Save Me Steve: TOTO S550e Washlet
TOTO S550e Washlet
DALLAS - Tired of toilet paper? Here's why we warmed up to the TOTO S550e Washlet during our test.
Let's get the big part out of the way. If you're considering a TOTO Washlet or any bidet system so you can save money on toilet paper, you may be (ironically) sh*t out of luck. The average American uses about $10/month worth of TP, so expect a good ten years before you're saving money. But the bottom line (for your bottom) isn't savings. It's so much more – most of which you never knew you needed. Here's why.
When it comes to premium products for your pooper, TOTO virtually owns the market and for good reason. The S550e is packed with thoughtful design and a swift user interface. It prewashes the bowl, post-washes (and dries) you and, unlike your husband, never forgets to put the seat down and close the lid.
MORE: Consumer News from Steve Noviello
Installation was easy. We paired the S550e with a TOTO elongated toilet to make sure we were working in a single ecosystem. Remember this is packed with premium features like a seating surface which is always warmed to a consistent (and quite pleasant) temperature and warm water wash, both of which require a power source. If you don't have an outlet near your toilet, or don't want to spend the money (about $150) to have an electrician drop one nearby then this is not the model for you.
Walk up to your S550e washlet and a symphony of sound and movements greet you. The automated lid raises, an interior bowl light illuminates and a gush of misted Ewater+ to clean the nozzle assures users get the cleanest wash possible. We ordered the elongated model and good thing we did. All the premium features have to be hidden somewhere which means the space left over for the surface opening of this toilet seat is noticeably more shallow, front to back, than what you are used to. It essentially will give your elongated toilet the narrow feel of a standard round bowl. So narrow, in fact, we found that first reaction was to second guess keeping the product installed. However, after a quick "get used to it" period this became a non-issue.
There are lots of options here. Good thing the heated seat is such a nice experience because you will be compelled to stay put for a bit to try them all out. There is a lengthy owners manual – you can take a really deep dive from "user presets" to "oscillating" wash features for male and female users. Everything is adjustable from position, to power, to how warm you like your wash (and seat). I can not stress enough that if you have been using a cold water bidet, this experience is so much better.
For all the wand and sprayer functions packed in, there is one thing this washlet does not do, and I am thrilled to see it. Unlike others on the market (particularly those which are manual) the spray features will not activate unless someone is seated. As the dad of 3- and 5-year-old curious boys, this alone is worth the price of admission as it totally eliminates the chance for water spraying mishaps from tiny hands playing with the remote.
Also unlike other washlets on the market, the TOTO S550e is said to be able to completely replace toilet paper. This is not a stretch by any means. Will the dryer result in a bone-dry finish? We never sat around long enough to find out, and who wants to anyway.
In between uses the unit uses that same Ewater+ to deodorize surfaces to extend time between deep cleanings.
The remote is robust, to say the least. It's double-sided, digital and full of options. The one which we used constantly (as our remote was mounted to the wall next to the toilet) was the top-positioned auto seat lift. Press it once and the lid opens. But used in conjunction with the automatic lift of the cover when you approach the washlet, this raises the toilet seat for use which mirrors a standing urinal. Both seat and lid close automatically after use (unless you prefer to press the button again which at this point will seem quite pedestrian)
There's not much left unaddressed with the S550e. It cleans, dries and even deodorizes the toilet. But there is one thing which left us wondering. The washlet features a nightlight which automatically illuminates at night to completely eliminate the need to turn on the bathroom light. No more bright lights to zap you out of your foggy 2 a.m. daze making it harder to fall back asleep.
The night light is nice, but it can be better. In addition to the exterior light which illuminates the area around the toilet, we'd love to see TOTO take "aim" at incorporating the light inside the bowl as part of the night light system. It comes on at first, but quickly goes out leaving a little too much to the imagination from a standing position. Then again, with all that the S550e does, its entirely possible this light's duration has an adjustable setting, and we just haven't gotten to that page of the owner's manual yet.
The s550e is available for $1,800 but do some searching, we found it for as little as $1,200.