Inventors have been filing for patents regarding solar powered items for at least several decades. Patents issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office during the early ‘80s show how inventors have used solar energy to power lighting systems (US Patent No. 4,384,317) and even for the propulsion of aircraft through the sky (US Patent No. 4,415,133). In the 1990s, more interesting applications for solar energy use in outdoor entertainment can be seen, such as this patent protecting a solar-powered hot dog cooker (US Patent No. 5,054,467).
Today at IPWatchdog, as we continue our Summer 2013 series, we take a look at some of the patents and applications regarding the application of solar energy to improve outdoor summer activities. A few patent applications give us an insight to some of the intriguing uses of solar energy we might see someday in our own backyards. One application describes an umbrella table capable of storing electricity and sending it to electrical outlets on the table. Another application is for a grill canopy with solar-powered lighting displaying downward from the fabric top. A third application would protect a solar powered outdoor lamp with a more stable base for non-permeable ground settings.
The USPTO has also recently issued patents to some individuals and small groups who have devised new ways of utilizing solar power through summer activities or ornaments. One patent protects a surfboard that collects and stores electricity safely for later use. Another patent protects a system of storing electricity from solar energy to light decorative wind chimes at night.
Solar Powered Umbrella Table
U.S. Patent Application No. 20110265694
Umbrella tables are commonly used for outdoor entertainment, whether for eating dinner or just lounging around underneath the shade of a large umbrella. When a group gathers around a table there are many electrical appliances, like a radio or a fan, that may be desirable to have around. However, plug wires for appliances may be cumbersome and outdoor electrical outlets may be difficult to access or even find.
This patent application, filed by joint inventors Matthew Portis of Alexandria, VA, and Obadiah Hampton of Maricopa, AZ, would protect an umbrella table that can collect solar energy. This energy is converted into DC electrical energy, which can be sent to a number of electrical outlets installed directly on the table. The table also includes a moisture detector that can detect an unsafe level of moisture and turn off the electricity in response.
Claim 1 of this patent application would give the inventors the right to protect:
“A table and umbrella apparatus comprising: an umbrella having at least one solar energy collection device that converts solar energy to an electrical DC voltage; a pole that supports the umbrella, wherein the pole is connected to a table; a base station connected to a bottom portion of the table comprising at least one battery that stores the electrical DC voltage and at least one inverter that converts the DC voltage to AC voltage; and at least one power outlet terminal adapted to receive the AC voltage, wherein an electrical device may be plugged into the at least one power outlet terminal.”
Solar Surf Board
U.S. Patent No. 8262425
Surfboards are popular recreational items in coastal areas. These pieces of equipment encounter a lot of radiant energy during use, as there’s very little shade on the ocean except in the form of clouds. However, the ubiquitous presence of water all around the surfboard limits the electrical applications for these items.
This patent, issued by the USPTO to solo inventor Anthony William Jones of Garden Grove, CA, protects the process of creating a surfboard that is capable of converting solar energy safely into electricity. This design introduces solar panels between the foam core of the board and the fiberglass laminate. Users can access stored electricity through an access port plug which is protected by an O-ring for a waterproof seal.
As Claim 1 explains, Mr. Jones is seeking to protect:
“A watertight solar surfboard (10) including an internal battery (6) for capturing solar radiation and converting it into electrical power for use in charging battery operated external electrical devices, said surfboard being comprised of a fiberglass shell (2), with a fore extremity (1), an aft extremity (9), an inner foam core (3), a fin (8) disposed near said aft extremity, a solar panel (4) that is disposed on a bottom surface of said shell, wires (5) that connect said solar panel to said battery to transfer electrical energy from said solar panel to said battery and an O-ring seal screw (7) to seal out water from an access electrical port plug for connecting external electrical devices to said battery.”
Canopy with Solar-Powered Lighting
U.S. Patent Application No. 20120103377
A grill canopy is an accessory for barbecue grills that protects a person who is at the grill from rain, excessive sun or other weather. Typically, this is designed as a cloth awning separate from the grill that is held above the grill by a stand. Lighting extending down onto the grill from the canopy top would be helpful for viewing food while cooking, but this is hindered by the difficulties of finding and easily using electricity outdoors.
This patent application, filed by James T. Sheridan of Newton, PA, seeks to protect a design for a grill canopy that includes a solar panel resting above the fabric top of the canopy. The solar panel collects radiant energy which is used to power lighting found underneath the canopy. The light source utilizes light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.
Claim 1 of this patent application would give Mr. Sheridan the right to protect:
“A canopy comprising: a shade having a fabric top; a solar light assembly mounted in the fabric top, the solar light assembly including at least one solar cell facing upwardly from a top side of the fabric, top, at least one light source facing downwardly from a bottom side of the fabric top, and a power storage device for storing electrical power generated by the solar cell and for providing electrical power to the light source; legs for supporting the shade; and a control unit for controlling activation and deactivation of the light source.”
Solar Wind Chime
U.S. Patent No. 8421252
Wind chimes are a decorative implement many people have in their backyards or other outdoor areas around their residence. Aside from making an aesthetically pleasing sound when encountered by a breeze, these pieces are usually designed to capture the eyes as well. However, when hung in shaded areas or at night, these decorative pieces are difficult to see.
This patent, issued to inventors Gregory Kuelbs of Westlake, TX, and Gustav Kuelbs of Grapevine, TX, protects a system of implementing solar energy for the lighting of wind chimes. The body of the wind chime in this device contains a battery that is charged with solar power that is drawn from solar cells near the top of the chimes. Ideally, the body is constructed of weatherproof plastic, but wood, metal and many other materials will suffice as well.
As Claim 1 explains, the inventors have earned the right to protect:
“A solar wind chime, comprising: a body; a chime suspended from the body; a decorative globe suspended from the body; a solar energy system carried by the body, the solar energy system comprising: a rechargeable electrical power source; and a solar energy collection system for recharging the rechargeable electrical power source; a lighting element disposed within the decorative globe and conductively coupled to the rechargeable electrical power source for illuminating the decorative globe; a plurality of ribs arranged about the decorative globe to prevent striking contact between the decorative globe and the chime.”
Outdoor Solar Floor Lamp
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130163236
Outdoor lamps have been widely used in order to create lighting for night entertainment in the outdoors. Solar power lamps have been created in the past, but methods of securing those lamps in an upright position are not conducive to a majority of ground settings. These lamps are usually supported by an upright pole with a spike at the end that can be lodged into the ground. This spike method, however, doesn’t work well for other solid ground materials, such as concrete.
This patent application for an outdoor solar lamp with better methods of stabilization was filed by solo inventor Diane Michelle Steele of Gathersburg, MD. This design for an outdoor solar lamp includes a floor base that is weighted and includes multiple support legs. These legs are adjustable and can be raised or lowered for better stability on slanting or uneven surfaces.
Claim 1 of this patent application seeks to protect:
“A solar lamp having a weighted and adjustable base, comprising: a lamp base having an underside surface; a plurality of leveling elements removably attached to said base underside surface; said leveling elements comprising at least one folding foot element and at least one pointed ridge element; said at least one folding foot element having a body structure comprising a flat upper surface and a flat lower surface, along with a threaded member pivotably connected to said body structure and capable of rotating between a stowed state and deployed state within a channel along said foot element upper surface; said at least one pointed ridge element having a pointed body and a threaded member extending therefrom; said pointed ridge and folding foot element threaded members threadably connecting to said base underside surface for offsetting and orienting said base with respect to a support surface; a plurality of storage clips along said base underside surface for supporting said leveling elements between uses.”