Few household implements have changed less in the last century than the reliable old toilet. Specifics may have improved, but the basic principles of tank, toilet seat, flush, follow up with dry paper have remained largely intact.
And of all components, the humble toilet seat has changed the least, even in an era of advanced toilets. You might have a choice between circular or elongated, padded or solid, but it’s still a fixture to keep your buns away from the ickiness while you do your business.
And yet, you may find toilet seats soon have less in common with outhouses and more in common with a smartphone or wearable tech. Heated toilet seats, bidet toilet seats, electric toilet seats and, yes, even smart toilet seats have arrived and changed EVERYTHING.
“People who have experienced these kinds of toilets or seats, mostly who travel in Europe or Asia, they love them without regard for price,” says Robert Lay, general manager of The Plumbing Haus in St. Louis. “Once you’ve used them, you have the thought of not having your own to go to the restroom, and they end up coming here to buy them.”
Ready to learn about three toilet seats that could change your life!
Heated toilet seats
This is pretty much exactly what it says on the label. Starting at $80 and moving up depending on quality and features, heated toilet seats take away that cold shock to your bottom when you head to the bathroom in the middle of the night and the bathroom isn’t quite as warm as the rest of the house. The most basic models warm at just one setting, but the more expensive ones can be fine-tuned to your preference.
As an added bonus, they provide a warm glow to act as a night light or just add a cool sci-fi effect to your bathroom. Nothing improves that midnight run more than feeling like your darkened bathroom is a spaceship!
Although heated toilet seats install with ease and you can do it yourself in minutes, you need a power outlet near the toilet to provide electricity.
The Kohler Veil intelligent toilet seat includes a bidet function with multiple settings. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
And indeed, the logic holds up – you wouldn’t use dry paper to clean yourself for a shower, so why for bathroom usage? Bidet users say they’ll never go back once they’ve learned how effective it can be. “I’ve never had someone come back and say they were sorry they installed one,” Lay says.
Bidet toilet seats install that function directly into the toilet (meaning they require a water source, so a certain amount of plumbing skill is needed to install them.) They start at around $250,
“I’ve never had someone come back and say they were sorry they installed [a bidet.]” — Robert Lay, general manager, The Plumbing Haus
Smart toilet seats
The most advanced form of electric toilet seats are where this stuff gets REAL. A smart toilet seat combines several functions into one unit, packed with as much tech as your phone and probably costing as much, if not more. Smart toilet seats start at $600 and the price can go to infinity and beyond for the really advanced stuff.
But is a smart electric toilet seat worth it? Absolutely, according to Lay. “This technology is going to keep catching on and eventually will be used more and more in the U.S.,” he says. “As the world has gotten smaller and it’s easier to travel, it’s been increasing in popularity across the board. And as people install them in their homes, their friends find out about them and spread the word.”
The Kohler C3-200 smart toilet seat includes integrated controls. (Photo courtesy of Kohler)
The main things that differentiate a smart toilet are programmability and multiple functions. A smart toilet seat usually includes a bidet and a heated seat element, along with the ability to customize each to your preferences — even the ability to program multiple users. Some spray cleaner into the toilet bowl before and after each use, raise and lower at the touch of a button, and spray warm air to comfort your bottom and air freshener to comfort your nostrils.
Smart toilet seats vary by brand, but many include additional functions you’re probably already using your phone for in the bathroom anyway. (Yes, I’m talking to you. You know who you are.) We’re talking music playing, environmental control (if you have a smart home), the works. And some have features you probably never even thought of, such as white noise generation to cancel out certain biological noises.
Will a smart toilet seat change your life? That’s up to you to decide, but it will certainly make a big difference in one of the necessities of your life.
“This technology hasn’t changed since the 19th century, but I think what we’re seeing is the next step up and making it more modern,” Lay says.
by Paul F.P. Pogue