I’ve spent nearly 6 months tiptoeing around the urinal

6 months. It’s the time I’ve spent living in Norway. And the time I’ve been witnessing the imperfectly designed sensors on my workplace’s urinals.

What tends to happen is that whenever someone comes within about 1 metre of the urinal it flushes. Like half of the Amazon’s daily output. And then it keeps doing it again and again and again. Until you’re no longer within a metre of the urinal. Thus bathroom users who are walking past to wash their hands will also set it off.

I’ve discovered that the right side of the urinal has worse sensor coverage. Such that if I approach the urinal quite slowly (yes it probably would be quite amusing to watch) it won’t flush like crazy. And of course no sudden movements whilst at the urinal means that it won’t flush continuously either. I know of at least one colleague who does the same. But I don’t make urinal conversations habitually at work, I promise.

Anyway, taking the assumption that one flush per use is enough to maintain a hygiene environment, I think this urinal flushes about 5 times more than necessary. But since the amount of water used per flush is also about 4 times more than a regular urinal, I guess this makes it 20 times more water intensive than conventional water-based urinals.

I suppose I’m one of the few who are slightly bothered by this gross wastage. Water is of course quite plentiful in Norway compared to Australia. But even so I spent 6 months slowly approaching the urinal from the right instead of summoning my 7 years of engineering education and experience to come up with a solution. No good explanation there.

But today that changed. And my solution is now in beta mode for application to the other sensor-fitted urinals that suffer the same problem. The first pictures show how these sensors normally look. A small plastic plate looks like it can adjust the sensitivity inside, but requires some tools and probably some better understanding of how not to break it. The second solution, aided by a bit of a Dell user manual does the same job. Finished!

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Interestingly whilst Norwegians aren’t particularly preoccupied with either electricity or water saving measures, it is water that becomes electricity for the majority of the whole country. So there’s good reason to save water, as the saved allocation from human consumption can continue it’s flow down the river for more electricity production (or a healthier river environment).

Of course Norway (along with Britain in many places) hasn’t cottoned onto the waterless urinal movement. But with some clever chemistry (I assume) these manage to use virtually no water whilst maintaining a clean (again I assume) bathroom environment. I don’t think I need to write more on that though, since there’s plenty on that topic on HowStuffWorks and Wikipedia.

Hopefully others appreciate my water saving efforts. And if there are any fellow urinal tip-toers maybe they’ll emulate this design. For the good of humanity I’ve chosen not to patent or copyright this design. Free to all. 🙂

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