. They've been in restrooms in airports, hotels, and other public places for years. Now hands-free electronic faucets are making their way into the home, but oh so slowly. Hands-free faucets, which typically run on battery power, began showing up in personal bathrooms a couple of years ago for a number of reasons. The faucets offer sanitary touch-free operation while conserving water and energy (they only dispense water when the sensor picks up hand motions). They also regulate flow time and prevent overflow and most have indicators that warn the homeowner when the battery is about to expire. Electronic faucets require little effort to use, which makes them great for both public and private bathrooms, says Wayne Ash, a professional training coordinator for the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). That's why they appeal to all age groups, although they're particularly useful in children's bathrooms and senior suites. Hands-free faucets install easily in new and retrofit applications, are available at numerous price points (from $400 to more than $800), and can increase your profits because they're higher-end models. However, one quirk associated with hands-free faucets can be aggravating to some homeowners. "They're great for kids because the water comes out pre-mixed, which prevents scalding, but that can be a con if you want to get a cold drink of water," says Paul Greenspan, owner and president of Milwaukee-based Milwaukee Kitchens and Baths, which designs and installs kitchens and bathrooms. Some companies, like Taiko USA and Delta, have taken note of that complaint and are developing hands-free models with manual temperature adjustments. "The difference between commercial and residential is that people want different temperatures at home," says Taiko USA representative Leo Maercovich. Likewise, some homeowners are concerned that hands-free faucets might fail, leaving them no way to turn on the water. But pros say the only time the units fail is when the house loses power. "If you have no power, nothing in the house works," says Lisa M. Robey of Harvey's Kitchens and Baths, a Sterling, Va.-based dealer/installer. Form Versus Function Although hands-free technology is improving, the faucets still have a long way to go when it comes to aesthetics. The lack of stylish options prevents many builders and homeowners from choosing electronic faucets. A recent NKBA trends survey shows that electronic faucets only are installed in 3 percent of new construction and remodeling projects. "They don't have much style," Greenspan says. "They won't be more popular in residential settings until designs improve, but they're evolving." Other bath designers predict hands-free faucets will become more popular once homeowners and pros take notice of them. "It's a little bit like teaching an old dog a new trick," Robey says. "When people become aware, then they'll catch on."
Courtesy Geberit

Geberit. This infrared battery-powered faucet operates off a 6-volt battery that lasts for 200,000 washes, says the maker. The high-arc fixture features all above-deck electronics for easy access. It is available in polished brass, brushed nickel, polished nickel, satin chrome, chrome, and a brass/chrome combination. 800-225-7217. www.us.geberit.

Courtesy Dornbracht

Dornbracht. Created especially for residential use, the battery-powered eMote faucet features an infrared sensor and a manually set on/off timer to control how long the water runs. The tap is available in wall- and basin-mount styles with chrome or matte platinum finishes. The battery provides for daily household use for at least five years, says the firm. 800-774-1181. www.dornbracht.com.

Courtesy Hansgrohe

Hansgrohe. The Axor Starck battery-powered electronic lav mixer uses infrared sensor technology to activate water flow. The stainless steel faucet delivers water at a constant pre-set temperature and stops within several seconds after the user steps away. Additional fixtures and fittings for the kitchen and bath are available. 770-360-9880. www.hansgrohe-usa.com.

Courtesy Grohe

Grohe. The Europlus E battery-operated infrared electronic faucet features a 6-volt battery with an estimated lifespan of 3-1/2 years, the firm says. Additional features include a safety shutdown circuit and optional flow controls for added water conservation. The chrome faucet's electronic components are completely accessible from above the counter. 630-582-7711. www.groheamerica.com.

Courtesy Delta

Delta. Designed for the home, the e-Flow faucet is available in chrome and pearl nickel finishes with six handle color options. The faucet features a 30-second run time and functions for roughly one year or 150,000 uses on one set of batteries, says the maker. It comes standard with a temperature-control knob that can be adjusted before and during use. 800-345-3358. www.deltafaucet.com.

Courtesy KWC

KWC. Available in battery-operated or electrical connection models, the Tronic touch-free faucet comes in single-hole or wall-mount models for the basin. The faucet comes standard with a temperature selection knob and integral stop wall unions for easy filter maintenance, says the firm. Chrome, white, and polished brass finishes are available. 877-592-3287. www.kwcfaucets.com.

Courtesy Symmons

Symmons. The battery-powered Ultra-Sense electronic faucet features a temperature limit stop to regulate outlet temperature. The battery lasts for about 10 years at 105 cycles per day. The faucet can be installed in one of three supply configurations right out of the box in new or retrofit applications. 800-796-6667. www.symmons.com.

Courtesy Taiko USA

Taiko USA. Featuring a manual temperature adjustment lever on the side of the spout, the TSS-2002 electronic faucet can be run on electricity or battery power. If it operates on electricity, the batteries can be used as a back-up power source, says the maker. It comes standard in a chrome-plated brass finish. Other electronic faucets are available. 800-874-7822. www.taikousa.com. Published in BUILDING PRODUCTS Magazine, November/December 2002 Spec out Faucets on ebuild, the Professional's Guide to Building Products(TM).