Electric Shower Guide for Buyers

person showering under and triton electric shower

If you’ve been searching for the best shower option in your home, you’ve probably come across electric showers. These small but mighty showers are incredibly popular in our homes today, and for good reason. They're reliable, can be easily installed in almost any property and they're energy-efficient, too! But with so many styles and variations to choose from, it's important to understand what is available and some of the key differences between each type.

In this guide, we will answer some of the most pressing questions you may have regarding these showers, including how they work, who they are designed for, how powerful they are, and who is the best person to install them.

Read on to discover everything about these innovative showers and whether they're the right fit for you...

How do Electric Showers Work?

Triton ENVi® 10.5kW Thermostatic Electric Shower - Black

Perhaps the most important question to start with is what is an electric shower and how do they work? Well, in a nutshell, these showers work by heating water very quickly over an electrically charged heating element. Unlike mixer showers, which take a hot water feed straight from your boiler, they only need a cold water supply to work. What's more, an electric shower can be connected straight to your mains water supply, making them extremely versatile when it comes to installation.

What makes these showers even more diverse is that they can be used in any domestic water system. Along with their incredible versatility, ease of installation, and advanced energy-saving features, it's no wonder these showers are so popular!

Which is the Best Electric Shower

Triton Aspirante Electric Shower - 8.5kW Matt Black ASP08MTBLK

With electric showers being incredibly versatile and user friendly, it’s easy to see why these showers dominate the market. But with so many readily available, it may be hard to pick out which one is truly the best. That’s why we’re here to help. Although most electric showers will provide exactly what you need, some key players in the industry are standouts amongst the crowd.

No blog about electric showers would be complete without mentioning Triton. A powerhouse in the showering industry, this game-changing manufacturer has been revolutionising our bathrooms since 1975. With superior showers including the Triton T80z and the Triton Aspirante, you can enjoy advanced functionality that is perfectly blended with luxurious style.

Another big name in the electric shower industry is Mira. Boasting sleek, beautiful, and luxurious designs, Mira showers are not only easy on the eye, but they’re also incredibly advanced. Mira is home to an extensive range of innovative electric showers, including the Mira Jump, Mira Sport, and Mira Sport Max to name a few. With so many powerful showers for you to choose from, you'll be spoilt for choice.

Who are they Best For?

Mira Azora 9.8kW Dual Thermostatic Electric Shower Frosted Glass 1.1634.156

There are various reasons why so many people choose to install these particular showers in their bathrooms. Here are some of them:

  • You have a small hot water tank. As mixer showers and power showers rely on your boiler for hot water, those with smaller tanks sometimes find they don’t have enough hot water to serve the whole household come shower time. With an electric shower, your fears of no hot water can be quickly washed away as they produce their own hot water.
  • You are building a new bathroom. If you're thinking of tackling a bathroom renovation, you might find it a bigger job if you need to connect your shower to your hot water supply. It’s much easier to get access to your cold water, which is all an electric shower requires.
  • Instant hot showers. You don’t need to wait for your hot water to be on to have a shower when you go electric. They instantly heat your water up on-demand, so there’s no waiting around!
  • Energy efficient. Electric showers only heat up the water you actually use, making them incredibly energy efficient. This can translate into a lower energy bill. They also have a lower flow rate, which can help those on water metres save money and energy, too. 
  • Your house has a combi boiler. Electric showers are suitable for pretty much any type of water system. However, they are an especially popular choice for homes with combi boilers. Those with gravity-fed systems often prefer a mixer shower or a power shower.

Electric vs. Power Shower: What's the Difference?

Mira Vigour T Dual Outlet Thermostatic Power Shower - White Chrome

There are some key differences when it comes to showers. With an electric shower, only cold water is fed into the shower. Some of this water is then passed over an electrical heating element and mixed back in with cold water to reach your desired set temperature.

With a power shower, both cold and hot water from your boiler tank is fed into your shower, which is then mixed together to reach your perfect showering temperature.

The other main difference is that power showers also use an electric pump to increase water pressure. Electric showers rely on the pressure of your mains water supply only - which doesn’t use a pump. 

If you want to connect your electric shower to a shower pump, you can only do so if you don’t have a combi boiler. Pumps should only be used with low-pressure water systems. If you suffer from low water pressure or water temperature, pumped electric showers are also available which can be used with a cold water supply, however, they must not be plumbed straight into your mains water supply.

For more information on the different types of showers, be sure to read our blog: What are the Different Types of Showers?

Are Electric Showers Powerful?

Mira Jump MultiFit Electric Shower - 7.5kw White & Chrome 1.1788.477

A common concern when shopping for these types of showers is finding one that is powerful enough. The key here is the kW rating. Generally, the higher the kW rating, the more powerful your shower will be, both in terms of pressure and temperature.

Electric showers can vary considerably in power. The lowest power is usually around 7-7.5kW, while the highest is generally 10.5kW. Higher-wattage showers are often considered to be better, though the wattage you choose depends on how much you want to spend; more often than not, with a higher-powered option comes a higher price point.

kW Power Ratings Explained

If you've read the above and started scratching your head thinking 'what is a kW rating?' don't panic. We've got you covered. To understand exactly what a kW power rating is, we will need to return to our previous step - how electric showers work.

The cold water is passed over a heating element, and the temperature control dial on your shower then controls how long cold water is passed over the heating device, and the longer, the hotter. So, when you increase the temperature setting, you might sometimes notice a slight dip in pressure as the water flow slows down to increase heat.

This is where the kW rating comes in. Essentially, the higher the kW rating, the faster your shower can heat water to a hotter temperature. This means that the water can maintain a more consistent pressure, resulting in a better shower experience!

For a visual explanation on kW ratings, watch our handy video below:

What Size Cable and Pipe is Required?

The next thing you need to consider when buying an electric shower is what size cables and pipes you have to connect to your shower. This is where we get into the technical stuff, so if you finish reading this and still aren't sure, don't panic and speak to your plumber. 

Water pipe requirements: Your shower must be connected to the mains water supply via a 15mm water pipe. It is also a good idea to install an isolation valve in this run. This allows you to turn the water supply to the shower off if there are any problems or maintenance issues.

Cable requirements: The size of the wiring you will be connecting to your shower has a big impact on which shower you can buy. You need to know what size cable you have - remember, the measurement refers to the cross-section, not the length! Many cables have this printed on the outer insulation. (Please note: make sure you turn the water and power off before taking a look at your electric shower wiring).

Here are the usual guidelines for shower units within 18 metres of a fuse board:

  • Showers up to 7kw may carry a 6mm cable. Fuses and switches should be rated at 32 amps.
  • Showers up to 9kw may carry a 6mm cable. Fuses and switches should be rated at 40 amps.

And here are the usual guidelines for shower units within 35 metres of a fuse board:

  • Showers up to 9.5kw should carry a 10mm cable. Fuses and switches should be rated at 45amp
  • Showers up to 12.5kw should carry a 10mm cable. Fuses and switches should be rated at 50 amps.

In the past, older electric showers usually only have wattages up to 7.5kW. As modern showers have improved, the higher wattage means larger cables are required. For this reason, if you are replacing a very old electric shower, you might find rewiring is required.

How to Install an Electric Shower

person fitting a dual head shower

Another important question you may ask is how to install an electric shower. Electric showers can seem to offer a conundrum - you need a plumber to connect it to a water supply, but surely you need an electrician to make sure that the wiring is safe.

You would be completely right to think this. Electricity and water are obviously a dangerous combination, so it’s important to get your shower installed properly to ensure you are safe. 

Because of the important safety regulations surrounding electrical bathroom appliances, it is vital that the job is done by somebody who knows what they are doing. Ideally, a plumber with a Part P certification is the best person for the job. This means that they are qualified to self-certify their work in accordance with the number of safety requirements that surround electric showers. If you are replacing one of these showers like-for-like, it is possible to do it yourself. However, unless you have a Part P certification, it is always safer to get a professional tradesman in. 

Read more on our blog: How to Replace an Electric Shower

If you're looking for further information and advice on showers, take a look at the following posts - What is a Digital Shower & How Do They Work? - Thermostatic Shower Buying Guide - Rainfall Showers and Rainfall Shower Heads.

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