If you haven't bought a new commode in the past decade (or ever), the toilet aisle of your local home improvement warehouse may come as a shock. Today’s potty is an engineering marvel of fecal diversion, with LED lights, warmed seats, and bursts of cleansing water. Are any of these bells and whistles worth the price tag?

Before you worry about amenities, your first concern should be how well the fixture performs under duress. Toilets that use a pressure-assisted flush system are usually able to stand up to too much toilet paper or foreign objects, but their noise level (think public bathroom gurgling) can be an annoyance. A better solution is a high-flow system, which utilizes gravity and wide-mouth flush valves to let more water in and out of the toilet during a flush.

One example of the high flow system is the American Standard Champion 4 ($199), said to be able to handle waste volume up to 70 percent larger than the average. In less delicate terms, it can move a lot of poop without wasting water on multiple flushes. (Government regulations limit new toilets to 1.6 gallons per flush.) Some models also offer a dual-flush option, which further conserves water by letting the user select a partial flush for liquid waste.

Once you’ve established your toilet can perform its essential function—preventing a back-up that could ruin your day—you can consider luxuriating on it. Newer models offer a comfort-height seat that raises the lip of the toilet from the standard 14 or 15 inches to a more chair-like 17 or 19 inches, making it easier to get on and off.

Touch-less flush mechanisms can minimize the spread of germs, and heated seats can make cold winter mornings a little more comfortable. In the toilet industry, these car-like amenities come at a cost. Kohler, for example, offers “smart” cleansing seats with LED lighting for easier nocturnal pooping starting at $399—but that doesn’t include the actual toilet. If you’re happy with your current model, however, upgrading might be a viable option.

Before making a final selection, make sure your new fixture will fit in the space allotted. Elongated seats can add to a toilet’s dimensions, and some models may not fit perfectly over existing floor bolts. Measure from the wall to the floor drain to make sure you can accommodate the toilet's depth.

If you’re handy, you may be able to make the switch yourself, but remember that old toilets are heavy and any improper connection to the waste drain could mean a mess later. Consider enlisting a plumber to help ensure years of worry-free time on the throne.

[h/t KTAR News]