Keep Track Of Toilet Paper Usage With This IoT Roll Holder

IoT toilet paper sheet counter

Remember the Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020? We sure do, and it looks like our old friend [Vije Miller] does as well, while seemingly harboring a somewhat morbid fascination about how much paper every bathroom visitor is consuming. And to that end, we present his IoT toilet sheet tracker.

His 3D printed roll holder has a Hall effect sensor that counts revolutions of the roll and sends it to a NodeMCU. The number of sheets per roll is entered when the roll is changed, so some simple math yields the number of sheets each yank consumes. Or at least a decent estimate — [Vije] admits that there’s some rounding necessary. The best part of the build is the connection to Thingspeak, where sheet usage is plotted and displayed. Go ahead and check it out if you dare; at the time of writing, there was an alarming spike in sheet usage — a sudden need for 68 sheets where the baseline usage is in single digits. We shudder to think what might have precipitated that. The video below is — well, let’s just say there’s a video.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen bathroom-based projects from [Vije Miller]. A few years back there was an attempt to freshen the air with plasma, and his IoT shower valve controller probably never scalded anyone accidentally.

Thanks to [Fiona Grutza] for the tip.

[via r/arduino]

51 thoughts on “Keep Track Of Toilet Paper Usage With This IoT Roll Holder

    1. So many questions. Will we need some sort of gross biometric sensor to determine against whose TP account paper consumption should be charged? What happens when the roll is placed the other way around? Can a feature be added to applaud/reprimand the user based upon amount of paper used (based upon voiding vs defecating)?

      This is a good first start however to be more accurate, I would think sensing the perforations between the sheets using an LED/photo detector and keeping the hall effect sensor to determine direction of role would be good improvements.

  1. Silly stuff like this reminds me of one of my first college courses (mid-1970s) in engineering design graphics (mechanical drawing) when we were tasked by the professor to design a woman’s bra.

    1. Why did (do?) you think designing a woman’s bra is silly? There are many structural elements, different variations of how the load is distributed, different end results desired, plus designing for flexible materials that can stretch in differing numbers of directions. That’s just for designing a one off bra, you could have thought of its manufacture as well, and how to adjust your bra for different sizes, market research, fabric choices and designs. You could have written an entire doctoral thesis on any number of issues around bras.

  2. I had to laugh … When I was single and 20-ish, a 4-pak would last me two months. Fast forward when I have a wife and three daughters, I though about putting graphite bearings on the dispenser because it was overheating from use :) LOL

    1. Just the other day I was baffled because the roll was empty when I’d replaced it that morning. One daughter and one wife destroyed a ‘mega’ roll in 8 hours\ and we have a bidet‽

    2. It’s interesting how much people vary, but most of us will never know how someone else uses their toilet paper. When I was an intern I was sharing an apartment with two other people, but we’d always know when the boyfriend of one of them turned up to visit because he’d vanish rolls so quickly.

  3. Yet another way to remove human interaction, in a normal functioning household, people tell each other when chores need to be done, but now with automation you don’t have to talk to your fellow humans at all.

    This seems to be a common theme on this web site, the reduction and elimination of human interaction.

  4. Measuring revolutions can easily lead to bad data. The end of the TP can stick to the roll necessitating rotation to gain access, giving erroneous usage. Kids and cats can play with it.
    Weight or thickness would be better sources of data.

    1. My main concern with just measuring revolutions is that 1 revolution on a full roll is WAY more paper use than on an almost empty roll. If it’s not calibrated to a sheet full and a sheet empty/how many rotations in a roll, then the data is about as useful as what the paper is being used for.

  5. It.. it was Chipotle, Dan. Chipotle.

    Its actually surprising how often both members of the household pull 2 or 3 for random things like snot or pick up something. A lot of “waste” and yet stopping? Ayve grown accustomed to such luxury :/

    Someone just msgd me about a mod for his autistic child who struggles with when to stop and clogging the toilet. So, there’s that practical use.

    Anywho, thanks, Dan!

      1. >> Although they can not use the TP themselves.

        You haven’t met my sister’s cats. Granted, for them “use” generally means unrolling the entire roll onto the floor then playing with it.

  6. I must say, once I got the dispenser with the easy change out system (lift and the roll comes off, slide a new roll up and little pegs fall in place to hold it on), I’ll never go back to that little spring loaded tube that has to detach and be inserted into the roll again. This could still work with such a system, but would need some different sensing system: IR LEDs hidden by the roll, a mouse optical sensor to see the remaining amount, or something.

  7. First though was it’s isn’t going to be accurate cos rotational to linear conversion of reducing radius.

    Then though a little wheel at the back against the roll makes the radius fixed and linear conversion accurate but hands can touch the paper before the roller so it’s a hygiene risk.

    Third thought – optical mouse with a fairly long focus. Linear measurement and no contact.

    In my country we have empty toilet paper shelves in the stores again. This time it’s because of Just in Time supply restocking practices falling apart with road freight.

    I just stood there and said “What, another pandemic, but we haven’t even finished the first one yet.

    1. Repressive politicians obviously look for variants in time to justify “measures” to use a virus, not much more dangerous than a common cold, against the population.
      The virus was discovered first in China. That is no excuse to take China’s politics as an example.
      Especially now, when everybody can get vaccination, any repressive measures have to be ended. Although the measures are called as protective by the authorities, they are only fascist.

    1. Yes, that’s typical for green politics. Paternalism, control and surveillance of the population at any costs, but no real help for nature.

      In Austria the origin of the green party was the – unfortunately successful – protest against a hydroelectric power station at the big river Danube. I like to call this the ‘original sin’ of the green party.

  8. Need to add a log in function, like some kind of a NFC or whatever to unlock and allow for usage, thus inidividual’s usage can be tracked (like happens at offices with printers and so forth). Imagine the boss having to talk to you about your TP usage.. LOL

  9. The great toilet roll crisis of 2020 is fading from memory. Much like the financial crisis of 2008, we will repeat the same mistake soon, and run out of bog roll. I have already started hoarding.


  10. Long ago when going to college I worked for a small industrial supplier. One task was to measure rubber hose on the reel by pulling the hose off the reel and measuring it’s length. I derived a formula that would do the same thing. I later found that someone had already derived such a formula. But, it seems to me that the basics are already there, that is inner diameter, outer diameter and tissue thickness. This should be simpler then the hose on a roll as the hose has an extra “dimension” which handles the width of the roll and hose diameter. I can’t remember the formula as it was 45 years ago.

  11. Great blog I really enjoyed reading it, on the starting stage of my business I wanted an iot app so I searched it in online and found hakunamatata solutions, they really helped me in that, after that this blog helped me a lot in knowing about IOT

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