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Lifting the Lid on the latest Toilet Technology

There’s a new loo in town and it’s gleaming, intelligent and costs around $5000…

It might just be the future of lavatories in Australia.

Now available in Australia, the Kohler Veil Intelligent Wall Hung Toilet takes a serious designer-led approach to “your bathroom experience”. Advertised at $4999, apart from its price tag this lavish loo has many surprising qualities that could set a new cistern-mark in the history of toilets.

Special features include:

  • touchless flushing system (uses emerging sensing technology, which projects an electromagnetic field)
  • hygienic rimless bowl
  • integrated bidet
  • UV self-cleansing (uses a germ-destroying UV light)
  • intuitive LCD remote you can screen tap for different functions
  • minimalist design

Before we talk more about the present, let’s look at the past.

A brief history of toilets

In ancient Egypt, wealthy homes featured proper bathrooms with limestone-seated toilets. Meanwhile, the poor used wooden stools with a hole in the seat. Underneath was a container filled with sand.

The Minoan Civilization of Crete had toilets that were flushed with water and drainage systems in the street that also took sewage.

The Roman garrison posted to Housesteads Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall in Britain around 1800 years ago enjoyed the comforts of latrines flushed by a channel running anti-clockwise, which used rainwater and draining surface water.

In the castles of medieval Europe, the toilet was called a ‘garderobe’ and it was simply a vertical shaft with a stone seat at the top. Some garderobes emptied into the moat.

In Tudor England, the ‘night soil’ collected from privies and cesspits was collected by a ‘gong farmer’ and taken outside town and city boundaries to dumps. The recycled waste then had diverse uses, such as fertilising fields or market gardens, sealing cottage walls or tanning leather hides.

The patent for a flushing lavatory was granted to Scottish inventor Alexander Cumming in 1775, based on earlier designs by Sir John Harrington. English inventor Joseph Bramah refined the flushing ‘water closet’ model in 1778. However, in Britain flushing toilets did not widely replace chamber pots until the late 19th century.

The English plumber Thomas Crapper (1836–1910) held nine patents for ‘water closet’ improvement, including the U-bend (though apparently the term ‘crap’ is derived from Middle English for a privy rather than from the Crapper Company).

Bidet innovations

The bidet was probably introduced by French royal furniture maker Christophe des Rosiers in 1700, and in the second half of the eighteenth century, bidets became popular with Italy’s royalty. In 1900 with improved hydraulic systems in private homes, the bathroom bidet became more widespread in continental Europe.

In the 1980s the electronic bidet toilet, with connections to the existing toilet, was produced in Korea and Japan. Today’s high-tech bidets use a wireless remote control to manage water pressure and temperature, as well as features like user memory settings and Bluetooth technology and silver nanoparticle nozzle sterilisation.

Future of Toilets

Toilets are still evolving but in different directions.

Top-of-the-range toilets like the Kohler Veil Intelligent Wall Hung Toilet utilise smart technology, UV rays and new sensor-based touchless flushing technology to achieve hands-free hygienic use and cleaning.

Marketing of the bidet toilet in the USA has focused on the environmental benefits of using less toilet paper.

At the same time, the market for composting toilets is expanding. These toilets treat human waste by the biological process of composting. A properly functioning compost toilet produces dry, odourless compost.

Composting alternatives

Decomposition takes place in a sealed chamber beneath the composting toilet pedestal. Sawdust and wood shavings are added after each use so a dry composting toilet, unlike a flush toilet, requires no connection to a sewerage system and may not need a septic tank.

Hailed for its environmental advantages, the dry composting toilet definitely saves water and the compost it produces can be used to improve soil – not unlike the ‘night soil’ of previous centuries.

The composting toilet is well suited to the off-the-grid movement. Combined with solar panels supplying off-the-grid power and rainwater tanks supplying water, composting toilets can free residents from reliance on public utilities. They are used in many national parks and rural areas not connected to a public sewer network – for example in Finland an estimated 4% of unsewered single-family homes are equipped with a composting toilet. However, you don’t have to be an American doomsday prepper or Scandinavian naturist to appreciate the merits of dry composting systems. Waterless toilets are practical for Australian conditions and some local councils even recommend that householders install them over conventional septic tank systems.

Plumbing connections just right for you

Installation must comply with Australian Standards, and each site must have High Hazard Backflow Prevention installed upstream of the installation. For domestic installations, consult with a Licensed Practitioner (Plumber) before installation.

Whether connecting a smart or composting toilet, Curran Plumbing offers a complete service for all your new toilet needs.

Get in touch with us today.

Need a plumber? Call Curran.