This application relates to low wattage night lights and electrically activated air fresheners, and particularly to an integrally combined electroluminescent night light and air freshener unit.
It is known in the art to provide a room air freshener unit that is electrically actuated, i.e., designed to be plugged into a wall outlet to power a small heating element. The heating element surrounds a cavity or receptacle in which a thermally activated or diffused substance is stored. The thermally diffused substance is typically a refillable packet or replaceable cartridge that is activated by the heat. A series of openings are provided in the housing to radiate the diffused substance to the room. Over time, a new supply of air freshener substance is required. Thus easy access is provided to the housing container to remove the used container and insert a new one.
Today's home has found a substantial increase in the number of electrical appliances and devices. Not surprisingly, market studies indicate an increased demand for electric outlets throughout the house. One particular example of the scarcity of outlets is in bathrooms where there are a number of demands for the outlets in association with a wide variety of uses. For example, hair dryers, styling irons, electric shavers, electric toothbrushes, etc. are all examples of AC powered products that are prevalent in the bathroom. In additional, consumers often maintain a night light in the bathroom.
Incandescent night lights are the most widely used type of night light. However, more recent development has focused on the development of electroluminescent lamps (EL lamps). Rather than using an incandescent coil as the light source, EL lamps convert electrical energy into light by applying an electric field across a thin phosphor layer to produce or emit light. A phosphor layer is interposed between first and second conductive electrodes. One of the electrodes is light transmissive, or optically clear. The AC voltage across the electrodes causes the phosphors to emit light during each cycle. By controlling the voltage and the frequency, the light brightness will alter, and also to some degree the color.
These types of electroluminescent light sources have found widespread use as night lights because of the level of lamp brightness that is generally unaffected by voltage, frequency, temperature, etc. The lights also do not fail in an abrupt manner. For example, incandescent light sources fail abruptly upon failure of the coil. Electroluminescent lamps, on the other hand, generally undergo a gradual decrease in brightness over time and are generally rated with extended useful lives relative to incandescent night lights. Thus, EL night lights are generally considered low maintenance since they do not require replacement as encountered, for example, with incandescent night lights. Moreover, EL night lights are very efficient and may only consume current on the level of milli-amps as to draw power at, for example, approximately 0.3 watts. They are also very cool operating lamps, as opposed to the heat generated by an incandescent lamp. Thus, the absence of heat generation plays an important factor for reasons to be noted.
Also related to the number of outlets is the fact that known separate air freshener and night light units cannot be accommodated in the same dual outlet wall socket because of the extended profiles of the air freshener and night light structures. The extended profiles dictate whether the unit is oriented in a particular manner in the outlet to provide access to the other outlet in a dual outlet arrangement.
Thus, a need exists to provide these desired functions without contributing to the problems noted above in a simple, effective manner.
In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, a combined night light and air freshener unit includes a storage compartment adapted to receive an air freshener cartridge therein. A heating element is disposed adjacent the storage compartment and powered via a male plug adapted for receipt in a conventional electrical socket. In addition, a low wattage electroluminescent lamp integrally extends from the storage compartment and is powered via the same plug.
The exemplary embodiment preferable integrally molds the electroluminescent night light and air freshener in the same housing to minimize assembly steps and overall dimensions of the unit.