Product review: Kohler 1.28 gpf toilets
Highs: Even if it takes two flushes, you’re still saving water compared to the old toilet
Lows: The potential for a two-flush incident
Bottom line: Why not take the plunge and cut your flush?
Underneath the traditional styling lines of Kohler’s Archer toilet lies a high-tech solution to saving water with each flush.
Older -- pre-1994 -- toilets used about 3.5 gallons per flush. Later, Kohler was able to cut some toilets to 1.6 gallons per flush. This new line incorporates a precision-engineered tank, bowl and trapway to create a strong siphon during the flush, ensuring consistent performance using only 1.28 gallons per flush.
At the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Ed Del Grande, a veteran plumber, demonstrated the new Kohler 1.28 gpf toilet against a vintage 1966 cerulean blue model. For the demo, outflow from both toilets flowed into a clear plexiglass tank. Flushing both at the same time, Del Grande pointed out how the flow from the new toilet was strong from the outset, flowed faster but used much less water. The old toilet had a weak flow at first as the flap opened, then a rush of water, then a trickle. It was plain to the eye the old toilet put out much less force but used more than twice as much water.
Del Grande explained the redesign of the toilet flapper was one of the keys. The old-style flap lets about a half a gallon of water slip through before the flush really starts, wasting that much with each pull of the handle. The design of the flap prevents water from flowing symmetrically into the bowl, wasting the potential energy in the water flow.
In the new toilet, what Del Grande called “the flapper of the future” is larger and opens symmetrically to let the water flow from the entire tank at once. The bowl and internal flow of the toilet were totally redesigned to eke out as much cleaning power as possible from only 1.28 gallons.
Kohler estimates the 1.28 gpf toilets will save homeowners on average 16,500 gallons per year, or about 63 percent of the water used compared to the old-style toilets.
The new high-efficiency design is available in the Archer transitional style as well as the more traditional Devonshire and Wellworth lines. All styles meet the requirements for the EPA WaterSense label. To qualify for the WaterSense label, toilets must flush on average with 20 percent less water than 1.6 gpf.
If you’re looking for another water-saving toilet option, Kohler, along with many other manufacturers, offers dual-flush technology. The toilet is equipped with two buttons to allow users to select one of two water levels with each flush. Kohler’s line of Persuade toilets uses 1.6 gallons or 0.8 gallons per flush, allowing it to qualify for the WaterSense label as well. The user chooses how much water to employ in flushing away light or bulk waste.
If you're in the market for a new toilet, take a look at the latest generation of high-efficiency units. They overcome the poor performance of the first wave of low-volume toilets that often took two flushes to get the job done.
Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.www