We’ve come a long way since the days of the chamber pot and the cry of “garde à l’eau!” as people chucked the contents on to the streets. (Did you know it is this phrase that led to the English word ‘loo’?)
Over the years, toilets have become rather more sophisticated - from Sir John Harrington, the godson of Elizabeth I, who invented the flushable water closet in the late 1500s, to Alexander Cummings’ revolutionary S-trap, patented in 1775 - there have long been efforts to improve bathroom technology.
It was the 20th century that saw bathroom technology develop rapidly, with the advent of flushable valves, close-coupled toilets and automatic flushing systems among other introductions.
However, the toilet of the 21st century is yet another concept and we are seeing the rise of the smart toilet. Not surprisingly, the Japanese are at the forefront of these high-tech developments.
Smart toilet? Well, yes. Seat heating, coloured lighting, automatic lid openers and slow-closing lids, built-in deodorisers (no need for a spray of VIPoo, with that particular feature), and self-cleaning features such as using UV light, which interacts with the bowl to electrolyse and then sanitise the water. Even privvies that have music playing while you’re on the throne and those that can be controlled by an app.
These are fun - OK, not absolutely necessary - advancements that we’re likely to see only in the homes of celebs and multi-millionaires who have thousands of pounds to spend on a super-lav.
Other technologies, however, such as remote-controlled bidet with adjustable washing and flushing modes, and adjustable air dryers, are proving to be hugely helpful for the disabled and the elderly. We can imagine a time when these will become mainstream.
But controlling a toilet from an app and having mood music and tunes playing? Not for us, thanks!
Older people and those with mobility problems deserve better than “institutional” bathroom products that help them lead independent lives, says British manufacturer Inta.
According to Public Health England, life expectancy for the over 65s is the highest it’s ever been and as a result, many more older people are choosing to adapt their homes to live independently for longer.
To demonstrate that living aids can still look good, Inta, which has been developing and producing high-quality bathroom products for more than 15 years, has designed its contemporary Ever range of grab rails and shower seats.
Stuart Gizzi, Director at Inta, said: “Older people want to stay in their homes for as long as possible, which means they will need products that help them to maintain their independence for longer - but that doesn’t mean they should have to compromise on style and settle for an institutional-looking bathroom.
“We’ve created a range of products that not only provide an exceptional level of support for the user, but they also still look great in the bathroom; complementing existing chrome or copper fittings.”
Inta has carefully developed a series of independent living products that put safety first but do not compromise on style, including on-trend polished copper and chrome grab rails and a slip-resistant shower seat in black and chrome.
The copper grab rail has been designed for intensive use and is suitable for domestic settings, as well as care homes and hospitals. Thanks to copper’s antimicrobial properties, the rail eliminates bacteria quickly, preventing the spread of germs. The polished finish will keep its lustre, while concealed fixings with resin fixing plates mean that it looks neat. Meanwhile, the strong and sturdy shower seat with contemporary styled slip-resistant black seat and chrome fittings has a maximum load of 125kg, as do the slip-resistant polished chrome grab rails, manufactured from full brass construction with concealed fixings.
Inta also manufactures a safe touch thermostatic basin mixer tap with easy-to-grip lever option that enables it to be operated by hand or elbow. This stylish design, with anti-scald technology, a safe touch body and self-draining spout, is suitable for domestic bathrooms as well as sheltered accommodation and care homes.
Stuart added: “As a trusted brand, we’re keen to ensure that our products meet the highest of standards for both functionality and style. It’s important to offer a solution for people who want to maintain their independence and fit aesthetically-pleasing bathroom aids.”
When it comes to showers, there has never been so much choice on the market. While it is fantastic to see such a wide array of products available, it can be difficult to know which to choose. Stuart Gizzi, Director of British manufacturer Inta, looks at the advantages and disadvantages of electric, digital and thermostatic showers and explains why he thinks the key is to keep it simple with fit-and-forget products...
“The three most popular types of shower - electric, digital and thermostatic - each have unique qualities that suit different end users so it’s important to understand the differences.
“Electric showers - often regarded as the most ‘traditional’ choice - have been around for many years and are great for energy saving as the water is only heated when in use.
“However, electric showers tend to be a single feed that is commonly installed in the loft - which can cause problems with water freezing during colder months - and they typically have the worst flow rates when compared with digital and thermostatic. Not to mention they are undoubtedly the most dated shower products out of the three and an electrician is needed to install the wiring.
“Then we have digital showers. There’s no denying these are the future; we are living in the digital era after all. The benefit of digital showers is that they can be preset to optimum temperature and pressure - and some can even be switched on using a smartphone - so they are the obvious choice for tech-savvy users who have more money to spend.
“I think in the next 10 years digital showers will be leading the way but at the moment there are definitely still some teething issues with the technology. Digital showers are also complicated to install because they need to be concealed - which makes for more difficult and expensive servicing too - and there is an increased risk of callbacks if users can’t get to grips with the programme.
“Last but not by no means least are thermostatic showers. While digital showers might seem to have all the frills, the thermostatic valve is also a very intelligent product - and better yet, they are much easier to install and use.
“Thermostatic valves mix hot and cold water to the selected temperature and react instantly to any changes in the pressure or temperature of the water supply and re-adjust accordingly. If a failure in the cold water supply occurs, the thermostatic valve is designed to automatically shut down.
“These types of showers are piped up ready to go and have two easy-to-use handles; one that switches the shower on and off, and one to select the temperature. There’s nothing overcomplicated about a thermostatic shower - it’s the perfect fit-and-forget product for the installer.
“I think the industry needs to keep it simple and focus on what the function of a shower actually is.
“However the most important thing to consider when choosing a shower is of course the safety and quality of the product. Unfortunately it’s all too often that we see lower quality products that have not been put through rigorous testing lead to serious incidents, including scalding accidents and even deaths.
“All manufacturers should be looking to achieve the highest approvals for their products. All of our showers at Inta are TMV2, TMV3 or WRAS approved and our Trade-Tec and Puro thermostatic ranges both feature our proven anti-scald technology too.
“To be TMV approved means the product offers vital protection to people against scalding by controlling the mix of hot and cold water which comes out of the shower. TMV2 identifies valves that are suitable to prevent scalding in domestic settings, while TMV3 offers an even higher level of protection that make the products suitable for NHS and healthcare settings.
“WRAS approval, meanwhile, demonstrates compliance with requirements of regulations that mean the products should not cause waste, misuse, undue consumption or contamination of the water supply.
“There may be more choice on the market than ever before, but the true focus needs to be on quality. More manufacturers need to strive to achieve TMV and WRAS approval so that we have better quality products available.”
Inta’s Trade-Tec range has been specifically designed and engineered to meet the exacting requirements of the professional installer, offering quick, easy fit-and-forget solutions that are stylish, affordable, reliable, compliant and more importantly, each valve has Inta’s proven anti-scald thermostatic fail-safe protection built in.
Meanwhile, the Puro collection from Inta is defined by the unique contemporary styling of the handles, oversized soaker and multi-function eco-air handset. The Puro range is the ultimate combination of form and function featuring safe touch surface valve bodies and Inta’s proven anti-scald thermostatic technology. Eco-air handsets deliver a reduced flow rate by up to 60% whilst increasing showering performance.
Heating and plumbing equipment manufacturer Inta will once again showcase a selection of its premier products at this year’s Ecobuild, including its extended range of revolutionary HIPER HIUs, maintenance-free ActivFlo water conditioners and the state-of-the-art Zilmet expansion vessels.
With more integrated features than any other heating interface unit on the market, Inta’s latest collection of single and twin-plated HIPER HIUs has been designed in collaboration with installers to ensure that fitting, servicing and maintenance can be done with ease.
Installed in shared residential buildings, the HIPER HIU distributes heating and domestic hot water from a central plant system to individual properties. By removing the need for each area to have a conventional boiler, gas flue and hot water cylinder, the interface units dramatically reduce build costs for developers. Inta will also showcase its selection of substations, which range from 50 litre to 150 litre and further complete the HIPER HIU offering.
Meanwhile, the ActivFlo provides an efficient solution to hard water issues and limescale build-up. The products extend the service life and improve efficiency of heating equipment, as well as reducing existing limescale.
ActivFlo uses a unique alloy that changes the chemical structure of limescale-forming calcium carbonate in water, converting calcite, a form of calcium carbonate that causes hard water, into aragonite. These aragonite crystals do not build up or form deposits, instead they remain suspended in the water, flowing harmlessly through the system and eventually out to the drain.
Visitors to Inta’s stand at Ecobuild can learn more about the new cutting-edge Zilmet expansion vessels which feature the innovative patented ZILAN membrane. This unique compound, exclusively designed and produced entirely by Zilmet, promises to increase the already impressive longevity of products with reduced permeability and specialised sizing.
Inta will also exhibit the IntaKlean2 magnetic filter, Intamix thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) and Intafil sealed system equipment.
Stuart Gizzi, Director at Inta, said: “As always, we are really looking forward to showcasing a broad mix of products and equipment at Ecobuild. The show presents a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate the outstanding quality on offer at Inta. It also gives us a chance to meet with plumbers and installers and explain how our innovative solutions go that extra mile to benefit them.”
Inta will be at stand B130 at Ecobuild, where it will be running a competition to win an exclusive Zilmet barbecue made out of a Zilmet expansion vessel, plus a bag of charcoal and BBQ tongs thrown in!
Leading bathroom products manufacturer Inta has called on the heating and plumbing industry to champion water-and energy-efficient products as it looks to step up its environmental credentials.
The Water Efficient Product Labelling Scheme (WEPL) was introduced by the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) in 2007 and Inta says its success is such that it should now be incumbent on manufacturers and suppliers to promote these labelled products before any others.
Stuart Gizzi, director at Inta, said it had decided to ramp up the promotion of its 35 heating and plumbing products with WEPL labelling, which include taps and thermostatic shower controls, and will be encouraging buyers, specifiers and contractors to select more environmentally friendly options.
WEPL products are increasingly recognised by the sector as an important tool in the drive to reduce water consumption. They are also proven to be energy efficient and have the lowest carbon footprint, he said.
“We’d like to see the industry make a concerted effort to ensure as many of its products as possible achieve WEPL labelling,” said Stuart. “We are proud of the efforts we have made to introduce collections that are more eco-friendly and we will continue to work hard to increase our range of approved goods.
“WEPL is a benchmark of quality and with the focus on climate change, it’s important that we play our part in helping to reduce water and energy consumption. We’re hoping 2018 will be the year that sees real change in the heating and plumbing sector when it comes to WEPL and that more products come to market and are promoted. We believe it’s what the consumer wants.”
The Water Label is similar in design to the energy label found on electrical goods and shows the volume of water that the product will use when installed correctly.