As this article is about toilets, we need to get some business done first. We will be referring to ‘deposits’ being flushed down the toilet and to make our lives a bit more comfortable we may be referring to number ones and number twos. If you didn’t grow up using these terms, then just remember that a number two requires more water to flush away because there are solids involved…
Now that that’s been clarified, we can begin.
On average, one person can flush about twenty gallons of water away in one day, and if you look at the size of an average household, you’re looking at over eighty gallons per day in total. Modern toilets have smaller cisterns than the older ones used to have (three to seven gallons), but not all of them are as economical as they could be. If your toilet is uneconomical, you could be flushing away much more water than necessary and overspending on your monthly water bill.
So, what is a dual-flush toilet?
It’s a toilet with two buttons/panels that give you the option to flush with either a small amount of water (for number ones) or a larger amount of water (for number twos).
A dual-flush toilet is a low-flush option that was designed to address the problem of wanting to save water. By giving one option for flushing liquids and a second option for solids, the dual-flush toilet uses the optimal amount of water in each instance. As they have increased in popularity, so the various styles have evolved coming with an assortment of features. This makes it important for you to do some research for when you go shopping, to ensure you get the one that’s right for you.
Types of Dual-Flush Toilets
Different types have different features – so we’ll first cover the types available. Each has its advantages, and you can compare and differentiate the options to see which will suit you best.
The two-piece toilet is more common because it’s more familiar. It has the two pieces – the tank and the bowl – and the thing that makes this design so popular is that it’s generally easier to move and to repair than a one-piece model. But they generally need repairs more often because those internal components that are easy to access are not always as durable as those of a one-piece.
However, a huge advantage of the two-piece toilets is that they come in more styles and sizes. This characteristic gives people who want greater control over the internal design of their bathroom spaces more freedom. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re normally more affordable than the one-piece as well.
The one-piece toilet is a single unit with its tank (the old cistern) and bowl combined, whereas in the past the toilets had its tank and bowl detached from each other. Two-piece toilets are the more commonplace between the two, but one-piece toilets have some unique benefits which are making them increasingly popular.
Let’s start with housekeeping – the one-piece toilets are simpler to clean. They have less nooks and crannies and so there’s less place for the germs and bacteria that cause odors to hide from the cleaning brush. They have a nice and sleek design that fits in better with the décor in a contemporary bathroom.
Now the hardware – the internal components of a one-piece toilet, like the flush and fill valves, are stouter and are less probable to need repairs or to start leaking. These toilets are normally heavier, making it challenging to install and repair, and they also cost more. You need to decide if the sleek design that’s easier to clean and more robust in nature will offset the extra weight and cost.
The one- and two-piece toilets are grouped together in a category of floor-mounted toilets. The other option is to go for a wall-mounted toilet instead. The floor-mounted toilets have their tanks and flushing apparatus visible, but a wall-mounted toilet’s tank is hidden behind the wall. And this can save precious inches in floor space!
It’s the bowl that is mounted to the wall without touching the floor which makes your bathroom floors just so much easier to clean. It also gives the bowl an appearance of floating, which some people like. This feature also allows you to customize the seat-to-floor height where you can choose to install it between fifteen and nineteen inches above the floor. Now, they are more expensive, trickier to repair, and more difficult to install than the floor-mounted models, but if you want to float, there’s nothing stopping you.
Now we’re really talking! Let’s pause a moment to remember that the following items are considered luxuries and do come with heavy price tags. Don’t lose sight of your budget but dare to dream a little bit.
Automated flushing is nice – the toilets have motion sensors, so they flush without needing a hand from you. They also come in exciting colours and special glazes. This glaze resists mold and bacteria and prevents stains and that stubborn scum that gives your toilet a bad odour.
Some have heated seats (for winter), slow-closing lids, remote-controlled flushing and built-in WiFi. Others have whirlpools, power-washers or under-rim pumps which work to keep your toilet cleaner without you needing to scrub it so often with your toilet brush. And then there are those with built-in driers, fans, and deodorizers… which means you’ll save on toilet paper but use more electricity.
The following features are more mundane but important to take note of to help you chose your toilet – with or without the exciting ‘special features’ above.
Some toilets sound like frolicking whales churning up the bay during a flush, while others flush quietly. It doesn’t have to be a big deal… until it is. Until you’re trying to sleep-train your baby or there’s someone in the house who’s a light sleeper. Your guest bathroom might be inconveniently positioned and loud sounds rushing out of there could be disruptive or embarrassing.
These are just a few examples of times you don’t want a loud swoosh punctuating every visit to the loo. If you’re in a situation where the toilet will be swooshing every 30 minutes, you might want to invest in a toilet with a more subdued flush.
These days there are water usage and EPA standards, and toilet manufacturers have recognized their responsibility in adhering to these regulations – meaning they want to save you as much water as possible. This is lovely, but less water could equal more time and there may be circumstances when you’d want the toilet tank to refill faster.
Perhaps there may be a social function at your place, and a line forms outside the toilet. Spending extra time waiting for the tank to refill could be embarrassing for you – some of your guests may start wondering what’s taking you so long in there…
When you’re out shopping to buy a toilet, don’t feel too shy to take a stopwatch along to time how long it takes for its tank to refill after flushing.
Even the flushing mechanism can be customized. You can get down-jets, up-jets, drips, spurts, or cyclones. Would you like your flush-buttons to be mounted into the wall or would you rather have cistern-top flushers? How about the material – plastic or metal? Coloured or shiny metallic?
So many possibilities, so many choices to make!
How do I pick the best dual-flush toilet?
As you may have noticed, there are a lot of variations in toilets that you may not have known about before. But we have a few more things for you to think about:
1. Handle vs Buttons
Dual-flush toilets usually come with buttons rather than a handle, and sometimes the buttons are on the side, but mostly they’re on top of the tank (or on the wall). The small button is for number ones and the big button is for number twos.
Some people prefer to store extra toilet rolls on the top of the tank, and if this is you, you can opt for the model with buttons on the side or on the wall. But the other option is to go for a handle – you pull it down for a partial flush and you raise it for a full flush.
2. Round vs Elongated
Round-shaped toilets are usually easier to install, at a lower price, and any replacement parts will be easier to be found as round is the more popular shape for a toilet bowl. However, the elongated toilets protrude further out from the wall and are thus easier to sit on and use.
3. Toilet Height
All floor-mounted toilets come in an array of heights, normally between 15 and 20 inches. Some people like a taller toilet if they struggle getting up from it. Some people are short and want it lower. Some people are tall but say that a shorter toilet is closer to the ‘natural’ way things used to be done…
Frequently Asked Questions
How much water does a dual-flush toilet use?
The majority of modern dual-flush toilets use about 1.1 gallons per flush – which is about two thirds less than what single-flush toilets use.
Which button do I push on a dual-flush toilet?
It’s straight forward – the smaller button sends a small amount of water to flush a small amount of waste, while the bigger button sends a larger amount of water to flush out larger amounts of waste. This choice gives you the power to save some money while avoiding unnecessary water consumption.
Which manufacturer makes the best dual-flush toilets?
The best-known manufacturers of toilets are Kohler, Toto, Swiss Madison, Woodbridge, and American Standard, however, there may be other manufacturers that are just as good but aren’t as well-known.
Our Buying Guide
We’ve highlighted some great models for you below that will assist you in your efforts to decrease your water bill and lessen the ecological impact of your home. It all comes down to your personal preference.
1. American Standard H2Option
We rated and considered the options and decided that the American Standard H2Option is our favourite for both its high performance and great value.
The American Standard H2Option is a classic and powerful performer. The elongated construction provides extra comfort, and we believe it’s a decent purchase for most people thanks to the simple and enduring design. It’s sturdy, has a clever design, as well as its time-tested quality – which is why it’s a popular choice for use in public restrooms.
2. Toto Aquia II
The Toto Aquia II is more modern with a streamlined design which would fit in nicely with décor that is more minimalistic or contemporary. It’s definitely sleeker than our number one choice – however, don’t mistake the look for impracticality as it does function similarly. If your bathroom is all for simple, sleek lines, then this is the one for you. It also comes in ebony.
3. Kohler Wellworth Range
The Wellworth range made by Kohler has a more traditional look to it with a sturdy design and lever. It’s a good way to disguise your dual-flush toilet as a standard one to suit your traditional décor. The lever has a unique design where you can lift it for the full flush and pull it down for the partial flush. It’s still a good way to conserve water and keep the classic look at the same time. The Kohler toilets don’t have the same track record for long-term operation as the American Standard and Toto, but they surely are pretty. There are many offerings from Kohler, but Wellworth is the best we found. They also come in various colours, like off white, brown, black and of course, white.
There’s no reason why you can’t customize your bathroom as much as you can customize the rest of your home. Now that you know about your different options, you can choose a stylish or classic looking toilet that also reduces your water consumption with its dual-flush capability.