I recently went to a discussion on multi-generational homes with experts from the shower company Mira Showers.
There was a plumber, a psychologist, an architect and an interior designer, and they all made me realise just how much is involved in buying a new shower.
For starters, there are three main types of shower - electric, mixer and power. An electric shower only uses cold water because it heats the water as you shower, and will work even if the boiler doesn’t.
These showers are ideal for households with limited hot water. “Electric showers come in a range of kilowatt ratings - go for nine kilowatts or above, as you’ll enjoy a better flow rate,” says Emma Foster of Mira Showers.
Mixer showers need a supply of both hot and cold water, and blend them to the required temperature.
Mixers are either surface mounted or have valves buried in the wall - the former are generally easier to install, as they fix to the tiled wall, but hidden valves have a more minimalist look.
“Look for a mixer shower that offers thermostatic control to ensure the temperature stays constant, even when the toilet is flushed,” advises Foster.
As you’d expect, digital mixer showers control the flow and temperature of the water digitally, so you can have exactly the same showering experience every time.
“You can set a maximum and minimum flow rate, as well as temperature,” explains Foster.
“A digital shower can even be programmed to switch off after a pre-set time, should you have teenagers who like to spend all day in the shower.
“Digital showers also have an electronic display that can show the temperature, flow rate and time.”
For even more control, models such as the Mira Vision and Mira Platinum can be controlled wirelessly from another location, letting you turn the shower on to warm up from the comfort of your bed!
Power showers are perfect for homes with plenty of hot water, taking stored hot and cold water and mixing it together to create your ideal temperature. A pump boosts the flow of water, creating a powerful spray.
“If you’re replacing a shower and don’t want to re-tile, it’s worth checking the position of the hot and cold water pipes and the shape and size of the replacement shower,” says Foster.
“That way, you’ll be sure that the new shower fits over the old screw holes and onto the pipework. To make life easier, some mixer showers have adjustability on the inlet pipes.” If in doubt, ask a good plumber for advice.
As well as choosing the shower, there’s a huge range of shower heads available too, from large deluge heads to heads that offer a choice of spray patterns.
“We offer problem-solving shower heads, such as the Mira Beat Eco and Mira Nectar Eco,” says Foster. “These have rub-clean nozzles for easy limescale removal and can save up to 85 per cent of water, but still deliver great performance.”
Your home’s water pressure and flow can also affect the shower’s performance. “The higher the pressure, the better the shower, particularly if you want a deluge-style spray, but if you have low water pressure, showers will still work at a reduced flow,” says Foster.
A shower pump can be fitted to make the spray more of a deluge than a dribble, but be aware that pumps aren’t compatible with all boilers.
In some older properties, the water flow isn’t as good as it could be because the pipe coming in from the water main in the street is narrower than a modern one, so this is something you’d need to consider replacing.
Upgrading your home’s boiler and/or cylinder is another route to improving the shower.
With a mains-pressure unvented-cylinder system, such as Worcester’s excellent Greenstore cylinders (see www.worcester-bosch.co.uk), multiple outlets (showers and taps, etc) can be supplied at the same time with little impact on performance, something often not possible with a combi boiler.
Your choice of shower will be affected by the type of boiler you have, as the two need to be compatible - visit www.mirashowers.co.uk/support/helpmeselectashower.htm to find out which Mira showers are suited to which boilers.