KWC Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 11/12/21
Franke Consumer Products, Inc.
800 Aviation Parkway
Smyrna, TN 37167
Warranty Footnotes:1. While nominally a lifetime warranty, KWC's policy is to treat any defect in a cartridge more than five years old as being the result of normal wear and tear.2. Faucets are not specifically mentioned in the warranty. However,"… all products installed in a private residence for normal private household use will carry a LIMITED CONSUMER WARRANTY extending to the original purchaser of the product in the location where the product was originally installed."which seems to imply a warranty covering faucets.3. The warranty contains no instructions for making a warranty claim and does not specifically require proof of purchase, but as the warranty is effective only after January 1, 198, a receipt showing a purchase after that date would probably be necessary.
Read the KWC faucet warranty.
Learn more about faucet warranties.
This Company In Brief
A Swiss company, KWC is a relatively small manufacturer of high-end and high-priced all-brass and stainless steel faucets known for their dependability. A lot of its style offerings can be had from other companies at less cost but it is more difficult to reproduce the legendary reliability of the company's faucets.
In 2013 KWC was sold to its Swiss competitor, a global player in the sanitary ware market with over 12,500 worldwide employees. Franke made changes in KWC to better fit its product line and strategic vision. Then in 2021 Franke sold its faucet divisions, including KWC to Equistone Partners Europe, a private equity firm. Equistone's intentions for the company have not been revealed as of the date of this report.
Essentially a boutique faucet maker with just over 300 employees, the KWC has been remarkably astute in its marketing of contemporary faucets. In consequence, KWC has emerged from the cloud of obscurity that envelopes most small faucet manufacturers to become nearly as well known to the buying public as much larger competitors such as
The company manufactures contemporary luxury faucets for the kitchen and bath. Designed, prototyped, tested, and manufactured in Unterkulm, Switzerland. KWC faucets have long been noted for their clean, crisp designs in the North German or Hanseatic tradition.
The designs are added to yearly by the seemingly inexhaustible creativity of industrial design partners Michael Lammel and Bertrand Illert, founders and owners of NOA, a design studio in Aachen, Germany. NOA, in addition to keeping the KWC at the forefront of innovative faucet design, also designs kitchen and dining ware for WMF Group, and porcelain sanitary wares for VitrA, a division of the ceramics giant, Eczacibasi Group of Istanbul, Turkey.
KWC has earned recognition for its design finesse in numerous international design competitions. The ZOE faucet has been the recipient of an iF World Design Guide award (2016), a Good Design award (2015-2016) from the Chicago Athenaeum — the oldest and most coveted of the international design prizes — and a special German Design Award (2016). Other winning designs include the AVA, INTRO, ONO and PIANA faucets.
Many KWC designs, however, are becoming dated. Some are more than two decades old and have been widely copied. It is increasingly possible to find more of less original KWC styles in mid-priced faucet lines such as Delta and Moen often at much less cost and with no lessening of reliability.
Founded in 1874 by Adolf Karrer in Switzerland to manufacture music boxes, KWC did not produce its first faucet until 1897. Music box production ended in 1902 at which time the company was renamed Karrer Weber & Cie AG. In 1984 the company was acquired by Hansa Metallwerke AG, a German faucet company headquartered in Stuttgart. The company name was shortened in 1986 to the current KWC AG.
In 2010 IK Investment Partners (formerly "Industri Kapital"), a German private equity group, acquired a controlling Interest in Hansa and in 2013 split Hansa's assets, selling KWC to its Swiss competitor, and Hansa Metalwerke to Oras Group, a Finnish manufacturer of distinctive contemporary faucets and sanitary ware.
Industry watchers believe that KWC is a good fit for Franke, a global player in the sanitary ware market with over 12,500 worldwide employees. The KWC brand has benefited from Franke's worldwide distribution, and Franke gained a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and access to some additional world-class design talent to supplement its well-regarded design group.
There has been a weeding of incompatible products. Franke, which sells only kitchen, prep, and bar faucets to complement its main product, kitchen sinks, announced its intention to withdraw KWC bath faucets from the North American market starting in 2018. Franke will continue to provide post-sale support including handling warranty claims for KWC bath faucets and will supply replacement parts. But, it may not have the parts to supply.
KWC has also begun pairing KWC faucets with upscale sinks. These are, of course, Franke sinks, but it looks like KWC will sell them under the KWC brand, and that brand will contain only the company's best quality sinks. This is still a program in development, so it remains to be seen how it will eventually work out.
Major changes at KWC are continuing. In early 2021, just about the time the consolidation in the company's North American operation was completed, Franke sold its water divisions, including KWC to an investment group managed by Equistone Partners Europe, a private equity firm.
As of the date of this report, Equistone has not revealed the future it has in store for its new Franke/KWC acquisitions, but we suspect that in the immediate future the changes will be minimal.
KWC faucets have a reputation of being very reliable with a long service life free of problems. The proprietary KWC cartridge is one of the best and most KWC faucets are equipped with the incomparable Neoperl® aerator.
But, there are some limitations.
All of this excellent Swiss craftsmanship is expensive, so the faucets are generally pricey as are the parts to fix the faucets should they ever break while out of warranty. For example, a non-proprietary 40mm ceramic mixer cartridge, even a very good one, sells for under $40.00, while a proprietary KWC 40mm cartridge retails for over $150.00.
The narrow design range of KWC faucets makes most of the styles unsuitable for any but contemporary kitchens and the very small palette of three finishes further limits the range of decor in which the faucets will fit.
Buyers on a budget, those who aim to duplicate the look of a heritage kitchen, may have to look elsewhere for a faucet.
The short description of each faucet and the single 3/4 view image presented on the site is insufficient to make an intelligent faucet choice. Multiple images in color, or, better yet, a 360° viewing feature such as that used by faucets, that allows the mouse to rotate the faucet to any viewing angle, would be invaluable in fully visualizing the faucet.
The more detailed technical data and installation instruction sheets are contained in downloadable .pdf documents. There is a link on each faucet page, and a second link under the "Service" tab at "Catalogs + Downloads" by clicking on "Technical Information" to display a list of products and a link to the technical documentation about the product. However, if have a pop-up blocker installed, then the list may not appear.
The information about the faucet in the technical document is extensive including installation instructions (in five languages) and an exploded parts diagram. What is missing is a dimensioned drawing to help you decide whether a faucet will fit your sink.
A link to the faucet's warranty is not from a faucet's listing. The warranty is on the website (click here to download and print the warranty), but it is available only through the "Service" tab at the top of each page.
KWC faucets are sold only through showrooms and some internet retailers. The "where to buy" link on the company website works well but is difficult to find. Look for it under the "Service" menu. Irrespective of where you buy a KWC faucet, do not expect a drastic price reduction from KWC's suggested retail price. The company enforces a minimum advertised price (MAP) policy that prohibits advertising a price more than 30% below its list price.
KWC does not have a warranty specific to faucets. Its general product warranty is so poorly written that our panel of warranty lawyers, having parsed the wording sentence by sentence, are still not entirely sure what it guarantees or for how long.
It appears to include faucets as one of the "all products" to which a "LIMITED CONSUMER WARRANTY" applies. That warranty extends to the original buyer and continues for as long as the product remains in its initial installation in a residence. We take that to mean a lifetime warranty that expires when the faucet has been moved from its original installation. Powder-coated finishes are specifically excluded and covered by a five-year warranty.
The warranty does not comply with the minimum requirements of the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2308) which governs the form and content of consumer product warranties in the U.S. Of the six things that must be included in a product warranty, KWC misses most of them. We will not list all of the legal defects in the KWC warranty, but here are the highlights:
- The first and most serious problem is a defective designation of the warranty in its caption. To be a limited warranty, the warranty document must clearly
designatethe warranty as a limited warranty with the magic word "limited" in its caption or title. The caption must be conspicuous and "clearly separated from the text of the warranty." So long as the word "limited" is included, it gives fair warning to a buyer that the warranty is intended to provide only partial protection.
- The KWC warranty is captioned just "Warranty on KWC Products". The word "limited" is nowhere to be found. And, although it is clear from the test of the warranty that KWC intends to offer only a limited warranty, the missing "limited" in its caption automatically converts the warranty to a full warranty. (15 U.S.C. §2303(a), 16 CFR §700.6) A full warranty provides the consumer with much more extensive warranty protection, including the right to compensation for any labor cost required to repair or replace a defective KWC faucet.
- A consumer product warranty must "clearly and conspicuously disclose … in simple and readily understood language" the terms and conditions of a product warranty. Ambiguous statements in a warranty must always be interpreted against the company and in favor of the consumer. (15 U.S.C. §2303(a), 16 CFR §700.3) The KWC warranty language is so convoluted that it is not easily understood even by seasoned warranty attorneys. It, therefore, fails this requirement.
- KWC seeks to exclude certain consequential and incidental damages arising from a defective faucet with this language:
"This warranty does not cover installation, labor or any other incidental charges … KWC America will not be held liable for any loss, damage or expense, incidental or consequential damages of any kind whether based on warranty, contract or negligence arising in the sale, use or repair of the product."However, for this exclusion to be effective, it must also include the following required qualification:
"Some States do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, so the above limitation or exclusion may not apply to you."Without the qualifying statement, the attempt to exclude consequential or incidental damages is void and without efftct. (16 CFR § 701.3(8))
Other provisions in the warranty are legal, but we think very unwise. For example, consumers are required to send any defective parts back to KWC at his or her own expense. This is penny-foolishness taken to an extreme. A consumer already more than a little irritated by a broken faucet is not going to be less annoyed by having to pony up for shipping even though the amount is small. It is an excellent way to lose a customer for life, not to mention his family, friends, neighbors, and the folks in the carpool.
KWC America's customer service is responsive and knowledgeable, but getting an agent on the telephone can take a long time – up to 20 minutes in our most recent tests. The company's response to warranty claims is not always helpful. The lack of helpfulness is usually due to KWC's claims policies. For example, while the ceramic cartridge warranty is for the lifetime of the faucet, service agents have been instructed to treat any failure in a cartridge over five years old as due to "ordinary wear and tear", and deny warranty coverage.
In any court challenge to KWC's warranty or warranty claim practices, the company will not only lose but will end up paying the consumer's attorney fees. This warranty very badly needs rewriting by a competent warranty lawyer to directly and honestly state the company's warranty in a manner that complies with U.S. warranty law.
In Canada, the brand is distributed and supported by Nortesco, Inc. We have not tested Nortesco's customer support but we have heard nothing but good things about this company that specializes in the importation of up-scale designer bath products.
Faucets comparable to KWC include:
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with KWC faucets, good, bad, or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.