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The Real Cost of Upgrading to a Smart Toilet: Insights and Considerations

In the realm of home improvement and bathroom innovations, smart toilets stand out as a symbol of luxury and technological advancement. However, the path to upgrading a traditional toilet to a smart one often involves hidden costs and considerations that extend far beyond the device’s price tag. Our team embarked on a comprehensive journey, contacting over 30 electricians and plumbers across the East Coast to demystify the true cost of installing a smart toilet in your home. Here’s what we discovered.

Compatibility and Initial Costs

First and foremost, the compatibility between your existing toilet and the new smart toilet seat is a critical factor. Not all traditional toilets are designed to accommodate the advanced features of smart toilet seats, and the entire unit may require replacement. This initial hurdle means that the project could start with the need to purchase a new toilet compatible with smart technology along with the seat itself. Smart toilet seats alone can range from a modest $400 to an extravagant $15,000, depending on the features and brands you opt for. Luckily, most modern smart seat manufacturers are aware of this potential issue and have generally aimed to design their seats to be as compatible with typical bowls as their shapes will allow.

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The Need for a Dedicated Power Source

Smart toilets often require a power source to operate their advanced features, including bidets, seat warmers, and automatic lids. This will require the installation of a dedicated Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet near the toilet. These outlets help prevent short-circuiting if they come in contact with water, stopping potential fires or life-threatening accidents. If your bathroom does not have a GFCI outlet within reach, you must hire an electrician to run a dedicated line from the power source to the toilet’s location. We called over 30 electricians along the East Coast and found that most were charging between $500 and $1000 for this service. The cost of this work can still vary widely depending on the complexity of the wiring in your home and the distance to the nearest power source.

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Credit: Blue Mountain Home Inspections

Construction and Finishing Work

Installing a new power line often requires opening up walls, which then requires subsequent patching and painting. Most electricians are not equipped or willing to perform these finishing tasks, so you will likely need to hire a separate contractor for the construction work. This adds to the overall cost and complicates the project with additional scheduling and management of different tradespeople.

Compliance and Safety Concerns

While many regular contractors may offer to perform the entire installation, there’s a risk that their work may not be up to electrical code standards. If done incorrectly, this would pose a severe fire hazard, underscoring the importance of hiring qualified professionals for electrical work. Ensuring that the job is done correctly could mean higher costs upfront, but it is essential to avoid potential accidents down the line.

Why Are Smart Toilets So Expensive?

Beyond installation and compatibility, the high cost of intelligent toilets can be attributed to the technology and luxury they bring to the bathroom experience. Features like heated seats, automatic lids, deodorizers, and personalized cleansing options represent a significant upgrade over traditional toilets. The research and development costs associated with these innovations, along with the materials used to craft them, contribute to their premium pricing.

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Credit: TOTO USA

Affordable, Non-electric alternatives

Companies like Tushy and Brondell have made an important impact on the smart toilet market, offering non-electric bidet attachments that offer simple cold-washing features at a fraction of the price. These attachments are compatible with most existing two-piece toilets and slow-close seats, offering an easy upgrade to any bathroom. Other companies like Cleana have introduced smart innovations like the world’s first non-electric auto-closing toilet seat. This self-closing seat is compatible with nearly all existing toilet bowls and automatically closes the seat and lid after every use, improving the bathroom’s aesthetics while also protecting it from dropped items, pets and children, or “midnight accidents.” Combined, these bidet attachments and Cleana’s self-closing toilet seat offer greater functionality than most smart toilets at a fraction of the price and without the need for electricity.

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Credit: Justin Nardella Photography

Final Thoughts

Upgrading to a smart toilet is an investment in comfort, hygiene, and the overall aesthetic of your bathroom. Many seats are also far better for the environment, with bidet seats saving the environment thousands of gallons of water through reduced paper usage. However, it’s essential to go into projects with a clear understanding of the associated costs and considerations. From compatibility issues and the need for a dedicated power source, to the importance of hiring qualified professionals for installation, the actual cost of owning a smart toilet extends well beyond the seat’s price. As with any major home improvement project, thorough planning and budgeting are key to ensuring a successful and satisfying upgrade to your bathroom’s functionality and luxury.

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Andy Chang

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