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Choosing a shower

Introduction

In order to select the most economical type of shower it is important to recognise certain factors that can determine which shower is best for you. A mixer for example, would be the best choice in a household where both hot and cold water are supplied at equal pressure from the main storage system.

Most modern showers are designed to be flexible to different water pressures (such as stored hot water and cold mains). It is important to note whether or not the chosen shower is capable of coping with certain systems and can regulate a safe level of water through the boiler.

Such systems would include those of hot water being supplied from the mains via either a multipoint or combination boiler. To ensure the shower is adaptable to such conditions, it may be worth checking installation requirements with the manufacturer or to have it fitted by a registered plumber.

Types of shower available

Push-on mixer:

The hose and spray parts of the shower can be connected to the bath tap as and when required, as seen in the diagram. The water temperature can be adjusted via the taps. Most suitable for use over a bath.

It’s a good choice because…

It is cheap and extremely simple to install.

It’s not so good because…

The hose connection though simple, is easily dislodged. Also, adjusting the temperature is inconveniently low and fiddly.

Bath/shower mixer:

Here, the hose and spray of the shower are combined with a bath mixer tap, and once again, the temperature can be adjusted through the bath taps. Most suitable for use over a bath.

It’s a good choice because…

It is very cheap and no extra plumbing is involved.

It’s not so good because…

Temperature control is low which can prove to inconvenient and it is fiddly to adjust.

Manual mixer:

The hose and spray of the shower are part of a wall unit and the hot and cold water supplies are connected to a single valve The temperature and pressure of the water are controlled either one or a variety of knobs (in more expensive showers).

It’s a good choice because…

It’s height being part of a wall unit, makes temperature adjustment much more convenient.

It’s not so good because…

It is more expensive than the previously mentioned mixers. Also, the hot and cold water supply pipes will need to be plumbed in.

Thermostatic mixer:

The hose and spray of the shower are part of a wall unit and the hot and cold water supplies are connected to a single valve. It is complete with a built in stabiliser to self-adjust the water temperature and to prevent it from becoming too hot.

It’s a good choice because…

The controlled temperature makes it extremely convenient. Also the thermostat means that the temperature and flow of water should not be affected when water is being used elsewhere in the house.

It’s not so good because…

It is the most expensive of the different mixer options.

Power shower:

A single unit containing a powerful electric pump which is capable of altering both the water pressure and temperature. This type of shower can be fitted provided that there is a water supply from a cold water cistern and a hot water cylinder.

It’s a good choice because…

Both the pressure and temperature of the water are easily adjusted making it convenient to use.

It’s not so good because…

It is not suitable for water heated directly by the shower or where the water is supplied by a combination boiler under mains pressure. Also, the removal of waste water can be slow if the waste pipe is not big enough. It is best to use a 50mm (2in) waste pipe if possible (see Installing a shower).

Electric shower:

A wall unit heated electrically, it is plumbed into a mains cold water supply. It is important to note that for this type of shower to be installed, the mains pressure needs to be at least 0.7kg/sq cm (10lb/sq in). The unit allows the temperature and pressure to be adjusted as appropriate via a knob.

It’s a good choice because…

Some models have a stabiliser for the temperature so that the water supply remains unaffected by other taps elsewhere in use within the household. It can also ensure that the water supply does not run too hot or too cold.

It’s not so good because…

Because the control knob only allows for the option of high temperatures at less pressure, or lower temperatures at a greater pressure, the spray is often weak in the winter when the mains water is colder. This problem is combated in some models which are available with a winter/summer setting. The unit must be wired to an electric power supply according to Electricity Board requirements.

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