Review & Rating
Decorative Plumbing Distributors
4200 Business Center Dr.
Fremont, CA 94538-6356
Footnotes:1. For as long as the original purchaser owns the faucet provided it is purchased from an authorized showroom and is registered with In1aqua. Otherwise, two years.
This Company In Brief
Hansa Armaturen GmbH was a German company that made excellent faucets that it sold mostly in Europe. It was virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic. So, in 2013 when the company was sold to Finland's Oras Group, hardly anyone in North America noticed. The only part of the transaction that caused a minor blip on American financial radar was the simultaneous sale of Hansa's Swiss subsidiary,
In the same series of transactions, Hansa lost Christopher Marshall, it's CEO, who formed his own faucet company, taking with him decades of management and marketing experience in European faucet manufacturing with Hansa,
The new company, In2aqua had an almost immediate success in its home country, Germany and began selling to the North American market on a limited basis in 2014. It has since expanded to dozens of showrooms in California with plans to move into other states as its manufacturing capacity allows.
Decorative Plumbing Distributors (DPD) of Fremont, California has been selected as the company's master distributor to handle warehousing. inventory and distribution to authorized showrooms and wholesalers in North America. At the moment all of In2aqua showrooms are in California and Arizona, but the number of retail outlets is expanding rapidly. (To locate an authorized in2aqua showroom or other retailer, visit the showroom directory on the company website.)
In2aqua has a non-traditional business model. It sells faucets in the U.S. and Canada from its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany without having established a North American subsidiary. Customer service is handled from the U.S., but technical support is through English-speaking agents located in Germany.
It is an innovative and seemingly well-considered plan to sell high quality faucets using a low overhead model that should help keep In2aqua prices down. The strategy takes advantage of the fact that with modern communications, especially smart phones and the internet, physical proximity to a particular market is no longer necessary. To a plumber or homeowner located in Miami, Memphis or Montreal, technical or customer support provided from Europe is just as useful as help from California or Georgia. It no longer makes much difference where support comes from so long as both parties speak roughly the same language.
The In2aqua website is crisp, visual, striking, intuitive and very simple to navigate. The site search function is very efficient. We very much like the extensive description of each faucet which includes its certifications and cartridge information. Every faucet seller should provide similar information to make choosing a faucet much easier for the consumer. (For all the rest of you faucet company executives: cartridge information is not just "Ceramic Cartridge", it is "Ceramic cartridge made by xxxxxxx.")
The site also provides an easy-to-use Product Index that lists specification sheets (including complete dimensions), a replacement parts list (.pdf), 3D model files (.dxf), and installation instructions (.pdf). In short, if there is something you need to know about a faucet to make a buying decision, it is somewhere on the In2aqua website in easy-to-follow format. For you designers and architects, the .dxf faucet models make incorporating the faucets in computer-aided designs very simple, but, be aware that the models are dimensioned in metric, not U.S. conventional units, and will require translation.
One feature that we really like is the ability to view any faucet from any angle through a link labeled "360°". Click on the 360° icon and the faucet is displayed in a box that allows you to rotate the faucet with your mouse to view it from any angle. No more imagining what the back of the faucet looks like, just rotate it with the mouse until the back is revealed. The feature takes the guesswork out of selecting a faucet from one or two static images.
The faucets are grouped into three general collections:
All faucets feature the distinctive and well-defined Nordic-German styling that is characteristic of such established companies as, Much of the design and prototyping is handled by Werksdesign, an industrial design studio located in Berlin that is a frequent winner of European design awards for its crisp product styling. Each collection includes (or eventually will include) bathroom sink faucets, tub fillers, showers and kitchen faucets.
These are the traditional, heavy-weight, cast and machined, hand polished low-lead brass and alloy products made pretty much the same way that the best faucets have been made for most of two hundred years, but also incorporating the latest technological advances for fault-free operation over the life of the faucet. They are clearly intended by In2aqua to be a lifetime investment and the last sink faucet you will ever need to buy.
Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) is one of the hardest materials known to man — it fact, it's "like diamond", hence its name. The hardest, strongest, and slickest form of the material is known as tetrahedral amorphous carbon, the form used to coat most ceramic discs.
To illustrate just how tough it is: in laboratory abrasion tests, stainless steel lasted one week. Coated with DLC just two microns thick, the steel lasted for a simulated 85 years — 4,000 times longer. (A micron, for those of you who paid less than rapt attention in Sister Mary Benevenuta's required "Introduction to Chemistry" in 10th grade, is about 1/70th the thickness of a human hair.)
It can be found coated on the edges of razor blades to make them harder and slicker, and on knives and barber shears that never need sharpening. As a coating on drill bits and endmills it greatly extends the life of the tool, and on dies and molds it allows them to release molded products with less binding. As a finish on high-end watches, it creates surfaces that are invulnerable to ordinary wear and tear for 1,000 years or so. We expect the use of the material to expand to household products as it becomes less expensive, including super slick coatings on pots and pans that truly are indestructible, finally making those tiresome TV infomercial claims actually true.
The company cuts no corners in either component selection or manufacturing. Plastic in critical parts has been banished. Components that are commonly plastic in other faucet lines, such as pull-down sprays, are machined and polished brass in In2aqua facets. Even the locking collar that holds the faucet's valve cartridge in place is brass. Almost all other faucet companies — even those that sell upscale products — have switched to plastic for this hidden, but critical component. Plastic is less expensive, saving a few dollars in manufacturing, but not nearly as strong. In2aqua's proprietary, all-brass M-Lock™ collar reduces the risk of mechanical damage from over-tightening by zealous installers, deterioration over time in daily use — even "vigorous" daily use — and that annoying "water hammer" thumping when the faucet is turned off abruptly.
The ceramic cartridges used in In2aqua faucets are some of the best made, and all lubricant-free. Lubricant-free cartridges require more precise manufacturing and high-technology materials to ensure that the ceramic disks slide freely. but they are generally better, longer lasting cartridges.
A durable lubricant is needed in most ceramic cartridges to help the ceramic discs slide over each other smoothly for easy operation. The lubricant, even though it is not soluble in water, is not permanent. It will inevitably it will be scoured away by the mechanical abrasion of the stream of water (and dissolved minerals) passing through the cartridge, resulting in a faucet that is more difficult to operate, and may even seize up, failing altogether.
Very few faucet companies use them. In2aqua uses nothing but.
The company's two-handle faucets include stem cartridges manufactured by Flühs Drehtechnik, GmbH in Lüdenscheid, Germany, considered by most in the faucet business to be one of the best, if not the best, European faucet cartridge made. In2aqua's single handle faucets are fitted with a proprietary ceramic cartridge that incorporates a disc technology the company calls PVD+™. The discs are given a very thin coat of a material called diamond-like carbon (DLC) applied using physical vapor deposition, a science-fiction-like process in which the discs are densely coated with billions of individual atoms of the DLC material. DLC not only improves a ceramic disc's hardness, but creates an exceptionally "slippery" surface that moves freely without the need for lubricant, and is the "secret" to most lubricant-free ceramic discs.
In2aqua estimates that the PVD+ discs will last 10 times longer than uncoated discs. Based in independent laboratory tests, that estimate may be more than a little on the conservative side. After putting PVD+ cartridges through 4 million consecutive off/on-hot/cold cycles over 90 days, the discs showed no visible wear. Four million cycles is equivalent to about 560 years of use in an average home kitchen. We think the odds are very good that PVD+ discs will operate for the entire lifetime of an In2aqua faucet without replacement — considerably longer than ten times the lifetime of a typical ceramic cartridge. (For a video showing the operation of the type of machine that puts faucets through life-cycle testing, go here. Warning: it's very noisy.) In2aqua has selected the Hungarian firm Kerox Kft, to manufacture the cartridges. Kerox is one of Europe's pioneer manufacturers of industrial ceramics.
The faucets also include Neoperl® aerators made in Switzerland. Faucet aerators used to be simple devices that merely infused a little air to soften the water stream so it would not splash out of the sink. Today, however, they are precision products used to limit water volume to the lower flows required by federal and state water conservation laws, and in faucets with pull-out sprays, to prevent back-flow that could contaminate household drinking water. It is important, therefore, that this little device, often smaller than a dime, be the best available. And that, almost by definition, is the Swiss-engineered Neoperl® aerator.
In2aqua faucets have been engineered from the bottom-up to be water-saving low-flow devices intended to comply with even the most restrictive maximum flow limits, including the new 1.2 gallon-per-minute (gpm) maximum flow required in California starting in 2016. Faucets designed for a higher flow rate such as the U.S. maximum of 2.2 gpm, can be restricted to a lower flow by simply reducing the size of the aperture built in to the aerator, but the result is often a weakened, feeble stream of water that is not very satisfactory.
Finishes are limited: Polished chrome and satin nickel for bath fixtures and chrome and stainless steel for kitchen faucets. If you need a different finish to fit your distinctive personal style, you will need to look elsewhere. The company has no plans to introduce additional finishes in the near future. All of these are the very durable PVD (physical vapor deposition) finishes, estimated to be 20 times harder than electroplated chrome. PVD stainless steel is not actually stainless steel, but a much tougher material, usually zirconium, that looks like stainless steel but, unlike the actual metal, does not get all "fingerprinty" in daily use so it is much easier to keep looking new for many years. Our experience with PVD finishes is that they are nearly indestructible.
All In2aqua faucets are tested for leaks prior to leaving the assembly plant.
Installation instructions are in "universal" format with lots of illustrations and virtually no text. Our plumber had no problem following the installation procedure, which he rated as "easy" on a five point scale ranging from "very hard" to "very easy".
The In2aqua "Go Pro" warranty is different. What the company calls its "standard warranty" is two years. But, if the faucet is purchased at an authorized In2aqua showroom and registered with In2aqua, the warranty is "extended" to a limited lifetime warranty that covers the original purchaser as long as he or she owns the faucet. In other words, you can take it with you. If you move it to a new house it is still under warranty. A more typical "lifetime" warranty extends coverage only as long as the faucet remains in the home in which it was originally installed. If you move, even if you take the faucet with you, the warranty expires.
In2aqua is not a faucet manufacturer. It is an assembler. It designs faucets. Parts and components for the faucets are then manufactured to In2aqua specifications by other companies. Much of the casting and machining that goes into In2aqua faucets is done by Flühs Drehtechnik, GmbH —, a nearly 100-year-old German manufacturer which, in addition to making very good ceramic cartridges, is an industrial-scale metal fittings fabricator with a sterling reputation. Other European firms contribute, including companies in Switzerland, Italy and Hungary. The components are then assembled into faucets and quality tested by In2aqua in Germany at its Bavarian assembly plant.
Component manufacturing by specialist companies is becoming the norm in European faucet production. The thinking is that specialist sub-contractors can do a better job, faster and at less cost because that's all they do. A great many of the Europe's best faucets are made this way by companies that still design, and engineer their own faucets, but no longer manufacture the components that go into them.
In2aqua pledges 10% of its net profits to provide healthy drinking water in third-world countries, and has two active projects at the moment: one to build a well in Uganda and one to harvest and store rainwater in Tanzania.
German faucet companies are, as a rule, meticulous about complying with all of the many and diverse laws and regulations that govern the safety, reliability and water flow rates of faucets sold in North America. In2aqua is no exception.
The more we learn about these faucets, the better we like them. In2aqua faucets are some the most intelligently designed and engineered faucets we have examined in 15 years of reviewing faucets. The components that go into the faucets are among the best available, and the advanced technologies, precision machining and faultless PVD finishes make this a line of faucets that can actually deliver on the promise of a lifetime product, for a price that is in line with better German and Swiss faucet brands.
The only European faucets sold in North America that compare in quality are made by although we think 1n2aqua's PVD+ mixing cartridges are superior to the proprietary cartridges used by these other companies.
American faucets that compare are But, again, we prefer the In2aqua PVD+ cartridge to Waterstone's cartridges, manufactured by Geann Industrial Co., Ltd. in Taiwan. Geann makes an excellent cartridge, but nothing as robust as In1aqua's PVD+ technology. Brizo uses a lot of plastic in its upscale faucets, a fact that we think detracts from the brand, but its faucets include the patented Delta Diamond Seal Technology® (DST) cartridge that is every bit as durable as In2aqua's PVD+ technology.
We judge In2aqua faucets to be a very good value — more upscale faucet for the dollar than is available from other brands of luxury faucets — and a faucet line worth looking into if you are in the market for stunningly finished, reliable, high-end (and high-tech) product.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with In2aqua faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.