Hands-free pulldown, easy installation, nearly flawless performance, color and style choices are just part of Moen’s MotionSense® line of kitchen faucets, with retail prices (to ignore) from about $640 to about $900.
It was time to replace the kitchen faucet here at Gadget Central. Our existing Moen Extensa, though still working, was not what we wanted any longer. It is a low arc pullout style, not a high arc pulldown, the high-arc pulldown being an all around better design, in my view. The low arc faucet was frequently in the way, interfering with anything in its path and, for us, was not a great choice. While on the hunt for something new, why not also explore the convenience of hands free operation?
While at a trade show last year, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the Moen PR folks and to see and learn about a representative product in the MotionSense line. Have you also asked yourself What are the best copper mugs?. Follow the link below to read more.
MotionSense provides the hands-free convenience we wanted. Get close to the sensor mounted just above the manual operation handle and water flows, perfect for washing hands or for a quick drink of water. Hands removed, the water stops, just as we have become accustomed in commercial settings. Wave a hand over another sensor at the top of the faucet to begin the flow, ideal for filling a pot or rinsing the sink. Wave again to stop the flow or wait for it to time out after about two minutes. (More on the sensors later)
Convinced that MotionSense was for us, we chose a spot resistant stainless steel Brantford model 7185ESRS for our old three-hole sink in spot-resistant stainless steel as the best fit for our kitchen. Moen faucets are locally available through the “Where to Buy” link at the top of the Moen.com home page and from online retailers priced as low as $385, including Amazon.
Do read the Pros and Cons, but this is NOT all the information necessary for readers to have an accurate picture of this product in action. Videos I’ve seen are inadequate, though useful toward understanding the basics (see link to Moen videos below). Read, “Using our Moen MotionSense faucet” below for the real story, illustrating our hands-on experience and how users can personalize Moen MotionSense faucet operation to meet their own needs. Trust me, and keep reading, please.
- Variety of stylish designs from traditional to modern
- Very good build quality, fit and finish with smooth articulation through all positions
- Simple operation (once everyone learns how to use it)
- MotionSense hands-free versatility – motion sensors can be turned off for guest use, then very easily reactivated
- Reflex technology includes flexible, quality-built snap-together hose, 360º swiveling spray head with aerated and shower-like spray, plus “pause” feature that temporarily stops flow, along with hose and head return that fully retracts the spray head
- Dirty hands can get soap and wash without making a mess of the faucet
- Easily fill pots or a water glass hand-free
- Extend flex hose for spray that reaches all points in the sink
- Can more easily save water when compared to manual faucets
- Fun to use, becomes integrated into daily use
- See installation notes
- MotionSense might be difficult to become accustomed to for some users
- Some users will find it difficult to adjust to water turning on when NOT wanted due to close proximity of hands to sensor (deactivate this sensor if an issue)
Moen’s installation kit is smartly designed and laid out with great care, making even DIY installation not particularly intimidating. Ours is a double sink originally designed for a traditional, conventional faucet setup with separate hot and cold valves and with a center faucet – three holes. The kit incudes what is needed for a single hole sink as well as a plate adapter for sinks like ours. With a kit designed for self-installation, we decided to go for it. If yours will be professionally installed, you may wish to skip the following.
Our DIY installation experience
Flaws in our pipes, fittings and water valves became apparent when we tampered with the old faucet and water lines. No problems were apparent or anticipated until everything, as it was, was disturbed to make way for the new Moen. Once the proverbial apple cart was upset, we had a leaky water valve, uncovered a bad elbow joint and much more. Back and forth to the hardware store I went to get unexpected, though needed parts. We were now committed to the installation and had to proceed or be without water until a professional could visit. This was not a workable option.
FINALLY, after several unplanned hours and a lot of swearing, we were ready to proceed. Instead of going reliving our sad tale, start with this LINK (scroll down the page) to Moen installation videos, instruction manual and parts list. If you don’t, the following comments will have no context. Then, come back and finish reading about our installation experience.
It must be stressed that our installation issues had nothing to do with Moen’s product. The problems we encountered were the result of our worn out pipes, valves and other parts that pre-existed.
The underside of our double sink is probably not like yours. Ours is not a modern house, with oddities possibly unique to us. You may have your own unique situation.
To continue, the installation-friendly kit and guide showed the hoses and where they went clearly identified for error-proof connection. The connections themselves, the hoses to the control box, in addition to being clearly marked as to where each goes, are push down, snap-in, so there are no tools required for this part of the install. Hoses can be easily removed in the unlikely event this may be needed in the future.
Moen has thought of the end user/installer and tried to make the kit as universal as possible, with hose and cable lengths, control box and battery box mounting location flexibility in mind. There is much to be admired here.
During the first two days after installation was completed, we experienced malfunctions wherein the hands-free system malfunctioned. Sensors misfired, though we did not experience random on and off cycles. Following the manual’s easy procedure to reset things, all has been well ever since.
Our plumber will need to replace a few old pipes under the sink, as well as an old valve, a t-adapter for the dishwasher and a few other odds and ends. The watchword to DIY readers is this – Be prepared for the unexpected as best you can. Without the unexpected, the installation would take less than two hours, and even less had we the experience of a previous installation.
Using our Moen MotionSense faucet
Here is the ideal, what is seen in videos. Approach the faucet, extend hands and the water turns on. Moments after moving hands away from the Ready Sensor window on the faucet’s vertical, the water turns off. No matter what is on your hands, letting MotionSense turn on the water in our home instead of having to touch the faucet is pretty cool!
Approach with a drinking glass and fill it, hands free.
What isn’t seen in videos of the product is that this Ready Sensor sees all and knows all. The water turns on whenever hands are near and in front of it. The sensor does not know when the user does not intend for water to flow when nearby, such as when putting a dish in the sink or when reaching in to retrieve something from the sink. Or when sweeping a hand by the window while going for something unrelated to the water. It will switch on and it will get sleeves, hands and arms wet.
This can be disconcerting to anyone, including guests who do not expect the water to flow automatically. One way to manage unexpected water flow is to rotate the faucet along its 100º rotational travel arc toward the normally unused area. In our home, it is the sink less used, the one without the garbage disposer. With the faucet Ready Sensor “aimed” toward that sink, the Ready Sensor doesn’t recognize hands at the main sink. Convenient or inconvenient? Decide what’s best for you.
There is another sensor, the “wave sensor” at the top of the faucet curve. Wave a hand, not too fast, up to about two inches overhead, and the water flows. This sensor is designed for such operations as putting water in a pot or for timed hands free operation that lasts about two minutes and then automatically shuts off. Don’t want to wait it out? Wave again at any time before auto shutoff to instantly turn off the flow.
Whenever either sensor is activated, a briefly lit blue LED behind the Ready Sensor confirms that MotionSense is on the job.
In its top-mounted position, the wave sensor is less likely to be accidentally activated, but it can happen.
Moen designers thought of this, too. If the Ready Sensor or the wave sensor’s automatic operations are not going to work for you, they can be deactivated, temporarily (for a “guest mode”) or permanently. It’s all there on page 15 of the Installation Guide. Scroll down THIS PAGE to the Installation Guide link. The Ready Sensor can be deactivated leaving the “wave sensor” on top still active or both can be turned off.
After several weeks of use, and without young children to benefit from the Ready Sensor’s convenience, we have opted, for now, to disable the Ready Sensor. We found it better for us to leave only the wave sensor operational. I love the convenience it affords! And we no longer unexpectedly get wet.
I experimented a bit with both sensors. My hand did the trick, of course. I tried waving a dark-colored TV remote control without success. A white paper towel worked. A black dishwashing glove did not activate the sensors.
The pulldown hose extends up to about 14 inches, allowing the nozzle (spray wand) to direct water to all areas of our sinks in either a standard aerated flow or a shower-like spray pattern that can be activated with a button on the wand head. This same button can also temporarily pause the water flow by pressing and holding the uppermost position of this button. The nozzle resets to standard aerated flow when the water is turned off. A clamp-on weight below the sink on a designated area of the pulldown hose assists in drawing the hose back through the faucet body until the wand seats against the faucet end.
The magic is controlled under the sink. There can be found both a mounted control box and a battery box that contains six supplied AA alkaline batteries powering hands-free operations. An optional AC power adapter is also available. Reading the literature suggests that the inexpensive and easily replaced batteries should last about nine months, depending upon how often and how many times MotionSense is activated.
Manual operation using the faucet handle is independent of hands free modes and is always available. MotionSense is not active during manual operation.
The control box is a beautiful work of engineering. Here is where the water and power connections merge and the brain inside makes things work. There are two things of note here.
First, there are two filters that will require occasional cleaning. See page 17 of the Installation Guide linked above. How occasionally? When they need attention will be determined by when you feel that the water pressure and volume have decreased. Unfortunately, this usually happens slowly over time, so the need to clean these filters may not be realized immediately, from one day to the next. I have set a Google Calendar reminder to let me know to pause and think about it at six month intervals. Regardless of whether yours is a professional or DIY installation, this is a maintenance point just as are filters on a washing machine, automatic icemaker, and showerhead or sink aerator.
Second, an adjustment knob on the control box determines the mix of hot and cold water during MotionSense operation. Ideally, this setting will deliver water that is not too cold and not too hot, but a just right lukewarm mix, the temperature for a quick glass of water or to wash hands.
Our kitchen sink is the farthest run from the water heater, so ours can take more than 30 seconds to mix in enough hot water with the cold to be lukewarm.
The manual operation handle operates this Moen faucet without the MotionSense assist. When the handle turns on the water flow, it overrides MotionSense entirely. Get the customary full cold, full hot or anywhere in between. Now, that’s simple! This one-handed valve should assure leak- and drip-proof trouble-free operation for many years to come.
Where’s all the water?
I remember blast-rinsing the dishes to knock off any remaining food, powering whatever was in the sink down into the garbage disposal and having plenty of water to carry ground-up stuff down and out of the pipes after the garbage disposal did its work. That strong flow is no more.
Why mention this? I would not want consumers to assign responsibility to Moen when their new faucet doesn’t fill a pot, rinse the dishes or even fill a tall glass as fast as might be expected. It simply is NOT within the control of Moen. With water flow restrictions being what they are, what could be a powerful flow is limited by mandated restrictions in all faucet providers’ hardware.
Warranty information (on Specifications Sheet)
- Limited lifetime warranty against leaks, drips, finish defects to the original consumer purchaser
- 5-year warranty electronic operation defects to the original purchaser
- 5-year warranty against leaks, drips, finish defects if used in commercial installations
- 1-year warranty against electronic operation defects if used in commercial installations.
In conclusion, our Moen MotionSense faucet is functional, cool and fun, and has changed for the better how we use our kitchen faucet. Highly recommended!