A Single-Flush Toilet in an Eco-Friendly House?

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When we started planning Artemisia, we set up the Artemisia Lab program, in which we test green building products in a rigorous environment: a zero-energy nightly rental. Among the products we chose were toilets and bathroom faucets from TOTO. They are, frankly, more luxurious than any bathroom fixtures I've ever owned and at first seemed like overkill for a vacation rental, but I've changed my mind. In short, these fixtures are awesome, and I would be hard-pressed to ever go back.

 Another slick feature were little porcelain doors held in place by velcro that hid the attachment bolts.

Another slick feature were little porcelain doors held in place by velcro that hid the attachment bolts.

Toto Carlyle® II One-Piece Toilet

The Japanese plumbing fixture brand Toto is probably best known for their high-tech heated washlet toilets that shoot water and warm air at your bum while playing music. While Toto toilets with washlets have developed a cult following and are a lot of fun, we opted for a simpler, non-electronic model that still packs some innovative punches: the Carlyle II.

I happened to be the one in our group who installed the toilets, and I noticed the difference right out of the box. This toilet was heavy and solid and had a one-piece design, instead of a base with a bolt-on tank. It came with a template to help securely bolt it to the floor. Another thing I noticed right away was the quality of the flushing mechanism. The workings of this toilet shared more of a resemblance to Apple products than to the twisty metal and brittle plastic innards of most toilets.

 Toto's patented Tornado Flush™ Flushing System whirls water around just inside the top of the rim in cyclonic fashion. It really works.

Toto's patented Tornado Flush™ Flushing System whirls water around just inside the top of the rim in cyclonic fashion. It really works.

Better than dual flush

When we were picking out a toilet, I had initially assumed we would go with a dual-flush model to save water. After all, we were building an eco-fabulous cabin. However, after living with it for a year, I'm now convinced that this single-flush Toto probably saves more water in the long run than a dual flush. Here's why:

  • Ultra low-flow: Each flush only uses a miserly 1 gallon of water. That's only slightly more than the smaller flush of a dually.
  • Large water spot: Matt Risinger does a good job of explaining why it's better to have a larger pool of water in the toilet bowl, but I'm sure you can imagine why a dry bowl isn't the best.
  • High-efficiency toilet (HET): Not all low-flow toilets (including dual flush models) are created equal. Some work on the first flush, and some don't. The Toto has a patented Tornado Flush™ Flushing System, which whirls that gallon of water around just inside the top of the rim in cyclonic fashion. It really works.
  • Wonder glaze: Another slick feature is Toto's CeFiONtect glaze, which is super-smooth so "particulates" don't have a chance to adhere to the surface. That means less brushing and, in real-world conditions, less repeat flushes to clear the evidence.

It turns out, we're not the only one who have noticed how well this toilet works. There is an organization called MaP Toilet Testing that awarded this model a MaP Premium designation for being high performance and high efficiency. The best part is the way they test toilets:

MaP incorporates the use of soybean paste and toilet paper to duplicate the 'real world' demands put upon toilets.  Each toilet is tested to FAILURE - - that is, soybean paste is repeatedly added to the toilet until the fixture can no longer remove it in a single flush. 

You can't make this stuff up, but if you want to test how well your own toilet flushes down "realistic test media (fecal simulation)," you can order your own MaP approved soybean paste.

Problems with the Toto Carlyle® II

After a full year of use, these toilets have never flubbed a flush that we know of, and the special Toto porcelian glaze keeps the bowls remarkably clean. We couldn't be happier with their performance. The only issue we've had has been the hinge on one of the soft-close seats loosening. Our distributor, Hollabaugh Brothers & Associates, quickly sent us a replacement seat, which was easy to swap in. I'm guessing the hinge loosened due to a guest not knowing it was soft-close and trying to force it down. Other than that, these toilets, and the simple bathroom faucets we installed, have performed flawlessly.

One note, if you are ordering a Carlyle II, be sure to get the 1-gallon-per-flush model. They make another one that takes 1.28 gallons, but, based on our experience with the more efficient model, there is no reason not to opt for the extra water savings.

 We chose the new Toto Oberon faucet, which is WaterSense Certified and has a maximum flow rate of 1.5 gpm. We paired this high-quality faucet with a low-cost Ikea sink. If you're designing a bathroom on a budget, it's wise to invest in quality faucets and fixtures and save money on the sink.

We chose the new Toto Oberon faucet, which is WaterSense Certified and has a maximum flow rate of 1.5 gpm. We paired this high-quality faucet with a low-cost Ikea sink. If you're designing a bathroom on a budget, it's wise to invest in quality faucets and fixtures and save money on the sink.