• Kieran Murphy

The Solenoid In The Washroom

Where do sensor taps fit into your company energy strategy?

Taps -- or faucets, for US readers -- are older than you might think. Some of the inline valves which regulated the flow of water to ornamental fountains in Pompeii wouldn't look out of place in your local builder's merchant. The design of the screw taps gracing your bathroom and kitchen at home is less ancient, but can be traced back to an invention of 1845. With potable water getting scarcer and more expensive, is it time to rethink our dependence on these elementary pieces of plumbing?

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the UK's Environment Agency, told the 2019 Waterwise conference that England would start running out of water in a couple of decades unless action is taken. His prediction aligns with steadily increasing water bills. Reducing wastage makes sense, in both environmental and economic terms.

An obvious starting point is to use sensor taps in place of screw taps. Sensor taps use electronically-actuated solenoid valves to regulate the flow of water. The valve opens when a hand approaches the tap body, and shuts when the user moves away. (The operation resembles that of an automatic hand dryer.)

Since sensor taps are easily integrated with building management systems, they're often installed as part of a 'smart building' upgrade... but that's purely a matter of convenience! There's no reason why you shouldn't get a plumber to install a set in your washroom tomorrow.

Indeed, there are a number of good reasons for doing exactly that. Sensor taps have been shown to reduce water usage by up to 70 per cent. That translates to annual savings of around €150--200 per tap, more than enough to pay for installation. Reduced water usage also means reduced water heating bills, delivering further, indirect savings. And no-touch means improved hygiene, too.

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