Toilets and Showers - New Technologies and Products

Water conservation has become very important in the world at large. As a result, plumbing fixtures have become an area replete with new technologies to address that issue. Also important in these new fixtures are comfort and stylish design to meet the demands of discriminating homeowners wanting to have luxury, not just utility, in their newly remodeled bathrooms.


The Federal Standard is 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush). Dual-flush toilets. those that have a full-flush mode for solids and a reduced-flush mode for liquids, must use 1.6 gpf and.8 gpf respectively, are one of the latest designs in toilet technology. A good example is a new product manufactured by Toto, a Japanese company that is the leader in the design of toilets. The Aquia® Wall-Hung Dual-Flush Toilet is their latest model seen below.

The EPA's Water Sense label requires toilets to be independently tested to show that they use, at most, 1.28 gpf. Toto has several toilets which meet that criterion including the Eco Promenade® toilet. Some low flow toilets such as Kohler Wellsworth Pressure Lite K-3531 use as little as 1.1 gpf. High style design has been one of the Kohler Company's fortes. A few years ago they came out with the high styled Purist Hatbox toilet. It also comes with a hefty price over 4,000.00. It features a clean minimalist design, an innovative tankless Power Lite® technology, a Comfort Height bowl and Quiet-Close toilet seat, an electronic soft-touch actuation, and requires an electrical receptacle. Just this year Kohler introduced the Saile Dual Flush toilet another one with high style.

Soft close seats were developed by Toto and have been in use for several years by it and other manufacturers. This means that they close slowly on their own once you push down on them. This year Kohler introduced the new Saile quiet close, with a quick release seat to accompany its new Saile toilet.

The development of a washlet as an attachment to the toilet seat was also pioneered by Toto and has been in use for several years now. The seat uses water to cleanse after use instead of toilet paper. Its newest iteration is the Washlet S400. The newest features are automated hands free flushing with a sensor activated lid, a heated seat and other features you will just have to read about. Amazing!
Kohler has also added a washing option known as C3-125 to its offering.

Finally, the seat height has become an issue. A universal height, a height similar to that of a chair seat height, has become standard, anywhere from 16"-18". Most manufacturers have this offering, including Toto, Kohler, American Standard and Sterling.


The standard flow rate of water from any of the shower heads whether they are the main shower head, a gravity fed rain shower, a hand held shower or body sprays is 2.5 gallons per minute. Some of the new options are attempting to use less water. For example the Hansgrohe Pure Vida body spray uses only.9 gpm. But new designs in the body spray seem to be more important. Two are from Kallista, a designer line subsidiary of Kohler. Kallista's, Rainbar by Barbara Barry, is 24 ½"tall with 16 jets in one vertical line. Kallista's Semi-magnum spray dome, 5" diameter spray surface, wall mounted, pivots 40 degrees.

Rain shower heads: This style of gravity fed overhead shower heads has been available for several years now. The diameter keeps getting larger; however, Grohe has the new Rainshower F-Series, 20" x 20" flushed-mounted into the ceiling with 252 spray nozzles. Not to be outdone, Hansgrohe has come up with the Raindance Imperial Square AIR showerhead, also flush mounted and recessed that is square and has a 20" spray face, with 358 nozzles and 3 spray modes. Finally, Kohler who first designed the recessed shower tile has now developed the Ambient Rain shower tile that is also 20"square but has integrated chroma lighting. It has reduced the water flow rate of each tile to 2.2gpm.

Handheld showers are becoming more versatile and have more options. The Hansgrohe Raindance Allrounder AIR has a unique adjustable holder allowing full range adjustability from overhead to side shower. The Hansgrohe Pure Vida hand shower has a slim design. Kohler has the new Flipside hand shower with 4 distinct shower settings and also the Shift ellipse with a very contemporary and ergonomic design.

Finally, the steam shower is becoming more common. The shower itself in this case has to be fully enclosed to keep in the steam. Basically, any shower space can be adapted for this use. We often see that a bench is added for this use, if not already incorporated. The size of the shower will dictate the size of the generated needed to produce the steam. Kohler has a basic system with a generator, a steam sprayer and a control panel for the temperature settings and timer. It has also developed a special control panel with up to six presets for temperature and massage settings.


Consumers are interested in customizing the experience in their bathrooms which can mean a lot of bells and whistles or just the basics with well designed and functional products. Recently, I designed a bath that included a steam shower, a soaking tub with chromatherapy LED lighting, heated floors, a Toto S400 washlet with heated seat, a heated towel bar, LED lighting under the floating vanity cabinets and a flat screen TV across from tub. The shower also had a 16" diameter rain shower head and a hand held shower. On the other hand, I am now planning a master bath that will have a soaking tub and a shower with a standard shower head and handheld shower with a dual flush toilet. Water use is sometimes an issue and then again sometimes not. At least the products seem to be evolving to use less water per fixture so the manufacturers are helping in this direction when the customer does select the newer, more elegant designs.

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