Before making a major purchase like a new electronic toilet, which could cost from $500 to much more, it’s essential to find one’s bearings and get to know the basics about these unusual but amazing toilets.
Electronic Bidet Toilet Seats and Washlets: What are They?
Essentially, washlets are toilets that also include a bidet, which is traditionally a separate sink to wash oneself, and some electronics to control the water jets and other features, like warming the seat and detecting the user.
What are the Main Benefits of Electronic Toilets?
The main advantage is that one is much better washed after going to the restroom than with Western toilets dependent on toilet paper. This is thanks to the water jets and air drying jets.
They are ecological because the need for toilet paper is much reduced, or removed altogether. This can prevent toilet clogs!
This leads to significant savings, that quickly pays for the toilet! E.g. a 75% toilet paper savings for a family of 4 represents savings of $300/ year. On the other hand, the increased cost for electricity use could be only about $65/ year.
Less toilet paper can be great too in circumstances of diarrhea: less irritation.
A List of Features
The water jet, orientated to the front or to the back, is the key feature. Its temperature is adjustable, to be pleasantly warm.
Another key feature is the warm air jet, for drying. With this feature, one can dispense with toilet paper entirely!
The pressure of both air and water jets can be adjustable.
The toilet seat is kept warm or warms up quickly, and can include massaging components.
A person detector ensures that no water is splashed out of the toilet.
Yet more air jets can ensure a pleasant air and water jets can self-clean the toilet itself.
Some relaxing music can be played. While this could seem an absurd luxury, imagine how useful it is if loud noises travel from the restroom to guests in the living room! While this could be seen as a sound-proofing issue, music could be a simple alternative.
A Brief History of Toilets
The bidet itself was invented in France in the late 1600s.
The electronic bidets were invented in Japan over a 100 years ago.
The Japanese company Toto has been the leader in innovating and selling these toilets. The modern Washlets (a trademark word now in generic use) were introduced in 1980.
Currently they are found in over 80% of Japanese households, but they are still quite rare in Europe, North America and the rest of the world except Asia. Nowadays, Toto has many competitors, see below.
A pronunciation note: the ‘t’ is mute at the end of the word ‘bidet’, coming from the French language.
Market Growth Overview
In Japan, just Toto has sales over 5 billion dollars per year.
However, market size is still tiny, at currently about 100 million $ in the US and expected growth is 15% for the next few years, with some bidet companies growing 30% per year.
How Much Do Electronic Toilets cost?
The most expensive is well over $6000. Very good models start at $500.
There are also the non-electronic kinds that start at $40, but of course they lack most of the features, yet could still be a very affordable and easy option requiring only replacing a toilet seat.
How and Where to buy?
Your local stores probably have a very limited supply of electronic toilets, and you’ll get to appreciate that there is much more choice in buying online. Indeed, your best bet is probably to order online.
What are the Top Brands?
Toto, Kohler, Brondell, Bio Bidet, Alpha, etc.
How to Install Them?
Installation can be quite straightforward, but this depends on your particular situation of course.
If there is no accessible power outlet nearby in your bathroom, you will need an electrician.
For a whole ceramic bidet, you will normally need the help of a plumber.
For an electric toilet seat, things can be so easy that you might be able to install it yourself in a few minutes.
How to Use an Electronic Bidet Toilet?
There can be some hit or miss initial experience with some models.
However most models are self-explanatory with good illustrations.
Wikihow has a 10-step tutorial on “how to use a bidet“, which is a good place to start.
What to Remember Before You Buy…
Here we had a quick overview of the main topics to get acquainted with electronic toilets and to begin considering switching to one. My overall advice is to buy the best electronic bidet you can afford, but of course the choice is yours.
Check out the Wikipedia website on washlets and electronic bidet toilet seats for more information, as this was my initial source to write this introduction.
There are also many articles about the cultural barriers to a wider acceptance in the Western world, and how these barriers are quickly eroding away in front of a rapidly growing market.
Stay tuned for more articles as I become more knowledgeable about these amazing toilets!