Looking to make a splash with a brand new shower but don’t know where to start? Fear not, soak.com is here to guide you through the process. Whatever you are looking for, our easy-to-understand buying guide will help you make the right decision to suit your every want and need. Pop the kettle on, make a cup of tea (and maybe grab a biscuit or two) and get stuck into our Shower buying guide.
What is my water pressure?
Before you start looking for the shower of your dreams, one question must be answered – what level of water pressure do I have at home?
If this check isn’t carried out at the start of the process, there is a risk of installing a sparkling new shower, only to find it lacks the power you are hoping for – which is not ideal!
How to check your water pressure
You’ll probably need a qualified plumber to test your system to establish the precise pressure of your home system. However, you can get an estimated number by simply using a measuring jug (1-2 litres) and a timer. Just follow the simple steps below:
- Place the measuring jug under the tap or shower you wish to measure and turn the water on full.
- Start the timer
- Now enter the time and amount of water into this helpful calculator from our friends at waterpressureproblems.com. This will then produce a result which indicates whether your water pressure is low or normal/above average.
Difference between water pressure and flow rate?
Not everyone will be aware as it isn’t really common knowledge, but there is a difference between your water pressure and flow rate. Water flow is the volume of water that has been delivered in litres per minute whereas water pressure is the force at which the water is delivered.
What water system do I have?
The water pressure level is a crucial starting point when selecting a shower – now we need to know what water system you have installed at home. This is equally as significant as some water systems are incompatible with certain showers.
As a general rule, you’ll find one of these four systems installed in a UK home:
A combi boiler allows water to be heated on demand and is generally found mounted on a wall. The hot water is linked to the mains so it can deliver high water pressure, which eliminates the need for a shower pump. Combi boilers are often more energy efficient and can save space as there is no requirement for a tank or cylinder.
Mains Fed Water System
In a mains fed water system, all taps and water outlets will have water at mains pressure attached to them – whether that is hot or cold. All cold taps or cold outlets are connected directly to the incoming water main and are fed directly but water must pass through certain equipment that is designed specifically for heating it at pressure.
Cold Water Tank in the Loft / Gravity Fed Systems
This system tends to be more common in older properties. Traditionally, a tank will be found in the roof or loft as it relies on gravity to transport the water. This is normally sent to a hot water cylinder, often located in an airing cupboard, where the water is heated.
These types of systems can have occasional issues for low water pressure but can be enhanced by installing the RHP 100 3 Bar Pump.This increases the pressure throughout the whole house and not just to the shower – an all-round winner!
High Pressure System
A high pressure system is the ideal choice for those who want a shower experience with gusto. As the water comes directly from the mains water supply, it allows for a faster rate of flow – no need for a shower booster! A boiler or electric immersion heater is used to heat the water.
What type of shower do I want?
We stock a wide variety of showers to help give our customers the best choice possible. But how do you know which shower is most suitable for you? Here’s a guide to the types of showers that are available.
Thermostatic mixer showers work in a similar way to mixer showers as they take the water from hot and cold taps. Their main selling point is that they regulate the temperature and flow to keep them consistent. This means that if someone in the house is using another tap, you won’t suddenly experience bursts of freezing cold or, more importantly, scalding hot water. If exceptionally hot water were to pump out, the shower would shut down immediately – the perfect solution for young families (we know you don’t have eyes in the back of your head!)
Thermostatic showers are available in concealed and exposed designs.
Exposed showers are fitted outside the wall which saves problems later down the line as you do not have to take a wall out to install it. Exposed showers also have a choice of different sized heads and have a choice of square or round designs. We even have one with a built in shelf!
Concealed designs instantly provide a modern aesthetic as the components are hidden behind the wall. This creates a clean, fresh and impressive design. You can choose from different sized shower heads, a waterfall head and square or round valves – the choice is yours! You can even enjoy body jets in your shower from the comfort of your own home!
What about a handheld shower?
The majority of exposed showers come with a handheld shower head but in a concealed shower, it’s an additional extra that is available if you are looking for that functionality.
Electric showers provide a whole host of benefits. If you haven’t got a boiler in your home, then an electric shower could be the option for you as there is no need for it to be connected to hot water mains.
Thanks to an ingenious heating element installed within the shower, the water is heated ‘on demand’ meaning you and your family can shower for as long as you like without running out of water.
Installing an electric shower is more energy efficient as they heat the water. This is in contrast to a home with a boiler water system that has to heat a whole tank of water, which wastes energy in the process. However, electric showers can also increase your installation costs as a qualified professional will need to manage the setup (but we think it’s worth it).
As soon as you step into your shower, you will already have your favourite shower settings waiting for you. Simply set the temperatures once and they will always be there! This saves time and hassle which is great if you’re looking to have a quick and easy shower. We think this is fab because time and money isn’t wasted as you get the shower levels just right. You can accurately regulate the temperature with the control dial and enjoy five different spray patterns to personalise your shower as you see fit.
Power showers combine hot and cold water from the main tap, much like a mixer shower.
A power shower is great for those that have low water pressure (most likely those with gravity fed water systems in their home) as the added boost can bring some much needed power – especially on those cold mornings! They do use up water quickly however, so take this into consideration if you have a small hot water tank. There are also manual and thermostatic versions of power showers available. Thermostatic temperature stability keeps the family safe and it has been rated ‘class A’ for energy efficiency.
What is the difference between a power shower and an electric shower?
A power shower pumps hot and cold water to your shower where you have low pressure and does not heat the water. An electric shower, on the other hand, pressurises and heats the water all at once and is normally found in homes that have low water pressure.
If you’re looking for a shower that is packed with innovative new design features, then a digital shower may be the choice for you. Put simply, it gives an individual complete control over their shower experience.
The intuitive display options allow you to change the temperature with precision, regulate the flow and even save user preferences. Another great benefit is that, thanks to wireless technology, the box can be installed with ease, anywhere within the home.
Bar Mixer Showers
Enjoy the best of both worlds with an included bath filler. Whether your preference is showering or bathing there is no need to compromise.
Both of these options make it easy to replace old showers and provide a quick replacement item. They are also affordable yet you still achieve an exposed look. There are different design valves available and different handheld shower heads. You can also choose from deck mounted (at the end of your bath) or wall mounted. Some also have the option for a bath tap if that is what you’re looking for!
Modern vs. Traditional
Based on the three options above, you have the choice of two designs. Within these three ranges, you can decide whether you would prefer a modern or traditional design.
A modern shower is smooth, sleek and fits into a more minimalist aesthetic. This coincides with modern bathroom fixtures such as squared sink basins and sharper angled baths. A modern design also has hidden pipework to provide a contemporary, tidy and fresh feel to your bathroom.
A traditional shower will probably have more emphasis on graceful curves and classically-styled handles. Traditional styles are often chosen for their timeless appeal as they are less likely to look dated in years to come. If you’re after more of a vintage themed bathroom, a traditional style could be just what you’re looking for.
If I am working on a tight budget?
We pride ourselves on providing customers with the best showers on the market at the best possible price as we understand that not everyone has the budget to create their own personal spa. Luckily, there are ways that you can still enjoy a satisfying shower experience without having to break the bank.
A good way of keeping costs down is with a great value shower mixer. This type of product attaches directly to your hot and cold water taps, making this easy to install by anyone who is confident at DIY.
Electric showers can also be another great way of saving money. Thanks to their ‘on demand’ design, you only use the water that you need. We believe this is pretty energy efficient as large cylinders of water won’t need to be heated unnecessarily. The water flow controls can also limit the amount of water you use which should save you money in the long term – and who can complain about that? It is definitely a good idea to hire a tried and tested professional when it comes to electric showers as combining water and electricity requires expertise.
When purchasing a shower, our main advice would be to try and stretch your budget as far as possible. If it’s part of a whole bathroom renovation, or just a shower upgrade, a good quality shower can have a huge impact on the overall experience of your bathroom.
For example, thermostatic showers may be a little more expensive but you will have the added benefits of maintaining a constant temperature. You also won’t experience temperature drops or rises if another family member uses another tap or toilet.