What are the Different Types of Showers?

When it comes to buying a new shower, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of showers available.

Questions about water pressure and boiler types can add to the confusion - while the last thing you want is to install a new type of shower and find it’s not quite what you expected!

To help you out, we’ve put together a guide to the main types of shower. These are:

Read on to find out which one is best for you...

Which type of shower should you choose?

Before we get into the details for each type of shower available, we thought it would be a good idea to give you a few pointers. 

If you are trying to work out which type of shower you should choose, you need to be aware of your own bathroom setup. After all, while one person might rave about their new electric shower, it might not have the same benefits for your bathroom!

Here are some things to consider when choosing which type of shower you need:

  • What type of boiler do you have? Combi boilers and older gravity-fed systems work very differently, so need different types of shower
  • How is your water pressure? If it is low, there are ways to boost it. If you are using mains pressure, this is less likely to be an issue.
  • How big is your boiler tank? Do you find you often run out of hot water? You can address this concern with an electric shower

Read more: Which Shower do I Need? Infographic for further advice

If you are ever not sure whether the type of shower you have chosen is suitable, it’s best to consult a plumber before making a purchase.

Read more: A Guide to Water Pressure in Bathrooms

Electric showers

Electric showers are one of the most versatile types of shower available. Electric showers are ideal if you want to be able to have an instant hot shower, plus they offer the potential for energy savings.

Key Features:

  • Needs a good water pressure - either from your mains supply or a shower pump
  • Doesn’t need hot water from your boiler or tank
  • Compact and easy to install

Best for: Homes with combi boilers - but pretty much any water system will work with one!

So, exactly what is an electric shower?

An electric shower is, as you might expect, heated by an electrical heating element. What sets them apart from most types of shower is that they only require a cold water supply. Instead of taking hot water from your boiler or hot water tank, they can instantly heat up water themselves with an in-built heating device. They work by mixing this hot water with cold water to reach your preferred temperature.

When you buy an electric shower, take note of what kW rating they have. The higher the kW, the better the hot water flow will be. 

What are the benefits of an electric shower?

As we mentioned above, the main advantage of an electric shower is that you don’t need a hot water supply to use one - so, there is no need to worry that you might run out of hot water if you have a small boiler tank, as an electric shower produces it for you on demand.

Secondly, electric showers offer the potential to save energy. As they only heat up the water that you actually use, there won’t be any energy wasted on heating up a whole tank just for your morning shower. They also generally have a lower flow rate than pump-assisted showers, so if you are on a water metre, you could save on your water bill, too. 

Electric showers are a good option for houses with combi boilers. Showers with built-in pumps aren’t compatible with combi boilers, as it can cause a dangerous amount of pressure - electric showers don’t usually include this feature.

You can also use an electric shower outside of you boiler’s set hot water times, so you won’t need to wait for it to come on to have a shower. 

Finally, if the worst happens and your boiler fails, you can still have a hot shower!

And the downside?

A possible downside of an electric shower is that they rely on your existing water pressure . So, if you have a gravity fed hot water tank in your roof, you might find they aren’t powerful enough - though this can be remedied with a shower pump.

Also, while your electric shower will be there for you if your boiler fails, you won’t be so lucky in a power cut!

Mixer showers

A mixer shower differs from an electric shower by needing an existing source of hot water. To output at your perfect temperature, a mixer shower does just what its name suggests - it mixes your hot and cold water together before sending it out of your shower head for you to enjoy!

Key Features:

  • Requires both a hot and cold water supply
  • Stronger water flow than electric showers
  • Concealed styles are available

Best for: Gravity-fed water systems or home with a large hot water supply

Is a mixer shower electric?

Most mixer showers do not need a source of electricity to run as they are purely mechanical - which is great for power cuts! However, if you want to use a separate shower pump to boost the water pressure, bear in mind that you will need to use a power source. 

Read more: Shower Pump Buying & Fitting Guide

Is a mixer shower better than an electric shower?

The answer to this question very much depends on your particular needs and circumstances. Like electric showers, mixer showers are compatible with pretty much any water system or boiler - though be sure to check, as some are designed for combi boilers only.

Here are a few things to bear in mind when deciding whether a mixer shower is best for you:

  • Mixer showers can be more powerful. Electric showers tend to have a weaker flow. If needed, you can also further boost your mixer shower pressure with a shower pump.
  • Good for large hot water tanks. Mixer showers work best when you have a large and reliable hot water supply. If not, an electric shower might be better.
  • Are you worried about your boiler failing? It may only happen once in a blue moon. But, if your boiler does ever fail, your mixer shower might not be able to provide hot water.
  • Performance depends on your household water pressure. As we mentioned above, a shower pump can help a struggling water pressure. However, be aware that if two people are showering at the same time, the pressure will dip. 

Read more: The Benefits of Mixer Showers

Mixer showers also have a good array of versatile style options, too. These are generally split into two categories:

What is the difference?

Unlike an exposed valve shower, a concealed valve shower is built into the tiling of your shower enclosure. This creates a sleeker and less cluttered appearance, which is good for modern or more luxurious bathrooms. Typically, all that will remain visible is a neat control panel and your shower head. 

Some mixer showers also offer thermostatic valve control. These valves quickly react to sudden temperature changes to ensure the water doesn’t scald you. So, if someone turns on a cold water tap in the kitchen, a thermostatic valve ensures you aren’t shocked with a sudden jet of hot water!

Power showers

Can’t decide between an electric shower and a mixer shower? A power shower could be the solution for you! They are ideal for houses with low water pressure - or, if you just love an invigorating shower in the morning!

Key features:

  • Like a mixer shower, they require both a hot and cold water supply
  • Offers the best in terms of water pressure
  • They tend to use more water than other types of shower

Best for: Improving weak water pressure

Is a power shower the same as an electric shower?

There is often some confusion over whether a power shower is the same as an electric shower. A power shower doesn’t have an electric element like an electric shower, instead, it takes hot water from a cylinder that’s heated usually by a boiler, and cold water from your standard cold feed. This is then mixed internally more like a mixer shower than an electric shower.

Power showers use a pump to boost the flow rate of the water it uses. This does require a source of electricity. However, unlike an electric shower, a power shower does not heat the water with an electric current. Instead, they work like a mixer shower by taking hot water from your boiler and combining it with a cold water supply.

Why have a power shower?

Power showers are usually the preferred option for houses with gravity-fed water systems or where water pressure is particularly low. As they work in a similar way to a mixer shower, you also need to make sure you have a large enough hot water tank to suit your requirements - if not, you do run the risk of your shower running cold after multiple uses. 

If you have a combi boiler, your water system will run at mains pressure, meaning it should already be pumped; an electric shower or mixer shower are your best options.

So, to recap - if you have a large supply of hot water which works via a gravity fed system and you’re finding your water pressure leaves a lot to be desired - you are the perfect example of why you should have a power shower!

In this case, here are the main benefits to fitting one:

  • Instantly increased flow rate for a more powerful shower
  • It is cheaper and more convenient that installing a mixer shower and pump separately
  • Installation should be quick and easy if you are replacing a mixer shower
  • While they do use more water, many come with eco options so you can use as little power as you need
  • Thermostatic valve options are available

Digital & Smart showers

Finally, we are going to take a look at digital showers. These are more of a recent invention and are ideal for those who like to have the latest technology in their homes! Their main difference from other shower types is that they offer incredibly precise temperature controls, which can be set with the touch of a button.

So, what’s the difference between a digital shower and a smart shower? Put simply a digital shower controls temperature and flow electronically whereas a smart shower can also be controlled via a smart app or via Alexa or Google.

Read more: What Are Digital Showers?

Key Features:

  • Works like a mixer shower - takes hot water straight from your boiler
  • Options are available for all types of water system or boiler
  • Some are even compatible with smart devices!

Best for: Anyone who wants to make a tech upgrade in their bathroom

Why should I choose a digital shower?

Digital showers are the height of bathroom technology. Their stand-out feature is their control panel, which displays things like the water temperature and flow rate.

This means you can accurately adjust the water temperature by degree - some even give you the option to set up profiles for each member of your household! Like mixer showers, digital showers also offer thermostatic valves. 

If you really want to make the most of smart home technology, SmarTap Digital Smart Showers can be synced with your Amazon Alexa or Google Home Hub. This means you can turn your shower on or adjust the temperature with voice commands - pretty impressive! 

What options are there for digital showers?

There are different types of digital showers to suit almost any water system. If you have a low pressure or gravity-fed system, pumped options are available. There are also high pressure versions which have been designed specifically for use with mains-pressured water systems or combi boilers.

Be sure to check before you buy that you are choosing a compatible option - if you’re not sure, it might be best to consult a plumber first. 

Shower towers

If you're looking for a truly luxurious shower or even a spa-like experience then a shower tower is the perfect fit. Featuring lavish overhead drenchers, perfected to provide the optimum water flow you're guaranteed to get a truly indulgent rainfall showering experience.

Some shower towers even come complete with a shower handset, providing true flexibility and allowing you to use your shower tower for multiple tasks.

Traditional showers

If you've got a traditionally styled bathroom then choosing a shower can be difficult. Finding the right shower to fit in with your decor might seem impossible but look no further than our wonderful range of traditional showers.

Black showers

Black showers are a perfect fit for contemporary bathrooms, especially when paired with black taps and the usual white sanitaryware to create a wonderful monochrome finish.

Available in range of designs with a variety of features you're guaranteed to find a black shower not only a perfect fit for you bathroom but your shower needs too!

If you're looking for more inspiration or 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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