In theory, buying a new shower should be a simple task. In reality, however, it can be a bit of a minefield. With so many types of shower to choose from and so many factors to consider, the task of buying a shower can seem overwhelming. As well as the practicalities such as boilers, water pressure and usage, there's the shower itself. Here's a guide to help you choose between an electric, power, mixer or digital shower.
Heating the water as you go, electric showers only need a cold water supply. This means that because water is not heated unnecessarily, you could benefit from reduced energy bills - and a broken boiler won't stop you having a hot shower. However, the water flow is less powerful than other showers and limescale is a common problem. Go for a thermostatic electric shower as these control the shower temperature when water is used at the same time elsewhere in the house.
Mixer showers work by combining hot and cold water to create the correct water temperature. This means you need a combi boiler or immersion heater to provide a supply of hot water. The flow of water is generally faster than that of an electric shower. A thermostatic mixer shower will create a more constant temperature if cold water is used elsewhere in the house. However, not all mixer showers work with all the systems, so make sure you check your water pressure and buy a shower to match.
Working in the same way as mixer showers, power showers combine hot and cold water supplies. They differ in that they incorporate a built-in pump which strengthens the water flow and allows better control of the temperature and pressure. They are great for low-pressure of gravity-fed systems as they increase water flow. However, they use more water than electric showers and could hike up your bills.
Available in electric, mixer, pumped and unpumped versions, digital showers use a control panel to get water to the right temperature - and keep it constant. The control unit can be placed outside the shower enclosure, up to ten metres away, meaning you can pre-program the temperature and turn on the water before getting into the shower. Other benefits of digital showers include sleek designs, touchscreens, LCD displays, eco settings and remote controls. As you would expect however, they are a pricier option.