Which Shower Do I Need? - Palace Plumbers

Which Shower Do I Need?

Not all showers are equal, so when it comes to choosing the right shower you must consider the type of shower and whether it is compatible with your existing hot water system.

Radiator Sludge Illustration
Image: Radiator Sludge Illustration

Once you understand the fundamental differences between the types of showers available you’ll be able to make a better decision on which type of shower is the best for your home.

In this article I’ll discuss:

  1. The main types of shower unit
  2. Exposed and concealed showers
  3. Which type of hot water system you have installed in your home

Main types of shower:

I’ll discuss 4 main types of shower:

  1. Mixer Showers
  2. Power Showers
  3. Electric Showers
  4. Digital Showers

1. Mixer showers

Aqualisa Manual Mixer Shower

Mixer showers accept water from both the cold and hot water supplies and ‘mix’ them to achieve the desired water temperature.

Some mixer showers feature a thermostatic element to accurately measure and maintain your desired temperature.

2. Power showers

Bristan Power Shower

Power showers work much in the same way as mixers but with the added benefit of an integral pump to boost the water pressure and deliver a better flow-rate, providing a powerful shower.

A power shower requires water from both your hot and cold water supply. An internal pump is used to boost the flow rate. They use a high level of water so a plentiful supply is required.

Power showers are a great choice if you have low-pressure in your home, where the shower head delivers a trickle. However, they shouldn’t be used if you have a high-pressure unvented system.

Generally, the higher the wattage, the better the shower, but of course the more the cost. The most common showers are either an 8.5kw or 9.5kw. Higher wattage such as 10.8kw showers are better but you may have problems with power supply.

3. Electric showers

Aqualisa Electric Shower

An electric shower heats the water every time you take a shower. Instead of water coming from your hot water it’s fed directly from your cold water main and is heated on demand. The water temperature is controlled by changing the kilowatt setting on the dial.

Although electricity his more expensive than gas, electric shower can be more efficient as they only heat the water that is used. They tend to have lower flow rates so this saves money too as you don’t waste excess water with really overly showers.

Electric showers used to be a popular choice (back in the day) because most properties had a gravity fed central heating and hot water system where hot water is stored in a cylinder. The trouble with this type of system is that the hot water can run out and you’ll have to wait until it heats up again before you can have your nice hot shower.

These days, with combination boilers in so many homes you get instant hot water at mains pressure we’d suggest installing a thermostatic mixer shower over an electric shower.

Digital showers

Digital showers, like powers showers, take the water from your hot and cold feed and mix it via a digital processing unit to your requested temperature. The mechanics of the unit will depend on your central heating system, so it’s important to buy one fit your system. Gravity fed will differ from combi boiler systems.

Exposed or Concealed?

How your shower unit is installed will affect how tricky it is install and add to the complexity of accessing it for repair should it develop a fault.

Exposed showers

An exposed shower simply describes the position of the shower. Basically, you can see it. It’s not hidden and usually resides on the bathroom wall right next to the shower itself. You’ll probably have a shower rail with the shower head attached to the rail.

Concealed showers

Concealed showers are those that are hidden, typically behind a wall. Installation usually requires a lot of making good afterward as tiles may need to be removed to access a suitable area to locate the pipework and other components.

Which hot water system do you have?

Typically there are 3 types of hot water system:

  1. Open-vented system (also called gravity-fed or low-pressure)
  2. Unvented system (also called a pressurised or sealed system)
  3. Combination boiler

A traditional hot water system consists of 3 main parts:

  1. Cold water storage tank – feeds the hot water cylinder
  2. Hot water cylinder – stores the heated water
  3. Boiler – heats the water

1. Open-vented hot water system

Gravity fed systems are the most common type of hot water system in the UK. These systems feature a cold water storage tank, usually in your loft space, a hot water cylinder, usually in your airing cupboard.

These systems are often referred to by plumbers and heating engineers as low-pressure systems. The flow rate at which water is delivered to your taps and showers is largely dependant on how high the tank is above your hot water outlets.

Suitable shower types:

  • Thermostatic mixer
  • Manual mixer
  • High Pressure unit
  • Electric

2. Unvented hot water system

Pressurised systems comprise of an unvented hot water cylinder, such as a Megaflo, which has the ability to deliver hot water to taps, and showers at a increased flow rate.

Suitable shower types:

  • Thermostatic mixer
  • Manual mixer
  • High Pressure unit
  • Electric

3. Combination boiler hot water system

Combination boilers serve hot water on demand by heating water directly from the mains and do not require a cold water storage tank in the loft-space, or a hot water cylinder. Combi boiler systems deliver water to your hot water outlets at mains pressure, providing a good flow-rate.

Suitable shower types:

  • Thermostatic mixer
  • Manual mixer
  • High Pressure unit
  • Electric

Conclusion

The type of shower you choose is largely dependant on which type of hot water system you have installed. Making the right choice needn’t be a headache. Household water pressure, flow-rates and your existing shower configuration all need to be taken into consideration.

Depending on your preferred choice of shower and desired flow-rate it may be necessary to upgrade your existing system slightly to accommodate your new shower.

For more information on all types of showers, or if you are thinking of upgrading your shower, please call the Palace Plumbers team on 020 3880 5666 or use our contact form to send us your enquiry.

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