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TOM'S TECH TIPS

> Back to Tom's Tech Tips

SMARTCONNECT & THE INCONVENIENTLY-NAMED "A" PORT

SmartControl is extremely adaptable in its application, but this flexibility also creates some installation complexity. If an installer chooses to plumb by the seat of their pants, there is one particularly easy error, and one that is particularly painful to recover from: Plumbing a single- or dual-function layout using the A outlet port.

Yes, I checked the German alphabet, and A still comes first, but that's not how this works.

Let me start with a sad story. So imagine you've installed this groovy new GROHE shower valve rough-in for the SmartControl (the SmartBox) for a shower design with a shower head and hand shower. First you remove the cover from the mudguard (noting the interesting chart with A, B, & C and icons), trim the mudguard flush with the finished wall, insert the flow control on the back of the thermostatic cartridge, and assemble and mount the dual-function trim (in Brushed Cool Sunriseª). Then you install the shower head and the hand shower, and you go turn the water main on. As you walk back to the bathroom and push the left button on the valve trim, you expect the hand shower to turn on – but you get both the hand shower and the shower head. "Curious," you think. So you try the right hand button, and it does... nothing??!! "Oh bother," you say (or perhaps some other choice words). Repeated pushing and twisting only confirms that the hand shower and shower head seem to be controlled by the left volume control, and nothing seems to be controlled by the right one.When you call your Western rep of choice to complain about this defect, she will tell you that the problem is not with the product. You have used the A port to plumb the hand shower.

"But," you protest, "A comes before B!"

"That's not how any of this works," she replies. "You really only have one option to fix it: Open the wall, re-plumb the hand shower to port C, and plug port A."

How did you end up here, watching your profits dribble away? You missed page 2 of the installation instructions where it tells you to look at the charts on pages 11 -14 that show you which port you should use (and which you should plug) for specific function layouts. As you can see, there is no version of a single- or dual-function layout where you should plumb out the A port. (As noted before, in case you miss the charts on pages 11-14, GROHE helpfully also prints the same information on the mudguard cover.)

But why, you ask? Fantastic question. The short answer is "because GROHE said so." The long answer didn't survive revisions because it was approaching encyclopedic lengths – so it's a story for another time. Suffice it to say, skipping instructions isn't worth the time is "saves," as anyone who's ever had to re-plumb a shower can tell you.

Okay, end of story. Just remember: With the GROHE SmartControl, "A" only comes after "B" and "C"!

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