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Is America Ready for a Home Urinal?

The Waterless Company has introduced a non-water-using urinal specifically targeted for the residential market.

Posted on Aug 24 2010 by Alex Wilson

There are some significant advantages to urinals when it comes to bathroom maintenance (I won't go into the messy details of splashing that happens when males stand and urinate into a toilet). With ultra-efficient urinals (often called one-pint urinals) and waterless urinals, there are also very significant water savings that are achieved.

The Waterless Company, which invented the non-water-using urinal in the early 1990s (see our February 1998 EBN product review of their first product — log-in required), has now introduced a waterless urinal designed specifically for the residential market. The Waterless Company's Baja urinal, which should start shipping this week, according to company president Klaus Reichardt, is somewhat smaller than a commercial urinal, and available in vitreous china for easy cleaning.

The Baja urinal works on the same principle as other Waterless-brand urinals — using the company's EcoTrap system (see schematic). The EcoTrap uses a lighter-than-urine, plant-based oil (EcoBlue) that serves as the sanitary trap. The EcoBlue fluid is topped off as needed, and the entire trap is replaced about once per year, assuming typical usage. Because the urinal dries out between uses, waterless urinals are actually more sanitary than conventional urinals, according to the Waterless Company and other manufacturers.

In commercial buildings, with typical usage patterns, a waterless urinal saves about 40,000 gallons per year. For residential applications, the savings will be significantly lower. Reichardt estimates that if there are two males in a home, each using the urinal three uses per day, times 340 days at home, the Baja urinal will replace about 2,040 toilet flushes per year, providing annual water savings of about 3,250 gallons (assuming 1.6 gpf toilets). The savings go up with more males (family members or friends).

Reichardt told me that they're getting a lot of calls from diabetics who have to urinate frequently and who hate to waste all the water. While these water savings should not be dismissed, I suspect that the primary motivation for purchases — if it succeeds — will be more about sanitation and reduced cleaning needs than it is about water savings.

I should note that waterless urinals are not without problems. We've been using one at our office for 12 years or so, and salt build-up on the drain line forced us to remove and clean out those lines once, and it's showing signs of needing that servicing again. Some argue that it's important to periodically flush a urinal to prevent the build-up of deposits, or that ultra-efficient urinals make more sense than waterless models. Clearly, regular maintenance is required to ensure good performance.

The suggested retail price of the Waterless Baja urinal is $248. The product is distributed through plumbing wholesalers and the company's sales reps.

For more information:

Waterless Co.
Vista, California
888-663-5874
www.waterless.com

Alex Wilson is the executive editor of Environmental Building News and founder of BuildingGreen, LLC. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feeds.


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  1. The Waterless Company
1.
Tue, 08/24/2010 - 21:55

Negligible money savings at today's water prices
by Kevin Dickson

Helpful? -1

Denver Water charges $0.00311/gal for water. For a 2 male house, that's a savings of $10.12/yr.
Assuming $300 labor to install, the payback is 54 years. Factoring in $15/yr to replace the EcoTrap, then there is no payback. And they eat up some interior real estate, maybe 10 sq.ft., which costs $1000-$3000.

Convenience might be a selling point: No lid lifting, toilet cleaning, or forgetting-to-flush conflicts. My gut, however, tells me that most women won't allow these things in their beautiful powder rooms.

Although I hate to foul the punchbowl, the answer to your original question is NO.


2.
Tue, 08/24/2010 - 23:21

how 'bout the garage?
by J Chesnut

Helpful? 0

Kevin, do we have to run everything through an ROI or payback calc, even relatively affordable/inexpensive items? Some people will pay $248 plus install when they understand how much water they will be saving.
I can see these popping up in garages. Some women might not want them in the bathroom but they might appreciate these replacing the gallon jug or bucket in the corner of the garage ; )


3.
Wed, 08/25/2010 - 00:02

Here in North Carolina we call 'em trees
by Michael Chandler, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

About a month after one of my green building classes I had a discussion with one of the participants who had gone back to his coastal NC HBA and one of the skeptics had asked him what he learned and he said "when you go out and hang the laundry on the clothes line and then pay a visit to a tree on the way back, that's what green building's all about, it's just common sense."


4.
Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:35

Up north we rock it in the compost
by John

Helpful? -1

The dog handles our trees, I make sure the compost pile gets some nice nitrogen boosts on regular occasions.


5.
Thu, 08/26/2010 - 14:00

Waterless urinals
by Carl Mezoff

Helpful? 1

I have never been close to a waterless urinal that did not smell to high heaven (the claims of the proponents notwithstanding). They are bad enough in a highway rest stop, but having one in my house would never happen.

The logic of the so-called waterless urinal continues to escape me, since you can now get water flushing urinals that use only a pint of water. The oil trap "waterless" urinals require a high level of maintenance and consume replacement cartridges.

Yes, we need to conserve water, but the fundamental problem we refuse to face is that resources are finite and that therefore we need to face the fact that our population growth must also stop (and the sooner the better).


6.
Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:36

After a girlfriend UV-lights your pants you might just sit down
by Anonymous

Helpful? 1

What about just sitting down and either not flushing or using a pee-only flush? Take a urinal leak in brand new pants, then light 'em up with a UV light (sold in pet stores for about $20). Now let the lady in your life shine the light. ewwwww grossssss. Just say no to drugs. Just say no to urinals and save all that material, labor, and square foot cost, not to mention walking around with piss-splattered pants.


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