The new EZ line of coolers have a total of 19 models, all of which offer greater accessibility for disabled individuals, unique contemporary styling and are easy to service and install.

"In designing the new coolers, we were most concerned with creating a cooler that was safe and accessible for all users," says Steve Sorensen, Elkay's manager, product planning, water coolers and drinking fountains. "We believe that the new EZ line will become the new standard by which all other barrier-free coolers will be measured."

ADA requirements

The most significant feature of the new line, says Elkay, is that the coolers can be installed to meet both adult and child ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility guidelines.

Sorenson explains: ''To be considered ADA compliant, a cooler must meet specific dimensional requirements. For adult installations, the requirements state that the unit must provide a minimum of 27" of knee clearance and that the spout height must be 36" or less.

''For coolers used primarily by children 12 years old and younger, the guidelines are that sufficient clear floor space must be provided for parallel approach and that the spout height must be no higher than 30".

''These guidelines for child ADA requirements are based on the final ruling of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, which was placed into effect in April, 1998.

''Elkay was able to meet these guidelines by reducing the thickness of the cooler's upper shroud, which provides greater knee clearance to wheelchair-bound users. With proper installation, the EZ coolers meet both the adult and child ADA requirements. In addition, Elkay has exceeded these guidelines by compressing the front portion of the cooler so that the distance between the knee clearance and the spout height is only 6", which maximises accessibility to the cooler.''

ANSI/NSF 61 standard

In addition to ADA compliance, Elkay says all 19 models in the EZ line are compliant with the entire ANSI/NSF 61 section 9 standard, making them the safest coolers available today.

''Underwriters Laboratories (UL),'' says Sorenson, ''has classified all Elkay EZ coolers to the entire ANSI/NSF 61 standard, which regulates the levels of contaminants that can leach from drinking water devices into potable water. These contaminants include metals such as copper and lead and all potential toxins that could leach from plastics and rubber or any other material that comes in contact with drinking water.

''Currently, ANSI/NSF 61 is a voluntary standard, except in Texas, which mandated that all faucets, water coolers and drinking fountains sold for use in the state after September 1, 1999 must be compliant with the entire standard. In fact, Elkay was the first manufacturer to comply with the state's directive by making the majority of its coolers and all of its fountains compliant with the entire standard. Federal law requires that products only satisfy the lead-free requirement portion of the standard. To satisfy the entire ANSI/NSF 61 standard, Elkay changed the evaporator tank material from copper to stainless steel.

Updated styling

In addition to important safety and compliance features, the EZ coolers feature streamlined styling and a more contemporary appearance, making them ideal for any environment.

To complement the redesigned shape, the models are available in updated colour combinations with two-tone gray on the upper portion and a textured gray finish on the lower shroud. A model featuring a stainless steel lower shroud is also available.

Easy installation & maintenance

As a result of the completely new design, Elkay says it was able to significantly reduce the total number of parts in each cooler. All EZ coolers also feature a removable one-piece lower shroud and internal frame which offer easy access to all internal components. ''This means that installation and maintenance will be much easier, and therefore less costly for owners,'' Sorenson says.

Easy-touch controls

Easy-touch controls, standard on EZ model coolers, require minimal pressure on the push bars for easy operation and increased durability. The entire push bar mechanism was changed from a mechanical system with almost 50 parts, to an electrical system with less than 10 parts. ''Fewer parts result in a more durable system,'' he says. Sensor-operated hands-free models are also available.

Extra-deep basins

Elkay was able to leverage its sink production capabilities and expertise in order to develop the extra deep basins found on the new EZ line.

''The deepest in the industry, these basins are designed to minimize splashing,'' says Sorenson. ''Made from a single sheet of stainless steel and featuring generous contours, the new basins are not only attractive, they are also easy to clean and maintain.''

Added safety features

Elkay says that an important safety feature, currently found on its coolers is the patented Flexi-Guard bubbler which flexes on impact to help prevent accidental injuries. ''For the EZ models, the look of the Flexi-Guard bubbler is updated with a more rounded shape to complement the overall styling of the coolers,'' he says.

''Another key safety feature,'' he adds, ''is the non-pressurised tank, located after the bubbler valve. The tank is subject to line pressure only when the easy-touch control is pressed, and is designed to eliminate water damage in case of accidental rupture.''

For more than 75 years, Elkay Manufacturing Company has been an innovative manufacturer of stainless steel sinks, water coolers, drinking fountains and faucets for residential and commercial use.

Headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, Elkay is also the parent company of Cordley/Temprite, a leading manufacturer of bottled water coolers, as well as Yorktowne Cabinets, Medallion Kitchens, MasterCraft Cabinets and Westwood Custom Cabinetry.