Plumbing and technology combine for a new generation of stylish water-saving toilets
Alison M. Rice
How low can a toilet’s flow go? It’s a good question, and one thot toilet manufacturers have been trying to determine since 1992, when the government mandated that all new toilets sold in the United States had to use 1.6 gallons per flush or less. As many remember, it wasn’t the most successful transition as the new toilets’ performance lagged, causing homeowners and contractors alike to hoard the old water-hogging models.
That’s becoming increasingly hard to do. California this year began requiring low -flow toilets and other fixtures to be installed even in older homes; homeowners and contractors won’t be able to get building permits for renovations, even for non-plumbing projects such as replacing windows, unless they upgrade to water-saving products on those homes built before 1994.
Luckily for wary customers with long memories, toilet manufacturers have dramatically expanded their offerings in terms of design, technology, performance, and water efficiency. Many, no longer satisfied with the standard-flow units, are pushing their products into the ultra-high-efficiency category. Niagara Conservation’s Stealth dual flush toilet, for example, uses less than a gallon of water (.95) for a full flush and .5 gallons for a half, giving it an average of .65 GPF.
To support the performance of these low-flow fixtures, manufacturers keep introducing new plumbing and flushing technologies. Japanese firm TOTO’s Cyclone technology uses dual jets of water to clear the bowl despite using just 1 gallon in its UltraMax II toilet. (Some models, such as the Neorest, event pre-mist the bowl with electrolyzed water to ease cleanup.)
“Everyone is much more conscious of the expectations for products,” said Javier Korneluk, U.S. managing director for Laufen, the Swiss firm that invented the wall-hung toilet in 1963 and will be introducing its first rimless toilets to the U.S market in 2014. “Home design products cannot just look great – they really need to perform. The homeowners, architects and designers have fueled the industry in very positive ways.”
Along with the technology, the appearance of home toilets is also evolving as designers look to the past and the future for inspiration. At Kohler, which controls approximately 24% of the U.S. toilet market, offerings include the Art Deco-style Kathryn and the futuristic wall-mounted Veil.
Laufen’s Korneluk thinks the wall-mounted toilet’s time may have finally arrived. “It has taken some time, but we are seeing much more interest in wall-hung toilets for a variety of reasons,” he said. “It’s ADA compliant because you can install it higher on the wall,” which makes it more accessible for aging or physically challenged users.
But the wall-hung toilets isn’t just about function. With its hidden fixtures and contemporary styling, it also satisfies those looking for a visual appeal and high design. Said Korneluk: “It’s a much cleaner look overall.”
The DuraStyle collection offers a sleet toilet option for contemporary bathrooms. Available in floor-standing and rimless wall-mounted options, it also gives buyers a choice of seats: basic extra-flat or the high-tech SensoWash shower toilet seat, with its night light, heated seat, and individual washing and drying controls.
2. Niagara Conservation
The Stealth UHET Dual Flush takes “low flow” to new levels. This ultra-high-efficiency toilet offers two flush options: .95 gallons for a flush and .5 gallons for a half.
3. TOTO USA
Germs have no place to hide when it comes to the Nearest 750H, an integrated toilet featuring dual-flush technology that thoroughly cleans the pre-misted bowl. It uses 1 gallon for a full flush and. 8 for a light flush. After flushing, a UV light activates the bowl’s titanium dioxide coating, creating a reaction that destroys any remaining material in the toilet.
Inspired by the angular styles of the 1930s, the single-flush Kathryn relies on modern technology, meeting WaterSense rules with 1.28 gallons per flush. It offers chair-level comfort-height seating and comes in 11 colors.
5. American Standard
The recent expansion of the Cadet PRO toilets gives homeowners an easy way to customize their bathroom while staying with one product line. With five tank styles and five bowl options of varying heights and shapes, it offers a mix of styles. Standard and high-efficiency models are available.
6. Gerber Plumbing Fixture
The Viper elongated toilets uses 1.25 gallons of water in a single flush. It features a two-piece design, 3-in. flush valves and a 2-in. glazed trapway.