The vast majority of toilets in the U.S. are old-fashioned gravity-propelled receptacles which haven't been appreciably improved upon since the Victorian era. They are of a design so simple that the technology-averse Amish have no objection to using them. Most Americans are satisfied with what their basic toilet has to offer, and this indifference to improvement has mired the residential commode industry in a bog of antiquated technology. But consider that just over a century ago there were people who were content to squat over their chamberpots, who didn't see what all the fuss was about over the fancy new porcelain fixtures.
Today's high-tech toilets cheerily dispose of undesirables while making the whole experience as comfortable, convenient, and sanitary as possible. The technology-enlightened men and women of Japan have enjoyed these electronic super-toilets for years, and now the makers of such devices are attempting to penetrate the U.S. market. But what do they have to offer?
It seems that regardless of the technology in question, the first thing that Americans want to know about is horsepower, which is particularly crucial given the 1.6-gallons-per-flush limit imposed by U.S. regulators several years ago. After an initially dismal start, toilet-makers began to utilize computer models and sophisticated math to get the most out of those 1.6 gallons, and consequently many modern toilets can outperform their earlier incarnations. The most bang for the flush is delivered by American Standard's Champion toilet, which can swallow twenty-four golf balls with a single 1.6 gallon flush. But unfortunately it lacks in other niceties... It's just a souped-up classic.
For people who don't eat quite so many golf balls in one sitting, there are a few alternatives which harness power beyond simple gravity. The FlushMate and PF/2 systems use water line pressure to push waste down the drain, and the Vacuity system uses siphon action to create vacuum pressure to pull the contents out of the bowl. If you like to have a workhorse in your bathroom, any of these options should work, with no need to plug the toilet into an electrical outlet.
But flushing power isn't the only factor to consider. Just like automobiles, you'll have some people who are looking for raw power, while others seek comfort and convenience. Anyone in the latter category might consider the Neorest 600, perhaps the most sophisticated toilet on the planet. It even has a wireless remote. Consider the following interaction between a typical toilet user and the Neorest:
- As a user approaches the Neorest 600, the lid automatically opens.
- The seat warmer is turned on.
- Time passes...
- The user may engage the bidet-like Washlet, which provides front-and back-aerated warm water spray and/or "oscillating spray massage."
- The warm air dryer kicks on when the Washlet completes its task.
- As the user stands up, an automatic catalytic air purifier springs to action.
- After the user steps away, the lid automatically closes and the toilet flushes itself with a high-powered multi-sequential jet flush.
- If the seat was placed in the up position for the duration of usage, the Neorest uses a lower-volume flush to conserve water.
It also has a number of passive features, such a non-stick ion barrier glazing called SanaGloss, and refill system which acts instantly without the classic, lingering tank-refill noise. Of course all of that high-tech restroom convenience comes with a price... A Neorest 600 will put you back about $5,000.
Some electronic super-toilet makers also offer alternate features, such as integrated speakers which emit fake flushing sounds to mask embarrassing bodily noises, or various sensors which can monitor blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar levels, and alert the user when these vital signs are outside of the normal range. With more and more sophisticated technology being integrated into our commodes, our bathrooms may become the early battlefields when The Machines turn against us...