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A wave or a tap and there’s water

By Allen Norwood
Correspondent

More Information

  • Electronic kitchen faucets

    • Customers are most likely to buy replacement faucets at home centers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, and they are most likely to look at familiar brands. Delta and Moen are among those, says Damion Pirolli of Charlotte Plumbing.

    • Electronic kitchen faucets do, indeed, work as advertised. They’re convenient, and can help you save water, say Pirolli and Clint Lawrence of Hughes Supply in Charlotte.

    • Some homeowners are surprised to learn that the technology is battery powered, Lawrence said. Some decide that they don’t want to change batteries – even if it’s only once a year.



Turn your kitchen faucet on with a wave if your hands are dirty, or simply hold a pasta pot under the spout to start the water flowing. Or maybe you’d rather turn the water on and off with a touch.

Electronic kitchen faucets offer such features. Not only are they convenient to use, they might also help cut water use and slow the spread of germs.

While these faucets are not flying off shelves, said Clint Lawrence of Hughes Supply in Charlotte, lots of homeowners like the convenience. “It’s something new, so they come in and want to know more.”

There are important things to know about the technology. And area plumbing pros offer one piece of important advice – very important if you live with a cat – which we’ll get to in a moment.

Moen calls its new system “MotionSense.” You can turn the kitchen faucet on by waving your hand over the spout, or holding a pot under it. Sensors respond to the activity and electronics open the valve. Of course, you also can operate the faucet mechanically, just like any other kitchen faucet.

The electronics are powered by six AA batteries in a small box under the sink. Or, you can operate the system with a special AC adaptor. The faucets require four extra hose connections, but they’re not complicated and you won’t need special tools.

If you use the Wave Sensor over the spout, the water will turn off automatically after two minutes if you’re not using the sink. If you use the Ready Sensor, in the area under the spout, the water will turn off when you remove your hands or other objects from the sensing zone below the faucet.

Yes, your first reaction is correct, Lawrence said: This is similar to the same operation that you’re familiar with in public restrooms at the mall or airport.

Delta’s “Touch2O” technology allows you to turn the water on or off with a quick tap on the kitchen faucet or handle. If your hands are messy, just touch the faucet with your wrist or arm to turn on the water. Or, if you want to save water while scrubbing pots at the sink, a touch stops the flow.

Basically Delta’s faucet responds to the tiny electric charge from your body. (If you want to know lots more about the electricity in your body, Google “capacitance.”)

A blue LED light lets you know that the system is activated and turns red when you need to replace the batteries. The water automatically shuts off after four minutes if there’s no activity.

Delta uses a battery pack on its kitchen faucet, and warns that you cannot use an AC power adaptor.

Delta introduced touch-activated kitchen faucets in its luxury Brizo line in 2005. It launched touch technology under the familiar Delta banner in 2008.

In 2011, in addition to its electronic faucets for the kitchen, Delta introduced bathroom faucets featuring both touch and hands-free technology. As Lawrence suggested, you’ll find electronic bathroom faucets from other makers, too. Some will operate on AC adaptors.

Brizo kitchen faucets are available through Charlotte showrooms such as Ferguson Enterprises and Hughes Supply, but area pros say most of the questions they get are about Moen and Delta kitchen faucets.

Convenience comes at a price. Online, Lowe’s advertises Moen’s Delaney stainless steel kitchen faucet with MotionSense for $399. On the Home Depot site, Delta’s one-handle Pilar faucet in stainless steel, with touch technology, is $378.

Pirolli said Charlotte Plumbing would typically charge $150 to install one of the faucets, which is about what it would charge to install a standard model.

Pirolli said he advises customers to turn the electronic sensors off when leaving home for long periods. The faucets are designed to turn off automatically, so they shouldn’t run for days if something turned them on while you were on vacation. Switching off the electronics is just another precaution.

That’s especially important, he said, if you have a cat.

Cats often are fascinated by the kitchen sink and faucet. An automatic electronic faucet could be as tempting to your cat as a toy mouse stuffed with catnip. “Yes,” Pirolli said, “your cat can turn it on.”

Over and over and over. ...

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