Convert your toilet to touchless for just $50

Consumer Reports gives a thumbs up to a hands-free flushing kit

Published: February 17, 2015 08:00 AM

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Bathrooms can be germy places and you don't have to be a germaphobe to see the merits in a toilet that flushes hands-free. Some manufacturers have been attempting to bring the touchless technology seen in many public bathrooms into the home, with mixed results. In Consumer Reports' toilet tests, we have yet to find a touchless toilet that excels at its primary job: flushing waste. In fact, the best touchless solution we've seen is a $50 kit from Kohler that may work on the toilet you already own.

Like other touchless toilets, the gravity-fed Kohler Cimarron Touchless K-6418, lets you wave a hand over the tank to flush. The $350 model is WaterSense-certified, using only 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf), and is fairly quiet. And its touchless design lets you wave a hand over the tank to flush. It was also adept at cleaning the front and sides of the bowl despite the miserly water use. But in our tests of how well a toilet removes simulated solid waste through the bowl and trap, the Kohler did merely so-so. It didn't propel our simulated waste far either, which could result in drain-line clogs. The Kohler placed in the lowest third of our single-flush toilet Ratings.

Delta Brevard C43903T-WH

Delta's touchless toilet, the one-piece Delta Brevard C43903T-WH, $280, ranked lower still. Also a WaterSense-certified model, the gravity-fed toilet uses 1.28 gpf and performed a notch higher than the Kohler at cleaning the front and sides of the bowl. Like the Kohler, it's a comfort-height model and was also fairly quiet. The good news ends there. We judged it only fair at removing simulated solid waste through the bowl and trap. Its small water spot won't help it resist soil and odors.  Moreover, the Delta didn't propel our simulated waste far, which could result in drain-line clogs.

The best touchless-toilet product we found also saves you the most money, time, and hassle. The only catch is that not all toilets can accommodate the aftermarket Kohler K-1954-0 kit, $50; this means no dual-flush, top-mount flush, pressure-assist, or ballcock-valve toilets. The retrofit kit installs in the tank; you can install a hand-icon decal to indicate where to wave.

Kohler K-1954-0 touchless conversion kit

The touchless module on the Kohler Cimarron Touchless K-6418 tends to close the flapper almost immediately after opening it, while the mechanism for the aftermarket Kohler K-1954-0 kit pauses about a second between opening and closing. This delay allows for a more complete flush cycle than we saw in the Cimarron. The kit takes 4 AA batteries, and the unit will beep to notify you when they're running low. Included in the kit is an optional cap and bolt for the hole where the trip lever used to be.

Need a new toilet?

The best-performing toilets in our tests of more than 40 toilets, all single-flush and mostly gravity-fed, include the $240 American Standard Champion 4 Max 2586.128ST.020, the $270 Delta Riosa C43906 (both Water-Sense-certified), and the $275 Kohler Kelston K-3754. Before you shop,  check out our buying guide and toilet Ratings.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore on Twitter)

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