Tuesday, 30 August 2011

How to Choose the Right Shower

Hot water for showering is provided either by a stored hot water system or by an instantaneous heater of some description that heats the water on demand.


Electric showers are the easiest showers to install in terms of compatibility with existing water heating systems and locations throughout the home. They draw water direct from the mains water supply and heat it as it is used for showering. It can be used in most domestic showering applications e.g. over the bath, shower cubicles, shower rooms etc.


  • Provides a shower that is independent of the main hot water heating system in the house, thus reducing the risk associated with breakdowns.
  • Can be installed in almost any home throughout the UK new & old.
  • Instantaneous shower; it can be used at any time of the day.

  • Requires electrical wiring from the shower unit to the main fuse box.
  • Flow rate tends to be lower than showers that use the homes main water heating system, and it will vary between summer when the incoming water is warm, and the winter when the flow rate will reduce because the incoming water is significantly colder..
  • Cost wise, the installation costs may be higher than showers that use the homes main water heating system due to the need for plumbing and electrical work.
Higher kilowatt output showers have gone a long to help overcome some of the disadvantages of poor flow; (10 kilowatt showers are the equivalent of over 3 emersion heaters or 10 x 1 kilowatt bars on an electric fire) but to some an electric appliance fitted in the bathroom is perceived as a safety risk. This is not the case, providing it is properly installed, by a trained professional who knows what he is doing. Electrical appliances are often associated with water for example the kettle, washing machine or the electric cooker, which needs frequent washing.


Showers that are fed from a domestic heating system that feeds hot water to the taps instantaneously on demand.

Combination boilers have become increasingly popular over the last 10-15 years as the number of one and two person homes as increased dramatically.

The combination boiler takes the practicality of an instantaneous 'Multipoint' water heater and combines it with a traditional boiler, hence the name 'combination' boiler. The great advantage is that you only use the water that you need.

You can establish whether you have an instantaneous boiler by the lack of any storage water cylinders. A simple test is to turn the central heating off, so that the boiler is not running; then turn a hot water tap on, the boiler should fire to supply water to the tap.

A combination boiler will switch all its heat output to water heating when demanded. This means that you will have a boiler capable of heating your whole house feeding your mixer shower.

Therefore if you have this type of water heating system you will need a shower that blends or mixes the hot and cold water to a safe showering temperature that can be maintained. Mixer showers that are compatible with instantaneous boilers will have a higher flow rate than electric showers, and are generally easier to install because there are no electrical connections.


  • High flow rates, similar to a powered shower because these showers are mains fed and designed for pressurised water systems.
  • Easy to install, no problems with system design, location or compatibility with your existing water system, providing you have an instantaneous boiler that has been installed correctly.
  • Instantaneous shower only heats the water when you need it.

  • If your boiler breaks down you have no hot water for your taps or showering.
  • Combination boilers start to heat water when a tap or shower is turned on. The length of pipe from the boiler to the shower determines the time taken for hot water to reach the shower, and it is often the case that large volumes of water need to be drawn off, before water of the correct temperature is achieved, this can be costly and frustrating. Good system design and installation helps to overcome this problem in most cases.

Showers that are fed from a stored hot water system, that can only feed hot water to the taps if the water has been pre heated in the cylinder.

Imagine a set of taps with a temporary, rubber, hand-shower attachment. The idea is very simple, you pre heat the water in your cylinder then turn the hot and cold taps to blend the water to achieve a comfortable showering or rinsing temperature. Mixer showers work on the same principal they are easy to install as they do not need any electrical connections, and work by blending hot and cold water together. They are ideal if you have an abundant supply of stored hot water.

When selecting a mixer shower for use on a gravity system, the most important thing to consider is the flow rate that is achievable from the shower rose. Unless you have water pressure of at least 0.5 bar, which is equivalent to a gap of five meters between the bottom of the cold water storage tank and the shower rose you will need to select a 'Low Pressure' shower valve, capable of supplying a satisfactory shower at water pressures as low as 0.1 bar, (which is approximately one meter difference).

You will be able to get a rough idea simply by observing the flow rate of water that you receive from the bath taps. Remember that you will be mixing hot and cold water but if it appears slow then the chances are that the showers performance will be disappointing.

The solution is to fit a shower pump that pushes the water to your shower mixer thus creating an invigorating powerful showering experience.

If you opt for the pumped solution you must ensure that you have plenty of hot water storage capacity, for pumped showers can deliver anything between 11 - 25 Litres of blended water per minute, and this will drain the average sized cylinder very quickly.

You will have an idea of the amount of hot water that you have available by looking at the physical size of your cylinder and monitoring your everyday usage. For example the depth of hot water that you are able to achieve when running a bath before the hot water runs out. If you do not have large volumes of stored water, do not use a pump unless you alter the system to cope with it. Alternatively fit an electric shower.

Source: www.plumbingpages.com

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