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1. (WO2019066858) WATER-SAVING FAUCET
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WATER-SAVING FAUCET

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1 . Field of the Invention

[0001] The present invention relates generally to plumbing fixtures and more particularly to a water-saving faucet and flow control assemblies therefor.

2. Description of the Prior Art

[0002] In a world where the human population is going to exceed 1 0 billion in the next decade or so, water and its availability will be the natural resource problem over which disputes will arise. The U.S. has a relative abundance of clean water provided through a reliable supply system. This very abundance, however, has also led to a lack of urgency in recognizing this coming natural resource problem. Water shortages are inevitable and will occur in a matter of time. Particularly, water shortages have already become and will continue as a problem in the dry southwest of the United States.

[0003] Several of the faucet types sold in the U.S. and overseas have a handle that operates a mixing valve, where one lifts or lowers the handle to increase or decrease the volume of flow and rotates it right or left to change the temperature of the water. The typical distance handle throw is about one or two inches up and down between fully-open and fully-closed positions. It is very difficult for humans to accurately adjust the water flowrate without paying particular attention to the task of turning on the water. However, this is a task people most often perform without much thought. Hence, most users almost always turn on the water to full flow, even when only a small trickle of it is needed. This practice is a huge waste of this precious resource.

[0004] Several devices have been devised to address this problem.

[0005] U.S. Patent No. 9,677,254 (2017, Prabhakar et al.) discloses valve assembly for a single-lever faucet is configured to control a flow rate of water and has a valve body, a valve cartridge, and a valve stem. A flow control assembly is operatively connected to the valve assembly and constructed to attach to a faucet handle. The flow control assembly includes a valve stem, a handle actuator that operates the valve stem to control the flow rate of the water, a gear assembly, and a biasing member. Moving the handle actuator to the water-on position from the neutral position increments the valve stem to an open valve position. The handle actuator automatically returns to a neutral position with the water flowing after the user pivots the handle actuator to a water-on position, and automatically returns to the neutral position with no water flowing after the user pivots the handle actuator to the water-off position.

[0006] U.S. Patent No. 9,328,489 (2016, Prabhakar et al.) discloses a flow control assembly for a single lever faucet includes a coupler adapted to operatively connect a handle to a valve stem of a valve assembly. A cam mechanism has a valve stem portion and a handle portion, where the cam mechanism is operatively connected to the valve stem and the cam mechanism engages the valve stem to move the valve stem to a predefined open position in response to the handle being moved from a neutral handle position to a water on position. The coupler provides a biasing resistance that increases resistance to handle movement as the handle is oriented in a position other than a neutral handle position.

[0007] U.S. Patent No. 9, 103, 102 (2015, Prabhakar et al.) discloses single lever faucet that includes a faucet body, a faucet spigot connected to the faucet body, a handle, a valve assembly disposed in the faucet body. The valve assembly includes a valve body having a water input and a water output, a regulator having a valve stem where the regulator is disposed in the valve body and a water control assembly. The water output is in fluid communication with the faucet spigot and the regulator is adjustably operable between a closed regulator position and a plurality of open regulator positions. Each of the plurality of open regulator positions permits a predefined flow rate of water from the water input to the water output. The water flow control assembly is operatively connected between the handle and the valve stem. The water flow control assembly includes a faucet valve coupler adapted to operatively connect the handle of the single lever faucet to the valve stem of the valve assembly of the single lever faucet and to engage the valve assembly of the single lever faucet. The faucet valve coupler has an actuator element and a handle actuator where the actuator element supports the handle actuator and where the faucet valve coupler provides a biasing resistance to handle movement as the handle is oriented in a position other than a neutral handle position. For clarity, the neutral handle position is equivalent to the handle position of a standard single-lever faucet when the standard single-lever faucet is in the water-off position. There is also included a cam mechanism having a valve stem portion and a handle portion. The cam mechanism is operatively connected to the valve stem of the valve assembly where the cam mechanism engages the valve stem to move the valve stem to a predefined open position in response to activation of the handle of the single lever faucet by a user when the handle is moved from the neutral handle position to a water on position where the predefined open position provides water flow that is less than a full open water flow. The handle automatically returns to a handle neutral position with the water flowing after engagement of the handle by the user to any water-on position followed by release of the handle by the user. The handle also automatically returns to the handle neutral position with no water flowing after engagement of the handle by the user to the water-off position followed by release of the handle by the user. In addition, the handle automatically returns to the neutral position with some water flowing after engagement of the handle by the user to a position less than fully off, followed by release of the handle by the user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] Although the prior art appears to accomplish controlled water flow from a single lever faucet so that a reduced water flow is delivered upon initial opening of the faucet, their structural configurations cause the handle to move in a way that a consumer is not accustomed to. Typically, a single lever faucet lets the user push the handle upward to open the faucet and back to the initial position to close the faucet. If the faucet is opened, the handle remains in the position where the user stopped for the given water flow desired. To close the faucet, the user simply returns the faucet to the initial position. The look of the faucet is clean and neat since the handle sits on the flow control stem adjacent the faucet housing and remains in the position where the user released the handle.

[0009] In one prior art device, the handle always returns to a neutral and/or initial position when released. Further, the handle must be pushed downward from the neutral position to turn off the water. This is not consistent with the throw of a standard, single-lever faucet. In another of the prior art devices, the return of the handle to the neutral position is not as pronounced but it is still quite noticeable. In addition, the configuration of the return spring, which imparts a vertical bias to the handle, and the saddle that sits atop the return spring cause the entire handle to have a vertical movement relative to the faucet housing. All of the prior art devices have a pronounced movement of the faucet handle that is noticeably different compared to the movement of a standard single lever faucet when the user turns on and off the water.

[0010] The present invention solves these problems so that the handle provides a clean appearance on the faucet housing during both turn on and turn off of the water faucet that is more consistent with the normal throw of a single lever faucet with which a user is accustomed.

[0011] For purposes of this disclosure, the following definitions will apply.

[0012] A "single lever faucet" means a faucet where a single lever controls both, the temperature of the water as well as the flow volume from the faucet.

[0013] A "cam mechanism" means any one of the following structures: a ratchet assembly, a Geneva mechanism, a lead screw, a ball screw, a freewheel mechanism, a one-way friction clutch, a geared arrangement, a plate cam, a cylindrical cam, a face cam, or a linear cam

[0014] A "cam driving mechanism" that is electrical means an electric/electronic actuator such as a motor, solenoid, piezo, etc. acting on any of the previously listed structures of the cam mechanism.

[0015] Accurately controlling the water flow from single-lever faucets is difficult. The primary reason it is difficult to control the flow accurately is a lack of feedback during operation of the faucet. In all things in nature, feedback is essential for efficient functioning. A person's hands know just how much pressure to exert on an egg when picking it up so that it isn't crushed. This is because the fingertips feed various sensory signals (pressure / force, temperature, wetness, etc.) back to the brain, which then interprets these signals relative to the task being performed and adjusts the pressure being applied to the egg accordingly. A person is not even consciously aware of making these adjustments - the reaction is instinctive and transparent to the person. Most such feedback is. All devices that are easy and intuitive to use have feedback which one uses subconsciously.

[0016] The lack of continuous feedback in the operation of faucets (known as running Open loop') makes the human brain perform the task with only one point of feedback: when the faucet is either fully-on or fully-off. That is, the feedback occurs at the limit of one end or the other of the handle's operating range. Thus, when a faucet is turned on, the user exerts a force on the handle until it reaches the upper limit of its travel. Conversely, when a faucet is turned off, the user pushes the handle down until the opposite stop is reached and the water is shut off completely. This, too, is feedback, but it lacks sufficient resolution for a person to use efficiently in controlling the flow of water between the two extremes of fully-off and fully-on.

[0017] What is needed is a means of intuitively controlling water flow. The ideal way to do this would be to introduce 'force feedback' to the operation of the handle. When one initially exerts force on the handle to open it, there should be very little resistance to moving the handle. As the water starts to flow, the handle should require the user to exert an ever-increasing force on the handle mechanism, causing the force required to operate the handle to increase until the upper limit of travel is reached. This force will tell the human brain (subconsciously) that more water is flowing and that the user can stop pushing on the handle. Thus, feedback can be achieved, making the act of saving water subconscious.

[0018] The concept of the present invention is applicable to what are commonly known as 'mixing valves'. This type of faucet has a single handle that is raised and lowered to get water to flow at differing volumes (from no flow to maximum flow) and swiveled from side to side to change the ratio of hot water to cold water, thus changing the temperature of the water output.

[0019] Typical usage of these faucets involves raising the handle of the faucet to get water to flow and lowering it to shut it off. Since there is no feedback to the user from the handle and the "throw" is so small, most users raise the handle as far as it will go, until it hits the end of travel. This results in maximum flow for as long as the faucet is open, even though the volume of water required might be less than the maximum delivered by the faucet.

[0020] Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to change the behavior of water faucet users in a manner that results in a reduction in water usage.

[0021] It is another object of the present invention to provide a water faucet with a water flow feedback feature that either consciously or subconsciously (i.e. intuitively) imparts on the user the act of saving water.

[0022] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a water faucet with a water flow feedback feature that either consciously or subconsciously (i.e.

intuitively) imparts on the user the act of saving water and that is sleek and closely mimics the normal action of the handle on standard, single lever faucets.

[0023] The present invention achieves these and other objectives by providing a single-throw faucet that includes a faucet body, a faucet spout (redundant? A spigot IS a faucet in the US), a single lever handle, a valve assembly and a water flow control assembly that is operatively connected between the handle and a valve manifold, and whose throw closely mimics the throw of a standard single-throw faucet.

[0024] In one embodiment, a faucet flow control assembly within a valve cartridge of a single-lever faucet is provided. The faucet flow control assembly includes a handle actuator configured for receiving a handle of a single-lever faucet, at least one handle leg connected on one end to the handle actuator, a flow control housing having a through-opening where the at least one handle leg is connected on an opposite end to the flow control housing, a valve stem disposed within the through-opening of the flow control housing and pivotally connected to the at least one handle leg and the flow control housing, a pawl pivotally disposed within the flow control assembly to interact with the valve stem to position the valve stem into two or more water-on positions, and a biasing member connected to the handle actuator that causes the handle actuator to pivot away from a water-on direction through an angle of greater than 3 degrees and about 7 degrees under a condition (i) or through an angle of about 1 .5-3 degrees under a condition (ii) after a user releases the faucet handle, or at least allows a small deflection of the faucet handle back toward a water-off direction.

[0025] In one embodiment and under condition (ii), the pawl is connected to the valve stem and pivots and moves forward and backward across the valve stem to thereby cause a different index stop of the flow control housing to be engaged during operation of the flow control assembly.

[0026] In one embodiment of the present invention, a faucet flow control assembly for placement within a valve cartridge of a single-lever faucet includes a handle actuator having a handle stem with a handle base portion and a handle upper portion where the handle upper portion is adapted to attach to the handle of the

single-lever faucet, and at least one handle leg connected to the handle base portion and extending longitudinally from the handle base portion and parallel to and away from the handle upper portion, a flow control housing having a housing base portion, a housing upper portion, a housing through-opening extending through the housing base portion and the housing upper portion, and a housing stop surface. The at least one handle leg of the handle actuator is pivotally connected to the housing upper portion. A valve stem having a lower stem end portion and an upper stem portion where the valve stem is pivotally disposed within the housing through-opening of the flow control housing and pivotally connected to the at least one handle leg of the handle actuator. A pawl is pivotally disposed within the flow control assembly to interact with the upper stem portion of the valve stem, and a biasing member connected to the handle actuator where the biasing member causes the handle actuator to pivot away from a water-on direction. Under a condition (i), the handle actuator pivots back through an angle of greater than 3 degrees and about 7 degrees (preferably about 4-6 degrees, and more preferably, for example, about 5 degrees) from a water-on direction toward a water-off direction after a user pivots the handle actuator to a water-on position followed by the user releasing the handle actuator. Under a condition (ii), the handle actuator pivots back through an angle of about 1 .5-3 degrees (preferably about 1 .5-2.5 degrees, and, more preferably, for example, about 2 degrees) from a water-on direction toward a water-off direction after a user pivots the handle actuator to a water-on position followed by the user releasing the handle actuator.

[0027] In another embodiment, the handle actuator of the faucet flow control assembly has a handle base front portion, a handle base rear portion, and a handle base bottom. The handle base rear portion has a handle base stop surface facing a corresponding upper surface of the flow control housing. Under condition (i), the handle base front portion has a front base portion slot that extends toward the handle base rear portion in which the pawl is pivotally disposed and having a length to accommodate a portion of the upper stem portion of valve stem. Under condition (ii), the handle base front portion has at least one of the biasing member disposed within a recess that extends into the handle base front portion toward the handle base rear portion and at least one handle base bottom slot that receives a valve stem arm where the biasing member engages the valve stem arm of the valve stem.

[0028] In one embodiment, the at least one handle leg of the faucet flow control assembly is disposed within the housing through-opening under condition (ii) and disposed at an upper housing perimeter under condition (i).

[0029] In another embodiment, the handle actuator further includes a pawl biasing member disposed to pivotally bias the pawl away from the handle actuator.

[0030] In one embodiment under condition (i), the upper stem portion of the valve stem has an actuator gear formed therein where the actuator gear have at least one gear tooth and a gear slot between the gear tooth and an upper pawl engaging surface.

[0031] In one embodiment under condition (ii), the upper stem portion of the valve stem has an angled slot extending into the upper stem portion towards the lower stem portion, a first U-shaped slot in the upper stem portion transverse to the angled slot, a second U-shaped slot in the upper stem portion transverse to the angled slot and spaced from the first U-shaped slot where the first U-shaped slot and the second U-shaped slot forms at least one valve stem arm therebetween. The at least one valve stem arm extends linearly from and parallel with the upper stem portion. The angled slot is sized to accommodate the pawl where the pawl pivots within the first U-shaped slot.

[0032] In one embodiment, the pawl has an angled body with a valve-stem position limiting portion, a pivot-limiting portion, a middle body portion between the valve-stem engaging portion and the pivot-limiting portion, and a pivot shaft portion extending from opposite sides of the middle body portion. Under condition (i), the pivot shaft portion is rotatably disposed within a pivot shaft recess of the handle base front portion. Under condition (ii), the pivot shaft portion is rotatably disposed within at least the first U-shaped slot of upper stem portion and in a pawl-receiving opening in the at least one handle leg where the first U-shaped slot is larger than the diameter of the pivot shaft portion to permit the pawl to move transversely to the first U-shaped slot but not move transversely relative to the pawl-receiving opening in the at least one handle leg.

[0033] In one embodiment of the pawl under condition (ii), at least one pawl position-setting shaft extends transversely from the valve-stem position limiting portion and parallel to the pivot shaft portion where the at least one pawl position- setting shaft is sized to be disposed within the second U-shaped slot in the upper stem portion of valve stem.

[0034] In one embodiment, the housing stop surface is formed, under condition (i), on a rearwardly portion of a control housing top surface, and, under condition (ii), on a rearwardly portion of an inside through-opening wall of the through-opening.

[0035] In one embodiment, the faucet flow control assembly further includes, under condition (i), a pawl release member secured in a top surface of the housing recess where the pawl release member extends toward and into the through-opening.

[0036] In one embodiment, the faucet flow control assembly further includes a flow control pivot pin disposed transversely through the housing upper portion, the through-opening, the valve stem, and the at least one handle leg.

[0037] In one embodiment, the flow control pivot pin also supports the biasing member under condition (i).

[0038] In one embodiment, the faucet flow control assembly includes a pawl biasing spring that engages the valve-stem engaging portion causing the valve-stem engaging portion to be biased toward the upper stem portion of the valve stem.

[0039] Under condition (ii) like under condition (i), there is described a cartridge valve for a single-handled mixing faucet, that is a drop-in replacement for standard cartridges (of all diameters) used in such faucets. The difference between a cartridge valve under condition (i) and condition (ii) is that the cartridge valve under condition (ii) provides indexed water flow by using the concept of a different stop (i.e. different structural surface) that stops the movement of the handle from moving any further for each indexed water flow. Under condition (i), it is the same stop surface that prevents further movement in the water-on direction for a given indexed water flow. This different stop feature under condition (ii) will prevent the valve stem from being pivoted more than a factory-set number of degrees (less than the fully-open angle of the valve stem), when the handle is first operated in the open direction (i.e., the water-on direction). This will limit water flow at this index to a rate

commensurate with the angle of the valve stem at that index. Releasing pressure on the handle in the water-on direction allows a different stop to be used such that a repeated action on the handle in the water-on direction will allow the valve stem to move to the fully-open angle or fully-open water-on position. As previously

described, such a mechanism is not limited to only two indexes. Exerting force in the water-off (or closed) direction on the handle from any open position of the handle will allow the user to reduce the water flow continuously until there is no water flow.

[0040] In one embodiment, a method of controlling the flow of water from a single lever faucet while maintaining the approximate throw of a standard single lever faucet is disclosed. The method includes obtaining a flow control assembly for placement within a valve cartridge of a standard single lever faucet, disposing the flow control assembly within the valve cartridge of a standard single lever faucet, coupling the valve cartridge containing the flow control assembly between a handle of the standard single lever faucet and the faucet assembly of the standard single lever faucet where the handle of the standard single lever faucet (1 ) engages a handle actuator of the flow control assembly which is adapted to automatically select a predefined valve stem position that is directly related to a predefined water flow when moving the handle from an off position to a water on position, and (3) is configured to automatically pivot the handle and handle actuator back, under a condition (i) (the first embodiment), through an angle of greater than 3 degrees and about 7 degrees from a water-on direction after a user pivots the handle actuator to a water-on position followed by the user releasing the handle, or, through an angle of about 1 .5-3 degrees from a water-on direction after a user pivots the handle actuator to a water-on position followed by the user releasing the handle where each of the condition (i) and condition (ii) maintains the approximate throw of a standard single lever faucet that does not incorporate the flow control assembly, and moving the handle from an off position to a water on position.

[0041] In another embodiment, a method of controlling the use of water from a single lever faucet while maintaining the approximate throw of a standard single lever faucet is disclosed. The method includes providing an indexing system that has two or more water on positions and a water off position in a single lever faucet to control water flow from the single lever faucet where the indexing system includes (1 ) providing a predefined flow rate when the single lever faucet is moved from the off position to a full open position, the predefined flow rate being less than a flow rate of a full open position for a single lever faucet without an indexing system, and (2) providing a predefined increase in flow rate with each subsequent movement of the lever of the faucet toward a water-on direction where the number of subsequent

movements of the lever is predefined by the indexing system, each subsequent movement being available so long as the lever of the single lever faucet is not engaged to stop the flow of water from the single lever faucet and where the handle of the standard single lever faucet (1 ) engages a handle actuator of a flow control assembly which is adapted to automatically select a predefined valve stem position that is directly related to the predefined water flow when moving the handle from an off position toward a water on direction, and (3) is configured to automatically pivot the handle and handle actuator back, under a condition (i), through an angle of greater than 3 degrees and about 7 degrees from a water-on direction after a user pivots the handle actuator to a water-on position followed by the user releasing the handle, or, through an angle of about 1 .5-3 degrees from a water-on direction after a user pivots the handle actuator to a water-on position followed by the user releasing the handle where each of the condition (i) and the condition (ii) maintains the approximate throw of the handle of a standard single lever faucet that does not incorporate the flow control assembly.

[0042] Another method of controlling the use of water from a single lever faucet while maintaining the approximate throw of a standard single lever faucet is further disclosed. The method includes providing an indexing system that has two or more water-on positions and a water-off position in a single lever faucet to control water flow from the single lever faucet where the indexing system includes (1 ) providing a predefined flow rate when the single lever faucet is moved from the off position to a full open position where the indexing system engages a first index stop, the predefined flow rate being less than a flow rate of a full open position for a single lever faucet without an indexing system, and (2) providing a predefined increase in flow rate with each subsequent movement of the lever of the faucet toward a water-on direction wherein the indexing system engages a second or subsequent index stop that is a different structure from the first index stop and where the number of subsequent movements of the lever is predefined by the indexing system. Each subsequent movement being available so long as the lever of the single lever faucet is not engaged to stop the flow of water from the single lever faucet and where the handle of the standard single lever faucet engages a handle actuator of the indexing system which is adapted to automatically select a predefined valve stem position of the indexing system that is directly related to the predefined water flow when moving the handle from an off position toward a water on direction, and is configured to automatically pivot the handle and handle actuator backward toward a water-off direction.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0043] FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of single lever faucet showing a faucet handle connected to one embodiment of the flow control assembly of the present invention.

[0044] FIGURE 2 is a perspective view of a valve cartridge containing the flow control assembly of Fig. 1 .

[0045] FIGURE 3 is a cross-sectional view of the valve cartridge of Fig. 2.

[0046] FIGURE 4 is an exploded, perspective view of the valve cartridge of Fig. 3.

[0047] FIGURE 5 is an enlarged, exploded and perspective view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 4.

[0048] FIGURE 6 is an enlarged, perspective and front view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 5 showing the directional movement of the flow control assembly to a water-on position.

[0049] FIGURE 7 is an enlarged, perspective and rear view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 5 showing the pivotal movement of the flow control assembly to a water-off direction.

[0050] FIGURE 8 is a front, right-side, perspective view of the handle actuator of Fig. 5 showing a notch that receives a pawl and a right side notch that receives a handle leg.

[0051 ] FIGURE 9 is a rear, left-side, perspective view of the handle actuator of Fig. 8 showing a stop pin opening that receives a stop pin and a left side notch that receives a handle leg.

[0052] FIGURE 10 is a bottom view of the handle actuator of Fig. 8 showing a channel in a bottom portion that receives the pawl and the upper portion of the valve stem.

[0053] FIGURE 1 1 is a perspective, cross-sectional side view showing a pawl biasing member opening that receives a biasing member and the stop pin opening.

[0054] FIGURE 12 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing in the valve stem in a water-off position.

[0055] FIGURE 13 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 12 showing the positional relationship of the pawl, the valve stem and the pawl release.

[0056] FIGURE 14 is a cross-sectional, right-side view showing the handle actuator of the flow control assembly in a first stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the water-off position.

[0057] FIGURE 15 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 14 showing the positional relationship of the pawl, the valve stem and the pawl release while the handle actuator is in the first stem-engaging position.

[0058] FIGURE 16 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator in a first water-on position.

[0059] FIGURE 17 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 16 showing the positional relationship of the pawl, the valve stem and the pawl release while the handle actuator is in the first water-on position.

[0060] FIGURE 18 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator in a second stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the first water-on position.

[0061] FIGURE 19 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 18 showing the positional relationship of the pawl, the valve stem and the pawl release while the handle actuator is in the second stem-engaging position.

[0062] FIGURE 20 is a cross-sectional, right-side view showing the handle actuator of the flow control assembly in a second water-on position.

[0063] FIGURE 21 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 20 showing the positional relationship of the pawl, the valve stem and the pawl release while the handle actuator is in the second water-on position.

[0064] FIGURE 22 a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle in a water-off position.

[0065] FIGURE 23 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle in a first stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the water-off position and showing the throw angle of the faucet handle of about 5 degrees.

[0066] FIGURE 24 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle in a first water-on position and showing the throw angle of the faucet handle of about 22.5 degrees.

[0067] FIGURE 25 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle in a second stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the first water-on position and showing the reduction in the throw angle of the faucet handle to about 17.5 degrees.

[0068] FIGURE 26 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle in a second water-on position and showing the throw angle of the faucet handle to about 22.5 degrees.

[0069] FIGURE 27 is a perspective view of a valve cartridge containing another embodiment of the flow control assembly of the present invention.

[0070] FIGURE 28 is a cross-sectional view of the valve cartridge of Fig. 27.

[0071] FIGURE 29 is an exploded, perspective view of the valve cartridge of Fig. 28.

[0072] FIGURE 30 is an enlarged, exploded and perspective view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 29.

[0073] FIGURE 31 is an enlarged, perspective and front view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 30 showing the directional movement of the flow control assembly to a water-on position.

[0074] FIGURE 32 is an enlarged, perspective and rear view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 30 showing the pivotal movement of the flow control assembly to a water-off direction.

[0075] FIGURE 33 is a rear, right-side, perspective view of the flow control assembly housing of the flow control assembly of Fig. 30.

[0076] FIGURE 34 is a right-side, cross-sectional view of the flow control assembly housing of Fig. 33.

[0077] FIGURE 35 is a rear, left-side, perspective view of the flow control assembly housing of Fig. 33.

[0078] FIGURE 36 is a left-side, cross-sectional view of the flow control assembly housing of Fig. 35.

[0079] FIGURE 37 is a front, right-side, perspective view of the valve stem of the flow control assembly of Fig. 30.

[0080] FIGURE 38 is a rear, right-side, perspective view of the valve stem of Fig. 37.

[0081] FIGURE 39 is a right-side, cross-sectional view of the valve stem of Fig. 37.

[0082] FIGURE 40 is a left-side, cross-sectional view of the valve stem of Fig. 37.

[0083] FIGURE 41 is a front, right-side, perspective view of the pawl of the flow control assembly of Fig. 30.

[0084] FIGURE 42 is a rear, left-side, perspective view of the pawl of Fig. 41 .

[0085] FIGURE 43 is front, right-side, perspective view of the handle actuator of Fig. 30.

[0086] FIGURE 44 is a right-side view of the handle actuator of Fig. 43.

[0087] FIGURE 45 is a bottom view of the handle actuator of Fig. 43.

[0088] FIGURE 46 is an aligned cross-sectional, right side view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 31 showing the valve stem in a water-off position.

[0089] FIGURE 47 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 46 showing the positional relationship of the handle actuator, the pawl and the valve stem.

[0090] FIGURE 48 is a middle cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 46 showing the positional relationship of the handle actuator, the pawl, the valve stem, and the flow control housing.

[0091] FIGURE 49 is an aligned cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator in a first stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the water-off position.

[0092] FIGURE 50 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 49 showing the positional relationship of the handle actuator, the pawl and the valve stem while the handle actuator is in the first stem-engaging position.

[0093] FIGURE 51 is an aligned cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator in a first water-on position.

[0094] FIGURE 52 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 51 showing the positional relationship of the handle actuator, the pawl and the valve stem while the handle actuator is in the first water-on position.

[0095] FIGURE 53 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing both the handle actuator and the pawl in a second stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the first water-on position.

[0096] FIGURE 54 is an enlarged view of the circumscribed area in Fig. 53 showing the positional relationship of the handle actuator, the pawl and the valve stem while the handle actuator is in the second stem-engaging position.

[0097] FIGURE 55 is a middle cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 53 showing the positional relationship of the handle actuator, the pawl, the valve stem, and the flow control housing.

[0098] FIGURE 56 is an aligned cross-sectional, right-side view showing the handle actuator of the flow control assembly in a second water-on position.

[0099] FIGURE 57 is a middle cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly of Fig. 56 showing the positional relationship of the handle actuator, the pawl, the valve stem, and the flow control housing.

[00100] FIGURE 58 a cross-sectional, right side view showing the handle actuator of the flow control assembly of Fig. 31 and the faucet handle in a water-off position.

[00101] FIGURE 59 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle of Fig. 58 in a first stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the water-off position and showing the throw angle of the faucet handle to about 2 degrees.

[00102] FIGURE 60 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle in a first water-on position and showing the throw angle of the faucet handle to about 12.5 degrees.

[00103] FIGURE 61 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle in a second stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the first water-on position and showing the reduction in the throw angle of the faucet handle to about 10.5 degrees.

[00104] FIGURE 62 is a cross-sectional, right-side view of the flow control assembly showing the handle actuator and the faucet handle in a second water-on position and showing the throw angle of the faucet handle to about 22.5 degrees.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[00105] The present invention is illustrated in Figs. 1 -62. Figure 1 shows a perspective illustration of one embodiment of a faucet flow control assembly 160 disposed within a valve cartridge 150, and a faucet handle 140 connected to the faucet flow control assembly 160. A flow control cover 130 conceals portions of

valve cartridge 150 and faucet flow control assembly 160. Valve cartridge 150 is typically disposed within a faucet body of a single-lever faucet (not shown).

[00106] Referring now to Figures 2 and 3, a perspective illustration shows one embodiment of a handle actuator 190 of faucet flow control assembly 160 extending out of flow control cover 130. In one embodiment, the faucet body has the general shape of a hollow cylinder and extends along a central vertical axis from an open upper end to an open lower end. A spigot is also hollow and joins faucet body.

[00107] Flow control cover 130 is hollow and typically has a frusto-conical shape forming a shell. An upper cover end portion 131 has upper flow control cover opening 132 and a lower cover end portion 133 has lower flow control cover opening 134. A flange 136 extends circumferentially around and extends radially outward from lower cover end portion 133 of flow control cover 130. Outer flange diameter 136a is substantially equal to an outer body diameter of the faucet body. Therefore, lower cover end portion 1 33 is received in an upper end of the faucet body with flange 136 close to or abutting the upper end of the faucet body. Flow control cover 130 attaches to faucet body 1 1 2 (not shown) by a threaded connection, frictional fit, snap fit, or loose fit between flow control cover 130 and the faucet body.

[00108] Referring specifically to Fig. 3, a cross-sectional view of valve cartridge 150 of Fig. 2 is illustrated. Fig. 3 shows one embodiment of a faucet flow control assembly 160. Faucet flow control assembly 160 includes a flow control housing 164, a valve stem 170, a handle actuator 190 and a pawl 210 in which valve stem 170 interacts with a valve manifold 250. The movement of valve stem 170 is controlled by handle actuator 1 90, which in turn is controlled by the movement of the faucet handle 140 by a user. In this embodiment, valve stem 170 and handle actuator 190 are pivotally connected to flow control housing 164. Components of faucet flow control assembly 160 are discussed in more detail below with reference to Figs. 4 and 5.

[00109] Flow control cover 130 partially encloses valve cartridge 150. Flow control cover 130 allows a portion of a handle actuator 1 90 to extend upwardly through upper flow control cover opening 132 to engage a stem recess of handle 140 (not shown). By connecting to handle actuator 190 and having a water flow control assembly 160 operatively connected to handle 140 and valve manifold 250, handle 140 is used to operate valve stem 170.

[00110] Referring now to Figures 4 and 5, there is illustrated and exploded view of valve cartridge 150 in Fig. 4 and an enlarged, exploded view of the faucet flow control assembly 160 in Fig. 5. Valve cartridge 150 includes a cylindrical valve body 152 with a cylindrical valve body opening 153 to receive a regulator/manifold 250, faucet flow control assembly 160, and a valve body cover 156. Valve body cover 156 has a valve body cover upper surface 1 56a with a cover opening 1 56b. A substantial portion of faucet flow control assembly 160 extends out of cover opening 156b. Cartridge lock 1 35 securely maintains valve cartridge 150 within the faucet body (not shown) of the single-lever faucet. Flow control cover 130 provides an aesthetically pleasing appearance to the cartridge lock 135 of the single-lever faucet when the faucet is turned on. In other words, the cartridge lock in not seen and only the flow control cover 130 is seen.

[00111] As shown in Fig. 5, flow control assembly 160 includes a handle actuator 190, a flow control housing 164, a valve stem 170, a pawl 210, a pawl release member 224, and a handle biasing member 220. Handle actuator 1 90 includes a handle stem 192 and at least one handle leg 200. Handle stem 192 includes a handle base portion 194 and a handle upper portion 196. The handle upper portion 196 is adapted to attach to the handle of the single-lever faucet and the at least one handle leg 200 is connected to the handle base portion 194 and extends

longitudinally from handle base portion 194 and parallel to and away from the handle upper portion 196.

[00112] Flow control housing 1 64 has a housing base portion 1 64a, a housing upper portion 164b, a housing through-opening 164c extending through the housing base portion 164a and the housing upper portion 164b, and a housing stop surface168 where the at least one handle leg 200 of the handle actuator 190 is pivotally connected to the housing upper portion 164b. Handle leg 200 has only a leg first pivot opening 202 for receiving pivot pin 163. Housing stop surface 168 is formed on a rearwardly portion 162 of a control housing top surface 164d.

[00113] Valve stem 170 has a lower stem end portion 170a and an upper stem portion 1 70b. Valve stem 170 is pivotally disposed within the housing through-opening 164c of the flow control housing 164 and pivotally connected to the at least one handle leg 200 of the handle actuator 190. In this embodiment, upper stem portion 1 70b of valve stem 170 has a first upper pawl engaging surface 174, a

second upper pawl engaging surface 175, and a rear actuator engaging surface 176 formed therein.

[00114] In this embodiment, handle biasing member 220 is supported by a flow control pivot pin 163 disposed transversely through housing pin opening 163a of housing upper portion 164, through-opening 164c, valve stem 170 and the at least one handle leg 200. Handle biasing member 220 causes handle actuator 190 to pivot away from a water-on direction toward a water-off direction.

[00115] Pawl 210 is pivotally disposed within the flow control assembly 160 to interact with the upper stem portion 170b of valve stem 170. In this embodiment, pawl 210 has an angled body 21 2. Angled body 21 2 has a valve-stem position limiting portion 214, a pawl pivot-limiting portion 21 6, a pawl middle body portion 218 between the valve-stem engaging portion 214 and the pawl pivot-limiting portion 21 6, and a pivot shaft portion 219 extending from opposite sides 218a of the middle body portion 218. Pawl 210 also includes a pawl biasing member 213 (not shown). Pawl biasing member 213 engages valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 210 to cause valve stem engaging portion 214 to be biased toward upper stem portion 170b of valve stem 170.

[00116] Pawl release member 224 has a release securing end portion 224a and a pawl interacting end portion 224b. Release securing end portion 224a is secured in a top surface housing recess 169 of flow control housing 164. Pawl release member 224 extends upward at an angle from top surface housing recess 169 toward pawl 210 and in the direction of through-opening 164c. Pawl interacting end portion 224b aligns with the first upper pawl engaging surface 1 74 when valve stem 170 is in a water-off position.

[00117] Turning now to Figures 6 and 7, there is illustrated faucet flow control assembly 160 in an assembled state. Fig. 6 shows a front, right-side, perspective view of faucet flow control assembly 160 with a directional arrow A1 where faucet flow control assembly 160 is in a water-off position. Arrow A1 indicates the rotational movement of handle actuator 190 of faucet flow control assembly 160 when moved to a water-on direction. Fig. 7 shows a rear, left-side, perspective view of faucet flow control assembly 160 with arrow A1 indicating the water-on direction. Fig. 7 also shows housing stop surface 164e of rearwardly portion 162 that stops handle actuator 190 at its largest throw position. Flow control housing 164 is also

configured and structured to permit rotational movement about a vertical axis 500 through a pre-defined arc for selecting cold water, hot water or a mix of cold and hot water, which is shown in Fig. 7.

[00118] Figures 8, 9, 1 0, and 1 1 shows various views of handle actuator 190. Fig. 8 is a front, right-side view of handle actuator 190 showing handle stem 192 with handle base portion 194 and handle upper portion 196. As previously discussed, handle upper portion 196 is adapted to attach to the handle of the single-lever faucet. Handle base portion 194 has a front base portion 194a, a right-side base portion 1 94f , a front base portion slot 194e that extends toward the handle base rear portion 1 94b, a front base pawl recess 194g, and a handle leg base recess 194h. Front base pawl recess 194g is structured to receive pivot shaft portion 21 9 extending from middle body portion 218 of pawl 21 0 and allow pawl 21 0 to rotate about pivot shaft portion 219. Handle leg base recess 1 94h is structured to receive and securely attach an upper leg portion 202 of handle leg 200.

[00119] Fig. 9 is a rear, left-side, perspective view of handle actuator 190 showing rear base portion 194b and left-side base portion 194i. Rear base portion 194b has a pair of vertical slots 1 94j for receiving and securing a stop plate 1 95 (shown in Fig. 7), and a stop pin recess 194k for receiving an adjustable stop pin 195b (shown in Fig. 13). Left-side base portion 194i has a handle leg base recess 194h.

[00120] Fig. 1 0 is bottom view of handle actuator 190 showing the handle base bottom 1 94c. Handle bottom 194c has front base portion slot 194e that extends towards handle base rear portion 194b for a substantial portion of the distance from handle base front portion 194a to handle base rear portion 194b. Within front base portion slot 194e is pawl spring recess 196a formed in handle upper portion 1 96. Pawl spring recess 196a receives pawl biasing member 213 (not shown).

[00121] Fig. 1 1 is a cross-sectional, perspective view of handle actuator 190. This view shows a portion of pawl spring recess 196a, a portion of front base portion slot 194e, a portion of stop pin recess 194k, and pivot pin recess 194m.

[00122] Figure 12 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 when the faucet is in a water-off position showing the direction of handle throw as indicated by directional arrow A1 . Figure 13 is an enlarged view of an area delineated by circle 13 of Fig. 12. As illustrated in Fig. 13, upper stem portion 170b has rear actuator engaging surface 1 76 against a base portion slot end 194e', which is held in that position by handle biasing member 220 (shown in Fig. 5). Valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 21 0 is engaged by pawl interacting end portion 224b of pawl release member 224 while valve stem engaging portion 214 is aligned with first upper pawl engaging surface 174. In this position, pawl 210 causes pawl biasing member 213 to be in a more compressed state but held there by pawl interacting end portion 224b.

[00123] Figure 14 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 when the faucet is in a first stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the water-off position. Figure 15 is an enlarged view of an area delineated by circle 15 in Fig. 14. As illustrated in Fig. 15, upper stem portion 170b has rear actuator engaging surface 176 spaced from a base portion slot end 194e', which is placed into that position by the user when the user begins to turn on the water of the faucet. Valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 210 engages first upper pawl engaging surface 174 by sliding across a stem pawl surface 173 that prevents the downward rotation of pawl 21 0 by pawl biasing member 213.

[00124] Figure 16 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 when the faucet is in a first stem-engaging position while the valve stem is moved by the user into a first water-on position. Figure 17 is an enlarged view of an area delineated by circle 17 in Fig. 16. As illustrated in Fig. 1 7, pushing handle actuator 190 to the first water-on position in turn causes pawl 210 to push against first upper pawl engaging surface 174 to a predefined limit set by stop pin 195b contacting housing stop surface 1 64e. The total angular deflection of the faucet handle is in a range of about 22 to about 30 degrees, which is dependent upon several factors including, but not limited to, the positioning of the stop pin 1 95b extending below handle base bottom 194c of handle actuator 190.

[00125] Figure 18 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 when the valve stem 170 is in a first water-on position while the faucet handle is released by the user causing the handle actuator 190 and faucet handle to rotate toward the water-off direction as shown by arrow A2 by handle biasing member 220 compared to the position of handle actuator 190 shown in Fig. 16. Figure 19 is an enlarged view of an area delineated by circle 19 in Fig. 18. As illustrated in Fig. 19, when the user releases the faucet handle, the faucet handle and handle actuator 190 rotates toward the water-off position causing base portion slot end 1 94e' of front base portion slot 1 94e to contact rear actuator engaging surface 176 of valve stem 170. As this occurs, handle actuator 190 causes valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 210 to move across stem pawl surface 1 73 away from first upper pawl engaging surface 175. As valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 21 0 reaches the end of stem pawl surface 173, pawl biasing member 213 causes pawl 210 to rotate downwardly until valve stem engaging portion 214 contacts pawl interacting end portion 224b of pawl release member 224, which coincidentally positions valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 21 0 to engage with second upper pawl engaging surface 174 and moves stop pin 195b away from housing stop surface 1 64e. At this point, the faucet handle is in position to be moved to a second water-on position by the user. The angular movement of the handle actuator 1 90 and faucet handle from the first water-on position to a reset position (i.e. movement of the handle actuator 190 toward the water-off direction after release of the faucet handle by the user) is in a range of about 4 to about 7 degrees.

[00126] Figure 20 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 when the faucet is in the second stem-engaging position while the valve stem is moved by the user into the second water-on position. Figure 21 is an enlarged view of an area delineated by circle 21 in Fig. 20. As illustrated in Fig. 21 , pushing handle actuator 190 to the second water-on position in turn causes pawl 210 to push against second upper pawl engaging surface 175 to a predefined limit set by stop pin 195b contacting housing stop surface 164e. The total angular deflection of the faucet handle relative to the water-off position is in a range of about 22 to about 30 degrees, which is dependent upon several factors including, but not limited to, the positioning of the stop pin 195b extending below handle base bottom 194c of handle actuator 190.

[00127] Figures 22-26 illustrate cross-sectional views of faucet flow control assembly 190 with a faucet handle attached showing the relative positions and angles of rotation of faucet handle at the various water-off and water-on positions shown in Figs. 12-21 . The key figures are Figs. 24 and 25 that show the angular movement of faucet handle towards the water-off direction from the first water-on position of about 5 degrees (i.e. the angular difference between Fig.24 and Fig. 25). The range of deflection can be in a range of about 5 to 7 degrees depending on the actual dimensions of the relevant structure in the flow control assembly 160. This

small deflection is an improvement over any of the prior art devices and is more akin to the movement of a standard single-lever faucet such that users would be using the present invention where the handle behaves very similarly to the faucet handle of a standard single-lever faucet yet they would be conserving water.

[00128] Figure 26 total angle deflection when the faucet handle is in a water, full-on position. It is understood that handle biasing member 220 does not have a biasing strength sufficient to overcome the friction of and cause movement of the manifold 250.

[00129] Turning now to Figure 27 and 28, there is illustrated another embodiment of a faucet flow control assembly 160 of the present invention. Components in this embodiment have the same reference numbers as similar components in the previous embodiment.

[00130] Flow control cover 130 has an upper cover end portion 131 with an upper flow control cover opening 132 and a lower cover end portion 1 33 with a lower flow control cover opening 134. A flange 136 extends circumferentially around and extends radially outward from lower cover end portion 1 33 of flow control cover 1 30. As discussed previously, flow control cover 130 attaches to faucet body 1 12 (not shown) by a threaded connection, frictional fit, snap fit, or loose fit between flow control cover 130 and the faucet body.

[00131] Fig. 28 illustrates, a cross-sectional view of valve cartridge 150 of Fig. 27. Fig. 28 shows another embodiment of faucet flow control assembly 160. Faucet flow control assembly 160 includes a flow control housing 164, a valve stem 170, a handle actuator 190 and a pawl 210 in which valve stem 170 interacts with a valve manifold 250. The movement of valve stem 170 is controlled by handle actuator 190, which in turn is controlled by the movement of the faucet handle 140 by a user. In this embodiment, valve stem 170 and handle actuator 1 90 are pivotally connected to flow control housing 164. Components of faucet flow control assembly 160 are discussed in more detail below with reference to Figs. 29 and 30.

[00132] Flow control cover 130 partially encloses valve cartridge 150. Flow control cover 130 allows a portion of a handle actuator 1 90 to extend upwardly through upper flow control cover opening 132 to engage a stem recess of handle 140. By connecting to handle actuator 190 and having a water flow control assembly 160

operatively connected to handle 140 and valve manifold 250, handle 140 is used to operate valve stem 170.

[00133] Referring now to Figures 29 and 30, there is illustrated and exploded view of valve cartridge 150 in Fig. 29 and an enlarged, exploded view of the faucet flow control assembly 160 in Fig. 30. Valve cartridge 150 includes cylindrical valve body 152 with cylindrical valve body opening 153 to receive regulator/manifold 250, faucet flow control assembly 160, and valve body cover 156. As in the previous

embodiment, a substantial portion of faucet flow control assembly 160 extends out of cover opening 156b. Cartridge lock 135 securely maintains valve cartridge 1 50 within the faucet body (not shown) of the single-lever faucet. Flow control cover 130 provides an aesthetically pleasing appearance to the cartridge lock 135 of the single-lever faucet when the faucet is turned on. In other words, the cartridge lock in not seen and only the flow control cover 130 is seen.

[00134] As shown in Fig. 30, flow control assembly 1 60 includes another embodiment of handle actuator 190, a flow control housing 164, a valve stem 170, a pawl 210, a pawl release member 224, and a handle biasing member 220. Handle actuator 190 includes a handle stem 192 and at least one handle leg 200. In this embodiment, handle leg 200 has leg first pivot opening 202 for receiving pivot pin 163 and a leg second pivot opening 204 above leg first pivot opening 202 for receiving a pivot shaft portion 219 extending from opposite sides 21 8a of the middle body portion 21 8 of pawl 210. Handle stem 192 includes a handle base portion 1 94 and a handle upper portion 196. The handle upper portion 196 is adapted to attach to the handle of the single-lever faucet and the at least one handle leg 200 is connected to the handle base portion 194 and extends longitudinally from handle base portion 194 and parallel to and away from the handle upper portion 196.

[00135] Flow control housing 1 64 has a housing base portion 1 64a, a housing upper portion 164b, a housing through-opening 164c extending through the housing base portion 164a and the housing upper portion 164b, and a first index stop168a formed on an inside through opening wall 164f and a second index stop 168b where the at least one handle leg 200 of the handle actuator 190 is pivotally connected by way of pivot pin 163 to the housing upper portion 164b through leg first pivot opening 202. Second index stop 168b is formed on a rearwardly portion of a control housing top surface 164d. First index stop 168a is formed on an inside rearwardly, slanted surface.

[00136] Valve stem 170 has a lower stem end portion 170a and an upper stem portion 1 70b. Valve stem 170 is pivotally disposed within the housing through-opening 164c of the flow control housing 164 and pivotally connected to the pivot pin 163 disposed through leg first pivot opening 202 of the at least one handle leg 200 of the handle actuator 190. In this embodiment, upper stem portion 170b of valve stem 170 has an angled slot 180 extending into the upper stem portion towards the lower stem portion 170a in an upside-down V orientation, a first U-shaped slot 182 in the upper stem portion 1 70b transverse to the angled slot 180, a second U-shaped slot 184 in the upper stem portion 170b transverse to the angled slot 180 and spaced from the first U-shaped slot 182, at least one valve stem arm 176 formed between the first U-shaped slot 182 and the second U-shaped slot 1 84 where the at least one valve stem arm 176 extends linearly and upwardly from and parallel with the upper stem portion 170b. The angled slot 180 is sized to accommodate the pawl 210 where the pawl 210 pivots within the first U-shaped slot 182 and the leg second pivot opening 204.

[00137] In this embodiment, handle biasing member 220 is supported within a recess 196 that extends into a handle base portion 194. Handle biasing member 220 engages valve stem arm 176 of valve stem 170. Like the previous embodiment, handle biasing member 220 causes handle actuator 190 to pivot away from a water-on direction.

[00138] Pawl 210 is pivotally disposed within the flow control assembly 160 to interact with upper stem portion 170b of valve stem 170. In this embodiment, pawl 210 has an angled body 212. Angled body 212 has a valve-stem position limiting portion 214, a pivot-limiting portion 21 6, a middle body portion 218 between the valve-stem engaging portion 214 and the pivot-limiting portion 216, a pivot shaft portion 219 extending from opposite sides 218a of the middle body portion 218 and a pawl position-setting shaft 217 extending from opposite sides of valve-stem engaging portion 214. Pawl 210 also includes a pawl biasing member 213. Pawl biasing member 213 engages valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 210 to cause valve stem engaging portion 214 to be biased toward upper stem portion 170b of valve stem 170.

[00139] Pawl release member 224, in this embodiment, is an inside, rearwardly-facing surface 222 of through opening 164c against which pivot-limiting portion 216 of pawl 210 interacts. Pawl release member 224 only interacts with pivot-limiting portion 216 when valve stem 170 is in a water-off position. It is also used to maintain pawl 210 in an offset, water-on direction relative to valve stem 170 when valve stem 170 is in a water-off position. This will be more clearly explained with reference to Figs. 46 and 47 below.

[00140] Turning now to Figures 31 and 32, there is illustrated faucet flow control assembly 160 in an assembled state. Fig. 31 shows a front, right-side, perspective view of faucet flow control assembly 160 with a directional arrow A1 where faucet flow control assembly 160 is in a water-off position. Arrow A1 indicates the rotational movement of handle actuator 190 of faucet flow control assembly 160 when moved toin a water-on direction. Fig. 32 shows a rear, left-side, perspective view of faucet flow control assembly 160 with arrow A1 indicating the water-on direction. Fig. 32 also shows second index stop 168b that stops handle actuator 190 at its second or full water-on position. Flow control housing 1 64 is also configured and structured to permit rotational movement about a vertical axis 500 through a pre-defined arc for selecting cold water, hot water or a mix of cold and hot water, which is shown in Fig. 32.

[00141] Figure 33 is a rear, right-side, perspective view of flow control housing 164 and Figure 35 is a rear, left-side, perspective view of flow control housing 164. In this illustration, pawl release member 224 includes a housing pawl release member 224a and a valve stem pawl release member 224b of valve stem 170 (shown in Figs. 38-40). Housing pawl release member 224a is a housing leg with a rearwardly-facing surface 222. Housing pawl release member 224a extends into through opening 164c a predefined distance toward first index stop 168a. Just below first index stop 168a is a rear housing slot 166 that extends transversely through upper housing portion 164b from through opening 164c and the outside surface of upper housing portion 164b. Figures 34 and 36 are cross-sectional views of flow control housing 164 of Figs. 33 and 35, respectively.

[00142] Figures 37 to 40 show various views of valve stem 170. Figure 37 is an enlarged, front, right-side, perspective view of valve stem 170 of Fig. 29. As illustrated, valve stem 170 has angled slot 180 extending into the upper stem portion 170b towards the lower stem portion 170a in an upside-down V orientation where angled slot 180 defines a front sloping surface 180a and a rear sloping surface 180b. Upper stem portion 170b has a first U-shaped slot 1 82 in the upper stem portion 170b transverse to the angled slot 180, a second U-shaped slot 1 84 in the upper stem portion 170b transverse to the angled slot 180 and spaced from the first U-shaped slot 182, at least one valve stem arm 176 formed between the first U-shaped slot 182 and the second U-shaped slot 184 where the at least one valve stem arm 176 extends linearly and upwardly from and parallel with the upper stem portion 170b. On the opposite side of second U-shaped slot 184 from valve stem arm 176 is an upper valve stem ledge that is valve stem pawl release member 224b. Figures 39 and 40 are cross-sectional views of valve stem 1 70 of Figs. 37 and 39, respectively.

[00143] Figures 41 and 42 illustrate pawl 210. Fig. 41 is a front, right-side, perspective view of pawl 210 showing angled body 21 2 having a valve-stem position limiting portion 214, a pivot-limiting portion 216, a middle body portion 218 between the valve-stem engaging portion 214 and the pivot-limiting portion 216. Valve-stem position limiting portion 214 has a position limiting end 214a that is engaged when the faucet is turned to a first water-on position. From opposite sides 21 8a of middle body portion 21 8 extends pivot shaft portion 219. From opposite sides of valve-stem engaging portion 214 extends pawl position-setting shaft 217. It is pawl position-setting shaft 217 and its location relative to second U-shaped slot 184 and valve stem release member 224b that determines the flow rate position of valve stem 170. This will be more clearly discussed below.

[00144] Figures 43, 44 and 45 illustrate another embodiment of handle actuator 190. Fig. 43 illustrates a front, right-side, perspective view of handle actuator 190 showing handle upper portion 196 and handle base portion 194. As previously discussed, handle upper portion 196 is adapted to attach to the handle of the single-lever faucet. Handle base portion 194 has a front base portion 194a, a front base portion recess194e that extends toward the handle base rear portion 194b, a right-side base portion 194f, a handle bottom arm slot 198, and a handle leg base recess 194h that receives and secures an upper leg portion 202 of handle leg 200. It is contemplated that handle bottom slot 198 may also be a recess without an open side to the handle leg base recess 194h.

[00145] Fig. 44 illustrates a right-side, plan view of handle actuator 190 showing handle upper portion 196, handle base portion 194, handle leg base recess 194h, and handle bottom arm slot 198. Handle base rear portion 1 94b has a chamfered portion 1 94b' that defines a handle stop surface when handle actuator 190 is moved to the full-water on position of the single-lever faucet.

[00146] Fig. 45 illustrates a bottom view of handle actuator 190 showing handle base bottom 194c. Handle bottom 194c has at least one handle bottom arm slot 198 for receiving valve stem arm 176. In the embodiment shown, there is a pair of spaced handle bottom arm recesses 198 sufficiently separated to accommodate a pawl spring recess 196a that receives pawl biasing member 213. Handle bottom arm slot 198 has a front arm slot wall 198a and a rear arm slot wall 1 98b. Front arm slot wall 198a has an opening that communicates with biasing spring recess 1 94e.

[00147] Figure 46 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 through valve stem arm 176 when the faucet is in a water-off position showing the direction of handle throw as indicated by directional arrow A1 . Figure 47 is an enlarged view of an area delineated by circle 47 of Fig. 46. As illustrated in Fig. 47, upper stem portion 1 70b has rear arm portion 176b against rear arm slot wall 1 98b of bottom arm slot 198, which is held in that position by handle biasing member 220. Pivot shaft portion 219 of pawl 210 extends through leg second pivot opening 204 and resides within first U-shaped slot 1 82 of valve stem 170 adjacent a first U-shaped slot front wall 1 82a and spaced from a first U-shaped slot rear wall 182b. As can be seen in Fig. 47, first U-shaped slot 182 is larger than the diameter of pivot shaft portion 21 9 of pawl 210. First U-shaped slot 182 is slightly larger than the diameter of pivot shaft portion 219. This feature allows pawl 21 0 to move in a forward and backward, albeit a very small amount, relative to the direction of movement of handle actuator 190 without being directly connected thereto. Pawl position-setting shaft 217 of pawl 210 is positioned directly above second U-shape slot 184 and adjacent valve stem pawl release member 224b. In this particular example, the range of forward and backward movement of pawl 210 is about 0.008-0.012 inches (about 0.20-0.30 mm). It should be understood, however, that this range is non-limiting and that the range is dependent on a number of factors not the least is the structure and location of the multiple stops associated with the indexing system 1 60. The play (i.e. the difference between the first U-shaped slot 182 and the pivot shaft portion 219) has to be large enough that the position limiting end 214a of valve-stem position limiting portion 214 of pawl 210, which was pressed up against the first index stop 168a, can move back and out of the way of the first index stop 1 68a by being pressed down by the pawl biasing member 21 3 sufficiently so that the width of position limiting end 214a clears the first index stop 168a when handle actuator 190 is moved to the second water-on position.

[00148] Fig. 48 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of Fig. 46 through pawl 210. As shown, pawl biasing member 21 3 engages a top surface of valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 21 0. Pawl biasing member 213 imparts a biasing force against valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 210 to push pawl 210 to rotate downward toward rearward-facing slot surface 180b of upper stem portion 1 70b of valve stem 170. Pawl 210 is prevented from rotating by the interaction of pivot-limiting portion 216 of pawl 210 against rearwardly-facing surface 222 of flow control housing 164.

[00149] Figure 49 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 through valve stem arm 176 when the faucet is in a first stem-engaging position while the valve stem remains in the water-off position. Handle actuator 190 with handle leg 200 is pivoted about pivot pin 1 63 until valve stem arm 176 is adjacent front arm slot wall 198a and away from rear arm slot wall 198b. This action positions handle actuator 190 for engagement with valve stem 170 to move valve stem 170 into a water-on position. When handle actuator 190 is moved to this position, valve stem 170 is not moved. As a result, pawl 210 is moved toward a water-on direction causing pivot shaft portion 219 of pawl 210 to move against first U-shaped slot rear wall 182b and away from first U-shaped slot front wall 1 82a. This movement of pawl 210 also causes pawl position-setting shaft 217 to be positioned at least partially over valve stem pawl release member 224b, which prevents pawl biasing member 213 from rotating pawl 210 and, specifically, pawl position-setting shaft 217 downward into second U-shaped slot 1 84 of upper stem portion 170b of valve stem 170.

[00150] Figure 51 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 160 when the faucet is in a first stem-engaging position while the valve stem 170 is moved by the user into a first water-on position. Figure 52 is an enlarged view of an area delineated by circle 52 in Fig. 51 . As illustrated in Fig. 52, pushing handle actuator 190 to the first water-on position in turn causes position limiting end 214a of pawl 210 to contact against first housing stop surface 168a to stop the movement of valve stem 170 into a first water-on position.

[00151] Figure 53 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 when the valve stem 170 is in a first water-on position while the faucet handle is released by the user causing the handle actuator 190 and faucet handle to rotate toward the water-off direction as shown by arrow A2 by handle biasing member 220 compared to the position of handle actuator 190 shown in Fig. 51 . Figure 54 is an enlarged view of an area delineated by circle 54 in Fig. 53. As illustrated in Fig. 54, when the user releases the faucet handle, the faucet handle and handle actuator 190 rotates toward the water-off position. Handle actuator 190 with handle leg 200 is pivoted about pivot pin 163 until valve stem arm 176 is against rear arm slot wall 198b and away from front arm slot wall 198a. This action positions handle actuator 190 for engagement with valve stem 170 to move valve stem 170 into a second (or full) water-on position. When handle actuator 190 is moved to this position by handle biasing member 220, valve stem 1 70 is not moved. As a result, pawl 210 is moved toward a water-off direction causing pivot shaft portion 219 of pawl 210 to move against first U-shaped slot front wall 1 82a and away from first U-shaped slot rear wall 182b. This movement of pawl 210 also causes pawl position-setting shaft 217 to be positioned over second U-shaped slot 184 so that pawl biasing member 213 causes pawl position-setting shaft 217 to rotate into second U-shaped slot 184. The rotation of pawl 21 0 places position limiting end 214a of pawl 210 to align with rear housing slot 166 of flow control housing 1 64. The angular movement of the handle actuator 190 and faucet handle from the first water-on position to a reset position (i.e. movement of the handle actuator 190 toward the water-off direction after release of the faucet handle by the user) is in a range of about 1 .5 to about 3 degrees.

[00152] Fig. 55 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of Fig. 53 through pawl 210. As shown, pawl biasing member 21 3 engages a top surface of valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 21 0. Pawl biasing member 213 imparts a biasing force against valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 210 to push pawl 210 to rotate downward toward rearward-facing slot surface 180b of upper stem portion 1 70b of valve stem 170.

[00153] Figure 56 is a cross-sectional view of faucet flow control assembly 1 60 when the faucet is in the second stem-engaging position while the valve stem is moved by the user into the second water-on position. As illustrated in Fig. 56, pushing handle actuator 1 90 to the second water-on position in turn causes position limiting end 214a of position limiting portion 214 of pawl 210 to enter rear housing slot 166 of flow control housing 164 allowing chamfered portion 1 94b' of handle base rear portion 194b to contact second index stop 1 68b of flow control housing 164. The total angular deflection of the faucet handle relative to the water-off position is in a range of about 22 to about 30 degrees.

[00154] Figure 57 is a cross-sectional view of the embodiment of Fig. 56 through pawl 210. As shown, pawl biasing member 21 3 engages a top surface of valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 21 0. Pawl biasing member 213 imparts a biasing force against valve stem engaging portion 214 of pawl 210 that pushes pawl 210 to rotate downward toward rearward-facing slot surface 180b of upper stem portion 1 70b of valve stem 170.

[00155] Figures 58-62 illustrate cross-sectional views of faucet flow control assembly 190 with a faucet handle attached showing the relative positions and angles of rotation of faucet handle 140 at the various water-off and water-on positions shown in Figs. 46-57. The key figures are Figs. 60 and 61 that show the angular movement of faucet handle 140 towards the water-off direction of about 2 degrees after a user lifts the faucet handle 140 from a water-off position to a first water-on position and then releases the faucet handle. The range of deflection can be in a range of about 1 .5 to 3 degrees depending on the actual dimensions of the relevant structure in the flow control assembly 160. This small deflection is an improvement over any of the prior art devices and is more akin to the movement of a standard single-lever faucet. Because the handle behaves very similarly to the faucet handle of a standard single-lever faucet, the user would be conserving water without necessarily thinking of doing so since the first water-on position is a predefined position of valve stem 170 that releases a water flow that is less than the water flow of a full-on or full-open valve stem position. The angular movement of the handle actuator 190 and faucet handle from the first water-on position to a reset position (i.e. movement of the handle actuator 190 toward the water-off direction after release of the faucet handle by the user) is in a range of about 1 .5 to about 3 degrees. This extremely small angular reset position of the flow control assembly 160 for a first or lowest to a full water-on position, or at least a second water-on position that allows a greater flow of water compared to the first water-on position.

[00156] It is contemplated that faucet flow control assembly 160 is not limited to two indexed levels of flow. Embodiments of flow control assembly 160 can accommodate more indexed flow steps as required. It should also be noted that with proper assembly design, the incremental flow rates can increase by dissimilar amounts from one flow rate to the next. Accordingly, water flow increases need not be linear increments. For example, the pawl engaging surface of valve stem 170 in the first embodiment described could be spaced such that the first open position allows two gallons per minute (GPM) to flow and the second open position allows eight GPM or more and so on. Conversely, with a linear flow rate increase, pawl engaging surfaces of valve stem 170 would be selectively spaced and the flow rate increase for each operation of handle 140 upward to the open position would be the same increase in flow rate. Therefore, linear flow rate increases could provide flow rates R1 , R2, R3, and so on of three, six, nine, twelve, and fifteen GPM, respectively. It is further contemplated that valve stem 170, pawl 210, handle actuator 190 and flow control housing 164 together make the flow control assembly 160, which is also known as an indexing system 160.

[00157] Although various embodiments of the present invention have been described herein, the above description is merely illustrative. Further modification of the invention herein disclosed will occur to those skilled in the respective arts and all such modifications are deemed to be within the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.