Pedal/Knee kitchen faucet valve - good idea?
February 2, 2021 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Can we make our lives better by installing a pedal or knee faucet valve in our kitchen and/or bathroom? Do you have any specific recommendations?

We've been thinking about installing a pedal controller for our kitchen faucet for years. Have you tried this? Is it a good idea?

Do you have ergonomic considerations I might not think of?

I'm a little worried that I'll end up painfully scrunching my big toe on a tiny stiff lever while washing dishes for 15 minutes, or that switching between the foot controller and the non-pedal controller will be cumbersome.

I'm also worried that the foot pedal won't stand up to repeated use.

Also, will I have to buy a super expensive one to get decent durability and convenience?

Is it super difficult to install myself?

Would a knee controller/valve be better?

Should I try to get a used one?

This is for use by one short person and one tallish person - does this complicate the ergonomics?

Thanks for any information!
posted by amtho to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I worked in a lab with foot pedal controlled sinks for about six years and I’m still dreaming about having them in workplaces and kitchens fifteen years later.

I loved them.

I’m hoping you get good answers for what kind to get so I can persuade my husband that we should get them for our kitchen.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:20 PM on February 2, 2021 [8 favorites]

I've looked at these for my home kitchen and I really, really hate stubbing my toes on things. I'm often barefoot or wearing slippers or socks in the kitchen and our toekick space is somewhat short and our kitchen is also small. The space in front of the sink is walked a lot as we move back and forth from the dishwasher to the upper cabinet, from the microwave to the toaster oven, etc.. It just feels like it would be in the path for me. This page has a pretty clear set of installation drawings and a spec sheet -

I really like the touchless faucets concept - touch it with your wrist or your forearm and it turns on and off. There's also apparently voice-activated ones now?
posted by amanda at 12:29 PM on February 2, 2021

Response by poster: I have a light that turns on and off with a touch. Unfortunately, when the batteries get slightly low, it fails in a way that makes it impossible to turn off.
posted by amtho at 12:48 PM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

A friend has the knee version — you push your knee against the cabinet below the sink and there's a hidden sensor that controls the faucet. He is an energy conservation expert and installed it to save on hot water; swears by it.
posted by beagle at 12:55 PM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I’ve built DIY versions of these that are based more around a solenoid valves. They do require batteries, but they can last a great while (and if you’re lucky enough to have an outlet under you sink against code, you can just plug the whole unit into where a garbage disposal is plugged into.

The mechanical plumbing switches can be (at least the cheap ones are) stiff, and bulky, and hard to use with accuracy. The ones I’ve played with have been closer to “off or full blast.” They also happen to be ugly as fuuuuuuuck.

You also have to account for hot and cold water, each line may need its own switch. Which is why we abandoned this whole scene because things were trending towards “pipe organist” vibes under the sink. I hooked up one of the valve systems in a utility sink in our garage, and for that it works great.

They’re cool, but pretty niche. I would go full DIY or custom professional work. Kits are not the path to happiness here.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:58 PM on February 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

When we redid our kitchen we had the plumber install this foot operated valve.

I can't recommend it enough, at least for a kitchen sink.

I can't speak to the difficulty of install as it was done as part of a remodel.

My only minor complaint is that if you're barefoot and for whatever reason you "latch" it on, it can be hard to get to turn back off. (My solution to that problem is just to not latch it on when barefoot.) Otherwise, fantastic.
posted by booooooze at 1:25 PM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I know someone who installed a pedal-operated faucet in the their bathroom, without any duplicate controls on the faucet. I find it annoying to use - it's not tied down in any way, so the pedal moves around (there are no cabinets underneath). It can be to the side, directly underneath, slightly to the right or left of the sink, etc. So I want to wash my hands, walk up to the sink, realize I don't know where the pedal is, then step back to find the pedal and put my foot over it, then I can step forward and wash my hands. Even though I can use the faucet fine, I feel like it violates fundamental usability principles. Also, no controls over whether you get cold, hot, or warm water - there's only a single button.

I wouldn't be surprised if a significant number of guests never figured out how to turn on the faucet and simply didn't wash their hands. Duplicate controls would be my recommendation.
posted by meowzilla at 1:56 PM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hmmm.... would you consider a touchless faucet instead?
posted by kschang at 2:26 PM on February 2, 2021

We have had touch faucets (delta) in a few houses now, and they are excellent. Occasionally a pain that requires troubleshooting, but we will never go back. It's fantastic to be able to turn the faucet on with your forearm if you have dirty hands, and I'm not above bending down and touching it with my head when I'm holding a pot. So I'm all for alternative controls. The primary downside, as you've noted, is switching back and forth. At this point I pretty much just walk up and touch any faucet I see and expect it to go on, which means I end up looking pretty dumb some of the time. Still, totally worth it in the kitchen.
posted by true at 5:28 PM on February 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Like true and a couple others, I have had the Delta touch faucets and loved them so much, I can't wait to have them again.

Yes, you will walk up to all similar faucets and tap them with your wrist! Worth it.
posted by dazedandconfused at 8:51 AM on February 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

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