Water represents the lifeblood for countless commercial operations.
Without it, many factories cannot manufacture their products. Hotels cannot launder bedding and towels. Restaurants cannot serve up soda from the fountain.
While water plays such a pivotal role in the business world, tens of millions of gallons are wasted every year, costing companies a valuable resource and money.
Two of the problem's biggest culprits, besides negligence: faulty pipes and poor spigot connections.
A new product from Aquor Water Systems aims to stem the wasteful flow. The company’s hose hydrants are touted as the reinvention of the outdoor tap.
The stainless steel design features an auto-stop seal mechanism that keeps all water flowing inside the building until it’s needed. Once a hose is connected to the flush-mount outlet, the twist-lock system prevents water from spilling out.
It’s hard to tell just how many commercial users there are of the products, as most businesses buy through wholesale distributors, Aquor co-founder Cash Walcome said. But he and co-founder Kamil Slusarski know the products contribute considerably to water savings.
Of course, that savings depends on a business’ usage and risk levels. The devices can benefit any business that uses lots of water – like those with extensive landscaping – or little.
“If a landscaper or property manager has to unlock and connect/disconnect a hose bib every time, they will save at least three to four minutes per day – about 18 hours of labor per year,” Walcome said. “We have clientele that need to access water much more frequently, 25-plus times a day. Leaks depend on severity, but even a small leak of one drip per second adds up to 3,000 gallons annually. When one considers all factors, from maintenance, labor, leaks, etc., the savings over time are huge.”
The concept of the hydrants -- $60 for a basic hydrant and $90 for a hydrant with a built-in vacuum breaker – mimics strategies used to prevent water leaks and injuries on boats – namely a flash-mounted faceplate, stainless steel body and twist-lock connection.
The inventors outlined several benefits for both commercial users and those owning and managing multifamily buildings. Among them:
Ease of use: Users can connect hoses instantly under full water pressure. Simple tasks like spraying off a sidewalk or watering plants are no a hassle. Currently, one must unlock the spigot or screw on the handle, thread on the hose and use pliers or channel locks to tighten if needed. The Aquor requires users to just plug in a connector that triggers water flow through the hose.
Easier security: Property managers disconnect garden hoses after every use to prevent unauthorized usage. Secure outdoor faucets tend to be bulky (12 inches x 12 inches) and expensive, running $300 or more, Walcome and Slusarski said.
“The only other alternative is unscrewing the handle and hoping it doesn't get lost,” Walcome said. “With our system, the hose connector acts as a key, and won't get lost because it stays attached to the garden hose.”
No leaks/water savings: Commercial spigots use the same sealing mechanism as traditional hose bibs and frequently leak. Aquor relies on an O-ring and bayonet twist-lock connection system that eliminates leaks because it uses water pressure to seal, rather than compressing a flat washer with friction. The setup can be easily cleaned or serviced if needed.
Freeze protection: Walcome and Slusarski say the freeze resistance of their products is about seven times better than anything currently available. The reason: Faucets made of stainless steel, which is a better insulator than brass. The faucets also automatically drain when disconnected, and there is no winterization that needs to take place.
Lower cost: Most commercial hydrants cost between $150-600, and if the valve seat or threads wear out, the entire unit must be replaced. Aquor is billed as a more durable solution with a smaller price tag.
The hydrant founders say they believe their solution will change how water is accessed and used outdoors. After all, the traditional design of the outdoor tap – relatively unchanged for more than a century – has been plagued by leakage for basically as long.
“We wanted to design an outdoor system that is convenient for all customers,” Slusarski said. “Properties with landscaping services appreciate the quick connection and time/water savings. Buildings that use water infrequently appreciate not needing to winterize or worry about theft.
“We have a few Canadian school districts using our products because they had big problems with vandalism, water theft and later theft of the actual units where vandals would pry the doors off their expensive locking units to sell the scrap metal. They have had no issues with our systems so far.”
To read more about water-saving strategies, click here.