Inolav Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 9/24/18
1500 W Copans Rd
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
Footnotes:1. A limited lifetime warranty is provided on "all mechanical parts and ceramic cartridges to be free from manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship under normal use for as long as the original purchaser owns their home."2. "A 5-year warranty is provided on all INOLAV faucet finishes..."
This Company In Brief
Smart Design USA Corporation is a distributor and retailer of faucets, bathroom furniture, sinks, and accessories imported from China that it sells under the Inolav brand. Its faucets are made by Yatin Bath Corp., a very good Chinese manufacturer with an international reputation as a maker of good to excellent products. The faucets are brass and the major components used in the faucets are first class. The faucets are supported, however, by a relatively weak warranty.
Smart Design USA Corporation was incorporated in 2006 as a local remodeling company. It is one of several Florida-based companies owned by the extended Valero family headed by Juan E. Valero including Barroco Marble & Tile Corporation and Aquabath Corporation.
Smart Design trades as Inolav®, a trade name that it registered with the U.S. Patent and Trade Mark Office effective April 8, 2014. The mark has not been registered in Canada.
It imports faucets, shower systems, vanities and other bath furnishings, sinks and bathroom accessories from China that it sells through retail showrooms in South Florida and over the internet through a proprietary website and through third-party hosting websites such as Houzz and Wayfair.
The proprietary retail website and Florida showrooms are called Bathroom Place. This is also a registered trade name owned by Smart Design in the U.S.
In the "About Us" section of its Inolav website, Smart Design goes more than a little overboard in attributing to itself facilities and abilities that it does not actually have. Much of what it claims is, unfortunately, not true. Here are some examples:
"Inolav is a … company that manufactures high-quality bath furniture and fixtures."
Smart Design does not manufacture anything. All of its products are manufactured by the Chinese companies that supply them.
"… we have dedicated a team of in-house designers and engineers to bring you the latest trends and designs in the industry."
The company does not have a team of in-house designers and engineers. All of its products are designed and engineered by designers and engineers employed by the Chinese companies that make the products.
"The plan was to create a company that was different from the rest. A place where engineers, designers, and workers come together in perfect harmony. Using its outstanding facilities, covering an area of 250,000 square meters…"
Engineers, designers, and workers may "come together in perfect harmony" somewhere but not in a Smart Design facility. The company does not own a design or production establishmeent and nothing even approaching a 250,000 square meter factory — nearly 2.7 million square feet — a building one block wide and over a mile long. Quite an accomplishment for a company estimated by D&B Hoovers (a Dun and Bradstreet company) to have 5-10 employees.
In actuality, Smart Design occupies an 18,500 square foot showroom/warehouse in Pompano Beach that it shares with several other businesses. It also operates two small retail locations in Miami.
We expect a little puffery from a company in describing itself and its products but these claims venture beyond mere exaggeration, wandering much too far into the realm of creative writing.
On a more positive note, Smart Design has chosen its suppliers carefully. Most of the products it sells, including all of its faucets, are manufactured by Yatin Bath Corp. Note 1, an sanitary wares and bath furnishings manufacturer that makes faucets, showers, bath cabinets and bathroom accessories (towel racks, tissue holders, robe hooks, etc.) in its several factories in mainland China.
The products that Yatin does not manufacture are obtained from other Chinese suppliers, all of which have good to excellent international reputations. These include:
- Binli Bathroom Equipment Co., Ltd. (Porcelain sinks),
- Lixin Stone Co., Ltd. (Engineered quartz countertops),
- Kingkonree International Surface Industrial Co., Ltd. (Acrylic solid surface sinks and tubs), and
- Lamxon Technology Building Materials Co., Ltd. (Mirrors).
Yatin is a little different from other Chinese faucet manufacturers. It set out at its founding in 2001 to be a company that innovates in both design and production, and it has been successful in creating a collection of faucets that include novel designs, some of which have won international design awards.
In 2007 Yatin's Power faucet created by Yatin's Yu Qing, won the prestigious German IF design award using oriental motifs. The judges observed that:
"Power conveys the Oriental spirit, synthesizing fashion with science. The simplest curve creates a harmonious appearance — a classic fusion of East and West."
Six Yatin faucets were nominated for the Designpreis Deutschland (German Design Award) in 2012.
Unfortunately, none of the faucets imported and sold by Smart Design are these innovative designs. The Yatin faucets sold under the Inolav brand are faucets — stylish with clean, modern lines but of no particular design distinction.
In addition to good design and engineering, Yatin concentrates on high-quality manufacturing.
The company specifies top-line components for its faucets. The single handle faucets sold by Inolav are fitted with ceramic cartridges made by Kerox, Kft, a Hungarian technical ceramics manufacturer. Kerox is the ceramic cartridge preferred by many high-end European faucet brands. Its reputation is that it is extremely reliable and performs well even in relatively hard water. We know it to be a very good cartridge.
Yatin faucet aerators are made by Neoperl®, considered some of the world's best. Faucet aerators used to be simple devices that merely added a little air to soften the water stream so it would not splash out of the sink. Today, however, they are also used to limit water volume to the lower flows required by federal and state water conservation laws, and in some cases, to prevent back-flow that can result in the contamination of household drinking water. It is important, therefore, that this little device, often smaller than a nickel, be the best available. And that, almost by definition, is the Swiss-engineered Neoperl® aerator.
Yatin faucets are brass but not "all brass" as the Inolav website implies. This is true of most faucets made today. The body, spout and other components that require enough strength to resist water pressure for many years without failure are brass.
Ancillary components, however, such as handles and base plates that do not require a lot of strength are often made of zinc or a zinc-aluminum alloy. This is a fairly common practice even in high-end faucets. Brass is expensive, and low-lead brass even more expensive, so there is no point to paying for brass where it is not needed.
There are no two-handle faucets in the Inolav line-up. Inolav faucets are all single-handle mixing faucets of the type generally known as "monoblock", meaning that the body and spout are cast as one unit.
The styling is angular and industrial, perfect for a contemporary bath but generally unsuited for a traditional or heritage bathroom. Those remodeling an Arts & Crafts or Victorian bath will probably have to look elsewhere for a faucet compatible with their historical style.
The braided stainless steel water lines used to connect the faucet to the house plumbing are Fanski® products made by CS International Sdn. Bhd. in Malaysia. These are another plus. There may be other companies making braided lines of equal quality, Brasscraft for one but we doubt anyone makes a better line.
The standard finishes on Inolav faucets are limited. All are offered in polished chrome and some in brushed nickel. No other finishes are available. For Yatin faucets with more exotic finishes, including you might try
The company's Inolav website is stylish but lacks solid information and is often hard to navigate. It is a "responsive" design, which means it works on small-screen smartphones as well as large-screen desktop monitors. But, to achieve the desired responsiveness, the site's designers sacrificed a lot of detail. There is no search feature, for example, and detailed information about each faucet has been omitted. We are big fans of style but not when it gets in the way of function and utility, which it this case it certainly has.
We found a few structural flaws in the Inolav website design, including elements that overlapped each other, obscuring the content of one or both elements.
To find out any details about Inolav faucets we had to go to Smart Design's retail website, Bathroom Place. This more conventional website contains basic information about each faucet including its available finishes. It also contains links to downloadable .pdf specifications and installation instructions. The specifications include a dimensioned drawing which is very useful when trying to decide whether a faucet will fit your sink.
Smart Design claims to provide its customers
“…with an extensive warranty as a result of our excellent workmanship and high-quality components used in our products.” (Emphasis supplied)
In fact, the warranty on its faucets is not at all extensive. It is substandard for faucets sold in North American faucet. The standard warranty is limited lifetime warranty to the original owner on all mechanical parts, cartridges and finishes. Smart Design does provide a limited lifetime warranty on the mechanical components and cartridges but a paltry five years on its finishes.
We can verify from testing, including destructive testing, of many Yatin facets that there is nothing about a Yatin finish that would justify less than a lifetime warranty. Yatin owns a finishing subsidiary, Yatin Electro-Plating Co., Ltd. Its highly automated finishing line produces electroplated as well as the more advanced and nearly indestructible (PVD) finishes in its over 300,000 square foot facility in Jiande, China. Yatin's well regarded StarPlating® finish, described by Yatin as a “lustrous, mirror-like sheen that is soil repellent, scratch resistant and non-tarnishing…” is well-known throughout the faucet world for its robust durability.
All of the other faucet companies in North America that import and sell Yatin faucets offer a lifetime warranty on Yatin finishes. Smart Design is the only company that skimps on its finish warranty.
Smart Design is aware of the quality of Yatin finishes. It plainly states on the Inolav website that
"All Inolav faucets feature a triple plated and ultra smooth surface finish. Our thick plated coat consist[s] of three layers over the solid brass body: Alkali cooper coat 1~3µm, Nickel coat 20~30µm, and Chrome coat 0.2~0.7µm."
Evidently, the company's decision to skimp on its finish warranty is not due to any perceived weakness in Yatin's finishes but to the timidity of Smart Design's management which is intent on minimizing its warranty risk rather than focusing on the role of a strong warranty in promoting increased sales and customer loyalty.
Of course, a guarantee is only as good as the company's ability to provide the parts and services required to repair a defective faucet. Most companies like Inolav do not maintain a deep inventory of replacement parts, particularly for discontinued faucets, like the parts inventory provided by major companies such as candidly admit that they will keep a supply of replacement parts for discontinued faucets for just a few years.
We have found nothing that suggests Smart Design is an exception to this general rule. If a faucet breaks a few years into the warranty period, parts may be available in inventory or scrounged from faucets still on the shelf but if the faucet's defect shows up only after many years, there may be no parts and the company's only option would be to replace the defective faucet with a new and possibly very different model. For some buyers, this would be acceptable, for others not so much.
We did not test the company's customer service. Our usual tests are commonly not effective when applied to very small companies like Smart Design. We can find no complaints about the company or its products in the usual places. The Better Business Bureau has not rated the company but notes the total absence of customer complaints to the BBB over the years the company has been in business — an enviable record.
Unfortunately, despite the overall good quality of Inolav's lavatory faucets, we do not judge them to be a fair value due to the skimpy 5-year warranty on finishes. All other sellers of Yatin faucets in North America offer a lifetime finish warranty.
Faucet comparable to Inolav made in China include
We suggest that these be given a look-see before before you commit to the purchase of an Inolav faucet.
Some of these companies sell faucets sourced from other manufacturers in addition to Yatin. So, if you want a Yatin faucet, you should ask whether your choice is made by Yatin. Most of these companies will tell you, some won't. You should also ask whether the faucet is equipped with a Kerox cartridge and Fanski braided stainless steel hose. Some Yatin faucets are made with a lower quality Sedal cartridge and Shida hose.
For more information on buying a quality faucets, go to Faucet Basics: Part 8, How to Buy a Faucet.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Inolav faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.
- Yatin Bath is busy recreating itself as Yatin Creative Home Corp. to better reflect its expanded product line. See, e.g. Hangzhou Yoogood IM-Home Co., Ltd. a Yatin subsidiary that manufactures high-end home furnishings.