Question Of The Week: Automated Restrooms… Friend Or Foe?

automated restrooms

Posted by Anne Cosgrove, TFM Editor-in-Chief

A reader recently shared his thoughts on automatic faucets in public restrooms, noting that these plumbing fixtures dictate the temperature of water he uses to wash his hands, which is often not hot enough for his liking. This reader’s comments came to mind while I was traveling last week, during which time I visited restrooms in airports, train stations, hotels, and convention centers. More than once the sensor on a hands-free toilet kicked in unnecessarily; the soap dispenser provided me a paltry spot of soap, prompting another go-round; and a sink faucet required me to wave my hands several times under it before it responded. Drying my hands didn’t present any notable challenges; whether there was a hand dryer or paper towels, that was a smooth transition overall.

Now, despite my “complaints” above I highly appreciate automated and hands-free restroom fixtures in public restrooms. The improved hygiene resulting from not having to touch so many common surfaces is what tops the list of benefits for me, especially in recent years. Meanwhile, making things happen with a simple swipe of your hand just seems to make a trip to the restroom quicker and easier.

From the facility professional’s standpoint, automated restroom technology (in addition to elevating the facility’s image) are designed to conserve resources by pre-determining the amount of water, hand soap, energy, or paper towels each person uses in those areas. This is a solid benefit that many, many facilities are taking advantage of by using this type of equipment. But how do you ensure these fixtures are working correctly (only flushing when needed; responding to user’s motions the first time; or providing a suitable water temperature)?

Restrooms at Temple Emanuel have touchless faucets and soap dispensers.
Restrooms at Temple Emanuel in Pittsburgh, PA have touchless faucets and soap dispensers (Photo: Temple Emanuel of Short Hills).

If you have these fixtures in your restrooms, what criteria did you look for or testing did you employ before purchasing? And, now that these are in place, how does your staff maintain them to ensure they are operating within the desired parameters?

Last (but not least!), as a user what are your experiences with automated restroom fixtures—the good, the bad, and the ugly?

Share your feedback and suggestions in the LEAVE A COMMENT section below.