Santec & Vissoni Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 6/12/21
3501 Challenger St.
Torrance, CA 90503
3501 Challenger St.
Torrance, CA 90503
Warranty Footnotes1. The term "lifetime" is not defined.2. The warranty is ambiguous as to what components other than cartridges and finishes are covered. Other parts and compoents may be covered under the term that provides: "PARTS: Santec parts carry a 10-year limited warranty against manufacturing defects, to the original purchaser." However, this language may only refer to replacement parts provided by Santec. The ambiguity violates Magnuson-Moss which requires a "clear and simple" statement of the warranty's coverage.
Download/Print the Santec faucet warranty.
Warranty Footnotes1. Polished Chrome, Platinum and Satin Platinum.2. "As long as the original purchaser owns the product and the home in which the product is installed."2. The warranty is missing quaifying language required by the U.S. Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2301). However, the missing language does not diminish the rights of the faucet buyer, and in may actually strengthen those rights.
Download/Print the Vissoni faucet warranty.
Learn more about faucet warranties.
This Company In Brief
Santec, Inc. and Vissoni, Inc. are two California companies, founded and owned by Nicholas Chen, that assemble and finish faucets and showers from parts and components sourced globally.
Vissoni, Inc., although legally a separate company, is as a practical matter, the luxury end of the Santec faucet line.
Components, sourced globally from Germany, Italy, Korea, Switzerland, and Taiwan, are assembled into faucets in Torrance, California.
Santec, Inc., founded in 1980, and Vissoni, Inc., established in 2005, are two California companies that assemble and finish faucets and showers from parts and components sourced globally from Germany, Italy, Korea, Switzerland, and Taiwan as well as from within the U.S. (Santec, Inc. should not be confused with Sanitec Corporation, a Finland-based manufacturer of bathware founded in 1873 and owned by Geberit since 1015.)
Nicholas S. H. (Nick) Chen is the founder of and controls both companies which operate from the same address in Torrance. The companies are managed largely by members of the Chen family. Mr. Chen also owns or has an interest in Sharp Industries, Inc. which sells and services precision machine tools+. Vissoni, Inc., although legally a separate company, is, as a practical matter, the luxury end of the Santec faucet line, similar to the relationship between
Santec faucets are finished in one of four basic finishes (Roman Bronze, Satin Chrome, Polished Nickel, and Satin Nickel) or 15 special finishes, including Wrought Iron and Rose Gold. A special finish can add $300-400 to the cost of a faucet. Vissoni has its own separate finish palette that includes Platinum and Satin Platinum as basic finishes.
A large variety of handles are available. We counted 96 different handle styles offered by Santec, although not all handles will fit all faucets. Sixteen handle types are certified to comply with Americans with Disabilities standards (ANSI/ICC A117.1-2009) by ICC-ES (PMG-1130) and are suited for use by persons with physical limitations. Using these handles with any faucet on which they fit will convert the faucet to an ADA-qualified fixture.
Some Santec/Vissoni faucets include embedded Swarovski crystals for that small additional touch of luxury.
Most faucets appear to be proprietary designs. While some are mundane, most are striking and visually unique, especially those in the Vissoni "families" (which is what the company calls its collections). Santec does not, however, own any design patents or identify its designers, and does not appear to have entered any of its designs in juried international competitions — all indicators we use in identifying true designer companies.
Designs range from traditional to very contemporary, and the Vissoni lineup has some handsome examples of Art Deco and Arts and Crafts design that would be at home in any period bath renovation.
Bathroom collections include lavatory faucets, showers, tub fillers, and bidet faucets for a well-coordinated look. There seems to be just one kitchen collection, in the Santec Designer Series, composed of four basic faucet models including two kitchen faucets, a bar/prep/pantry faucet, and a pot filler.
Santec faucets are well made, with heavy, thick-walled brass castings, well machined, and carefully finished. Polished finishes are highly polished. The cartridges installed in the Santec faucets we inspected were made by Studio Tecnico Sviluppo e Recherche, S.r.l (STSR) of Milan, Italy. STSR is widely recognized as manufacturing a superior ceramic cartridge used in any number of high-end Italian faucets and at one time by
The faucets also included 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 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.
Santec sells through Briggs, a nationwide plumbing distributor, high-end showrooms, interior decorators and select contractors. Santec faucets are also widely available over the internet from sites such as QualityBath.com, eFaucets.com, and Faucetdepot.com. Vissoni faucets appear to be available only in showrooms. A store locator on the Vissoni website is available to help you find a showroom near you. (As of the date of this report, however, the store locator function did not work.)
The prices of Santec faucets are in line with those of other U.S.-made luxury faucets. Vissoni faucets, however, are priced somewhere in the stratosphere and vary considerably depending on the degree of customization and any special finish. Figure somewhere around $1,000 to start, then the sky is the limit. For the price, however, you get a little piece of faucet art, easily on par with other U.S. luxury faucets such as
The websites of the two companies are well designed with intuitive navigation. The information provided about each faucet is adequate but not comprehensive. Installation instructions are clear and easy to follow. Specification sheets are sparse, however, and include only very basic information and a measured drawing. It's almost as if the companies are reluctant to disclose the best features of the faucets that make them quality products.
The quality of the components used in the faucets does not get much play anywhere on its website or in company literature. Nothing we have read, and we have probably read everything the companies publish, is there even a mention that the faucets are equipped with some of the most reliable ceramic cartridges available made by one of the most respected European technical ceramics companies.
Similarly, the companies disclose the flow rate of every faucet but omit the fact that the flow is controlled by a carefully engineered Neoperl® aerator used in some of the world's finest faucets. Whoever is managing marketing for the two companies is promoting style and exclusivity but giving short shrift to quality. The company has done a good job of producing quality faucets, and should at some point at least mention it, if only in passing.
Both the Santec and Vissoni warranties are below the standard for North America.
The standard warranty, pioneered by over 40 years ago, is a limited "lifetime" warranty to the purchaser. This means that all significant parts are included in the lifetime terms, including body, spout, cartridge, and finish. Neither the Santec nor Vissoni warranty rises to this level of protection. Part of the problem with the Santec warranty is it does not appear to have been written by a lawyer (or if it was written by a lawyer, he or she needs to go back to school) and the writer did not have a good command of the necessary legal concepts or language. The Vissoni warranty, by contrast, is well-crafted, concise, and very clear without ambiguity.
The ceramic cartridge in a Santec faucet is guaranteed for a lifetime as are three finishes: Polished Chrome, Polished Nickel, and Satin Nickel. Everything else — all the remaining finishes, mechanical parts, body, spout, hoses, handles, and aerators — are guaranteed for just ten years. The term "lifetime" is nowhere defined which means a court will treat it as the actual lifetime of somebody — probably the original buyer. So, it lasts only as long as the buyer lives, even though the faucet may have been already transferred to a second or subsequent owner.
The Santec warranty is not specifically identified as a "limited" warranty. This omission has major consequences. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2301) requires a limited warranty to include the word "limited" in its caption or title to give the consumer fair warning that only limited protection under the warranty will be provided.
If "limited" is not included in the caption or title, the warranty authomatically becomes a "Full" warranty (15 U.S.C. §2303(a), 16 CFR §700.6) which gives the consumer much more protection and limits what Santec can exclude or limit in its written warranty. For example:
- The warranty cannot be limited to just the buyer. It protects any owner of the faucet during the warranty period.
- The warranty cannot exclude coverage for " labor, travel charges, or any costs incurred for repair, removal, installation, servicing, diagnosing, or handling of either defective or replacement part." In a full warranty, the company is required to do whatever is necessary to repair or replace the defective faucet. This includes not just delivering some parts or a replacement faucet, but shipping costs and the labor required to repair or replace the faucet.
The Santec warranty is not well written and contains several ambiguities.
For example, Santec probably intends to prevent the lifetime warranty on chrome and nickel finishes to apply only to the original purchase and not to any subsequent owner of the faucet, but the language in the warranty does not support that intent. Only the 10-year warranty that applies to "[a]l other finishes" is made non-transferable.
The term "parts" is also not defined and the result is ambiguous. Parts are guaranteed for 10 years against "manufacturing defects to the original purchaser." But, the term parts does not have a generally accepted meaning. It could mean all parts of a faucet that are not a cartridge or a finish. Or, it could mean replacement parts – the more common meaning. Ambiguous terms like this are required by Magnuson-Moss to be interpreted to favor the consumer. So, "parts" as used in the Santec warranty will be taken to mean all parts other than the cartridge or finish whether Santec intended that interpretation or not.
The Vissoni is also weak. Only three finishes are guaranteed for a lifetime (Polished Chrome, Platinum, and Satin Platinum). All other finishes are covered for one to five years, depending on the finish. The mechanical parts of a Vissoni faucet are guaranteed for a lifetime but the cartridges for just five years.
We don't know for sure what kind of cartridge is used in Vissoni — our budget did not cover the purchase of one of these high-dollar faucets for examination and destructive testing – but it is probably the same STSR cartridge used in Santec faucets — surely a more robust than its 5-year warranty implies. But, there is always the possibility that management knows something about the cartridges that we don't. So, if management thinks they will last just five years, we'll take it as gospel and look for a faucet with a better cartridge. You should do the same.
The Faucet Cartridge: 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.
The Vissoni definition of "lifetime" is:
"As long as the original purchaser owns the product and the home in which the product is installed".
This wording does not accomplish what Vissoni probably intends: to limit the term of the warranty to the original home in which the faucet is installed. As written, the warranty extends to a second and subsequent home as long as the original buyer owns the second and subsequent home and moves the faucet into the new homes. The correct phrasing should be "As long as the original purchaser owns the product and the home in which the product is "first" (or "initially" or "originally") installed."
Customer service is good to very good. The Better Business Bureau has had one complaint about Santec in three years, and it was, frankly for an issue that was probably the customer's fault for not understanding what he was buying. But, neither company is a BBB-accredited business or has undergone the vetting that accreditation requires.
Santec has had legal troubles in the past aside from the largely frivolous patent infringement lawsuits that faucet companies fire at each other routinely. In 2005 Santec, Inc. was charged in a federal criminal complaint (U.S. v. Santec, Inc.) with unlawfully discharging manufacturing waste into a public sanitary sewer and unlawfully storing hazardous waste. The company pleaded guilty after negotiating an agreement by which it was sentenced to two years probation, a fine of $200,000, restitution of nearly $40,000, and a special assessment of $1,200.
The companies are still not quite legal under federal law.
Faucets made in North America or Europe comparable to Santec and Vissoni include
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Santec faucets, good, bad, or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.