(19)
(11)EP 2 336 691 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
23.05.2012 Bulletin 2012/21

(21)Application number: 10193942.9

(22)Date of filing:  07.12.2010
(51)Int. Cl.: 
F25D 25/02  (2006.01)
A47B 96/02  (2006.01)

(54)

Refrigerating appliance

Kältegerät

Appareil frigorifique


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 21.12.2009 IT TO20091009

(43)Date of publication of application:
22.06.2011 Bulletin 2011/25

(73)Proprietor: Indesit Company S.p.A.
60044 Fabriano (AN) (IT)

(72)Inventor:
  • Mattioni, Giancarlo
    60018 Montemarciano (AN) (IT)

(74)Representative: Santonicola, Paolo et al
Indesit Company S.p.A. Industrial Property Management Team Via Lamberto Corsi, 55
60044 Fabriano (AN)
60044 Fabriano (AN) (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A2- 1 906 122
US-A- 2 057 544
WO-A2-2008/031783
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The present invention relates to a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, according to the preamble of claim 1. Such an appliance is known, for instance, from WO-A2-2008/031783.

    [0002] Although not limited to such use, the present invention typically applies to refrigerating appliances for household use.

    [0003] Known refrigerating appliances have at least one internal compartment for preserving foodstuffs.

    [0004] Said at least one internal compartment is usually accessible through a door that allows the compartment itself to be opened and closed by a user.

    [0005] The refrigerating appliances known in the art typically comprise two internal compartments kept at different temperatures, thus providing at least two different foodstuff preservation states, in particular a refrigerator compartment suitable for preserving fresh foods at a temperature between 0°C and 10°C and a freezer compartment suitable for preserving frozen foods at a temperature between -15°C and -30°C; such refrigerating appliances are commonly referred to by those skilled in the art of household refrigeration as "double-door" or "combined" refrigerators, depending on the relative position of the two compartments. In a "double-door" refrigerating appliance, the freezer compartment is above the refrigerator compartment, whereas in a "combined" refrigerating appliance the freezer compartment is located at the bottom.

    [0006] Said internal compartments typically include shelves for supporting foodstuffs to be preserved in the refrigerating appliance; said shelves usually extend between the two side walls of the cell and are often made of glass or, less frequently, of plastic or metal grid. These shelves are also commonly used for laying containers suitable for containing specific types of foods, such as vegetables, cheese or liquid substances; sometimes there are also extractable drawers adapted to contain food to be preserved in the refrigerating appliance.

    [0007] In a solution currently available on the market, the containers are hung under the shelves, for better space distribution and utilisation within the internal compartment of the refrigerating appliance; in such a case, the containers are drawers equipped with guides that engage with the overhanging shelf, thus allowing the hanging drawer to be extracted. One drawback of such hanging drawers is that they require that the foodstuffs contained therein do not exceed certain weight limits, in order to prevent the guides, which are typically made of plastic, from being overly stressed.

    [0008] When the containers are laid on the shelves, on the contrary, they usually can be moved freely on the shelf surface in order to ensure the utmost flexibility as regards the arrangement of the foodstuffs to be preserved and the type and shape of the containers.

    [0009] However, the presence of the shelves often makes it hard to fully use the internal compartment of the refrigerating appliance, especially when the foodstuffs to be preserved have large dimensions, in particular when they are tall (e.g. bottles).

    [0010] Document US2,057,544 discloses a refrigerator having a recessed rear wall, side walls, telescoping shelf guides on the side walls and a link shelf mounted for movement in the guides. Document WO2008/031783 discloses a refrigerator comprising a shelf having support surface that is wrapped into roll in closed position and stretched to form load bearing portion of shelf in open position, and shaft to which support surface is attached and wrapped around. Document EP1906122 discloses a refrigerator having a tray with plates guided in grooves attached to side walls.

    [0011] In order to overcome this problem, the user often has to remove at least one shelf from the internal compartment of the refrigerating appliance to increase the distance between the remaining shelves. However, this solution has some drawbacks as well, in that the removed shelf is bulky and must be temporarily stored somewhere in the kitchen. Moreover, removing a shelf inevitably implies a reduction in the surface available for laying foodstuffs in the refrigerating appliance.

    [0012] In a known solution, the shelves are designed in a manner such that they can be folded. However, such a solution is not very practical and advantageous, since the folded shelf still takes up a considerable volume inside the refrigerating appliance, and the volume occupied by the folded shelf cannot be used for preserving foodstuffs.

    [0013] In this frame, it is the main object of the present invention to provide a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, adapted to overcome the above-described drawbacks, thus being particularly practical and advantageous.

    [0014] It is another object of the present invention to provide a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, so conceived as to ensure an optimal exploitation of the inner spaces of the appliance itself, for the purpose of most effectively using the volumes available for food preservation.

    [0015] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, wherein it is not necessary to remove a shelf if the foodstuffs to be preserved have large dimensions, in particular when they are tall.

    [0016] Said objects are achieved by the present invention through a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, incorporating the features set out in the appended claims.

    [0017] Further objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description and from the annexed drawings, which are supplied by way of non-limiting example, wherein:
    • Fig. 1a is a sectional view of a first embodiment of a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, according to the present invention;
    • Fig. 1b is a side sectional view of a detail of the refrigerating appliance of Fig. 1a;
    • Figs. 2a, 2b, 2c are views of the refrigerating appliance according to the present invention in different operating conditions;
    • Fig. 3 shows a second embodiment of a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, according to the present invention.


    [0018] Referring now to the first embodiment shown in Fig. 1a, reference numeral 1 designates as a whole a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, according to the present invention.

    [0019] Said refrigerating appliance 1 comprises at least one internal compartment 10 for preserving foodstuffs.

    [0020] In particular, the refrigerating appliance 1 may comprise a refrigerator compartment adapted to preserve fresh foods (usually at a temperature between 0°C and 10°C). The refrigerating appliance 1 may also comprise a freezer compartment adapted to preserve frozen foods.

    [0021] Said at least one internal compartment 10 is closed by a respective door, not shown in the annexed drawings; in particular, the refrigerating appliance 1 may comprise a first door adapted to close the refrigerator compartment and a second door used for closing the freezer compartment.

    [0022] The refrigerating appliance 1 further comprises at least one shelf 20 for supporting foodstuffs to be preserved in said at least one internal compartment 10.

    [0023] According to the present invention, said refrigerating appliance 1 comprises a housing 30 adapted to house said at least one shelf 20 in a manner such that said at least one shelf 20 is retractable and can be placed in the following conditions:
    • at least one operating condition, wherein foodstuffs can be laid onto said at least one shelf 20;
    • an idle condition, wherein foodstuffs cannot be laid onto said at least one shelf 20.


    [0024] For simplicity, the representation of the refrigerating appliance 1 provided in Fig. 1a does not show the plurality of shelves with which a refrigerating appliance I is commonly equipped, said shelves being usually arranged at different levels so as to exploit the full height of the internal compartment 10. It is understood that the shelves not shown may be shelves 20 of the type according to the present invention and/or of different types.

    [0025] As can be seen in Figs. 1a and 1b, said housing 30 comprises a shaft 31 connected to a first end 21 of said at least one shelf 20, said shaft 31 being adapted to roll up said at least one shelf 20.

    [0026] Said shaft 31 preferably has a substantially cylindrical shape and is rotatable about a substantially horizontal axis X; in Fig. 1, said axis X is represented by a dashed-dotted line.

    [0027] Said housing 30 also comprises a return element (not shown in the annexed drawings) which allows said shaft 31 to roll up said at least one shelf 20.

    [0028] In particular, said return element may comprise an elastic element and/or a motor for automatically driving said shaft 31.

    [0029] According to the invention, the housing 30 is positioned outside said internal compartment 10, said housing 30 being positioned between an outer covering 2 of the refrigerating appliance 1 and a back wall 11P of the internal compartment 10; said back wall 11P comprises a slot 11F for the shelf 20.

    [0030] As can be seen in particular in Fig. 1b, said housing 30 comprises an envelope 32, preferably made of plastic material, which is adapted to envelop said at least one shelf 20 when it is rolled up around said shaft 31.

    [0031] In Figs. 1a and 1b it can also be noticed that said at least one shelf 20 comprises a second end 22 fitted with at least one striker element 23 for coupling said shelf 20 to at least one support 12 of the internal compartment 10.

    [0032] In particular, said internal compartment 10 comprises one pair of supports 12 for each shelf 20, said supports 12 being associated with side walls 11L of the internal compartment 10 and being equipped with a plurality of seats 13, each adapted to engage with a striker element 23 of the second end 22 and arranged at a predetermined distance from the back wall 11P.

    [0033] Furthermore, said second end 22 of the shelf 20 comprises a grip element 24 that allows a user to move the shelf 20.

    [0034] Said at least one shelf 20 comprises a plurality of interconnected portions 25, e.g. like the various portions of a rolling shutter. Preferably, said portions 25 are made of transparent plastic material, so as not to reduce the brightness of the internal compartment 10; said portions 25 may also be made of glass, aluminium or non-transparent plastic.

    [0035] As an alternative, said at least one shelf 20 may be obtained from a single sheet made of a flexible material, in particular a transparent plastic material, which is however strong enough to not become significantly deformed under a load orthogonal to the shelf 20, said load generally consisting of foodstuffs laid on the shelf 20.

    [0036] Figs. 2a, 2b and 2c show the different conditions in which the shelf 20 according to the present invention may be used.

    [0037] In particular, said shelf 20 may be placed in:
    • a first operating condition (shown in Fig. 2a), wherein said shelf 20 is fully extended and substantially takes up the whole internal compartment 10 in the horizontal direction. In said first operating condition, substantially the entire surface of the shelf 20 can be used for supporting foodstuffs;
    • at least a second (advantageous) operating condition (shown in Fig. 2b), wherein said shelf 20 only takes up a portion of the internal compartment 10 in the horizontal direction. In said second operating condition, a portion of the shelf 20 is housed in the housing 30, while another portion of the shelf 20 can be used for supporting foodstuffs. As a consequence, the portion of said internal compartment 10 which is not occupied by the shelf 20 can be used for preserving large foodstuffs, in particular tall ones; in fact, said large foodstuffs may be laid at a level below the shelf 20 and can extend in height up to a level above said shelf 20;
    • an idle condition (shown in Fig. 2c), wherein said shelf 20 is housed in the housing 30 and substantially does not occupy any portion of the internal compartment 10. This allows the whole internal compartment 10 to be used for preserving large foodstuffs.


    [0038] Consequently, the particular design of the shelf 20 according to the present invention allows to provide a refrigerating appliance 1, in particular for household use, which ensures an optimal exploitation of the spaces within the internal compartment 10, so that the volumes thereof can be used most effectively for preserving foodstuffs.

    [0039] In fact, thanks to the particular design of the shelf 20 according to the present invention, it is not necessary to remove the shelf 20 when the foodstuffs to be preserved are very large, in particular tall. In particular, the design of the shelf 20 according to the present invention allows the room available in the internal compartment 10 of the refrigerating appliance to be increased or decreased in accordance with the dimensions of the foodstuffs; in fact, in order to increase the available room (in particular in height) in the internal compartment 10, the user can retract the shelf 20 either partially (as in the operating condition shown in Fig. 2b) or completely (as in the idle condition shown in Fig. 2c).

    [0040] When it is not necessary to increase the room available in the internal compartment 10, the shelf 20 can be fully used for supporting foodstuffs (as in the operating condition shown in Fig. 2a).

    [0041] Fig. 3 is a perspective view of a second possible embodiment of a refrigerating appliance 1' according to the present invention.

    [0042] The elements shown in Fig. 3 which are equivalent to those of Fig. 1 are designated by the same reference numerals with the addition of an apostrophe (e.g. the refrigerating appliance 1 of Fig. 1 is substantially equivalent to the refrigerating appliance 1' of Fig. 3).

    [0043] In the second embodiment as well, the refrigerating appliance 1' comprises:
    • at least one internal compartment 10' for preserving foodstuffs;
    • at least one shelf 20' for supporting the foodstuffs to be preserved in said at least one internal compartment 10'.


    [0044] Also in said second embodiment said refrigerating appliance 1 comprises a housing 30' adapted to house said at least one shelf 20' in a manner such that said at least one shelf 20' is retractable and can be placed in the following conditions:
    • at least one operating condition, wherein foodstuffs can be laid onto said at least one shelf 20';
    • an idle condition, wherein foodstuffs cannot be laid onto said at least one shelf 20'.


    [0045] Said housing 30' comprises a chamber 41' positioned between an outer covering 2' of the refrigerating appliance 1' and a back wall 11P' of the internal compartment 10'. Preferably, said chamber 41' is arranged vertically between said outer covering 2' and said back wall 11P'. Said back wall 11P' also comprises a slot 11F' for the shelf 20'.

    [0046] In a preferred embodiment, a first portion 21' of the shelf 20' is associated with a mass 42' that facilitates the switching of said shelf 20' from said at least one operating condition to said idle condition.

    [0047] Also in the embodiment shown in Fig. 3, said at least one shelf 20' comprises a plurality of interconnected portions 25', in particular made of transparent plastic material.

    [0048] As an alternative, said at least one shelf 20' may be obtained from a single sheet made of a flexible material, in particular a transparent plastic material; in this case as well, the shelf 20' must be made of a material strong enough to not become significantly deformed under a load orthogonal to the shelf 20', said load generally consisting of foodstuffs laid on the shelf 20'.

    [0049] Said chamber 41' comprises a support element 43', in particular adapted to rotate about a substantially horizontal axis X', which accompanies the movement of the shelf 20' from said at least one operating condition to said idle condition and vice versa.

    [0050] Also in the second embodiment of Fig. 3:
    • the shelf 20' comprises a second end 22' fitted with at least one striker element 23' for coupling said shelf 20' to at least one support 12' of the internal compartment 10'. In particular, said internal compartment 10' comprises one pair of supports 12' associated with side walls 11L' of the internal compartment 10', said supports 12' being equipped with a plurality of seats 13' adapted to engage with said striker element 23';
    • said second end 22' of the shelf 20' comprises a grip element 24' that allows a user to move the shelf 20'.


    [0051] Furthermore, also in the second embodiment of Fig. 3 the shelf 20' can be placed in the conditions shown in Figs. 2a, 2b and 2c, i.e.:
    • a first operating condition (Fig. 2a), wherein the shelf 20' is fully extended and substantially takes up the whole internal compartment 10' in the horizontal direction;
    • at least a second (advantageous) operating condition (shown in Fig. 2b), wherein the shelf 20' only takes up a portion of the internal compartment 10' in the horizontal direction;
    • an idle condition (Fig. 2c), wherein the shelf 20' is housed in the housing 30' and substantially does not occupy any portion of the internal compartment 10'.


    [0052] The advantages of the refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, according to the present invention are apparent from the above description.

    [0053] In particular, the special design of the shelves according to the present invention allows the internal compartment of the refrigerating appliance to be fully exploited, especially when the foodstuffs to be preserved therein are large, in particular tall. In fact, with such a design it is not necessary to remove the shelf from the internal compartment in order to increase the distance between the remaining shelves, in which case the removed shelf would take up space in the kitchen.

    [0054] Another advantage of the present invention is that such a design provides a refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, which is very practical and which ensures a new modularity of the internal compartment unknown to prior-art refrigerating appliances, in that the inner spaces of the appliance itself are utilised in an ideal and particularly profitable way.

    [0055] It is however clear that many changes may be made to the refrigerating appliance, in particular for household use, according to the present invention, within the limits of the following claims.


    Claims

    1. A refrigerating appliance (1; 1'), in particular for household use, comprising:

    - at least one internal compartment (10; 10') for preserving foodstuffs;

    - at least one shelf (20; 20') for supporting the foodstuffs to be preserved in said at least one internal compartment (10; 10'),
    wherein said refrigerating appliance (1; 1') comprises a housing (30; 30') adapted to house said at least one shelf (20; 20') in a manner such that said at least one shelf (20; 20') is retractable and can be placed in the following conditions:

    - at least one operating condition, wherein foodstuffs can be laid onto said at least one shelf (20; 20');

    - an idle condition, wherein foodstuffs cannot be laid onto said at least one shelf (20; 20'),
    characterised in that said housing (30; 30') is arranged between an outer covering (2; 2') of the refrigerating appliance (1) and a back wall (11P, 11P') of the internal compartment (10; 10').


     
    2. A refrigerating appliance (1; 1') according to claim 1, characterised in that said housing (30) comprises a shaft (31) connected to a first end (21) of said at least one shelf (20), said shaft (31) being adapted to roll up said at least one shelf (20).
     
    3. A refrigerating appliance (1; 1') according to claim 2, characterised in that said shaft (31) has a substantially cylindrical shape and is rotatable about a substantially horizontal axis (X).
     
    4. A refrigerating appliance (1; 1') according to claim 2, characterised in that said housing (30) comprises a return element which allows said shaft (31) to roll up said at least one shelf (20).
     
    5. A refrigerating appliance (1; 1') according to claim 2, characterised in that said housing (30) comprises an envelope (32), preferably made of plastic material, which is adapted to envelop said at least one shelf (20) when it is rolled up around said shaft (31).
     
    6. A refrigerating appliance (1; 1') according to claim 1, characterised in that said back wall (11P; 11P') comprises a slot (11F; 11F') for said at least one shelf (20; 20').
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Kühlvorrichtung (1; 1'), insbesondere zur Verwendung im Haushalt, umfassend:

    - wenigstens eine Innenkammer (10; 10') zum Aufbewahren von Lebensmitteln;

    - wenigstens ein Regal (20; 20') zum Tragen von in der wenigstens einen Innenkammer (10; 10') aufzubewahrenden Lebensmitteln,
    wobei die Kühlvorrichtung (1; 1') ein Gehäuse (30; 30') umfasst, das dazu eingerichtet ist, das wenigstens eine Regal (20; 20') derart aufzunehmen, dass das wenigstens eine Regal (20; 20') einfahrbar ist und in den folgenden Stellungen angeordnet werden kann:

    - wenigstens eine Betriebsstellung, in der Lebensmittel auf das wenigstens eine Regal (20; 20') gelegt werden können;

    - eine Ruhestellung, in der Lebensmittel nicht auf das wenigstens eine Regal (20; 20') gelegt werden können,
    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das Gehäuse (30; 30') zwischen einer Außenabdeckung (2; 2') der Kühlvorrichtung (1) und einer Rückwand (11P, 11P') der Innenkammer (10; 10') angeordnet ist.


     
    2. Kühlvorrichtung (1:1') nach Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das Gehäuse (30) eine Welle (31) umfasst, die mit einem ersten Ende (21) des wenigstens einen Regals (20) verbunden ist, wobei die Welle (31) dazu eingerichtet ist, das wenigstens eine Regal (20) aufzurollen.
     
    3. Kühlvorrichtung (1; 1') nach Anspruch 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Welle (31) eine im Wesentlichen zylindrische Form aufweist und um eine im Wesentlichen horizontale Achse (X) drehbar ist.
     
    4. Kühlvorrichtung (1:1') nach Anspruch 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das Gehäuse (30) ein Rückstellelement umfasst, welches es der Welle (31) erlaubt, das wenigstens eine Regal (20) aufzurollen.
     
    5. Kühlvorrichtung (1; 1') nach Anspruch 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das Gehäuse (30) eine Umhüllung (32) umfasst, bevorzugt aus Kunststoffmaterial, welche dazu eingerichtet ist, das wenigstens eine Regal (20) zu umhüllen, wenn es um die Welle (31) aufgerollt ist.
     
    6. Kühlvorrichtung (1; 1') nach Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Rückwand (11P, 11P') einen Schlitz (11 F; 11F') für das wenigstens eine Regal (20; 20') umfasst.
     


    Revendications

    1. Appareil frigorifique (1 ; 1'), en particulier pour usage domestique, comprenant :

    - au moins un compartiment interne (10 ; 10') pour conserver des aliments ;

    - au moins une étagère (20 ; 20') pour supporter les aliments à conserver dans ledit au moins un compartiment interne (10 ; 10'),
    dans lequel ledit appareil frigorifique (1 ; 1') comprend un logement (30 ; 30') conçu pour recevoir ladite au moins une étagère (20 ; 20') de telle sorte que ladite au moins une étagère (20 ; 20') soit rétractable et puisse être placée dans les états suivants :

    - au moins un état de fonctionnement, dans lequel les aliments peuvent être posés sur ladite au moins une étagère (20 ; 20') ;

    - un état de repos, dans lequel les aliments ne peuvent pas être posés sur ladite au moins une étagère (20 ; 20'),
    caractérisé en ce que ledit logement (30 ; 30') est disposé entre un revêtement externe (2 ; 2') de l'appareil frigorifique (1) et une paroi arrière (11P ; 11P') du compartiment interne (10 ; 10').


     
    2. Appareil frigorifique (1 ; 1') selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce que ledit logement (30) comprend un arbre (31) relié à une première extrémité (21) de ladite au moins une étagère (20), ledit arbre (31) étant conçu pour enrouler ladite au moins une étagère (20).
     
    3. Appareil frigorifique (1 ; 1') selon la revendication 2, caractérisé en ce que ledit arbre (31) a une forme essentiellement cylindrique et est capable de tourner autour d'un axe essentiellement horizontal (X).
     
    4. Appareil frigorifique (1 ; 1') selon la revendication 2, caractérisé en ce que ledit logement (30) comprend un élément de retour qui permet audit arbre (31) d'enrouler ladite au moins une étagère (20).
     
    5. Appareil frigorifique (1 ; 1') selon la revendication 2, caractérisé en ce que ledit logement (30) comprend une enveloppe (32), de préférence faite de matière plastique, qui est conçue pour envelopper ladite au moins une étagère (20) lorsque celle-ci est enroulée autour dudit arbre (31).
     
    6. Appareil frigorifique (1 ; 1') selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce que ladite paroi arrière (11P ; 11P') comprend une rainure (11F ; 11F') pour ladite au moins une étagère (20 ; 20').
     




    Drawing












    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description