Is it About a Setup Where One can Shower and Poo at the Same Time?
Shower Toilets make sense when you have to share the shower space with a toilet and why not for a multi-task. If you are looking for information or inspiration for such a setup, you have come to the wrong place. But if you are a first-time toilet buyer, have not visited Japan or simply wants to know more about the shower toilets that everyone is talking about, read on.
So, exactly, what is a shower toilet?
A shower Toilet is basically a toilet with integrated bidet function (or shower function). Not only it flushes your brown load away, but it also washes the gate where the cargo leaves your body. So, since it cleans you and has the full toilet function, it is aptly called a shower toilet. Of course, it has other names too, like bidet toilet, smart toilet, automatic toilet, electronic toilet, and, you probably have guessed, the Japanese toilet.
And these days, you can even upgrade your existing loo to become a smart toilet by simply changing the seat to one with bidet functions (bidet seat). But still, there are functions that only a fully developed shower toilet can provide, and they may cost more than your conventional toilet and bidet seat combined.
Why and What Are the Advantages of Shower Toilets?
The toilet is the dirtiest fixture in the bathroom. Even when it looks and feels clean, bacteria can still thrive and multiply. That is why regular upkeep of the toilet is important to prevent a disease outbreak. But these days, who has the time to clean and wash the loo every other day or week.
Even if you made an effort to clean at least once weekly, there are still chances that you can catch on diseases through contact with contaminated surfaces. Especially the toilet seat and flush button or handle are touched the most.
And when the toilet is used by someone who is sick at the time, the probability of contamination goes up in the bathroom. It can easily spread to other house areas if family members do not strictly observe personal hygiene.
So, what are the advantages of shower toilets, and how can they prevent the spread of diseases?
The smart toilet can not prevent any diseases from spreading. BUT, it can help to eliminate or reduce hand-surface contact by automating the seat opening and closing, and flushing. The whole operation can be made totally hands-free if you like or via a remote control. And with some shower toilet models, you can even operate every function through an app on your smartphone.
Another clear advantage is using water to ‘wipe’ instead of toilet paper. This means less paper waste and fewer cleaning efforts. If you are worried about hygiene, this is definitely something to consider. And you don’t have to worry as much about the great toilet roll grab in a pandemic. TOC
Suffering from haemorrhoids? Trust me, cleaning with water is so much better and safer than paper.
– an anonymous ex-piles sufferer cum shower toilet owner
Hygiene is Not Labour Free But the Effort Can Be Lightened
Some high-end shower toilet models even have the self-cleaning function that sterilises the bowl after every use. And some will have a layer of antibacterial finish (nano glaze) on the bowl surface, making cleaning fast and easy with just a piece of rag. No chemical cleaners are needed.
The ultra-smooth nano glaze on the pan surface ensures bits of faeces or stains can be washed away easily. So the likelihood to pull a second or third flush is greatly reduced. Hence, you get to save water and a clean and odourless bowl after every use.
And the modern automatic toilets are rimless. That means no more rain holes lined along the underside of the toilet bowl rim for rinsing the interior surface. An open rim that leaves no room for dirt to hide and build-up is in place. A quick wipe around the rim with a dry rag is all you need to keep clean versus having to jet-spray under to dislodge dirt that is clogging up the holes. TOC
Industry and Proprietary Features
What you have read so far is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more features in a shower toilet that make the normal toilet look and feel primitive. More and more UK households are considering replacing their toilets with a smart loo mainly due to the benefits brought about by these features.
So here are the standard features/benefits you can expect from 90% of shower toilets sold in the UK and Europe.
|1.||Automatic Seat & Lid||If you want a hands-free operation to up the ante in improving hygiene, be sure to look out for this feature. You will love the convenience too. And particularly good for those with a mobility issue when even lifting and closing the lid is a struggle. The smart loos with this feature are mostly in the mid to high-end range.|
|2.||Heated Seat||Nobody will reject a heated toilet seat in the winter. The heartwarming moment almost always comes from the bottom. Even better when you have control over the temperature setting to suit the delicate skin of your derrière.|
|3.||Shower Function or Wash Function||This feature is what gets you the satisfaction of your investment. Almost 90% of first-time owners of these Japanese toilets feel that money is well spent once they have had their first wash. And all brands or models will have 2 wash modes – Posterior and Anterior (or feminine) wash. You will get that clean feeling with water which you can never have with paper.|
|4.||Water Temperature and Spray Intensity||Every shower toilet is capable of dispensing warm water for washing. And you will be able to adjust the water spray intensity and temperature for maximum comfort. The adjustment is easy via the remote control, and the effects are instant.|
|5.||Adjustable Bidet Spray Nozzle Position||The sitting position differs from person to person. Hence, the ability to adjust the spray angle or nozzle position for better reach offers convenience, especially helpful for seniors and persons with disabilities. Usually, the adjustment comes in 3-step to get your desired reach, and it applies to both lady and rear spray. This adjustable bidet nozzle is a standard feature in all shower toilets.|
|6.||Spray Mode||Popular brands like Toto, Duravit and Grohe will give you a pleasant experience of Oscillating and Pulsating Spray. You can switch between these 2 massage spray modes during a rear or lady wash. This two wash mode is proven to clean and feel better than a straight shooter.|
|7.||Self-Cleaning Shower Nozzle or Automatic Shower Nozzle||The shower or bidet spray nozzle is potentially the dirtiest part because it is positioned closest to the anus during a wash. As some (dirty) water will be reflected back on the nozzle, it must be rinsed before and after each wash. All shower toilets will have the self-cleaning function for their automatic nozzle. Some high-end models include a self-sterilising function apart from the antibacterial surface finish on its plastic or stainless steel nozzle.|
|8.||Warm Air Dryer||This is the last step before you get up and move away from the toilet. This drying function is generally OK (not great) for most smart toilets. So don’t expect the same airpower as those hand dryers you experienced in public toilets. But good enough if you are not in a hurry or don’t mind wetting your undies just a little bit. Otherwise, you will need to use tissue or toilet paper to dry. TOC|
|9.||Automatic Odour Extraction||During the entire performance, if your olfactory organ has detected odour from your waste matter, you can activate the odour extraction function to clear the air of the pungent smell. You can turn this function On and Off on-demand or set it to automatic operation.|
|10.||Remote Control||Please don’t take the remote control for granted. Guard it with your life, if you will. There is no function you can’t activate via the remote control. Without it will be like running out of toilet paper while on a conventional close-coupled toilet. You will be caught with your pants down with a dirty anus, literally.|
|11.||Side Control Panel||The side panel is there for people who can’t trust themselves with the remote. So, if the RC is misplaced, damaged, or the dead batteries are not replaced, no problem. The side panel will have the basic wash function to save the day. Just pray hard the electricity company don’t screw up with its supply. That is why it is always good to have a toilet roll within reach at all times.|
|12.||Night Light||Don’t bother to turn on the dazzling bathroom light when you need to relieve in the wee hours of the night. The night light function provides a safe orientation to the toilet with soothing colour light that helps to keep you in an alpha state if you are woken by the urge to urinate. You can set it to auto turn on as you approach the toilet or under low light conditions.|
Above are the standard or industry features on most shower toilets in the market. There are also proprietary features that are unique to specific brands. For example, Toto has some amazing comfort functions in its bidet spray. And the most notable is its hygiene features, Premist and Aftermist, which are probably the one and only in the industry.
Besides Toto, the intelligent and independent air dryer arm is a unique feature of Geberit AquaClean, which offers better drying efficiency. But some unique designs are less functional and more for an aesthetical appeal. For example, the ViClean of Villeroy & Boch has its bidet integrated into the ceramic bowl instead of the seat, giving it a minimalistic feel. TOC
Don’t Make This Mistake When Choosing Your Japanese Toilet
To stand out from the competition, brands are constantly developing features that are exclusive to their products. When you are looking at which smart loo to buy, it helps to prioritise your needs before buying into these proprietary features. And you will discover, more often than not, that your thoughts are hovering around Hygiene, Comfort and Convenience.
It will be a tremendous help to make a checklist of features you want when comparing shower toilets. Then you are clear of which brands or models can meet your requirements instead of getting all confused and feeling overwhelmed.
The mistake most people make is they assume whatever they’ve picked will have all the features they wanted. That is almost a perfect recipe for disappointment and frustration. And if you are thinking of returning the goods or exchange, you may be charged a re-stocking fee and have to pay for the transport. Not forgetting precious time is unnecessarily wasted in the process.
Lastly, don’t forget to look into service and maintenance support, whatever your priority is. Unlike standard toilets, there are no compatible third party parts for smart toilets and almost nothing your plumber can help when the electronic toilet breaks down. So remember to ask about the availability of replacement parts and the service cost after the warranty period. TOC
Types of Shower or Smart Toilets
A classic shower toilet is tankless and is either wall hung or floor mounted. But the flushing mechanism between the two is a world of difference – one relies on gravitational force, and the other operates by a pump.
Wall Hung Shower Toilet
Typically, the wall hung models are supported by a hidden metal wall frame, which holds the concealed cistern. So the installation hardware is similar to any wall-mounted toilet, be it with or without the electronic bidet. However, there will be an extra flexible conduit for the power cable of the bidet shower toilet.
The advantage of a wall-hung shower toilet is that in the event of a power failure, you can still flush via the push button on the flush plate, just like a normal wall hung toilet. So, you can see it as a normal wall mounted toilet with a bidet seat.
But, if the auto seat is a must for you, then only a full-functioned wall hung shower toilet can fulfil this requirement. Most bidet seats sold in the UK do not have the remote and automatic open and close feature.
Floor-Mounted or Freestanding Smart Toilet
If you are not a fan of wall hung toilets, there are always floor-mounted or freestanding models. And these freestanding shower toilets are, as it appears, tankless. It does have a small storage tank within it with an electric pump. So the flushing is actuated by the pump instead of relying on gravity like the wall hung models.
But when the power supply fails, you probably need to use a pail. Even though some models will have an emergency flushing mechanism to deal with such a situation, do expect the flush to be less complete than usual. This is where it pales in comparison to the wall-hung type.
However, the Geberit AquaClean Tuma has a floor-standing version installed in the same way as a wall-hung toilet. The pan will sit firmly on the floor and be connected to a concealed cistern. Or, use the Geberit Monolith sanitary module if you do not intend to hack any walls. Either setup will ensure you can flush normally at any time as long as the water supply is not interrupted. TOC
Popular Bidet Toilet Brands In The UK
You can’t go wrong choosing a shower toilet from reputable brands. The price will usually be higher, but you get to enjoy better quality products, great aftersales support, and peace of mind. Because they have a reputation to keep, it would cost them dearly if they don’t maintain a high service standard and product quality.
So here are 6 popular smart toilet brands you can count on for product durability and service reliability.
Geberit has produced way more wall hung toilet systems for the world than any competitors. If your number one concern for a wall-mounted toilet is durability and safety, you can be as confident as Hercules with a Geberit system. With over 60 million installations worldwide, it’s hard to be humble.
Look for any Geberit AquaClean shower toilets, the Mera, Sela and Tuma. Or the Geberit AquaClean 4000 if you only need the basic functions and save some money for other fixtures in the bathroom.
The VitrA V-Care is what you should look for when browsing for shower toilets on VitrA’s official website. Depending on your budget and requirement, there are the Prime, Comfort and Essential of the V-Care Shower Toilets to meet your expectations. However, feature-wise, it is not in the same league as Duravit, Grohe and Toto.
If the auto open and close seat is a must-have feature for you, maybe you should give it a miss. But if it is about built quality and service support, you are in good hands.
When you want the highest hygiene standard for your toilet, you can’t go wrong with a Toto shower toilet or Washlet. As you compare hygiene features among the brands, you will discover Toto is the only brand that does active pan and nozzle sterilising. It uses eWater+, which is electrolysed water, to disinfect the bowl and nozzle after every use.
Washlet is a registered trademark of Toto Ltd for its bidet seats or bidet toilets.
You can also set the self-sanitising feature to auto-activate when the toilet is not used. This will leave no chance for microorganisms to proliferate, and you will have a sterile pan 24/7.
And if this is not good enough to meet your hygiene standard, you may want to consider the Neorest AC, which has the Actilight feature. A Toto proprietary ultra-violet light technology creates a photocatalytic process that disintegrates even the tiniest microscopic waste.
The Toto Neorest AC, retailed at about £12,000 in the UK, is the Rolls Royce of wall-hung toilets. Whilst the Toto Washlet is priced for the mass market, it can still get you a clean and germ-free pan round the clock.
The only thing left beyond all the well-engineered shower toilet features is aesthetics. And you can definitely trust Duravit’s capability to futureproof its product designs. They never seemed to go out of fashion with the elegant design of all its bathroom products.
If you love fine engineering and innovative design, go for the model, SensoWash® Starck f. Even the remote control is a beautiful design – the simplicity with a tinge of sophistication. It has all the industry features and controls that you can configure and activate via the remote control or smartphone.
With a Duravit SensoWash shower toilet, the feeling of freshness comes from the toilet appearance and the wash you received. Life is perfect.
5. Villeroy & Boch
ViClean is the name of the shower toilet from this two-century-old German company. If you prefer a more conventional style, the ViClean is neat and proportional in appearance. Nothing too classy but well built and certainly not lacking in class.
Depending on your budget and preferences, the ViClean-U+ model will have every feature that you have read above and more. Otherwise, the ViClean-I100 and ViClean-L will be easier on your wallet with the basic comfort and convenience features.
Grohe has a decent range of modern (non-automatic) wall hung and back-to-walled WCs. It also produces concealed cisterns to match if you prefer a complete solution from the same manufacturer. And you can count on Grohe as far as product quality and aftersales support are concerned.
But the Grohe Sensia Arena is the only shower toilet the company offers currently. So, if you are a fan of Grohe’s product, the choice is clear. Besides, you must love the unconventional design that brings out the aesthete in you. And beneath the elegant exterior is a full-featured shower toilet with all the bells and whistles at your fingertips, either via the remote or your smartphone. TOC
When installing a new shower toilet, there are some things you need to take into consideration:
1. Water pressure
The pressure of the water supply should be within scope to ensure that the bidet spray is strong enough to fulfil a proper wash and flush. So it is good to know if you have a healthy water pressure for the bidet toilet you plan to install.
Check the product information to see what is the suitable pressure range to operate. Almost all the shower toilets will have that information in the technical brochure or operation manual. Otherwise, please call or email the manufacturer for an answer.
2. Power Supply & Safety Regulations
Smart toilets need electric power to work. If there is no power source in the bathroom, you will have to install a power outlet or switch for the toilet. Unless you are a qualified electrician, please DO NOT attempt the work yourself.
The rule for any electrical installation, regardless of size, requires that the electrician provides the client with a certificate to confirm that the work carried out meets the British Standard for electrical safety.
You are running in with the law if you can’t prove that the installation is done by qualified personnel when something goes wrong. Not worth the risk just to save some money, and face possible legal prosecution and potential hazards that may cause lives and fire.
Another consideration is how the cables are routed from the nearest consumer unit to the toilet. It will either be exposed or concealed.
The easiest and low-cost way is to route the cables on the wall surface (AKA exposed and ugly) from the nearest distribution board all the way to the toilet. Otherwise, you will need to hack walls to conceal the wiring, which will be tedious, messy and costly, but will look clean and neat in the end.
3. Soil Pipe Connection For Floor-Mounted Toilet
Knowing how the toilet is connected to the soil pipe helps choose the right toilet and ensure a hassle-free installation later. When buying a floor-mounted smart toilet, you should at least know if the waste pipe is on the floor or wall. That brings you to the two standard toilet traps that all plumbers are familiar with – The S-Shape Trap and P-Shape Trap. (See image below)
- Waste pipe on the floor – S-Trap
- Waste pipe on the wall – P-Trap
If your soil pipe connection doesn’t look anything like the image above, please check with your plumber. He will be able to assess what connector to use to adapt the soil pipe to the shower toilet you intend to buy.
What about the Wall Hung toilet?
Wall hung toilets are of the P-trap design. You will need to check if the existing concealed cistern is compatible with your choice of bidet toilet, including the water connections. Otherwise, you will have to purchase the entire system, consisting of the in-wall cistern and the pan.
And, regardless of floor or wall-mounted, you need to provide power for the bidet toilet. As explained above, this is another cost you will have to factor in. TOC
Buying a shower toilet is fun if you know what you want on the features, mainly about the bidet functionality. And depending on your preferences, different brands will have unique designs that may add a little advantage over others.
It can sometimes be a little overwhelming when you are trying to justify the cost against the features. That’s part of the joy and make sure you enjoy the entire process. So take your time and list down the features that matter in order of priority.
Split your list into two parts – Toilet and Bidet.
Example features for the toilet would be – Rimless pan, nano glaze, auto seat, etc.
For bidet features – You may want to refer to the features above.
On your lists, leave a column for Remarks or Notes so you can jot down the price and nuances among the brands and models you are comparing. That way, you are unlikely to make mistakes with your selection and have better control over your budget.
Lastly, before you pull out your credit card, make sure you have normal water pressure, a budget to install a power supply and a good grasp of the soil connection type.