So, here they are, the various types of bidet in a nutshell: Integrated, Seats, Hand-Held, Attachments, Stand Alone, and Portable. Just for fun – and because it will ultimately make more sense that way – I’m going to cover them in reverse order.
Portable Bidets (aka. Travel Bidets)
Rather, what’s called a portable bidet is actually a small bottle, containing water or solution, with an attached tube and nozzle like the Brondell GS-70. This type of bidet is also known as travel bidet or bidet bottle.
In any case, it does work well for the function, though it ties up one hand at least for the initial phase. With this type the only temperature option is whatever you fill the bottle with. You can only spray warm water if that’s available from a nearby faucet.
For travelers, those with certain disabilities, or anyone who wants to “try out” the bidet function without investing in another (more expensive) bidet type, they can be a great option. If you want to learn more about portable bidets, read our Definitive Guide To Portable Travel Bidets.
Stand Alone Bidets
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the stand alone bidet. By “stand alone”, I’m referring to a unit that’s a completely self-contained, separate appliance in the bathroom. This used to be the only type there was.
In any case, this style features all the working components of a complete bidet – but is decidedly NOT a toilet. It’s not intended to be used to eliminate waste, but only for self cleaning afterward.
They’re usually one of the more expensive options and, of course, take up the most space in the bathroom. This type is common in Europe and many homes in Japan have one as well. They’re even popular in some countries in South America. But you’ll find relatively few in the US.
Whether for reasons of space or cost or simply cultural inertia, it just has never caught on.
But other types have…
Portables aside, they’re usually the least expensive, on average, but they also have the fewest features.
You can’t adjust the seat temperature, there’s no warm air dryer, and they rarely offer a remote control, just to name three of the many options often found on bidet seats. That’s because they are not electrically powered.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have warm water. Some bidet attachments like the Neo 320 from Luxe Bidet or the FreshSpa by Brondell have an additional hookup to connect directly to the warm water supply in your home.
If you want to learn more about bidet attachments, read our Definitive Guide To Bidet Attachments.
Hand-Held Bidet Sprayers
There’s a type of bidet that is mid-way between a bidet attachment and a portable. It’s called a “hand-held” bidet sprayer.
You can’t take it with you like a travel bidet. Instead, a T-valve and hose insert into your water line, just as an attachment or bidet seat would, but the spray wand is not inside the toilet. Like the kitchen faucet sprayer it resembles, the hand unit is at the end of a long hose, usually a metal mesh like the toilet’s water line itself.
Hand-held bidet sprayers like the Brondell CleanSpa can require a little practice to use properly, since they obviously tie up one hand. On the other hand, no pun intended, you have complete control of where the spray goes. There’s no need to shift your body around on the toilet seat, or use a side or remote control to attempt to aim a wand where you want.
Keep in mind, though, that very few of these units have dual feeds (for cold and hot water), knobs for temperature adjustment, and other features. You can adjust the pressure somewhat by the degree of pressure you put on the hand lever/valve, of course. The style is not for everyone, perhaps, but some may find it an alternative worth investigating.
The needed spray jets are inside the bowl and under the seat, but they protrude enough to get the job done effectively and cleanly.
They’re correspondingly a little more expensive, on average than bidet attachments. But the improved functionality and increased ease of maintenance make the extra cost well worth it.
Bidet Toilet Combo
Increasingly, it’s the most common type of bidet appliance you’ll spot in a U.S. home. It consists of a bidet seat similar to that discussed above, but it’s designed in conjunction with the toilet like the TOTO MS970CEMFG. In other words they’re a matched pair.
Not only does that provide improved styling, but the functionality is upped accordingly. A single manufacturer, in control of both toilet and bidet seat can more easily develop a seamless working appliance.
You might also find this type referred to as a “built-in bidet” or “toilet bidet”. Terminology aside, there’s no difference in how it works. It’s a toilet seat with spray jets placed and angled for the specific function of a bidet.
Electric versus Non-Electric
How the bidet – whether standalone or add-on or integrated – accomplishes its function varies a lot. But there is a main division here that helps separate the “nice to have” models from the “must have”. Once you’ve used one of these bidets you’ll never want to be without one in your bathroom again.
That feature usually comes down, at bottom, to “electric” versus “non-electric”.
A bidet can certainly work by pressure alone. In fact, way back in the 18th century, that was the only way they could work. And the pressure was provided by a hand pump operated by the user, not by tank or utility pump force.
But, even apart from the ability to increase the pressure with a motor-driven pump, an electric bidet can add several features that raises the value to a peak: heat, air, and angle adjustment. You can often get several other “nice to have” features as well. Click here for a more in-depth article about electric versus non-electric bidets.
So there you have it, the various types of bidets available. Today’s bidets can offer valuable health and comfort benefits without taking up additional space in your bathroom. Prices range from a few dollars to $1000 or more, and here you really do get what you pay for.