As plumbers, we tend to think of our industry as being somehow separate from mainstream technology. But the truth is that water transit technology is getting better all the time.
Yes – the changes are a little slower than in the electronics world. But they are occurring. And they’re bringing big benefits.
Plumbing technology is:
- Making homes more efficient
- Reducing the number of leaks
- Improving the purity of water
- Making problems easier to fix and diagnoses
- Making installations less time-consuming
- Reducing water usage
- Making tanks redundant
- Allowing for touchless faucets and toilets
In this post, we take a look at some of the most talked-about plumbing technology to hit the market in recent years and the effect it is having on people’s lives.
Let’s get started.
Google searches for the term “smart irrigation” are exploding at the moment. And it’s not hard to understand why. People don’t want to have to manage their gardens or crops’ hydration levels manually. Instead, they want to put the system on autopilot so that they can avoid drudgery.
The way smart irrigation works is pretty simple. You start by running a bunch of sprinklers or water dispensers next to the plants you want to water and then hook the system up to the mains. You then connect the sprinkler control to an app that uses sensor data to figure out when it should be watering. It’s clever enough to know that it doesn’t need to water when it rains, but does during a drought.
Smart irrigation also allows customers to see precisely how much water they’re using for environmental reasons – currently a major concern.
Imagine if you were able to attach detectors to galvanized steel pipes that would automatically tell you if there was a leak. Homes and businesses would save billions every year.
Well, as many of you will know, this technology already exists. All you need to do is install a simple-looking detector on a pipe and then it will tell you whether there’s a leak or not.
Many smart home brands, such as Samsung and Nest, already have leak detectors in their product lineup. Given the potential environmental benefits, we are probably going to see these installed as standard in the near future.
Traditional mechanical plumbing systems required people to physically turn handles and push knobs. But given the coronavirus, and germs in general, that old arrangement is not ideal, especially in public bathrooms.
Touchless technology, however, provides a way around this predicament. It works using a motion sensor. People place their hands in front of it and it changes the light signal, tripping a circuit which then mechanically activates the device. For toilets, users simply place their hands close to a sensor, and the thing flushes.
For plumbers, these new setups complicate matters somewhat. You need to understand both plumbing and electronics to service this equipment. But, as of right now, the writing’s on the wall. This is where the industry is heading.
Greywater Recycling Systems
Greywater recycling systems are another eco-friendly innovation people want to learn more about. Homes and businesses want to be able to recycle water from dirty dishes and use it for other purposes, such as irrigation.
Brands offering greywater systems are coming online all the time. But there’s an information problem: currently, the vast bulk of regular consumers don’t even know these systems exist.
That will likely change in the coming years. Consumers want to save water. And greywater recycling systems aren’t particularly complicated. They let people save on their overall water bill while also potentially providing their plants with additional nourishment.
Traditional showers involved a lot of careful calibration to get the temperature just right. Users often had to adjust dials by minuscule amounts, otherwise, it would be too hot or too cold. Repeating their experience in other places, such as hotels, was impossible.
Smart showers hope to put an end to this. Instead of presenting the user with a dial, these feature a touchscreen control panel that allows direct temperature selection. So if somebody knows that they enjoy showers at 42 C, then they can simply choose this temperature and start washing.
Smart showers are still a luxury item, but that won’t last. Just like prices for other electronics, the cost of these systems is coming down all the time. And the market is growing too. So many people want to purchase them.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are currently a bit of an obsession among the home-owning community. Everybody seems to be interested in them right now.
Tankless water heaters are popular because they offer space-saving. Without a tank, you can potentially fit more living space into a given footprint.
Consumers also love tankless water heaters because they provide a continual stream of hot water. So long as the element is active, a warm shower never needs to come to an end.
The primary driving force behind this trend appears to be convenience. People don’t want to spend money on maintaining clunky tanks. They want something simple and durable.
They also want energy-efficient solutions. Homeowners feel uncomfortable about keeping water hot all the time. They’d prefer to simply heat it when they need it.
Linked to tankless water heaters is the technology of hot water circulation. The idea here is to eliminate the problem of cold water sitting in pipes. Usually, you would first have to run a shower or faucet to eliminate the cold water before the hot water came through.
But with hot water circulation, you simply apply low heat to the small amount of water in the pipes and use a pump to circulate it around. Then, when the time comes to use it, hot water comes out immediately.
So, in summary, the world of plumbing is not standing still. Technology is advancing all the time, and it’s making people’s lives better. What’s interesting is how much of this technology saves water and makes systems more reliable. Homes and businesses could very well face much lower prices in the future.