Ariel Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 10/05/18
15269 Don Julian Rd.
City of Industry, CA 91745
11223 Rush St., Unit H
South El Monte, CA 91733
Footnotes:1. - "Ariel warrants the structure and finish of the product to be free from defects in material and workmanship under normal usage for the lifetime of the product… [and] warrants the mechanical component (cartridge) of the product to be free from defects in material and workmanship under normal usage for a period of five (5) years…This warranty to the original purchaser for personal household use of the "Faucet" in its original location."2. "The warranty does not specify the process of making a warranty claim."
This Company In Brief
Ariel faucets are sold by eModern over its own website and on sites that host small retailers such as Amazon, Overstock and Wayfair as well as through web-based decorative plumbing retailers like Houzz and eFaucets.
The faucets are not certified to the standards required by law in the U.S. and Canada. In consequence, it is not possible to tell whether these faucets are safe, reliable and free of lead, arsenic, mercury and other toxic substances that may be found in Chinese-made faucets.
Faucets that have not been certified are not legal to sell in the U.S. and in most of Canada. Nor are they legal to install in a drinking water system in any U.S. state or territory or in any Canadian province.
The faucets are not on the California MAEDBS list of faucets approved by the California Energy Commission for sale in California, and may not be legally offered for sale, sold or installed in the company's home state of California.
Founded in 2007 by Kai Yin Au Yeung, eModern Decor, Inc. was reorganized into its current corporate for in 2010.
It is an importer and retailer of Chinese products, mostly sinks but it handles an eclectic collection of goods including chairs (and a few tables), cabinet hardware, showers, bidet seats (not the bidet, just the seat), 3d wall panels and, of course, faucets.
The products sold by eModern are supplied by a hoard of Chinese manufacturers. We counted 24 different suppliers in 2017, and almost certainly there are others. The company's major sources of supply are
- Taizhou Hongyi Furniture Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Furniture),
- Shunde Dihuike Kitchen Equipment Co. Ltd. (Sinks),
- Jiangmen Speed Stainless Steel Product Co. Ltd. (Sinks),
- Guangdong Dongyuan Kitchenware Industrial Co., Ltd. (Sinks),
- Xiamen Aaa Plus Trading Co. Ltd. (Shower Niches), and
- Zhejiang Huakai Wood Manufactory Co. Ltd. (Wall Cladding),
- Cmt Concept (Cabinets and furniture),
A lot of stainless sink manufacturing that was formerly done in China is shifting to other Asian countries as a result of the 60% to 84% U.S. anti-dumping penalty being imposed on imported Chinese-made stainless sinks after an unfair competition complaint by Elkay Manufacturing, the largest American stainless sink manufacturer, was upheld by the Department of Commerce in 2012. But, it appears that eModern is sticking with its Chinese sources for stainless steel sinks while others are buying sinks from Malaysia, Myanmar, and Korea that are not affected by the penalty.
The company's faucet manufacturers are manufacturers from China, and include:
- Foshan Gettai Sanitary Products Co., Ltd., and
- Foshan Shunde Nokite Plumbing and Sanitary Ware Co. Ltd., and
- Jiangmen Ottanta Otto Faucet Co., Ltd.
Nokite is a well-known manufacturer, respected for its good quality stainless steel faucets. Gettai is less well known but its reputation is good. It also manufactures stainless faucets. Ottanta manufactures brass faucets. It is a relatively new company and is virtually unknown. It sells a lot of its faucets in South America and the former Soviet Bloc but eModern appears to be its only North American customer. It is ISO 9001 accredited, meaning that it has a system in place for ongoing quality control as faucets are manufactured.
None of eModern's faucets is designed by or specifically for eModern. All Ariel faucets are taken straight out of the of the Chinese companies that make them.
The same or very similar faucets are available from other North American importers that buy from the same Chinese manufacturers. Nokite, for example, supplies its standard catalog faucets to
Ariel faucets are in traditional and modern designs. Most are single-handle mixing faucets. There are only a few two-handle faucets in the Ariel catalog. The faucets do not exhibit any particular design originality. While some are very striking, most are fairly pedestrian. None are leading-edge designs. Chinese designs rarely are. They tend to be middle-of-the-road and to follow the pack rather than lead it. The goal of Asian faucet manufacturers is to sell as many faucets as possible, which means keeping their designs well within the mainstream to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.
Designs are often adopted from Europe and North America. A design that sells well in these major markets will often be imitated by Asian factories. The lag time is usually 3 to 5 years, so by the time a design appears in a Chinese faucet, it is no longer new and has been supplanted in the inventories of designer faucet companies in the West by even newer designs.
The company website is well designed and easy to navigate but its site search feature is not very discriminating. A search for "lavatory faucet" for example resulted in a display of just about every faucet on the site. "Nickel faucet" pulled up most but not all of the faucets available in nickel plus faucets finished in matte black and matte white. "Stainless apron front sink" displayed every sink in the company's inventory, not just apron-front sinks. The search function obviously needs work.
The information provided about each faucet is not adequate for an intelligent buying decision.
Typically the faucet is briefly described and several views of the faucet are shown — which is helpful in visualizing the faucet — but there are no detailed specifications, dimensioned drawings, parts diagrams or installation instructions available for download as there are on most faucet company websites. The "Additional Information" provided about each faucet largely duplicates the basic faucet description, adding very little that is actually useful information.
Cartridges are identified only as "ceramic" without an indication of the source of the cartridge. As at least some of the cartridges in the Ariel faucets we examined in the preparation of this report are made by Kerox Kft. of Hungary. The Kerox cartridge is regarded by most in the industry as one of the best mixing cartridges on the market, so eModern is missing out by not using its good quality cartridges as a selling feature.
Two prices for each faucet are displayed: What we assume is the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the faucet alongside the actual — usually steeply discounted — selling price of the faucet. The MSRPs are a complete fiction. No line of Chinese faucets sells for such inflated prices. In actual fact, eModern's prices for its stainless steel faucets are slightly lower than the average for Chinese faucets of the same or similar quality but not substantially so, and for brass faucets, its prices are slightly higher.
Ariel faucets are widely available on general retail sites that host third-party sellers like Amazon and Wayfair and specialized online sellers of home improvement products such as Build.com and its associated faucet site, eFaucets. They are also available from Home Depot, Lowes, and Wal-mart but online only and not in stores.
Most Ariel kitchen faucets are available in stainless steel and brushed nickel — to complement the company's main plumbing product, stainless sinks. A very few kitchen faucets are available in polished chrome.
Most bath faucets are available in chrome and brushed nickel, some in Venetian bronze or oil rubbed bronze and a very few in matte black and matte white. Venetian bronze is a finish that first appeared on faucets about 30 years ago. It is a dark bronze with copper highlights intended to make the faucets seem old and worn (not very convincingly, however).
Finishes other than stainless are electroplated and not the more durable (physical vapor deposition) finishes. Nonetheless, plated finishes are durable enough for most kitchens and baths. Although Chinese finishes often get a bum rap, it has been many years since "China chrome" could be scraped off with a fingernail. Chinese electro-plated finishes are now as robust as the plated finishes from any other country.
The eModern faucet warranty is not published on its website. We had to get a copy from customer service, which provided the copy within 24 hours. The warranty does not meet the pre-sale availability rule of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and has several drafting defects. It is below par for North America. The company promises a "Lifetime Warranty [that] covers you for the life of the product… But what the warranty promises at the top of the page is taken away a few lines later. Cartridges and mechanical components are warranted for just five years. The term "mechanical parts" or "mechanical components" is understood in the faucet industry to mean the moving parts of a faucet, that is, the parts that are most likely to develop problems. After subtracting the mechanical components, the only parts of the faucet protected by the lifetime warranty are those least likely to prove defective: finishes, body, handle, baseplate (if any) and spout. Not much protection.
The warranty is to the original buyer. It is not transferable to subsequent owners and expires if the original owner ceases to own the faucet by, for example, selling the house in which the faucet is installed.
The very limited warranty on faucet cartridges is disturbing. Its cartridge is the heart of a modern faucet. It's the part that controls water flow and temperature. Its finish may fail and the faucet will still work, it may be discolored, corroded and ugly but water still flows. But if a cartridge fails, the faucet is out of business until it is replaced. A five-year warranty on this essential faucet component is not nearly adequate.
This is far from a customer-friendly warranty and far below the protection offered by the "lifetime limited warranty" that is the standard for faucets in North America. It does not evidence much confidence by company management in the quality or longevity of its faucets and particularly of its cartridges.
We take to heart a company's opinion of its own faucets as expressed in its warranty. If the company thinks it faucet cartridges will last just 5 years without a failure, we respect that opinion and will make a buying decision accordingly. There are a lot of faucets on the market with cartridges that are guaranteed for a lifetime.
In this case, however, we think the faucets deserve better. Company management is simply being too timid.
There are two basic approaches to warranties in the faucet business. The first approach tries to reduce the cost of warranty service to its irreducible minimum and insulate the company as much as possible from liability for a failed product. This is the bean-counter approach, the tack favored by accountants and chief financial officers. This describes eModern's warranty exactly. The other, and better, approach is to use the power of a good warranty to drive sales — figuring (correctly) that any additional cost of providing a first-class warranty will be more than offset by additional sales revenue that a first-class warranty generates.
This is the Moen approach. Moen, one of the first major faucet companies in the U.S. to offer a lifetime warranty on its products, figured out early that a good warranty and strong back-end support would substantially increase sales on the front end. It worked. Its warranty helped boost Moen from a little-known bit player in the 1950's to the second largest faucet company in the U.S., behind Delta Faucets, by the 1970s. (The companies are now neck and neck for the top slot, each having about 30% of the U.S. faucet market.)
The loyalty of Moen customers is legendary. It is nearly impossible to talk a Moen customer out of a Moen faucet, shower or tub filler — not that we try. It would benefit eModern to take a leaf from Moen's playbook and start looking at its warranty as an opportunity to build sales and forge customer loyalty rather than strictly as a nuisance liability to be minimized as much as possible.
The Better Business Bureau rates eModern an "A" on a scale of "A+ to F" but warns that its last attempt to contact the company failed and that it has not been able to update its profile of the company. The company is not BBB accredited.
The company claims that Ariel faucets are "Certified and Listed by UPC, cUPC, CSA, IAPMO, ANSI, SCC and NSF." Some are identified as WaterSense approved or "ADA verified". Still others are claimed to be "AB 1953 lead-free [sic] compliant."
None of these claims is true.
We have found no evidence that Ariel faucets have ever been tested and certified as complying with these or any of the standards required by law for faucets sold or installed in the U.S. or Canada. None of the seven accredited organizations that test and certify faucets for compliance with U.S./Canadian standards has heard of Ariel faucets. The evidence is in public databases and easy to find. If it existed, we would have found it.
The fact that Ariel faucets are made in China, where safety standards in general are very loose, and where safety standards for toxic materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic exist not at all, heightens the concern over the potential hazards of these products. No one, not even the most experienced expert, can determine whether a faucet contains dangerous amounts of hazardous substances just by looking at it, or worse, by looking at its image on a website. Only extensive testing can do that — the very testing that eModern has not done.
Fully certified, safe and lead-free faucets made in China and Taiwan that are comparable to Ariel include any of the following:
If you are in the market for an inexpensive Asian-made faucet, one of these suppliers might be a better choice than Ariel. All sell faucets that are known to be certified safe, reliable and lead-free, and authorized for use in U.S. and Canadian water supplies. Some may not be especially good faucets but they are at least proven to be safe faucets.
At least some Ariel faucets are made by well-regarded manufacturers using good quality components. Were the faucets certified and supported by a strong lifetime warranty the company would ordinarily be due a fairly high rating. Unfortunately, however, they are not certified and the warranty is relatively weak.
We are even more troubled by the ethics of a company that continues to claim that it's faucets are certified to North American standards in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are not. Falsely representing the faucets as certified deceives buyers into believing that they are legal to install in drinking water systems in the U.S. or Canada, when in fact no plumbing code that we know of permits their installation, and in some states and Canadian provinces, installing them in a drinking water system is a crime punishable by fines and jail time.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Ariel faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.