Optional manual control and new wireless technology make sensor-powered spigots kitchen-ready
A novelty in public bathrooms—Look, Ma, no hands!—touchless faucets are moving into the kitchen. With pro-chef features such as high-arc swiveling necks for pot-filling, pull-down spigots for rinsing produce, and the ability to switch from automatic to manual control, these new high-tech sprayers are designed for serious KP duty.
The faucets, which turn on and off using combination motion and light sensors, help prevent the spread of germs because you never have to touch controls with grimy mitts. They also conserve water by doling it out only on demand. The technology has been around for about 20 years, but past problems with trigger-happy or unresponsive sensors, inconveniently placed temperature and stream adjusters, and the hassle of wiring the sensors have previously made hands-free impractical in kitchens.
The Parma from Danze and the Pascal from Brizo address all that with more-accurate sensors; side-mounted handles; manual overrides for when you want old-school control; and built-in battery packs, no electrical work required. Another option is Kohler's Wellspring, a hands-free-only faucet that's installed next to your existing manual one for use when rinsing a raw fish or chicken. "Just as people set separate cutting boards for meat, you can have separate faucets," says Les Patch, senior product manager for Kohler.
Like those first-generation Apple iPods, these new-fangled faucets are pricey. But as the technology evolves and more manufacturers introduce competing designs, the cost will likely come down.