My Robot Toilet

Back in May, my wife and I spent 10 days in Japan with our friends. Every day, multiple times a day, in hotels, restaurants, trains we got to experience what such a mundane thing is like in a technologically advanced society.

When we returned, the withdrawal started. I had to have a Toto Washlet in my bathroom. 

What is this you are talking about Omar? Well, you see, in Japan they have these toilets called washlets. They have heated seats, they clean you when you are done doing your business with a hot jet of water, and some of then even auto flush and open / close the seat automatically. They make toilet paper something optional.

The highest end of these devices detect your arrival, and raise the lid. If you don’t sit down right away, they will also raise the seat. They clean you, dry you, and then flush away the stuff, clean the toilet and close the lid. The latest toilets do all this with a single gallon of water to flush. It’s simply amazing.

In some cases all of this is 100% automated. High end models even have lighting so that you don’t need to illuminate the bathroom in the middle of the night.

There are 3 ways to get a washlet.

1. If you have a compatible toilet you can just replace the seat. All the smarts are in the seat. There are many different models. This is a Toto Washlet S350e, the one I have.

2. You can upgrade to a new ultra efficient toilet with a built in seat. These are denoted as the Connect+ models. They have integrated cable routing that makes the toilet appear more like an integrated unit, vs just slapping a new toilet seat on the existing toilet. I got the UltraMax II 1G Connect+™ S350e One-Piece Toilet - 1.0 GPF.

3. You can get the highest end model, the Neorest, which has no tank, and has many more installation requirements. But it has all the bells and whistles. A few of our hotels in Japan had these units.

All of these options require that you have a power outlet within 3 feet of your toilet. This is not standard in the US, and is not a required part of the building code. So hopefully you can find a way to get power near your seat.

To evaluate which of the three options you go with, you should consider:

Do you like your toilet? 

Toto toilets are some of the best engineered toilets in the world. I have never had one clog. Our house had 3 toto toilets and 2 Duravit toilets. We owned exactly 2 plungers and kept them near each Duravit as we frequently needed them. The Totos have never clogged once.

How is this possible? Good engineering, innovative flush valve, special coatings on the materials to provide less sticky surfaces.

Is your toilet efficient?

The law now requires that every toilet consume 1.6 gallons per flush. Some toilets have two buttons, one for .8 G and one for 1.6 depending on what you just did. 

However, the latest toilets from Toto only consume 1 gallon with the same performance. That’s pretty amazing. 60% less water used for flush. For high volume toilets, this saves a ton of money.

What options do you want?

Toto washlets come with many different options. I wanted as many as I could reasonably get. So for me that meant:

  • Pre-cleaning of bowl
  • Dual action spray with warm water (oscillating and pulsating)
  • Air dryer
  • Heated Seat
  • Auto opening / closing seat
  • User settings (like your car, for two people to customize adjustments)

I decided to replace my Duravit Toilet in our master bath with the integrated Toto option. The highest end option (the Neorest - a $5,000 toilet) is pretty dammed amazing, but is 3x more expensive than the highest end integrated Toto and has some special installation requirements that are best suited for new construction.

The Toilet I got is the UltraMax II 1G Connect+™ S350e One-Piece Toilet - 1.0 GPF. Model number MW604584CUFG#01. I had it installed by Terry Love Plumbing. Terry did a amazing job.

You actually end up ordering two things. The toilet (in this case the Ultramax II 1G Connect+) and the seat (the S350e). However, the toilet is special and not the same as a standard Ultramax II 1G as it has special holes to route the power and water to the seat.

He also installed a non washlet Toto to replace our other Duravit. This was just a standard Ultramax II 1G.

Getting the Toilet installed

As I mentioned, you will probably need to get an electrician to put an outlet in the right place. I was lucky that I had a light switch right near the toilet and they could use that to run power to an outlet.

I then found a plumber to purchase and install my toilet. You could outright buy the toilet from Amazon too. There are a dizzying number of options and models, so I preferred to have the plumber do this. Terry provided very reasonable pricing: $1,409 for the toilet with washlet and $200 for the install. I got a rebate from the city of Seattle for $100 since it’s a 1 Gallon flush toilet.

 Our toilet

Our toilet

Living with the Toilet

Honestly, it's quite boring. You get used to having these robot features. And then you start doing things like "I'm going upstairs to go to the bathroom IN MY BATHROOM" and "Meh, I'm going to wait till I get home" and "Damm I wish I was at home right now".

You might wonder how much power this toilet uses. Turns out not much. I have mine on then energy saver mode. According to my power meter it will cost about $11/year in energy.

No doubt this is a luxury. But this is one of the better ones out there given how us humans are designed to do this type of chore often.

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