IRVINE, CALIF.—Sensor faucets may be smart, but they are not smart enough. So says Irvine, Calif.-based entrepreneur Joanna Boey. She is the VP Sales/Marketing for SmartFaucets, a company that focuses on improving the guest experience while reducing water consumption and related costs at the same time.
You may have experienced malfunctioning sensor faucets—waving your hands with no response below the faucet. “Half the time the touchless faucet fails—the battery fails,” Boey says. The electronic eye can also get dirty, further increasing the chance of malfunction. The valve may also malfunction two or three times a year. Ultimately, the sensor faucet can become a labor-intensive device that tests the patience of your hotel engineer.
Boey says her company has developed solutions for sensor faucets that are fail-safe and that have been lab tested to handle 550,000 uses without failure and to reduce water consumption by 40 percent while also saving on corresponding gas or electricity. A lot of water is wasted adjusting water temperature. With a U.S. flow rate at 1 gallon per minute, a 6 second adjustment of that water temperature means 1 gallon of water is wasted if the faucet is used 10 times a day. With the SmartFaucet touchpad water temperature can be preset which eliminates that water waste. Even paper towel waste can be reduced since by law restaurant staff are not allowed to touch the dirty faucet handles after they wash their hands. They grab a bunch of paper towels to turn off the manual faucets, wasting tons of paper towels and creating tons of trash and trash storage space.
Reduces Touch Points
SmartFaucets’ electronic touchpad comes as part of the SmartFaucet or can sit adjacent to a bathroom or kitchen faucet/shower/bathtub/Jacuzzi to replace faucet handles. The touchpad allows one to preset the temperature to hot, cold, or warm, and water flow time. Boey says she owns the patent on the touch timer and touch temperature features. The timer can go up to one hour. With or without a transparent label on the touchpad for hygienic purposes, users need only their knuckle to control the touchpad. There is no more touching of handles to adjust water temperature and no more touching of faucet handles to turn off water supply.
According to the American Dental Assn., most people spend one minute brushing their teeth. Smartfaucets uses the patented timer technology timer to shut off water supply after five seconds during brushing, resulting in 2 gallons of water saved a day assuming a brushing of two times a day.
In a sink installment, for example, the electronic control box sits below the sink. With the bathtub or Jacuzzi, the touchpad timer can prevent water overflow—an occurrence that Boey says can result in tens of thousands of dollars in damage. With a shower, users can activate the hot water first before stepping in. It helps avoid the first splash of cold water—a major complaint by all hotel guests. Gallons of water can be saved per shower because the guest can enter the shower knowing the precise temperature of the water. Many architects and designers place the handle and showerhead across from each other to avoid that first splash of cold water. In addition, they have to expand the shower space by at least 3 square feet to totally avoid that first splash of cold water. This additional space costs $5,000 if the going rate is about $500 per square foot.
Decades-Long Life Span
Boey says the Smart Faucet can have a 30-year lifespan if used 50 times a day. The Smart Faucet uses hydroelectric powered batteries that are rechargeable. “A half hour charge by the maid is good 2,000 uses which is good for one month if used 50 times a day,” she says. “The housekeepers can charge it using a USB charger.” According to Boey, most motion sensor faucets have a lifespan of only three to five years.
When installed in buildings with multiple sinks, Smart Faucets can help one qualify for LEED certification and in places such as Las Vegas one can receive a water rebate as high as $100,000. Smart Faucets also qualify for the PACE government backed program in 37 states. With that program, building owners can install Smart Faucets with no payment for one to three years. “We have the only electronic faucet that qualifies for PACE,” Boey says. “Our product is really free with PACE.” A federal tax credit of up to $140 per unit is also available.
According to Smart Faucets, installation is easy and can be done in just 10 minutes. (See video which includes the installation instructions as well as other Smart Faucet highlights.)
A hotel’s name and logo can also be applied to the touchpad.
Boey says she is from Singapore where water is scarce. “My mom was always telling me to turn off the water,” she says. “That is why I came up with the timer. The timer turns the water off.”
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.