible in the practice of this invention without departing from the spirit or scope thereof. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is to be construed in accordance with the substance defined by the following claims.

PUB. APP. NO. Title
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