Lukewarm!

When it comes to electronic faucets, Bennett Friedman, principal of kitchen and bath supplier AF New York, is a skeptic. He considers them appropriate only to high-traffic commercial settings; in the home, he says, illuminated and no-hands faucets often leave users frustrated. “A faucet is not an iPod,” he says. Here are Friedman’s five cautionary points:

1. Kitchen and bathroom faucets need to offer a range of temperatures and flow rates for a variety of activities.

2. Electronic temperature controls are less tactile and immediate than mechanical faucets and can be counterintuitive to guests. Push buttons should not be mistaken for precision: cold water still needs to be evacuated from pipes before temperature can be set.

3. Timed and sensor-based controls can frustrate users when they need to fill a basin.

4. Installation and maintenance of electronic faucets is often expensive; building owners need to find service people capable of handling both plumbing and electronics.

5. Plumbing fixtures are generally perceived as “permanent” despite the frequency with which homeowners renovate; architects should be wary of fashionable choices.

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