Kohler Thermostatic Controller K 683 1 [ K 683 K, K683K, K683 K, K-683 K, K683 ] Fan

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This DTV system from Kohler is great, when working!

Nov 8, 2007 (Updated Dec 2, 2007)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great shower, easy to operate controls, clear LCD display!

Cons:Need access to Digital Valve, a large drain for the waste water, & price!

The Bottom Line: This is a very unique system that looks beautiful in any bathroom, but it is not cheap, and involves a lot of installation work!


My wife and I made a decision that we will be selling our house about 5 years from now. Boys are moved out, taxes too high, that type of thing. So we decided that we'd start to fix up the house bit by bit to make our house more attractive for a potential buyer. As long as we were redoing our Master Bath, we decided to do something different, and that was install the Kohler DTV system in the shower.

Contrary to what it may sound like, their DTV system has nothing at all to do with High Definition Television! It stands for Digital Thermostatic Valve.

Let me describe what this system does and how it is all put together. The basic concept of this shower controller is an electronic control panel adjusting the temperature of the water, which shower heads are used, and creates some special massage functions. All this is accomplished by a sleek electronic control panel, instead of faucets.

There are a number of factors involved with the set up of this system. First, you choose a color for the controllers. Brass, stainless etc. Once the color is picked you must decide on which way you want the controller to sit. It can be a vertical installation, or you can purchase a landscape design which makes the controller work horizontally instead of a vertical configuration. This controller is what they call a Digital Interface.

One thing I'd like to mention here is a tip to make your life easier! Not only can you have the Digital Interface in the shower, (totally waterproof), but you can have another one outside the shower as well. The purpose of this exterior unit is to turn on the shower and have it get up to temperature prior to entering the shower. No more walking into a freezing shower, waiting for the water temperature to reach at least 102 degrees. So there you go, a word to the wise!

The control panel gives you total control over the system, which is exact temperature of the water, (102 is preset), power, shower pattern, massage mode,set up controls, diagnostics, and 6 user preset memory. I don't want to waste space and go into everything it does, but take it from me, it controls everything. It features a nice clear 2x2 LCD to display all the information you may need, like temperature, user, time, date, settings, shower configuration, maintenance functions, and many other functions as well!

Once you decide on the control, the next step is determining how many shower heads you want and their position. You can have wall mount shower heads, shower heads on the ceiling, handheld massage head, and any configuration you think would be beneficial to you. The shower heads are about $200 each, so position them wisely.

While the Digital Interface controls the shower, temperature, etc, the real heart of the system is the Digital Thermostatic Valve. This is a unit about 12" high and 8" wide. It is the valve that the interface controls though a cable run from the control panel. They give you about 20 feet of cable, so all you have to do is snake it through the wall.

The Valve is a rectangular box that has 2 inputs, one for hot and the other for cold. On the side of the box, there are 6 outlets to feed to the various shower heads to set up your own configuration. Be aware that more than one head can be hooked up to each valve, but it had to be done a certain way or the system won't work correctly. In mine, I have 2 wall mounted shower heads, a handheld massage unit, and 6 Body Spray units on the wall, to hit you from the front and sides. The 9 sprays I have are quite sufficient, and I still had one outlet of the valve to spare!

Now comes one negative fault about the system. Since the valve is a plumbing system with electronics in it, it must be installed in such a way as to be able to service it if needed. In my house, we had to install a door from my son's bathroom wall, where the DTV is installed. That way the unit can be serviced, and of course, kept dry. This may not be that big a hassle for some folks, but just be aware that you must have access to the large control valve.

One question some folks may ask is "Does the unit save water?" This is NOT a water miser system. When it operates the shower pushes out 21 GPM maximum. So for us, most of the time we have the upper two shower heads on, or maybe just the handheld massager. Every once and a while we choose one of the MASSAGE function which turns the heads on and off for a massage type of a shower which is okay, but nothing to write home about.

Now one other negative fact. This unit when running all, or a few heads at one time, uses a great deal of hot water, so be advised that you need a really large water heater to run the shower. We installed a 150 gallon tankless heater, and it works fine for a few minutes. We're not in the shower any more that about 5-15 minutes, and have never run out of hot water in that time.

One very important fact NOT to overlook is the amount of water going down the drain. It is possible to run all the shower heads at once. If you do, it pushes out a lot of water. You must make sure that you have a 3-4" drain in the shower so it doesn't fill the base of the shower! It is something you don't think about, but the larger the diameter of the drain, the safer you are.

A couple of final pieces of information. First, this installation involves electrical work, so you need an electrician as well as a plumber! The installation of the piping in the shower is rather involved, so be sure you have someone who can perform all the plumbing work competently. Each head needs to branch off the controller valve, so it is not a do it yourself type of setup. Keep the instruction book nearby, as the plumber or whoever does your installation will need it!

As with all products, be advised that Kohler has now come out with their brand new DTV-2 system. The DTV-2 can now control lights, speakers in the shower, AND WORK WITH A MEDIA SERVER! Amazing what technology can do. I don't know how many people want to control light, sounds and a media server from their shower, but the option is now there.

For those folks who want more information and pictures, go to the Kohler web site on DTV, at:

http://www.us.kohler.com/onlinecatalog/newproducts_detail.jsp?section=2&aid=1176778006065

I hope you now have a basic understanding of the system. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them, or go to the web site I've given you. Also be aware that a decent system will cost you about $3,000, minus labor.

Unfortunately I must end my review on a negative note. Yesterday, I received a error message on the 2"x2" LCD display on the control unit. It stated Valve Error, and my unit stopped working. Kohler is sending a repairman out to fix it. From what Kohler tells me, these DTV Valves hardly ever go bad, that there is a great repair record on them. Well I will follow up and let you know how that goes, but I still think it is a great system, even though there is this one bump in the watery road!

===============================================
Well, for anyone interested, here is my update! Kohler send out a local repair team, Thursday, November 29th. Luckily the Digital Valve is waranteed for 5 years, so there was no problem with billing or a house call charge. They replaced a part in the digital valve which controlled the temperature and that was it. Everything woks fine again, and boy did we miss that shower! Funny how you miss something after you use it for a while!!


Recommend this product? Yes

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