With the current hoarding-driven shortages of bathroom tissue and other paper goods due to the, now could be an excellent time to upgrade your toilets with some modern technology. A bidet seat can reduce your reliance on paper products and improve the cleanliness of your hygiene.
A bidet seat is a drop-in replacement for your existing toilet seat that ties into the water supply for your toilet. The basic concept uses a directed stream of water to clean the desired area of your body without the use of bathroom tissue. In my personal experience using these devices for the past five years, I do not require more than a few sheets total when drying off or even the use of bathroom tissue at all. Once I started using one, I found toilets not equipped with these devices to be comparatively primitive -- it's hard to go back to the old way of doing things once you start.
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Without any doubt, Toto remains the 800-pound gorilla in the drop-in bidet washlet space. Its toilets can be found throughout Asia and Europe in hospitality businesses such as hotels and fine restaurants. As with Apple, which has multiple ranges of products to fit different price points and feature sets, Toto has also created various levels of price points. Currently, at the mid-range level for the industry, the C200 (includes remote) and the C100 (no remote) are the lower-level options that will meet most household requirements in the $400 to $500 price point.
Toto offers its product in two colors: A standard Cotton White, and a Sedona Beige -- the second of which is less common and is typically more expensive. Seats come in both standard and elongated versions.
While it is possible to find competitive, below-retail prices for some of Toto's products using online retailers such as Amazon and large hardware chains such as Lowe's, keep in mind that the company is usually pretty strict about product servicing and proof of purchase, and only wants to repair products sold by authorized distributors. Often, if you look locally, you can find plumbing and bathroom supply stores that are authorized distributors for Toto, which will be willing to meet internet prices.
So, if you are inclined to buy a Toto product, be sure to shop around.View Now at Amazon
Brondell is a company that produces a wide range of high-quality electric bidet products at about half the price of a comparable Toto model. If Toto is Apple, then Brondell is Android. That's not a bad space for the company to occupy. As with Toto, typical features include variable pressure, variable water temperature, variable position nozzles, and heated and automatic seats. The base-level Swash line of bidet starts at around $269 and goes all the way up to $649 for the most advanced model.View Now at Amazon
BioBidet, like Brondell, is also a premium manufacturer of bidet products. Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, its products via direct sale from its website are currently heavily delayed in shipment, particularly the extremely popular BB-600 (now selling for $399 on Amazon), which has gotten excellent reviews in many mainstream media publications.View Now at Amazon
Electric vs. mechanical bidets
Some bidet models use a single, non-adjustable stream of water, while others can direct the flow with an adjustable nozzle and have adjustable pressure and oscillating movement. Other features might include heated seats, air drying, variable water temperature, night lighting, automatic bowl cleaning, and automatic seat lifting using occupancy sensors.
For the past 20 years, the leader in this space has been Japanese bathroom giant Toto, with its Washlet series of products. Traditionally, the company's bidet toilet seat products have had a base price of over $1000 retail. However, due to heavy competition from other vendors, such as Brondell and other companies in the bathroom and plumbing supply industry, the prices on these devices have fallen considerably, down to about $450 for Toto's most basic model (and at the $350 price point and under for competing models). Some very inexpensive models, which do not require an electrical outlet and only use water pressure and mechanical valves to adjust the water stream, have been selling for less than $100.
Best mechanical bidet toilet seats
In the $150 and under space, most products are purely mechanical, which do not require an electrical outlet, such as the Tushy, the Clearrear, Luxe Bidet, and the incredibly fast-selling Tibbers on Amazon. All of these use the same basic design, some of which are capable of adjusting the nozzle positioning, where some have fixed nozzle capabilities. Tushy has some differentiation with its Spa model, which can tap into the hot water supply of your sink to mix with cold water to provide a warm spray. Some of these companies, Clearrear, especially, are offering discounts of up to 15 percent when several devices are purchased at once.
Installing a bidet yourself is easy
The installation of these products is relatively straightforward, as shown in the included video with this article. For electric devices, such as the Toto model I demonstrated, you will need a GFCI-rated outlet close to the toilet to plug it in. If you need to connect it to another outlet in your bathroom near the sink, simply replace the outlet with a GFCI socket (if it doesn't have one) and use an outdoor-rated extension cord until you can hire an electrician to install an additional outlet.
Most -- if not all of these bidet seats -- come with a water supply splitter that is used to provide water to the cleaning nozzle. They require only a small wrench to do the installation and connection to existing plumbing. A typical installation should only take about 15 minutes, which includes removal of the original toilet seat, cleaning the toilet surface, and installing the water splitter, mounting bracket, and the seat itself.