Saturday, May 14, 2011

Proficiency: Canada's Most Efficient Flush Toilet?

It might make me a dork, but I am really excited about my new toilets.  We picked up two "Stealth" toilets from Niagara Conservation.  Actually here in Canada they are marketed as "Proficiency" from Water Matrix.  It is hard to find them though.  They are only currently carried in Ontario / Alberta / and Manitoba so I had to get mine from the Lowe's in Ottawa. 

In picking a toilet, there are two numbers you should pay attention to: Performance and Efficiency.

Performance
The Maximum Performance or MaP test measures how well toilets actually flush away waste.   The test results are in grams and represent how much latex encased miso paste the toilet can consistently flush down.

250 g -  Average male bowel movement
350 g - Minimum performance allowed
600 g - Average performance (on par with old-school non-efficient toilets)
1000g - Top end of measurement scale (if this doesn't work for you, you should probably see a doctor)

The stealth toilet is rated at 650 g and at least one independent test put it at 800g.

Water Efficiency
How many litres per flush (lpf) or Gallons per flush (gpf) does the toilet use?

13L  / 3.5 gpf - Typical pre-90s toilet
6L    / 1.6 gpf - Maximum North American flush volume since 1992 regulations
4.8L / 1.3 gpf - High Efficiency Toilet
4L    / 1    gpf - Pressure Assist Toilet or Liquid flush on dual flush toilets

Stealth toilet:  3L / 0.8 gpf!! 25% more efficient than pressure assist toilets and half the government standards.

How it pulls this off is pretty ingenious.  Traditional toilets just use the weight of water to flow through the bowl and push the waste out.  When low flow toilets became standard, some people were disappointed with the performance so manufacturers started to produce pressure assist toilets.  These toilets use pressurized air to force the water out of the tank and into the bowl at higher speeds.  This gives the toilets their distinctive whoosh noise and also gives a bigger push to the waste.

The Proficiency (or Stealth) toilet is a vacuum-assist toilet.  So rather than just push the waste it also pulls it.  When the water drains from the tank, the resulting vacuum is used to suck the water out of the bowl and down the drain. (They explain it much better and with pretty graphics on their website.)

So does it work? We now have both installed and our review is all positive.  It is so quiet and uses so little water that you actually don't expect it to work.  When it quickly clears the bowl, I find myself thinking "oh it got lucky that time".  But it gets lucky every time.

The Savings?  Changing our old 13L toilet to a 3L will reduce our water consumption by almost 78,000L a year.  That is enough water to fill up a very large backyard pool.  That would also save the average Canadian homeowner $70 a year.  Our water is un-metered (we don't pay based on usage) so we see none of that savings, but for a $200 toilet that would be a pretty good return on investment.

The toilet also got us 2 points towards LEED certification for meeting the Very High Efficiency Standard of <=4.1 Lpf and 350g MaP.


I have added a brief follow-up review after 18 months of use.

12 comments:

  1. Good to know! We need a new toilet, so it looks like we'll be heading to OT get get one!

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  2. Great, I strongly recommend the toilet. We really couldn't be happier with it!

    The one warning which I didn't put in the blog post and which is true for all high efficiency toilets. Is that they are not appropriate for long dedicated horizontal runs (more than 30 feet). The concern is that the toilet will clear waste from the bowl but not have enough water to push it down the length of the pipe. It would be very bad design to have a toilet run like this in a home as most toilets are placed right near the stack. That or they have other water sources tied into them (sink, tub, washer) which will provide additional water volume.

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    1. nwestran@gmail.comApril 7, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      So in a house with two upper stories - 2nd floor bathroom and a basement bathroom it is not advised to put one in the upper bathroom - and yes there is only one stack for both toilets but other pipes running into it from kitchen sink and washer - please advise and if not this toilet then another water saving one - thank you :-).

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    2. No that scenario should be okay. In fact the greater vertical run of the 2nd story bathroom will help ensure there is momentum to the waste and water from it which will help clear out the pipes. In our house we have two toilets on the same stack (main floor and basement) with no issue. The scenario you would want to avoid is a stand alone half bath (i.e. no shower or tub) in the basement with a long run to main stack or sewer line. In that scenario there might not be enough water flow/pressure to push the solid waste down the pipe without building up over time.

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  3. I am thinking about using these toilets at our cabin. I'm just wondering about the cleanliness of the bowl. Some low flow toilets don't tend to have much water in the bowl. 'Solids' tend to stick to the side, and not get cleaned out with a single flush.

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  4. The toilet has a surprisingly large water spot. The same air bubble that is in the trapway for the vacuum assist keeps a lot of the water back up in the bowl.

    We have had no problems with bowl cleanliness compared to our older 13L toilet and it is probably the largest volume of water I have seen in a bowl of a high efficiency toilet.

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  5. Before shopping for a new toilet, familiarize yourself with the latest advances that help the environment by saving water. You will also save money on water and sewer bills.

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  6. Hello David,

    I'm so glad you got into the MaP testing... when I was working in water conservation in Alberta it was a key piece in getting people to look at finding the *right* toilet. If I call correctly too, this is the toilet that some of the higher ups in water conservation were testing out at their homes.

    I'm glad you like it. It may well be what we look for in our new place too.

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  7. Thanks for the insight David it really helps a lot for me. To be honest I do like to make it myself but it really gives me a lot of pressure and can't perfectly perform. So to make it done I usually contact some plumbers. One of them are emergency plumber and I would say they have a great professional instinct and its perfect. They were plumbers in northern beaches.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think there is any other brand that delivers a powerful flush with only 3 litres (not gallons) of water like the Proficiency which I had purchased a few days ago and I simply loved it !!!

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