Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for a little potty talk. No, not the kind you hear on the school playground, but a grown-up conversation about your toilet's features and functions. Can't think of anything exceptional to say? Then you probably don't own one of today's so-called "super toilets." These modern marvels, available in a range of prices and styles, are engineered for comfort, convenience, cleanliness, and sometimes just plain fun. But while a built-in sound system or automated lid lifter may seem like sufficient selling points for some folks, most of these new commodes also feature the EPA's WaterSense label. This means that your super toilet is not only a dazzling performer but uses less water to maintain peak efficiency.
Here are ten innovative features to look for when you're shopping for a new toilet:
Comfort Stool Height
So-called comfort-height toilets are about 2 inches taller than standard models, making it easier for aging baby boomers or anyone with mobility issues to sit down and stand back up. Models range from about 17 to 19 inches high (similar to sitting in a chair) and are usually compliant with ADA standards. Major manufacturers—including Kohler, American Standard, and Toto—all feature comfort-height models in a range of styles and prices.
While eco-conscious Europeans have been using dual-flush toilets for the last couple of decades, Americans have only recently gotten a handle on their money-saving benefits. Two buttons on the tank give you the option for either a full flush (recommended for solid waste) or a lighter flush for liquid-only waste. Some high-efficiency models, including American Standard's FloWise line, go even further, offering water savings that are well under the government's 1.6 gallon-per-flush standard.
If you've ever sat on a traditional toilet seat on a frigid winter morning, you'll appreciate the simple luxury a little warmth can provide. Lots of new toilets come equipped with an electrically warmed perch, and some high-end models, like Kohler's $8,000 fully-loaded Numi, will even warm your chilly bare toes while it plays your favorite playlist and treats you to a colored light show. Fortunately, there are also a number of more affordable after-market options you can add to an existing toilet. For $99, Brondell's LumaWarm not only kills the chill but beckons you with the soft glow of its blue LED nightlight.
The mysterious purpose of the porcelain fixture located next to the toilet in European hotel bathrooms has puzzled countless American tourists. But now that many high-tech toilets incorporate a bidet function, this excellent personal hygiene tool may finally gain some ground in the American bathroom. Japanese manufacturer Toto's Washlet toilet with integrated bidet promises a "natural, purifying experience that will leave you clean and happy," thanks to its remote-control operation, heated seat, and soothing aerated spray. The lower-priced Brondell Swash 1000 offers a bidet seat that can be attached to almost any toilet. It's packed with features that promise a "home spa" experience, including a heated seat, two self-cleaning nozzles, and an adjustable warm air dryer.
Install an automated toilet lid and you'll never get scolded for leaving the seat up again. Available for around $160, the iTouchless employs infrared sensors that raise the lid as you approach (the seat rises with the wave of a hand). When the toilet is unoccupied, both seat and lid automatically lower. The device is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which lasts up to three months.
Automatic air freshener features are built into some super toilets, or can be added to an existing toilet, such as with the Kohler Purefresh toilet seat, which sells for less than $100. The Toto Bidet toilet seat also comes with this function, as does Toto's impressive $1500 Aquia IV toilet.
Toilets with automatic, touchless flush mechanisms are no longer unusual, and no longer even all that expensive. The feature is, of course, found on most expensive super toilets, but there are automatic flush features now available for standard residential toilets that start at less than $500, such as the American Standard Studio Activate toilet. These toilets work by means of an infrared sensing eye that initiates a flush merely by waving your hand over the sensor eye. There also after-market devices you can buy and install to convert an ordinary toilet to an automatic flushing model.
Built-In Night Lights
Several super-toilet come with built-in night lights that cause the toilet bowl to glow with a soothing blue light at night. Kohler, for one, makes a number of toilet seats with this built-in nightlight features.
Several different super toilets come with built-in Bluetooth capability. The Kohler Numi, for example, not only has a receiver that reads the Bluetooth signal from your smartphone or pad device, but also has an SD card slot that allows you to establish a bathroom playlist or even create a verbal greeting to bathroom users.
Virtually all the high-end super toilets come with a remote control device that lets you operate the bidet features, air dryer mechanism, the blue-tooth music, the flush features, and any other extravagant functions integrated into the toilet.
Four High-Tech Super Toilets
You might not be likely to buy one of the most advanced super toilets, but window-shopping can be a lot of fun. These top-of-the-line super toilets will give you an idea of just what is possible in bathroom technology:
- Numi by Kohler: Kohler's most advanced toilet, selling for about $8,000, includes pretty much every advanced feature a toilet can have, including all the features described above, plus a built-in backup battery that allows all functions to continue operating during power outages.
- Neorest NX2: This is Totos premium super toilet. It, too, features virtually all the features described above, plus it advertises itself as completely self-cleaning. It can be purchased for just under $7,000
- SensoWash Starck C: This is essentially a super toilet bidet seat, that is available for as low as $1500 or so from online retailers. This product from SensoWash can be purchased individually and matched with existing toilets or can be purchased with a matching toilet unit from the company. It provides most, but not all of the features of the most premium super toilets, including remote control operation.
- Bio Bidet IB-835 Integrated Toilet: From BioBidet, this all-in-one toilet offers sophisticated bidet functions, selling for less than $2500.
Next, learn to replace your own toilet.