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Japanese washlet toilet seat in the US?

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Japanese washlet toilet seat in the US? 2008/3/25 23:32
United States
I fell in love with the washlet toilet. Will a Japanese model rated for 100V work in the US with 120V? Has anyone tried this before with success (or failure)? Did you use a voltage converter or plug it in directly?
by spammunch  

Re: Bidets 2008/3/26 10:07
I don't know about the voltage issue but you can buy a U.S. bidit at most major stores including the Home Depot.

Cheers,

George

by ... rate this post as useful

washlet 2008/3/26 19:05
you can buy a Japanese washlet seat with a remote in the USA, made especially for the US market so you don't have to worry about voltage etc. however you need a professional plumber and electrician to install it.
don't bring one from Japan as your US toilet may not have the right size for that seat and the different voltage would be a problem. Some store sell them in Vancouver/ British Columbia/Canada
for US check http://www.thefactoryoutlet.com/bath/bidet/toto-washlet-c100...
by Auntie Bert rate this post as useful

Japan one cheaper & I'm in Japan! 2008/3/26 21:16
Thank you both for your reply, however it appears you have not actually tried a Japanese one in the US?

I've done a bunch of research and have discovered this:
-Japanese and American toilets have the same sizes. Fitment is not an issue.
-Japan and US have the same water pressure standards.
-the voltage frequency is the same as the US (at least in part of Japan...)
-the only unknown is how the higher voltage level in the US (+20% vs. Japan) will affect the safety or durability of the washlet. I'd hate to have my tushy burned by too hot water!

See, I'm in Japan now - I live here. But I will eventually return to the US and I'd like one of these as a daily warm reminder (pun intended) of my time here. I think it's cool that it has Kanji and Hiragana on it. I know they are readily available in the US, but now it is very convenient for me to buy one here - just that one last nagging Q to answer...

The ones in the US are equally as good, but they are quite expensive compared to the Japanese ones. In my mind it only makes sense to buy one in Japan and bring back.

So I ask again: will the higher voltage in the US be a problem? Has anyone actually done this before and what were the results?

by spammunch rate this post as useful

Re: Bidet Electricity 2008/3/26 22:34
searching for your question on the boards, we have:

http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+13241

It appears the risk is for items that heat up getting too hot and catching on fire. Whoa, toilet on fire, that would be exciting.

Cheers,

George

by ...... rate this post as useful

Buy it in the US.. 2008/3/26 22:52
Typically in the US, bowls are available in 2 sizes, oval (standard) and elongated.

The higher voltage may adversely affect the lifespan and performance of the equipment, mainly heating elements and motors. Heaters tend to be hotter and motors run faster when the supplied voltage is increased. Most will have a built-in power regulator to maintain the correct voltage, but eventually, that will go out due to the constant increased supplied voltage.

Check the specifications regarding the power requirements for the unit. Many electrical and electronic items for sale in Japan have input supply power requirements that are rated at 100-140 VAC, 50-60 Hz.

The power cord should have a grounding wire (3 prong plug) and connected to an outlet which has GFCI, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt, for safety.

I live in Torrance, California and there are many stores, both Japanese and non-Japanese, that offer Toto;s and other Japan manufactured toilets and accessories for sale at prices that are comparable, if not lower, than in Japan. All units offered for sale in the US conform to US safety codes.

Power supply transformers (step-down) can be used to drop the voltage to 100 volts. Depending on the model and make and the output current (watts or amps) they are priced from $50 to $200 USD.

by Lacalifusa rate this post as useful

I wonder how them washlet's work? 2008/3/26 23:16
Hi George, thanks very much for the reply and link.

It has me thinking some more. I know the washlets have 2 or 3 heaters: the seat, the bidet and sometimes an air fan. Of these, the seat and bidet heaters have different temperature settings. The air fan usually does not, although sometimes you can control the fan speed.

For the heated air fan, this is almost exactly like a hair dryer in design and function and thus has some pretty high risk of overheating with the higher voltages. Luckily I'm not interested in a model with a heated air fan.

For the seat and bidet, it depends how the temperature is controlled as to the risk...

If there is a some closed loop temperature controller than I have no worries about the effect with the higher voltage. This is because the heater power level (more accurately, likely the heater duty cycle) will be adjusted to keep the temperature constant and thus it will automatically compensate for voltage variation.

If the temperature is controlled by changing the heater duty using open loop control (no sensor, no feedback), then there is a big risk of having a too hot tushy! You're right back to the hair dryer analogy.

My personal opinion is the seat and bidet are closed loop control. I say this based on the following observations:
-despite the fact the water temperature varies seasonally, the bidet water is always just about body temperature. This would not be possible w/o CL control.
-despite the fact you can change the water spray pressure (and hence mass flow) during the spray event, the water temperature stays constant. This feat would also not be possible without CL control.
So I think the bidet is OK, low risk.

For the seat heater, this could be open loop:
-As a washlet designer, you could assume the person on the seat will be about 37degC. You could further assume there is not much heat rejection to the atmosphere through the un-seated part of the seat. Thus, the energy you put into the heater should mostly go to the person. In this case, three different fixed power levels would conver the range of comfort quite nicely w/o the complexities of CL control. I guess it depends on the thermal design of the seat (unknown).
-However, based on personal experience in winter time using a non-heated stand-alone bathroom (~0degC air temperature), the seat was still the perfect temperature, even on the low or medium setting. Thus despite the fact the air (and porcelain toilet) were much colder, the seat was still equally warm on the same low/mid setting.
Thus, if the setting was the same and the seat temperature was the same even though the air temperature was radically different, I am assuming the seat heater must be compensating (also be CL control).

Plus, if you goto Toto's US washlet website (www.cleanishappy.com), I learned the seat is making "adjustments" 100times a second. This sure sounds like a microcontroller at work doing CL control!

If there is a micro, it has to have an AC-DC converter. Usually these are able to handle a wide range of input voltages with no impact to the output DC voltage and hence no impact to the micro.

So, overall I think the risk is pretty low.

BUT...

I'd sure love to find out exactly how these washlets work or talk to someone who has done this before so I can confirm my assumptions.

I'm almost ready to pull the trigger, buy one and report to the world the results (when I move back to the US in a few weeks!)

Feedback welcomed and appreciated...

by spammunch rate this post as useful

Japan ones still cheaper! 2008/3/27 13:23
Lacalifusa, thanks also for the reply. I also call Torrance, CA my home. Now I live in Japan, but not much longer and I'll return to Torrance.

I've checked around and found that even basic models in the US are quite expensive - minimum $400.
(http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigatio...)
(http://www.nextag.com/washlet/search-html?nxtg=99c0a1c0513-B...)

Compared to the basic ones in Japan (sorry, Japanese website, 100Yen = 1USD). Minimum price in Japan = $200, same features as US model.
(http://www.yodobashi.com/enjoy/more/i/64922753.html)
(http://www.yodobashi.com/enjoy/more/i/15290034.html)

The reason for the price difference is this:
-in Japan they are quite common. In fact they outsell microwaves here! Competition is stiff and volumes are high.
-in the US they are a luxury item typically distributed by high-end bath and kitchen stores. They are not common, and all models are designed and imported specifically for the US market. As such they demand a premium price.

If the Japanese ones will work in the US, I should start an import company, maybe good profits to be had?!

Has anyone actually tried a Japanese washlet in their US home? I'm surprised if I'm blazing trails here...

by spammunch rate this post as useful

It's a small world, isn't it??? 2008/3/27 21:41
If you know anyone living in Torrance or Gardena, have him or her go to the Mitsuwa Market Place in Torrance located at 21515 S Western Ave. From the main entrance, the second store on the right sells washlets, ranging from $250.00 to$550.00. Marukai in Gardena, 1740 W. Artesia Blvd., also sells them.
Units are available for both the oval and elongated bowls.

Years ago, my mom brought one from Japan and I installed it using a step-down transformer. Plugging the Japanese unit directly to the electrical outlet did not allow the GFCI to properly work and the power cord seemed to be slightly warm at all times. I was worried about the grounding so when I saw the ones being sold at Mitsuwa, I purchased one and replaced it for her. The ones sold here has the UL Approval and conforms to the National Electrical Code.

When I built my house in Torrance 4 years ago, I had outlets install besides all the toilets in the house. I had GFCI breakers installed at the main panel and at all the outlets in the bathrooms. Due to the building codes that the City of Torrance has, I had to explain why I wanted to install electrical outlet in the proximity of the toilets before they signed off on the inspection.

If the ones that are available in Japan have the AC 3 prong grounding plug, then it should be fine for use in the States. Ifll be in Japan next week so Ifll look around and get back to you.

As far as importing the ones for the Japan market here to the US, I personally think the liability is too great for the amount of profit that can be made.

by Lacalifusa rate this post as useful

It works! 2008/5/16 21:55
Against all odds I took the plunge and found out the washlets from Japan work just fine in America. I purchased a Panasonic basic model (DSXJ10 I think) and have been using it for over one month now with no issues whatsoever. I was surprised to find out the plumbing even bolted right up with no conversion fittings necessary. Given this house was built in the late 1970's that was an pleasant surprise.

The only thing to watch for is the plug. In Japan, the ground wire is not integrated into the plug as it is here. To properly ground the device I bought a 3-wire (3prong) extension cord, and then cut and soldered it onto the 2 pwr and 1 ground wire from the washlet. In my opinion this is a necessary step to ensure the GFCI works properly for safety.

All those wondering about the washlets from japan, I heartily recommend bringing back this practical (and personal) souvenir.

Cheers,
spammunch.

by spammunch rate this post as useful

I wouldn't recommend it 2008/6/18 16:41
I know this is a little late, but it might be of interest for someone.

Recently TOTO had a recall of their washlets in the USA due to an overheating issue and possible fire danger. My speculation is that this was due to 100V design being used on 120V. That's a 20% increase in voltage, and for a heater that's substantial. Get the USA model and you'll have a valid warranty. That's what I did.

by Dan rate this post as useful

I just purchased a Panasonic Washlet 2009/11/15 00:55
Hi spammunch (or any other that can answer). Just want to know what has been your experience with your washlet so far and if it is still working fine. Does the label only says 100v like mine (model MA40) I am looking at purchasing a converter for safety but find it a pretty difficult task here in Toronto. Do you think I could use it without any damage to the unit? Thanks!
by FG63 rate this post as useful

Added info (use washlet in Europe) 2009/11/15 22:28
Hi,
Just want to add my experience of using a washlet outside of japan (in my case Europe (230V 50Hz).
As in the USA the washlets are much much cheaper in Japan than in Europe even including shipping and you also have a much wider choice. So I bought one (Toshiba SCS-T90) on a trip about 4 years ago and shipped it home (surface mail). Ofcourse with the risk that it did not work. But what the hack I wanted to give it a try. Well after four years it works still fine and is used everyday by my family.

Mounting. The size of the washlet was OK but the fitting (two long screws) not. But with a little bit of filing I got it to fit nicely. (The screws were adjustable but just not far enough for my lavatory).
Water. Pressure was within limits (checked it with the watercompany). For the water I had to add a water tap. The European size screws were OK and as far as I know they are the same in the USA (for some odd reason our plumbers still work with the non-metric system ;-). I did not use the T-connector to tap of the water from the cistern (watertank) as it was too far away and in view. Except for the tap I did not use any extra materiel. All possible tubing and fittings were supplied.
Power. Frequency was OK as the unit was for 50-60Hz. For the voltage I used a standard step down transformer (230 to 115 V). This worked fine for several month but I did not like the light hum coming from the internal transformer. To keep it simple (and inexpensive) I used an extra low volt transformer to get rid of the extra 30V (actual 24V). (Note Transformers 230V to 100V are very uncommon so they are very expensive.) For the USA you can use the same approach to get rid of the extra 20V (instead of buying an expensive uncommon transformer from 120 to 100V). Also note that a thyristor based step down converter can not be used. (Note I used a 1000W transformer as i also power some other kitchen equipment from the same transformer. Based on the documentation a 500W transformer should be enough.)
Grounding. No problem to connect the safety grounding to the metal waterline (this is the way it is normal in my part of Europe).

All in all it is very doable to install these washlets yourself.

Xtra info: inside washlet was a top level schematic. The electronics get there voltage from an internal transformer (prim 100V, sec 14V and 10,5V). All the motors (water pressure control, move nozzle, scent blower, dryer blower) are 12V. The heaters (seat, water and dryer) are 100V and most likely thyristor controlled. I fyou add up all the wattage from the heaters you come up to 740W. Most likely the control electronics inhibit the high wattage heaters to work at the same time.

Hope this helps (for the technical inclined people)

by B. Slager (guest) rate this post as useful

Explaining "low voltage transformers" 2009/11/17 10:44
What the previous poster meant when he described an ''extra low voltage transformer'' is the concept of using a regular AC transformer wired as an autotransformer in a ''bucking'' configuration to further reduce the line voltage.

Explanation: Let's assume you have a 100VAC washlet you want to use in North America (115-120VAC). So, we want to drop line voltage by 15-20VAC. This is done using a ''bucking'' transformer, where the output winding of a transformer is placed in series with the 100VAC washlet load. In addition, the ''hot'' end of the input and output coils on the transformer are connected, and the neutral ends of the primary winding and the washlet plug are connected. Wired this way, the combined drop across the secondary winding and the washlet must then be the same as the line voltage (120V).

By choosing the output winding voltage correctly, you can achieve 100VAC across the washlet. So, a 20VAC transformer would be ideal. But on practice, 120V in North America is often closer to 115V, so a 15VAC transformer would work. The more commonly available 12VAC transformers should get you close enough, between 103VAC and 108VAC.

A picture of the circuit diagram is at http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/vol_2/chpt_9/5.html#02148.png

Now some words of warning. First, don't even consider doing this unless you understand the electrical principles involved. Ideally this means you took at least one electrical engineering or physics course. Second, autotransformers do not electrically isolate the load from the input. This means you have to be very careful to get all polarities correct! Otherwise you will potentially short your line voltage hot to neutral and blow your circuit breaker/fuse out. Next, be sure that your transformer of choice can handle the current of your device. The washlet I just picked up maxes out at 1277W, which is 12.77A @ 100V. Thus the 12V-15V transformer I need must also put out a minimum of 12.77A@12V or @15V.

Finally, this principle only works with actual transformers (hunk of iron + 2 wire windings), not with other AC-AC transformers, and certainly NOT with any AC-DC transformers.

Be careful out there!

by Joan T. (guest) rate this post as useful

still working great! 2009/11/17 11:34
Someone asked if I still had the washlet and if it was still working? You betcha! I have two now, both from Japan, both basic Panasonic DL-series. The first is still in use more than 1.5years later, the second a new one in service 2months now. I can report no issues whatsoever with the install or operation. Much to my surprise I didn't even need any plumbing fittings/couplers etc. I have modified the plug on both so the ground is functional and have them plugged directly into a GFCI protected circuit.

The yen is a lot higher now, but its still way cheaper to buy in Japan. Both times I used the original box and checked them as luggage on the flight back home. No issues at all.

by spammunch (guest) rate this post as useful

Watch the electricity 2009/11/17 21:53
Joan T. thanks for the added explanation. The reason i did not add the full explanation was that somebody that knows where i was talking about got an idea how to solve the voltage problem in an inexpensive way and could work out the details. And the one that did not understand it was not going to touch it without getting some advise from somebody else.

It is good you added the extra warning about working on/with the power lines.

BTW I learned something new because i did not know the transformer configuration was called a bucking configuration. In my case a 24V transformer does the job very well and because i used it on the primary side the current did not be that high (~5Amps). These values for a transformer are very common and therefore very affordable especially if you buy the transformer in a dump store (couple Euro's).
The max wattage of your washlet surprised me. I guess it dries your bottom in a second or so and gives you constant warm water. eMine waterf gets cold after the internal reservoir is empty and it takes several minutes (never checked it) to warm it up. Somebody that considers to buy a washlet might watch the power consumption. As I remember correct a lot of the advertisements in shops (in for instance Akihabara) stated in bolt figures the yearly power consumption (i guess based on an average usage of a Joe Sixpack family). And of course the lower the better (for environment reasons and budget reasons).

by B. Slager (guest) rate this post as useful

Japanese Washlet DL-MA40 2009/11/17 23:59
I just bought a washlet from Japan model DL-MA40, but I was afraid to use it without a proper transformer, so I ordered one from a canadian site(I live in Ontario), it was expensive, but I don't know too much about electronics, so I preferred to play safe. Now I've just realized that the installing/operating instructions and all the labels are in Japanese only and I'm wondering if anyone can help me with the english translations, I couldn't find anything in English on line and Panasonic was of no help(?!?)
To FG63: I see that you bought the same model number, do you know Japanese, could you help me, please?
Thanks
by Eugene (guest) rate this post as useful

Hot water tap? 2009/11/27 05:46
We bought a Toto Washlet a number of years go. We got a model marketed by Toto for the U.S. market. It's a good unit and we're generally happy with it. However, when visiting Japan I notice that the Washlets in the hotel rooms have much more vigorous wash streams. Those models are connected to both hot and cold water lines, while ours is connected only to the cold line, and has its own water heater.

I'd like to upgrade to a Japanese model that connects to the hot and cold water lines.

by Randy (guest) rate this post as useful

Vigorous stream 2009/11/28 02:47
Just a thought.
I guess the maximum water pressure depends on the water standard pressure in your home system. Maybe the water pressure in Japan is a little bit higher than at your home. As fas as i know there is not a waterpump in the seat system to bring the pressure up to a specific (higher) pressure. There is only a pressure controlvalve to reduce the water pressure.
You mention that in the hotel the seat is hooked up to both cold and warm water. I experienced this too. This means that everytime you sit on the seat the warm water starts running so the heated water gets to the seat. If in your home the pipe is long between the the water heater and the seat you waste a lot of water (that ones have been heated). Because there are too many variables in play it is hard to compute what in your situation the most economical method is (including installing the extra heat water pipe).
by B. Slager (guest) rate this post as useful

Plumbing connections for Washlets 2010/4/10 10:47
I connected two washlets in America. Its really easy. The plumbing looks like it will be a problem, but it is not. The Japanese for some reason use 1/2 inch pipe thread fitting as standard at the water shut off valve in bathrooms. So the washlet water line has 1/2 inch pipe thread connection, not a metric connection. This makes it super easy to connect the water as your bathroom as can use standard plumbing available in Lowes or Home Depto. Not sure why Japanese though use a non-metric fitting, but thanks!! I did use step down transformer on one washlet, but not the other.
by BD (guest) rate this post as useful

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