Showers: a handy buying guide

With this guide, we’ve tried to make choosing your new shower as easy as possible. Essentially, it comes down to a choice between electric showers, which offer instant hot water and use less energy; mixer showers, which usually offer higher flow rates; or power showers, which have a built-in pump for even more of a monsoon soaking. The key decider is often what type of boiler you have and how strong your water pressure is. Below, you’ll find the essential information you need to help make your decision simpler.

Types of water pressure

Before choosing the best shower for you, it’s important to think about what kind of water pressure you have in your house.

High pressure

Combination boiler: This means you don’t have a cold water tank or hot water cylinder, and you’ll have a combi-boiler often located in your kitchen. Hot water will be available on demand without having to set a timer. Best fit: MIXER SHOWER

Unvented system: This system means there’s no cold water tank in your house, only a hot water cylinder, possibly with an expansion vessel on the top, often located in your airing cupboard or garage. You have to set a timer so hot water is available, and you can run out of hot water if too much has been used.Best fit: ELECTRIC SHOWER

Low pressure – gravity fed system

If there’s a cold water tank in your loft, and a hot water cylinder (often located in your airing cupboard), you may well come across problems with low water pressure. Also, because you have to set a timer so hot water is available, you can run out if too much has been used. In this case, it’s probably a good idea to go for a power shower, which would require a pump to be installed.Best fit: POWER SHOWER

Electric showers

There are plenty of benefits to an electric shower, including saving money. Because they only heat the water when needed, they tend to be more energy efficient. And because you’re not relying on your gas boiler for heating, your hot water is instant. They take cold water directly from your supply, and they’re capable of providing a constant temperature and water pressure, using their own internal heating element. Another handy feature is that electric showers operate separately from your heating system, so you’ll still be able to enjoy a hot shower if your boiler breaks down.

If you’ve got a busy household, a thermostatic electric shower might be a good option. They’re not affected by other people turning on the cold taps in the kitchen or another bathroom. These models are sometimes known as care showers, as their safe water regulation makes them ideal for vulnerable adults or children.

Whichever electric option you choose, you’ll find the newest showers on the market are often digital, and come complete with a control panel, installed in an airing cupboard or loft, which regulates the water pressure and heat. Some models even use wireless technology, so you can keep the control panel much further away from the shower unit, if that’s more convenient.

Power ratings

The electric shower rating is detailed in kilowatts (kW). The higher the number, the more power you’ll get. This means a more forceful, faster water flow and a better ability to deal with winter’s colder water supply. Higher power ratings do tend be more expensive though. Free-standing shower cubicles may be more suited to higher power electric showers, because showers fixed above bathtubs tend to leak onto bathroom floors more easily.

Quick tip:

If you’re upgrading to a higher kilowatt model, then the electric cable may need to be upgraded too.

FlowRage

Key features to look out for

Push button start/stop: Set your preferred power and temperature settings, then use this button to start or stop the shower and keep your settings.

Cold-eco-high (dial): Simple dial-operated power selection, allowing you to adjust the amount of energy you use during the summer when the natural water temperature is higher, as well as increasing the heat during the winter.

Cold-eco-high (button): As above, but with push button power selection instead of a dial.

Slimline look: A compact slimline unit for a more discrete appearance.

Phased shutdown: When the shower is turned off, the water keeps running for a few seconds to flush out preheated water, then stops completely. This is to make sure it’s not scolding hot for the next user, and to resist limescale build-up.

Low pressure indicator: Warning LED that lights up if water pressure becomes too low, which can affect performance.

Easy installation technology - swivel: A 180° water inlet swivels to allow water connections on the right or left to match to existing connections, for an easy fit.

Easy installation technology - swing: A terminal block that connects cables to the left or right hand side of the unit, for an easy fit.

Mixer showers

These showers mix hot and cold water together, using water heated by your household system. They will generally produce higher flow rates compared to electric showers, giving you a more powerful soak. High pressure water systems, such as combi boilers, are ideal for mixer showers.

SingleLeverMixer

Single Lever Mixer

This has a single control lever on the front of the valve to adjust both temperature and flow. It has an exposed, surface-mounted fit, and is fine for both high and low water pressure.

BarMixer

Bar Mixer

Featuring temperature and flow controls on either side of the valve. The fit is exposed and surface-mounted. It works with both high and low water pressure.

Sequential mixer

Sequential mixer

This has a single control lever on the front of the valve to adjust temperature and constant flow. It has an exposed, surface-mounted fit, and is fine for both high and low water pressure.

ConcentricExposedMixer

Concentric mixer

Features centrally mounted controls in front of the value to adjust temperature and flow. A mini-concentric shower is 30% smaller than a standard concentric. The fit can be exposed or built into the wall (recessed). It’s fine with high and low water pressures.

DualControlMixer

Dual control mixer

This one has temperature and flow controls mounted on a panel in front of the valve. The fitting is built into the wall. It works with both high and low water pressure.

 Bardivertermixer

Bar diverter mixer

Has controls on either side of the value to adjust temperature and flow. The diverter changes the water flow from the fixed position shower head to a flexible handset, which is handy for families. It’s exposed, surface mounted and works with high pressure or low pressure systems with a pump.

Key features to look out for

Manual temperature control

A manual temperature controlled shower doesn’t react to changes in the water supply. If there’s a loss of cold water supply, it won’t prevent the hot water from coming through the shower head, so it could become incredibly hot.

Thermostatic temperature control

A thermostatic shower regulates the water temperature, so there’ll be no sudden rise or fall in temperature if the pressure or temperature changes, for example, if other taps are turned on somewhere in the house.

Single flow and temperature control

This is a single control to adjust the temperate and flow of the shower.In most cases this will be a single lever mixer shower.

Separate flow and temperature controls

These are different controls for adjusting the flow and temperature of the shower.

Automatic shutdown

The valve will automatically shutdown the shower should either the hot or cold water supply fail.

Adjustable maximum temperature stop

This button reduces the risk of accidentally turning the temperature too high. It can be adjusted to suit you desired maximum temperature.

Exposed valve

This is a feature of a shower mounted onto the wall, rather than recessed into the wall.

Built-in valve

This is where the valve is recessed into the wall, therefore not visible on the outside.

Power showers

Similar to the mixer option, these showers mix hot and cold water together. The difference is that they have a built-in pump to increase water flow and provide a powerful, luxurious soak. Unlike electric options, power showers don’t heat water themselves, they take the hot water from your household system. They are only for use with low pressure water systems.

Key features to look out for

Manual temperature control

A manual temperature controlled shower doesn’t react to changes in the water supply. If there’s a loss of cold water supply, it won’t prevent the hot water from coming through the shower head, so it could become incredibly hot.

Thermostatic temperature control

A thermostatic shower regulates the water temperature, so there’ll be no sudden rise or fall in temperature if the pressure or temperature changes, for example, if other taps are turned on somewhere in the house.

Single flow and temperature control

This is a single control to adjust the temperate and flow of the shower.

Separate flow and temperature controls

Different controls to adjust the flow and the temperature of the shower.

Automatic shutdown

The valve will automatically shutdown should either the hot or cold water supply fail.

Adjustable maximum temperature stop

This button reduces the risk of accidentally turning the temperature too high - can be adjusted to suit.

Shower heads

In Tesco’s shower head range there are a variety of spray patterns available on the market, and many can be adjusted to suit how you like to shower. Choose a wide spray option for a gentle massage; a thinner, faster flow for a more intense soak; or a full wide, monsoon head for a thorough drenching.

It’s good to remember that heads for electric showers often suffer from limescale build-up around the nozzles, so be sure to check how easy to clean the model you choose is. Contemporary shower heads with rub-clean nozzles are ideal for avoiding any blockages.

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