From types of showers and features to different water systems and more — you name it, we’ve got it covered. This shower buying guide is packed with everything you need to know to make the most informed decision possible when buying your shower, so you can rest assured you’ve got the right one for your home.
As well as all the basics, we’ve covered popular queries such as what’s the best shower head for low pressure water systems, as well as listing showers for combi boilers, water saving shower heads, our best electric shower and other top recommendations.
The first thing you need to know when buying a shower is what water system you have. This will determine what types of shower you could get, as not all water systems are suitable for every shower type.
If you have a cold water tank in your loft and a hot water tank/cylinder in your airing cupboard, this means you have a low pressure gravity water system. This is the most common type of system, whereby the water is heated by a boiler or immersion heater, travelling to the shower through pipes.
Suitable showers for low pressure gravity systems:
TIP: If your water cylinder is large enough you can install a shower pump with a mixer shower to create a more powerful flow.
If you’re looking for the best shower for low pressure water systems, we recommend the Triton Thermo Power Shower due to its high flow rate.
If your boiler is contained in a small to medium-sized cupboard somewhere in your house (either by an outside wall or with a flue that runs along the walls/through the roof to terminate outside) you have a combi boiler. A combi boiler heats water on demand straight from the cold mains supply without the need for a tank. It sends water directly to the central heating system and hot water outlets like taps and showers.
Suitable showers for combi boilers:
If you have a hot water cylinder in your airing cupboard but no cold water tank in your loft, you have an unvented system. Fed directly from the cold water mains supply, it delivers a high flow rate of water, which means your shower performance will be quite powerful. Like a low pressure gravity system, water is heated by a boiler or immersion heater.
Suitable showers for mains pressure unvented systems:
If you don’t have any stored hot water, or don’t want to use up all the hot water when you shower, you have a cold mains supply system. This requires no cylinder as it takes water straight from the cold mains supply, heating it up automatically with an element when it’s turned on, similar to a kettle.
Suitable showers for cold mains supply systems:
Now you know what sort of water pressure system you have, you’ll be better able to shop for the right kind of shower for your home.
The water for electric showers comes from a cold water supply and is heated by the elements inside the shower, much like how a kettle works. So whenever you turn it on, you’ll have hot water with no waiting around, 24/7. Not only do they not require a water tank, but they don’t require a pump either as the water pressure depends on the pressure of your mains supply. They’re very easy to install due to their multiple cable and water entry points, which mean it’s often not necessary to make new holes in the wall for installation, though we recommend having a qualified person do the work. They’re also 99.7% energy efficient as there is no hot water wastage.
TIP: The higher the wattage, the more powerful the water flow will be. Showers with a higher wattage are more efficient during the winter months, when water coming into the shower unit is cooler.
The Triton T80GSI 10.5kW Electric Shower is a great option for style, quality and performance. It features a start/stop button which allows you to set the temperature and power settings you prefer, so you don’t have to reset them each time. If you’re looking for a shower with a more slimline, discreet appearance, we recommend the Triton Thiago 9.5kW Electric Shower.
As the name suggests, manual mixer showers mix hot and cold water. You simply adjust it until it’s at the optimum temperature for you, just like a common mixer tap on basins. They’re cost-effective to run and more powerful than electric showers, though if someone turns on a hot tap elsewhere in the house, the temperature of your shower will drop until they turn it off.
TIP: High pressure water systems such as combi boilers are ideal for mixer showers. If you have a low pressure system with a mixer shower, add a pump to boost the flow rate.
Thermostatic mixer showers work just like manual mixers by combining hot and cold, with the main difference being that if someone turns a tap on elsewhere in the house, you won’t feel the same sudden drop in temperature. It’ll stay within two degrees of the temperature you adjusted it to.
TIP: If your water system is gravity-fed, it will benefit from a booster pump to give it an extra bit of power.
The Mira Coda Pro EV Thermostatic Bar Mixer Shower makes a great choice if you’re after this type of shower. As well as being excellent quality, it even features an ‘Eco’ stop for water-saving, with an override function for a more powerful shower.
Power showers mix hot and cold water like mixer showers, but have a pump that boosts the water flow to a rate that’s more powerful than that of many mixer and electric showers. If you’re looking for the best shower head to increase water pressure, a power shower would be ideal.
The Triton Thermostatic Power Shower is one of our best power showers. It constantly regulates the water temperature, giving you precise control, and retains your preferred power and temperature settings so you don’t have to reset it every time.
Digital showers work very much like mixer showers but are easier to control. They allow you to select a precise temperature and flow rate with no waiting around for it to warm up — great if you’re often rushing to get ready in the morning. You can also control them remotely from around 10m away, and some let you save your favourite shower settings too.
We recommend the Aqualisa Quartz Digital Shower — it’s high quality and features a handy ‘Boost’ button for enhanced performance. It also comes with a 5-year guarantee for peace of mind.
There are all sorts of different features you can benefit from once you’ve chosen your shower type. Make sure you’re clued up before you buy as some features could really help inform your purchase.
Diverters are basically second shower heads that are smaller than the main one. Unlike a fixed shower which rains water on you from high above, diverters are manoeuvrable, so you can wash your hair over the bath without actually getting in the shower, or wash children or pets much more easily.
Fixed shower heads are attached directly to the wall and can look incredibly stylish, though are not easy to adjust. If you prefer to be able to adjust the angle easily, a flexible shower head would be best. These can be angled away from your face and even removed from the wall like a diverter for easy manoeuvrability.
Some showers have an aerated design to save water, which means they insert air into the water to reduce the amount of water used. Other eco shower heads feature a flow regulator instead. All of our Triton electric showers are water saving, and the Methven Aio Shower Head and Methven Rua Shower Head have in-built flow regulators. The Rua uses only 7.5L of water per minute while the Aio uses 9L; regular showers use around 20L.
Some showers come with a maximum temperature setting which you can set, so you can be sure your children are safe if they’re old enough to shower alone.
If you like a little luxury when you shower, some come with multiple settings such as massage, mist and rain. These are usually controlled by adjusting the settings on the shower head, so be sure you’re tall enough before you buy! This large Methven KAHA Satinjet Shower Head is 135mm wide and uses Satinjet® technology to create the optimum water droplet size and pressure, with over 300,000 droplets per second. It’s ideal for an immersive, full body shower sensation. The image here shows the difference between a convential shower (left) and a Satinjet® shower (right).
From the traditional round design to modern squares and rectangles, there’s plenty to choose from when it comes to shapes. Large shower heads of course have better coverage, especially if they’re fixed.
A single level mixer has one level in the centre to control the temperature. By moving the lever up and down you adjust the flow of water; by moving it left to right, you adjust the temperature.
Concentric mixers have one control for the flow of water, and another control which sits on top of it that controls temperature. To increase the water flow you simply turn the back lever; to alter the temperature, you turn the front lever. Having two separate levers means you can leave the temperature setting as it is and simply turn the shower off using the flow control — great if you like to leave it at a set temperature for the next time you use it. Concentric mixers deliver a higher flow of water than single lever mixers.
Bar mixers have controls, like taps, on both sides of the bar. To start the shower, turn the flow control on the left-hand side. To adjust the temperature, turn the control on the right-hand side instead. Some bar mixer showers have a diverter control instead of flow control, so you can switch between the smaller handset or larger fixed head if you have a diverter shower (see above in the Shower Features section to read about diverters). Some models have vertical bars instead of horizontal, which simply have the controls at the top and bottom instead.
A sequential mixer features just one rotary control lever, making it the easiest type to use. Simply turn it anti-clockwise to turn it on and increase the temperature. This type of mixer shower offers a constant flow of water rather than a varying flow, and simply allows you to change the temperature of the water.
When you’ve decided which shower’s best for you, that just leaves the bathroom accessories. Find everything you need on our site like shower curtains and poles, caddies, bath mats and more to complete your new shower area.