Best Electric Shower Buying Guide
Rather than using the stored hot water in your central heating water system, an electric shower is fed cold water from your mains water, which rapidly heats up via a heating element before it comes out of the shower head. For higher temperatures, the system may need to slow down the passage of the water, which can result in a gentler water flow rate. To resolve this water pressure ‘issue’, you should opt for an electric shower that has more kilowatts of power so it can rapidly heat water without any loss of flow rate.
The kilowatt power of most domestic electric showers ranges from 7.5kw to 10.8kw, with the higher the kw, the hotter and more powerful the shower will be.
When it comes to the temperature of the water, all electric showers use an internal heating element inside a sealed unit, similar to the heating element in a kettle. Your cold mains water flows past the hot element when you switch your electric shower on, picking up the heat as it passes through and out of the shower head. The beauty of electric showers over mixer showers which rely on your pre-heated water tank is that you will not run out of water mid-shower as it heats the water flow on demand.
Some electric showers are better than others when it comes to temperature, control and water flow. So, when looking for your perfect electric shower, you should always consider the following:
Power – getting the right level of power in your shower will ensure it meets your specific needs. For example, if you have a smaller water tank, then a lower wattage of around 7.5-8.5kw would work well, but if you prefer a more powerful waterflow then 9kw or above is ideal. You will also need to factor in your budget as the more kw you have, the more expensive the model is likely to be.
Pressure level – as well as its power, you also need to check the electric shower’s pressure level as this can affect the water flow rate if not suited to your mains pressure. The shower should indicate on its packaging its minimum pressure level, in bars and the flow rate as litres per minute.
Thermostat – a thermostatic function means you will be able to ensure a steady as well as adjustable water temperature and most of today’s electric showers have a thermostatic control although the level of precision can differ.
Control panel – as well as a thermostatic function, look for a clear and easy to use central control panel so you can fine-tune your electric shower experience. Additional control features can include temperature displays and optimum temperature alerts as well as touch sensitive panels.
Anti limescale – particularly if you live in a hard water area, some form of limescale protection is worth looking for. Many showers will run through cool water phases towards the end of the shower to help protect the internal working of the shower head from potentially damaging build-up of limescale.
Safety – as well all know, water and electricity do not mix, and all electric showers should have sufficient safety measures including a safety cut-out if the water gets too hot, as well as sealed units to protect the internal components.
Shower head – check that the shower head is large enough for your needs. If you like to switch it up, then many showers will have adjustable heads so you can choose different spray patterns, from a direct spray to a finer mist as well as secondary handheld shower heads.
Design – the look of the shower should also count in your final decision making as it needs to fit aesthetically with your bathroom design and colour scheme. And you should have a wide choice of styles to choose from, from simple box styles to contemporary slimline and digital display designs.
Installation – unless you have the skills and experience, you will need to get an electrician in to fit your new electric shower as it will need to hook into both your electricity and cold water supply. The best electric shower will be one that is easy to fit, maintain and use.
While the principle of heating its own water is the same for all electric showers, there are a few different types you can buy:
Manual electric shower – a straightforward design, with adjustable knobs and press button controls to create heat and water pressure, depending on your bathroom, shower power rating and set up.
Thermostatic electric shower – these showers include a thermostatic valve to keep the water at a constant temperature. The thermostat is also adjustable so you can set your ideal shower water temperature.
Touch control shower – in place of a manual control knob, many of today’s electric showers feature touch control and digital displays for an interactive and more controllable showering experience.
If an electric shower is not the right choice for your home, you can also opt for one of the other main types:
Mixer shower – these showers work from your water tank and heating system and mix hot and cold water to get the right showering temperature.
Power shower – similar in looks to an electric shower, a power shower is actually a mixer style shower that uses an internal pump to boost the water pressure coming out of the shower head for an invigorating experience.
Digital shower – this is a thermostatic mixer shower which uses digital technology for more precision and control when it comes to water temperature.
Smart shower – with the rise of smart technology, you can now buy smart showers that you can integrate into your other smart home systems, including the use of voice activation and remote control.
Unless you have the necessary skills, training or experience, it is advised that you don’t DIY install your new electric shower but get a professional in to do it for you. Once you have purchased your new electric shower, you will need to find the labour costs for installation, which can range from around £200 for replacing an old shower with a new one, to £400-£500 for a brand new installation.
Understanding the benefits of installing an electric shower can help you decide whether this type of shower is the best one for you. Here are the main reasons to showering electric:
- Controllable pressure – with a shower that is connected to your water heating system, it is dictated to by the water pressure in your home. With an electric shower, that pressure can be controlled more effectively as they are a self-contained unit.
- Constant water – unlike mixer showers that are plumbed into your main central heating water tank, you won’t run out of hot water mid shower with an electric shower or have that cold-water moment should someone turn a tap on somewhere else in the house.
- Cost – electric showers are typically cheaper to buy than other shower designs where you may also need to replace the entire tap system. Electric showers may use a little more energy initially to heat, but they do heat up your water faster and are easier to maintain so your running and energy costs should even out in comparison to other types of showers.
- Installation – particularly if your bathroom has never had a shower fitted before, an electric shower is much easier – and often cheaper - to install than other shower types. many are designed with multiple water supply and electric cable options so they can be adjusted to work with your old shower's fittings for minimal mess and disruption.
- Energy efficient – as you only heat the water you use, as you use it, an electric shower is pretty energy efficient and saves your main hot water tank for heating your home.
With an electric shower for every budget, there are plenty of affordable electric showers on the market. But that doesn’t mean that quality is consistent so always look for value for money instead of the cheapest you can buy, if you want a reliable shower that has sufficient power and heat.
When it comes to some of the best electric shower brands, reviewers and experts alike rate the top four – Mira, Triton, Bristan and Aqualisa - as they offer quality, design and performance as well as shower models for most budgets. But with any home improvement investment, it's important to always do your research to ensure the new shower you choose provides everything you need and is built to be robust as well as offer consistent performance.
For less than £150, the Bristan Bliss 3 is a smart-looking shower that tops our best electric shower list. Easy to install, it gives you a decent amount of water pressure and holds its heat nicely. You get three heat modes and a clever warm up feature, so you never have to step into a cold shower. Add in an anti-limescale function, adjustable riser kit, decent-sized shower head and built-in soap dish and you have all the essentials for a reliable family shower that's built to last.
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