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Publication numberUS20070176528 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/729,879
Publication date2 Aug 2007
Filing date30 Mar 2007
Priority date5 Nov 2004
Also published asUS20060097613
Publication number11729879, 729879, US 2007/0176528 A1, US 2007/176528 A1, US 20070176528 A1, US 20070176528A1, US 2007176528 A1, US 2007176528A1, US-A1-20070176528, US-A1-2007176528, US2007/0176528A1, US2007/176528A1, US20070176528 A1, US20070176528A1, US2007176528 A1, US2007176528A1
InventorsHang-bok Lee, Sang-Sin Kawk, Seon-Kyu Kim
Original AssigneeLg Electronics Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Refrigerator with height adjustable shelf
US 20070176528 A1
Abstract
A height adjustable shelf for a refrigerator is provided. The refrigerator includes a shelf with a pair of guide protrusions formed on opposite side surfaces thereof, and a plurality of guide grooves formed in opposite side surfaces of a refrigerator storage space, at a same interval as the guide protrusions such that the guide protrusions move along the guide grooves. Each of the guide grooves includes an upper end portion, a lower end portion, and a connection portion that connects the upper and lower end portions. Movement of the guide protrusions between the upper end portions and the lower end portions allows a height of the shelf to be adjusted.
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Claims(13)
1. An adjustable shelf assembly for a refrigerator, comprising:
a storage surface provided in a storage space of a refrigerator, the storage surface comprising a front shelf portion and a rear shelf portion positioned adjacent to each other;
a plurality of guide protrusions formed on two opposite ends of each of the front shelf portion and the rear shelf portion; and
a plurality of guide grooves formed in two opposite interior surfaces of the storage space and configured to receive the plurality of guide protrusions therein, wherein each of the plurality of guide grooves comprises:
an upper end portion configured to receive and to support a corresponding guide protrusion;
a lower end portion configured to receive and to support the corresponding guide protrusion; and
a connecting portion extending between the upper end portion and the lower end portion, wherein the plurality of guide protrusions are configured to move along the plurality of guide grooves so as to adjust a position of the storage surface.
2. The shelf assembly of claim 1, wherein the front shelf portion and the rear shelf portion form a substantially horizontal, planar surface when each of the plurality of guide protrusions is positioned in the upper end portion of its respective guide groove, or when each of the plurality of guide protrusions is positioned in the lower end portion of its respective guide groove.
3. The shelf assembly of claim 2, wherein the plurality of guide protrusions comprises two pairs of front guide protrusions provided on outer edges of the front shelf portion of the storage surface, and two pairs of rear guide protrusions provided on outer edges of the rear shelf portion of the storage surface.
4. The shelf assembly of claim 3, wherein the plurality of guide grooves comprises two pairs of front guide grooves formed provided on the two opposite interior surfaces of the storage space in positions corresponding to the two pairs of front guide protrusions, and two pairs of rear guide grooves formed provided on the two opposite interior surfaces of the storage space in positions corresponding to the two pairs of rear guide protrusions.
5. The shelf assembly of claim 4, further comprising at least one link which extends between the front and rear guide protrusions so as to couple the front and rear shelf portions such that movement of one of the front or rear shelf portions causes a corresponding movement in the other of the front or rear shelf portion.
6. The shelf assembly of claim 4, wherein the two pairs of front guide grooves each comprise:
a first front guide groove; and
a second front guide groove positioned lower than and to the rear of the first front guide groove, wherein the first and second front guide grooves each comprise:
a lower end portion configured to receive and support a corresponding guide protrusion;
an upper end portion provided above and to the rear of the lower end portion and configured to receive and support a corresponding guide protrusion; and
a connecting portion extending therebetween.
7. The shelf assembly of claim 6, wherein the two pairs of rear guide grooves each comprise:
a first rear guide groove; and
a second rear guide groove positioned above and to the rear of the first rear guide groove, wherein the first and second rear guide grooves each comprise:
an upper end portion configured to receive and support a corresponding guide protrusion;
a lower end portion provided below and to the rear of the upper end portion and configured to receive and support a corresponding guide protrusion; and
a connecting portion extending therebetween.
8. The shelf assembly of claim 7, wherein the front and rear shelf portions are positioned adjacent to one another so as to form a substantially horizontal coplanar surface when each of the front guide protrusions are positioned in the upper end portions of their respective front guide grooves, and each of the rear guide protrusions are positioned in the lower end portions of their respective rear guide grooves.
9. The shelf assembly of claim 8, wherein, when each of the front guide protrusions are positioned in the lower end portions of their respective front guide grooves, and each of the rear guide protrusions are positioned in the upper end portions of their respective rear guide grooves, the front and rear shelf portions form two non-coploanar surfaces.
10. A refrigerator comprising the shelf assembly of claim 1.
11. A refrigerator with an adjustable shelf, comprising:
a plate positioned in a storage space of the refrigerator;
a plurality of protrusions extending from opposite side edges of the plate;
a plurality of guide grooves formed in opposite interior side surfaces of the storage space, wherein the plurality of guide grooves are configured to receive the plurality of protrusions therein so as to guide the protrusions along the guide grooves and adjust a position of the plate within the storage space.
12. The refrigerator of claim 11, wherein each of the plurality of guide grooves comprises:
an upper end portion;
a lower end portion positioned beneath the upper end portion;
a horizontal portion extending from a front end of the lower end portion;
a first connecting portion extending at a downward incline from the upper end portion to a rear end of the horizontal portion; and
a second connecting portion extending at a downward incline from the upper end portion to a front end of the horizontal portion.
13. The refrigerator of claim 12, wherein the lower end portion and the upper end portion of each of the plurality of guide grooves falls within the same vertical plane.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to a refrigerator, and more particularly, to a refrigerator capable of efficiently using a food storage space or facilitating putting and taking foods in and out of the refrigerator by providing a height adjustable shelf.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Prior Art
  • [0004]
    In general, a refrigerator is an electric home appliance capable of keeping foods in a frozen or refrigerated state by supplying a storage space in the refrigerator with cold air generated through phase change of refrigerant. Recently, the refrigerator tends to be enlarged according to a variety of life patterns and a consumers' trend.
  • [0005]
    Further, in order to effectively use a storage space for storing foods, a plurality of shelves are installed in a refrigerator at regular intervals. For example, the shelves are supported on supports which are installed at the same heights on both side surfaces of the storage space in the refrigerator. A plurality of the supports are installed at predetermined intervals. In practice, the supports for supporting the shelves are installed at positions previously determined when the refrigerator is designed. By supporting the shelves using desired supports out of a plurality of the supports for supporting the shelves, it is possible to change the installation positions of the shelves according to users' preference, but there is limitation of the position change.
  • [0006]
    Furthermore, it is very useful to appropriately set the installation positions of the shelves in order to more effectively use the storage space of the refrigerator. FIG. 1 shows a conventional supporting structure of a height adjustable shelf.
  • [0007]
    As shown in the figure, a plurality of catching portions 10 are formed on inner surfaces of both side walls of a refrigerator main body. The catching portions 10 are engaged with support members 20 mounted on both side surfaces of a shelf 1 on which food or container is seated, so that the shelf 1 can be fixed at a predetermined position.
  • [0008]
    Each of the catching portions 10 is formed substantially in a saw tooth shape in such a manner that inclined surfaces 12 upwardly inclined toward the inside of the refrigerator main body and horizontal surfaces 14 flatly formed from inside ends of the inclined surfaces 12 to the outside of the refrigerator main body are alternately formed.
  • [0009]
    Further, the support members 20 engaged with the catching portions 10 are formed corresponding to the catching portions 10 of the saw tooth shape. That is, each of the support members 20 comprises a horizontal surface 22 which can be seated and supported on each horizontal surface 14, and an inclined surface 24 upwardly inclined from an outside end of the horizontal surface 22 so as to upwardly move in contact with the inclined surfaces 12.
  • [0010]
    Springs 30 are interposed between the shelf 1 and the support members 20, which are installed on both side surfaces of the shelf 1, so that the support members 20 are always elastically supported outward.
  • [0011]
    When the shelf 1 is lifted upward in order to adjust a height of the shelf 1, the inclined surfaces 12 of the catching portions 10 and the inclined surfaces 24 of the support members 20 are in contact with and slide on each other. At this time, the springs 30 are compressed, and the support members 20 are lifted upward along the inclined surfaces 12 of the catching portions 10.
  • [0012]
    When the support members 20 go over the inclined surfaces 12 of the catching portions 10, the support members 20 move outward again by the elasticity of the springs 30, and then, the horizontal surfaces 22 of the support members 20 are caught to the horizontal surfaces 14 of the catching portions 10, so that the shelf 1 can be maintained in a horizontal state. In addition, since the catching portions 10 are constructed in such a manner that the horizontal surfaces 14 and the inclined surfaces 12 are alternately formed, a user can move the shelf to a desired position.
  • [0013]
    However, although the above prior art so configured makes it possible to adjust the height of the shelf, there are the following problems.
  • [0014]
    In the above prior art, it is possible to lift the shelf without separating the shelf from the refrigerator, but it is impossible to lower the shelf. That is, since the shelf must be mounted again after it is completely separated from the refrigerator in order to lower the shelf, it is very cumbersome.
  • [0015]
    Further, even in the above prior art, in a case where a plenty of foods are stored on the whole of the shelf, like a fixed shelf, it is not easy to take out the foods stored in the rear of the shelf.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0016]
    Accordingly, the present invention is conceived to solve the aforementioned problems in the prior art. An object of the present invention is to provide a shelf height adjuster capable of adjusting a height of a shelf smoothly even in a state where foods are put on the shelf by configuring the shelf to be smoothly moved upward and downward.
  • [0017]
    Another object of the present invention is to make it easy to take out foods stored in the rear of a shelf by dividing the shelf itself into front and rear halves and making it possible to adjust their heights.
  • [0018]
    According to an aspect of the present invention for achieving the objects, there is provided a refrigerator with a height adjustable shelf, comprising: the shelf with a plurality of guide protrusions formed on each of both side surfaces of the shelf; and a plurality of guide grooves formed in each of both side surfaces of a refrigerator storage space at the same interval as the guide protrusions, wherein the guide protrusions are guided along the guide grooves, respectively. Each of the guide grooves includes an upper end portion in which the guide protrusion is seated and supported, a lower end portion in which the guide protrusion is seated and supported, and a connecting portion formed to connect the upper end portion and the lower end portion. Further, the lower end portion is in a lower position than the upper end portion.
  • [0019]
    Preferably, the guide groove further includes a horizontal portion horizontally formed in front of the lower end portion, and the connecting portion is formed to be downwardly inclined forward from the upper end portion and meets the horizontal portion at a front portion of the connecting portion.
  • [0020]
    More preferably, the connecting portion includes a first connecting portion formed to be downwardly inclined rearward from the upper end portion and meet a front end of the horizontal portion, and a second connecting portion formed to be downwardly inclined rearward from the upper end portion and meet an intermediate portion of the horizontal portion.
  • [0021]
    A pair of the guide grooves may be formed in each of both the side surfaces of the refrigerator storage space and a pair of the guide protrusions may be formed on each of both the side surfaces of the shelf.
  • [0022]
    Further, a handle gripped by a user when pulling out the shelf may be formed on a front end of the height adjustable shelf. The handle is preferably formed to be inclined downward.
  • [0023]
    Preferably, the upper end portion of the guide groove is formed to extend slightly downward more than a front portion of the upper end portion, or is formed partially horizontal together with a front portion of the upper end portion.
  • [0024]
    More preferably, the guide protrusion is elastically supported outward by a spring on each of both the side surfaces of the height adjustable shelf, so that it is possible to separate the shelf from the guide grooves A roller may be installed on an outside surface of the guide protrusion to be brought into rolling contact with the guide groove.
  • [0025]
    The guide protrusions may be formed on each of both the side surfaces of the shelf at slightly front positions of middle and rear end portions of the shelf.
  • [0026]
    According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a refrigerator comprising: a front shelf with a plurality of guide protrusions formed on each of both side surfaces of the front shelf at a certain interval; a rear shelf with a plurality of guide protrusions formed on each of both side surfaces of the rear shelf at a certain interval, the rear shelf being positioned in the rear of the front shelf; a connecting means for the rear shelf to cooperate with the front shelf when the front shelf is pulled out; and a plurality of guide grooves formed in each of both side surfaces of a refrigerator storage space at the same interval as the guide protrusions, wherein the guide protrusions of the front shelf and the rear shelf are guided along the guide grooves, respectively. Each of the guide grooves includes a plurality of front guide grooves and a plurality of rear guide grooves, each of the front guide grooves comprising an upper end portion in which the guide protrusion of the front shelf is seated and supported, a lower end portion in which the guide protrusion of the front shelf is seated and supported, the lower end portion being in front of the upper end portion, and a connecting portion formed to connect the upper end portion and the lower end portion, and each of the rear guide grooves comprising an upper end portion in which the guide protrusion of the rear shelf is seated and supported, a lower end portion in which the guide protrusion of the rear shelf is seated and supported, the lower end portion being in rear of the upper end portion, and a connecting portion formed to connect the upper end portion and the lower end portion.
  • [0027]
    Preferably, a pair of the guide protrusions are formed on each of both the side surfaces of each of the front and rear shelves, and a pair of the front guide grooves and a pair of the rear guide grooves are formed in each of both the side surfaces of the refrigerator storage space.
  • [0028]
    More preferably, the connecting means includes a plate shaped link for pivotably connecting the guide protrusion formed on a rearmost portion of the front shelf and the guide protrusion formed on a foremost portion of the front shelf to each other.
  • [0029]
    The upper end portion of the front guide groove and the lower end portion of the rear guide groove may be formed at the same height.
  • [0030]
    The link may have a length corresponding to an interval between the lower end portion of the front guide groove formed at a rearmost position among the front guide grooves and the upper end portion of the rear guide groove formed at a foremost position among the rear guide grooves.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0031]
    The above and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments given in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • [0032]
    FIG. 1 is a sectional view showing a height adjustable shelf according to a prior art;
  • [0033]
    FIG. 2 is an exemplary perspective view showing that a door in which a preferred embodiment of a height adjusting structure of a refrigerator shelf according to the present invention is employed is opened;
  • [0034]
    FIG. 3 is a schematic partial perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the height adjusting structure of the refrigerator shelf according to the present invention;
  • [0035]
    FIG. 4 is a plan view showing guide grooves as a major portion of the height adjusting structure of the refrigerator shelf according to the present invention;
  • [0036]
    FIG. 5 is a plan view showing guide protrusions, the guide grooves and the height adjustable shelf as a major portion of the height adjusting structure of the refrigerator shelf according to the present invention;
  • [0037]
    FIG. 6 is a partial perspective view of an interior of a refrigerator showing a shelf according to another embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0038]
    FIG. 7 is an exemplary plan view of the shelf according to the other embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0039]
    FIG. 8 is an exemplary side view of the shelf according to the other embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0040]
    FIG. 9 is a view illustrating an inner side surface of a refrigerator according to the other embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0041]
    FIG. 10 is a view illustrating the relationship between guide grooves and the shelf according to the other embodiment of the present invention; and
  • [0042]
    FIG. 11 is a perspective view illustrating the shelf, the height of which is adjusted, according to the other embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • [0043]
    Hereinafter, the present invention will be described in detail with reference to embodiments shown in the accompanying drawings.
  • [0044]
    FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing that a door of a refrigerator in which a preferred embodiment of a height adjustable shelf for a refrigerator according to the present invention is employed is opened. In the illustrated embodiment, a side-by-side refrigerator is used as an example. As shown in the figure, a refrigerator main body 100 comprises a refrigerating chamber 110 and a freezing chamber 120. The refrigerating chamber 110 and the freezing chamber 120 are opened and closed by doors 112 and 122, respectively.
  • [0045]
    In addition, a plurality of shelves 130 on which foods are put and a plurality of trays 140 in which foods are accommodated and stored are installed in the freezing chamber 120 and the refrigerating chamber 110. Door baskets 114 and 124, which are spaced apart by predetermined intervals from each other, are installed on inside surfaces of the doors 112 and 122 for opening and closing the refrigerating chamber 110 and the freezing chamber 120, respectively.
  • [0046]
    According to the present invention, a height adjustable shelf 200, the height of which can be adjusted, is installed in the refrigerating chamber 110 or the freezing chamber 120. The height adjustable shelf 200 according to the present invention is installed so that its height can be adjusted in a state where it is mounted in the refrigerating chamber 110 or the freezing chamber 120.
  • [0047]
    FIG. 3 is an enlarged view showing the height adjustable shelf 200 according to the present invention and its peripheral portion. As shown in the figure, in order to support the height adjustable shelf 200 of the present invention and at the same time adjust its height, guide grooves 240 are formed on both side walls of the interior of the refrigerating chamber 110. Further, supports 132 for supporting both lower side ends of each general shelf 130 installed thereon in a stationary state in addition to the height adjustable shelf 200 according to the present invention, are installed on both the side walls of the refrigerating chamber 110 to be spaced apart by predetermined intervals from each other.
  • [0048]
    The supports 132, which is installed to support both the side ends of each general shelf 130, are formed to inwardly protrude on both the side walls of the refrigerating chamber 110 or the freezing chamber 120. The shelves 130, both the lower side ends of each of which are supported on the supports 132, can be pulled forward.
  • [0049]
    Since the supports 132 are installed, as necessary, on both the side walls of the refrigerating chamber 110, a user can adjust the positions of the general shelves 130 by selecting the supports 132 of appropriate positions. When the positions of the shelves are determined using the supports 132, the shelves 130 must be mounted again after they are taken out of and separated from both the side walls of the refrigerating chamber 110.
  • [0050]
    The guide grooves 240 for guiding the vertical movement of the height adjustable shelf 200 are formed on both the side walls of the interior of the refrigerating chamber 110. The guide grooves 240 may be concavely formed directly on both the side walls of the refrigerating chamber 110. Alternatively, separate members on which the guide grooves 240 are formed may be installed on both the side walls of the interior of the refrigerating chamber 110.
  • [0051]
    Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the engagement relationship between the height adjustable shelf 200 and the guide grooves 240 will be described. The guide grooves 240 are concavely formed at a predetermined depth. In addition, the height adjustable shelf 200 includes a plurality of guide protrusions 210 which protrude on both side surfaces of the height adjustable shelf 200. The guide protrusions 210 are inserted into the guide grooves 240 and slide along the interiors of the guide grooves 240, so that a height of the height adjustable shelf 200 is adjusted according to a height of the guide grooves 240. Therefore, it is noted that the guide grooves 240 are sized such that the guide protrusions 210 are inserted thereinto and move along the interiors thereof.
  • [0052]
    In order to stably support the shelf 200, a plurality of the guide protrusions 210 should be installed on each of both the side surfaces of the shelf 200. For example, a pair of the guide protrusions 210 are preferably installed on each of both the side surfaces of the shelf 200. It is also preferred that the guide protrusions 210 be installed at front and rear positions on each of both the side surfaces of the height adjustable shelf 200, respectively, in order to stably support the shelf 200.
  • [0053]
    The guide protrusions 210 move substantially in the guide grooves 240 while being in contact with at least inside surfaces of the guide grooves 240. Thus, it may be considered that rollers are mounted on outside surfaces of the guide protrusions 210 so that the rolling contact occurs between the guide protrusions 210 and the guide grooves 240. When the rollers are rotatably mounted on the outside surfaces of the guide protrusions 210, such rollers are in rolling contact with inner bottom surfaces of the guide grooves 240.
  • [0054]
    In addition, the guide grooves 240 are formed so that the number thereof corresponds to that of the guide protrusions 210. As described above, when there are provided a pair of the guide protrusions 210, a pair of the guide grooves 240 should be formed. Further, as shown in FIG. 4, it is noted that a pair of the guide grooves 240 with the same shape are arranged repeatedly in the fore and aft direction on each of both the side walls of the refrigerating chamber.
  • [0055]
    As shown in FIG. 4, each of the guide grooves 240 comprises a lower end portion 244, which is at a relatively lower position and can support the shelf 200 at the lower position, and an upper end portion 242, which is at a relatively upper position than the lower end portion 244 and can support the shelf 200 at the upper position. That is, the shelf 200 is supported at the relatively lower position when the guide protrusions 210 installed on both the side surfaces of the shelf 200 are positioned in the lower end portions 244 of the guide grooves 240, while the shelf 200 is supported at the relatively upper position when the guide protrusions 210 are positioned in the upper end portions 242. In addition, the upper end portions 242 and the lower end portions 244 are positioned at the most rear end portions of the guide grooves 240. Thus, when the shelf 200 is fully pushed rearward, the guide protrusions 210 are positioned at the upper end portions 242 or the lower end portions 244 and thus can support the shelf.
  • [0056]
    Further, if the lower end portions 244 and the upper end portions 242 are connected to each other, it is possible to adjust the position of the shelf between the upper and lower positions without separating the shelf 200 from the refrigerating chamber. Each of the lower end portions 244 is connected to a horizontal portion 246 which horizontally extend forward. A front end portion of the horizontal portion 246 is connected to the upper end portion 242 through a connecting portion 248. The shelf 200 can be stably supported if a front portion of the upper end portion 242 is at least partially maintained in horizontal state or is positioned slightly lower than a rear end portion of the connecting portion 248.
  • [0057]
    The connecting portions 248 are formed so that the movement of the guide protrusions 210 can be guided. Thus, it is preferred that the connecting portion 248 be formed in an inclined or curved shape.
  • [0058]
    In the illustrated embodiment, the connecting portion 248 comprises a first connecting portion 248 a and a second connecting portion 248 b. The first connecting portion 248 a is formed in relatively front, while the second connecting portion 248 b is formed in the rear. However, rear ends of the first and second connecting portions 248 a and 248 b are joined together, and thus the first and second connecting portions 248 a and 248 b are formed to meet each other at the upper end portion 242. The second connecting portion 248 b is formed to branch off at an intermediate portion of the horizontal portion 246 and to be inclined upward, and then the rear end of the second connecting portion 248 b meets the upper end portion 242.
  • [0059]
    The guide protrusions 210 installed on both the side surfaces of the shelf 200 may move upward or downward along any ones of the first connecting portions 248 a and the second connecting portions 248 b. For example, the guide protrusions 210 pass through the second connecting portions 248 b when moving from the lower end portions 244 to the upper end portions 242, while the guide protrusions 210 may move along the first connecting portions 248 a when moving from the upper end portions 242 to the lower end portions 244.
  • [0060]
    Although it is configured in the present embodiment that each connecting portion 248 includes the first and second connecting portions 248 a and 248 b, the connecting portion 248 may include only the first connecting portion 248 a.
  • [0061]
    In addition, it is preferred that the upper and lower end portions 242 and 244 of the guide groove 240 be positioned on the same vertical line. That is, since the shelf 200 should be installed in the same manner as the other shelves when the shelf 200 is fully mounted in the rear, the upper and lower end portions 242 and 244 should be positioned on the substantially same vertical line.
  • [0062]
    When the guide protrusions 210 are seated in any ones of the upper end portions 242 and the lower end portions 244, the shelf 200 should be stably supported as described above. Thus, forwardly extending portions of the upper and lower end portions 242 and 244 should be formed to be maintained in horizontal state within at least certain sections, on which the guide protrusions are stably supported without sliding, and to support the guide protrusions 210. Alternatively, the forwardly extending portions of the upper and lower end portions 242 and 244 should be formed along the position slightly higher than the upper end portions 242 or the lower end portions 244
  • [0063]
    Further, as described above, a pair of the guide protrusions 210 spaced apart by a certain interval from each other are installed on each of both the side surfaces of the shelf 200. The guide protrusions 210 support the shelf 200 in a sate where the guide protrusions 210 are substantially inserted into the guide grooves 240. Therefore, only when all the guide protrusions 210 are kept at the same height, the shelf 200 is kept in a horizontal state. To this end, when a pair of the guide protrusions 210 are formed on each of both the side surfaces of the shelf 200 to be spaced apart by a certain interval in the fore and aft direction from each other, a pair of the guide grooves 240 should also be formed on each of both the inner side walls to be spaced apart by the same fore and aft interval as the guide protrusions from each other and have the same route and height as the guide protrusions.
  • [0064]
    Referring to FIG. 5, a preferred embodiment of the guide protrusions 210 will be described. As described above, the guide protrusions 210 move while being inserted in the guide grooves 240, and thus, adjust the height of the shelf 200 and support the shelf 200. Since the guide grooves 240 are formed with a concave groove, in order to separate the shelf 200, on both the side surfaces of which the guide protrusions 210 are provided, from the guide grooves 240, it is preferred that the guide protrusions 210 be configured so as to come in and out of the shelf 200.
  • [0065]
    As in the illustrated embodiment, by installing springs 212 in guide protrusion mounting grooves of the shelf 200, the guide protrusions 210 may be configured to be inserted into the shelf. At this time, the guide protrusions 210 should not escape out of the shelf inadvertently. For example, additional stoppers may be installed in neck portions of the respective guide protrusion mounting grooves of the shelf. Alternatively, after forming each guide protrusion 210 to have different diameter portions, the guide protrusion may be installed in a casing 214 having a neck portion. Here, the spring 212 is installed in the casing 214 to elastically support the guide protrusion 210 outward, and the casing 214 is buried in and installed to each of both the side surfaces of the shelf.
  • [0066]
    It is preferred that the aforementioned height adjustable shelf 200 have the same dimensions as the other shelves 130 installed in the refrigerating chamber 110. In addition, in order for a user to grip the height adjustable shelf 200, a handle 230 is preferably installed on a front end of the height adjustable shelf 200 when the height of the height adjustable shelf 200 is adjusted as described above. It is preferred that such a handle 230 be formed over the entire front end of the height adjustable shelf 200. In addition, the handle 230 is preferably formed to be inclined downward so that the user operates the shelf more easily when the user grips the handle 230 to adjust the height of the shelf.
  • [0067]
    Hereinafter, the operation of the height adjusting structure of the refrigerator shelf according to the present invention so configured will be described.
  • [0068]
    When a tall food or container containing foods is accommodated below the height adjustable shelf 200, it is preferred that the space below the height adjustable shelf 200 be secured by moving the height adjustable shelf 200 upward.
  • [0069]
    When the shelf 200 is in the relatively lower position, the guide protrusions 210 are positioned in the lower end portions 244 of the guide grooves 240. In such a state, in order to move the height adjustable shelf 200 upward, the user first grips and pulls forward the handle 230 formed on the front end of the height adjustable shelf 200.
  • [0070]
    If the handle 230 is pulled forward, the guide protrusions 210 move forward along the horizontal portions 246 of the guide grooves 240. As the guide protrusions 210 move, the height adjustable shelf 200 comes out forward. When the guide protrusions 210 of the shelf 200 that moves forward reach the second connecting portions 248 b or the first connecting portions 248 a, the shelf 200 is caused to be pushed upward and rearward so that the guide protrusions 210 ascend along the second connecting portions 248 b or the first connecting portions 248 a.
  • [0071]
    If the shelf 200 is pushed upward and rearward using the handle 230, the guide protrusions 210 enter the second connecting portions 248 b or the first connecting portions 248 a. Then, the shelf 200 is caused to be continuously pushed, the guide protrusions 210 reach the upper end portions 242 of the guide grooves 240 along the second connecting portions 248 b or the first connecting portions 248 a. In such a state, the shelf 200 is substantially raised by a height difference between the lower end portions 244 and the upper end portions 242 and completely pushed rearward to be in the seated and supported state.
  • [0072]
    If necessary, in order to downward move the height adjustable shelf 200 when it is in the relatively upper position, the operation should be performed in the reverse direction as described above. That is, by pulling the shelf 200 forward, the guide protrusions 210 positioned in the upper end portions 242 also move forward. At this time, the guide protrusions 210 move forward and downward through the route defined by any ones of the first connecting portions 248 a and the second connecting portions 248 b. Then, when the guide protrusions 210 pass through the first connecting portion or the second connecting portion and reach the horizontal portions 246, the guide protrusions 210 are caused to move rearward along the horizontal portions 246 by pushing the shelf rearward. In addition, when the guide protrusions 210 reach the lower end portions 244 of the guide grooves 240, substantially, the shelf 200 is completely installed in the relatively lower position.
  • [0073]
    As described above, the guide protrusions 210 move along the route defined by any ones of the first connecting portions 248 a and the second connecting portions 248 b when the shelf 200 moves upward and downward, and the route is selected by the user. Alternatively, the connecting portions 248 may be formed to define a single route in the present invention. In such a state, the guide protrusions pass through only the single route defined by the connecting portions such as the connecting portions 248, so that the guide protrusions move from the upper end portions 242 to the lower end portions 244 or from the lower end portions 244 to the upper end portions 242.
  • [0074]
    In addition, if the shelf 200 is pulled only forward when the shelf 200 is in the lower position, the guide protrusions 210 moves only forward along the horizontal portions 246. If the shelf 200 moves forward as above, it is possible to easily take out the foods stored in the rear portion of the shelf 200 in a state where the foods stored in the front portion of the shelf 200 is left as it is.
  • [0075]
    According to the present invention, by pulling the shelf forward or pushing it rearward along only the horizontal portions 246 out of the guide grooves 240, there is an advantage in that it is more easy to take out the foods stored in the rear of shelf 200 or to put foods on the rear of shelf 200 to store the foods therein.
  • [0076]
    Further, since the guide protrusions 210 are elastically supported by the springs 212, it is also possible to easily separate the shelf supported in the guide grooves 240 therefrom.
  • [0077]
    Next, referring to FIGS. 6 to 11, a second embodiment of the present invention will be described. The present embodiment promotes the convenience in use by providing a shelf including a front shelf and a rear shelf and enabling the heights of the respective front and rear shelves to be adjusted.
  • [0078]
    As shown in FIG. 6, a shelf 300 according to the present embodiment includes a front shelf 300A and a rear shelf 300B. The shelf 300 of the present embodiment are installed to be spaced apart by a predetermined interval from the other general shelf 130 that is supported on the supports 132 installed on both the side walls of the refrigerating chamber. The shelf 300 according to the present invention is supported in guide grooves 400 formed in both the side walls of the refrigerating chamber, while the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are configured such that their heights can be adjusted by the guide grooves 400, respectively.
  • [0079]
    The shelf 300 of the present embodiment also has the substantially same dimensions as the general shelves 130. The front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B define a front half portion and a rear half portion of the shelf 300, respectively.
  • [0080]
    As shown in FIG. 7, a handle 310 is formed on a front end of the front shelf 300A. The handle 310 is formed to extend transversely so that a user grips it for pulling or operating the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B. It is preferred that the handle 310 be formed to be downwardly inclined so that the user conveniently grips and operates the front shelf 300A.
  • [0081]
    In addition, as shown in FIG. 8, ribs 350 are formed on front and rear ends of the rear shelf 300B in lateral direction, respectively. The ribs 350, which support foods put on the rear shelf 300B in order not to be fallen therefrom when the rear shelf 300B moves in the fore and aft direction, protrude upward with a predetermined height on the whole of the front and rear ends of the rear shelf 300B.
  • [0082]
    A pair of guide protrusions 320 and 320′ and a pair of guide protrusions 340 and 340′ are installed on each of both side surfaces of the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B to protrude outward, respectively. As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, the guide protrusions consist of the front guide protrusions 320 and 320′ installed on the middle and the rear end portions of the front shelf 300A and the rear guide protrusions 340 and 340′ installed on the middle and the rear end portions of the rear shelf 300B. The front guide protrusions 320 and 320′ and the rear guide protrusions 340 and 340′ are inserted into front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ and rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′, which will be described below, so that the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are caused to move along the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ and the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′, respectively. The configuration of the front guide protrusions 320 and 320′ and the rear guide protrusions 340 and 340′ is the same as that of the aforementioned first embodiment, and thus, the duplicated descriptions will be omitted.
  • [0083]
    The front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are connected to each other through connecting links 500. Each of the connecting links 500 is formed in a plate shape. Through holes 510 and 520, which have the same cross section (i.e., a circular cross section) as the front guide protrusions 320 and 320′ and the rear guide protrusions 340 and 340′, are formed in both side ends of each connecting link 500. The front guide protrusion 320′ positioned at the rear portion of the front shelf 300A is inserted into the through hole 510 formed in front of the link 500, while the rear guide protrusion 340 positioned at the relatively front position of the rear shelf 300B is inserted into the through hole 520 formed in the rear of the link 500.
  • [0084]
    Since the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are connected to each other through the connecting links 500, when the front shelf 300A is pulled forward or pushed rearward, the rear shelf 300B cooperates with and thus moves together with the front shelf 300A.
  • [0085]
    FIG. 9 shows the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ and the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ formed in both side walls of the interior of the refrigerating chamber. The front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ and the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ are the portions into which the guide protrusions 320 and 320′ of the front shelf 300A and the guide protrusions 340 and 340′ of the rear shelf 300B are inserted, respectively. Therefore, the guide protrusions 320 and 320′ and the guide protrusions 340 and 340′ are inserted into the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ and the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ and move therealong, so that the heights of the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B can be adjusted upward or downward, respectively,
  • [0086]
    Since a pair of the guide protrusions 320 and 320′ are installed on each of both the side surfaces of the front shelf 300A, a pair of the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ are formed in the same shape as each other and spaced at the interval corresponding to that between the guide protrusions 320 and 320′. In addition, a pair of the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ are also formed in the same shape as each other and be spaced at the interval corresponding to that between the guide protrusions 340 and 340′ installed in pair on each of both the side surfaces of the rear shelf 300B.
  • [0087]
    The front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ are formed in a front half portion of each of both the side walls of the refrigerating or freezing chamber, i.e., in the left side as viewed in FIG. 9. The front guide grooves 400A and 400A′, which accommodate the front guide protrusions 320 and 320′ formed on both the side surfaces of the front shelf 300A, guide the movement of the front shelf 300A.
  • [0088]
    The front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ comprise upper end portions 430 and 430′ and lower end portions 410 and 410′ for keeping the guide protrusions 320 and 320′ to be seated, and connecting portions 420 and 420′ for connecting the upper end portions and the lower end portions, respectively. The connecting portions 420 and 420′, which connect the upper end portions 430 and 430′ and the lower end portions 410 and 410′, respectively, are formed to be upwardly inclined from the front to the rear of the refrigerating chamber. Referring to FIG. 9, the connecting portions 420 and 420′ are formed to be upwardly inclined toward the right side from the left side. In addition, since the lower end portions 410 and 410′ are positioned at the lowermost end portion, the guide protrusions 320 and 320′ can be kept in the state when they are seated therein. At least a front portion of the upper end portions 430 and 430′ should be formed to be horizontal or slightly downward inclined, such that the guide protrusions 320 and 320′ can be kept seated in the upper end portions 430 and 430′. Therefore, the guide protrusions 320 and 320′ of the front shelf 300A move along the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ and then seated and supported in any ones of the upper end portions 430 and 430′ and the lower end portions 410 and 410′, so that the installation height of the front shelf 300A can be substantially changed by the height difference between the upper end portions 430 and 430′ and the lower end portions 410 and 410′.
  • [0089]
    In addition, the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ are formed in a rear half portion of each of both the side walls of the refrigerating or freezing chamber, i.e., in the right side as viewed in FIG. 9. The rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′, which accommodate the rear guide protrusions 340 and 340′ formed on both the side surfaces of the rear shelf 300B, guide the movement of the rear shelf 300B.
  • [0090]
    The rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ comprise upper end portions 440 and 440′ and lower end portions 460 and 460′ for keeping the guide protrusions 340 and 340′ to be seated, and connecting portions 450 and 450′ for connecting the upper end portions and the lower end portions, respectively. The connecting portions 450 and 450′, which connect the upper end portions 440 and 440′ and the lower end portions 460 and 460′, respectively, are formed to be downwardly inclined from the front to the rear of the refrigerating chamber. Referring to FIG. 9, the connecting portions 450 and 450′ are formed to be downwardly inclined toward the right side from the left side. In addition, since the lower end portions 460 and 460′ are positioned at the lowermost end portion, the guide protrusions 340 and 340′ can be kept in the state when they are seated therein. At least a front portion of the upper end portions 440 and 440′ should be formed to be horizontal or slightly downward inclined, such that the guide protrusions 340 and 340′ can be kept seated in the upper end portions 440 and 440′. Therefore, the guide protrusions 340 and 340′ of the rear shelf 300B move along the rear guide grooves 400B and 40013′ and then seated and supported in any ones of the upper end portions 440 and 440′ and the lower end portions 460 and 460′, so that the installation height of the rear shelf 300B can be substantially changed by the height difference between the upper end portions 440 and 440′ and the lower end portions 460 and 460′.
  • [0091]
    Here, as described above, the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are connected to each other through the connecting links 500. Thus, when the front shelf 300A is pulled forward, the rear shelf 300B also comes out forward. At the same time, the front shelf 300A moves along the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′, while the rear shelf 300B moves along the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′. In addition, when the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are coplanar, the rear surface of the front shelf 300A and the front surface of the rear shelf 300B approach each other and are nearly in contact with each other.
  • [0092]
    In order for the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B to be coplanar, the upper end portions 430 and 430′ of the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ and the lower end portions 460 and 460′ of the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ should be formed at the same height. In addition, since the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are connected to each other through the connecting links 500, an interval between the front guide grooves 400A and the rear guide grooves 400B relates to the connecting links 500. That is, the upper end portion 430′ of the front guide groove 400A′ formed in the rear out of a pair of the front guide grooves and the lower end portion 460′ of the rear guide grooves 400B′ formed in the front out of a pair of the rear guide grooves, should be formed so that a length therebetween corresponding to that of the connecting links 500.
  • [0093]
    In addition, although the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ are in the lower position than the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′, it is noted that the front guide grooves are formed in the shape symmetry to the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′.
  • [0094]
    Next, referring to FIG. 10, the operation of the shelf 300 of the present embodiment will be described.
  • [0095]
    In a state where the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are coplanar and fully mounted, the front guide protrusions 320 and 320′ provided on each of both side surfaces of the front shelf 300A are supported in the upper end portions 430 and 430′ formed at the respective rear ends of the front guide grooves 400A, while the rear guide protrusions 340 and 340′ provided on each of both side surfaces of the rear shelf 300B are supported in the lower end portions 460 and 460′ formed at the respective rear ends of the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′.
  • [0096]
    In such a state, the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are positioned collinear, and the rear end of the front shelf 300A and the front end of the rear shelf 300B are nearly in contact with each other. Further, the connecting links 500 for connecting the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are also maintained in a horizontal state.
  • [0097]
    In addition, if it is necessary for example, to take out the foods on the rear shelf 300B, in order to provide the height difference between the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B, the front shelf 300A should first be pulled forward. When the front shelf 300A is pulled forward, the rear shelf 300B connected thereto through the connecting links 500 also moves forward.
  • [0098]
    When the handle 310 of the front shelf 300A is pulled, the front guide protrusions 320 and 320′ formed on both the side surfaces of the front shelf 300A move along the connecting portions 420 and 420′ of the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′, and finally reach the lower end portions 410 and 410′ of the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ and are supported therein. At this time, the front shelf 300A moves along the inclined direction of the connecting portions 420 and 420′ of the front shelf 300A and will be in the lower position than before it is pulled out. The state after the front shelf 300A moves in such a manner is shown in dashed dot lines of FIG. 10.
  • [0099]
    In addition, the rear shelf 300B connected to the front shelf 300A through the connecting links 500 is also pulled out together with the front shelf. The rear shelf 300B moves forward as the rear guide protrusions 340 and 340′ move along the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′. At this time, the rear guide protrusions 340 and 340′ move along the connecting portions 450 and 450′ upwardly inclined forward, and finally, reach the upper end portions 440 and 440′ of the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ and are supported therein. Thereafter, the rear shelf 300B will be in the upper position than before it moves. The state after the rear shelf 300B moves in such a manner is shown in dashed dot lines of FIG. 10.
  • [0100]
    Accordingly, when the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are completely pulled out, the front shelf 300A is in a state where it has been downward moved and the rear shelf 300B is in a state where it has been upward moved. Such a state of the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B is shown in FIG. 11 as a perspective view. In such a state, since there is a certain height difference between the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B, it is possible for a user to put the foods to be stored on a desired position, and particularly, to conveniently take out the foods deep stored.
  • [0101]
    In addition, if the pulled shelf 300 is pushed rearward again, the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B cooperate with each other and move in the opposite direction to the direction when they are pulled out. At this time, as the front shelf 300A moves rearward, it moves upward along the front guide grooves 400A and 400A′ which are upwardly inclined, and as the rear shelf 300B moves rearward, it moves downward along the rear guide grooves 400B and 400B′ which are downwardly inclined.
  • [0102]
    When the guide protrusions provided at the rear ends of the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B reach the upper end portions 430′ of the front guide grooves 400A′ and the lower end portions 460 of the rear guide grooves 400B and are seated therein, the front shelf 300A and the rear shelf 300B are substantially coplanar, which is a state shown in solid lines of FIG. 10.
  • [0103]
    According to the shelf of the present invention as described above, it is noted that the shelf 200 can be configured for its height to be adjustable without fully separating the shelf 200 from the interior of the refrigerating chamber. Therefore, since it is possible for a user to conveniently adjust the height of the shelf without separating the shelf, the advantage that the storage space of the refrigerator can be effectively adjusted and used can be expected.
  • [0104]
    Further, it is noted that the shelf 300 according to the present invention consists of the front shelf and the rear shelf and is configured so as to adjust the relative height of the front and rear shelves by operating them. Therefore, it is possible to appropriately store foods at a desired portion of the shelf, and at the same time, it is easy to take out foods, particularly foods put on the rear portion of the shelf.
  • [0105]
    According to the present invention, it is possible to adjust the height of the shelf as described above. Thus, there are advantages in that it is possible to effectively use the storage space of the refrigerator and convenient to store or take out foods.
  • [0106]
    In addition, as described above, the shelf according to the present invention is configured so as to adjust its height in a state where the shelf is not separated, as well as stably supported by a plurality of guide protrusions installed on both the side surfaces of the shelf.
  • [0107]
    It will be apparent that those skilled in the art can make various modifications thereto within the technical scope of the invention described above. Therefore, the true scope of the present invention should be defined on the basis of the appended claims.
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US8100488 *26 Jan 200724 Jan 2012Bsh Bosch Und Siemens Hausgeraete GmbhRefrigerating appliance with height-adjustable storage device
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Classifications
U.S. Classification312/408
International ClassificationA47B96/04
Cooperative ClassificationA47B2210/17, F25D25/02, F25D25/04
European ClassificationF25D25/02