Decisions, decisions – who’d have thought installing a new shower could involve so much choice?
There are many reasons for buying a new shower, from wanting/needing to replace your existing setup to a comprehensive redesign of your whole bathroom (or house, for that matter). And once you start looking into it, you realise your options are far, far wider than just sticking with the same type of system you’ve made do with so far.
Getting your head around all of this choice can be a little tricky. So with the help of designer bathroom specialists Aston Matthews, we’ve put together this short guide covering the main points to consider.
Where should I put my new shower?
There are two main options as two where you locate your shower – over your bath or elsewhere. But if you want a separate shower unit away from your bath, the choices quickly multiply.
First of all, adding (or replacing) a shower to your bath is the simplest option, as the most straightforward solutions involve connecting to your existing taps and adding a showerhead, hose and rail. Over-the-bath showers are also ideal for smaller bathrooms where there isn’t the space to have a separate shower cubicle.
On the other hand, some people think baths are for lying in and don’t like the idea of standing in one to take a shower. If your dream is to have a free-standing bath well away from any walls, you then face the problem of how to hang the shower fittings (you might also object to having your beautiful centrepiece tub enclosed by a screen or curtain. Finally, if you really want to make the most of bathroom space, replacing your bath altogether with a shower cubicle is definitely worth considering.
If you have a large enough bathroom, you have the luxury of choosing a separate bath and cubicle to offer two completely different washing options in the same room. Otherwise, another thing to consider is having a dedicated shower room somewhere else completely.
What are the different types of shower system?
Once you have decided where to put your shower, the next job is to choose the type of shower system. Again, there are more options than you might have bargained for. Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of each.
- Manual mixer: This is the straightforward option that plugs straight into your hot and cold water supply, with a tap for each (over a bath, you can use the same faucets, as mentioned). To get the desired temperature, you adjust each tap to increase or reduce the hot/cold flow. Although cost-effective and straightforward, a drawback with manual mixers is you can easily end up with showers that are too cold or, more dangerously, too hot.
- Thermostatic mixer: This works on the same principle as a manual mixer, except it also features a thermostatic valve for keeping the temperature of the water output constant. This leads to a much more pleasant (and safer) showering experience, although with old water systems you can still have issues with poor water pressure.
- Power shower: A power shower might be described as a type of automated mixer shower. Connecting to both the hot and cold water supply again, it includes an electric pump which counters any issues with pressure associated with manual or thermostatic mixers. While that sounds great, power showers are only really suitable for older water systems. They also tend not to be very fuel-efficient.
- Electric shower: Not to be confused with a power shower, an electric shower draws water from your cold water supply only, heating it at the point of delivery with an element. Electric showers are therefore supper flexible, as it is much easier to plumb into the cold water supply anywhere in your home than it is to connect to the boiler or hot water system. In homes with older water systems (i.e. not a combi boiler), an electric shower also means you get hot water on demand. A drawback is that if you do opt to install a new shower somewhere weird and wonderful, you might suffer from low pressure.
- Digital shower: Demonstrating how even shower technology moves with the times, digital showers take the best aspects of thermostatic and power showers and hand all the control to the user. However hot you like a shower, whether you like to get blasted or prefer a more gentle drizzle, just dial in your preferences to the control panel and get your water delivered with pinpoint accuracy. The latest incarnations even link with smart home systems like Google Nest or Amazon Echo, meaning you can control them with your smartphone. The main downside is they are the most expensive option currently on the market, although as with all new tech, they are likely to drop in price dramatically over the next few years.