What is a Digital Shower & How Do They Work?

There are lots of different types of showers available on the market these days, however, one that many people are most curious about is the digital shower.

Digital showers are one of the latest introductions to the shower market, therefore you might be wondering what exactly are they? How do they differ from the more traditional types of shower? And, are they worth the often higher price tag?

In this guide, we aim to give you all the answers you need, so read on for everything you need to know about digital showers now....

What is a digital shower?

The main difference that sets digital showers apart from traditional showers is their built-in digital thermostat. This controls the temperature and flow of the water remotely and precisely by using the latest technology to improve your showering experience. This is done by using an external digital control panel or remote.

Read more: What are the Different Types of Shower?

Digital showers also come with a host of additional features, which vary from model to model. We will go into the benefits of these later in this guide, but here are a few of the most popular ones:

Remote thermostat

Every digital shower will feature an in-built thermostat which you control from an outer panel or via a removable remote control. Here, you can choose your temperature down to the degree, with any fluctuations are taken care of instantly.

LED display

Gone are the days of big bulky buttons and knobs to control your shower. With most digital showers you will find the control panel often features a stylish LED display, which can be easily operated with just the touch of a finger.

Smartphone technology

Many digital showers can also be used with a smartphone app - or even voice assistants in some cases - allowing you to turn the shower on and set the temperature without getting into the shower.

Programmable functions

Set up a profile to save your preferred settings, or choose ‘eco’ or ‘warm-up’ options. Some even have bath fill options too, so you can run the perfect temperature bath for kids or a relaxing soak at the end of a long day.

Dual outlets

A lot of digital showers have two shower head outlets: one overhead rain shower and one regular detachable spray head. They often feature a number of luxurious settings, giving you a spa-like experience.

Digital showers look to be the future for our bathrooms, allowing you to control how much water, energy, and the time your shower takes up every day, giving us huge potential to lower our bills and streamline our lives.

How do digital showers work?

The way digital showers work may surprise you with how simple it is. Like a standard mixer shower, they are connected to both a hot and cold water supply. When you turn it on and set your temperature, a message is sent to the integrated thermostat - either along a wire or wirelessly, depending on which shower you have. The hot and cold water is then accurately blended together before being released from your shower head.

Some people mistakenly think digital showers use your wifi, however, this isn’t the case. You don’t need to connect to wifi to use a digital shower - they use their own independent connection which can be either wired or wireless. If you choose a wireless connection, this does need charging from time to time and will need to be within a 10 metre radius of the shower. If you can operate your digital shower via a smartphone, this is done through a bluetooth connection.

Unlike a traditional mixer shower, a digital shower responds to digital signals - so you aren’t manually turning any valves with the shower handles. 

This video features a great diagram which shows you exactly how a digital shower works inside:

Are digital showers any good?

Now you know what digital showers are and how they work, you might be wondering, what the purpose of them is. Or, are digital showers any good?

The answer to this question does rely, in part, on what you want from your shower. For some of us, showering is a straightforward in-and-out job - if this is you, you might be wondering why you need so many bells and whistles on your shower. 

Well, to help you out, we’ve gathered together some of the main benefits of digital showers:

They have the potential to save energy

Many digital showers come with an ‘eco mode’ option, which can help you save water by reducing the flow. Some even have a motion sensor that automatically lowers the flow when you move away from the shower. Instant temperature adjustment also means you don’t waste water waiting for it to heat up, plus timers help you keep your shower length on track.

Useful for those with mobility problems

As digital showers are operated with a touch button, they can help those who have physical difficulty with turning shower levers. Most digital showers also have the ability to set temperature preferences, so you can step straight into comfortable temperature water, without having to fiddle with any knobs.

To see our full range of products for those with mobility issues click here.

Easy installation

You might think that all the high-tech features of a digital shower would make it difficult to install. In fact, it is the complete opposite! Digital showers are really easy to fit, as their controls and mixing valves are completely separate. The thermostat valve is also very small - about the size of a shoe box - so is versatile in terms of where you can place it. Plus, you can often fit them without the need for any re-tiling.

This video explains more about how easy digital showers are to fit:

Modern design

Another benefit of fitting a digital shower is the design element. Digital showers are more often than not extremely stylish looking, with no visible box mounted onto the wall - just your sleek and discreet LED control panel and shower head, making them perfect for smaller and minimalist bathrooms.

When it comes to which digital shower is best to buy, Aqualisa and Mira branded options are incredibly popular. You can find a fantastic range of these available at Plumbworld - with free delivery and lowest prices guaranteed. 

Take a look at this video showing off some of the best features of the popular Aqualisa Q Digital Smart Showers.

Combi or gravity-fed: What boiler or water system can you use with a digital shower?

A common concern during any shower purchase is, ‘can I use this shower with my boiler or water system?’

Luckily, digital showers can be used with almost any boiler or hot water system. However, there are different types of digital shower that are each compatible with a different boiler set-up.

Read more: Boiler Maintenance Tips & Checks

Can you have a digital shower with a combi boiler?

Yes, digital showers can work perfectly well with a combination boiler. You will need to choose a model that states it is for use with high pressure/combi valves, as you need to be sure there is no additional pump at work.

The same applies if you have an unvented mains pressure system.

Do digital showers work with gravity fed water systems?

Digital showers are also available for use with gravity fed systems. For these, you need to choose a model that is specifically described as being pumped for gravity-fed systems. This ensures you get a satisfactory water pressure.

Overall, so long as you correctly identify your hot water system and buy a compatible digital shower, you shouldn’t have too many problems with fitting one. 

Are digital showers as powerful as a power shower?

Another concern around digital showers is often whether they are as powerful as a power shower.

Digital showers can have as good a water pressure as any electric or mixer shower would. Of course, this does depend on your home, and what works best for you.

If you currently have a power shower with a low pressure system and are thinking of switching to a digital shower, it may be that the water pressure won’t be quite as strong. This is because power showers are designed specifically to increase flow rate as much as possible. Check the strength of the pump provided with your new digital shower to see if it meets your requirements.

Read more: Want a Little Power in Your Shower?

If you currently have a combi boiler or unvented hot water cylinder, a digital shower should be on the same level. This is because your water pressure comes straight from the mains supply, so shouldn’t be affected too much. 

If you're looking for further advice on showers, you might find the following posts useful - Rainfall Showers and Rainfall Shower Heads - Waterfall & Drencher Shower Buying Guide - What are the Different Types of Showers?

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