Wednesday, September 16

Buying Guide: Electronic Faucets

You see the commercials, you see the magazine advertisements. The questions are always the same, do electronic faucets live up to the hype, or are they just something to break? This buying guide will help you know what to look for and what to ask when shopping for your next kitchen faucet.  This will help you also identify the pros and cons of the different technologies available.  

What are electronic faucets?
Some people call them "Touchless" however that isn't the right term. Here is what you need to know. There are a few types if Electronic Kitchen Faucets on the market. Those that require touch, and those that are motion activated, or truly touchless.  It's important to identify the touch style faucets and the motion faucets, and identify which one will work best for you and your family.  Most consumers actually get the touch activated faucets over the motion faucets, but we will get more in detail on that later.

Brizo Artesso Smart Touch Faucet in Polished Nickel
Questions to Ask:  When you get to the showroom, here are a few questions you may want to ask the showroom sales person.  
  1. What's the warranty on the specific faucet you are looking at?  Are there any other brands with a different warranty or longer warranty?  
  2. What's the power source? If batteries, how long do they last, or is there an option to upgrade to a plug-in style?  
  3. What is the quality of the brand? Are they lower end, mid level, or high end.  I always suggest looking at different styles with many price points.  The Faucet is the hardest working "Appliance" in your kitchen.  It's worth the extra investment.  
  4. Does the showroom have samples hooked up you can use and test?  I don't recommend buying a motion or touch faucet without "playing" first.  

Delta Touch2O/Brizo SmartTouch Technology
Delta and Brizo have my favorite of the electronic kitchen faucets. They require touch, and for my lifestyle, that just works better. The big difference between the two is ultimately the aesthetics behind the design. Because Delta and Brizo are sister companies, the interior guts are essentially the same. They feature the same cartridges, same electronic mechanism, same hoses, etc.

The wonderful thing about these faucets, is you can touch them (almost) anywhere to turn them on. The neck, body, and handle work as your on/off touch area. They will turn on and be at the same temperature the faucet was the last time you had it on. These faucets also remember which spray pattern you used last.  The key is to actually leave the faucet handle in the on position.  This is great, because if the handle is in the off position, you can touch as much as you want and nothing will happen.  This works great for those of us with cat's at home.  No worry that the cat is going to turn the faucet on while scratching her nose.

These Technologies work great because of its ease of use. Like the "hands" commercial shows, your hands can be ants messy as ever, and all you have touch do is tap the faucet. Tap with your fingers, knuckles, wrists, forearm, elbow, chin, whatever floats your boat.

I personally have used the Brizo Talo and Artesso models, and love this technology. The main difference between Delta and Brizo are limited. Aside from the jump in price, they designs themselves are much more favorable in Brizo. Both feature a 5 year warranty on electronics, and a lifetime warranty on the finish. Both are battery operated, however some of the new Brizo faucets will feature an outlet where aren't electric outlet can be added. These faucets run on 6 AA batteries, and the battery pack is on a long lead which can be mounted toward the front of the cabinet, and need to be replaced about every 6 months. While Delta is typically a "Low-Medium" end faucet, Brizo is more high end and definitely worth the extra investment. As I said, their designs are flawless, and after all, the quality is definitely in the details.  Some of the cons include one big one, the faucet doesn't work when the batteries are dead. At least there is a low battery indicator!

Moen MotionSense Faucets
Moen features two sensors for their motion activated faucets. One is on the front of the body of the faucet, the other is at the top of the neck. This allows for dual operation. The top sensor a lows you to wave the faucet on, then wave it off when done. The lower sensor works similarly to other motion faucets where the faucet will turn on, then turn off as soon as you move away. The lower sensor is perfect for filling a glass, washing hands, and other simple tasks. The top sensor is great for dishes, and more heavy duty tasks.

My biggest concern with motion faucets is simple. I have never been good at operating these types of faucets. I often joke with clients that I am a pale ghost and they just don't see me. I can 0ut ,y hand I'm front and wave away, and nothing happens. The Men faucet that I have actually used, the Arbor, has worked well with my pale hamds, so bonus points for Moen.

Client complaints I have been told include "The Ghost Faucet" where people complain the faucet will sense you walking by and turn itself off and on. Kind of creepy!

Pfister React
Pfister is typically a lower price point option. There is currently few designs available, however the features will speak for themselves.  As I said with Moen, I am not typically fond of Motion faucets because of my transparent skin not working well with them. That being said, I haven't actually used the Pfister model, so I don't know if it see's me or not.

This model features one sensor. This sensor is much smaller than the Moen models, which in my opinion is more favorable, as aesthetics are important.  Some of the features include: 2 minute automatic shut off, easy temperature adjustment, hibernate mode, and a low battery indicator.  The two minute shut off is great, and a feature most consumers ask for. If the faucet is turned off, it will automatically shut itself off, conserving water in a hectic kitchen. Like other motion sensor models, the temperature will always be the same, a preset temperature, which on the Pfizer models, cam easily be adjusted for your lifestyle. Hibernation mode is perfect for cleaning the faucet, or when you go on vacation, preventing the cat from turning the faucet on.

Kohler Sensate
This technology features a sensor under the neck of the faucet. I love this! It's discreet and great for aesthetics. This faucet is designed to let you wave not only your hand, but objects as well, to activate the faucet.

Now, I haven't actually seen this faucet, so I can't say much about it.  But knowing Kohler's track record for quality and a competitive price, I am sure this faucet will wow it's users, and is well worth the investment.  

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