Touchless Faucet Pros and Cons
Dear Drury Design,
Touchless faucets are super cool. What should I know before getting one?
Heidi from Highland Park
The expert providing the answer to this week’s question is Rick Windgassen, our VP of Operations.
Rick has been overseeing kitchen and bath installations in the Chicago area and surrounding states for 20 years.
I’ve been involved with the installation, service and repair of dozens of touchless and tap-touch faucets. Here’s what you should know before you decide to have one in your home.
First, what is a touchless faucet?
Imagine walking up to your sink, waving your hand, and presto — water flows without a touch. That’s the promise of touchless faucets. It’s a bit of everyday magic made possible by some clever engineering.
How does a touchless faucet work?
At the heart of a touchless faucet is a sensor that detects your hand’s presence using an infrared signal. When you wave your hand near the spout, the sensor tells the solenoid valve to open, allowing water to flow out. No hands? The valve stays shut and your sink stays dry.
Are there variations?
Some advanced faucets turn on after you merely touch them. That isn’t exactly touchless, obviously, but they meet the same goals and many of our customers like them. This variety allows you to use a gentle touch – from the back of your hand to the spout, for example – to start the water.
Some faucets utilize both infrared activation and touch activation.
Touchless Faucet Pros and Cons
First, the pros:
- Hygiene First: The most compelling benefit of touchless faucets is their hygienic aspect. A sensor-activated system means fewer germs are spread, as you don’t need to touch the faucet with dirty hands.
- Water Conservation: These faucets are champions of water conservation. They dispense water only when needed and automatically shut off, significantly reducing water wastage.
- Ease of Use: For the elderly or those with mobility challenges, a simple wave of the hand can provide ease and convenience that traditional faucets simply can’t match.
- High-Tech Home Appeal: Embracing touchless faucets adds a modern, high-tech flair to your kitchen or bathroom, often intriguing and impressing guests with your forward-thinking home design.
- Easy Clean: Without needing to reach for the handles, you won’t get those additional water drops on the handles or on the counter near the handles. As you know, even clean water drops can leave marks due to the little calcium deposits that are left after evaporation.
- Curiosity Watered the Cat: True story: I have installed one of these faucets in a pet space meant specifically for a cat. The cat first learned how to activate a touchless faucet in another part of the house. With its own touchless faucet, it would turn it on to get a bit of water on the back of its paw and then rub the water on its fur… basically a cat bath without the cat having to lick the back of its paw.
- Voice Activation: Manufacturers continue to roll out new features within this class of faucets, the latest being voice activation. That may sound silly, but imagine telling your sink to pour a specific amount of water into a pot… at the very least it’s cool idea.
Now, the cons… with some solutions to prevent them from becoming cons:
- Power Supply Practicality: While touchless faucets can operate on batteries, true efficiency demands a GFCI power source installed under the counter. This integration ensures your touchless feature remains uninterrupted, with batteries serving merely as a backup during power outages. Solution: Plan ahead. Decide on touchless faucets early in the process so that we can add a proper GFCI outlet under the sink.
- Temperature Timing: A touchless faucet allows you to have the hot and cold valves set in place for a desired temperature – then the infrared sensor allows you to wave-activate the solenoid to bring your desired combination of hot and cold water through the spout. Here’s the potential downside: you may be in the habit of turning a faucet’s hot water valve on full blast in order to speed up the warming process, even if that only saves you a few seconds of waiting. If old habits die hard, the benefit of waving water into action may not outweigh the new longer heating time involved. Solutions: If simply learning to wait longer for warm water isn’t a viable solution for you, there are some fairly involved solutions that might be more complex than you’d care to deal with: you could install a hot water recirculation pump, move your current water heater closer or upgrade to a tankless hot water heater. What are the chances those are inevitable projects you might as well get to sooner than later?
- Curiosity Flooded the House: Back to the cats. I have heard stories about cats activating these faucets in situations where drainage and overflow drainage were blocked, resulting in flooding. Solution: Consider your “off” options when choosing a touchless faucet. Some can be set to run water for 15 or 30 seconds per activation while some only run when your hands are right in front of it.
- Guest Guesswork: Expect a learning curve for first-time users. Trust me, many of your guests will grapple with the touchless concept. If they don’t know a faucet is touchless, they’ll automatically handle the handle(s) which, depending the model, can disable the touchless feature for subsequent users and mess up that perfect warm temp setting you had set. Solution: One solution is to choose a touchless model where the temperature setting is locked in and unavailable to users for fine tuning during a wash session – this option comes with its own pros and cons, obviously. Also, consider putting up a small sign to help guide your guests. If you think you’ll need it, just print a nice little heads-up note, put it in a little frame, and put it near the touchless faucet.
The Drury Design marketing team offers up these suggestions for what your touchless faucet sign can say:
- “Wave for water!”
- “Wave hello to clean hands! Just show your palms for water.”
- “Hands-free magic ahead! Simply hover to activate water flow.”
- “Touchless water on demand — no handles required.”
- “Gesture for water! This faucet is touchless, so a little wave is all you need.”
You could also put a wordless iconographic symbol in a little frame to get the message across:
Whether or not a touchless faucet is right for you comes down to your lifestyle and willingness to embrace a bit of change in your routines. The aim here isn’t to dissuade you but to present a clear picture of what you’re in for when you go touchless. Like linear shower drains, some people love touchless/tap-touch faucets and some people learn they’re just not the right customer for them. If you’re ready to wave hello to convenience and occasionally help a confused guest, a touchless/tap-touch faucet might just be the upgrade your home deserves.
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Considering an upgrade or have more questions about touchless faucets?
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