How Do Smart Toilets Work? A Complete Guide to the Technology Behind Intelligent Toilets

Smart toilets, also known as intelligent toilets, are the latest innovation taking bathrooms into the future. These high-tech toilets come packed with advanced features that upgrade your bathroom experience and promote better health and hygiene.

What is a Smart Toilet?

A smart toilet is a toilet with built-in technology that allows it to automatically clean itself, detect health issues, and provide personalized comfort and convenience features for users. Here are some standard features that define a smart toilet:

Smart Toilets Work

Basic Features:

  • Automated self-cleaning with UV light or electrolyzed water systems
  • Touchless flushing activation with motion sensors
  • Heated seats with adjustable temperature
  • Warm water bidet with adjustable temperature and pressure
  • Built-in air dryer

Advanced Health Analysis Functions:

  • Urine and stool analysis for health issues
  • Automatic odor extraction and deodorization
  • Vital signs tracking e.g. heart rate

Personalization and Convenience Upgrades:

  • User presets for temperatures, spray pressure
  • Nightlights and automatic open/close lids
  • Music and nature sounds

Other Advanced Features:

  • Toilet-mounted touchscreen monitor
  • Automatic cleaning and descaling cycles
  • Wireless app connectivity for preferences

So in short, smart toilets use technology to make going to the bathroom cleaner, more comfortable, and capable of tracking important health insights.

How Do Smart Toilets Work? Key Technology Explained

Smart toilets are packed with sensors, electronic components, and ingenious sanitation technology to power their many functions. Here is an overview of some of the key technologies involved:

Self-Cleaning Technology

One of the core functions of smart toilets is the ability to automatically clean and sanitize themselves. This is accomplished through a few methods:

  • UV Light: UV-C light has disinfecting properties that kill viruses and bacteria. Smart toilets have UV lights focused on interior surfaces that activate automatically after use or on timed intervals.
  • Electrolyzed Water: An electrolyzed water generatorSeparate pre-mixed solutions of salt, water, and vinegar into sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and hypochlorous acid to sanitize the bowl. The liquids are fully converted into normal saline after.
  • Automatic Dispensing of Cleaning Agents: Some models have built-in reservoirs that release cleaning agents like detergents into the bowl before or after use. They activate based on sensors or preset schedules.

Motion Sensors

Motion sensors allow smart toilets to activate different functions touchlessly, like flushing, opening/closing lids, starting cleaning cycles and more based on detecting user movement. These generally use infrared sensors directed at key areas around the toilet.

User Comfort Technology

Comfort features make going to the bathroom more pleasant and customizable. Most models have adjustable heated seats, bidets, air dryers and even playable music. These are enabled electronically using:

  • Electronic Heat Pads: Thin, electric wire network underneath the seat maintains surface warmth. Temperature is adjustable, even able to be scheduled or set to turn on when sensors detect someone’s presence.
  • Water Heating Elements: Small heaters warm the water supplied to spray wands for comfortable and hygienic cleansing. Again, temperature is adjustable.
  • Air Dryers: These blowers efficaciously dry the user after washing/bidet functions have completed. Air temperature and intensity settings may be tuned as needed.

Health Analysis Functions

Smart toilets carry diagnostic capabilities for monitoring toilet use and related aspects of the user’s health, including:

  • Built-In Urine and Stool Analysis: Biosensors, test strips, and spectrometers built into the bowl and internal testing chamber collect information on urine streams and stool. This data offers insight on body function, diet quality, pregnancy status, infections and more.
  • Vital Sign Tracking: Some models have integrated sensors that can monitor key vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation along with body mass readings. These cues get cross-referenced with other waste excretion data for deeper body monitoring.

This health data may provide timely alerts to changes that warrant medical care or allow users to proactively adjust diet and lifestyle habits.

Connectivity and Customization

In addition to onboard controls, smart toilets also connect to apps and voice assistants for greater convenience and personalization:

  • Mobile App Connectivity: Users can install a corresponding app to access settings and health readings as well as receive alerts for product updates, required maintenance, or health notices.
  • Voice Assistant Integration: Smart toilets with WiFi capability can connect to virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for voice activated control.

Key Benefits of Smart Toilets

Intelligent toilets aim to redefine your bathroom experience with cutting edge amenities that make bathroom visits cleaner, healthier and more comfortable. Some top benefits include:

Promotes Better Hygiene: Self-cleaning tech significantly reduces bacteria and grime buildup compared to standard toilets. Electrolyzed water rinses bowls with disinfectant after every use while UV light runs germ killing cycles automatically.

Removes Odors: Built-in deodorizers actively break down toilet odors between uses. Some models have odor sensing capabilities that automatically engage deodorization when unwanted smells are present.

Touchless Operation: Motion activated functions promote hygiene by minimizing contact with toilet surfaces. Features like flushing, opening lids, or accessing bidet wands can be activated handsfree.

Track Vital Health Signs: Smart toilets allow you to passively monitor a range of health status indicators through stool and urine assessment otherwise only possible through lab testing. This allows quicker action on impending illness.

Unparalleled Comfort and Convenience: Finally say goodbye to icy cold toilet seats with adjustable heated models! Users also enjoy total control over bidet wand pressure, water warmth and drying temperature for maximum comfort.

Comparison Table: Top Smart Toilet Models

Here is an overview of some top rated smart toilet models and their standout features:

ModelKey Standout Features
Toto Neorest NX2Actilight UV sanitization, electrolyzed water misting, automatic opening/closing and flushing, heated seat, warm water cleansing, air deodorizer
Kohler Numi 2.0Touchscreen operation panel, heated seat, warm water bidet, personalized user presets, urine/stool analysis, integrated Alexa speaker
BioBidet BB-2000Premier class bidet with fusion warm water cleaning, wide heated seat, vibration massage mode, adjustable dryer, night light
Brondell Swash DS725User detection sensors, sterilization, warming tray, triple stainless steel nozzles, heated air dryer, carbon air deodorizer

As you can see, smart toilets integrate some combination of high-level cleansing, comfort and health tracking technologies to create a standout bathroom experience. Advanced models may also offer conveniences like ambient lighting, music playback and mobile app integration.

Inside the Smart Toilet: Key Components

While features differ across smart toilet models, most share common componentry that work together to enable core functionalities:

Motion Sensors: Detects user presence to activate systems like opening lids, flushing, heating seats, etc. without needing touch.

User Comfort System: Comprises heated seat, instantaneous water boiler and warm air dryer for bidet cleansing and comfort drying.

Self-Cleaning System: Uses UV light, electrolyzed water generator and automatic detergent rinsing to sanitize the toilet bowl and surrounding surfaces.

Deodorization System: Air filter, odor sensor and deodorant dispensing system tracks smells and releases perfumes or activates oxygen filtration to keep bathroom smelling fresh.

Central Controller: Microprocessor that integrates sensor input and controls all automated features and cleaning schedules.

Connectivity System (select models): Allows interfacing with smartphones through WiFi/Bluetooth and may include speakers for streaming music and integrating virtual assistants.

Diagnostic Sensors and Test Strips (select models): Built-in biosensors, test strips and waste sample chambers used for urine and stool analysis to detect health issues.

While components better execute individual performance objectives on their own, smart toilets uniquely coordinate these subsystems for greatly amplified functionality overall.

How Much Does Installing a Smart Toilet Cost?

As cutting-edge bathroom appliances packed with advanced hardware, smart toilets sit at the higher end of the price spectrum. Here is an overview:

Smart Toilet Unit Cost

The toilet unit itself ranges widely in price from mid-tier models between $3,000 to $4,000 up to luxury models priced $7,000 to $15,000+. More affordably featured smart toilets are also emerging in the $1,000 to $2,000 range.

You’ll pay more for models with higher-end features like full health sensors, touchscreen operation panels, connectivity and top-tier washing and drying systems.

Associated Installation Costs

Typical smart toilet installation costs between $200 to $800 on top of the unit purchase price:

  • Basic Installation Labor: $200 – $400
  • Complex Installation Labor: $400 – $800
  • Miscellaneous Parts/Materials: $50 – $150

So in total expect to invest anywhere between $3,200 to $15,800+ for the smart toilet itself and professional installation complete.

Do Smart Toilets Require Special Plumbing?

Luckily smart toilets don’t generally need special plumbing lines during installation. Their electrical requirements are also on par with standards for bathrooms:

Water Supply Lines

Smart toilets use standard 1⁄2 inch or 3⁄8 inch water supply lines already existing in most bathrooms so no repiping is necessary. Slight angle adjustments may be made to optimize flow to electrical heating tanks.

Drain Lines

Just as with conventional toilets, standard 3 inch or 4 inch drain lines can be used without issue.

Electrical Supply

For power, smart toilets typically only need a 110V grounded electrical outlet like those used for bathroom receptacle circuits. This sufficiently powers the moderate wattages needed for features like heated seats, warm water cleaning functions and UV lamps.

So fortunately smart toilets can piggyback on typical bathroom infrastructure. Some small retrofitting like supply line angle adjustments may maximize performance however.

How to Operate a Smart Toilet

Despite their sophisticated capabilities, smart toilets are designed for simple and intuitive daily use, not much different than traditional toilets.

Here is an overview of using core smart toilet functions:

Automatic Opening and Flushing

Many smart toilets have integrated motion sensors so that they flush automatically after sensing you’ve moved away from the toilet or opened the lid when you approach. This allows touchless, handsfree use for better hygiene.

Using the Bidet Cleansing Functions

Bidet wands extend from underneath the toilet rim area to rinse and cleanse along with standard toilet paper use. Settings like water temperature, spray pressure, wand position and drying can be adjusted through an attached control panel or remote.

Controlling Comfort Settings

Use onboard controls or mobile apps to turn on comfort features like heated seat and water warmth. Set temperatures, durations and operating modes (timed or continuous based on occupancy detection) to your preferences.

Accessing Health Readings (select models)

For smart toilets with full health sensors, diagnostic readings may be accessed directly from the toilet screen or companion mobile app. Check frequently for any alerts on changes requiring follow up medical care.

For the most part, smart toilets aim for simple use equivalency with basic expectations of a standard toilet while allowing customization and fine tuning of more advanced features if desired.

Smart Toilet Maintenance Guide

While smart toilet’s self-cleaning properties reduce overall maintenance, you’ll still need to follow a few best practices:

  • Change Water Filters Regularly: Water filtration cartridges should be swapped every 6 months to keep water inlet lines clean.
  • Clean UV Lamp Protective Quartz Glass: Wipe this glass covering every 2 weeks as dust buildup reduces disinfecting effectiveness over time.
  • Take Monthly Details: Do a monthly deep clean scrubbing stubborn mineral buildup in bowl and jets that automatic cleaning may miss.
  • Avoid Toilet Products with Dyes or Foaming Agents: These can gum up pipes and damage systems optimized for water only.
  • Use Manufacturer Approved Cleaners: To prevent corrosion damage, only utilize specialty cleaners formulated to work safely with your toilet’s materials and electronics.
  • Schedule Annual Check-Ups: While smart toilet’s can self diagnose issues, it’s still wise to have a qualified plumber verify proper functioning across all systems once a year.

Troubleshooting Common Smart Toilet Problems

Here are some basic steps to resolve frequent smart toilet issues yourself before calling costly repair services:

Problem: Toilet isn’t flushing automatically ⇾ Actions: Try cleaning motion sensors lenses of dust/grime (causes detection issues). Ensure bathroom light level changes are adequate for triggering (no lid automation if room stays dark). Check for loose sensor connections.

Problem: Water or seat not heating to desired temperature ⇾ Actions: Check water supply lines/valves for obstructions affecting flow to heating element or depleted boil tank. Ensure seat heater electrical connection intact from detachable seat-bowl design.

Problem: Persistent odor issues ⇾ Actions: Manually trigger air filter/deodorizer refresh with most odor causing waste now removed by flushing. Use smartphone app to max auto deodorization settings. Schedule professional deep cleaning. Evaluate diet/health if personal flatulence the culprits.

Problem: Leakage issues ⇾ Actions: Check for supply/drain line damage or loose connections. Assess seals integrity around bowl openings. Confirm automatic cleaning solution valves close properly after dispensing into bowl.

Smart toilets eliminate much of the scrubbing, deodorizing and discomfort of yesteryear’s toilets. But as with any complex appliance, issues can occasionally arise requiring selective troubleshooting or tune-ups.