Using a smart toilet for the first time

2 04 2023

Regular readers will know that we had our en suite bathroom renovated recently, and as part of that renovation, we had a ‘smart’ toilet installed (an Arcisan Neion Intelligent Toilet NEO41005; details:

So, what’s a ‘smart’ toilet? Why did we buy one? And what advice do I have for anyone, like me, who is using one for the first time? Read on… (content warning: I won’t get too graphic, but naturally, I’ll have to talk about bodily functions at times)

Bottom line (sorry!): Would I get one again? Yes!

What is a ‘smart’ toilet?

In a nutshell, it’s a toilet with built-in cleaning (bidet) functions. But unlike classic European bidets (that I’ve read about, but never used), it’s not a separate item in the bathroom that you straddle (facing the wall). Instead, you use it as you would any other western-style toilet, with the cistern at your back.

The built-in bidet functions of the one we have includes settings for women and men (for the anal, perineal, and perhaps vaginal areas only, not for the urethral area on women), adjustments for cleaning wand position, temperature and flow rate of the water, temperature of the drying function, self-cleaning and deodorising functions, and the ability to program different sequences of settings for 2 users (not tried yet). There may be more functions I haven’t tried.

It’s operated by a battery-powered remote control (see image below) and/or a knob on the side of the toilet seat that you push or turn in various directions for the various cleaning and drying functions (I haven’t tried the knob yet).

In the case of the one we have, it also has an built-in night light so that you don’t have to turn on an overhead light in the middle of the night and thus cause your eyes to adjust both to the brightness and then back to the dark as you go back to bed after a middle of the night pee. A light may not be as necessary for women, but it’s very necessary for men.


  • None of the functions relates to flushing—that’s still done manually. One of the biggest questions I had when I was investigating the toilets was ‘What happens if the power is out?’ and the answer is that you still use the toilet as per any other manual toilet because the flush mechanism is manual and not connected to the power at all. You just can’t use the cleaning and drying functions during a power outage.
  • The electrics for this toilet had to be hard-wired behind the scenes (there are strict rules in Australia about water and power in bathrooms and how close they can be), and I think the electrician installed a junction box inside the wardrobe of the spare room behind the en suite bathroom. He also added an on/off switch for the entire toilet underneath the light and fan switches inside the toilet (also not used—we just keep it turned on, but if we were going away for more than a day, we’d consider turning it off because you don’t need the light etc. to remain on).
  • This brand/model doesn’t have a heated seat function, which really isn’t necessary where I live in Australia—there might only be a couple of days a year where I’d think that would be ‘nice to have’. Speaking of the seat, the seat and the lid are ‘soft close’, so no worries about dropping the seat in the middle of the night and waking up anybody else.
  • The water usage for the 3-minute (default, but you can stop it at any time) cleaning function is between 350 and 650 mL/min, depending on the flow rate chosen, so between 1 and 1.9 L of water. I haven’t measured the power usage as yet, but when I do, I’ll report back.
Handheld remote control for the smart toilet, showing the icons for each function

Handheld remote control for the smart toilet, showing the icons for each function

Why did we get one?

These smart toilets aren’t cheap—in fact, they cost quite a bit more than a high-end standard toilet, so why did we get one? In simple terms—age.

No-one is getting any younger and the aim of our bathroom reno was to make our en suite bathroom as accessible as possible to cater for us as we age (we’d like to ‘age in place’ in this house for as long as possible).

That meant:

  • having doors wide enough to cater for a wheelie-walker, wheelchair, someone on crutches etc.
  • adding a grab rail to help someone with an injury or disability or just plain wonky on their feet to help themselves onto the toilet or in getting up from it
  • adding a toilet that could help someone who has difficulty twisting to wipe themselves, or little power in their hands to do that for themselves, or who has temporary or long-term continence issues. No-one likes even thinking about the idea of having to help their life partner with toileting, cleaning up after them, etc. And the person this has to be done for may find it very difficult and ‘undignified’ to give control of something so personal to someone else.

One scenario we hadn’t considered was recovery from an abdominal operation and the resulting bowel issues that came with the effects of the drugs, and then the laxatives to make toileting easier so that constipation and straining didn’t cause the surgery to tear and create a hernia. But less than a week after the bathroom renos were finished, I had an emergency appendectomy. I was extremely thankful for the grab rail in the toilet as it meant I could get myself up and down without assistance. I was also extremely grateful for the cleaning functions of the toilet because I couldn’t twist my body easily without the fear of tearing anything, and because the violence of some of the diarrhoea I experienced meant that my bum was red raw, and even the thought of using a very soft toilet paper wasn’t appealing. The gentle warm-water wash of that toilet was a godsend!

Advice for new users

I’ve now been using our smart toilet for almost 3 weeks, so I’m still a new user. I certainly haven’t tried all the functions, but I have settled into some of those that seem to work for me. Everybody’s body and how you sit on a toilet is slightly different, so trial and error is the name of the game for the first few weeks or so. Read the operating manual and try each function—you can’t break it.

Other advice and general comments:

  • The remote control is a bit finicky to respond. I’ve tried hard presses, soft presses, medium presses and still haven’t figured out what the optimum is. In some cases I’ve had to press a button 2 or 3 times before it activates. I’m sure with time I’ll get better at figuring this out, but for someone who has limited hand mobility or arthritis this may be a problem, in which case it may be easier to learn the controls on the side-mounted knob.
  • The remote control is a beige colour and the icons are medium-grey outlines—there isn’t good contrast, and for someone whose eyesight is not particularly good, this could be a big issue as they can’t see the icons clearly. This is a design issue, where the manufacturers seem to have gone for fashion over function. It would be good to have an optional overlay (or a choice of remote styles at the time of purchase or later) so that the contrast is far better than now.
  • When a function is activated on the remote, it beeps and then is lit from behind with a blue LED, which is reasonably easy to see.
  • The lid and seat beep anytime you open or close them, or sit down and cover the sensor. There’s only a couple of beeps and they aren’t too loud, but they’ve been a bit disconcerting and I’d prefer to turn them off, but I can’t find any information on whether I can or how to. Again, I’ll likely get more familiar with them over time and eventually I may not even hear them.
  • For the first couple of weeks, every time I sat on the toilet (even just to pee), there was a noise that sounded like the cistern was filling with water or a motor starting up. I had assumed this was in preparation for the cleaning function, and it was annoying to hear it when I just wanted to pee! However, this got solved a little later once the flushing issue got sorted out (see below) and the noise stopped completely.
  • Flushing: The bathroom reno project manager told us that after we’d had a bowel movement to push the full flush button in and hold it in until we heard the tank fully empty. We did that, but it just wasn’t enough. In most instances, we had to do a second (full or half) flush, which was counter to the idea of conserving water. (For non-Australians: Australia has mandated dual flush toilets for several decades, and over time the amount of water for each flush has also decreased—initially it was 11 L for a big flush and 5.5 L for a small flush, but modern toilets sold in Australia these days are now around 6 L and 3 L respectively, though some are set for 4.5 L and 3 L [see ]). After we complained about having to do 2 flushes almost every time, the project manager (he’s an ex-plumber) came out and adjusted the float in the cistern—it had been set by default to 4.5 L, so he raised it to the maximum 6 L, and the issue with having to flush twice has gone away (and that refill noise when we sat down has also gone too!). He did say that the government (and industry?) push is for making 4.5 L and 3 L the standard, and he believed that all new toilets would go to that in time. Fortunately, ours was one where 6 L was still a possibility.
  • Usage advice:
    • Remember, I’m still getting used to this, so my advice may change over time. Remember also, that your body shape and how you sit on a toilet is likely marginally different to someone else. Manufacturers do their best to cater for the most common shapes and positions, but they aren’t the same for everybody. You will need to trial the settings and adjustments to find what’s right for you.
    • I initially tried the ‘anal wash’ setting only (the one with the male icon), but found it wasn’t for me. Then I tried the female setting—that was a bit better, but I’ve had to drop the flow rate a tad and activate the oscillation icon to suit me better. No matter which setting you choose, the water flow (even at the highest rate) is comfortable and not at all unpleasant. Same for the temperature (which I’ve adjusted down a tad for the drying function).
    • Because all bodies are different, you may need to wriggle around a bit on the seat or lean forwards or backwards to get the coverage you need. With luck you’ll find settings that can cater for that, over time.
    • You don’t have to let it run for the maximum 3 minutes for either the washing or drying, and you might only want the wash not the dry. It’s completely up to you. You can press stop at any time.
    • The big one: toilet paper! When do you use it (before or after), how much do you use, do you use it at all? Well, of course, there are as many recommendations as there are people. Again, you’ll have to trial this for yourself. A US friend of mine who is a BIG bidet fan, suggests a quick wipe before the wash, while the project manager suggested a quick wipe after (for drying mostly, especially if you haven’t used the drying function). Some say a little before and after. Some website articles suggest you’ll never (or rarely) need to use toilet paper again (some even compare the ‘cost’ in water etc. of making toilet paper with the amount of water and electricity used in operating a bidet once or twice a day—the manufacture of one roll toilet paper comes out as far less environmentally friendly). All state that you WILL use less toilet paper, though few claim you’ll use none at all.

Bottom line (sorry!): Would I get one again? Yes!

[Links last checked April 2023]