Regular or Grande?
Choosing a shower system can be even more complicated than ordering your morning latte/cappuccino/espresso/skinny/grande/whatever coffee. There is a bewildering array of choices, from simple to extremely grand. Let’s try and focus on a few key issues that you have to resolve.
The first is, have you got a suitable source of hot water to the intended shower area? If not, then your choice is made for you – you need an Electric Shower that heats up its water as it goes. Now you may be recalling many feeble efforts of this kind in the past that have been more dribbles than showers, but technology has moved on.
At differing levels of power you need an appropriately heavy-duty electricity supply, and this is definitely a professional fitting job. If you want good results, do consider the high-end models from manufacturers like Mira – their 10.8 kW model is the UK’s most powerful and offers up to 40% more flow than a more typical 7.5 kW model. It also comes with several nifty anti-scaling features, as limescale is the bête noire of any shower unit, especially the electric kind that relies upon water passing through narrow heated tubes.
In other installations, and maybe by employing the cunning of your master plumber, you will be able to route hot water from your cylinder to the right place. If there is an insufficient head of water you can use a pump. Speaking of which, the pumped Power Shower (viewed as an essential in the US) is the new must-have item to wake up many UK households in the morning. Do make sure that you work out where the necessary pump will be sited before you commit to buying your system. (And be prepared for an increase in your water bill).
Another recent entrant to the typical UK shower or wet room is the Shower Tower or Shower Panel. These have been de rigeur in Continental homes for a decade or more, and they provide the all-over body shower that many enjoy.
If none of these floats your boat (across the shower tray), then consider your options for a more conventional Shower Mixer unit. This is where the choice gets really huge:
- Adjustable or fixed head?
- Wall or ceiling mounted?
- Concealed or exposed mixer?
- Bar design or traditional?
With, of course, many sub-divisions within these categories…
The basic essential is that the mixer is thermostatically controlled so that it balances the two flows for comfort even when they fluctuate, and protects you from accidentally dialling too high a temperature and scalding yourself. The safety ramifications are obvious.
Check the specifications of your intended mixer, and desirable features include the ability to cope with wildly unbalanced pressures: the ability to be used with combi boilers or gravity fed systems; and an auto shut-down if either the hot or cold supply fails.
The most popular horizontal bar mixer designs employ a tubular cross-section: but if you just like to be different, or favour the contemporary look, check out the Triton Mellita with its square bar and slider rail.
Right at the top end of the market are the Digital Mixers. These have electronic controllers so you can dial in your precise requirements – no more ‘turn and hope’. The Grohe wireless system has a totally safe controller that can safely be sited anywhere.
Before we leave you perusing the site for all the styles, colours and finishes, don’t forget to give due consideration to the business end – the Shower Head. Increasingly popular are the oversized horizontal fixed heads that look like inverted dustbin lids – though do consider their water usage and the need for regular descaling of the metal surface in hard water areas. You may prefer the convenience of an adjustable head, one with a choice of shower patterns, and one with a rub-clean rubberised spray head that is excellent for deferring the need to descale.
Lastly, don’t be tempted to choose your shower system without giving plenty of thought to the Shower Enclosure and how well (and in what direction) it will contain the shower: or you may be spraying water where you did not intend…