(19)
(11)EP 2 645 916 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
22.07.2020 Bulletin 2020/30

(21)Application number: 11863176.1

(22)Date of filing:  21.11.2011
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A47K 3/08(2006.01)
E04H 4/08(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2011/061639
(87)International publication number:
WO 2012/138387 (11.10.2012 Gazette  2012/41)

(54)

SPA TUB COVER SYSTEM

SPA WANNENABDECKSYSTEM

SYSTÈME DE COUVERTURE DE BAIGNOIRE DE SPA


(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: 02.12.2010 US 958455
02.12.2010 US 958554
21.11.2011 US 201113300774

(43)Date of publication of application:
09.10.2013 Bulletin 2013/41

(73)Proprietor: Hot Tub Products.com, LLC
Wallingford, CT 06492 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • GARDENIER, W., John
    Wallingford, CT 06492 (US)
  • TOURNAS, Andrew
    Bethany, CT 06524 (US)
  • FABIANI, Michael, A.
    Wallingford, CT 06492 (US)

(74)Representative: Davies, Gregory Mark 
Urquhart-Dykes & Lord LLP 7th Floor, Churchill House Churchill Way
Cardiff CF10 2HH
Cardiff CF10 2HH (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A2-2009/129756
US-A- 1 658 044
US-A- 5 974 600
US-A1- 2007 209 104
US-B1- 6 195 811
US-B2- 7 055 186
US-B2- 7 490 370
AT-U1- 4 379
US-A- 5 367 722
US-A1- 2004 034 915
US-A1- 2008 125 195
US-B1- 7 721 361
US-B2- 7 290 297
  
      
    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

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


    1. Field Of The Invention



    [0001] This invention relates broadly to spa tubs. More particularly, this invention relates to covers for spa tubs and systems for lifting and replacing a spa tub cover relative to a portable spa tub.

    2. State Of The Art



    [0002] Spa tubs are frequently used for relaxation, physical therapy, personal enjoyment, and for social occasions. One of the appealing attributes of a spa tubs is that the tub includes jets that direct warm pressurized water toward an interior portion of the tub. Water that exits the jets and contacts the user's skin can create a massaging effect that is pleasurable, and even rehabilitative.

    [0003] Spa tubs come in two forms: permanent in-ground installations and 'portable' above-ground installations. Portable spa tubs include a frame that supports a molded tub shell, and a cabinet surrounding the frame. The tub shell has an upper boundary rim, a plurality of seating locations defined by seat bottoms and backs and reclining lounges, and a lower floor. At one or more of the seating locations hydrotherapy jets are installed and a suction fitting is provided near the floor. Between the spa shell and the cabinet a space is defined in which plumbing and manifolds are provided to connect the jets, as well as one or more water pumps that circulate the water and a heater that heats the water circulated by the water pumps.

    [0004] Referring to prior art Figs. 1- 2, for purposes of energy efficiency and readiness of use, it is common to provide the spa 10 with an insulative cover 12 that limits heat loss from the water when the spa is not in use. Such a spa cover 12 includes first and second portions 14, 16 of equal size that together are sized to seat on and cover the upper rim 18 of the spa tub shell 20. Each of the first and second portions 14, 16 are constructed of insulative foam slabs provided within a water-resistant vinyl casing material. The second portion 16 is movable relative to the first portion 14 on a living hinge 22 that connects the first and second portions at their opposing inside upper corners 24, 26 so that the first portion 14 can be folded back over the second portion 16 (Fig. 2). The hinge 22 is constructed of the same vinyl material as the casing material. In order to prevent premature wear of the hinge 22 during folding, the hinge is sufficiently wide to prevent it from being subjected to excessive strain. This creates a gap 28 between the first and second portions when the cover is in the closed configuration. 'Premium' spa covers may include a spacer 30 to limit heat loss from the gap. However, such a spacer 30 does not entirely prevent heat loss at the gap. The spa cover 12 may also include a skirt 32 that further assists in preventing heat loss from around the perimeter of the spa tub. The skirt 32 also prevents heat damage to the tub shell 20, particularly at or near the rim 18, which can become heat-damaged if exposed to sunlight for long periods of time without protection.

    [0005] To remove the spa cover 12, the second portion 16 is folded back onto the first portion 14. The first and second portions are then together lifted off the spa 10. Often a cover lifter 34 (Fig. 3) is provided for mechanical advantage to assist a user in lifting the cover and to temporarily hold the cover in a folded generally vertically orientation during spa use. The cover lifter seats on the cover and provides a bar which extends over the hinge and about which the second portion is folded back onto the first portion. The bar is then rotated to lift and support the cover at the hinge.

    [0006] Once the spa cover 12 is lifted, it is appreciated that the upper surfaces 36, 38 of the first and second cover portions 14, 16, as designated in the flat (or closed) configuration of the cover, are now located in the middle and in contact, whereas the lower surfaces (underside water facing surfaces) 40, 42 are facing outwardly from each other. It is not uncommon for the lower surfaces 40, 42 to become discolored by fading or staining due to long-term placement over the spa tub water. As a result, when the folded cover 12 is raised for use of the spa (prior art Fig. 3), the unsightly discolored lower surface 40 of the first portion 14 faces the users in the tub 10.

    [0007] In addition to heat conservation, spa covers are also important for safety reasons. Spa covers include child-locks, such as child-resistant strap locks 44, that retain the cover 12 over the spa tub 10 by engagement in latches 46 to prevent children from entering the tub when the cover is down. With the cover design shown in prior art Fig. 2, multiple locks 44 are required to hold down the cover 12; at least one lock is required for each of the first and second shown in prior art Fig. 2, multiple locks 44 are required to hold down the cover 12; at least one lock is required for each of the first and second portions 14, 16, and more commonly two locks are provided to each such portion, particularly adjacent the corners (for a total of four locks), to prevent the respective cover portion from being lifted in a manner that would permit a child to enter under the corners of the cover and into the tub.

    [0008] US6195811 describes a foam spa cover member attached to a cover lifter apparatus using a plurality of brackets, each having a horizontal lip inserted into a respective slit in a side surface of the cover and a vertical plate engaging the side surface. Further examples are described in: WO2009/129756; US2004/034915; US2007/209104; US5974600; US1658044; US7721361; US5367722; US2008/125195; US7490370; and AT4379.

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



    [0009] The present invention provides a spa tub cover and cover lifter for use with a spa tub as defined in the appended claims. The spa tub cover includes first and second portions that are coupled about a hinge. The first portion has a first lower surface that faces the water in the spa tub and an opposed first upper surface. The first portion includes lateral sides extending between the first upper and first lower surfaces, and which extend transverse to the first lower surface in a lengthwise dimension. The first portion also includes an inner side extending transverse to both the first lower surface and the lateral sides as well as an outer side extending parallel to and facing opposite the inner side. The inner side extends in a widthwise dimension between the lateral sides. A first length is defined as the distance between the inner side and the outer side of the first portion. A first width is defined as the distance between lateral sides of the second portion along the inner side.

    [0010] The second portion of the cover includes corresponding surfaces to the first portion, with a second lower surface that faces the tub water and an opposed second upper surface. Lateral sides extend between the second lower and upper surfaces in a lengthwise dimension. An inner side extends transverse to the second lower surface in a widthwise dimension. The inner side of the second portion faces the inner side of the first portion. The second portion also includes an outer side extending between the first and second lateral sides and facing opposite the inner side of said first portion. A second length is defined as the distance between the inner side and the outer side of the second portion. A second width is defined as the distance between lateral sides of the second portion along the inner side. In accord with one aspect of the invention, the first and second widths are the same, and the first length is greater than the second length.

    [0011] The first and second portions are coupled together with a hinge. The hinge extends along the first and second portions in a direction parallel to the first and second widths. The hinge is preferably a living hinge connected to the lower surfaces of the first and second portions. When the cover is in a flat (or closed) configuration, the first and second lower surfaces are co-planar and seat adjacent one another on an upper rim of a spa tub forming a seal about the rim. When the cover is moved into a folded (or open) configuration, the lower surfaces which face the water when in the closed configuration and can be unsightly, are moved into a position in which they face each other, whereas the upper surface of the second portion faces the users in the tub. Given that the first and second sides have different lengths, when the cover is in the open configuration, the first and second outer sides are longitudinally displaced from one another such that they are not coplanar.

    [0012] The lifter facilitates lifting the cover from the closed configuration to the open configuration. The lifter includes a mount positionable relative to the spa tub. The mount may be fixed to the frame and/or cabinet of the spa tub, or may be provided on a stable support adjacent the spa tub. A first support element of the lifter is rotatable about a pivot axis and is connected to the first upper surface of the first portion. The first portion of the cover includes one or more of a sleeve, a pocket or an open slit at which a frame member of the lifter can be coupled relative to the cover. The sleeve or pocket is particularly suitable for receiving a barlike support element. The open slit is particularly suitable for receiving a portion of a clamp mechanism for clamping a peripheral portion of the cover. In accord with another preferred aspect of the invention, a second support element extends from the mount and adjacent the outer surface of the first portion of the cover so that when the cover is rotated into the open configuration, the weight of the spa cover is preferably at least partially supported directly on or over the second support.

    [0013] Optionally, a shield is coupled to the first upper surface of the first portion and movable relative to the second upper surface of the second portion. As such, when the cover is moved into the open configuration, the opening between the first and second inner surfaces remains covered by the shield. This prevents environmental debris, such as leaves, from falling into the hinge during use.

    [0014] Because the upper surface of the second portion faces the users of the spa tub when the cover is in the open position, at least one audio and/or video device may be disposed at least partially within the upper surface of the second portion. Such a device can include a television, video or computer monitor, amplifier, speakers, etc. The cover may include flaps or other structure which cover such device when not in use.

    [0015] Given the manner in which the cover moves toward an open configuration, the cover lifter can be configured to orient the first portion of the cover transverse to the upper rim of the spa tub, and suspend the second portion of the cover over the spa tub; i.e., the second lower surface is preferably substantially parallel to, but vertically displaced from the upper rim. The first portion may include a bracket for releasably receiving an arm that supports the second portion in the suspended position. This allows the second portion of the spa cover to function as a sunshade. Further, a supplemental shade may be integrated into or coupled to the second portion of the cover such that it may extend therefrom to provide additional shade over the spa tub.

    [0016] In addition, a larger cover system is provided for covering an elongate swim spa tub. Such cover system includes a first cover having first and second portions as described above, and a second cover having first and second portions also as described above. Each cover has its own associated lifter at opposite ends of the spa tub, and the first and second covers are oriented so that the respective second portions meet at the middle of the spa tub. When the lifters are operated to move the first and second covers into a closed configuration, the ends of the second portions of the first and second covers are forceably contacted against each other. The ends of the second portions are formed of a softer insulative material that compresses when moved into the closed configuration; this ensures continuity of seal across the spa tub between the first and second cover and about the entire periphery of the spa tub at the rim of the tub. Furthermore, a single lock mechanism is provided that can lock down the entire cover system to prevent unintended usage of the spa.

    [0017] Additional objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reference to the detailed description taken in conjunction with the provided figures.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0018] 

    Prior art Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a spa tub provided with a prior art insulative cover.

    Prior art Fig. 2 is a side view of the spa tub and cover of Fig. 1, in which the cover is in a partially open configuration.

    Prior art Fig. 3 is a side view of the spa tub and cover of Fig. 1, in which the cover is in a fully open configuration.

    Fig. 4 is a partial side elevation of a spa tub and cover with cover lifter according to the invention.

    Fig. 5 is a top view of the spa tub cover and lifter of Fig. 4.

    Fig. 6 is a perspective view of the spa tub, cover and lifter, with the cover and lifter shown in a partially open configuration.

    Fig. 7 is a side elevation view of the spa tub, cover and lifter, with the cover and lifter shown in a fully open configuration.

    Fig. 8 is an enlarged broken view of a portion of the spa tub, cover and lifter shown in the configuration of Fig. 7.

    Fig. 8A is a clamping attachment for attaching the lifter to the cover according to the present invention.

    Fig. 8B is a photographic view showing the assembled clamping attachment of the lifter to the cover.

    Fig. 9 is a broken end view of the spa tub, cover and lifter shown in the open configuration, with optional audio and video components installed in the cover.

    Fig. 10 is a broken side elevation of the spa tub, cover and lifter shown in a configuration in which a portion of the cover is oriented to provide shade.

    Fig. 11 is a side elevation of another embodiment of a spa tub, cover and lifter shown in a closed configuration.

    Fig. 12 is a side elevation of the embodiment of Fig. 11 shown in an open configuration.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



    [0019] Turning now to Fig. 4-6, a portable spa tub 100 is provided with a spa tub cover 102 and a lifter 104 for raising the tub cover relative to the tub so that the tub may be used. The portable spa tub 100 includes a frame 106 that supports a molded tub shell 108, and a cabinet 110 surrounding the frame. The tub shell 108 has an upper boundary rim 112, a plurality of seating locations 114 defined by seat bottoms and backs and reclining lounges, and a lower floor. At one or more of the seating locations 114 hydrotherapy jets 116 are installed and a suction fitting (not shown) is provided near the floor. Between the spa shell 108 and the cabinet 110 a space 118 is defined in which manifolds and other plumbing 120 are provided to connect the jets 116, as well as one or more water pumps 124 that circulate the water, and a heater 126 that heats the water circulated by the water pumps.

    [0020] The spa cover 102 includes first and second rectangular portions 130, 132 which together are sized to seat on and cover the upper rim 112 of the spa tub shell 108. The first and second portions 130, 132 are coupled together at a hinge 134, as described in more detail below. Each of the first and second portions 130, 132 is constructed of an insulative slab (e.g., a foam slab that has low transmission of heat energy, especially with respect to water heated to a temperature of between 75° and 110°) provided within an at least water-resistant, and more preferably waterproof, casing material such as vinyl.

    [0021] The first portion 130 of the spa cover has a first lower surface 136 that faces the water in the spa tub 100 and an opposed first upper surface 138. Lateral sides 140, 142 extend between the first lower and first upper surfaces 136, 138. The lateral sides 140, 142 also extend transverse to the first lower surface 136 in a lengthwise dimension. The first portion 130 also includes an inner side 144 extending transverse to both the first lower surface 136 and the lateral sides 140, 142, as well as an outer side 146 extending parallel to and facing opposite the inner side 144. The inner side 144 extends in a widthwise dimension between the lateral sides 140, 142. A first length L1 is defined as the distance between the inner side 144 and the outer side 146. A first width W1 is defined as the distance between lateral sides 140, 142 along the inner side 144.

    [0022] The second portion 132 of the cover includes corresponding surfaces to the first portion 130, with a second lower surface 148 that faces the tub water and an opposed second upper surface 150. Lateral sides 152, 154 extend between the second lower and upper surfaces 148, 150 in a lengthwise dimension. An inner side 156 extends transverse to the second lower surface 148 in a widthwise dimension between the lateral sides 152, 154. The inner side 156 of the second portion faces the inner side 144 of the first portion. The second portion 132 also includes an outer side 158 extending between the first and second lateral sides 152, 154 and facing opposite the inner side 144 of said first portion. A second length L2 is defined as the distance between the inner side 156 and the outer side 158. A second width W2 is defined as the distance between lateral sides along the inner side 156. In accord with one aspect of the invention, the first and second widths W1, W2 are the same, and the first length L1 is greater than the second length L2. The reasons that length L1 is greater than length L2 is described below.

    [0023] The hinge 134 that couples the first and second portions 130, 132 has a pivot axis A1 that extends along the first and second portions in a direction parallel to the widthwise dimension defining W1 and W2. The hinge 134 is preferably a living hinge connected to the lower surfaces 136, 148 of the first and second portions. When the cover 102 is in a flat 'closed' configuration, the first and second lower surfaces 136, 148 are co-planar and seat adjacent one another on the upper rim 112 of the spa tub. Because the hinge is preferably provided as a living hinge of the same vinyl material of the first and second portions and because the hinge is provided at the lower surface, an unbroken, gapless seal (preferably air tight) is provided about the entirety of the rim, without the space for heat loss that results from prior art covers. Preferably, a flexible skirt 159 also extends about the perimeters of the first and second lower surfaces to further reduce the opportunity for heat loss and to protect the molded spa tub from the sun when not in use. For purposes of clarity, the skirt 159 is not shown in several of the figures; nevertheless it is preferably present in all embodiments. However, given that the hinge is at the lower surface, the methods of opening and removing a spa cover which are used in the prior art cannot be used with the cover of the invention, and another method is provided as described hereinafter. Referring to Figs. 7 and 8, when the cover 102 is moved into a folded 'open' configuration, the lower surfaces 136, 148 which face the water when in the closed configuration and can be unsightly, are moved into a position in which they face each other, whereas the upper surface 150 of the second portion faces the users in the tub 100 and opposite upper surface 136. The lengths L1 and L2 are different to allow the spa cover to be folded and raised up; given the manner of folding and raising, if the lengths L1 , L2 were equal the second portion 132 would be too long to rotate into a vertical position with the relatively small profile lifter and about a pivot axis located on the spa cabinet. Given that the first and second portions 130, 132 have different lengths L1, L2 (maximum dimension transverse to the hinge pivot axis A1), when the cover 102 is in the open configuration, the first and second outer sides 146, 158 are longitudinally displaced from one another such that they are not coplanar.

    [0024] The lifter 104 facilitates lifting the cover 102 from the closed configuration (Figs. 4 and 5) to the open configuration (Fig. 7 and 8). More particularly, the lifter 104 couples to the first portion 130 of the cover in a fixed relation; i.e., the first portion 130 cannot freely swing or otherwise move relative to the lifter. Referring specifically to Fig. 8, the lifter 104 is coupled to the spa tub with one or more supports 160 that are attached directly to the spa tub 100, such as at the frame and cabinet 110 as shown, or may be self-supporting on the ground (not shown). In the embodiment of the lifter 104 shown in the figures, two supports are provided on opposite sides of the spa tub, but only one support 160 is visible. It is appreciated that the second support is a mirror image of the first support. The second support is optional and a single first support of sufficient structure and stability can be used.

    [0025] In one embodiment, a lifter frame 162 is coupled to the supports 160 at mounts 164 rotatable about a common pivot axis A2. The lifter frame 162 includes a U-shaped outer member 166 which extends across the outer side 146 of the first portion 130 and to the mounts 164, and a U-shaped upper member 168 that extends along the lateral sides 140, 142 of the first portion at an oblique angle relative to the lower surface 136 and across the upper surface 138 of the first portion in proximity to the inner side 144 (Fig. 4). Alternatively upper member 168 can extend along one of the lateral sides 140 and along none of, or only a small portion of the upper surface 138. The lifter frame 162 also includes a handle member 170 that extends or is extendable laterally outward from the spa tub 100 to facilitate movement thereof and may be integrated with or distinct from the upper member 168. The handle 170 may be connected to or integrated with the upper member 168, fixed in position relative to the upper member 168, or may movable relative to the upper member so that the handle does not protrude relative to the sides of the spa tub 100 when not in use. By way of example, the handle 170 may be coupled to a hinge 172 that permits it to fold relative to the frame (Figs. 6 and 7) or may telescope into a recessed position.

    [0026] Referring to Fig. 8, in order to couple the lifter 104 to the first portion 130 of the spa cover 102, one embodiment of the first portion 130 of the cover includes a plurality of sleeves, loops, pockets, ties, hook and loop straps, or other suitable structure at which the lifter can be coupled. For example, a first sleeve 174 is provided at the outer side 146 of the first portion and receives the outer member 166 of the frame, a second sleeve 176 is provided along the upper surface 138 and receives the upper member 168 of the frame, and a third sleeve 178 is provided adjacent the second sleeve 176 and receives the handle 170.

    [0027] Turning now to Figs. 8A and 8B, a compression clamp mechanism 250' is provided to securely couple the upper member 168 of the lifter 104 (Fig. 8) to the cover 102. The clamp mechanism 250' includes a vertical bracket 252', a first clamping element 254', and a second clamping element 258' adjustable relative to the first clamping element. The vertical bracket 252' includes a hole 260' through which the handle 170 or a handle carrier extends and is fixed. The first clamping element 254' is fixed relative to the vertical bracket 252' and extends parallel to and adjacent the upper surface 138 and preferably extends within the second sleeve 176 through which a portion of the upper member 168 also extends. The second clamping element 258' extends parallel to the first clamping element and in contact with the lower first surface 136. The cover 102 includes an elongate narrow slot opening 262' within the first portion 130 of the spa cover 100 near the hinge 134 and at the level of the first lower surface 136 and the top of the skirt 159. The slot opening 262' may be reinforced, for example with a sewn border 264'. The second clamping element 258' extends through the slot opening 262', and is adjusted relative to the first clamping element to securely grip the first cover portion 130, and is fixed in position thereabout. This may be accomplished with nut and bolt fasteners 266', springs, or other suitable means. According to a preferred aspect of the embodiment, the second clamping element 258' engages a peripheral portion of the lower surface 136 that is located external the rim 112 of the tub. In this manner, the second clamping element 258' does not interrupt the seal formed between the lower surface 136 and the tub rim 112 when the cover is in a closed configuration.

    [0028] Referring to Fig. 8, in either embodiment (described with respect to the first embodiment but similarly applicable to both), a pneumatic cylinder 180, piston, spring (e.g., metal or gas), or other form of lift assist, preferably extends between each support 160 and the upper member 168 of the frame to limit the amount of human effort required to lift the cover. In a preferred embodiment, the cylinder stores potential energy in the closed compressed configuration and imparts force through kinetic energy when allowed to expand. The cylinder 180 assists in smoothly rotating the spa cover back and forth between the closed and open configurations. It is preferable that the expansion force of the cylinder be such that when the cover is in the closed configuration, the cylinder enables the cover to be rotated relatively easily about the pivot axis. More particularly, once the seal between the cover 102 and the rim 112 is broken (discussed below), if even a slight manual force is exerted on the cover toward an open configuration (e.g., an angular rotation of 5 - 25° about the axis A2), the expansion force of the cylinder 180 is sufficient to effect automatic opening from that point forward, even if the handle 170 or the cover 102 is not otherwise subject to additional force by the user. Further, the cylinder assists moving the spa cover from the open configuration into the closed configuration by preventing the cover from rotating too quickly which could otherwise occur, e.g., due to a lack of sufficient user strength to control such smooth closure or slippage of the handle from a user's grip. It is preferable that the cylinder 180 be coupled to the second support member 168 and oriented such that once the cover 102 is rotated even a relatively small angular displacement about axis A2 (e.g., 10° - 25°) from the open configuration toward the closed configuration, the cylinder 180 operates as a closure assist, with such closure compressing the cylinder gas and thereby gradually lowering the cover into the closed configuration. Moreover, because the cover is fixed in position relative to the cover at support bars 166, 168 and always referenced relative to the pivot axis A2, in distinction from other covers which can slide around relative to their manually activated lifting mechanisms, the cover is always referenced relative to the spa rim to automatically ensure a complete seal about the rim each time it is moved to the closed configuration.

    [0029] Further, the cover 102 may be closed on the spa tub from either outside or inside the spa. From outside the spa, the user grabs the handle 170 and pulls the 102 cover toward the closed position. Once the cover 102 is partially closed, the handle 170 can be released, the fixed location of the pivot axis A2 to which the first portion 130 of the cover 102 is fixed, and cylinder 180 ensure that the cover smoothly closes in the same position each and every time. From inside the spa, the user grabs the outer side 158 of the second portion 132 (a handle may be provided for this purpose) and starts pulling and walks the cover closed as the user steps through the tub, away from the lift assist, and out of the spa. The cover will automatically close on its own after a certain amount of angular displacement toward the closed configuration.

    [0030] Once the spa is in a closed configuration as shown back in Fig. 4, a single locking mechanism 181 extending between the second portion 132 of the cover 102 and the spa cabinet 110 can be used to secure the entirety of the cover 102 relative to the spa tub. The locking mechanism 181 can comprise a strap 181a and first mating element 181b on the second portion of the cover and a second mating element 181c fixed relative to the cabinet 110 and which is engageable with the first mating element 181b (as also seen in Fig. 6). The first and second mating elements 181b, 181c may include snap-locking elements, two elements that together receive a pad-lock, another locking structure, or a combination of suitable locks. The strap 181a and second mating element 181c are preferably attached at a location generally corresponding to the middle of width W2 of the second portion, preferably at or near the outer side 158. The single lock mechanism 181 effects lock-down of the entire cover 102 for the following reasons. The outer side 158 of the second portion 132 is locked down relative to the cabinet 110 with lock 181, the seal between the cover 102 and rim 112 inhibits lifting of the cover without lifting the outer side 158 of the second portion 132, and the first portion 130 of the cover is fixed to the support bars 166, 168 of the lift assist system and cannot be lifted when the second portion 132 of the cover is immobilized.

    [0031] Referring to Figs. 6 and 8, when the locking mechanism 181 is released and the handle 170 is raised, the lifter is rotated about axis A2. Because a seal is provided between the rim and cover, in order to lift the cover, it may be necessary to first break the seal at some location about the periphery of the cover. This can be done by applying an upward force with a user's hand, e.g., at the outer side 158 of the second portion 132 or at the handle 170. Once the seal is broken, a slight additional lifting force allows the cylinder 180 to assist in rotating the first portion 130 and consequently the second portion 132 into the open configuration. Further, the cylinder can be configured to substantially apply all the force to open the cover once the seal is broken. More particularly, when moving toward the open configuration, the second portion 132 is caused to rotate about hinge axis A1 toward the open configuration. Given that the hinge axis is defined by flexible material, the meaning of 'hinge axis' includes a perfectly straight axis as well as the natural 'slop' that may occur with such a flexible hinge. The second portion 132 may be entirely lifted from the spa rim 112 during such rotation or the corner 182 (defined at the intersection of the lower surface 148 and the outer side 158) may be drawn across and in contact with the rim 112. As the lifter rotates, the weight of the spa cover is preferably transferred to the outer member 166 which at least partially supports the weight of the first and second portions 130, 132. Once the lifter 104 is fully rotated about axis A2, e.g., through approximately 90° of rotation, the second portion 132 is raised off the rim 112 and in an upright vertical configuration (i.e., oriented transverse to the rim 112). A stop 184, either integrated with the support 160 or distinct therefrom, limits the range of rotation of the lifter and assists in supporting the weight of the lifted cover. Traditional spa covers may be inadvertently closed on a user, particularly on windy days. The stop 184 is situated to support the cover with the weight shifted back and lift-assist cylinder 180 configured to prevent inadvertent closure.

    [0032] In accord with a preferred aspect of the invention, when in the open configuration the first portion 130 is situated with its outer side 146 below the surface of the rim 112 of the tub and is situated vertically below the pivot axis A2, while the second portion 132 is preferably situated with its outer side 158 vertically even with or above the rim. As stated above, in this open configuration, the lower surfaces 136, 148 face one another, and the upper surfaces 138, 150 face opposite one another. The upper surface 150 of the second portion is oriented in a substantially vertical plane and faces toward the spa tub 100.

    [0033] A debris shield 184 is provided over the hinge 134 to protect the hinge from acquiring environmental detritus, such as leaves, cut grass, insects, etc., particularly when the cover 102 is in the open configuration and the inner sides 144, 156 of the first and second portions are rotated apart. That is, because the hinge 134 is located along the lower surfaces 136, 148, the cover at the hinge is open at top. The debris shield 184 is a preferably flexible panel that extends over the cover 102 at the hinge 134 and is preferably fixed with respect to one of the first and second portions 130, 132, and preferably movable relative to the other of the first and second portions 132, 130. In a preferred embodiment, the debris shield 184 is fixed to the upper surface 138 of the first portion 130, preferably proximate the hinge 134 opening, and extends across the hinge opening to rest on the upper surface 150 of the second portion 132. The shield 184 may be fixed to the first portion 130 by sewing, adhesive bonding or any other suitable means. The shield 184 may be movably retained along the upper surface 150 of the second portion 132. For example, receiving straps 186 extending from the panel may slidably move within strap loops 188 along the upper surface of the second portion. In the closed configuration, the straps 186 can extend more completely through the loops 188, whereas as the cover is moved toward the open configuration, the straps 186 are drawn through the loops 188, preferably without becoming free thereof, to permit the hinge to open. Alternatively, the debris shield 184 may be fixed to both the first and second portions 130, 132, and constructed of an elastic and/or resilient material that permits the shield to stretch as the cover is moved into the open configuration. The debris shield 184 may further include a bias member 190 that biases the shield into a convex configuration when the cover is in the open configuration so that shield does not fall between the first and second cover portions 130, 132 and to present a surface that deflects debris. The bias member 190 may include a plicated structure that folds flat as the spa cover is moved into a closed configuration, but which expands and bows outward as the cover is moved into the open configuration. Alternative or additional bias members may be used.

    [0034] Turning now to Fig. 9, as discussed above, when the spa tub cover 102 is in the open configuration, the upper surface 150 of the second portion 132 faces the users of the spa tub 100. According to another preferred aspect of the invention, at least one audio and/or video device is at least partially disposed within one or more openings 192 in the upper surface of the second portion. Such a device can include a video monitor 194, which may include a television tuner or inputs for receiving a signal from any suitable source such as a computer, as well as speakers 196, an amplifier, etc. The upper surface 150 of the second portion 132 is preferably provided with flaps 198 or other structure that cover the video monitor and speakers when not in use. Such flaps 198 may be retained closed with a zipper 200, hook and loop fasteners or any other suitable means so that environmental debris does not effect the devices, particularly when the cover is closed and the spa tub is not in use. In addition, retaining ties 202 may be provided to hold the flaps 198 open so that they do not obstruct the audio and/or video devices during use.

    [0035] Referring to Fig. 10, according to yet another preferred aspect of the invention, given the manner in which the cover 102 moves toward an open configuration, the cover lifter 104 can be configured to orient the first portion 130 of the cover transverse to the upper rim 112 of the spa tub, and suspend the second portion 132 of the cover over the spa tub; i.e., the second lower surface 148 is preferably substantially parallel to (within ±20°), but vertically displaced from the upper rim 112. Additional frame members, such as struts 204, may be provided to temporarily lock the frame with first and second portions in this position. Struts may be pivotally mounted to upper member 168 and may each be provided with a latch 206 that couples the strut to the upper member when not in use. The second portion 132 of the cover can include flexible pockets or rigid brackets 208 at the lateral sides 152, 154 in which the free ends 210 of the struts 204 may be received to couple the struts to the second portion of the cover. This allows the second portion 132 of the spa cover, extending and retained over a portion of the spa tub and the users therein, to function as a sun shade. Further, a supplemental shade 212 may be integrated into or coupled to the second portion of the cover such that it may extend therefrom to provide additional shade over the spa tub and the users. Such supplemental shade 212 may be attached to the second portion with releasable brackets 214, may be slidable along the upper surface 150 of the second portion 132, or may be foldable outward, telescope outward, or drawn and retained outward relative to the outer side 158 of the second portion.

    [0036] Turning now to Figs. 11 and 12, another embodiment of a cover system and cover lifter system is shown with respect to a larger, elongate spa 300, such as of the type commonly referred to in the art as a 'swim spa'. Such cover system 301 includes a first cover 302a having a first portion 330a and a second portion 332a, generally as described above, and a second cover 302b having a first portion 330b and a second portion 332b. Each cover 302a, 302b has its own associated lifter 304a, 304b situated at and preferably mounted to, opposite ends of the spa tub. The first and second covers 302a, 302b are oriented in a left-right mirror orientation so that the respective second portions 332a, 332b meet along the rim 318 at the middle of the spa tub. In the prior embodiment, the lifter always references the position of the cover relative to the spa. In this embodiment, the lifters 304a, 304b reference the positions of both covers 302a, 304b relative to the spa. When the lifters 304a, 304b are operated to move the first and second covers 302a, 302b into a closed configuration, the ends 358a, 358b of the second portions 332a, 332b of the first and second covers are referenced to always contact each other with a degree of force sufficient to form a seal. In order to facilitate closure with a seal, the second portions 332a, 332b of the covers at and adjacent the ends 358a, 358b are formed of a softer more compressible material than the remainder of the insulative cover materials. The softer compressible material causes the two meeting ends 358a, 358b to compress when contacted against the other in the closed configuration; this ensures continuity of seal across the spa tub between the first and second covers 302a, 302b and about the entire periphery of the spa tub at the rim 312 of the tub 300.

    [0037] Furthermore, a single lock mechanism is provided that can lock down the entire cover system; i.e., both covers 302a, 302b, to prevent unintended usage of the spa. In one embodiment the lock mechanism includes a strap 370 that is fixed to a portion of the skirt portion 359b on the second portion 332b of the second cover 302b, a slot opening 372 in the skirt portion 359a on the second portion 332a of the first cover 302a through which the strap 370 can be inserted and removed, a locking element 374 at the end of the strap and a mating element 376 coupled to the cabinet 310 of the spa at which the locking element 374 can be coupled, either with or without additional locking structure. Alternatively, separate straps and locking element can extend from each of the second portions 332a, 332b of the covers, each strap provided with its own locking element and locked at a common point on the cabinet. As yet another alternative, the locking elements may be coupled at separate and/or distinct but preferably adjacent mating elements on the cabinet. In each locking system, it is possible to relatively easily lock and unlock the entire cover system from one side of the spa tub, and preferably from a centralized location along the cabinet side wall.

    [0038] There have been described and illustrated herein several embodiments of a spa cover, a lifter in association of the spa cover, and a spa provided with the cover and lifter. In addition, methods of folding the spa cover are also provided. While particular embodiments of the invention have been described, it is not intended that the invention be limited thereto. The scope of the present invention is limited by the appended claims.


    Claims

    1. A spa tub cover system (102) for use in association with a spa tub, the spa tub (100) having a tub shell (108) defining an interior for holding water and an exterior, said tub shell (108) having a plurality of seating locations (114) and an upper rim having a perimeter (112), the perimeter having a first dimension and a transverse second dimension, said spa tub cover system comprising:

    a) a first spa cover portion (130) including a heat insulative material surrounded by an at least water resistant covering, and said first spa cover portion (130) having a first upper surface (138), a first lower surface (136), first and second lateral sides (140, 142) extending transverse to said first lower surface (136) in a lengthwise dimension, an inner side (144) extending transverse to said first lower surface (136) and said lateral sides (140, 142) in a widthwise dimension between said first and second lateral sides, and an outer side (146) extending in said widthwise dimension between said first and second lateral sides (140, 142) and facing opposite said inner side (144),
    wherein a first length (L1) is defined as the distance between the inner and outer sides (144, 146) of said first spa cover portion (130), and a first width (W1) is defined as the distance between the lateral sides (140, 142) along the inner side (144) of the first spa cover portion,

    b) a second spa cover portion (132) including a heat insulative material surrounded by an at least water resistant covering, and said second spa cover portion (132) having a second upper surface (150) and a second lower surface (148), first and second lateral sides (152, 154) extending transverse to said second lower surface (148) in a lengthwise dimension to define a second length (L2), an inner side (156) extending transverse to said second lower surface (148) in a widthwise dimension between said first and second lateral sides (152, 154) to define a second width (W2), and an outer side (158) extending in said widthwise dimension between said first and second lateral sides (152, 154) and facing opposite said inner side (144) of said first spa cover portion (130),

    wherein the second length (L2) is defined as the distance between said inner and outer sides (156, 158) of said second spa cover portion, and the second width (W2) is defined as the distance between said lateral sides (152, 154) along said inner side (156) of said second spa cover portion (132),

    wherein said first and second widths (Wl, W2) are the same, and said first length (L1) is greater than said second length (L2), and

    wherein a periphery is defined about said first and second lower surfaces (136, 148),

    c) a hinge (134) extending along a hinge axis (A1) between said first and second spa cover portions (130, 132), said first and second spa cover portions rotatable relative to each other on said hinge (134) about the hinge axis (A1) between a flat configuration and a folded configuration, said hinge (134) connecting said first and second lower surfaces (136, 148), and in said flat configuration said first and second lower surfaces and said hinge co-extend with each other along the rim (112) of the spa tub shell and said first and second inner surfaces face one another; and

    d) a skirt (159) extending about said periphery, said skirt (159) at said first spa cover portion (130) including an opening (262') adjacent said first lower surface (136), said opening adapted to receive a portion of a clamp (250') of a cover lifter system (104) so that the cover lifter system (104) can contact the first upper (138) and the first lower surfaces (136) of said first spa cover portion (130),

    wherein said lifter system (104) includes at least one frame member (162, 168) coupled to said clamp (250'),

    wherein said clamp (250') is configured to clamp about said first upper surface (138) and said first lower surface (136) of said first spa cover portion (130), and

    wherein said clamp (250') is adjustable to accommodate various first spa cover portions of different thicknesses defined between said first upper surface (138) and said first lower surface (136).


     
    2. A spa tub cover system according to claim 1, wherein:
    said opening (262') is elongate and narrow.
     
    3. A spa tub cover system according to any preceding claim, wherein:
    said opening (262') includes a reinforced border (264') about said opening.
     
    4. A spa tub cover system according to any preceding claim,
    said cover lifter system (104) including,

    i) a support (160) located relative to the spa tub (100), and

    ii) a mount (164) rotatably coupled to said support (160) and defining a pivot axis (A2),

    wherein said at least one frame member (162, 168) is coupled to said mount (164) and is rotatable about said pivot axis (A2), and
    wherein when said at least one frame member (162, 168) is rotated about said pivot axis (A2), said clamp (250') applies a rotating force on said first spa cover portion to lift said first spa cover portion (130) relative to the upper rim (112) of the spa tub.
     
    5. A spa tub cover system according to claim 4, wherein:

    said skirt (159) extends below said first and second lower surfaces (136, 148) when said cover portion is in said flat configuration seated on the rim of the spa tub, said skirt (159) at said first spa cover portion includes said opening (262'),

    said clamp (250') having a first clamping element (254') which contacts said first upper surface (138) and a second clamping element (258') which extends through said opening (262') in said skirt (159) and contacts said first lower surface (136).


     
    6. A spa tub cover system according to claim 5, wherein:
    said second clamping element (258') contacts a peripheral portion of said first lower surface (130) that is located external of the rim (112) of the spa tub.
     
    7. A spa tub cover system according to any of claims 4 to 6, wherein:

    said pivot axis (A2) is located below the upper surface of the rim (112) of the spa tub,

    said pivot axis (A2) is at a fixed location below the upper surface of the rim (112) of the spa tub, and

    when said at least one frame member (162) is rotated about said pivot axis (A2), said first and second inner surfaces (144, 146) are rotated about said hinge axis (A1) and said first and second lower surfaces (136, 148) face one another to thereby move said cover from said flat configuration to said folded configuration.


     
    8. A spa tub cover system according to any of claims 4 to 7, further comprising:
    a lock element (181) extending from said second portion to lock said second portion (132) of said cover relative to the spa tub, wherein said first portion (130) is held relative to the spa tub by said lifter system (104) and does not necessitate another lock element to retain said first portion relative to the spa tub.
     
    9. A spa tub cover system according to claims 7 or 8, further comprising:
    either or both of audio and video equipment disposed at least partially within said upper surface (150) of said second portion of said spa tub cover such that said equipment changes orientation as the spa cover is moved between said flat configuration and said folded configuration.
     
    10. A spa tub cover system according to any of claims 7 to 9, further comprising:
    a debris shield (184) provided at the first and second upper surfaces (138, 150) to cover said hinge (134) when said first and second portions are in said folded configuration.
     
    11. A spa tub cover system according to any of claims 7 to 10, further comprising:

    a support (160),

    wherein in said folded configuration, said first and second lower surfaces (136, 148) are in an upright orientation, and from said folded configuration said second portion (132) can be rotated from said upright orientation upward about said hinge (134) into a raised position while said first portion (130) remains in said upright orientation, wherein when said second portion (132) is in said raised position said second lower surface (148) is vertically displaced from the rim of the spa tub and faces the rim (112) of the spa tub, said support (160) operably retaining said second portion in said raised position.


     
    12. A spa tub cover system according to claim 11, further comprising:
    a sun shade (212) attached to said second portion (132) in said raised position.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem (102) zur Verwendung in Verbindung mit einer Spa-Wanne, wobei die Spa-Wanne (100) eine Wannenschale (108) aufweist, die ein Inneres zur Aufnahme von Wasser und ein Äußeres definiert, wobei die Wannenschale (108) mehrere Sitzplätze (114) und einen oberen Ring mit einem Umfang (112) aufweist, wobei der Umfang eine erste Dimension und eine zweite, in Querrichtung verlaufende Dimension aufweist, wobei, das Spa-Wannenabdecksystem Folgendes umfasst:

    a) einen ersten Spa-Abdeckteil (130), der ein wärmeisolierendes Material aufweist, das durch eine zumindest wasserbeständige Abdeckung umgeben ist, und wobei der erste Spa-Abdeckteil (130) eine erste obere Fläche (138), eine erste untere Fläche (136), und eine erste und eine zweite laterale Seite (140, 142), die sich in einer Längsrichtung quer zu der ersten unteren Fläche (136) erstrecken, eine Innenseite (144), die sich in einer Breitenrichtung zwischen der ersten und der zweiten lateralen Seite quer zu der ersten unteren Fläche (136) und den lateralen Seiten (140, 142) erstreckt, und eine Außenseite (146), die sich in der Breitenrichtung zwischen der ersten und der zweiten lateralen Seite (140, 142) erstreckt und in entgegengesetzter Richtung zur Innenseite (144) weist, aufweist,
    wobei eine erste Länge (L1) als der Abstand zwischen der Innen- und Außenseite (144, 146) des ersten Spa-Abdeckteils (130) definiert ist und eine erste Breite (W1) als der Abstand zwischen den lateralen Seiten (140, 142) entlang der Innenseite (144) des ersten Spa-Abdeckteils definiert ist,

    b) einen zweiten Spa-Abdeckteil (132), der ein wärmeisolierendes Material aufweist, das durch eine zumindest wasserbeständige Abdeckung umgeben ist, und wobei der zweite Spa-Abdeckteil (132) eine zweite obere Fläche (150) und eine zweite untere Fläche (148), eine erste und eine zweite laterale Seite (152, 154), die sich in einer Längsrichtung quer zu der zweiten unteren Fläche (148) erstrecken, um eine zweite Länge (L2) zu definieren, eine Innenseite (156), die sich in einer Breitenrichtung zwischen der ersten und der zweiten lateralen Seite (152, 154) quer zu der zweiten unteren Fläche (148) erstreckt, um eine zweite Breite (W2) zu definieren, und eine Außenseite (158), die sich in der Breitenrichtung zwischen der ersten und der zweiten lateralen Seite (152, 154) erstreckt und in entgegengesetzter Richtung zur Innenseite (144) des ersten Spa-Abdeckteils (130) weist, aufweist,
    wobei die zweite Länge (L2) als der Abstand zwischen der Innen- und Außenseite (156, 158) des zweiten Spa-Abdeckteils definiert ist und die zweite Breite (W2) als der Abstand zwischen den lateralen Seiten (152, 154) entlang der Innenseite (156) des zweiten Spa-Abdeckteils (132) definiert ist,
    wobei die erste und die zweite Breite (W1, W2) gleich sind und die erste Länge (L1) größer als die zweite Länge (L2) ist, und
    wobei ein Umfang um die erste und die zweite untere Fläche (136, 148) definiert ist,

    c) ein Scharnier (134), das sich zwischen dem ersten und dem zweiten Spa-Abdeckteil (130, 132) entlang einer Scharnierachse (A1) erstreckt, wobei der erste und der zweite Spa-Abdeckteil an dem Scharnier (134) um die Scharnierachse (A1) bezüglich einander zwischen einer flachen Konfiguration und einer umgeklappten Konfiguration drehbar sind, wobei das Scharnier (134) die erste und die zweite untere Fläche (136, 148) verbindet und sich in der flachen Konfiguration die erste und die zweite untere Fläche und das Scharnier gemeinsam entlang dem Rand (112) der Spa-Wannenschale erstrecken und die erste und die zweite Innenfläche zueinander weisen; und

    d) eine Schürze (159), die sich über den Umfang erstreckt, wobei die Schürze (159) an dem ersten Spa-Abdeckteil (130) eine Öffnung (262') neben der ersten unteren Fläche (136) aufweist, wobei die Öffnung dazu ausgeführt ist, einen Teil einer Klemme (250') eines Abdeckungsanhebesystems (104) aufzunehmen, so dass das Abdeckungsanhebesystem (104) die erste obere (138) und die erste untere (136) Fläche des Spa-Abdeckteils (130) berühren kann,
    wobei das Anhebesystem (104) mindestens ein Rahmenglied (162, 168) aufweist, das mit der Klemme (250') gekoppelt ist,
    wobei die Klemme (250') dazu konfiguriert ist, die erste obere Fläche (138) und die erste untere Fläche (136) des ersten Spa-Abdeckteils (130) zu umklammern, und
    wobei die Klemme (250') dazu einstellbar ist, verschiedenen ersten Spa-Abdeckteilen mit unterschiedlichen Dicken, die zwischen der ersten oberen Fläche (138) und der ersten unteren Fläche (136) definiert sind, Rechnung zu tragen.


     
    2. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach Anspruch 1, wobei:
    die Öffnung (262') länglich und schmal ist.
     
    3. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei:
    die Öffnung (262') eine verstärkte Einfassung (264') um die Öffnung herum aufweist.
     
    4. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach einem vorhergehenden Anspruch, wobei das Abdeckungsanhebesystem (104) Folgendes aufweist:

    i) einen Träger (160), der bezüglich der Spa-Wanne (100) positioniert ist, und

    ii) einen Halter (164), der drehbar mit dem Träger (160) gekoppelt ist und eine Schwenkachse (A2) definiert,

    wobei das mindestens eine Rahmenglied (162, 168) mit dem Halter (164) gekoppelt ist und um die Schwenkachse (A2) drehbar ist, und
    wobei, wenn das mindestens eine Rahmenglied (162, 168) um die Schwenkachse (A2) gedreht wird, die Klemme (250') eine Drehkraft an den ersten Spa-Abdeckteil anlegt, um den ersten Spa-Abdeckteil (130) bezüglich des oberen Rands (112) der Spa-Wanne zu drehen.
     
    5. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach Anspruch 4, wobei:
    sich die Schürze (159) unter der ersten und der zweiten unteren Fläche (136, 148) erstreckt, wenn sich der Abdeckteil in der flachen Konfiguration auf dem Rand der Spa-Wanne sitzend befindet, die Schürze (159) an dem ersten Spa-Abdeckteil die Öffnung (262') aufweist, die Klemme (250') ein erstes Klemmelement (254'), das die erste obere Fläche (138) berührt, und ein zweites Klemmelement (258'), das sich durch die Öffnung (262') in der Schürze (159) erstreckt und die erste untere Fläche (136) berührt, aufweist.
     
    6. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach Anspruch 5, wobei:
    das zweite Klemmelement (258') einen Umfangsteil der ersten unteren Fläche (130) berührt, der außerhalb des Rands (112) der Spa-Wanne positioniert ist.
     
    7. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 6, wobei:

    die Schwenkachse (A2) unter der oberen Fläche des Rands (112) der Spa-Wanne positioniert ist,

    sich die Schwenkachse (A2) an einer festen Stelle unter der oberen Fläche des Rands (112) der Spa-Wanne befindet, und

    wenn das mindestens eine Rahmenglied (162) um die Schwenkachse (A2) gedreht wird, die erste und die zweite Innenfläche (144, 146) um die Scharnierachse (A1) gedreht werden und die erste und die zweite untere Fläche (136, 148) zueinander weisen, um dadurch die Abdeckung aus der flachen Konfiguration in die umgeklappte Konfiguration zu bewegen.


     
    8. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 7, ferner umfassend:
    ein Verriegelungselement (181), das sich von dem zweiten Teil zum Verriegeln des zweiten Teils (132) der Abdeckung bezüglich der Spa-Wanne erstreckt, wobei der erste Teil (130) durch das Anhebesystem (104) bezüglich der Spa-Wanne gehalten wird und kein weiteres Verriegelungselement erfordert, um den ersten Teil bezüglich der Spa-Wanne festzuhalten.
     
    9. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach einem der Ansprüche 7 oder 8, ferner umfassend:
    Audio- und/oder Videogeräte, die zumindest teilweise in der oberen Fläche (150) des zweiten Teils der Spa-Wannenabdeckung angeordnet sind, so dass das Gerät seine Ausrichtung ändert, wenn die Spa-Abdeckung zwischen der flachen Konfiguration und der umgeklappten Konfiguration bewegt wird.
     
    10. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach einem der Ansprüche 7 bis 9, ferner umfassend:
    einen Verunreinigungsschutz (184), der an der ersten und der zweiten oberen Fläche (138, 150) vorgesehen ist, um das Scharnier (134) zu bedecken, wenn sich der erste und der zweite Teil in der umgeklappten Konfiguration befinden.
     
    11. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach einem der Ansprüche 7 bis 10, ferner umfassend:

    einen Träger (160),

    wobei in der umgeklappten Konfiguration sich die erste und die zweite untere Fläche (136, 148) in einer aufrechten Ausrichtung befinden und der zweite Teil (132) von der aufrechten Ausrichtung nach oben um das Scharnier (134) aus der umgeklappten Konfiguration in eine erhabene Position gedreht werden kann, während der erste Teil (130) in der aufrechten Ausrichtung bleibt, wobei, wenn sich der zweite Teil (132) in der erhabenen Position befindet, die zweite untere Fläche (148) vertikal von dem Rand der Spa-Wanne versetzt ist und zu dem Rand (112) der Spa-Wanne weist, wobei der Träger (160) den zweiten Teil funktionell in der erhabenen Position festhält.


     
    12. Spa-Wannenabdecksystem nach Anspruch 11, ferner umfassend:
    einen Sonnenschutz (212), der an dem zweiten Teil (132) in der erhabenen Position befestigt ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa (102) pour l'utilisation en association avec une baignoire de spa, la baignoire de spa (100) ayant une coque de baignoire (108) définissant un intérieur pour contenir l'eau et un extérieur, ladite coque de baignoire (108) ayant une pluralité d'emplacements de siège (114) et un bord supérieur ayant un périmètre (112), le périmètre ayant une première dimension et une deuxième dimension transversale, ledit système de couverture de baignoire de spa comprenant :

    a) une première portion de couverture de spa (130) comportant un matériau isolant thermiquement entouré par un recouvrement au moins résistant à l'eau, et ladite première portion de couverture de spa (130) ayant une première surface supérieure (138), une première surface inférieure (136), des premier et deuxième côtés latéraux (140, 142) s'étendant transversalement à ladite première surface inférieure (136) dans une dimension en longueur, un côté intérieur (144) s'étendant transversalement à ladite première surface inférieure (136) et auxdits côtés latéraux (140, 142) dans une dimension en largeur entre lesdits premier et deuxième côtés latéraux, et un côté extérieur (146) s'étendant dans ladite dimension en largeur entre lesdits premier et deuxième côtés latéraux (140, 142) et orienté à l'opposé dudit côté intérieur (144),
    une première longueur (L1) étant définie comme étant la distance entre les côtés intérieur et extérieur (144, 146) de ladite première portion de couverture de spa (130), et une première largeur (W1) étant définie comme étant la distance entre les côtés latéraux (140, 142) le long du côté intérieur (144) de la première portion de couverture de spa,

    b) une deuxième portion de couverture de spa (132) comportant un matériau isolant thermiquement entouré par un recouvrement au moins résistant à l'eau et ladite deuxième portion de couverture de spa (130) ayant une deuxième surface supérieure (150) et une deuxième surface inférieure (148), des premier et deuxième côtés latéraux (152, 154) s'étendant transversalement à ladite deuxième surface inférieure (148) dans une dimension en longueur pour définir une deuxième longueur (L2), un côté intérieur (156) s'étendant transversalement à ladite deuxième surface inférieure (148) dans une dimension en largeur entre lesdits premier et deuxième côtés latéraux (152, 154) pour définir une deuxième largeur (W2), et un côté extérieur (158) s'étendant dans ladite dimension en largeur entre lesdits premier et deuxième côtés latéraux (152, 154), et orienté à l'opposé dudit côté intérieur (144) de ladite première portion de couverture de spa (130),
    la deuxième longueur (L2) étant définie comme étant la distance entre lesdits côtés intérieur et extérieur (156, 158) de ladite deuxième portion de couverture de spa, et la deuxième largeur (W2) étant définie comme étant la distance entre lesdits côtés latéraux (152, 154) le long du côté intérieur (156) de ladite deuxième portion de couverture de spa (132),
    lesdites première et deuxième largeurs (Wl, W2) étant les mêmes, et ladite première longueur (L1) étant supérieure à ladite deuxième longueur (L2), et
    une périphérie étant définie autour desdites première et deuxième surfaces inférieures (136, 148),

    c) une charnière (134) s'étendant le long d'un axe de charnière (A1) entre lesdites première et deuxième portions de couverture de spa (130, 132), lesdites première et deuxième portions de couverture de spa pouvant tourner l'une par rapport à l'autre sur ladite charnière (134) autour de l'axe de charnière (A1) entre une configuration plate et une configuration pliée, ladite charnière (134) reliant lesdites première et deuxième surfaces inférieures (136, 148) et, dans ladite configuration plate, lesdites première et deuxième surfaces inférieures et ladite charnière étant mutuellement coextensives le long du bord (112) de la coque de baignoire de spa et lesdites première et deuxième surfaces intérieures se faisant face ; et

    d) une jupe (159) s'étendant autour de ladite périphérie, ladite jupe (159), au niveau de ladite première portion de couverture de spa (130), comportant une ouverture (262') adjacente à ladite première surface inférieure (136), ladite ouverture étant prévue pour recevoir une portion d'une pince (250') d'un système de soulèvement de couverture (104) de telle sorte que le système de soulèvement de couverture (104) puisse venir en contact avec la première surface supérieure (138) et la première surface inférieure (136) de ladite première portion de couverture de spa (130), ledit système de soulèvement (104) comportant au moins un organe de cadre (162, 168) accouplé à ladite pince (250'),
    ladite pince (250') étant configurée pour enserrer ladite première surface supérieure (138) et ladite première surface inférieure (136) de ladite première portion de couverture de spa (130), et ladite pince (250') pouvant être ajustée de manière à s'ajuster à différentes premières portions de couverture de spa d'épaisseurs différentes définies entre ladite première surface supérieure (138) et ladite première surface inférieure (136) .


     
    2. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon la revendication 1, dans lequel :
    ladite ouverture (262') est allongée et étroite.
     
    3. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel :
    ladite ouverture (262') comporte une bordure renforcée (264') autour de ladite ouverture.
     
    4. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes,
    ledit système de soulèvement de couverture (104) comportant

    i) un support (160) positionné par rapport à la baignoire de spa (100), et

    ii) une fixation (164) accouplée de manière rotative audit support (160) et définissant un axe de pivotement (A2),

    ledit au moins un organe de cadre (162, 168) étant accouplé à ladite fixation (164) et pouvant tourner autour dudit axe de pivotement (A2), et lorsque ledit au moins un organe de cadre (162, 168) est tourné autour dudit axe de pivotement (A2), ladite pince (250') appliquant une force de rotation à ladite première portion de couverture de spa pour soulever ladite première portion de couverture de spa (130) par rapport au bord supérieur (112) de la baignoire de spa.
     
    5. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon la revendication 4, dans lequel :

    ladite jupe (159) s'étend en dessous desdites première et deuxième surfaces inférieures (136, 148) lorsque ladite portion de couverture est dans ladite configuration plate reposant sur le bord de la baignoire de spa, ladite jupe (159), au niveau de ladite première portion de couverture de spa, comportant ladite ouverture (262'),

    ladite pince (250') ayant un premier élément de serrage (254') qui vient en contact avec ladite première surface supérieure (138) et un deuxième élément de serrage (258') qui s'étend à travers ladite ouverture (262') dans ladite jupe (159) et vient en contact avec ladite première surface inférieure (136) .


     
    6. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon la revendication 5, dans lequel :
    ledit deuxième élément de serrage (258') vient en contact avec une portion périphérique de ladite première surface inférieure (130) qui est située à l'extérieur du bord (112) de la baignoire de spa.
     
    7. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon l'une quelconque des revendications 4 à 6, dans lequel :

    ledit axe de pivotement (A2) est situé en dessous de la surface supérieure du bord (112) de la baignoire de spa, et

    lorsque ledit au moins un organe de cadre (162) est tourné autour dudit axe de pivotement (A2), lesdites première et deuxième surfaces intérieures (144, 146) sont tournées autour dudit axe de charnière (A1), et

    lesdites première et deuxième surfaces inférieures (136, 148) se font face pour ainsi déplacer ladite couverture de ladite configuration plate à ladite configuration pliée.


     
    8. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon l'une quelconque des revendications 4 à 7, comprenant en outre :
    un élément de verrouillage (181) s'étendant depuis ladite deuxième portion pour verrouiller ladite deuxième portion (132) de ladite couverture par rapport à la baignoire de spa, ladite première portion (130) étant maintenue par rapport à la baignoire de spa par ledit système de soulèvement (104) et ne nécessitant pas un autre élément de verrouillage pour retenir ladite première portion par rapport à la baignoire de spa.
     
    9. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon les revendications 7 ou 8, comprenant en outre :
    un équipement audio et/ou vidéo disposé au moins en partie à l'intérieur de ladite surface supérieure (150) de ladite deuxième portion de ladite couverture de baignoire de spa de telle sorte que ledit équipement change d'orientation à mesure que la couverture de spa est déplacée entre ladite configuration plate et ladite configuration pliée.
     
    10. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon l'une quelconque des revendications 7 à 9, comprenant en outre :
    une protection contre les débris (184) prévue au niveau des première et deuxième surfaces supérieures (138, 150) pour couvrir ladite charnière (134) lorsque lesdites première et deuxième portions sont dans ladite configuration pliée.
     
    11. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon l'une quelconque des revendications 7 à 10, comprenant en outre :

    un support (160),

    dans ladite configuration pliée, lesdites première et deuxième surfaces inférieures (136, 148) étant dans une orientation debout, et à partir de ladite configuration pliée, ladite deuxième portion (132) pouvant être tournée de ladite orientation debout vers le haut autour de ladite charnière (134) dans une position rehaussée tandis que ladite première portion (130) reste dans ladite orientation debout, lorsque ladite deuxième portion (132) est dans ladite position rehaussée, ladite deuxième surface inférieure (148) étant déplacée verticalement depuis le bord de la baignoire de spa et faisant face au bord (112) de la baignoire de spa, ledit support (160) retenant fonctionnellement ladite deuxième portion dans ladite position rehaussée.


     
    12. Système de couverture de baignoire de spa selon la revendication 11, comprenant en outre :
    un parasol (212) attaché à ladite deuxième portion (132) dans ladite position rehaussée.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description