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What’s the difference between a manual and electronic tap system?

A tap system comparison and buyer’s guide

Tap systems are the talk of the industry right now, especially with Borg & Overström adding the C and U-series with their innovative T1 and T2 upgrades. 

Borg & Overström have a diverse product line for tap systems, and the market remains competitive. If you’re set on an electronic tap system but still undecided over which one you need, please consult this Learning Centre article for a comparison. If you haven’t decided on a manual or electronic, then this comparison is for you. 

An aside on the solenoid

First, a quick definition. Put simply, a solenoid is a device which converts electrical energy into directional mechanical force in order to move small internal parts. They are found in many appliances (such as doorbells) and are the driving force of our electronic tap system range.  

Comparing method of operation and internal technology  

Manual tap systems have no internal solenoids, relying entirely on the movement of the user. For this reason, a manual system is colloquially known as a “bar tap.” As the nickname suggests, it is an easy appliance to use, operated with a simple hinge handle. Such tap systems come with a high flow rate. The C2 and C3 tap systems can dispense up to 80 litres-per-hour. And high flow rate doesn’t mean uncontrolled either; these products come with additional valve switches that alter the rate, giving the user even more control.   

Ease of use and faster flow makes this tap system better for filling a bottle up in a restaurant or bar, given the quick pace and high footfall of such areas. If time is of the essence and patience is in short supply, you may be better off with a manual system. 

However, electronic systems are hardly trounced in this comparison. When fitted with the ProCore+™, the T2 can match the C-series for throughput, also peaking at 80 litres-per-hour for the same price as a manual, no less. 

End users feeling hesitant about dealing with more complex technology on matters of repair and maintenance might lean towards the manual system. However, this too has a downside. One of the central selling points of the T1 tap system is its advanced technology and the future upgrade potential it contains within. A tap system is simple to use, but with solenoid-based electronic systems coming in such intricate incarnations, they may leave manual systems behind on the technology front.   

Comparing water waste and cost 

The main drawback of a manual system is higher potential water waste caused by human error and the imperfections of estimation, as it is up to the user to determine exactly where the portion sizes end. Electronic taps (even with remote dispensing) may be touch-activated and also determined by the user, but pressing and releasing a button is a quicker motion than resetting a handle.  

Once again, this is no apples-to-apples comparison. Electronic taps retain their edge in preventing overspill and cutting waste on a macro scale, but the C2 and C3 dispense handles are designed to spring back into the “off” position when released, in a manner similar to a door stopper. 

But if cutting back waste and pinching pennies for the long term is on the agenda, you may wish to consider an electronic system, as only they come with additional cost-saving features such as Eco mode. This mode will only get better with time, and with energy prices remaining uncertain, it may be an investment you can’t do without.   

Comparing space and room efficiency 

Electronic tap systems favour the quieter environment; their features are made with the comfort of the individual user in mind. We recommend they be installed in office spaces and canteens where their self-service compatibility can be optimised. 

This brings us to the issue of room requirements. The C2 and C3 come with noticeably larger external tap heads, one for each dispense option and up to three in total. Its main body must be thick and robust in order to support this, meaning more space will be needed for installation and operation. 

Conversely, central to the T1’s appeal is its power relative to its discreet size. Not only do our electronic tap systems win on the size front, they manage to do so whilst coming with superior dispense heights. The user who wants to get a lot out of a little should lean towards the electronic tap.  

Comparing hygiene and safety

Hygiene and user safety is where electronic tap systems enjoy their biggest advantage. Even before the pandemic, this was an extremely important issue. Now, any product that can accommodate distancing or cut out needless risk is more relevant than ever.  

Only our electronic tap systems give users the option of remote dispensing, a boon for those conscious of cross-contamination. Users can also install another hands-free dispense option in the form of a footswitch. 

And what are the downsides? Remember that dispensing via the app puts an additional stage in front of the user actually getting their water, and the speed and functionality of their phone decides if it happens.  

The manual system isn’t defeated outright. It’s worth noting that the black T1 and T2 models come with PVD coating, which allows for minimalistic, almost effortless cleaning. Buyers must decide if their preferred method of hygienic upkeep be preventative or routine but straightforward.        


As you may have guessed by now, there are a myriad of intertwining factors to consider before your purchase. No Borg & Overström tap system fails to meet premium standards on any single front. There is no reason to believe that an electronic system can’t satisfy high demand, or a manual can’t be safe and appropriate for the quieter space. Like all comparisons, this poses a give-and-take decision, and nobody will have all their boxes ticked. Weigh up the aforementioned attributes of dispense volume, speed, and hygiene then make your decision. 

For more resources on acquiring the right dispenser, you can visit our Learning Centre. If you have any further queries, our sales team is ready and able to answer them.

Our drinking water dispensers are available through selected partners